Friday, May 29, 2020

Review: If I Were You by Lynn Austin

About the book:
From bestselling and eight-time Christy Award-winning author Lynn Austin comes a remarkable novel of sisterhood and self-discovery set against the backdrop of WWII.
1950. In the wake of the war, Audrey Clarkson leaves her manor house in England for a fresh start in America with her young son. As a widowed war bride, Audrey needs the support of her American in-laws, whom she has never met. But she arrives to find that her longtime friend Eve Dawson has been impersonating her for the past four years. Unraveling this deception will force Audrey and Eve's secrets--and the complicated history of their friendship--to the surface.
1940. Eve and Audrey have been as different as two friends can be since the day they met at Wellingford Hall, where Eve's mother served as a lady's maid for Audrey's mother. As young women, those differences become a polarizing force . . . until a greater threat--Nazi invasion--reunites them. With London facing relentless bombardment, Audrey and Eve join the fight as ambulance drivers, battling constant danger together. An American stationed in England brings dreams of a brighter future for Audrey, and the collapse of the class system gives Eve hope for a future with Audrey's brother. But in the wake of devastating loss, both women must make life-altering decisions that will set in motion a web of lies and push them both to the breaking point long after the last bomb has fallen.
This sweeping story transports readers to one of the most challenging eras of history to explore the deep, abiding power of faith and friendship to overcome more than we ever thought possible

My rating:
5 stars
(View my rating system)
My thoughts:

If I Were You was amazing! I've heard wonderful things about Lynn Austin's books for a while, but I've never actually read one until now…I've been missing out!

From the first chapter I was captured by the characters and their story. The book switches from present time to the past and yet it is easy to follow along. Because of the way it is written, I found myself trying to figure things about before they were revealed…and sometimes I was right, but others I was completely wrong.

All in all, If I Were You was a book I didn't want to stop reading and it took me on an emotional roller coaster. I highly recommend it!


*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention/review it on my blog. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own and I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*

Find the book on:
Amazon (aff link), Goodreads

This post may contain “affiliate links.” This means if you click on a link with my affiliate code and purchase an item(s), I will receive an affiliate commission. You won't be charged extra, I'll just receive a small percentage of the purchase price. See my disclosure page here.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Q & A with Lynn Austin | Author of If I Were You

Q & A with Lynn Austin

Author of If I Were You



Lynn Austin has sold more than one and a half million copies of her books worldwide. A former teacher who now writes and speaks full-time, she has won eight Christy Awards for her historical fiction and was one of the first inductees into the Christy Award Hall of Fame. One of her novels, Hidden Places, was made into a Hallmark Channel Original Movie. Lynn and her husband have three grown children and make their home in western Michigan. Visit her online at www.lynnaustin.org.




  1. Have you always loved books and reading? What about your formative years informed your love for reading and books?

Books have been part of my life for as long as I can remember, beginning with bedtime stories when I was a child. My mother was the town librarian in the village where I grew up, so it’s not an exaggeration to say I was raised in a library. Over the years, I helped with everything from processing books to reading aloud for story hour, and I developed a deep appreciation for all sorts of books. In addition, my grandmother was a natural-born storyteller whose tales kept my sisters and me spellbound for hours on warm summer evenings. 

  1.  How did you become a writer?

I loved to read, but after a while it seemed like so many well-written books offered very little hope. Too many themes seemed to be “Life is hard and then you die.” I agree that life is hard—but God is good! So I sat down one day 35 years ago (I was a stay-at-home mom with a new baby at the time) and decided to write the kind of book I enjoyed reading—one that makes me laugh, makes me cry, and helps me learn something about myself and my life. I knew nothing about getting published (that would come later), but I quickly discovered how much I enjoyed writing. Eventually, God brought a wonderful Christian author into my life who asked me to join her writers’ critique group, where I learned the basics of writing and publishing. As the years passed, I struggled to figure out if God was calling me to be a writer. I decided to persevere, and eleven years after I first sat down to write, my first novel was published.

  1.  What made you want to write historical fiction? What about that genre do you enjoy?

I write historical fiction because I love history, especially the little-known stories of ordinary people. For me, reading about the past and how people like me lived lives of courage in difficult times helps me live a life of faith and grace with God’s help. When we travel back in history through novels, I think it’s easier to see how God used tragic events as part of His redemption story. And that gives us faith to believe that He is still working now and that our lives can play a part in His story today.

  1.  What motivated you to write a story line about two women in WWII?

The idea for If I Were You began with a true story someone told me about a British war bride who came to America after WWII—only to learn that her husband had died in a tragic accident. Should she stay? Return to London? As I began researching the time period, I discovered how much the war changed roles and expectations for women in Britain, dissolving class differences. I’m a huge fan of the TV series Downton Abbey, so I decided to create two women—Audrey, a wealthy aristocrat, and Eve, her servant—and explore the ways the war and the “invasion” of American soldiers before D-Day changed their lives. 

  1.  Please tell us a bit about the setting of your novel.

There are three settings, really. The main characters grow up at Wellingford Hall, a stately manor house in the countryside outside of London in the 1930s. Audrey lives upstairs with all of the advantages of wealth and prestige. Eve lives belowstairs as a scullery maid. When the war begins, the setting changes to Audrey’s town house in London in the 1940s, where the now-grown women endure the nightly catastrophic Nazi bombing raids known as the Blitz. But both of these settings are surrounded by a framework set in 1950s America, where one of the women has gone to live as a British war bride.

  1. Please tell us about your main characters in If I Were You and what kind of challenges they face.

Audrey Clarkson is raised with wealth and privilege—which seems enviable except that she’s confined to a life of narrowly defined roles and is expected to marry within her class, not for love. Eve Dawson is born into the working class as a servant, with very little hope of ever bettering herself—or marrying the upper-class man she loves. But when the war begins, the women enlist in the Army together and drive ambulances in war-ravaged London. Their courage and faith are challenged in ways they’d never imagined.

  1. Who was your favorite character to write and why?

I think Eve was my favorite. She had a hard life, yet for the most part she remained happy and optimistic, seeing life as an adventure. She makes some terrible choices out of desperation—but don’t we all? I love that she is imperfect like the rest of us.



  1.  What lessons can be learned from your main characters?

Adversity—in this case a devastating war—can sometimes help us figure out who we are and what our purpose in life might be. God has a purpose for each of us, and once we find the courage to break free from the expectations of family and society—and our own fears—we can live the life we were meant to live. Also, there are things each woman envies about the other, and the story reveals how jealousy can sometimes blind us to the many opportunities right in front of us.

  1. How much research did you have to do on the WWII period in the United Kingdom?

A lot! My favorite way to research is to travel, and for this book, I was able to spend a few days exploring London. The Imperial War Museum allowed me to immerse myself in the setting with the re-creation of a typical house from this time period. It also had an Anderson shelter I could crawl inside for a simulated air raid. (Very claustrophobic!) I love to interview people and read first-person accounts from people who lived through these events and experiences, which I then incorporated into the story. My purpose isn’t to write a history book that teaches readers about dates and battles, but to help them experience wartime London through my characters.

  1.  What is your hope for If I Were You?

I hope that by reading this story of ordinary women who persevered through extraordinary circumstances, my readers will be encouraged to face their own challenges with courage and faith.




If I Were You by Lynn Austin

ISBN: 978-1-4964-3730-3 | Softcover: $15.99

ISBN: 978-1-4964-3729-7 | Hardcover: $25.99

June 2020

Tyndale.com

Link to Amazon: https://amzn.to/3enQkKe


This post may contain “affiliate links.” This means if you click on a link with my affiliate code and purchase an item(s), I will receive an affiliate commission. You won't be charged extra, I'll just receive a small percentage of the purchase price. See my disclosure page here.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Weekend Wrap-Up (May 22nd) & June Bookstagram Challenge with Giveaway!

This post may contain “affiliate links.” This means if you click on a link with my affiliate code and purchase an item(s), I will receive an affiliate commission. You won't be charged extra, I'll just receive a small percentage of the purchase price. See my disclosure page here. 

Weekend Wrap-up is where I share what I read this past week, am currently reading, and my reading plans for the coming week. 

Feel free to join along and post your own Weekend Wrap-up on your blog/site (if you do, please leave the link in a comment so I can stop by) or, in a comment, share what you've read this past week. :)


~
Books I Finished This Past Week:


What I'm Currently Reading: 

Friday, May 15, 2020

Weekend Wrap-Up (May 15th)

This post may contain “affiliate links.” This means if you click on a link with my affiliate code and purchase an item(s), I will receive an affiliate commission. You won't be charged extra, I'll just receive a small percentage of the purchase price. See my disclosure page here. 

Weekend Wrap-up is where I share what I read this past week, am currently reading, and my reading plans for the coming week. 

Feel free to join along and post your own Weekend Wrap-up on your blog/site (if you do, please leave the link in a comment so I can stop by) or, in a comment, share what you've read this past week. :)


~
Books I Finished This Past Week:



What I'm Currently Reading: 

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Review: An Uncommon Woman by Laura Frantz

This post may contain “affiliate links.” This means if you click on a link with my affiliate code and purchase an item(s), I will receive an affiliate commission. You won't be charged extra, I'll just receive a small percentage of the purchase price. See my disclosure page here.

About the book:
Unflinching and plainspoken, Tessa Swan is not your typical eighteenth-century woman. Born and bred on the western Virginia frontier along with her five brothers, she is a force to be reckoned with.

Quiet and courageous, Clay Tygart is not your typical eighteenth-century man. Raised by Lenape Indians, he returns a hero from the Seven Years' War to the fort that bears his name, bringing with him Tessa's long-lost friend, Keturah, who disappeared from the settlement years earlier.

Determined to avoid any romantic entanglements as fort commander, Clay remains aloof whenever he encounters the lovely Tessa. But when circumstances force Clay's hand--and heart--the stage is set for one very private and one very public reckoning.

My rating:
5 stars
(View my rating system) 
My thoughts:

An Uncommon Woman was a lovely read. Frantz's stories are on my must-read list, as I always tend to enjoy her historicals...and this was no different.

I found the characters to be authentic. I liked how Tessa was "uncommon" and the way she and Clay connected to each other was nice.

The story had quite a few moments of danger and I didn't know how things would end up. I have to say, the ending was good and I really enjoyed the read. I am looking forward to Frantz's next release!

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention/review it on my blog. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own and I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*

Find the book on:
Amazon (aff link), Goodreads

Review: Family Cookbook Recipe Journal: A Blank Recipe Book for Family Favorites

This post may contain “affiliate links.” This means if you click on a link with my affiliate code and purchase an item(s), I will receive an affiliate commission. You won't be charged extra, I'll just receive a small percentage of the purchase price. See my disclosure page here.


About the book:
A custom recipe book to preserve your cherished memories of food, friendship, and family

This keepsake family cookbook makes it easy to collect all your most beloved recipes in one place so you, or someone you love, can make and share them for years to come. Whether it’s a generations-old recipe for a holiday specialty, or just a favorite weeknight side dish, the meals that mean something to you can now live on in a simple, beautiful book your family can pass down.

There’s room for up to 184 recipes, with space to record notes like who the recipe came from, who added it to the book, and what makes it special, so your traditions will never be lost. The meals―and the memories―will live on.

The Family Cookbook Recipe Journal includes:

No more loose recipes―Every important dish is now preserved in one family cookbook, customized by you and your loved ones.
Color-coded categories―This family cookbook has 8 colored, unmarked sections, so you can choose exactly how you want to organize it, and fill in the table of contents as you go, to make each recipe easy to find.
Conversion charts―Charts at the back of the book even include the most common temperature and measurement conversions, so you can alter or double a recipe easily.
Create a culinary legacy and a new piece of your history with a family cookbook that’s fun to fill and share.

My rating:
5 stars
(View my rating system)
My thoughts:

The Family Cookbook Recipe Journal is an amazing book! I don't know about you, but I have several family recipes and other favorite recipes that I have scattered in books or saved to my tablet...with this, I can have all my favorite recipes in one "family" cookbook.

It has several sections, so you can organize the recipes however you like (i.e. breakfast, lunch, dinner, soups, cookies, etc.) and then add the recipes you want in that section. 

The pages are nice and thick. The book feels like it'll last a long time. I really love it and recommend it for anyone who wants to organize their recipes! Check out my Instagram for inside pictures of this book. https://www.instagram.com/p/CAEUNrHg_Ln/?igshid=n78o2x8yk6wk


*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention/review it on my blog. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own and I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*

Find the book on:
Amazon (aff link), Goodreads

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

WWW Wednesday | May 13

This post may contain “affiliate links.” This means if you click on a link with my affiliate code and purchase an item(s), I will receive an affiliate commission. You won't be charged extra, I'll just receive a small percentage of the purchase price. See my disclosure page here.




The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Focus on Jesus {Scripture Memory 2020}

This post may contain “affiliate links.” This means if you click on a link with my affiliate code and purchase an item(s), I will receive an affiliate commission. You won't be charged extra, I'll just receive a small percentage of the purchase price. See my disclosure page here.



My friend Andrea is hosting a scripture memory challenge. I meant to post about this ages ago...but time got away from me. 

I'm still working on my first verse to memorize, which I'll share below. I hope you'll join us in this challenge! Here's the link to her original post: https://writingtoinspire.blogspot.com/2020/03/focus-on-jesus-scripture-memory-2020.html

Verse:

"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33



Friday, May 8, 2020

Review: The Joy of Falling by Lindsay Harrel

This post may contain “affiliate links.” This means if you click on a link with my affiliate code and purchase an item(s), I will receive an affiliate commission. You won't be charged extra, I'll just receive a small percentage of the purchase price. See my disclosure page here.



About the book:
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?

My rating:
5 stars
(View my rating system)
My thoughts:

I honestly don't even know what to say about The Joy of Falling. I finished it a couple days ago and still don't have the words...but I'll try my best. I loved the book. When I heard that this was, in part, about running a marathon, I thought it wasn't going to be that interesting...boy was I wrong! 

This book dealt with loss, grief, healing, and new love. I was captivated by the story right away and felt like I took this journey of healing with Eva and Angela. I was rooting for them as they ran the marathon (which sounded INTENSE) and hoping for the best with the rest of their stories. 

All in all, The Joy of Falling was a fantastic read and I recommend it! 

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention/review it on my blog. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own and I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*

Find the book on:
Amazon (aff link), Goodreads

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

WWW Wednesday | May 6

This post may contain “affiliate links.” This means if you click on a link with my affiliate code and purchase an item(s), I will receive an affiliate commission. You won't be charged extra, I'll just receive a small percentage of the purchase price. See my disclosure page here.




The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Review: Beyond Awkward Side Hugs: Living as Christian Brothers and Sisters in a Sex-Crazed World by Bronwyn Lea

This post may contain “affiliate links.” This means if you click on a link with my affiliate code and purchase an item(s), I will receive an affiliate commission. You won't be charged extra, I'll just receive a small percentage of the purchase price. See my disclosure page here.



About the book:
About Beyond Awkward Side Hugs
Paperback: 224 pages

Publisher: Thomas Nelson (April 7, 2020)

It Doesn’t Have to Be This Weird

When it comes to relationships between men and women, we have more questions than answers:

How do we keep relationships with the opposite sex healthy—and still hug each other after small group?
Is it possible for married men and women to be friends with people of the opposite sex?
What does it mean to be a woman if you’re not a wife, or a man if you’re not a husband?
Jesus’ pattern for church living was one of family—of brothers and sisters living in intimate, life-giving community with each other. With story, sensitivity, and hope, Beyond Awkward Side Hugs invites us to leave behind eroticized, fear-based patterns and move toward gendered, generous relationships between men and women of character as we love one another as Jesus did.

“Beyond Awkward Side Hugs is a deep well of biblical wisdom, and Lea has written with nuance and clarity, humor and grace.” –Jen Pollock Michel, author of Surprised by Paradox and Keeping Place

“The church desperately needs a bigger vision for how men and women can flourish together in ministry and friendship, and Bronwyn Lea paints a vivid picture for how we’ll get there.” –Steve Wiens, author of Shining Like the Sun, Beginnings, and Whole 

Happy Release Day! Review: Stay With Me by Becky Wade

This post may contain “affiliate links.” This means if you click on a link with my affiliate code and purchase an item(s), I will receive an affiliate commission. You won't be charged extra, I'll just receive a small percentage of the purchase price. See my disclosure page here.

About the book:
Loving her is a risk he can't afford . . . and can't resist.

When acclaimed Bible study author Genevieve Woodward receives an anonymous letter referencing her parents' past, she returns to her hometown in the Blue Ridge Mountains to chase down her family's secret. However, it's Genevieve's own secret that catches up to her when Sam Turner, owner of a historic farm, uncovers the source of shame she's worked so hard to hide.

Sam has embraced his sorrow, his isolation, and his identity as an outsider. He's spent years carving out both career success and peace of mind. The last thing he wants is to rent the cottage on his property to a woman whose struggles stir his worst failure back to life. Yet can he bear to turn her away right when she needs him most?

My rating:
5 stars
(View my rating system)
My thoughts:

Stay With Me was a wonderful start to this new series! At first I didn't like the characters (especially Genevieve), but as I continued reading they grew on me. There were a couple instances when she said something that bugged me, but the storyline and writing made up for it.

I loved the mystery of what happened with her parents. I definitely did not see the conclusion coming. I also enjoyed the glimpses into the past and what the children felt when they were trapped all those years ago.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed Stay With Me and can't wait for the next book!

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention/review it on my blog. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own and I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*

Find the book on:
Amazon (aff link), Goodreads

Monday, May 4, 2020

Monthly Reflections ~ April 2020

This post may contain “affiliate links.” This means if you click on a link with my affiliate code and purchase an item(s), I will receive an affiliate commission. You won't be charged extra, I'll just receive a small percentage of the purchase price. See my disclosure page here.

Monthly Reflections, where we take the time to reflect on the previous month.

Some of the links in my blog posts, tweets, social media posts, etc. contain “affiliate links.” This means if you click on a link with my affiliate code and purchase an item(s), I will receive an affiliate commission. You won't be charged extra, I'll just receive a small percentage of the purchase price. See my disclosure page here.
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