July 14, 2017

it's the little things...

drinking hot tea
reading books
wearing sandals
trees rustling in the wind
convos with friends
long and tight hugs
dreaming of trips to come
having wanderlust
rainy days
movie marathons
warm smiles from strangers
long roads with mountains
bright and cheerful flowers
unexpected compliments
text messages from friends
fresh blueberries
crisp mornings
warm blankets
handwritten words
ocean waves
relatable characters
the sound of turning pages
hearing "I love you"
favorite songs
lyrics that understand
the quiet of nature
hearing someone laugh
holding a newborn
knowing that someone misses you
discovering words for feelings
receiving a letter/card in the mail
sleeping in
eating watermelon outside
long drives
reminiscing with friends
black and white photographs
endless possibilities
finding brave
knowing it's Friday! :)

July 13, 2017

Bite-Sized Reviews :: Edition Twenty-Nine

Hello, my lovelies! Long time no talk. I'm still here! Though I'm sure you've been in doubt. Completely understandable! Life has been....interesting for me this year and it seems so many things I love have gotten pushed to the side. And I don't like it. I keep hoping to restart blogging, as well as a few other things, but something always seems to happen to prevent it. So. Whether I'm here for a while or just a couple posts....I'm not certain. But I'm going to try and begin posting a little more regularly again! Hope with me, how about it? :)

Meanwhile, on to the mini reviews...

Because You're Mine by Colleen Coble
The opportunity to review this one came up and it intrigued me. It's a story very much out of my usual comfort zone, but that can be a good thing! So I said "Why not?", and here I am, striving for words to describe my feelings. It's an interesting premise for sure! I absolutely must commend Ms. Coble for creating this very Gothic atmosphere, for one thing. I could feel the same unease and confusion about everything that Alanna was feeling. I wasn't certain what was going on exactly and I knew it didn't feel quite right. So kudos to her for affecting my emotions so vividly! It was enough to keep me turning the pages to find out how it all would end.

Yet I have to admit to not quite enjoying the entire story at the same time. Alanna bugged me several times, with how she'd react to things. And overall, the weirdness of the plot just wasn't something I found very pleasing. It was simply a bit too odd for my liking, I suppose. I've never been a huge fan of Gothic-type stories, but I was hoping this one would be an exception. Sadly, not. But if you enjoy those sorts of stories yourself, this may just be right up your alley! Especially if eerie and atmospheric mysteries fascinate you. :)

**I received a complimentary copy via Netgalley. All opinions expressed are my own.

Long Time Gone by Mary Connealy
I have to hand it to Ms. Connealy. She was able to convince this non-western-reader to read a western and thoroughly enjoy myself! :) And how she did it was her brand of humor. I laughed so many times during this story! (Probably even during moments that aren't supposed to be funny exactly, but so many lines just tickled my funny bone. :) My favorite bits are watching Justin and Angie dance around their attraction. They slowly began opening up to each other and the sweetness of their interactions just made my heart swoon.

The mystery aspects are sufficiently mysterious and the cast of characters are simply wonderful (except for the villains, naturally ;). I loved the Boden family as a whole! They rank high on my list of favorite families now because the way they love and care for each other is so completely heart-warming. I also have to say that, as I haven't read book one yet, I was glad Ms. Connealy offered up just enough information that I wasn't entirely lost. Especially since I got the feeling things in the beginning pretty much pick up where No Way Up left off. So while I think there were a few times it would have been helpful to read the books in order, it's okay if you don't. Which I'm grateful for because now I'm ready for book one and book three! :)

**I received a complimentary copy via Bethany House. All opinions expressed are my own.

July 12, 2017

Review: My Unexpected Hope by Tammy L. Gray

This is not an easy story to read, but oh so worth it! Because Laila and Chad's journey is fraught with pain and hurt. And lots of it. Much like their best friend Katie's story (My Hope Next Door, which I loved!), they've both made a few (or several) wrong choices and the consequences are gut-wrenching for them. But these two characters could not be in more capable hands than Ms. Gray's because she excels in filling characters' difficult trajectories with bits of hope. So don't let the fear of hard scare you away!

I admit to not quite being sure I liked Laila in book one, but I was intrigued by her. She's one tough cookie, this lady! :) Watching as she struggles to figure out how lovable she truly is and to be able to forgive herself, as well as Chad, is a beautiful redemption. It's a hard road to get there, but once she arrives...ah my heart! It broke so many times during this story, but by the final pages it was mended whole again. And Chad. So many times I wanted to shake him! But as he grew stronger in his faith walk, so, too, did my appreciation for him. Neither he nor Laila have it easy, but they refused to give in completely and became wonderful examples of hope!

The title of the book truly describes what happens during the story. For all the hard and yucky things these characters have to endure, their friends, and ultimately their Father above, refuse to let them surrender! And hope is reborn again and again, much like our real lives. That's what I love most about Ms. Gray's stories, I think. The rawness of the emotions felt, the very real heartbreak that exists and is so easily related to. The layers upon layers in the characters, who never seem to fit into just one box of personality, precisely how we human beings are. We're complicated! And her characters show it. She writes about serious things, things we've either experienced or possibly know someone who has. She takes her readers to difficult places, yet never lets us forget that love never gives up. That grace and mercy and forgiveness are actually possible, no matter how impossible they may seem!

And she ends it all with hope of the good yet to come in the characters lives long after the final pages are closed. The reader only has to trust where she intends the journey to go. And it's worth it, friends. Believe me. :)

**I received a complimentary copy from the author via Netgalley. All opinions expressed are my own.

You can try and fight, and maybe even sometimes succeed, but without faith, you cannot call it freedom. It's simply bondage on hold.

Grief so crippling that on days like today, she began to doubt whether she'd ever truly be whole again.

She wanted from him the same thing he expected from Laila. Forgiveness. Something so simple, yet so impossibly hard.

She'd been fighting all this time to stay in control. But maybe that was the problem. Maybe it was time to give all of herself to a God who had never rejected or abandoned her.

July 11, 2017

Review: Distorted by Christy Barritt

What is it about Christy Barritt's stories that keep me coming back to them again and again? I'm not normally a fan of mysteries! But Ms. Barritt continues to hook me in every single time and I can never say no to one of her books. :) Per my usual, this one is no different. I was a goner from the first chapter until the last, every pulse-pounding minute of it!

First, let's talk about Mallory. I cannot even imagine going through a tenth of what this girl has endured! The sheer terror of her life before the story begins permeates everything in her present day. Which is only to be expected, because I don't think one just "gets over" that sort of thing. Human trafficking is a terrible and awful evil, but I absolutely loved her determination to survive despite it all. She is so fiercely driven to live, as well as make sure no one else experiences what she did. To face all the emotions and "stuff" she has to in order to become hope for someone else? That takes a tremendous lot of strength, of which Mallory has in spades. Can you tell I liked her? I really, really wanted to jump in her story (at the very end, of course, after all the action, because hello, I'm a wimp! ;), hug her tight, and give her someone else to lean on. Not that Tennyson isn't enough for her though. Because wow, that man!

Tennyson is certainly hero material. I loved how he knew just the right amount of caring and encouragement that Mallory needed. Plus he's just really good at keeping an eye on her. For more reasons than one. He's not perfect, but goodness is he ever perfect for her! For all the tension due to the constant threats, Ms. Barritt also created some serious chemistry between these two people, I swooned fairly often as they grew closer. Her ability to keep both the romantic tension and the whodunit balanced is so well done! Definitely a big reason I'm a fan of her writing. :)

There's simply no way to sit down with this story and not devour it all in one sitting. I read much too late in the night (jumping at all the creaking noises in my house, so....not recommended for late night reads if you're a scaredy-cat like me! ;), and closed the final pages with a happy sigh. A thrill ride from start to finish, I remain a huge fan of Ms. Barritt's after this story! And happily anticipate her next one, whenever it comes out...

**I received a complimentary copy from the author via Netgalley. All opinions expressed are my own.

Like water, love had the power to sustain life or to devastate it.

Darkness can blind you, but one flicker of light drives away the night and changes everything. The smallest flame can help us see what we couldn't see before.

Someone once told me you can't be a victor and a victim at the same time. I choose to be a victor.

No matter how painful, it's only after you face the truth that you can find healing.


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