Blessings

IMG_20170204_133331Sorry for dropping off the blog planet (besides book reviews). My mom died a month ago and it’s been difficult getting back into a routine again. I miss her. It’s that simple. I’m grateful for the beautiful life of service she lived and for all that she taught me. She was the best of moms. We’re all moving on, but it’s hard to not have someone around who has always been there for you your whole life. But God is merciful and has comforted me a lot over this last month. There are times when I just must cry, but He has wrapped His arms around me and helped me remember all that I still have. And truthfully, I still have Mom. She’s just not here in body for now. But her spirit can still touch mine. And I am grateful beyond measure for Christ’s sacrifice on this earth so that that is possible, and that I can live with Him and her again. Feel her hugs. Bask in her smiles.

Book 1-Playing for Love.jpgI’ve been staying busy writing and reading–my two favorite hobbies. My latest story, Playing for Love, is out to a few beta-readers. I already can tell there are some slight plot points I’ll have to adjust, then I’ll send it to a few other new readers for their opinion. After that, I’ll send it out for editing in the summer and get a final cover made for it. Here’s my latest idea. It could change though. Parker and Meridee’s story makes me smile. Hopefully, it will do the same for you when it comes out in the fall.

My book, Hands of Mercy, is FREE until the 23rd. So if you haven’t read that one, grab it now while the getting’s cheap. It’s the 3rd book in the Bending Willow trilogy, and is still one of my favorites.

I titled this post Blessings because though sad things have happened (Mom’s death and my father-in-law suffering from a incurable brain tumor), I still feel so blessed. After my mom had her horrible stroke that left her without speech and movement on her right side back in September, I felt God had given me such a great trial. My siblings and I had to take time out of our busy family and work schedules to care for her a week at a time because she needed constant help, and it just seemed so hard.

IMG_1699.jpgNow I look back and am so grateful God let us have six extra months with her, even though they were hard. I cherish the weeks I had with Mom one-on-one where I could feel her love through her smiles and soul-feeding hugs. I cherish the time I had to read to her. I read her my last book, Between Hope and the Highway, and she just beamed as I read each part. Though she couldn’t talk, she seemed to find ways to convey deep thoughts and feelings through her expressions and affectionate actions. She taught me clear to the very end, nourishing my faith as she made sure we said family prayers together and blessings over meals…and she always said Amen. She couldn’t say hardly anything else, but she quickly learned to say Amen and I love you. Those few words symbolized her Faith and Love. Two qualities that described her life perfectly.

So though I won’t purposely pray for God to flood my life with trials, I’m going to try to not be so quick to gripe or complain when trials come in the future. Because sometimes our trials really are our greatest blessings. We just have to faith to have our eyes opened to see the whole picture.

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Defiance

Defiance

Wow! This one really took my breath away. Defiance by A.L.Sowards is not a romance like I normally read. This is a story set during the latter part of World War II, and it is a gripping journey. Our young hero is Lukas. He’s just barely graduated from high school and is anxious to be drafted and go serve his country. His older brother, Bastian, who is home after losing his leg, tries to warn him about what he will see and experience. But Lukas, like most normal 18-year-olds, wishes his brother would leave him alone. He already knows everything, right?

Lukas wants nothing more than to be a pilot, but when he fails his vision test, his options are limited. He’s sent into the infantry and when he gets out on the front line, he wishes he’d listened closer to Bastian. War is ugly. War is frightening. War doesn’t care if you’ve had enough sleep (or any sleep at all) or whether you’re half-starved. When you must hold the line at all costs, nothing else matters.

My review

This story is intense. Sowards did an excellent job with research and wove facts into this book so flawlessly that I felt like I was right there alongside Lukas through every scene–the fun ones with his girl back home, and all the ugly ones once he was shipped out to the front lines. My emotions got battered, and I wanted to cry a lot as kids got killed and the war revealed all its ugly heads. The battles in this book took place in Luxembourg as the Germans are trying to push their way through to Bastogne in a last ditch effort to win the war in 1944-45.

The battle scenes and dialogue seemed so real to me. Like I said above, I felt like I was right there. I could smell the heavy scent of kerosene campfires and feel the ash and smoke smother me during the shellings and bombings. I felt Lukas’s fear as he shot at German soldiers and ran for his life. He eventually gets caught and as this book’s title suggests, the ultimate battle he must fight is to uphold his pride and dignity when the enemy is determined to beat him down as a POW. His spirit must show defiance, and hold true to his beliefs and humanity.

Decadent5This was an excellent book. Characters were developed and complex. The plot was intense and had lots of twists and tear-inducing scenes. The emotions it evoked were strong. No sitting on the fence with your heart for this book. Overall, it was the perfect book. I can’t think of anything I didn’t like about it. I’m still just sitting here feeling kind of awed by the story and what the character went through. Bravo, Amanda Sowards. This book rated 5 all across the board (Amazon, Goodreads, and my highly critical Sweet Scale). It deserves awards.

Giveaway

Enter a Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win Amazon cash and a copy of this intense action-packed WWII book. I’ll keep my fingers cross that you win.

Happy Reading.

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Miss Whitaker Opens Her Heart

Miss Whitaker Opens Her Heart BannerHere’s a unique book set down under in Regency times. Sarah Whitaker travels from England to Australia (which is called New South Wales at this time period) as a little girl to see her father. But when she learns that he has died just a few weeks before she arrives, her and her aunt are placed in a tough position. Australia is filled with criminals shipped  there from England, but Sarah believes in her heart she must run her dad’s sheep ranch to honor his memory. Continue reading