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My Favorite Reviewed Reads of 2015

Posted by Julie on January 2, 2016 in About Me, Book Review, Julie Arduini |

For the past few years I’ve shared my favorite reads from the previous years. Most of my reading from 2015 were books I reviewed, and there were some standouts.

Fiction Honorable Mention:

A Brush with Love by Rachel Hauck

The Wishing Season by Denise Hunter

Every Bride Needs a Groom by Janice Thompson

When Kings Clash by J.E. Lowder


Non Fiction Honorable Mention:

Apologetics Bible Study for Students

Grin with Grace by Kathy Carlton Willis


Product Honorable Mention (CD, Movie, other)

Exhale by Plumb

Let it Be Jesus by Christy Nockels

Passport 2 Purity


And now, my top picks.


Favorite Reviewed Product of 2015:

Finding Noah


Favorite Non Fiction Reviewed Read of 2015:

Kelly Tough by Erin Kelly

Kelly Tough was not only my favorite non fiction reviewed read of 2015, but my favorite overall read of the year.

Kelly Tough was not only my favorite non fiction reviewed read of 2015, but my favorite overall read of the year.


Favorite Fiction Reviewed Read of 2015:

Burning Justice by Helena Smrcek


Please check out the links to find out how to purchase these. You won’t be disappointed!


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Book Review: Every Bride Needs a Groom by Janice Thompson

Posted by Julie on June 24, 2015 in Book Review, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

Book Description:81+S6Fto3OL

Small-town girl Katie Fisher is busy planning her fairy-tale wedding. Sure, her boyfriend hasn’t managed to pop the question just yet, but that doesn’t mean she shouldn’t enter a contest in Texas Bride magazine to win the dress of her dreams, right? Anyway, she’s sure he’ll be getting down on one knee any time now. And a one-of-a-kind designer dress doesn’t just fall out of the sky right when you need it.

But when Katie’s boyfriend takes a job in another town and breaks up with her–on the very same day she wins her dream dress–her world is turned upside down. Dare she go to Dallas to claim her prize? And will the hunky pro basketball player who runs the beyond-swanky bridal shop–yeah, you read that right–discover her humiliating secret if she does?

Every Bride Needs a Groom is a sweet romance that was a quick read but continues to hold my attention for all the right reasons. Normally if we knew a Katie, we’d mock her for planning a wedding without being proposed to. But in Every Bride Needs a Groom, it’s easy to feel sorry for her and yearn for her situation with the contest work out. Usually when you read that a NBA player is running a wedding shop, you would think there’s no way. Well, it works. And I was rooting for Brady.

But more than Katie and Brady, I loved the other characters. Brady’s mom. Katie’s brothers. Grandma. Her sister. The pastor. Each have their own story that flows well with the main characters without taking over.

I loved Every Bride Needs a Groom. This is a perfect summer read. Check it out!
To purchase Every Bride Needs a Groom, click here.

I received Every Bride Needs a Groom from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: The Dream Dress by Janice Thompson

Posted by Julie on February 25, 2014 in Book Review, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |


Book Description:

A seamstress at a swanky bridal boutique, Gabi Delgado dreams of doing more than ripping out seams and fitting dresses to doe-eyed brides. She wants to see her own dress designs gracing the young women of Texas. When Jordan Spencer, the editor of Texas Bride magazine visits the shop to do a feature, Gabi is devastated to lose her job in his very influential presence. Convinced she’ll never get her dreams off the ground now, Gabi needs lots of encouragement–especially from her friend Bella Neeley–to take a chance and start her business. And as she gets to know Jordan, she discovers that she may have to take a chance on love as well. Could it be that she’ll have to design her own wedding dress soon?
As always, Janice Thompson delivers fun, laughter, and romance as she takes readers back to Galveston, Texas, to spend more time with their favorite quirky characters along with fabulous new ones.


The Dream Dress contained everything I love in a book. As always, there was humor through rich characters you wish could be your friends. There is romance, and in this case, Jordan is so romantic, he is swoon-worthy. There are the people you root for like Mimi-Carmen, Gabi, Jordan, Scarlett and Bella. There are the people you want to smack, like Demetri. And as only Janice Thompson can, she blends it all beautifully, complete with stories from the Bible that perfectly complement the story without being preachy.

The Dream Dress is a winner because I think a lot of readers can relate to Gabi. Childhood was less than ideal. Rejection is strong enough that she keeps her dreams to herself. A perfect man? They go out with everyone else, but not her. The Dream Dress takes the reader through Gabi’s journey, and what I love is this can be our experience too. Gabi learns to trust. Forgive. Find friends. Love. A purpose that makes her want to get up every morning.

As a fan of the Weddings by Design, I loved “seeing” Bella and Scarlett again. Gabi keeps up and shines in their company. But I believe The Dream Dress stands on its own. But for your sake, find everything of Janice Thompson’s, especially the Bella and Wedding books and enjoy.

To purchase The Dream Dress, click here.

I received The Dream Dress from NetGalley/publisher in exchange for an honest review.


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Julie Arduini’s Favorite 2013 Non Fiction Read of the Year Is…

Posted by Julie on January 1, 2014 in About Me, Book Review, encouragement, Writing |

Happy New Year! 

Today I’m sharing my favorite non fiction read of the year. I choose this out of the reviewed books I tackled in 2013. Yesterday I unveiled Raspberries and Vinegar as my favorite fiction read.

Again, this wasn’t an easy choice.

I loved Undaunted: Student Edition, as well as God is Able.





However, the standout for me is Janice Thompson’s Writing and Selling the Great American Novel.





Janice covers everything an aspiring author like me needs to know. It was easy to read and chocked full of information. I mentioned then and it still holds true: I have this as a reference book.

Purchase your copy of Writing and Selling the Great American Novel today.

Next up: My favorite Kindle read of 2013.


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Book Review: Writing and Selling the Great American Novel by Janice Thompson

Posted by Julie on September 13, 2013 in Book Review, encouragement, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, Writing |

When it comes to writing how-to books, I admit I start to gloss over when I hear there is a new one.

I’m a voracious reader and I’ve read them. Of the stacks and stacks I’ve finished, only a few stand out as ones with new information and help I find amazing and worth telling others about.

And Janice Thompson’s newest offering, Writing and Selling the Great American Novel is one of them.janice

This book gives the aspiring novelist everything needed to start, plot, write, edit, complete, sell, and market your work. I’m literal when I say everything. There are acronyms that help break down tips. Exercises to help you practice and flesh out what you read. Quotes from authors and agents emphasizing Janice’s points. Books and links she recommends. I can’t think of a single thing she didn’t think of, and it’s presented in easy to find, read, and refer back to fashion.

I’m not quite at the beginner stage, but I’m not yet published. Writing and Selling the Great American Novel is a reference I plan to have nearby when I’m plotting, editing, working on a query letter…honestly, it works for any aspect of writing. I’m in a couple critique groups (another subject Janice writes about) and when I read something that needs more than I know how to help with, I always recommend Susan May Warren/Rachel Hauck’s  From the Inside…Out:discover, create, and publish the novel in you. For someone wanting to know about writing romance, I also tell them to get ready to dog ear Gail Gaymer Martin’s Writing the Christian Romance. Now I have a third command because Janice includes all the genres and tips on writing for each one, and that makes this a resource that stands apart.

I can’t recommend Writing and Selling the Great American Novel enough. Janice included everything for our benefit. Buy the book, read and keep it close by, and get writing. You won’t have any regrets.

To purchase Writing and Selling the Great American Novel by Janice Thompson, click here.

Note: it is available for a reduced rate September 13-15. After that, the book will sell at $8.99 (worth every penny, but hey, don’t you love a sale?)

I received a download of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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The Next Big Thing: Aaron Paul Lazar, the Adirondacks, and Me

Posted by Julie on April 4, 2013 in About Me, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender, Writing |


This meme swept through a few months ago, and I’m happy to share my answers again. This time mystery author Aaron Paul Lazar tagged me and I’m so glad. His Tall Pines series is set where my WIP is, the Adirondacks. He’s been kind enough to mentor me, and we laugh because our work features our favorite grocery store, Charlie Johns, and other things in common. Yet I have a romance and he’s working on a serial killer. I’ve even joked about placing his serial killer in my scene to see what would happen. Fun times, to be sure.

Aaron’s post on the Next Big Thing can be found here. I highly recommend you check out his author site. He’s got great wit, strong characters, a bit of romance, and of course—murder.EY audio 3-10-13, 2401_blue

Here are the answers for my Next Big Thing. Thanks, Aaron!

1-What is your working title of your book? 

SPECTACULAR FALLS, but I suspect that will change.

2-Where did the idea come from for the book?

I visited the real Speculator, New York in the early 90’s and fell in love with the Adirondacks and the people. I can’t get enough of the place. As I drank in the mountains and waters Ben and Jenna’s story came to me. That first story is a shell to what it is now, but the magic I felt from my first visit, I believe that remains.


A picture from my first visit to Speculator.
3-What genre does your book fall under?

Contemporary romance written in first person, present tense. Although it is a romance, I feel there is a “Mitford” feel to it as the people of Speculator Falls are quirky and sweet.


4-Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
A great plug for my Pinterest board. I picture Ben Affleck as Ben Regan, and perhaps Jenna is a Keira Knightly’esque character. I envision Jenna arriving to town with a short bob filled with lowlights and texture. As she adjusts to mountain living she surrenders fear of what the local stylist, the sheriff, might do to her hair, and allows Carla to style it. Jenna, like her hair, has sass.
5-What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?


 She’s a rustbelt bred senior center director producing a lot of change for the rustic, Adirondack living grocer.


6-Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Great question! I’m open to anything, but feel first I need to seek an agent. I seek God for every step and have a team pray over my writing. His will be done. I’m probably 2/3 done editing and taking it through critique groups. There are still things I want to change. In May I have a pitch to Harlequin Love Inspired.


7-How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I wrote the shell of the story soon after that first visit to the Adirondacks, naively thinking it was done, but knowing I wasn’t ready to do anything about it. I grew serious about the craft in 2007, and returned to it in 2010. It’s only been in the last few months I’ve really broke it open and started revising to the point I felt I had a chance to make it publishable. So you can say months, or even close to 20 years.


8-What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Jenna Anderson reminds me of a lesser refined Ashley Stockingdale, crafted by the great Kristin Billerbeck. The romance and voice remind me of Kristin, Janice Thompson, and Tamara Leigh. The community spirit reminds me of Jan Karon’s MITFORD series and Thomas Kinkade and Katherine Spencer’s CAPE LIGHT.
9-Who or what inspired you to write this book?  
 God’s nudge, inspired by one place in the world that gives me peace, Speculator, NY.


10-What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

It’s so much more than a romance. It’s a community that invites the reader to live there, too. It’s a lesson on surrendering fear. All my books will feature a form of surrender and a character loving chocolate. It’s literally sweet fiction that motivates the reader to trust God. From an author doing the same.

 Here is a snippet:

A black four-by four-truck squeals into place next to the squad car. A door slams and within seconds a well-built man who looks about thirty jogs from his truck to us. Half a minute later my car has the whiff of the woodsy cologne that follows him.

“Carla, Howard Wheaton told me someone plowed through my grandfather’s handiwork. I presume this is your perpetrator?” He commandeers our conversation, his face is so red it resembles my Ohio State sweatshirt.

The sheriff pivots to the angry but tantalizing smelling man. “Hello, Ben. The situation is under control.”

He almost loses his fading New York Giants baseball cap before he finally stands still. He has enough beard stubble to cover a chin dimple, but not enough to hide a bobbing Adam’s apple. “Really? Because this mess of flowers says otherwise.”

She hesitates. “Ben, this is Jenna Anderson, the new senior center director. She lost control while she tried to figure out what was going on with her GPS. I looked at the box, and I think it’s repairable. You love doing that sort of thing, so how about you fix it?”

Thank you, Sheriff Carla Rowling. I can’t help it, but I smile. I think this woman might be my first new friend.

Ben whips off the hat and twists it until his knuckles bulge. “I’m sorry, destroying property is funny to you?”

I want to say something brilliant. More than eight hours on the road leaves me a little lost, GPS ineffectiveness aside. “At least I hit his box. Not him.”

His Adam’s apple movement seems to escalate. “My grandpa is dead.” He points the hat at me to emphasize each word. “You better hope this box isn’t.” He turns back to the sheriff. “Carla, I’ll repair it.” Then, directs his milk chocolate colored eyes toward me. “You, city girl, watch where you’re going. The people who belong here don’t need a GPS.”  He pivots in his tattered sneakers and heads to the injured flower box. As fast as he comes on the scene, he leaves.

Carla offers her hand. “Welcome to Speculator Falls.”


Since so many of my writing friends have done this, Aaron and I decided to do an open tag. If you want to share your Next Big Thing with the blogging world, go for it. Share your answers, and be sure to send them back to my page, and even better, Aaron’s. Thanks!

image courtesy


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