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Book Review: Original Design by Denise Buss

Posted by Julie on March 4, 2016 in Book Review, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

Book Description:

Original Design by Denise Buss

Original Design by Denise Buss

You can’t simultaneously be who God created you to be and the person Satan molded you into.
We are perfectly designed by God. He drafts our blueprint with distinct characteristics, traits, gifts, and talents and stamps it on our spirit before we are born. Unfortunately, Satan often succeeds at concealing our true identity when we are young. He uses an array of influences such as our family, our culture, and even the Church to wound and scar us. This not only stifles God’s original design, but we end up engraved with Satan’s trademark. We don’t realize that we’ve been altered because much of Satan’s work is either subtle or completely invisible.
The Refiner’s fire can expose the HIDDEN SECRETS of the heart!
Do you think the past can’t be changed because the damage is done? Spiritual destruction can be undone because in Christ, you have redemption from all of Satan’s work, including the impact it has on your heart, the reactions it produces in you, and even his work that becomes a part of who you are.
In this book you will witness how God’s truths destroy the lies of the enemy and heal the unseen wounds of the heart. You will discover in a radical way how God can break the spiritual bondage that holds you captive. Invite the Holy Spirit to reveal where your blueprint has been distorted and allow Him to restore you back to God’s original design. Only then can you be who God created you to be and do what He created you to do. This is your true freedom in Christ!

This is a powerful account from Denise Buss regarding her journey from a less than perfect childhood to a decent into alcohol, promiscuity and drugs, to a relationship with Christ where she was desperate for emotional healing. She shares how spiritual warfare was so intense that she asked her sister to care for her adopted daughter for fear of her daughter’s safety. There was depression to the point that Denise considered ending her life.

Through those battles, Denise has a pastor friend that is wise in prayer strategies that gives her the tools to find healing and restoration in Christ.  He is a major factor in the book and Denise credits him for being gracious with his time, prayers, and wisdom as he shared with her time and time again.

The writing is strong and her story is gripping. The book description lead me to believe I’d be reading a book that gives strategies in the theme of something you might read from Chuck Pierce or Dutch Sheets. Instead, Original Design reads more like a memoir. It’s still powerful, though.

One issue I have that I think deserves a mention in the book is I have received training in spiritual warfare/deliverance ministry and rule number one, especially if you have a history of promiscuity and insecurity, is to receive prayer from someone of the same sex. If you are with someone from the opposite sex, you bring someone from your gender with you. It’s wisdom and accountability and I’ve seen just as many accounts written from people who failed to do this, and it took the prayer times to a dangerous place. Denise makes it clear Ed is like a brother figure and not once do I ever see where he crosses a line. However, I think it warrants a warning concerning anyone considering adopting her approach.

She features information on salvation and Baptism of the Holy Spirit that are helpful. There is of course a lot of talk of demons and battling them through prayer.

If you enjoy stories that show the freedom Christ gives, especially through times of torment from the enemy, you will enjoy ORIGINAL DESIGN.

To purchase ORIGINAL DESIGN, click here.

I received ORIGINAL DESIGN in exchange for an honest review.


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Book Review: The Firefighter’s Promise by Patricia Johns

Posted by Julie on May 1, 2015 in Julie Arduini |

23522217This is one of six books sent to me from the Love Inspired Line as part of their Mother’s Day promotion. The books are on sale from April 21-May 28.

BONUS: Love Inspired is giving $1 off. Click here to Save $1.00

Book Description:

A Hero for Her Son

When the baby he rescued seven years ago returns—with his widowed adoptive mom—Deputy Fire Chief Matt Bailey can’t turn them away. Desperate to escape the reminders of his failure in the line of duty, Matt is close to leaving town. But one look at Rachel Carter and her son, Christopher, has him second-guessing his plans. Rachel is a mom in need of a hero for her son. But as much as she wants the two to bond, she’s determined to keep her distance from Matt. After losing her husband on the job, she promised never to love another fireman. Yet somehow she finds herself drawn to the one man she should avoid.

I devoured this book. The chemistry between Rachel and Matt flew off the page right from the start and

. Matt met Christopher years ago when the baby was dropped off at the fire house. Fast forward and Christopher is an adoptive child who lost his dad. He’s lost and angry and Rachel, his adoptive mom, is desperate for solutions. Maybe, just maybe, the first one to meet him holds some answers.

But Matt has a wound he’s unable to have heal and the closer he gets to Rachel, the more he has to think about his grief. I loved the way it all connected together.

I highly recommend you read The Firefighter’s Promise by Patricia Johns.

I received The Firefighter’s Promise from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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An Interview with Bestselling Author Gina Holmes

Posted by Julie on September 16, 2014 in ACFW, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender, Writing |

Please welcome, novelist, Gina Holmes.  Gina is the founder of popular literary site, She is a two-time Christy and ECPA Book of the Year finalist and winner of the INSPY, Inspirational Reader’s Choice, and Carol Award. Her books regularly appear on Christian bestseller lists.


Gina, tell us a little bit about your newest release, Driftwood Tides.



Driftwood Tides tells the story of an aging, alcoholic driftwood artist turned beach bum, Holton Creary, and young Libby Slater. Libby grew up with an absent father and a loving but cold, socialite mother. Leading up to her wedding, Libby and her groom-to-be go through genetic testing and she learns her blood type doesn’t match either of her parents. She confronts her mother and is reluctantly told that she’s adopted. She goes searching for her mother, Adele, only to find her husband, Holton Creary lying face down on the carpet of his Nags Head beach shack.


She lies about her real identity until she is finally found out. Holton does not welcome the news. He never knew the wife he had given saint status too had given up a daughter for adoption. Together the two search to find the truth about Adele, Libby’s father and themselves.


What do you hope readers will take away from this book?


At its heart, Driftwood Tides is really about discovering who we are, whose we are, where we belong and the need to accept and bestow forgiveness.


Why did you set the novel in Nags Head?


Oh, how I love that place! I’m not sure there’s a more peaceful setting in all the world. And the further out I get from civilization, the happier I am. I love the sand dunes, the untouched nature, the quaint towns. Just everything! (Well, except sand in my bathing suit maybe J)


You seem to have a recurring theme in your novels about absent fathers, if it’s not too personal, why do you think that is?


It is too personal, but I don’t mind answering (wink!) When I was 6 years old, I was packed up by my stepfather and driven to my father’s house. Overnight I had a new Mom, new sisters and brother, house and life. It was as traumatic an experience as I can imagine. There were few explanations that made sense to me and I missed my other family desperately. I think ever since I’ve been trying to settle some pretty deep-seated questions. Writing books is wonderful for that.


The novel you’ve written that seems to be a fan-favorite is Crossing Oceans, do you ever see yourself writing a sequel?


I love that book too. Makes me cry just thinking about certain scenes. I would love to write a sequel, prequel or off shoot stories. I love those characters dearly. I’m under contract for three different novels, so I’m not sure when I’ll have the time, but I’d love to explore Craig’s story and of course, Bella’s. I miss Mama Peg very much!


You’ve said that your favorite novel you’ve written is Wings of Glass. Why is that your favorite?


Well, for storyline, I think Crossing Oceans is the strongest. I think my writing in Wings of Glass was my best, plus when I was very young I watched my mother in one abusive relationship after another, and then two of my sisters. I had been there too, despite thinking I was better than that. I know the mindset that keeps a woman (or man) in a relationship like that and I wanted to give insight to those who don’t understand. I’ve received enough letters to know I did what I set out to do.


You’re originally from NJ but write all your novels from the South, why do you set your novels down South if you’re from up North?


Ha, you found me out! Yes, I was born and raised in NJ. As much as I love my friends and family, I am definitely more suited for the slower pace of the South. I’ve lived in Southern VA for half of my life and I plan to spend the rest of my life here if I can help it. I try to write books from settings that make me happy. So I write where I want to be. (Although, I’ve got to say, NJ food is amazing and you’ve got to love a boisterous NJ laugh!)


What do you like most about being a writer? Least?


Most, I like being able to have a platform to share lessons I’ve learned in my life that I know others would benefit from. And more than that, I just love to tell a good story.


Least, would be the unpredictability of the business. Sometimes it seems so random and the lack of control makes me uncomfortable sometimes. (Which is probably right where God wants me!)


Do you have any advice for aspiring novelists?


My advice is pretty much always the same. 1. Write. So many people want to have written but don’t actually do the work. 2. Get to a writers conference because there’s so much  you don’t know, that you don’t even know you don’t know. If you don’t you’ll be spinning your wheels for years, wasting valuable time. 3. Run, don’t walk, to the nearest bookstore and buy yourself a copy of Self-Editing for Fiction Writers. Then apply it. (Best money I ever spent!) 4. Join a good critique group and get a nice thick skin, ‘cause you’re sure going to need it!


If you could go back to the pre-published writer you were, knowing what you do now, what advice would you give her?


Well, I wouldn’t have told myself how many novels I’d write that would never see the light of day, because I would have given up. I wouldn’t have told myself how little money there is actually to be made or how lonely writing can sometimes be. I wouldn’t have told myself that I’d still have a day job with 4 novels out in stores, including 3 bestselling novels… okay, but that wasn’t your question… I would tell myself to relax. Some of this, most of this is, is out of your hands, and that’s okay. It’s not going to be at all what you think it is, but it’s going to be so much more. You won’t get rich, but you will touch lives. At the end of the day, that’s going to be exactly what will fulfill you.


Where can readers find your books and more about you?


ginacolortiltsmallThanks for asking. My books are in B&N, BooksaMillion, Amazon, Lifeway, Parable, Family Christian and hopefully a good number of independent bookstores. You can find me at Thanks so much for hosting me!


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Book Review: Unraveled by Heidi McCahan

Posted by Julie on July 11, 2014 in Book Review, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |



Blind-sided by her questionable fiance, Lauren Carter returns to the one place she’s been avoiding, the place she used to call home. As she’s forced to look into the eyes of her past and even worse, her unraveling future she discovers that running only leaves you out of breath on a dead end street. Will she choose to unveil the secrets that haunt her? Or will she bury them once and for all and embrace a new life so different from the one she once held dear?

Blake Tully, wildly successful and breathtakingly winsome owner of a new rafting business, finds Lauren’s unexpected reappearance confusing. As he torments himself with what if’s and what should’ve been’s, he can’t mistake the feeling that crawls down his spine every time he looks at her. Although she broke his heart once, he longs to give his childhood sweetheart another chance, but can he convince her to stop running away when life gets tough? And can he forgive her when he discovers the reason she’s been hiding?

Follow the story of these two shattered hearts as they discover the beauty of grace and forgiveness.

Unraveled is a perfect title because everything in and around Lauren’s life is coming apart. I thought Heidi McCahan did an amazing job crafting a story where a family put band-aids on situations that needed God’s leading and healing. And after running and hiding from people and secrets, everything comes to a head.

I loved this because it was full of chemistry and conflict.  Unraveled had consequences and honest communication. I really enjoyed Unraveled for all these reasons, and I think you will, too.

To purchase Unraveled, please click here.

I received a copy of Unraveled in exchange for an honest review.

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Thankful for God’s Timing by Elizabeth Maddrey

I’m Thankful for God’s Timing


For the last six years, November has been a month of true thanksgiving in my family. Sure, we always did the Thanksgiving thing – up to and including some activities that made me cringe as a teenager with my mom trying to encourage us to share the things we were thankful for. But six years ago, at the beginning of November, I finally got to the place where I was willing to surrender myself completely to His will.


See, my husband and I had been trying, unsuccessfully, to have a child for 12 years. And we’d moved from medical treatment to pursuing adoption…but I was bitter. I had definite plans for how this should have gone, and God wasn’t following them – hadn’t been for some time. Finally, six years ago, I broke. I got to the place where I was able to say, “not my will, but Yours.” And for that, I’m incredibly thankful. It’s made such a difference in my relationship with God – and with my other relationships as well.


A week later – the Sunday before Thanksgiving day – we got a call from our adoption agency. Our son was on his way.


I firmly believe that God was waiting for my heart to be in the right place. And, looking back, I’m thankful for His timing. Because I know our sons are ours because He put them in our family. Purposefully. And He waited until I was at a place that I would recognize His bountiful provision, rather than seeing them as the natural progress of my actions or, worse, something I was somehow owed.


Every November I remember that month, six years ago now, when God changed my heart and then changed my family. And I’m thankful beyond words.




Elizabeth Maddrey began writing stories as soon as she could form the letters properly and has never looked back. Though her practical nature and love of math and organization steered her into computer science for college and graduate school, she has always had one or more stories in progress to occupy her free time. When she isn’t writing, Elizabeth is a voracious consumer of books and has mastered the art of reading while undertaking just about any other activity. She loves to write about Christians who struggle through their lives, dealing with sin and receiving God’s grace.


Elizabeth lives in the suburbs of Washington D.C. with her husband and their two incredibly active little boys. She invites you to interact with her at her website or on Facebook:


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Book Review: Kaleidoscope Summer: Samantha’s Story by Rita Garcia

Posted by Julie on June 20, 2013 in Book Review, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, Writing |

I confess, I love a series where a city or town is the backdrop. When I learned my dear cyber friend Rita Garcia had a series out revolving around a quaint community called Serenity Cove, I was curious. Then I realized Rita uses her own skills as a Christian clinical counselor to weave the stories, I was hooked. And in full disclosure, “Dr. Rita” is so kind that when she realized I was looking forward to her books, she sent them to me. She never asked for a review or any kind of promotion, but I enjoyed Kaleidoscope Summer and wanted to tell you about it.

Book Description:Rita-Garcia_Kaleidoscope-Summer_200

Samantha Forrester has it all together. Deafness at age fifteen has not hampered her success. Life, although predictable, has hit a comfortable stride. Her world crumbles when secrets of the past are brought to light. She travels to Serenity Cove to settle her birth mother’s estate and search for her true identity. Samantha soon becomes enamored with the town. And then there’s police chief Logan Delatorre who startles her pulse, and grandparents who refuse to acknowledge her. More mystery unfolds when an attack is levied against her—someone wants her out of Serenity Cove. Samantha’s faith is called into question when she stumbles over the need to forgive. Can Dr. Ellie Clarimonde help her connect the pieces of her past and learn the power of forgiveness?

I really enjoyed Kaleidoscope Summer. Rita has a great community, strong characters, sweet romance, curious mystery, and a storyline about loss, adoption, fear, and acceptance that kept me turning the pages.

Samantha has a lot on her shoulders when she arrives in Serenity Cove. She has to read lips due to losing most of her hearing as a teen. She’s in town to settle her birth mother’s estate, and when she arrives, she learns more than she bargains for.

As the story progresses she’s on a search for her birth father, and she’s trying to stay safe as there is an attack aimed at driving her out of town. In the middle of it all is Dr. Ellie, who challenges Samantha to work through the layers of feelings she has about all these events and the consequences.

I really loved Logan, and I thought the storyline between Samantha and her grandfather was exceptionally well done. There are unique journal entries that I thought added beauty and feeling. As you might read in other reviews on Amazon, there is a little POV (point of view) confusion, especially as you start out, but stick with it. Once you realize who it is speaking, it’s a minor factor and you can enjoy the story. I know I did.

I look forward to reading Rita’s other books, Tangerine Morning and Christmas Future.

To purchase Kaleidoscope Summer, click here.

I received Kaleidoscope Summer as a gift from the author with no pressure to review. I chose to review, and these words are my opinion, and mine only.

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