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Saturday, April 25, 2020

About the Book

Book:  Beauty for Ashes
Author: Kathleen Neely
Genre:  Christian Contemporary Romance
Nathan Drummond’s actions at the age of eighteen had devastating consequences. Writing became therapeutic, leading him into a successful career as a mystery writer. With seven novels to his name, Nathan is rapidly becoming a household name.
When family responsibilities force him to return to his home town, he meets Angie Hernandez. Nathan doesn’t count on falling in love, and certainly not with a woman who has the power to shatter his peace.
Being at home pushes him too close to painful memories, and as guilt threatens and panic attacks set in, Nathan begins to write a novel paralleling the tragic event from his youthful folly.
Will the novel be seen as a work of fiction, or will it expose his secret and threaten his future?

Click here for your copy!

 My tears stream down as I write this review. The author has captured the truth of guilt and finding a way to forgiveness. I’m sure many of us have done something in our past we regret. We wish we could go back and change things but we can’t. Nathan’s past has stayed with him for years. The guilt he has endured eats away at him everyday. I wanted to be angry at him for what he had done but found myself feeling grace towards him. He has made a decent life for himself but his past is about to catch up with him. 

Angie is a wonderful character who is joyful and forgiving. As she and Nathan begin to know each other an attraction develops. I liked learning  about Angie’s heritage and how deep their faith is. The work Angie does is rewarding and makes an impact on teens. When Nathan comes to volunteer  at Angie’s place I was intrigued by how the story would play out. Seeing her everyday becomes harder for him when he realizes how their past connects. 

One of the highlights of the story for me was how Nathan bonded with Del. I liked how the author uses Nathan to help Del who has never felt like anyone cared. His struggle at school prevents him from following his dream. Nathan’s heart for Del is unquestionably what makes a difference for Del. Finally this young teen has someone willing to work with him  and encourage him. I found this part of the story  as a peek into who Nathan really is inside. His hardest hurdle is just ahead as his guilt and shame  are brought to the surface.

I have read many books about forgiveness, but this one is probably the best I have read. The emotional turmoil for Nathan is painful as he comes to a hard decision. Knowing he may lose everything and everyone he holds dear, he takes a step of faith and turns to God for help. In his steps to freedom from his past, he will learn how to forgive himself and trust God with his future. In the pages of this book is a story that walks readers  through a tragedy that God uses to heal the broken heartened and show them them how forgiveness sets them free. 
“People are hurting, and they need to know Christ. They may only see Him through the actions of others.”
I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion. 

About the Author

Kathleen Neely is the author of The Street Singer, Beauty for Ashes, and The Least of These.  She is a former elementary teacher. Following her years in the classroom, she moved into administration, serving as an elementary principal at Eden Christian Academy in Pittsburgh, PA and at Shannon Forest Christian School in Greenville, SC. Kathleen is an alumnus of Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania and Regent University in Virginia.
Among her writing accomplishments, Kathleen won second place in a short story contest through ACFW-VA for her short story “The Missing Piece” and an honorable mention for her story “The Dance”. Both were published in a Christmas anthology. Her novel, The Least of These, was awarded first place in the 2015 Fresh Voices contest through Almost an Author. She has numerous devotions published through Christian Devotions. She continues to speak to students about writing. Kathleen is a member of Association of Christian Fiction Writers.

She resides in Greenville, SC with her husband, two cats, and one dog. She enjoys time with family, visiting her two grandsons, traveling, and reading.

More from Kathleen

I’ve always been an avid reader, but began writing at a period in my life when I didn’t have time to commit. While raising three sons, I also worked full time as a teacher, then later as an elementary principal. That left little time for writing. I’d plug away at my manuscript then neglect it for months. Those months became years. Every now and then, I would pull it out, re-read it, then add a little to it. When retirement approached, I thought of that old, abandoned manuscript. That’s when I began to take writing seriously. I joined a writing group, attended conferences, and met with two other writers weekly to critique and be critiqued. That manuscript is now a published novel.
I truly love writing. I can get lost in my own thoughts when planning a story. Characters become real and take on their own personality, sometimes different than I originally intended. Nathan, the protagonist in Beauty for Ashes, is a novelist. This excerpt is scripted from the book as he attempts to explain his trade with Angie. His explanation describes my approach to writing.
Excerpt: “They’re real people. I have to make myself become them. My mind lives out each scene. What would they feel? How would they react? I’m an actor playing a role, except that I have to play each role, each character. I immerse myself completely, then find words to capture it.”
I hope you’ll visit the pages of Beauty for Ashes and meet Nathan. He loves writing as much as I do, but hides a deadly secret. His past triggers challenges that leave him with debilitating anxiety and panic attacks. Writing has always been a balm for Nathan—until he writes his own story.

Blog Stops

Emily Yager, April 21
Simple Harvest Reads, April 23 (Author Interview)
For the Love of Literature, April 26 (Author Interview)
Through the Fire Blogs, April 29 (Author Interview)
Blossoms and Blessings, May 2 (Author Interview)
Artistic Nobody, May 3 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)


To celebrate her tour, Kathleen is giving away the grand prize of a copy of the book!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Hope Lies Ahead FB Banner

About the Book

Book:  Hope Lies Ahead
Author: James & Geoffrey Banks
Genre:  Christian non-fiction, Christian living, family and relationships
Release Date: April, 2020
HopeLiesAhead_Cover.inddNo prodigal is beyond the reach of God
 Every inch of my body was in pain and my skin was crawling. I couldn’t think straight or even form coherent sentences . . . How did I end up like this? –Geoffrey Banks
Geoff’s situation seemed hopeless: a heroin addict going through a nightmarish detox on the floor of an overpopulated jail cell. He had made a mess of his life.
His parents felt their son slipping away. They loved him so much and felt so powerless. And so they prayed—through the hurt, the questions, the frustrations. And through it all, God walked with them.
Hope Lies Ahead shares Geoff’s prodigal journey and James’s perspective as his father. Each man writes his own story and candidly addresses the spiritual and practical challenges families with prodigals face. As someone who loves a prodigal, you’ll know you are not alone and that there is hope!

Click here to get your copy
This has been a very emotional book to read. I appreciate how transparent the authors’ have been in sharing their story. Most of us are familiar with the story of the prodigal son. The story hit home for me in several ways as the authors’ began to share their journey. Growing up in a house where my dad was a preacher we were always judged by others in the church. We seemed to be held more accountable than others and were always watched by members of the church. My father was all about appearances and any secrets going on in our family were never revealed. I pray that this book will touch many lives and set them free. 
I loved how this family was open and received great counsel from their church. They had prayer warriors surrounding  them which helped them during their difficult journey with their son. Geoff began to spiral out as he found himself deeper into drugs. He addiction was so severe that at times his parents were at a loss of what to do. The pain that Geoff went through was so heartbreaking and I could feel his hopelessness. It is easier for people to have sympathy when someone has cancer or other recognized medical condition. When someone deals with addiction, they shun them and toss them aside. 
The rollercoaster ride the family went through was difficult and eye opening at the same time. Geoff wanted to be accepted but felt the only way he could accomplish that was to get high and hang around people like himself. As parents we want to protect our children, but  sometimes we have to give it to God. It was nice to read how God was changing  not only Geoff but his parents as well. In a crisis we need to stand together as a family. As the addiction became worse, so did the communication between husband and wife. At sone point I’m sure they wanted to give up, but instead they dug in deeper and surrendered everything to God. A situation may look hopeless, but God is in the hope business. He wants to strengthen our faith, hope and endurance. 
The book is one I think everyone should read. It shares the struggles of an addict and his road back to God and his family. It is an honest look at how devastating addiction can be and the consequences it has on not only the addict but the family as well. Forgiveness  and grace is the key to helping those who feel rejected and a failure. Geoff needed his family to not give up on him. What he realized was that he was not alone in his journey. God was guiding him and watching over him. His parents in their darkest moments knew they had to forgive their son and welcome him home with unconditional love. 
I encourage readers to share this book with others and ask a God how you can help those who feel lost and about to give up. Addiction is an illness and without help it can destroy lives. I want to thank the authors’ for sharing their story and allowing God to use their story to impact others. Through our test comes our testimony. 
“Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us,” Luke 11:4.

I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion. 

About the Authors

James Banks_2017
Dr. James Banks is the author of Prayers for Prodigals, Prayers for Your Children, Praying the Prayers of the Bible, Praying Together, and Praying with Jesus. Through books, blog posts, and magazine articles, he regularly encourages people to pray. Dr. Banks has been a pastor and church planter for more than twenty-five years and lives with his wife, Cari, in Durham, North Carolina. They have two adult children.

Geoffrey Banks serves as the high school coordinator at Port City Community Church in Wilmington, North Carolina. He loves reaching students where they are and helping them walk with God. He is an avid surfer and skater. Geoffrey struggled with heroin addiction throughout his teens and early twenties before coming to know Jesus and having his life radically change. Now he is host of the podcast Too Many Christians, which explores beliefs in the pursuit of ultimate truth.

More from Geoffrey and Dr. Banks

From James
My son, Geoff, and I chose to tell our story in Hope Lies Ahead because we believe it’s what God would have us do. So many families suffer in silence when their loved ones go down prodigal paths, and we want them to know they are not alone. God truly offers hope when it seems like none can be found.
Geoff and I could only write this book because of God’s kindness to us. Like the father in the parable of the prodigal, “My son was lost and now is found,” and I’m still celebrating. Geoff is so much more than his past sins and mistakes. He is a new creation, made stronger in the broken places by God’s amazing love. Today God uses him to reach people in ways that would not have been possible had he not been down such difficult roads. God wastes nothing—redemption is a precious, priceless thing.
God never gives up on us. He goes to lengths that defy reason to save us and love us back to Himself. Even when our children make choices that break our hearts, God doesn’t abandon them. He loves our prodigals even more than we do.
Jesus is still “a friend of sinners.” No one is beyond God’s reach. When answers to prayer are long in coming, He Himself is the best answer. In the rough and raw places where we feel numb or even nothing at all, God is able to meet us with help and healing as we cast our cares on Him.
So if you find yourself in a similar situation, keep loving, keep praying, and keep the lines of communication open. God can empower us in love beyond what we think is possible, and give us the wisdom and direction we need to face each day.

From Geoff
Substance abuse is so prevalent in our world right now. There is no specific socioeconomic class, community, or age that struggles with it, it is everywhere. With that being the reality, there is a lot of negative stories out there. All over the news you hear of overdoses, arrests, and other things related to this topic going on. My heart behind writing Hope Lies Ahead is that people will find some hope in the midst of an incredibly difficult time.
It is an up close and personal book for both my father and I, and that is on purpose. We looked at both of our failings, our strengths, and where we could have done things differently. For us it was an honest dialogue about what our journey through substance abuse as a family was like and how we came out on the other side. I hope that it can be the start of an honest dialogue for a lot of other families as well that will point everyone involved toward our one hope—Jesus.
As you read through Hope Lies Ahead, you will see a little bit of yourself in both of us. At times I am pretty hard on my father for some of the things that he did. The thing that I want to remind the reader of is that even when he made mistakes, it was done out of love. He wasn’t the religious Bible thumper I sometimes make him out to be but rather was driven by a deep love for his kids that sometimes got expressed in the wrong way. I think that his perspective is so unique because now he recognizes those moments for what they are and is able to help other people not fall in those same traps. I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for my parents, and this experience ended up sharpening both of us.
Based on what we learned going through this experience, I would say to a parent of a prodigal  above all else, maintain relationship. Let them know you love them even when they make huge mistakes. Let them know that if they ever want help you are right there waiting. Make sure they are aware of their options as far as treatment goes and when the opportunity arises to get them there, jump on it. Do it immediately. Don’t wait.
I think we often find ourselves wanting to preach. Addiction can be an infuriating disease to experience, whether you are the one who is addicted or a family member is. In the midst of that anger and frustration, we need to be reminded that our battle is not against flesh and blood. Your war isn’t with that person, it is with the sin that is dominating their life. Don’t exchange your relationship with them for an off handed comment or a sermon about their behavior. It isn’t worth it.
My prayer is that people reading this book will be encouraged in their situation and that they turn first to Jesus. I believe that ultimate redemption looks like Jesus on the cross. It is when something meant for evil gets turned around and used for good. There are many stories of people going through addiction and then using their experience to help others out of it. There is nothing more beautiful than a giant struggle becoming an incredible strength.

Blog Stops

Andrea Christenson, April 26 (Author Interview)
Genesis 5020, April 29
For the Love of Literature, April 30 (Author Interview)
A Baker’s Perspective, May 2 (Author Interview)
Simple Harvest Reads, May 4 (Author Interview)
Artistic Nobody, May 7 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)


To celebrate their tour, James and Geoffrey are giving away the grand prize package of Hope Lies Ahead, Prayers For Prodigals and $10 Amazon Gift Card!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

About the Book

Book:  The Joy of Falling
Author: Lindsay Harrel
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Release Date: April 14, 2020
Eva and Angela must learn to live again. One step at a time.
It has been fifteen months since Eva and Angela lost their thrill-seeking husbands in a scuba diving accident. Both women are trying to navigate their way through the grief, but neither one is making much progress. Angela is barely making ends meet, angry at her husband for leaving her to raise three children on her own. Meanwhile, Eva is stuck, unable to move forward after losing the love of her life and her source of inspiration.
But then Eva gets a life-changing phone call. Before Brent and Wes died, they had signed up for a race of a lifetime—an ultra-marathon in beautiful New Zealand. Eva begs Angela to run the race with her in their husbands’ place, and Angela finally agrees, hoping to finally understand her husband’s choices.
Training is exhausting, and the race is even more demanding. Their journey grows more complicated by the presence of two men—Marc is Brent’s best friend who is running the race with Eva and Angela, and Simon King is a writer who is covering their inspiring story. With every step, Eva and Angela must ask themselves questions that they haven’t had the courage to ask before. As the women literally put one foot in front of the other, they wonder: Is it possible to find their way forward in hope?

Click here to get your copy!
I was a bit unsettled to read this book. I knew it dealt with loss and I wasn’t sure I could read another book like that. Well I take all that back. This book is so much more than losing someone. It’s finding yourself, letting go, allowing yourself to grieve and then moving on. I liked how the author showed Eva and Angela in different states of grieving. No one grieves the same and it was nice to  see how these women made mistakes, got angry and comforted each other. 

I loved reading about New Zealand and how beautiful it is there. I’m not sure I would be able to take on the task that Eva and Angela did. It’s something they needed  to do not just for their husbands, but for themselves. I learned a lot while reading this book. God is there for us and wants to fill us with joy. Even in our darkest moments God is there . It gives us hope knowing that we aren’t alone. This book has been a healing for me. I’m grieving for the loss of my brother and the author has helped me through with this story to guide me back  to God and find joy and peace in His arms. 
The race that the women are determined to finish has so many emotional moments I cried most of the time while reading . Along the trials they each face their past in different ways. I loved reading their adventure in New Zealand and finding strength as they drew closer to the finish line. The book is a wonderful journey of faith as Eva and Angela find joy in the midst of grief. I loved how faith played a part in the story. It was nice to see how Angela and her children found a way to grow closer and lean on each other. Through it all is a strong message of finding yourself, allowing God to help you and to never give up. 
“When a negative thought or feeling comes, put it in a box in your mind. Tell yourself that box is sealed, that opening it will destroy everything you’re working toward.”

I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion. 

About the Author

Lindsay Harrel is a lifelong book nerd who lives in Arizona with her young family and two golden retrievers in serious need of training. She’s held a variety of writing and editing jobs over the years and now juggles stay-at-home mommyhood with writing novels. When she’s not writing or chasing after her children, Lindsay enjoys making a fool of herself at Zumba, curling up with anything by Jane Austen, and savoring sour candy one piece at a time. Connect with her at

Read an Excerpt

Click here to read the first four chapters.

Blog Stops

Remembrancy, April 19
Genesis 5020, April 20
Splashes of Joy, April 20
Older & Smarter?, April 22
Hookmeinabook, April 24
Hallie Reads, April 26
CarpeDiem, April 27
Stories By Gina, April 28
The Becca Files, April 29
*No Giveaway for this Celebration Tour
Anchored by Death FB banner

About the Book

Book:  Anchored by Death
Author: Catherine Finger
Genre:  Christian Mystery/Thriller
Release Date: June, 2017
Anchored by DeathPolice Chief Jo Oliver needed a little time to herself. But when her escape to Wisconsin turns deadly, she teams up with FBI agent Nick Vitarello, hoping to catch the Bow Tie Killer. Their romantic past and complicated present leads them into uncharted territory as they match wits with a psychopath bent on destroying everything they hold dear.

Click here to get your copy.

I have read the other books in this series and found them enjoyable. It does help to read them but I think this book could stand alone and still be able to follow the storyline. The attraction between Jo and Nick seemed to be a big focus in the book. There were parts that I felt were a little more descriptive than I like. Everyone has their preference in that area so I will leave it up to the readers. Jo is not quite sure she wants to continue her relationship and I was a bit frustrated with her. I did like that she realized she needed to work on trusting more and having more faith.  
It’s not everyday you go golfing and find a body, but Jo does. As the author focuses on several murders, the story finds Jo and Nick working together. I really liked the profiling and how defined the investigation is. It is easy to suggest that the author has done research on profiling because the details are good and follow a trail that opens up several possible suspects to the team. 
There is a lot of action in this  story which heightens the intensity to find out who is behind the killings. Could the killer have ties to Jo or Nick? Just as they get close to catching their suspect, a diversion is set to lead them off his path. It a race to the finish line in this heart pounding story. I liked the faith element in the story which were placed throughout the book. The ending is an adrenaline rush with a few surprises. 
I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion. 

About the Author

catherine fingerCatherine Finger loves to dream, write, and tell stories. Retired from a wonderful career in public education, she celebrates the ability to choose how to spend her time in a new way during the second half of life. So far, she chooses to write books, ride horses, serve others, and generally find her way into and out of trouble both on the road and at home.  She lives in the Midwest with a warm and wonderful combination of family and friends.

More from Catherine

Thank you for your interest in the Jo Oliver thriller series. Today we celebrate Anchored by Death—book three in the series. The basic plot for this book came as a result of an FBI workshop I attended on how profilers track killers. A particular method was presented that really stuck with me. As I thought it over, I had the idea to combine a map of Wisconsin with the tracking technique I had learned, and I actually built the crime scenes around the theory. I then created a killer who would do the sorts of things I had mapped out, and in that order. This was a satisfying challenge for Josie and I enjoyed my research jaunts throughout Wisconsin while writing the chase and takedown scenes.

When Josie’s off the clock and spending time with family and friends, you can catch our heroine in the kitchen. Ever since her infamous Flourless Chocolate Cake appeared in Anchored by Death, fans have requested the recipe. For the epicurean readers, here is the recipe she used when preparing this special treat:
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1 ½ sticks butter
¼ salt
6 eggs, room temp
1 ½ cups sugar (white granulated or brown will do)
Confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder for dusting top and cake stand
How To:
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare springform or regular round pans with nonstick spray or butter and flour.
Melt chocolate, butter, and salt—microwave will work in a pinch—or add all to heatproof bowl and place over small saucepan of simmering water to melt without burning. Set aside to cool
Beat eggs and sugar until light and thickened, around 6-8 minutes. Fold in melted chocolate mixture until completely combined.
Pour batter into buttered and floured cake pan—springform or regular round—and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 90 minutes, until a toothpick comes out wet but relatively clean.
Allow cake to cool completely before removing from pan. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and cocoa—Jo used a stencil for a quick and pretty design.

Thanks again for celebrating Anchored by Death—and know that I appreciate you. Readers are a special breed. As a lover of the written word and an author, I invite you to enjoy the read.

Blog Stops

Betti Mace, April 27
Holly Jo Morris, April 27
Older & Smarter?, April 28


To celebrate her tour, Catherine is giving away the grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.