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Book Review: The Essence of Joy by Lynn U. Watson

Posted by Julie on December 1, 2017 in Book Review, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

A Must Read! In The Essence of Joy, Lynn Watson intertwines Scripture with
the uses of oils and spices mentioned in the Bible. I was left with a feeling of wonder,
a new way of looking at God’s word. The book is educational, entertaining, and
uplifting. There’s history, fun-facts, even recipes. The author brings devotionals to a
new level, giving biblical insight to the problems modern women encounter today.
The Essence of Joy is perfect for both bible study groups and those who are just
starting out on their spiritual journey.
—Jeri McBryde, Eight-Time Contributing Author to Chicken Soup for the Soul

Book Review: The Essence of Joy by Lynn Watson

About The Book:
The scents of Christmas invite our imaginations into the holiday season. What
emotions flood your heart when the holiday aromas waft your way?
Did you know:
• Many favorite holiday scents like cinnamon, citrus, and cinnamon are found in the
• There is a rich heart connection attached to many of the plant essences found in
• Myrrh is such an important essence, we can follow its trail from Genesis to
Revelation with many significant stops along the way?
• Women of the Bible have personal encounters with God bringing aromas of His
love and joy into their lives?
• Palm branches are an important part of Biblical celebrations beginning in Genesis
and ending in the ultimate beach party around the Crystal Sea? (Christmas at the
beach, anyone?)
In The Essence of Joy you’ll meet women of the Bible and contemporary women
like you and me who will encourage you to discover the refreshing essence of a life
lived in the presence of Jesus. Let JOY fill your heart with the aromas of His nativity.

Julie’s Review:

This is a fresh take on celebrating the Christmas season by digging deeper into the smells of the nativity season. There are several aspects to each scent, from a fictional story, to suggestions on what to diffuse, bake, listen to. There are also history facts and craft suggestions, too.

I really enjoyed the Essence of Joy because this was a part of Christmas I never thought about before. Beyond the original three gifts, there is also cedar, cinnamon, fig, and more. My favorite part was the “droplets,” learning the history behind each scent. The fictional aspect was a bit confusing to me, because I did not realize it continued the stories first set up in The Essence of Courage. At the end of this book was a summary of characters, it might have helped to have that in the beginning. I also found some minor editing errors, but it did not detract from the wonderful message of this book.

If you’re looking for something new to discover this Christmas, I highly recommend The Essence of Joy.

About The Author:
Lynn Watson combines many years’ experience in women’s ministry, love of
essential oils, and her passion for God’s word to bring her readers freshly inspired
encouragement for their walk with Jesus. Her devotional, The Essence of Courage,
was recognized as a ‘must read’ by regional publishing industry leaders. Married
since 1973, Lynn and Steve have filled their Bartlett, Tennessee home with
handmade treasures and lots of love for family, especially their five beautiful (of
course) grandchildren. Aromas of freshly baked bread often fill Lynn’s kitchen.
Jasmine, her tuxedo kitty, enjoys sleeping in Lynn’s lap while she writes.

Check out this beautiful Book Trailer!
Lynn’s Official Website:

Amazon & Social Media Links:


I received a .pdf of this book in exchance for an honest review.

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Don’t Miss This: Season of Hope by Sara Jane Jacobs

Posted by Julie on July 14, 2017 in encouragement, God's Word, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

I began writing as a hobby while raising my two children. In 2015, I dusted off my stories and my dreams to see if I could turn my hobby into a career. My first story, Season of Hope, was inspired by summer vacations which always included a trip to Franklin, North Carolina, to visit family and explore The Smoky Mountains. When I'm not writing, I enjoy spending time with family. I love most any activity that involves being outdoors, especially camping, hiking and spontaneous excursions to splash in the ocean. I currently live along the Emerald Coast of Florida with my cat Selah and her delightful offspring, Colby, Jack and Tuesday.
When Amanda Jarvis prays that a special friend will move into the vacant house near her isolated mountain home, she isn't upset when God sends a boy instead of a girl. But Amanda's not the only one receiving unexpected answers to her prayers. After fleeing with his mother from an abusive father, Tyler Armstrong finds much-needed love and acceptance with Amanda's family over the next ten years. As high school graduation nears, Tyler is shocked when one carefree afternoon with Amanda churns up an inner turmoil he would have never imagined; he's crushing on his best friend. And for the firs time in his life he's hiding a secret from Amanda. Convinced the timing is all wrong, Tyler pushes his feelings aside as he and Amanda prepare for the future. He will soon begin training to pursue his dream of becoming a Navy SEAL, while Amanda makes plans to spend the summer in Manhattan with her aunt and then return home to the community college. When Amanda's summer job catapults her into a modeling career, she readily accepts the much-needed distraction. Tyler's impending deployment is turning her world upside down. Along with the fact that she's falling for her best friend. And, for the first time in her relationship with Tyler, she's hiding a secret, too. Phoebe Garrison, Amanda's controlling aunt, is thrilled when she is given the power to act on behalf of her underage niece. Bored with her Fortune 500 advertising agency, becoming Amanda's manager is just what she's been looking for to rekindle her aspirations. But as Tyler becomes aware of Phoebe's obsession to push Amanda into supermodel status, tensions rise. As the three of them become entangled in a mass of concealed ambition and desire, each will make decisions that will send ripples of turbulence across their futures.
Enter to win the SEASON OF HOPE giveaway! One person will win the following items…
        Enter below!       


There’s so much going on with characters that we
don’t always get to read about in the book.  Here’s a short excerpt from
Amanda’s journal the night before she left for her summer in New York.
June 1
Tonight, Tyler and I took his truck out into the
pasture for our “anti-prom” and watched the meteor shower. I tried not to think
how the life we have shared here on Nathan’s Mountain for the past ten years is
over. Tomorrow I leave for Knoxville with Mom and Dad so I can catch a flight
to New York.
Our friends crashed our little party. I loved seeing them but I
wanted so much to be alone with Tyler on our last night here. It made for a
bittersweet evening. Shouldn’t I be excited? I mean, isn’t everyone excited
when high school is finally over? I am looking forward to New
York. Phoebe intrigues me, and I want to see what life might be like if I
eventually get accepted at Barnard. This will give me a chance to see what it
would be like living in the city.
But the reality is that at the end of the summer I’ll be coming back here and Tyler will be gone. He’s been my best friend for ten years. I’ve never even let myself imagine what life on this mountain would be like without him here. My heart sinks at the thought of
sitting on the porch at night knowing that he isn’t at the bottom of the
mountain, somewhere behind the soft glow of his porch light. No longer will he
leave here from one of our long talks and signal me with the two flashes of
that light to let me know he’s home and wish me, “sweet dreams.” There will be
no reason to rush inside to send two flashes back to him. Our sweet little
tradition is over forever. How did I not see this coming? Why have I been so
absorbed with the busyness of life that I failed to notice I was about to
experience some of the most routine things for the last time.
I’m exhausted and I need to get some sleep. I’msure the morning light will bring with it a more optimistic perspective.


June 26 – Truth
to Shine
June 27
ASC Book Reviews
June 28
Meagan Davenport
June 30
July 7
July 10
Tell the World
July 11
and Beyond
July 12
July 13
Rebecca DeMarino
July 14 –  Julie Arduini
July 17
July 18
All Betts Are Off
July 21
Leslie L. Mckee
This blog tour was coordinated by A Latte of Literature Blog
Tour Services. Find out more:
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Book Review: Connie Arnold’s A Symphony of Seasons

When I hear from author Connie Arnold, I sit up and take notice. She has the gift to not just write, but paint with her words. I can’t think of a lot of people who can do that.

Connie has a new book out and it was my pleasure to review it. In addition, Connie was kind enough to allow me to pick her brain so we could all get to know her better.

First, let me tell you about A Symphony of Seasons. Connie breaks the book into Songs of Each Season, Winter, Spring, Summer,  and Fall. I’m not able to share a sample, but I don’t need to. A Symphony of Seasons is so reasonably priced, you can purchase it and agree with me.

  • Connie really paints words. I’m someone that has trouble picturing things unless it is right before me. I’m not an abstract thinker. This is what makes her work so special, because in few words, she gives a panoramic, sweeping view of her subject. Her landscapes make me want to go where it is she is “painting.” She makes it look easy, but it isn’t. If you enjoy nature, praise, God’s beauty and the seasons, you are in for a real treat.
  • She covers the seasons. As I went through her poems, every moment I could think for each season is included. The book is comprehensive, incorporating every sight and sound that I could imagine about each season. There’s not an event or a part of the senses that isn’t included–and it’s all done with mastery and beauty.

A Symphony of Seasons is another inspired, vivid work by Connie Arnold. I’d love for you to read my interview with her, and then click on the link to learn more about her and how to purchase her latest release.

Connie doesn't miss a beat arousing the senses with her poetry. Julie Arduini nature photo


What came first—visual worship or writing, or, are they one in the same?

 I think definitely visual worship. It seems to me that is what brings the inspiration that flows into the writing, creating a word picture of the visual and expressing worship in a manner that can be shared by the reader.

What was the writing process for A Symphony of Seasons like?

It was a matter of having all senses open, being totally aware of my surroundings at all times, wherever I went. Whatever the season, beauty was waiting to be found, and creation sang its song of life and praise to the Lord everywhere I looked. It involved seeing and listening with the heart, not just the physical senses. Thoughts were jotted down as they were inspired, and then once each poem was begun, it usually flowed fairly easily.

What is your favorite season?

Spring and fall both appeal to me with the beauty they contain, one with new life beginning and the other as things are dying. I love spring flowers and also the colorful leaves of fall. The hope and renewal of spring make me choose it as my favorite.

What do you hope the reader receives through A Symphony of Seasons?

A greater sense of God’s presence in every aspect of creation at all times is one thing I hope readers receive. In addition, I hope the music of the verses speaks to their hearts, bringing joy and a heightened awareness of the beauty of life and God’s love.

Do you do any writing other than poetry?

Yes, I have been writing for children for the last few years, since I became a grandmother. My first children’s book was published two years ago, and I have three more accepted yet to be published.

Thank you, Connie, for your time!

About Connie Arnold:

Connie is a writer, musician, wife, mother and grandmother who uses her writing to help her cope with the challenges of each day living with lupus and fibromyalgia. She looks for the positive things in life that are uplifting and inspiring, and turns them into poems that encourage others. She is also the author of three other poetry books, Beautiful Moments of Joy and Peace, Abiding Hope and Love and Abundant Comfort and Grace.

Leave a comment to be entered into prize drawings for a Vivaldi Four Seasons CD and a hummingbird suncatcher wind chime. Additional entries can be earned for comments left on the other blogs during the tour and for sharing this post or any of the posts during the tour on Facebook or Twitter (be sure to post a comment here when you do that so you’ll get your extra entries).

The tour schedule is posted on Connie’s blog

Purchase a signed copy of A Symphony of Seasons from Connie’s website or email her at conarnold(at)gmail(dot)com and receive a free framed nature photo from one of the seasons with a short verse. Be sure to specify if you have a preference for a particular season.

A Symphony of Seasons may be purchased from  Amazon

RPJ and Company 

ebook available at a discount through May 31, 2012 
Promotional price: $3.25
Coupon Code: QX77N

I received A Symphony of Seasons via PDF for review purposes from the author in exchange for participating in her blog tour and reviewing her book with honesty.

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Get Some Couch Time with Jeannie Campbell, Character Therapist

Posted by Julie on June 2, 2011 in Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender, Writing |

Note: I double booked my blog today but promised to do this first. I will run this post for 12 hours and then after noon eastern, please come back to read about Susan May Warren’s My Foolish Heart blog tour and giveaway opportunity.

I’m excited to be part of a blog tour like this. Jeannie Campbell, the Character Therapist, is promoting her new website and I wanted to let you know about it. I’m a big fan of Jeannie’s blog and learn a lot. Now I want you to see what I’m talking about.

Jeannie the Therapist:
Jeannie Campbell is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFC # 45366) in the state of California. She is Head of Clinical Services for a large non-profit in Humboldt County, and enjoys working mainly with children and parents.
Jeannie graduated summa cum laude from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary with a Masters of Divinity with Specialization in Psychology and Counseling and magna cum laude from the University of Mississippi with a double major in psychology and journalism. She has worked in a crisis pregnancy center, psychiatric hospital, drug rehabilitative program, several non-profits and homeless shelters, a foster family agency, and in private practice.
Jeannie the Writer:
Jeannie has been writing ever since she received a diary for her fifth birthday. She began writing angst-ridden middle-grade novels in junior high, often commandeering the family computer for hours on end. After eight years of higher educational pursuits, she moved onto adult contemporary romance and romantic suspense, frequently using her day job as a therapist to generate lots of fodder for her night job as a writer.
Two of Jeannie’s “therapeutic romance” manuscripts have garnered the high praise of being finalists in the Genesis Contest for unpublished writers, sponsored by the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), of which she is an active member. She writes a popular monthly column for Christian Fiction Online Magazine and has been featured in many other e-zines, newspapers, and blogs.

Jeannie’s tag: “an online therapy service for fictional characters”
Often say: “Get some couch time” and “on the couch”

What is Character Therapy?

Jeannie: Character Therapy is what I do when I use my professional training and experience as a licensed clinician to evaluate and diagnose fictional characters.

How can you—a published or aspiring writer—benefit?

1) Write characters more realistically.
Using a search engine to find out information about a mental disorder yields a very different result than asking a therapist who has treated those same problems in real life. Instead of getting a bunch of stale facts, I can help you breathe life into your characters while taking into consideration your unique story world.

2) Plot more feasibly.
Plotting the external conflict around your character’s internal conflict is essential to create tension on every page. Understanding the character’s driving goals and motivation in relation to their emotional state will help you figure out what plot points need to occur to maximize the character’s arc to its fullest potential.

3) Avoid clichéd or incorrect depictions of mental disorders.
My passion is helping those not afflicted with mental disorders understand those who are. Since one in four adults have a mental disorder, the likelihood of one of your characters having one is pretty high. But you want every nuance to ring true about the character, not feel cardboard cutout or stereotyped. So pick my brain instead of yours to avoid pitfalls of re-writing later.

Has Jeannie piqued your curiosity?  Think your characters might benefit from some couch time?

Then…bookmark her site here:


By the way, I started a new series/meme last week where I take Thursdays and ask questions wondering how you would handle the situation. I signed on to promote Jeannie’s site first, so tune in tomorrow for the latest question on How would you Handle it? Last week received great comments here and across social media, looking for the same tomorrow!

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Book Review: Heather Munn/Lydia Munn Deliver with How Huge the Night

Posted by Julie on May 12, 2011 in Book Review, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender, Writing |

I’m a history fan and devour any book that sheds light on either the Civil War or WWII. When Litfuse had an opening for the WWII based novel How Huge the Night, I signed up right away.

Heather Munn and Lydia Munn deliver a haunting look at the Nazi threat and eventual takeover through the eyes of teenagers.  Julien starts off wanting to see action and not really understanding the seriousness of the Germans. Thrown together with another teen who had to flee his home Julien finds more action than he bargains for. Friends have to choose allegiances and Julien has to watch his mother who is still haunted from experiencing the same thing during the previous war.

Heather and Lydia Munn deliver a fascinating novel set during WWII.

Nina is a Jew with a leg/foot deformity who watches her father die. She follows his advice and leaves her home with her brother, but for her, it isn’t so easy.  She must not only hide her religion, but her gender. She cuts her hair and turns herself into Niko in an effort to save her and her brother.

I won’t give anything more away because eventually Julien and Niko are going to meet and I thought it was a gripping story showing how teenagers in this era in Europe had to be so confused.  Julien starts to see the German “Heil Hitler” salute from his friends and is upset, and we understand why. Yet for many of those boys during that time they were listening to their parents, or the propaganda. They didn’t know the evils, they thought they were getting a strong leader. I found the entire backdrop and constant conflict right at your heels devastating and fascinating at the same time.

If you’re a history fan this is a must but I recommend it for anyone who would love to read a WWII era book from a teen point of view. I thought that aspect was handled with excellence. The setting and imagery still has me believing I can see the hungry refugees and the school yard conflicts.

You won’t forget How Huge the Night. I don’t think you are supposed to.


About How Huge the Night:

Fifteen-year-old Julien Losier just wants to fit in. But after his family moves to a small village in central France in hopes of outrunning the Nazis, he is suddenly faced with bigger challenges than the taunting of local teens. Nina Krenkel left her country to obey her father’s dying command: Take your brother and leave Austria. Burn your papers. Tell no one you are Jews. Alone and on the run, she arrives in Tanieux, France, dangerously ill and in despair.


Thrown together by the chaos of war, Julien begins to feel the terrible weight of the looming conflict and Nina fights to survive. As France falls to the Nazis, Julien struggles with doing what is right, even if it is not enough-and wonders whether or not he really can save Nina from almost certain death.


Based on the true story of the town of Le Chambon-the only French town honored by Israel for rescuing Jews from the Holocaust-How Huge the Night is a compelling, coming-of-age drama that will keep teens turning the pages as it teaches them about a fascinating period of history and inspires them to think more deeply about their everyday choices.


Link to buy the book:


This book was provided to me through Litfuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

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