A Beauty Refined | Book Review

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With just the first page, I was swept into the story. I really liked Phoebe – her attitude, her demeanor, her awe of new places. Each of the characters’ past lives had stories — and they were all very interesting and connected. They all had a purpose in the story.

As with Tracie Peterson’s other books, there was a clear salvation message, which I appreciated. But there wasn’t a very clear point of when the character repented and turned to Christ — it left me guessing, “Oh, so did they accept Christ here or here? Cause I’m assuming by how they’re acting that they did.”
I liked that they upheld truth and didn’t run from problems, but I’m still not sure about the attitude of the wife who was wronged. It wasn’t clear that she forgave, but instead, she was willing to overturn her powers of revealing secrets. I realize this was for the protection of her son, but it still left me a little unsettled as to, “Is this how a true believe ought to act?” (with threats)
I really liked Ian and his stand for truth — his point of not rushing, but praying and seeking the Lord before making rash decisions based on emotions.
The way the theme with the Sapphire Duchess was interwoven through the story and how it ended up resolving was great. However, I think in some ways, there could have been more of a mysterious air to the story as a whole, instead of me as a reader figuring things out so quickly (it was stated rather than gradually shown).
I was really surprised when a couple decided to save their first kiss for their wedding day! Pleasant surprise!
There were a few drawbacks to this:
– The count had a mistress. It was quite implied, but not explicit.
– Another instance of one character falling in love with an unsaved-at-point-of-meeting and unsaved-when-falling-in-love-with-them character (this just may be one of my great pet peeves).
I wouldn’t recommend this to readers under eighteen because of the mistress as well as abuse, beatings, and bloodshed.

*I received this book in exchange of my honest review from LitFuse Publicity Group.*

Back Cover Blurb
Phoebe Von Bergen is excited to accompany her father when he travels from Germany to purchase sapphires in Montana. Little does she know that her father’s plans–for the gemstones and his daughter–are not what they seem. 

Ian Harper, a lapidary working in Helena, finds the young woman staying at the Broadwater Hotel more than a little intriguing. Yet the more he gets to know her, the more he realizes that her family story is based on a lie–a lie she has no knowledge of. And Ian believes he knows the only path that will lead her to freedom.

Meeting Ian has changed everything. Phoebe is determined to stay in America, regardless of her father’s plans. But she may not be prepared for the unexpected danger as the deception begins to unravel.


Tracie Peterson
About the Author

Tracie Peterson is a bestselling author who writes in both historical and contemporary genres. Her novels reveal her love for research as well as her strong desire to develop emotionally meaningful characters and stories for her readers. Tracie and her family live in Montana.










Enter giveaway: http://bit.ly/29KDZOX
A Beauty Refined Tracie Peterson

A Love to Come Home To | Blog Tour and Giveaway

I have been waiting for months for this book to come out! Last year, I read both of Alicia Ruggieri’s books back-to-back and knew that, when book three was coming out, I wanted to be on the list! Well, here it is, folks! And it definitely does not disappoint!

BACK COVER BLURB:
Hardened Ben Picoletti thought he’d turned his back on Depression-era Rhode Island years ago. Nothing remains there for him, except for haunting memories of an abusive childhood. Yet when a criminal accusation shatters his ambitions, Ben has nowhere to flee but back to his stepfather’s home.
There, he finds that redemption yet waits for him… but the sacrifice required to attain it may exceed the limits of his family’s hearts.
Meanwhile, his musical sister Grace continues her studies in New York. She longs to hear a word of affection from her high-school beau… yet only Paulie’s silence greets her. Grace must decide whether she wants to live in the past or move into an unknown future with unexpected love.
Lyrical and sensitive to the aching heart, A Love to Come Home To affirms that God delights in being a stronghold in times of trouble; that He renews His mercy every morning; and that He will work every bitter thing together for the good of His children.


MY REVIEW
Oh… I didn’t want this story to end. And I’m hoping that the series doesn’t end here. 😉 I don’t gush over many book series, but here is one I will definitely “gush” about. I don’t think there was a single main character in any of the three books I didn’t fall in love with (I suppose if Mr. Picoletti in book 1 was a main character, of course I didn’t like him).
But this book. Oh how sweet it was! Heart wrenching at times, but hope filled! I really liked the journeys of Ben, Grace, and Paulie. It seemed very realistic. I found almost the whole book predictable — down to the climax — but it was one of those books where it didn’t bother me at all (okay, maybe I wasn’t predicting, but hoping; yeah, I even hoped for the roof incident… horrid me 😉 ).
“Paulie will help you.” Oh my. When I read those words, I could feel the tension there was going to be between Ben and Paulie! This was amazingly real. And I really could identify with Paulie and how his personal struggle affected his attitude and actions towards Ben. Wow.
I loved glimpses of Ben’s tenderness underneath his crusty, hardened exterior. Especially his tenderness towards David.
Kirk truly was an amazing guy! The only thing that held me back from liking him is probably the same thing that will hold a lot of other people back: Grace belongs to Paulie, not anyone else. Poor guy. He really was upstanding.
And the epilogue with geraniums, tying it back to book 1! That’s all I’ll say, but it was amazing! Loved that touch!!
Yeah, I just feel like gushing and not like writing a comprehensive book review. Sorry! 🙂
Some quotes that stood out to me:
“Was she really trusting Him? Or was she using His will as an excuse to give way to her fears?”
“There’s the kind of prison sin has locked every last one of us into. It’s the worst kind of jail. And only Jesus Christ holds the key to get us out. Because only He has paid for our release with His own blood.”

*I received this book from the author in exchange of my honest review *


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Alicia G. Ruggieri writes grace-filled, Christ-centered fiction, including the A Time of Grace Trilogy. She’s a graduate of Rhode Island College, where she studied Communications and History, and her adventures include children’s theatre direction, restaurant management, and small business ownership. Alicia and her husband live in coastal New England, where she may be found drinking far too much coffee and penning stories with her emotionally-disturbed second-hand pug by her side. 
AUTHOR LINKS:

RELEASE WEEK SALE

Trust me, you don’t want to miss grabbing the first two books for free/reduced price!!

July 21-25, 2016 – The Fragrance of Geraniums (Book 1) – FREE on Kindlehttp://bit.ly/1VXSyDO

July 22-28, 2016 – All Our Empty Places (Book 2) – $1.99 on Kindle – http://bit.ly/1UOfV02

GIVEAWAY
What is a book release without a giveaway? There’s only a few hours left to enter, so hurry! Enter the giveaway HERE.
Note: Givewaway is pen to U.S. residents only due to shipping costs.


Faith Blum | Author Interview, Book Release, and Giveaway


Once again, welcome Faith Blum onto my blog!

Most of my blog readers are probably pretty familiar with you, since I’ve been a part of several of your blog tours, cover reveals, and what-not. In fact, I’ve already interviewed you twice (here and here). My readers can get to know you there, so this time, I want to focus primarily on your writing craft.
Are you a pantser, plotter, or pantser/plotter hybrid?
For those of you who don’t know these terms, a basic explanation is that a pantser starts a story with only a vague idea of how things are going to be and “flies by the seat of his pants” as he writes. A plotter knows what’s happening when, and follows his plan. A hybrid is a mix of both.
 I’m a hybrid. I usually do mostly pantser, but sometimes when I get really stuck, or just need to focus in on my plot, I’ll do some planning/plotting. For example, the novel I’m working on right now I started knowing a little bit, but not much, of what will happen and am pantsing it. Soon, however, I’ll need to start plotting a little more and deciding how many years to jump and when.

I think our writing styles are very similar, Faith! 🙂 About how many hours do you write a day?
 That totally depends on the day. Some days I don’t write at all and other days I write for probably four or more hours. I’ve recently decided I need to set a specific goal of words to write every day. For now, that goal is 750 words or more per day (not counting weekends), and when I am not editing, I’ll probably up that to 1,500 per day.

Yep, still nodding in agreement over here. 😉 How do you deal with writers’ block or just simply not wanting to write?
 I have a few ways of dealing with writers block. Sometimes I do a rough outline if I haven’t already done that. Other times, I’ll jump ahead to a different scene and come back later to fill in the gaps. When I simply don’t want to write, I usually don’t write. There are days when I’m just too burned out to do any writing. In which case, I’ll usually do some editing, proofreading, reading, marketing, or some other writing related thing.

That’s what most people don’t realize: life as an author isn’t just about getting a story on paper. There’s so much more involved. Good idea to focus on different aspects of the writer’s life during writer’s block. What are some important lessons you’ve learned about the writing process?
 Just keep writing. If you’re stuck, move to a different scene in the book. If the story isn’t going well, start a different project or start that one over again. The goal is to keep writing. Which I should really listen to for myself. *ahem*

Haha! Yeah…
What is probably the biggest blunder you’ve made in writing?
 The biggest blunder I made was publishing my debut novel too quickly. I wanted it published before Christmas, so I rushed it. Now I’m working on getting it edited better to remedy some of the mistakes I made in it.

I’ve seen this blunder in several authors before. I know from experience that it’s so, so hard not to rush! When do you seem to get the best ideas for your stories?
 I think I get some of my best ideas while I am writing. Sometimes those ideas are for the current book and sometimes they are for a future book.

How do you develop your characters? Do you find images online, create Pinterest boards, do character sketches, develop your character as you write, other? 

I mostly develop my characters as I write, but I often use character sketches as well.
Thanks so much, Faith! I thoroughly enjoyed your answers!

– – – –


Faith is releasing another novella right now! I’ve not had time to beta read all of her newest releases, but I did just happen to do this one and I enjoyed journeying with the twins, Eve and Eva!

About the Book

Just as I am, without one plea
But that Thy blood was shed for me
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
 Eve and Evangeline Collins are adventurous twins who decide to take a risk and head west as mail order brides. Their parents are less than pleased, but do nothing to stop them. Eve and Eva don’t realize their danger until they stop just outside Cheyenne. Will they ever see their family again?

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30740818-just-as-i-am


About the Author


Faith Blum started writing at an early age. She started even before she could read! She even thought she could write better than Dr. Seuss. Now that she has grown up a little more, she knows she will probably never reach the success of Dr. Seuss, but that doesn’t stop her from trying.

When she isn’t writing, Faith enjoys doing many right-brained activities such as reading, crafting, playing piano, and playing games with her family. One of her dreams is to visit Castle City, Montana, to see the ghost town she chose for her characters to live in. She currently lives on a hobby farm with her family in Wisconsin.

Giveaway

Tour Schedule

Tuesday, July 26
Bookish Orchestrations-Tour introduction
Wednesday, July 27
Jaye L. Knight-Excerpt #2
Thursday, July 28
With a Joyful Noise-Author Interview
Friday, July 29
Saturday, July 30
Majestic Golden Rose-Author Interview
Monday, August 1
Rebekah Lyn Books-Review and Character Interview
Tuesday, August 2

Bookish Orchestrations-Giveaway Winner

Me? Teach Piano? | Book Release and Giveaway

Being a teacher is just part of who I am. I love teaching, and it’s easy for me to see that God has given me that love for teaching. Of course, I love teaching piano, but you know what else? I love helping other musicians know how to teach too! (so, I like teaching teachers?) Last year, the Lord gave me the idea to write a down-to-earth, somewhat whimsical booklet, “Me? Teach Piano?” This year, I’m happy to announce that it is available to piano teachers and wanna-be teachers!
For a moment, let me pause and brag on Sydney Bonnell, because I love the cover, and everyone who sees it says they love it too. I had an idea for the cover in mind, but if you know me, you know that the best thing I can draw is stick people. One of my sisters mentioned that a friend’s sister drew and there we had it. God answered Sydney’s prayer for a way to use her drawing, and my prayer in providing an artist! And then once and again, my sister, Elizabeth, helped me out with the inside graphics.
Okay, now for the book!

“You play piano? Could you teach my daughter?” The parent looks too desperate to turn down, yet your thoughts run wild. “Me? Teach piano? I can barely play myself! Do they know what they’re trying to get themselves into?!”

“Me? Teach Piano?” is a simple guide to clear up some of your questions as you learn a down-to-earth approach to creating piano policies, interacting with students, and choosing the correct curriculum.

Purchase on Amazon (available soon in print):

a Rafflecopter giveaway


OTHER BLOGS

As always, a group of supporters rallied behind me for the release of “Me? Teach Piano?” Hop over and check out their sites!

July 27, 2016 (release day)
August 1, 2016
Trio Praise – trio-praise.com
August 2, 2016
Honey Rock Hills – http://www.honeyrockhills.com/
August 4, 2016
August 8, 2016
August 9, 2016

With a Joyful Noise (wrap-up and giveaway announce) – http://withajoyfulnoise.blogspot.com/

Is it "Him" or Something Else?

“Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey hisvoice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.” 
Deuteronomy 13:4 (emphasis added)
If, at any time, something else replaces “Him,” I am on my path to dishonor and displease God. Am I walking after God, or am I walking after others?
Am I fearing Him or others?
Am I keeping His commandments, or others?
Am I obeying His voice, or my own wishes?
Am I serving Him or myself?

Am I cleaving to Him or the world?

The Silent Blade | Book Review, Blog Tour


You may remember a few weeks ago, when I shared a cover design for The Silent Blade. I started out as a beta reader, designed the cover, and am now helping Jesseca as she releases this fun book!



ABOUT THE BOOK
Dromiskin, Ireland. 925 A.D.

Eira has no greater desire than to see her life returned to what it once was—before her older brother Kevin’s sudden disappearance four years earlier. But the simple life she hoped for seems unattainable; on the contrary, her life is about to get all the more complicated.


When she suddenly finds herself and Willem, her twin brother, taken captive by someone who claims to be Kevin’s enemy, things go from bad to worse. It soon becomes clear that she and Willem are to become bait in a trap set for Kevin, and Eira knows she must try to warn him. But how, when she herself is a captive?

As mysteries of the past are unveiled, and loyalties are revealed, Eira realizes how precious her friends truly are. And when mortal danger threatens those nearest to her, will she be able to trust God with the lives of her friends and family?




MY REVIEW


When a trade ship docks at Dromiskin, Eira can’t help but notice that the men on board act nothing like normal tradesmen. Willem, her twin, shares her suspicions, but not soon enough. Captured together to be used against Eira and Willem’s older brother, the twins are thrown into the middle of a heated battle.

An exciting tale of danger, vengeance, deception, sword-fights, trust and forgiveness. The story flow was smooth and never weighed down. The plot line kept my mind wandering back to it, wondering what happened in the next scene. There were a lot of questions that arose as the story unfolded, and these questions were satisfactorily answered.

And I just have to throw in a comment about the names! Eira, Willem, Casimer, Rowen, Merek, Aeden, Cian, Diarmuid … ah! I loved them all! Not too weird and balanced out by names such as Henry and Anna.

I was a little disappointed that there is practically no parental involvement in this story. And, at the beginning, what was mentioned of the parents was not completely honoring (like “Father makes me do classes” type of thing).

Some parts of this book didn’t quite “feel” the era and there was some amateur writing, but overall, considering the author’s age it was good.

There was some romance in this book, but it was sweet. No kisses.

*I beta-read this book for the author and volunteered to give my review*


GIVEAWAY
Jesseca is giving away a copy of The Silent Blade and a $5 Amazon gift card! Enter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


INTERVIEW

How long did The Silent Blade take from idea to finish?
I got the idea in April of 2015, so that would make it about a year and three months!

Sounds about like my timeline for writing just a novella. Can’t imagine what it’d take for a full-length novel. 😉
What is it about The Silent Blade that you feel is different from other medieval stories? What makes it unique?
Most medieval stories I’ve read focus around a group of people as the enemy. (the Vikings, the English, etc.) But in The Silent Blade it’s one man who is the enemy. Yes, he has followers, but the conflict is pretty much something just between two people. Which is different than anything I’ve read in the medieval genre. 🙂

Very true. That was a neat difference.
What future plans do you have for writing? (if you’re at the point of sharing)
Currently I’m working a historical-fiction novel set in WWII during the Battle of Britain. It’s currently in the 2nd re-writing/editing stage. It’s my “special” novel, and I’ve learned a lot through writing it, both in a historical context and through my writing it, it’s brought me closer to the Lord.
At times I feel like the book and characters have become a part of me…sometimes I’m not sure how good that is. 😉

Ooh…WWII! I might have to keep my eye out for that. 😉
How long have you been writing?
Well, I’ve been writing for school for years, but I’ve been writing my own stories apart from school for about three years.

What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned while writing?
The first draft is going to be horrible. But that’s okay, because you can go back and fix it later. Also, writing is hard. It’s nice when you get inspired, but if you want to see an idea through to the end, then you will need to discipline yourself to write even when you don’t feel like writing. Oh, and let others read your work! You will never be able to grow if you don’t learn what areas you need to work on. Those have probably been the biggest things I’ve learned!

And great lessons to have learned! I think most of us come to a point in learning all of that (or we should).
What message(s) do you hope to share with your readers?
It isn’t easy to forgive. And without God, it is so, so easy to want to take vengeance on those who have wronged us. But that’s not our place; it’s God’s.

Amen to that!
Who are some of the top authors who inspired you?
For The Silent Blade,  Nicole Sager, C.S. Lewis, and Lois Walfrid Johnson. The way they all used a medieval (or medieval-like fantasy) setting made me fall in love with the time period, and the characters, the epic battles, the sword-fighting… *grins* So yes, those three would be the top authors who inspired me.

Lois Walfrid Johnson! She was one of my favorite authors as a child. I’ve never read her Viking series, though.
Thanks so much for “visiting” my blog, Jesseca! And best wishes on your new release!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Jesseca is an 18-year old daughter, sister, and a child of God. Her days are spent reading, cooking, spending time with siblings, or playing piano.  And writing, of course! At an early age words fascinated her, and her love for the printed page has only grown. She lives with her parents and seven siblings in the sunny state of Kansas, and she’s convinced there’s no place like home. 

Journey of Choice 007

It’s been a while since I’ve sat down to work on Nat’s story (“Journey of Choice”). After a very rough first-day back into it, praise the Lord, ideas are flowing! I greatly, greatly appreciate prayers as I write this story! It is the biggest challenge I have yet tried to tackle!
 
And now, for listening to my jabber, here’s an excerpt. 😉
 
– – –
From Chapter Six
 
One day bled into another day as the sun’s heat seemed to grow in intensity. The heat wasn’t a problem, so long as miles were being put between him and the Roe farmland. Highfly’s steps dragged and Nat let his head hang down as he rode. He didn’t quite trust the horse enough to fall asleep while riding, but it came close.
 
“Hey mister!”
 
Nat’s back snapped straight, his eyes instantly alert.
 
“Ha! Scared ya didn’t I?”
 
Nat made sure to move his eyes more than his head. He wasn’t about to give this stranger the impression that he was panicked.
 
Leaves rustled to his left. Bringing Highfly to a complete stop, Nat turned and looked. A figure in dark clothing shifted behind the veil of brush.
 
“Well are ya comin’ out or ya scared?” Nat made his tone firm. Mocking, almost.

Katie Carpenter | Author Interview

One of the fun things about writing is when you can share that love with family! This week, my cousin, Katie, is here, talking about her writing experiences.

In a nutshell, what do you write?
For fun ​I write poems, stories, and journal a LOT. For work, I edit papers, novels, and resumes as well as write academic papers.

Sounds like you – helping people in your writing. 🙂 What spurred on the desire for writing?
​I have enjoyed writing for as long as I can remember. A friend of mine and I used to write stories together, which was inspired by another friend of mine in high school who was writing stories and I decided to test out my skill.

How do you balance writing with living? Because I know you have a TON on your plate right now!
It’s a really delicate balance for me. I have a career as a therapist, so most of my writing to-date has been academic. Journaling has helped me tremendously as a person and a writer. It has allowed my perfectionistic nature to learn to be okay with mistakes and has provided invaluable insight, clarity, and the ability to view emotion-riddled circumstances in a more objective manner (which in turn, helps with my career). An added bonus is I can look back on past experiences and see themes and patterns of behavior, thought, feelings, and even writing!

Good point about journaling. I have heard over and over how much that helps a writer (you’d think I would journal more since I “know” this). Who do you hope to reach with your writing?

I hope to reach others who are struggling in an inspirational and encouraging way.

If someone asked you for your best writing tip, what would it be?
Get everything out on the page. Don’t worry about errors/typos, just get it all down on paper then go back and edit it. I’ve found for myself that I would oftentimes get stuck in the editing process and miss my original, intended message. Also, writing is a gift and you are a gift to the world – so write with confidence! You have a story to tell.

Yes indeed! Love those tips! What are three things that you greatly enjoy doing?
Encouraging, inspiring, and helping others to become the best and healthiest version of themselves that they can possibly be.


ABOUT KATIE

Katie developed a love for writing in the first grade when her teacher assigned a short story for a class assignment. Throughout her teenage years, inspired by her own and many others’ stories of trauma and abuse, she wrote poems and short stories with themes related to abuse, betrayal, grief/loss, trauma, and abandonment. Her passion for assisting others, birthed through a heart of compassion, has landed her with a Masters in Social Work, where she currently works therapeutically with individuals and families to navigate through past or present histories of abuse, trauma, grief/loss, abandonment, and life’s daily stressors. From academic papers to books, Katie has utilized her natural, intuitive abilities to write and edit from both personal and objective standpoints. Having been credited with “a gift for writing”, Katie has been able to utilize writing therapeutically (both professionally and personally) to encourage, inspire, and assist others to become the healthiest (and best) version of themselves they can possibly become.


Letter of Love | Short Story Release

It is with great excitement I announce one of newest short stories that God has allowed me to complete: “Letter of Love!” I had several people ask demand what happened to Marie’s brother, Edward. I’ll admit, writing this short story took me a lot of time and prayer. I knew what the gist of Edward’s story, but getting it down on paper was surely a task. But, praise the Lord, that is all in the past and the first Orphan Journeys Short Story is now available on Amazon!

Now, some of you have blogs and might be interested in featuring Edward’s story on your blog. Fantastic! Today to August 1, “Letter of Love” will be bouncing back and forth between various blogs, but it’s not too late to sign up for it to visit your blog! I would love to include you!

In honor of “Letter of Love’s” release, I’m having a giveaway!!

If you live in the US, enter here.
If you live out of the US, enter here.

The fun doesn’t end here though! Mark your calendars, because both Journey to Love and Letter of Love will be FREE on Amazon, August 1-2!! You’ll only have two days to snatch them both. Share, share, share about this free deal!