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Book Review: The Things We Knew

Posted by Julie on August 17, 2016 in Book Review, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |
Book Review: The Things We Knew by Catherine West

Book Review: The Things We Knew by Catherine West

When their tragic past begins to resurface, can he help her remember the things she can’t?

After her mother’s death twelve years ago, Lynette Carlisle watched her close-knit family unravel. One by one, her four older siblings left their Nantucket home and never returned. All seem to blame their father for their mother’s death, but nobody will talk about that tragic day. And Lynette’s memory only speaks through nightmares.

Then Nicholas Cooper returns to Nantucket, bringing the past with him. Once Lynette’s adolescent crush, Nick knows more about her mother’s death than he lets on. The truth could tear apart his own family—and destroy his fragile friendship with Lynette, the woman he no longer thinks of as a kid sister.

As their father’s failing health and financial concerns bring the Carlisle siblings home, secrets surface that will either restore their shattered relationships or separate the siblings forever. But pulling up anchor on the past propels them into the perfect storm, powerful enough to make them question their faith, their willingness to forgive, and the very truth of all the things they thought they knew.

Have you ever read a book and you could feel the tension? THE THINGS WE KNEW felt like an approaching thunderstorm as Lynette tries to keep things together for her ailing dad but secrets, hardship, illness, and her boyhood crush and neighbor, Nick, come crashing in and around her and her childhood home.

What I love, just like watching a storm, is THE THINGS WE KNEW doesn’t disappoint. The crescendo comes where all the truth about Lynette’s mother and her mysterious death come out. Nick’s secrets. Lynette’s siblings. They are left with hiding the aftermath or pulling together and heal as a cohesive unit.

I thought this was a strong story with equally strong secondary stories, especially with Lynette’s brother, Gray. This reminded me of a more stressful Baxter Series book by Karen Kingsbury, maybe more realistic is a better word. Whatever comparison I’m trying to make, THE THINGS WE KNEW is definitely worth reading.

To purchase THE THINGS WE KNEW, click here.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: The Amish Firefighter by Laura V. Hilton

Posted by Julie on April 21, 2016 in ACFW, Book Review, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender, Writing |
The Amish Firefighter by Laura Hilton.

The Amish Firefighter by Laura Hilton.

This is the second part of my Don’t Miss This feature. Yesterday I shared that Laura and I are in the same critique group, so I’m able to see her work firsthand. She’s such a master at Amish romance that what you read as a finished product is pretty much what I see in the critique group.

The Amish Firefighter is available for pre-order, and my review is based on my critique experience.

 

 

 

The Amish Firefighter

Can they overcome their past?

Abigail Stutzman’s life is about to change – whether she wants it to or not. Her mamm is getting remarried to a widower with a large family. Abigail is sent to live with her aenti and onkle in Jamesport because she and her new step-brother had dated and their parents anticipate problems. (Her step-brother is needed on the farm.) Abigail launches a full-scale plan to return home to her family—and Mark—when she finds herself in over her head…and heart. When Abigail and her new “wrong crowd” get into significant trouble, her punishment includes helping a collection of crazy old maids with housekeeping. In the midst of her atonement, Abigail uncovers family secrets that run deep, and realizes she’s not the only one with a pain-filled past. Abigail must decide if she’ll continue her messed-up legacy or embrace a new beginning with the man who’s stolen her heart.

Sam Miller has trouble of his own. When Sam and his close friend Ezra Weiss are in a drug/alcohol-related car accident in Pennsylvania, Ezra is killed. Though Sam survives, he is deeply affected by the tragedy and vows to help other victims. Now a new Christian, Sam is a volunteer firefighter and a college student working to earn his EMT and paramedic license. But Sam has a past. When it comes time to confess his crimes, he finds that the truth may set him free—but it might also land him in some uncomfortably hot water. Will Sam and Abigail be able to find a future together? 

 

As always, Laura delivers a page turner of an Amish romance for readers. The Amish Firefighter is a standout to me thanks to Sam and Abigail’s chemistry. Their conflict starts immediately and between circumstances and attraction, they can’t stay away from each other. Yet, both have their issues that keep the two at arm’s length. I love how Sam calls Abigail “firebug,” and Abigail is a strong character in her own right. There is also the fire aspect, and that only adds to the page turning. All the dynamics are here for a satisfying read. I think this is a must read for summer.

 

10628159_10208001517851690_2507809979360088405_nAward winning author, Laura Hilton, her husband, Steve, and their five children make their home in Arkansas. She is a pastor’s wife, a stay-at-home mom and home-schools. Laura is also a breast cancer survivor.

 

Her publishing credits include three books in the Amish of Seymour series from Whitaker House: Patchwork Dreams, A Harvest of Hearts (winner of the 2012 Clash of the Titles Award in two categories), and Promised to Another. The Amish of Webster County series, Healing Love (finalist for the 2013 Christian Retail Awards). Surrendered Love and Awakened Love followed by her first Christmas novel, A White Christmas in Webster County, as well as the Amish of Jamesport series, The Snow Globe, The Postcard,  and The Birdhouse. Other credits include Swept Away from Abingdon Press’ Quilts of Love series. Laura is contracted for another three

book Amish series set in the Jamesport area, with the first book, The Amish Firefighter releasing in May 2016, followed by two more Amish books and a Christmas story releasing in Fall 2016, Spring 2017 and Fall 2017 respectively.

 

She has self-published a Christmas novella, Christmas Mittens.

 

Laura is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and a professional book reviewer and blogs for Putting on the New and Seriously Write.

To Purchase:

Amazon

CBD

Barnes and Noble

Deeper Shopping

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Book Review: In Firefly Valley by Amanda Cabot

Posted by Julie on November 11, 2015 in Book Review, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

51y8vCO+GFL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_She’s lost her dream job–but has she found the man of her dreams?

Devastated by a downsizing, Marisa St. George has no choice but to return to the small Texas town where she grew up. Though it means a giant step backward, she accepts a position as business manager at the struggling Rainbow’s End resort. The only silver lining: Blake Kendall, a new guest who might make her believe in love at first sight. But will Marisa’s dreams of happily-ever-after be turned upside down when she discovers Blake’s real identity?

This warm and witty story of dreams deferred and mistaken identity will have you believing in second chances.

I’m a sucker for a small town romance with resort backdrops. Although I missed book one, it doesn’t take much to pick up and understand In Firefly Valley. There was good chemistry between Marisa, back in the area after losing her job, and Blake, an author on deadline. He has a bit of a secret that has the potential to send Marisa reeling.

I enjoyed the book, although I had trouble getting completely caught up. I think going a little deeper with the characters would have helped because I felt the sparks, but it wasn’t quite enough. But it is a sweet small town romance worth reading.

To purchase In Firefly Valley, click here.

I received a .pdf from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my review.

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Free Gift for You: Crumbs and Embers

Posted by Julie on January 13, 2015 in About Me, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender, Writing |

I not only write, I read a lot. Last year I spent a lot of time researching blogs and reading up on marketing.

The names to follow—the Michael Hyatt, Jeff Goins—say the same thing: growing an email list is the wisest marketing move to make.

If Jeff Zuckerberg decides to shut Facebook down tomorrow or make it so limited I’m not eligible, I’m out a lot of people. Worst case scenario, I know. But I’d rather try to reach these friends now and have them choose to also subscribe to my newsletter so no matter what happens in social media, I can still connect.

DSCN0729

The Finger Lakes region, where both Match Made in Heaven and Crumbs and Embers are set.

Last year I wanted to thank my faithful subscribers for following this unpublished author by sending them something no one else had. They received monthly installments of what is now the novella, Match Made in Heaven. Readers were drawn into Dean and Beth’s world as they healed from hurts and learned to trust God. Subscribers also got a glimpse of another Upstate NY feature, the Finger Lakes. I love sharing the area where I grew up.

I asked what they would like in 2015 as a thanks and they responded with another romance, a sequel of sorts. Wendy Bass gets to tell her story in Crumbs and Embers, another Finger Lakes Upstate NY romance. As director of the Hammondsport senior complex, she appears in control. But when she received unexpected news, her secret unravels and fire commissioner Derek Spencer knows. Will he spill her secret or keep quiet in hopes of protecting his own skeletons?

For new subscribers, you get the full novella of Match Made in Heaven. For all subscribers, Crumbs and Embers will start to come to your mailbox in February. Count on monthly (or so) installments along with writing updates and book news.

How do you subscribe? Easy. Complete the form in the right sidebar of http://juliearduini.com and watch for activation. Sometimes those emails go to spam, so check your folder and look for something from Julie Arduini/MailChimp.

What else?

Would you tell others? I’d love to share this gift with as many people as possible.

Happy subscribing and reading!

Oh, and if you’d like a visual on Crumbs and Embers, check out my Pinterest board.

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Christmas Musings by Anita Higman

Posted by Julie on December 26, 2013 in encouragement, God's Word, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

Julie’s Note: This post was designed to publish December 15th. However, I first committed to blogging a tribute to author Diann Hunt along with other bloggers/authors who are also remembering her. I’m happy to now present Anita Higman’s post, just as important to read the day after Christmas as it is before. Thanks for understanding.

12pearlsofxmas
Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas blog series!



Merry Christmas from Pearl Girls™! We hope you enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from the authors who were so kind to donate their time and talents! If you miss a few posts, you’ll be able go back through and read them on this blog throughout the next few days.

We’re giving away a pearl necklace in celebration of the holidays, as well as some items from the contributors! Enter now below. The winner will be announced on January 2, 2014, at the Pearl Girls blog.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl, Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace, or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

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Christmas Musings
by: Anita Higman

I feel great joy in preparing my home for the holiday season. I love to drape boughs of greenery along the staircase, swirl spices into a pot of apple cider that’s simmering on the stove, make crafty floral arrangements, and sing along with all my favorite carols. Then when friends and family come over for brunches and dinners, I put out my finest decoration, my best china, and my sincerest smile. I go all out. These are my guests, and I want the event to be welcoming, satisfying, and festive. I want them to feel like royalty.

When Christ arrived in Bethlehem, I wish He could have had a more splendid welcoming, a more regal place to sleep than a wooden trough where animals were fed. Even though His birth was without majestic lodgings or kingly adornments, I’m so glad He overlooked our foolish blunders, our lack of hospitality, and chose to live amongst us anyway. Jesus certainly could have chosen a different route and easier way to offer redemption.

But He didn’t.

Jesus came in one of the humblest possibly ways. He had a divine approach that left humans surprised and puzzled. And it turned into a road of pain beyond anything we can imagine. When it comes to God’s extravagant sacrifice and love that Christmas represents, He deserves a standing ovation. After all, Christmas holds the true secrets we’ve all been searching for: meaning to our lives on earth, victory over death, and life eternal.Christmas gives us a reason to work, to laugh, to dream, to love. Christmas is a holiday of the heart and earth’s finest celebration.

12pearls-higman
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Best-selling and award-winning author, Anita Higman, has over thirty books published (several coauthored) for adults and children. Her latest release, Marriage in Middlebury, is a tale of love, hope, and forgiveness. Anita’s been a Barnes & Noble “Author of the Month” for Houston and has a BA degree, combining speech communication, psychology, and art. Anita loves good movies, exotic teas, and brunch with her friends. Visit Anita at her website.

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Book Review: Melissa Foster’s Megan’s Way

Posted by Julie on June 20, 2011 in About Me, Book Review, encouragement, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender, Writing |

Last week I reviewed Melissa Foster’s latest novel, Chasing Amanda. Today I’m back with a review of her first book, Megan’s Way.

With two Melissa Foster books under my reading belt I can say she is a well rounded story teller. Usually you find writers are really good with characterizations or imagery and setting. They work hard to learn the craft so that they can be balanced and write both well. Melissa Foster is already there with amazing imagery and setting talent in her writing yet she crafted diverse characters with depth and emotion.

What I love about a story is when I can’t guess how it works out. In Megan’s Way I was almost cocky thinking I had the story all figured out but what a nice surprise to find it didn’t play out like I thought.

Megan is a single mom to teenage Olivia and she realizes cancer is going to take her away. She’s worried about how Olivia will fare and wonders if secrets from the past should be told and who should know them. Megan and Oliva share an intense connection and Olivia feels something changing with her mom. Holly is Megan’s best friend from childhood who isn’t able to have children of her own and carries secrets from the past.

Here is a product description:

What would you give up for the people you love?

When Megan Taylor, a single mother and artist, receives the shocking news that her cancer has returned, she’ll be faced with the most difficult decision she’s ever had to make. She’ll endure an emotional journey, questioning her own moral and ethical values, and the decisions she’d made long ago. The love she has for her daughter, Olivia, and her closest friends, will be stretched and frayed.

Meanwhile, fourteen-year-old Olivia’s world is falling apart right before her eyes, and there’s nothing she can do about it. She finds herself acting in ways she cannot even begin to understand. When her internal struggles turn to dangerous behavior, her life will hang in the balance.

Megan’s closest friends are caught in a tangled web of deceit. Each must figure out how, and if, they can expose their secrets, or forever be haunted by their pasts.

Julie’s disclaimer: There is strong profanity and what some might define as new age practices in Megan’s Way.  If you are sensitive to that this might not be the book for you but I encourage you to give it a try.

I found things I could take away and apply to my life including the importance of transparency and honesty to avoid the need for harboring secrets. I felt re affirmed in what I’ve shared with others for years, you don’t know when your last day on Earth is. Make sure you are ready. Although I might not personally align my lifestyle to everything in Megan’s Way, I still found it a compelling read.

I received Megan’s Way from the author in exchange for an honest review.

To purchase, click here.



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