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Book Review: Wild Montana Skies by Susan May Warren

Posted by Julie on October 28, 2016 in Book Review, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |
Wild Montana Skies by Susan May Warren

Wild Montana Skies by Susan May Warren

Wild Montana Skies

by Susan May Warren

“Watching Kacey and Ben maneuver past hurts and fall back in love made for a perfect afternoon reading. Wild Montana Skies is a wonderful love story.”–Dee Henderson, author ofTaken

The last thing Search and Rescue helicopter pilot Kacey Fairing needs upon returning home to Mercy Falls, Montana, is to run into her mistakes. After a devastating crash during her recent military tour in Afghanistan, she is emotionally broken but ready to start putting her life back together. She just wants to reconnect with her teenage daughter and spend the summer working as the new lead pilot of PEAK Rescue in Glacier National Park.
 
But her mistakes aren’t so easily forgotten. Because Ben King is also back in town.
 
Country music star Ben King abandoned his past when he moved to Nashville thirteen years ago to start his career. He hoped to heal his broken heart, caused by losing the woman he loved. But when his father is injured, Ben is called home to help manage PEAK Rescue during his recovery. He doesn’t realize his father has ulterior motives until his old flame, Kacey, walks into his house and back into his heart. 
 
Now, with Mercy Falls in a state of emergency due to flash floods, Kacey and Ben will have to work together to save lives. But when secrets are uncovered and old hurts rise to the surface, will they walk away again? Or can they find a different ending to their country love song?

This is book one in a new series by Susan May Warren and I love how she shook up the hero and heroine. It was new for me to read about the heroine being in the military and having PTSD consequences, as well as struggling with needing to leave just as her and her daughter re-connected. That brought great conflict to the story, impacted by Ben’s return and the revelation he is Audrey’s father.

The sparks kept me turning pages as Kacey and Ben never got over each other but there is hurt, miscommunication, betrayal from others and the question of how would they become a couple with a daughter when both have demanding careers? The conflict was palpable and made for a great read.

I definitely recommend WILD MONTANA SKIES.

To purchase, CLICK HERE.

I received this book from the publisher and this review is my own opinion on it.

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Book Review: When Death Draws Near by Carrie Stuart Parks

Posted by Julie on August 3, 2016 in Book Review, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |
When Death Draws Near by Carrie Stuart Parks

When Death Draws Near by Carrie Stuart Parks

Book Description:
Gwen Marcey takes death in stride. Until she’s faced with her own mortality.

Forensic artist Gwen Marcey is between jobs when she accepts temporary work in Pikeville, Kentucky—a small town facing big-city crime. But before Gwen can finish her first drawing of the serial rapist who is on the loose, the latest witness vanishes. Just like all the others.

Gwen suspects a connection between the rapist and the “accidental” deaths that are happening around town, but the local sheriff has little interest in her theories. When her digitally-obsessed teenage daughter joins her, Gwen turns her attention to a second assignment: going undercover in a serpent-handling church. She could get a handsome reward for uncovering illegal activity—a reward she desperately needs, as it seems her breast cancer has returned. But snakes aren’t the only ones ready to kill. Can Gwen uncover the truth—and convince anyone to believe her—before she becomes a victim herself?

In a thrilling race against time, When Death Draws Near plunges us into cold-case murders, shady politics, and a den of venomous suspects.

This was a ride, and a wild one at that. I am deathly afraid of snakes. I can’t look at stuffed animal snakes, cartoon ones, none of it. So I wasn’t sure how I would do with this book that tackles snake-handling in church.

I confess, I couldn’t read it at night. There was only one scene that was scary for me, but the thought of it made me read during the day, and I really enjoyed it. It is obvious the author thoroughly researched this book. The characters were so well-developed, especially Gwen. This is not the first book in her series, but it definitely can stand alone. I learned a lot about her. Single mom. Cancer Survivor. Forensic Artist.

I enjoyed her daughter working with her, and that I could not figure out why was good, and who was evil. As Gwen kept saying, “Trust no one.”

I hope you trust me, though. When Death Draws Near is a suspenseful plot I’ve never run across before that keeps you on edge. It’s dynamic, humorous at times, and full of action.  I definitely recommend it.

To purchase When Death Draws Near, click here.

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

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Book Review: Back in the Saddle by Ruth Logan Herne

Posted by Julie on April 5, 2016 in Book Review, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |
Back in the Saddle by Ruth Logan Herne

Back in the Saddle by Ruth Logan Herne

The Prodigal Is Coming Home

It’s been a long time since Colt Stafford shrugged off his cowboy legacy for shiny Manhattan loafers and a promising career on Wall Street. But when stock market manipulations leave him financially strapped, the oldest son of legendary rancher Sam Stafford decides to return to the sprawling Double S ranch in Gray’s Glen, Washington. He’s broke, but not broken, and it’s time to check in with his ailing father, and get his legs back under him by climbing into the saddle again.
 
He doesn’t expect to come home to a stranger pointing a loaded gun at his chest— a tough yet beautiful woman that Sam hired as the house manager. Colt senses there’s more to Angelina Morales than meets the eye and he’s determined to find out what she’s hiding…and why.
 
Colt’s return brings new challenges. Younger brother Nick has been Sam’s right-hand man at the ranch for years and isn’t thrilled at having Colt insert himself into Double S affairs. And the ranch’s contentious relationship with the citizens of Gray’s Glen asks all the Stafford men to examine their hearts about what it truly means to be a neighbor.  And as Wall Street recovers, will Colt succumb to the call of the financial district’s wealth and power—or finally the courage to stay in the saddle for good?

Ah, I’m a sucker for a cowboy romance and BACK IN THE SADDLE doesn’t disappoint. Colt comes back to the Double S ranch after a time away on Wall Street. He didn’t leave under the best of terms with his dad, and his dad isn’t the same. There’s talk about God, his dad isn’t feeling great, and there’s Angelina.

Angelina is the glue that keeps the ranch house running and the Stafford men in line. She has secrets of her own and is torn between where she used to be, and where she is now.

I loved that the author made all the characters strong, not just Colt and Angelina. I loved getting to know Sam, Nick, and the others. There’s a lot of hurt to explore, and I think BACK IN THE SADDLE does it justice. The chemistry between Colt and Angelina is on target, too. It didn’t take me long to read the book, I really enjoyed diving into the romance and the mystery between the characters.

Even if cowboy romances aren’t your thing, I still challenge you to give BACK IN THE SADDLE a try. I really enjoyed it, and I think you will, too.

To purchase BACK IN THE SADDLE, click here.

I received BACK IN THE SADDLE from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Guest Blogger: Recipe for Single Moms by Dawn V. Cahill

Posted by Julie on July 9, 2015 in encouragement, God's Word, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

Recipe for Single Moms

Many years ago, my three-year-old son discovered a love for food preparation. He’d come up with all kinds of concoctions. Here’s one of them:

½ gallon of milk

2/3 quart chocolate milk powder

Approx 8 tbsp salt

¼ can of pepper

¼ jar of onion powder

½ box of petit fours

In a saucepan, stir all ingredients together on medium-high heat, stir, and enjoy. Note: In order to capture every subtle flavor of each ingredient, it is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to prepare before 6:00 am, before anyone else is up. I promise it will fill your home with a mysterious yet enticing scent, and will bring the rest of the family scurrying to the kitchen.

chocolate shake

Doesn’t that look scrumptious? A half-gallon of milk mixed with chocolate powder sounds like a promising beginning, doesn’t it? Funny how life can imitate recipes. In my own case, life as a single parent started out not so bad. Once I rid my home of my alcoholic husband’s toxic influence, the atmosphere lightened as if the house itself breathed a big sigh of relief.

But then life threw a lot of salt into the mix. And way too much pepper. One of my sons began getting in trouble at school for disruptive behavior, and he was only 6 years old. His grades nosedived and his behavior grew increasingly unruly as the long year wore on. As this was happening,  another son, the chef wannabe, was diagnosed with delayed development.

Sweet had turned to bitter.

I had eliminated one problem – abusive husband – but had acquired umpteen more. Child support was erratic, at best. Financial problems, like onion powder, is only tolerable in small doses.

Life had turned into a disaster that made me gag.

I decided I needed a way to sweeten up my life, and came up with the perfect solution: a delicious new romance! A purely selfish, yet pleasurable way to make life bearable again.

petit fours

Of course, it didn’t work. Petit fours soaked in salt, pepper and onions aren’t so tasty anymore. Neither is romance when the rest of life isn’t working.

But here I am, twenty years later, my sanity still intact—at least, I hope it is. My son the aspiring chef is on the verge of graduating from college. My unruly son made it through school and has been on his own for many years.

So, you might wonder, how did I get from there to here?

It’s a long story, one I’ll have to save for next time. But it’s a testament to God’s grace. His merciful concern for the widow and the orphan.

Be sure to come back HERE for the rest of the story.

~~Dawn V. Cahill~~Since I was a small child, I’ve loved stories, both reading and writing them. One of my earliest stories got high accolades from my third grade teacher. It was about a little Manx kitten whose mother rejected her because she didn’t have a tail. Until an older, wiser cat helped the mother understand the importance of accepting her children the way God made them.

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Saturday Confession: Sometimes I Cry Myself to Sleep

I’ve blogged for the better part of seven years. In the ever-changing cyberworld that’s like 100 years. For the most part when I communicate with a reader two things stand out when they summarize me.

I love chocolate.

I’m transparent.

That’s success to me because it’s the brand I’ve quietly built over the years. You might not remember my name but you recall that author that loves chocolate. The one who writes about surrender. And those things circle back to me.

Lately I’ve been going through a growth spurt with the Lord, a season and as I feel I’m supposed to, I share certain aspects of the journey. Today is a hard one because it is transparent. Not only are men not encouraged to admit their feelings,

And I am.

But there are times I cry myself to sleep.

Why?

Most of the time because I’m bone tired.

This particular season my husband is on a project that has him on call every weekend and many evenings. If he gets home at a reasonable time he’s tethered to the laptop. I don’t say it often because it comes across harsh and I believe it looks like an appeal for pity.

But for those that really know me, it’s no secret. I’m married but often a single mom. It’s not what either of us want but it’s our reality. Our oldest drives now so that helps with a lot of the shuttling that falls on my shoulders. Yet I still get tired. Juggling school schedules, all of our times in ministry and the logistics involved, medical appointments and the aftermath, keeping up with the house. I recently had to take our two senior dogs to the vet to put them down. Cry? That was a day I spelled it out. I needed my family to be present and encouraging. And they were. But lately I’ve been so tired the only way to let that out has been through tears.

tumblr_m7tcfriUZJ1qafi9mo1_500

I also cry out of anger. There are times, rare, but moments when I’m at such a loss for words I can only cry. Most of the time it’s out of love for someone else and desire to protect them. The hardest lately has been people demanding things from my husband he doesn’t have. If he had time, I’d like some of it yet many hands are grabbing for him wanting their (in my tired opinion) minor needs yet. Without knowing our full story they offer their commentary and it wounds to the point of hot tears I save for night. I cry for my kids. When they are frustrated and they have to do the right thing knowing they will probably be the only one that will. When they are picked on. And another biggie for me—when I want justice and I don’t see it. Oh, I cry and shake my fist on that!

And then there’s the loneliness. I’m an introvert’s introvert with a call to write. That alone is a life of solitude. Add the above and sometimes the isolation threatens to choke the very life out of me. It’s complex because it’s a time God uses to train me. But I hate it. It’s so hard. And it seems with each growing season my circle is pruned. There are fewer people I’m able to relate to and trust. And the cycle is vicious.

Why do I share such a vulnerable place? Because I vowed I would always write what God asked when He did.

. I’m confident I’m not the only person crying themselves to sleep. My hope is that by sharing that person or people feel less alone and reach out to their Heavenly Father so that they can learn and prosper from the experience.

And may your sleep be full of His peace.

imgsoup photo

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Entrusted: My Interview with Carla Rowling

Posted by Julie on December 18, 2014 in About Me, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender, Writing |

All this week I’m interviewing characters from my contemporary romance, Entrusted.  Today we meet the first person who finds Jenna in Speculator Falls, sheriff Carla Rowling.

Entrusted FRONT Cover_editedHow did you meet Jenna Anderson?

By accident, literally. Dispatch told me someone ran over a flower box on Route 8. I went to the scene and it was Jenna who created the property damage. She was relying on her GPS to get her to her new home, and it wasn’t cooperating in the mountains.

If you don’t mind me saying, you don’t really look like a sheriff. How did you become interested?

At the time I needed steady income to support my little boy and I did well on the tests. The rest is history.

I sense law enforcement isn’t your passion. What is?

My son, Noah. He’s everything. I also enjoy dabbling in cutting hair.

You look young to be a mom.

I was a teen mom. I’m not proud of it but I think I’ve provided Noah with a good home full of love.

Speaking of love, is there anyone in your life?

My son, Noah.

Jenna mentioned that Will Marshall seems to find excuses to spend time with you.

I’ve known Will forever. He’s a good guy.

Ben revealed that the paramedic that treated his grandmother was Noah’s father.

He did. I thought Wayne was going to continue to live and work at a distance but he’s in Speculator Falls. 

You seem to give just the facts. You don’t want to say anything else about love?

I love Noah. Any other questions?

Is your story next?

Yes. Entangled is my story. You’ll still read about Ben, Jenna and the others, but it’s definitely my story.

To learn more about the people of Entrusted and purchase, click here.

Entrusted is on Pinterest. Check it out!

 

 

 



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