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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: How to Catch a Prince by Rachel Hauck

Posted by Julie on March 4, 2015 in Book Review, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

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Book Description:

Behind him, beside him, before him, the synchronized cathedral bells began to ring out.

One, two, three . . .

Then she said it first. The words his heart burst to share. “I love you, Stephen. You are my true prince.”

An American heiress and a crown prince seem destined to be together. Will the devastation of war keep them apart forever?

American heiress Corina Del Rey caught her prince once. But the tragedy of war kept her too long in a fog of grief. Now she’s shifting her life forward, reigniting her career as a journalist. Still, nothing can relieve her of the secret and the love she carries in her soul.

 

Prince Stephen of Brighton is one of the world’s most eligible bachelors and a star rugby player, trying to make sense of his life. His days in Afghanistan with the Royal Air Command will mark him forever. And he can’t shake their dark shadow.

 

But when his brother, King Nathaniel, confronts him with a document the prince thought long buried and forgotten, Stephen is forced to face the pain of his past and the love he left behind.

 

With a little heavenly help, Prince Stephen and Corina embark on a journey of truth. But when the secrets are revealed, can they overcome, move forward, and find love again? 

This is book three in the Royal Wedding series, but like the others, it’s possible to read them as a stand alone. Corina Del Rey is an heiress who gave up the stereotypical heiress life after her brother died. Her family has been paralyzed by grief, Corina most of all, as the person she needed most in the worst time in her life, wasn’t there at all.

Prince Stephen is from Brighton and back from serving in Afghanistan. He’s trying to move forward from all he saw and experienced but like Corina, he has grief he’s yet to deal with. When his brother, the king, shows him official paperwork to further bring the past, he has to bring a lot of his past to the present. And there’s a lot of conflict there.

What I liked about How to Catch a Prince was the modern angle of royal life. Corina’s boss thinks Corina has a Kardashian name or two in her address book. Twitter is a major force to drive the plot forward, and I really enjoyed that.

What I found a little disappointing was there wasn’t as much forward as there was past. As the Del Rey family was stuck in grief, it was brought up a lot about how life stopped after Carlos died. That when Corina was left grief-stricken, she was also left brokenhearted. It came up quite a few times and after awhile, I was ready for the healing process to show itself. It had been five years.

I believe it’s a good read and of course, another escape into a royal romance, which I always enjoy reading.

To purchase How to Catch a Prince, click here.

I received a copy of How to Catch a Prince in an exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Brush with Love by Rachel Hauck

Posted by Julie on January 21, 2015 in Book Review, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

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Book Description:

Ginger Winters is a gifted hairstylist with scars no one can see. The last thing she expects from the New Year is a new chance at love.

Overcoming a childhood tragedy, Ginger emerges from the pain and trauma with a gift for bringing out the beauty in others. From the top big city salons to traveling the world as personal stylist to a country music sensation, success was almost enough to make Ginger forget she would never be one of the beautiful people.

that girl, forever on the outside looking in. But she needs her confidence this weekend. She’s the acclaimed “beauty-maker” for the Alabama society wedding of the decade.

When high-school crush Tom Wells Jr. also returns to town and shows up at her shop looking for a haircut, Ginger’s thinly veiled insecurities threaten to keep her locked away from love, Despite Tom’s best efforts, Ginger can’t forget how he disappeared on her twelve years ago and broke her heart. Can she ever trust him again?

When Tom challenges her to see her own beauty, Ginger must decide if she will remained chained to the past or move freely into a new, exciting future.

 

Brush with Love is a sweet novella with a message all readers need to receive. Ginger has literal scars and doubts her beauty. She’s had a hard childhood on top of it, and learns something about her family that makes life seem even harsher. Tom is the man that tries to convince her she’s beautiful, but he’s a part of her past emotional scars.
I enjoyed this novella. It’s a quick read with an unusual secret that adds conflict to the story. I loved the message of beauty and worth, and as a bonus, there is also a redemption message between mother and daughter.
I believe romance readers will enjoy Brush With Love, too.
To purchase Brush with Love, click here.
I received a copy of Brush with Love from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: March Bride by Rachel Hauck

Posted by Julie on March 21, 2014 in Book Review, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

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Book Description:

A year’s worth of novellas from twelve inspirational romance authors. Happily ever after guaranteed.

 

Susanna has found her true prince, and their happily ever after is just around the corner. But when Nate asks her to give up something precious to her, Susanna can’t help but wonder if it’s a sign that their love is not meant to be.

 

Susanna Truitt (Once Upon A Prince) is three weeks from royalty. She’ll soon marry King Nathaniel II of Brighton Kingdom. But when the government insists she renounce her American citizenship before the wedding, coupled with the lack of involvement by family and friends, Susanna’s heart begins to doubt whether this marriage is God’s plan for her.

 

Nathaniel would do anything for his bride-to-be. But he knows his position requires that she give up a lot to be with him. Her life will never be her own—right down to her very identity. When she travels home to St. Simon’s Island, Georgia, right before the wedding, Nathaniel fears she won’t return. Gathering his courage, he devises a plan to win his bride all over again, and together they seek out a kingdom to treasure above all.

What a sweet surprise March Bride was. I didn’t know this novella was a continuation of Once Upon a Price, so readers get to revisit Susanna and Nathaniel’s love story weeks before their royal wedding. Their love is deep, but the conflicts continue. Susanna can’t shake that on her best day, she’s still a redneck Georgia girl and that an entire country is counting on her to be a princess. And she keeps seeing Nathaniel around a woman who is a better fit for him, and has made her intentions clear in the past. When Nathaniel confesses that Susanna has to make one more sacrifice before the wedding, she returns home to clear her head. Will she be able to surrender everything in order to marry her true love?

I really enjoyed March Bride because I still love a good fairy tale, and this is a realistic one, too. Susanna’s battle over identity is one all women can relate to, whether we’re marrying royalty or not. I absolutely related to her anxieties about not being good enough and whether her intended was having regrets. It’s captivating reading full of conflict and romance, and is a quick read. I do recommend reading Once Upon a Prince first. By doing so you learn about how their romance unfolds and the secondary characters who continue to get in the way in March Bride.

If you love romance, usher in spring with March Bride.

To purchase March Bride, click here.

I received a copy of March Bride from NetGalley/publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Princess Ever After by Rachel Hauck

Posted by Julie on February 14, 2014 in Book Review, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

Book Description:

Regina Beswick was born to be a princess.

But she’s content to be a small-town girl, running a classic auto restoration shop, unaware a secret destiny awaits her. One that will leap from the pages of her grandmother’s hand-painted book of fairytales.

Tanner Burkhardt is the stoic Minister of Culture for the Grand Duchy of Hessenberg. When he is tasked to retrieve the long-lost princess, he must overcome his fear of failure in order to secure his nation’s future—and his own.

Yet lurking in the political shadows is a fierce opponent with sinister plans to abolish the throne forever. Overwhelmed with opposition, Regina must decide if she’s destined to restore old cars or an ancient nation. Together—with a little divine intervention—Regina and Tanner discover the truth of her heritage and the healing power of true love.

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Rachel Hauck fills a need with Princess Ever After that I didn’t even realize I had. As I turned the pages and watched an average girl with overalls and a passion for cars learn she’s an heir to a kingdom, it hit me how even in my 40’s, I still swoon with a princess story.

I remarked earlier this week at Christians Read that Disney had made millions off the princess concept, and I was just as taken with Reggie’s story as I was growing up watching Cinderella. Maybe more so, because Rachel created great tension. Reggie loves the car restoration business and they need her. Her country needs her. She longs for love but has a potential frog in her life, and along comes Tanner, who is a natural fit even in this new life of Reggie’s, as much as the slipper fit Cinderella. But the stresses build, and like a great royal story, there’s a villain who wants the kingdom,

In short, Princess Ever After has all the elements of a great royal story I believe women still believe in, and dream about. I rooted for Reggie and I think you will, too. I hope you take some time out and give yourself the royal treatment of time to enjoy Princess Ever After.

 

Purchase a copy: http://ow.ly/tk6Wt

I received a copy of Princess Ever After from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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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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