Just Show Up by Kara Tippetts & Jill Lynn Buteyn — Review & Giveaway

Just Show Up – The Dance of Walking Through Suffering Together by Kara Tippetts & Jill Lynn Buteyn

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I’ve never read a book quite like Just Show Up. The book is meant to be helpful and to motivate people to actually show up when others are suffering. Kara Tippetts was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after she met Jill Lynn Buteyn. Ignoring her anxieties, Jill stepped up and became a real source of support for Kara. Just Show Up is the story of their relationship. Jill’s parts of the story are insightful and immensely helpful if you’re wondering how to act around someone who is suffering or wondering what to say (or not say). Hearing Kara’s opinions about what hurt the most in terms of reactions or comments from friends was both enlightening and surprising. You’ll undoubtedly cringe at some point in this story when you happen upon a situation you’ve been in–I’m sure just about all of us have made a comment we wish we could take back! I feel much more prepared for the next time someone I know is suffering. I have ideas of what not to say and how to actually help. One of the most interesting ideas in Just Show Up was the comfort in, dump out circle. It’s a simple illustration that helps you determine who you should talk about what–you never want to complain or vent about a situation to someone who is closer to the situation than you are. I know that sounds murky, but read the book–they explain it very well! I was amazed by the things Kara did to plan for her family to be taken care of after her death. Her friends built a community around her in the face of tragedy. I’m planning to pass this book on immediately, but I think I’ll pick up another copy for a refresher when I’m facing this type of situation. I highly recommend Just Show Up to anyone who wants to be supportive and helpful to people who are suffering.

Publisher Info:

About the book:

Kara Tippetts’s story was not a story of disease, although she lost her battle with terminal cancer.

It was not a story of saying goodbye, although she was intentional in her time with her husband and four children. Kara’s story was one of seeing God in the hard and in the good. It was one of finding grace in the everyday. And it was one of knowing “God with us” through fierce and beautiful friendship.

In Just Show Up, Kara and her close friend, Jill Lynn Buteyn, write about what friendship looks like in the midst of changing life seasons, loads of laundry, and even cancer. Whether you are eager to be present to someone going through a difficult time or simply want inspiration for pursuing friends in a new way, this eloquent and practical book explores the gift of silence, the art of receiving, and what it means to just show up.


Purchase a copy:
http://bit.ly/1Guvl0N

About the authors:

The late Kara Tippetts was the author of “The Hardest Peace” and blogged faithfully atmundanefaithfulness.com. Cancer was only a part of Kara’s story. Her real fight was to truly live while facing a crushing reality. Since her death in March 2015, her husband, Jason, is parenting their four children and leading the church they founded in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Read Kara’s blog.

Jill Lynn Buteyn is the author of “Falling for Texas,” an inspirational novel, and a recipient of the ACFW Genesis Award for her fiction work. She has a bachelor’s degree in communications from Bethel University. Jill lives near the beautiful Rocky Mountains with her husband and two children.

Connect with Jill: website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram

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An Interview with Jill Lynn Buetyn — from The Litfuse Blog

While your heart might be in the right place, it is not unusual to feel uncomfortable or insecure when you’re around loved ones who are in the midst of a trial. The temptation to back away can be strong; after all, couldn’t they use some space? You don’t want to be a burden. Is that ever the right choice though? Is there something both of you can gain from friendship in the midst of suffering? Bestselling author Kara Tippetts and Jill Lynn Buteyn answer those questions in the new book Just Show Up: the Dance of Walking Through Suffering Together. With grace and practical advice, the friends wrote about what relationships look like in the midst of changing life seasons, loads of laundry and even Tippetts’ battle with cancer, which she tragically lost on March 22, 2015.

Q: You wrote Just Show Up with your late friend Kara Tippetts. Can you tell us about Kara and the circumstances that led you to write this book together?

Kara Tippetts was a grace-filled mother and pastor’s wife who was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 36. While fighting cancer, she shared her story with thousands of readers on her blog, Mundane Faithfulness. She also wrote the book The Hardest Peace about her journey and co-authored Just Show Up with me before passing away at the age of 38. While Kara was blogging, I was writing fiction. We often talked about collaborating on a book. We settled on the subject of walking through suffering together because we could write from both of our perspectives. I learned a lot from watching Kara’s community rally around her, from seeing her friends in action. Of course, as the one suffering, Kara had firsthand knowledge of what works well and what doesn’t. We both hoped the book would take some of the mystery out of showing up for each other and allow people to engage more confidently in community, even during really hard times.

Q: How and when did you learn about Kara’s cancer diagnosis? Did it change your relationship with her?

I actually heard about Kara’s diagnosis when she posted about it on her personal Facebook page. We were friends through school and church, but as I say in the book, our friendship developed more after her diagnosis. She had only been in Colorado for six months at the time. I do remember thinking about our friendship. Where did I fit in all of this? Was I “in”? I decided the answer was yes. I wasn’t going to shy away from Kara because things could get scary or hard. I told her later that choosing her was a conscious choice for me.

Q: Do you think it’s easier to be someone’s friend when times are good?

Certainly there’s a simplicity to friendship when things are good, but at the same time, when is “good”? We all have hard times, and we’re often dealing with tough stuff in different areas of life at the same time. But there’s also beauty that comes in doing the really hard stuff together. When I look back on my time with Kara, on the way she let me and so many others in when she was suffering so much, I see a lot of tears, prayers and pain, but I also see grace and even peace. I see really great friendships formed in a short amount of time. It was beautiful to walk with her, even though it hurt so much. It still hurts. But I would choose her all over again.

Q: You write in Just Show Up that being there for a friend can be as simple as literally just showing up. Why is presence so important during suffering?

Presence is so important in suffering because sometimes that’s really all we have to offer. We don’t have the right words, or there isn’t anything we can do to help. Sometimes it is just about being there. There’s peace and support in being with each other — from both sides. Often it was a comfort for us to be with Kara, even if she was sleeping, and I think she felt that same thing. One time I sat at the hospital with her while she slept. I brought my laptop and just wrote, sitting in the chair. I remember wanting to have something to do so she would feel free to sleep and rest. She opened her eyes and said something about how it gave her comfort that I was there. I could have easily second-guessed offering to sit with her — it wasn’t really necessary. But just being present with each other meant something to both of us.

Q: You talk about learning to be “comfortable with your uncomfortable.” Can you share a story from your friendship with Kara that illustrates what you mean by that?

Kara never expected us to have answers for the hard she was being asked to walk. I could say, “I don’t know what to say,” and that was enough for her. Or, “I’m so sorry. I hate this for you.” She accepted things like that. She was dying, and even though our hearts were breaking, we still wanted to be with her. We craved time with her.

Q: Could you offer some advice for others on how to move past moments of awkwardness?

Pray, then step out in faith. God will meet you there. Be honest. You could even say to a friend, “I want to help. I don’t want to be the person who disappears because this is awkward or uncomfortable. How can I be there for you? Will you help me by telling me if I’m doing something offensive or don’t have a clue?” I think friendships can grow from this kind of honesty.

Q: Sometimes it’s easy to struggle with self-doubt and wonder if your efforts to help will be a nuisance. How did you work through some of those concerns?

I prayed a lot about decisions regarding how to help. I also had a few friends I could hash out my doubts with who were willing to process with me. Sometimes we just need someone to speak truth into our doubts. And at times, I did things and still didn’t know after if they were a help. Sometimes it’s just about doing. We may never know exactly how our help impacted someone else for the better.

Q: When offering help to someone, why is it important to be very specific about how you would like to help them?

It’s far easier for people to accept help when we offer something specific. I used to say to people, “Let me know if you need anything.” And I meant it. But rarely, if ever, did anyone ask me for anything or admit what might help them. However, when I offer a specific, “Hey, I’m at the store, can I pick anything up for you?” or, “I’d love to come by and do a couple loads of laundry this week. What day works?” it easier for the suffering people to decide if and when they need that specific help or how they can tweak it to meet their needs. The other bonus to offering a specific help is that it gives us the freedom to serve within our gifting. If I’m a kid person, and someone asks me to paint their guest room, that probably won’t bring me the same joy as watching kids. We can find so much joy in helping others, and I think part of that is in doing the things we’re gifted in — not that we don’t ever step beyond that. It’s just a good place to start. I love what I learned about being specific in helping others. It was a light-bulb moment for me. It just makes sense, and yet, I’d never really thought about it before. It’s important because it makes things easier and more comfortable for both sides and takes away the guess work.

Q: What are some words we can use to offer comfort? Are there any words that can hurt more than help?

I don’t think there are perfect words. I guess that’s why showing up for others can be confusing and scary. But maybe recognizing this — that there isn’t anything perfect to be done or said — will make it easier for people to dive in with each other. Say things that are comforting, listening phrases. “I’m so sorry. That’s hard.” Comforting is also about what not to say. Don’t try to solve your friend. Listen and love them in their hard.

Q: How did you see God and his love expressed in your friendship with Kara?

When I think about how she let us in during really hard stuff: while she was dying. In pain. Broken. I’m amazed. She gave and gave. She loved so big. I don’t even know how to explain it. God’s presence was felt by so many. It was really beautiful even though it’s still hard.

Q: What do you think holds people back from pursuing deep connections with others even during the good times?

Hurt. We’re all a bunch of sinners, and relationships can be scary. We do stupid things and say stupid things, even in good times. I know I have regrets in this area. Plus, relationships are hard work. It’s hard to open yourself up to others, to let people in to the not-so-great sides of ourselves.

Q: When you and Kara wrote about “big love,” what did you mean?

Loving more, bigger than you thought possible. Opening yourself up to community. Loving beyond your limits. Kara didn’t find a few friends and then stop letting others in. She kept opening herself up to more people. Even online, she shared so much of herself and impacted many lives.

Q: Even though Kara knew she was dying, why was it important for her to finish Just Show Up with you?

Kara fostered community in everything she did. And even though she had to accept a lot of help from others, she also gave. This was a way she could give: by taking some of the unknown out of showing up and being in community with one another. Plus, she was just Kara. Stubborn and wonderful and wanting to squeeze every minute out of life.

Q: Kara’s blog, Mundane Faithfulness, had a large following of faithful readers that followed her through her cancer journey. What were the main messages Kara always tried to impart to her readers? Kindness, kindness, kindness. And loving big.

Q: So many readers fell in love with Kara and her family through her blog and book The Hardest Peace. Can you tell us how the Tippetts family is doing since her passing in March?

I think only the Tippetts can really answer how they are doing. I would suggest following the Mundane Faithfulness blog. Jason has been gracious to share updates there about how he and the kids are doing.

What does friendship look like in the midst of changing life seasons, loads of laundry—and even cancer? Kara Tippetts and Jill Lynn Buteyn teamed up to write Just Show Up, a story of their close friendship and walk through Kara’s battle with terminal cancer. Whether you are eager to be present to someone going through a difficult time or simply want inspiration for pursuing friends in a new way, this eloquent and practical book explores the gift of silence, the art of receiving, and what it means to just show up.

Celebrate the gift of friendship with a Tried & True Friendship giveaway—a prize for you and for a friend!

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One grand prize winner will receive:

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on October 23rd. The winner will be announced October 26th on Jill’s blog.

Is one of your friends going through a tough time—maybe you need some encouragement? Stop by Kara and Jill’s author page, click on the reviews bar, and read through some bloggers’ stories of how their friends got them through suffering.

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*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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The Finishing School by Valerie Woerner — Review

The Finishing School by Valerie Woerner

The Finishing School is unlike any book I’ve ever read. In short, I love it!! Valerie Woerner has created a guide to aid Christians in everyday life. The book is divided into 24 small-ish chapters, each centering on a vital part of the Christian faith. Woerner suggests you approach the book in one of two ways–spend 2 weeks on each chapter, one week reading and doing the homework, the second week applying what you’ve learned; read the book through at your own pace and ask God to reveal which areas you need to focus on. I actually read through the book once for this review, but I’m very much looking forward to rereading and spending a few weeks with each topic. Woerner provides homework sheets (on her website) for each chapter to help the reader go deeper and explore each topic. One thing I especially loved about The Finishing School is Woerner’s reading recommendations at the end of each chapter. She gives relevant information in each section from related books, which reminded me of Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before, and it is so helpful to have a specific direction in which to go. It doesn’t hurt that she recommends a few books I really enjoyed or have been dying to read! Woerner’s writing is easily accessible–reading her work feels like talking to a friend. She seems genuine and honest in sharing her own story to help others. I totally judged this book by its cover–it’s so cute! I’m SO glad I read it–and will absolutely read it again. I’m recommending it to everyone I know–and that includes you! Whether you’re a new Christian, a seasoned one, or are simply curious about the faith, READ THIS BOOK!

Publisher Info:

 About the book:
The Finishing School: How One Book Nerd Began Living What She Learned
(Nyree Press, August 2015)

Are you tired of waiting for change to happen in your life? Do you feel stuck, even though you want to live more intentionally?

In today’s world, our most precious pursuit of a life well lived gets squeezed out by the silliest of things: binging on Netflix or ice cream, shopping trips for things we don’t need, bad habits we can’t seem to get a handle on, and so much more. Valerie has been there despite knowing what she wanted for her life. Actually do it? That’s the challenge.

After gobbling up all the non-fiction and self-help books her donut-filled belly could handle, she decided it was time to put her knowledge to good use and start actually living it out. You will hear about her journey through victories and plenty of failures and find practical tips to apply to your own pursuit of holiness. You will find homework at the end of each chapter that includes a worksheet to put real change in motion for your own life as well as recommended books to further study those topics that really test you.

About the author:
 
Valerie Woerner is owner of Val Marie Paper. She and her husband, Tyler, live in Louisiana with their daughter, Vivi Mae. The Finishing School is her first book.
Connect with Valerie: websiteTwitter, Instagram

The Story Behind The Finishing School — from The Litfuse Blog

Maya Angelou once said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Where does a writer find inspiration? What’s the hardest part about writing a book? What do you hope your writing achieves? We asked Valerie Woerner to tell us the story behind The Finishing School.


Tells us a bit about your book—what inspired you to write it?

I was feeling frustrated with my own lack of discipline in so many areas. It wasn’t freeing at all as I like to tell myself. And the thing was, I knew what to do because I’m a serious book nerd and love to learn from them. I just wasn’t practicing anything I had learned. I started figuring out how to practically change my habits and thought it would be fun to design a journal where I could work through changing my habits. This idea morphed into a book but I quickly got overwhelmed with writing that much on one thing. My husband suggested making the chapters individual in nature, each having it’s own area of discipline. Once he said this, I knew I had lots to share and lots to learn myself through the writing process and the writing process came very naturally.

What is the main message of your book?

We have this vision of ourselves becoming refined, looking more like Jesus and living this life to the fullest. These enormous hopes we have for our life get squeezed out as we spend our days on the silliest of things, like binging on Netflix or ice cream.The Finishing School was written to equip women with practical tools and a clear message of how to take back our days and pursue Jesus and the life He desires for us.

What was the hardest part about writing nonfiction?

There is so much responsibility to have the facts straight. I’d never want to lead anyone astray, especially as I share so many truths I’ve learned from the Bible. Mistakes in fiction can be chalked up to creative license, but nonfiction feels a bit more rigid. However, I’m definitely more comfortable with nonfiction. If you asked me to write a fiction book, it’d probably be 30 pages long. I studied journalism and learned the art of brevity instead of description.

What is one thing you learned while writing The Finishing School?

Oh wow. I was immersed in the writing process for 7 weeks and then read the book at least 5 times during the editing process. I’ve learned that talking about, learning about or desiring change isn’t going to change me. I’ve squandered so many days.

Do you have any advice for those interested in writing nonfiction?

This might not work for everyone but the short process had me immersed in the book morning and night. I think if I had written a little here and there, I would have had to warm up my “muscles” before each writing session. I never left the book very long so I was able to pick up pretty quickly without having to find a new groove.

Waiting always has a purpose. "The Finishing School" by Valerie Woerner

*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Wonder of You by Susan May Warren — Review

The Wonder of You by Susan May Warren

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The Wonder of You is the 5th book in Warren’s Christiansen Family series. This time the focus is on the youngest Christiansen member, Amelia. It’s a classic love triangle story–which boy should she choose? There’s Roark-the Brit she fell in love with overseas, or Seth- her hometown lifelong boyfriend. Amelia’s story is about more than romance, though. She’s struggling with her purpose and God’s plan for her life. Failure is a strong theme throughout The Wonder of You. Warren tackles the issue from several different angles, showing us self-failure in different situations and life stages and how we can react and rebound in each. While this story didn’t grab me as quickly as When I Fall in Love (book 3), it slowly worked it’s way to the forefront of my mind. By the end, I wanted more! Warren weaves in a bit of suspense in places, and she has superbly set up the next (and final) book in the Christiansen Family series. Fans of the series will be overjoyed to see a lot of Grace and Max in The Wonder of You. It’s really nice to see where they are now and what they’re dealing with, and they are strong secondary characters in this story. I give this book a solid 4 stars. Recommended for fans of inspirational fiction, family series, and Christian romance.

Publisher Info:

Mortified after her semester abroad is cut short, Amelia Christiansen returns to Deep Haven, certain she isn’t brave enough for the adventures she’s dreamed of. The last thing she expects is for the man who broke her heart to cross the Atlantic and beg forgiveness.

Heir to a European hotel dynasty, Roark St. John has trekked from one exotic locale to another, haunted by tragedy and the expectations that accompany his last name. Amelia is the first woman to give him a reason to stop running. He’ll do anything for a second chance—even contend with Amelia’s old flame, who is intent on sending Roark packing.

While one surprise after another leaves Amelia reeling, Roark’s continued presence only highlights the questions pursuing her. Like him, is she running from the life God has called her to? Could finding her new place mean leaving home behind?

Susan May Warren

{MORE ABOUT SUSAN MAY WARREN}

Susan May Warren is the bestselling, RITA Award–winning author of more than forty novels whose compelling plots and unforgettable characters have won acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. She served with her husband and four children as a missionary in Russia for eight years before she and her family returned home to the States. She now writes full-time as her husband runs a lodge on Lake Superior in northern Minnesota, where many of her books are set. She and her family enjoy hiking, canoeing, and being involved in their local church. Several of her critically acclaimed novels have been ECPA and CBA bestsellers, were chosen as Top Picks by Romantic Times, and have won the RWA’s Inspirational Reader’s Choice contest and the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year award. Five of her books have been Christy Award finalists. In addition to her writing, Susan loves to teach and speak at women’s events about God’s amazing grace in our lives. She also runs a writing community for authors. Visit MyBookTherapy.com to learn more. For exciting updates on her new releases, previous books, and more, visit her website at http://www.susanmaywarren.com

ABOUT THE CHRISTIANSEN FAMILY SERIES:

Set on the north shore of Minnesota, the series features the Christiansens, a family readers can identify with as they try to figure out how faith meets real life.

In Take a Chance on Me . . . (the 2014 Christy Award winner for Contemporary Series)

Darek Christiansen, heir to the historic Evergreen Lake Resort is angry since the loss of his wife. After a charity auction connects him with assistant county attorney, Ivy Madison, Darek begins to believe there might be love again in his future, but he’ll have to overcome his painful past – and Ivy’s secret connection to his wife’s death.

In It had to Be You . . .

Eden Christiansen’s job as handler for her NHL rookie brother, Owen, leaves her little time to focus on her own career. If only team enforcer, Jace, would mentor the young man. When Owen’s carelessness leads to an injury, Eden and Jace are thrown together and begin to wonder if they belong on the same team after all.

In When I Fall in Love . . .

Hawaii was the last place Grace Christiansen ever imagined she’d vacation, much less fall in love. But when her family surprises her with a cooking retreat in the Aloha State, she is pulled away from her predictable life and thrown headfirst into the path of hockey player, Max Sharpe, and the romantic adventure of a lifetime.

In Always On My Mind . . .

After a failed dig in Honduras, aspiring archaeologist Casper Christiansen heads home to Minnesota to face his unresolved feelings for Raina Beaumont, the woman of his dreams. But when he arrives unannounced on her doorstep, he receives the shock of a lifetime: Raina is pregnant with someone else’s baby.

In Evergreen (CHRISTMAS NOVELLA!!). . .

An empty nest has Ingrid Christiansen dreading the upcoming holidays, but her husband, John, couldn’t be more excited about this new season of life. He even has a surprise trip abroad planned. He’s sure she’ll love it. What’s more romantic than Christmas in Paris?

Before he can stop her, however, Ingrid agrees to spearhead a major church project. Then their faithful dog, Butterscotch, needs emergency surgery, draining their savings. And then—because disasters strike in threes—an unexpected guest arrives, dredging up old hurts.

As a beautiful blanket of snow transforms the north woods into a winter wonderland, a deep chill settles over John and Ingrid’s marriage. With the holidays fast approaching, their only hope of keeping their love evergreen depends on turning the page on the past and embracing a new chapter of their future.

Coming in Spring 2016: You’re the One That I Want

I urge you to check out the Christiansen family series!!

*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Two Roads Home by Deborah Raney — Review & Giveaway!

Two Roads Home (A Chicory Inn Novel) by Deborah Raney

Two Roads Home is the second Chicory Inn Novel by Deborah Raney. The first, Home to Chicory Lane (See my review here), centered on Chase & Landyn (Whitman) Spencer along with the Whitman clan. Two Roads Home focuses on Landyn’s older sister, Corinne, and her family. Fans of Chicory Inn will be glad to discover that the rest of the Whitman family is still very much involved in the story. I was so happy to dive into this book and catch up with the characters! The Chicory Inn is idyllic, and Raney’s description of Corinne’s house made me wish I could move right in! One of my favorite things about this book is the cover. Simply gorgeous, inviting, and relaxing. I love the continuity between the first book and this one in terms of cover art. However, this laid back picture doesn’t completely represent the tension hidden inside the novel. I was completely surprised when the book took a suspenseful turn. I was enjoying the story very much, but the added intensity made it SO much better! There’s a definite feeling of unease for much of the story. Everything isn’t necessarily resolved by the end, but it’s tied up well enough. This is a story about marriage, purpose, and faith. I’m looking forward to the next title in the series and luckily a teaser chapter is included at the end of Two Roads HomeAnother Way Home will allow a peek into the lives of Danae (Whitman) Brooks & her husband, Dallas. It’s not too late to visit Chicory Inn. Pick up the first two books right away as the next releases in a few months! Highly recommended to fans of Inspirational Fiction, Family Fiction, and books featuring an inn!

Favorite lines:

He kissed her forehead, yearning to be back in her good graces, homesick for her in a way that didn’t fit with the fact that he was holding her in his arms. -page 38

But the words seemed strangely unavailable to her. And she knew God was answering her prayer for the right words. Sometimes silence was the answer to a prayer for the right words. Thank you for closing my mouth. Perhaps there would be another day to say those things. But that day was not today. -page 266

Publisher Info:

Two Roads Home (Abingdon Press, June 2015)

What if it’s too late for dreams to come true?

Minor-but-nagging setbacks continue to sour Grant and Audrey Whitman’s initiation into the world of innkeeping, but larger challenges brew when an innocent flirtation leads to big trouble for the Whitmans’ son-in-law, Jesse. Jesse Pennington’s friendly, outgoing personality has always served him well, especially in a career that has earned him and his wife Corinne a very comfortable lifestyle. But Corinne and Jesse are both restless—and for similar reasons, if only they could share those with each other. Instead, too many business trips and trumped-up charges of harassment from a disgruntled coworker threaten their marriage and possibly put their three precious daughters at risk.

With their life in disarray, God is tugging at their hearts to pursue other dreams. Can Corinne and Jesse pick up the pieces of what was once a wonderful life before it all crumbles beneath them?

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/1BdaEcG

 About the author: 


Deborah Raney’s books have won numerous awards, including the RITA, National Readers Choice Award, HOLT Medallion, and the Carol Award, and have twice been Christy Award finalists. She and her husband, Ken, recently traded small-town life in Kansas-the setting of many of Deborah’s novels-for life in the (relatively) big city of Wichita, where they enjoy gardening, antiquing, movies, and traveling to visit four children and a growing brood of grandchildren who all live much too far away.

Find Deborah online: website, Twitter, Facebook

Deborah Raney’s ‘Two Roads Home’ 5-Book Giveaway

Two Roads Home Deborah Raney

Click the button to be taken to the giveaway page!

Deborah Raney also wrote one of my all-time favorite books, Playing by HeartShe wrote an updated and expanded version of the book and it released last year as A January Bride, part of the multi-authored series A Year of Weddings. I hope you’ll check out her work!!

*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Chance of Loving You — Review

Chance of Loving You Romance Collection by Terri Blackstock, Candace Calvert, & Susan May Warren

Synopsis:

An anthology by three bestselling romance authors

For Love of Money by Terri Blackstock Trying to launch her own design firm while waitressing on the side, Julie Sheffield was drawn to the kind man she waited on at the restaurant last night . . . until he stiffed her on the tip by leaving her half of a sweepstakes ticket.

The Recipe by Candace Calvert Hospital dietary assistant Aimee Curran is determined to win the Vegan Valentine Bake-Off to prove she’s finally found her calling. But while caring for one of her patients—the elderly grandmother of a handsome CSI photographer—Aimee begins to question where she belongs.

Hook, Line & Sinker by Susan May Warren Grad student Abigail Cushman has agreed to enter the annual Deep Haven fishing contest. She’s a quick learner, even if she doesn’t know the difference between a bass and a trout. But nothing could prepare her for competing against the handsome charmer she’s tried to forget since grief tore them apart.

One chance for each woman to change her life . . . but will love be the real prize?

My Thoughts:

Chance of Loving You is a romance collection comprised of three unrelated stories. The collection begins with For Love of Money by Terri Blackstock. This is my favorite story of the trio! Julie is a struggling waitress, and Blake is down on his luck and unemployed. When Blake doesn’t have the money to leave a tip, he leaves Julie half of a sweepstakes ticket. You can guess where this is headed; think Nicholas Cage in It Could Happen to You. I expected the story to be predictable, but it actually surprised me several times! Blake and Julie are relatable characters who are all too human. Fans of inspirational fiction and Christian romance will adore For Love of Money!

The Recipe by Candace Calvert centers on Aimee, current dietary assistant at a hospital but aspiring culinary star. One of her edible decorations at the hospital isn’t well received, and she finds herself constantly trying to make up for it. It doesn’t help that a patient’s gorgeous grandson is always around throwing her off balance. The Recipe is enjoyable and had my mouth watering for strawberry rhubarb crumble. The story moved slowly and seemed repetitive at times, but it’s an overall good read.

Susan May Warren’s Hook, Line & Sinker rounds out the collection. Abby and Ross have a somewhat complicated past, and now they’re competing against each other in a fishing contest. Like all of Warren’s stories, the characters are realistic and have a magnetism about them. If you’re a fan of Warren’s Deep Haven books, you definitely don’t want to miss Hook, Line & Sinker!

Chance of Loving You is a wonderful collection of stories in a gorgeous package. (Seriously, check out that cover!) I love that they included a recipe at the end of each story. Highly recommended for Christian Romance and Inspirational Fiction fans!

About the Authors:

To learn more about the authors of Chance of Loving You, visit the links below.

Terri Blackstock – BioWebsite

Candace Calvert – BioWebsite

Susan May Warren – BioWebsite

*Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.

A Marriage Carol by Chris Fabry & Gary Chapman – Review

A Marriage Carol

Synopsis:

On Christmas Eve twenty years earlier, Marlee and Jacob were married in a snowstorm.   This Christmas Eve, they are ready to quit, divorce is imminent. Their relationship is as icy as the road they’re traveling and as blocked with troubles as the piling snow. They take a shortcut to get to the lawyer’s office, on a slippery, no-fault path. She thinks they need to stay on the main road. He disagrees. They fight. Story of their lives and they slam into a bank of snow , spinning, drifting, falling, out of control. Just like their lives. Reluctantly, freezing cold, hungry, scared, she trudges up the hill. Jacob is nowhere to be found. Her ears frozen, fingers and hands red, she comes to a house on the hillside, built like a Bed and Breakfast, a green wreath on the red door and the door-knocker is in the shape of a wedding ring.

The red door opens and the first thing she notices is the fire in the room, blazing hot, a warm, inviting, friendly place and the voice of an old man welcomes her in. There are three golden pots on the hearth, shining, glimmering things. The old man claims that they are used to restore marriages. She laughs-and begins a journey through her past, present, and future that will test how she views her lifelong love. There are two futures available. Which will she choose?

My Thoughts:

A Marriage Carol is an emotional take on A Christmas Carol, but with a twist. In this story, Marlee and Jacob are a couple struggling to survive in more way than one. A car crash and a mysterious man lead them to critical moment where they must choose which path to take. This story is incredibly engrossing, and it will grab your heart! While it is technically a Christmas story, it can be enjoyed any time of year. Jacob and Marlee are extremely realistic. Other parts of the story include a bit of fantasy, keeping in time with A Christmas Carol. I highly recommend A Marriage Carol to fans of Christmas fiction, inspirational fiction, and retellings of classic stories. Read this book. It will only take you an hour or two!

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Winter Brides (A Year of Weddings) — Review

Winter Brides by Denise Hunter, Deborah Raney, & Betsy St. Amant

Winter Brides is a collection of three novellas from the Zondervan series ‘A Year of Weddings.’ Winter Brides contains the stories from December, January, and February.

Info from the Publisher:

Happily ever after begins today. The honor of your presence is requested at three winter weddings . . .

A December Bride by Denise Hunter

When Layla O’Reilly and Seth Murphy make their engagement public, she knows it’s only to convince a major client that she’s high-society enough to work for his agency. Seth has secretly loved Layla for years, but she’s never given him the time of day. For Layla, this romantic illusion is the chance to save her career. And for Seth, it’s the chance to finally win her heart.

A January Bride by Deborah Raney

Novelist Madeleine Houser arranges a temporary office in a local bed and breakfast to escape the distracting renovations on her own house. Although she’s never laid eyes on the inn’s owner, an unlikely friendship blossoms between them as they leave daily notes for each other, and before long, Maddie finds herself falling for her mysterious host—a man likely many years her senior—and a man she’s never even met.

A February Bride by Betsy St. Amant

History repeats itself when Allie Andrews escapes the church on her wedding day—wearing the same dress passed down for generations of women in her family, all women with histories of failed marriages. Allie loves Marcus but fears she’s destined to repeat her family’s mistakes. When thrown unexpectedly together for a wedding months later, Allie and Marcus discover their own story might be far from over.

My Reviews:

A December Bride:

I always fall so easily into Denise Hunter’s stories! This is the first in a series called A Year of Weddings. Each novella will be written by a different author. A December Bride focuses on Layla. The story starts with her scramble to find a date for a wedding–but not just any wedding. Her ex is marrying her cousin, and it still stings. She ends up going with her ex’s former best friend, Seth. Things get tricky when Seth offers a lie about his and Layla’s relationship, and that’s when the story really starts to take off. Hunter has created a realistic tale with heart and holiday spirit. An easy read for a cozy evening!

A January Bride:

Several years ago my mom gave me a book with a cat on the cover. I was blown away by how much I loved the story inside! That book was Playing by Heart by Deborah Raney. When I started reading A January Bride, I thought, “This seems way too familiar. I think they may have ripped off that book with the cat on the cover.” After some research, I discovered A January Bride is in fact an updated, expanded edition of Playing by Heart!

A January Bride is the story of Maddie Houser and Arthur Tyler. The whole book revolves around simple misconceptions. I really enjoyed the story. My only criticism is that the last chapter should have either been an epilogue or labeled as some amount of time later. It would be implausible for the events to take place at that exact time. The author didn’t tell us how long it was between chapters, which I’d be interested to know. This is a fun read. I’d recommend it to fans of christian romance.

A February Bride:

I enjoyed this novella. I give it 3.5 stars. I think it’s hard to fully develop characters and tell a deep story in a novella because of the short length. However, St. Amant did a great job of it. I felt like I really got to know Marcus and Allie, while Hannah and Julie were strong supporting characters. The story was a little predictable, but it was still enjoyable. A February Bride is a short, sweet, easy read. When the story begins, Allie has just left Marcus at the altar. The women in her family have terrible track records when it comes to marriage, and Allie thinks she will ruin Marcus’ life by marrying him. Marcus’ sister, Hannah, gets engaged a few months later and asks Allie to be her maid of honor. Of course this leads to all kinds of awkward situations for Allie and Marcus. I’d recommend reading this on a lazy afternoon when you’re yearning for a good story. Don’t forget to check out the other books in the A Year of Weddings series!

Winter Brides is available now in paperback and digital form! It’d make a great gift for the Christian Fiction fan in your life!!

*I received a digital ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.