Tag Archives: bethany house publishers

A Tapestry of Secrets by Sarah Loudin Thomas

tapestry of secrets thomasFrom the back cover:

For decades, Perla Phillips has hidden the truth of a decision that still fills her with guilt. But now, seeing her granddaughter, Ella, struggle in a similar way, she’s prepared to finally open the past to her family, no matter the consequences. But when the opportunity is snatched from her in a most unexpected manner, will she have waited too long?

Spanning generations, this moving family drama weaves together the interlocking stories of two women as they navigate relationships, family, faith, and the choices that will shape their lives. Heartwarming and nostalgic, the story explores the courage to share the wounds of the past and celebrates the legacy a family passes from one generation to the next.

Sarah Loudin Thomas’ latest book, A Tapestry of Secrets, lives up to the standard she set with her first book, Miracle in a Dry Season. Thomas twisted several storylines together in a way that made me feel like I was part of the small town where the story takes place. I loved the way the romance plot unfolded and kept me guessing, and the slow revealing of Perla’s history as she shared it with her daughter and granddaughter added depth to her character and wrapped up loose ends going back to the first book in the series in a satisfying way.

I just really love Sarah Loudin Thomas’ stories. This one, the third in her Appalachain Blessings series, was almost as good as the first book she wrote. According to the author notes, she wrote this one first. The series starts as historical and ends up contemporary as it follows one family through decades of life. The whole series is worth reading, and it has more depth than a lot of the historical romance fluff I typically read.

4 stars
I liked it and will suggest it to those who might be interested.
(Learn more about my star system here.)

Buy it here.

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review. The opinions are my own and were not influenced by the publisher or author.

From This Moment by Elizabeth Camden

fromthismomentcamdenDespite the fact that it took me FOREVER to finish this book, I really, really loved it. (I can be a super lazy reader, which is basically because it’s a lot easier to binge watch Royal Pains on Netflix than it is to hold a book . . . ). It was my third Elizabeth Camden novel (you can read my review of one of the others here), and it’s my favorite one.

Camden has a special talent for creating living, breathing characters that are just so human. I felt so conflicted while I read because the main characters both had significant character flaws that just rubbed me the wrong way, but I loved them anyway. It made for a complex emotional experience that left me cheering at the end of the book. (How cheesy does that sound? It’s pretty much how it went down, though. Sorry.)

Camden also knows how to weave a plot that keeps you guessing and makes you forget you’re reading Christian historical fiction (at least most of the time).

Looking for a good read? Start here. Excuse me while I go track down all of the other Elizabeth Camden books I didn’t realize existed . . .

5 stars—I loved it and will recommend it to everyone.
(Learn more about my star system here.)

Buy it here. 

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review. The opinions are my own and were not influenced by the publisher or author.

How to Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird by Amy Lively

Four Stars
(Learn about my star system here.)

It was a Sunday morning and my mom, aunt, and I were headed to the store. We loved Jesus, but we weren’t regular church-goers at the time. Halfway there, we got a flat tire.

Now, we were capable of taking care of it ourselves. My mom and aunt had probably changed over a dozen flat tires over the years. But when a young family in a minivan pulled over to help us, we were relieved. The husband got out to change our tire while the wife stayed close to the vehicle to keep an eye on the kids. As we handed over our jack, he said, “We were on our way to church, but we figured God would forgive us for being late if it meant helping you.”

That has always stuck with me. I want to be that person who’s willing to put aside my “religious duties” in order to love people the way Jesus wants me to. I want to love my neighbor the same way that family loved us–sacrificially and honestly, with a willingness to talk about Jesus and an ability to behave like a normal human being.

how to love your neighborThat’s what Amy Lively’s book, How to Love Your Neighborhood Without Being Weird, is all about. I’m not sure why I chose this book for a review, especially since Amy says “I should warn you that you’re on the hook now that you’ve read this book. You have no excuse for not loving your neighbor” (pg. 191).

Amy takes Jesus’ command to love your neighbors quite literally. As someone who’s started and sustained a successful neighborhood ministry, she’s excited to share her tips and reasons for reaching out to the people who live next door and across the street.

Not only am I an introvert who treasures my quiet time and space, I just get really uncomfortable around people I don’t know. Meeting someone new is a draining experience, one that I tend to avoid. When you live in an apartment building, sometimes it seems easier to NOT know your neighbors. Sometimes you’d rather not have them know that you know what types of noises they’re making that keep you up all night. Sometimes you just want to pound on the ceiling at three in the morning because they just won’t shut up. It’s a lot harder to do that when you have a personal relationship. And if you have that personal relationship, you probably won’t feel comfortable complaining about that noise at all. At least not if you live in Minnesota, where “Minnesota nice” replaces the Golden Rule.

Anyway, I’d rather just not know my neighbors. But last time I went to the grocery store down the street, I realized something: nearly every time I go there, the family in line in front of me is using some type of government food voucher. That says something about the area we live in–there are a lot of needs, and a lot of ways my husband and I could can bless our neighbors and bring Jesus to our city.

Easier said than done, though, right?

Lively offers some great reasons to reach out to your neighbors and backs them up with spot-on scripture passages that challenged my thinking. She also provided a TON of practical tips for meeting, getting to now, and blessing the people who live near you. And if you check out her website (Ioveyourneighbor.com), you can get great resources including adorable invitations, tips, and planning sheets–all available as free downloads.

While I didn’t like how much this book made me squirm (this stuff is SO outside my comfort zone. Like, I’m Minnesota and this stuff is China), I don’t have many complaints about the book. I did struggle with the organization a bit–the content seemed to jump back and forth, but it didn’t keep me from getting some great ideas.

I’d recommend How to Love Your Neighbor to anyone who needs a little push to get to know the people around them. It’d be a great read for a women’s small group. The discussion questions at the end of each chapter would spur on some great conversations.

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review. The opinions are my own and were not influenced by the publisher or author.

So You Want to Review Books . . .

So You Want to Review Books-

Maybe you’ve read one of my reviews (or someone else’s) and thought, “Hey, I could do that!” Well, if you can read and you know what makes a book good (or awful), you probably can. Here’s how . . .

  1. Start a blog. You need a place to post your reviews. And you need a few followers, too. Don’t worry about the numbers too much, but make sure you ask friends and family members to follow you—especially if they love to read. You can help them discover new books!
  2. Get a GoodReads account. It’s social media for people who love books. You can create “shelves” for your TBR pile, your favorite books, the books you own, etc. Not only is it fun for book lovers, it’s another place you can post reviews.
  3. Join NetGalley. It’s a place to discover new books and request review copies from multiple publishers.
  4. Find out if the publishers of your favorite books have blogger review programs. As you may have noticed, Bethany House Publishers has a special place in my heart (I interned there, after all!), and most of my reviews are of BHP books. Learn more about their blogger review program and check out BookLook, Revell Reads, and Tyndale Blog Network while you’re at it. See what other publishers have to offer, too. And if you find a program I didn’t mention here, let me know so I can check it out!
  5. Contact self-published authors and offer to review their books. Marketing is hard, especially for writers who don’t feel comfortable “selling” themselves and their work. So do it for them! If you find a self-published book you’re interested in, offer to review it on your blog and Amazon in return for a free copy of the book.

Bonus: Follow authors on social media and join their launch teams. A launch team is a group of people partnering with an author and publisher to help promote a book. Usually launch teams ask you to review the book on your blog and other platforms and promote the book in any other way you can, including word of mouth and social media. These are really fun, but make sure you like the author’s work first. There’s nothing worse than having to promote a book you don’t like!

Check back soon—my next post will tell you how I actually write my book reviews!