Saturday, December 30, 2017

Favorite Books of 2017

This is always such a fun (and difficult) post to write. I read so many books (at my last count it was 80 books this year) and that means I enjoyed so many books! But, there were some that I loved more than others so I thought I'd share them here. I stuck with the theme most bloggers are and did my top 17 favorite picks! They aren't in any particular order but go from early in 2017 to the end.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

New Years Goal Planning

Recently, I wrote a blog post for Putting on the New talking about starting fresh in the New Year (you can read it here). As I wrote, it morphed into a more tangible thing for me. It was no longer about writing something in order to convince the readers of something but creating something helpful to use as a tool.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

One Enchanted Noel by Melissa Tagg | RE:View

One Enchanted Noel by Melissa Tagg was truly that: enchanting!

If fell in love with this series from the first novella and am so sad to see it end with this third installment! It's also a great way to get "back" to Maple Valley, a town I have certainly fallen in love with!

In this book, we get to follow the third sibling in the Renwycke family, Leigh. Finally getting a behind-the-scenes look into Leigh's life was definitely eye-opening! I won't say much here but I really loved how real Melissa crafted her to be. Her backstory isn't pretty, but it creates a whole character when pulled together with where she is today. And her quirks and love or organization got me right in the feels! You go girl!

And Seb Pierce...oh Seb. Yet another charming and snarky hero to fall in love with, *sigh*. And a cowboy to boot (pun totally intended!). He's charming but with a realness to his story as well that gives proof that no matter what we've said or done in the past, there is always a way for redemption.

Enter in some holiday magic, a twist of fate (aka: God's hand), and a whole lot of laughs and romantic tension and you're in for a serious treat with this amazing novella!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Young Adult Fiction SALE!

Those of you who know me know I LOVE me some Young Adult fiction! Well, I just found out two amazing things.

1) There is a promotional code for book purchases on Amazon right now (I believe it's the last day too!). GIFTBOOK17 will get you $5 off $15!

2) There are a TON of Young Adult fiction titles on sale right now!

I'm going to link several below - these are all paperback or hard cover. I don't know how long the prices will last but it's worth checking out!!! For some reason some are showing up as more than they are listed for on Amazon - when I added these most were below $10 so make sure you click through to check them out on Amazon.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Can't Get No Satisfaction | Finding happiness in the midst of wanting

This is probably something I'm sure we've all thought about already...but I felt the need to share it here.

Are you satisfied? 

I'm not talking about fake-satisfaction. Like when you tell yourself (sometimes forcefully) that you really should be satisfied in life. I'm talking about really, truly being satisfied in life. I'm asking myself this question too.

The reason I dare to ask this around Christmas time is the fact that there are so many things we can want. From the simple things like wanting a second (or third) cup of coffee or a new sweater, to the more complex things like wanting a new car, a new job, a new relationship... There is so much wanting going around.

Not all of that is bad. Sometimes wanting something new is good and can be a helpful push to get that thing--like working toward a new job or saving for a new car. But there is a type of dissatisfaction that can sink down into our souls and drain us. It's the type of deep-seated longing that tricks us into thinking things will be better if we had something else. Something more.

This dissatisfaction can show itself in pickiness: This thing isn't good enough. I want more of that thing. I'm not happy because I don't have >insert thing here<.
It can show itself in irritability: If only I had that job, that type of relationship, that new car, I'd be happier.
It can show itself in depression: I'll never get what I want/deserve. I hate my life because it doesn't look like >insert someone you envy<. Why be happy when I don't have anything to be happy about?

This is the dangerous type of wanting. The kind that creates a cavernous hole in our hearts that can only be filled by those out-of-reach things. Things that, dare I say, if we had them still wouldn't make us happy.

So, take some time to ask yourself...

  • What is it that I want?
  • Why do I want it? 
  • This is this something I should want? 
  • How can I be content without having it? 

Then, after you've made this list, take time to make a list of all the things you do have. Include some of these things too:

  • Who/what encourages me? 
  • Who is someone in my life I take for granted? 
  • What do I have that other's don't have?
  • Who is someone I know that appears satisfied? Why are they like that?
  • What basic things do I have that I take for granted?

This is no big revelation, many people will tell you to think about what you're grateful for, but you know why? Because it works! It's really hard to want want want when you realize all that you already have. It doesn't change your situation, but hopefully it will change your mindset.

Be grateful. 

Instead of focusing on what we don't have, let's focus on what we do have. Let this season encourage us to be grateful for what we have and to seek out ways to encourage others to be grateful as well. Let's seek a type of satisfaction that goes deeper than things.

What is something you have to be grateful about? 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Nyxia by Scott Reintgen | Re:View

Teens in a fight against time and each other. A spaceship heading to a distant planet. A newly discovered race and a powerful substance that may be more dangerous that anyone knows.

Nyxia was an interesting read. I think, initially at least, I assumed there'd be a bit Now, don't get me wrong, the whole thing takes place in space, but the idea that the characters are on a spaceship is encapsulated in the back of your mind instead of something that really affects the plot.

I found the cast of characters varied and diverse (something I appreciated) and the main object of the plot to be pretty simple: make it on to Eden. Cue chaos, back-biting, competition, and a whole other slew of problems.

Emmett, the main character, was tough for me to pin down. I could understand and appreciate his motivation - coming from a rough neighborhood and wanting to do his best for his parents - but he was hard for me to connect with for some reason. Another thing that was a challenge was the pace. While I feel the book started off well and it kept the intrigue for a while, it became a little slow in the middle. It did speed up at the end, and captured my interest at the end.

I would say I could mildly recommend this to those to enjoy barely sci-fi novels or possibly more of an adventure/contemporary with a technological edge? Sadly, I anticipated a bit more of an epic story for all of the hype that surrounded this book and I really wanted to love it...but it just didn't make the cut for me. You may find you enjoy this more than me, which would make me nothing but happy :)

For my clean readers: There is language and one instance/mention of intimacy (that, in my humble opinion, did not need to be in the book at all) though no details were shared. There's also some violence. I'd probably say 16+.

My rating: 3.5*
Purchase: Nyxia

Book Description
(From Amazon

What would you be willing to risk for a lifetime of fortune?

Emmett Atwater isn’t just leaving Detroit; he’s leaving Earth. Why the Babel Corporation recruited him is a mystery, but the number of zeroes on their contract has him boarding their lightship and hoping to return to Earth with enough money to take care of his family.


Before long, Emmett discovers that he is one of ten recruits, all of whom have troubled pasts and are a long way from home. Now each recruit must earn the right to travel down to the planet of Eden—a planet that Babel has kept hidden—where they will mine a substance called Nyxia that has quietly become the most valuable material in the universe.

But Babel’s ship is full of secrets. And Emmett will face the ultimate choice: win the fortune at any cost, or find a way to fight that won’t forever compromise what it means to be human.

I received this book for free but was under no obligation to post a review. I do so under my own motivation and the opinions I have expressed in this review are honest and entirely my own.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Making the Most of Your Time

I feel like every year November and December grow more chaotic. Is it just me? I mean...between trying to write for NaNoWriMo, my own writing work, photography, and then thinking about Christmas shopping, holiday parties, and...well, the list goes's overwhelming.

As I was going to pick up something from a friend the other day I started to think about how much I had to do that day. You know what I started to feel? Sheer panic. I mean, my list of "to-dos" grew by five items just in the space of a minute of thought. And the worst part? I knew there was absolutely NO way I could accomplish all the things on that list. Talk about defeating.

Even worse? I never seem to accomplish my to-do lists. I mean, never. This reality has me ending each day disappointed in myself and feeling a little a lot like a failure. It's like trying to scale a mountain that keeps growing. Or maybe the mountain is made out of sand? Let's go with snow, for the season. The snow continues to fall and you keep sliding back...further and further. I'm afraid that one day I'll stop and look around me and think...I didn't go up at all, just backwards.

After this moment of panic, I mentally slapped myself and started speaking some truth to "inner Emilie". I began to recount all the things I already had done that morning. It was a long list. Then I thought of what I could reasonably accomplish that afternoon. Again, it was more than I realized. And the kicker? I thought about what life would have been like a hundred years ago. I imagined a woman my age and what she'd have to accomplish. Her list was probably something like: gather eggs, milk a cow, make food, do laundry. For the WHOLE day. Forget a trip to the store, forget visiting friends, forget updating her multiple social media outlets...nope, her focus would be on the tasks in front of her and do what she could. Though, to be fair, I'm sure she didn't get everything done either.

That may seem like an odd thing to think of--well, I'm an odd person 😉 But, really, it helped me put a few things in perspective.

We hold ourselves to a standard that is unattainable (most days). Sure, our to-do lists probably look impressive and exciting, but what they are (if not made with reality in mind) is a ball and chain dragging us down to disappointment.
Putting our time in perspective is the only way we'll be able to end the day feeling accomplished.
I'm not good at this, I'll be the first to admit it, but I'd like to encourage you (as I encourage myself) in this season to make plausible to-do lists. You probably can't bake 3 different types of cookies, visit 9 friends, and write three chapters, all while doing laundry, posting on Instagram, and practicing for church choir. Believe me, I've tried this...

Instead, plan out 2-3 things you know you can accomplish each day. Do those things well, and save the rest for the next day. You may not get as many things done in a day, but I've got a feeling what you do get done will be done well. And you'll also end the day feeling much more accomplished.

What about you? Do you have any tips or tricks to ending the day feeling satisfied? Share in the comments below! 

Friday, December 8, 2017

Spread the Christmas Joy - Always

For those of you who have followed my blog for some time you'll know that I always do "Spread the Christmas Joy" here on my blog. I love it - I really do - but I've found myself without any time to organize something like that again this year. At least not in the way I did it in the years past.

Instead, I've decided to do something a little different. I'm going to focus on trying to blog more this month. Like--me, actually blogging! What a concept! I'm not sure what things will come out - some will be writing-focused, some social media posts, and some just thoughts on Christmas this year.

Emilie getting her Christmas tree
Me out getting our family Christmas tree!
As you can tell...I've already missed the first of December! But I think Christmas really isn't about getting things perfect so much as understanding who you are, what you've been given, and how truly beautiful the season can be if you stop and really see that beauty.

I will still do some giveaways this month - I've got some awesome books (doubles of the ones I already have) which means YOU all will get the chance to enter to win them.

But, aside from that, I hope that you'll enjoy this December on my blog. There'll be book reviews as I have time to read, book recommendations from my reading this year, and probably all manner of random thoughts and hopes for the future (as the end of the year always leaves me feeling introspective).

Lastly, as the part of my blog that is MOST important to me--I want to connect with YOU dear readers. I would love to hear from you via email, through Facebook, Instagram, or a comment here. Tell me what you're thankful for this season, what you're looking forward to in this coming new year, or maybe something you're thinking through during this holiday season. I'd love to hear any and all of it. YOU are why I write and why I have this blog.

In the mean time, check out my thoughts about feeling something this season over on the Putting on the New Blog, and have a lovely rest of the week!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Total Christmas Makeover by Melissa Spoelstra | Re:View

Are you looking to "makeover" your Christmas? Maybe you're like me and you weren't really sure what that means, but you know your busyness this Christmas isn't healthy? Either way, this book is the answer.

Melissa Spoelstra set's out to help us "makeover" our Christmas in this 31 day devotional that is perfect to read before, during, or after Christmas with an eye toward assessing our traditions and why we hold to them.

Going in to this book I wasn't sure what to expect but I loved that it said "practical approach" on the back cover. To me, there's nothing better than assessing something practically. Our lives are too bogged down as they are with what Christmas is "supposed" to look like. Lots of busyness, expensive gift purchasing, and a commercialized approach to the season, but Melissa gives another way.

Her suggestions, broken down into easily readable devotional chapters, are both heartwarming and actionable. She talks about how we can assess the things we currently do for the holiday's and focuses in on the fact that the traditions that stay should be those that honor Christ and the true meaning of the season.

I love that at the end of each section there are questions to help you think through what had been said and then a section called "A Practical Approach" at the end of each devotion.

I highly recommend this to anyone looking to dig deep into the reasons behind their traditions and business this season. It's an easy read and worth the time to readjust your focus to the One who truly is the reason for the season.

My rating: 5*
Purchase: Total Christmas Makeover

Book Description
(from Amazon)

In the bustle of the Christmas season, it can be easy to get swept up in all of the things to do. But it’s important to pause and remember that our priority should be to spend time celebrating Christ’s birth and not forget to invite Jesus to his own party.

Christmas is far more than a celebration of an event from long ago or a modern holiday centered around shopping. Mindfully take time to listen to how God continues to speak through the Christmas story as the Gospel narratives centered around the birth of Jesus provide encouragement and revelation concerning the love of God and his wisdom for us today.

In Total Christmas Makeover, author and Bible teacher Melissa Spoelstra provides a practical approach for you and your family to turn your attention toward God’s grace day-by-day as you prepare for Christmas. This 31-day devotional presents key scriptures, ideas to implement with each reading, and questions for reflection to guide you in rediscovering rituals, relationship, and rest to connect you more deeply with Christ this holiday season.


I received this book for free but was under no obligation to post a review. I do so under my own motivation and the opinions I have expressed in this review are honest and entirely my own. 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Bell Renshaw | Author Chat

It's December and you know what that means? Christmas movies and books ALL the time! I've got debut author Bell Renshaw visiting today and she's just released a sweet Christmas novella (which I got to create the cover for)! Check out her interview below and then go grab a copy of her release (it's only $0.99!) 

Annabell “Bell” Renshaw has always loved books and the power of a good story. She turned those passions toward writing at an early age, finding solace and adventure in made-up worlds when her mother would read to her as a kid. She’s grown up now, but still finds herself lost in those worlds. She believes in the power of a happy ending and the fact that--no matter what--love will always find a home. You can connect with Bell on her website:

Author Chat with Bell Renshaw

What prank would you play on your main character? 
In keeping with the Winter theme, I would probably find a way to ambush Hoyt with a snowball fight. Probably with a bunch of kids from Winter. How neat would it be to see him walk out of the Diner and get attacked by a bunch of children with snowballs!?

If your main characters were animals, what would they be? 
This is a tough question. I think Reba would be a horse because they are beautiful and strong creatures but can also be stubborn. For Hoyt, I think he would be a wolf. They are pack creatures (like how he loves his family) but they are also cautious and protective.

What is your favorite mode of transportation: plane, train, or car? 
While I like traveling by car and plane, I think train is my favorite. There is something very magical about slowing down and taking the train somewhere. I have a dream to ride a train cross-country and write. Fingers crossed it happens 😉

If you could morph two books together, which would you choose? 
Another tough question. I'd love to see a mashup of Sense and Sensibility and anything written by Melissa Tagg! Maybe a 6th book for her Walker Family series. (I suppose I didn't quite answer the question - teetee).

Cats or dogs or both? 

Which of your characters do you secretly have a crush on? 
I think you'd expect me to say Hoyt - and I sure do have a good-sized crush on him - but...I've got to say his brother Beau (the main character of the next novella in the series) is quickly becoming my favorite as I dive into writing his story during this Christmas season (hehe).

What's one thing you would like to impart to your readers about your books and being an author? 
This is my first release so I'm a little new to being an 'author' but I would say that the best part about all of this so far is sharing my little fictional world with the real world. Hoyt and Reba have become dear to me and to share their story with others makes my heart burst. As for my books, I always want them to be encouraging and (hopefully) something you want to share with others. This isn't about "my book" being shared, but more about the idea and the experience being shared. If someone can tell their friend about "this book they read" and then they can talk about it together, I see that as them creating community. That's really big for me. 

One Christmas In Winter 
by Bell Renshaw

Reba Farwell is finally getting a chance to live out her dreams. Sent to Winter, Montana to direct filming for a crucial, on-location shoot, she knows the next two weeks will make or break her career. And she could definitely use a break. As if that isn’t enough, she’s got a secret that none of her crew knows. All she’s asking for is two weeks of small town, Christmas beauty and a little bit of on-camera sizzle.

Five years ago, Hoyt Bradley’s heart and future shattered in one fell swoop that landed him back in Winter. Thankfully, making lemonade—or his father’s famous lemon meringue pie— out of lemons is what he does best. Running Bentley’s Diner has filled the gaps left in the wake of his heartbreak, even if it hasn’t healed him completely. Not wanting to relive memories of his rocky start in the film industry, Hoyt does his best to steer clear of the dreaded film crew, but Winter has a way of bringing people together.

After one fateful delivery and a score of icy bad luck, Reba finds herself in a bind and at the mercy of what Winter can offer. Will she pull the film together in time to salvage her name as a director? Or will the sparks flying off-camera create more of a distraction than she knows how to handle?

Come visit Winter, Montana in this Christmas Novella where the Christmas lights are always on and the snow falls most frequently when loved ones share a kiss.

Purchase: One Christmas in Winter 

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Monday, December 4, 2017

KJV Know the Word Study Bible | Re:View

Including Topic by Topic text, detailed introductions at the beginning of every book, and detailed notations and notes, this study Bible is truly a wealth of knowledge for anyone looking to study through the Bible.

At the beginning of every book there is something that says "How to Study" and then lists the book. I think it's such a fantastic idea because you can go into each book with a plan. It's too easy to look at the Bible of a bunch of verses rather than a cohesive book made up of smaller books. This portion of the Study Bible helps you to understand what questions to ask as well as what questions you'll find answers to in each book.

The next awesome feature is the "Study the Book" portions that break up portions of each book into sections/chapters with notes. For example, in Genesis the first instance of this breaks it up into Genesis 1:1 to 2:3 and talks about how "God declares everyone 'good!'". Including in the books as well are notes which include references to other scriptures in both the old and new testaments.

You'll find helpful, full-color maps, a concordance, and weights and measures diagrams. All helpful to further your study. Plus, the outside cover beneath the dust jacket is also beautiful! (See the photo below).

This Study Bible is incredible and would make an amazing gift for anyone who is already loves to study the Word or who is looking to dive in more deeply. I think the only thing of note is the fact that it is in the King James Version which, (to me) isn't always the easiest to read or understand. I think if you grew up with this version or are very familiar with it, this edition would be perfect for you!


My rating: 5*
Purchase: Know the Word Study Bible

Book Description

Gain a greater understanding of the Bible book by book, verse by verse, or topic by topic.

The study of God's Word can be easy and rewarding if you break down the Bible into easy-to-understand segments. The KJV Know the Word Study Bible offers three easy ways to begin studying Scripture and helps individuals transition from being a casual reader of the Bible to becoming a regular student of the Bible. You can choose to study the Bible book-by-book, verse-by-verse, or topic-by-topic; each path offers powerful insights that will help you develop a daily routine of Bible study.
The book-by-book series of notes leads you through the main points of each book of the Bible. The verse-by-verse notes help you to dig deeper into God's Word. The topic-by-topic articles, which cover 21 theological topics, guide you through a series of insightful notes and give you a thorough biblical understanding of each topic. With the beautiful and timeless text of the KJV translation, the KJV Know the Word Study Bible offers you choices of how to study Scripture and grow in your relationship with Christ.

Features include:

-King James Version Bible text
-Three easy approaches to study the Bible: 1. Book by Book; 2. Verse by Verse; 3. Topic by Topic
-Insightful introductions for each book of Scripture
-Words of Jesus in red
-Beautiful two-color interior page design
-Comprehensive list of theological notes
-Full-color maps
-8-point type size


I received this book for free but was under no obligation to post a review. I do so under my own motivation and the opinions I have expressed in this review are honest and entirely my own.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Jaime Jo Wright | Author Chat

What better person to have a coffee with for Author Chat than Jaime Jo Wright aka Writer & Professional Coffee Drinker! I'm so excited to have her as my guest and I think you're really going to enjoy her interview! 

Professional coffee drinker & ECPA/Publisher's Weekly best-selling author, Jaime Jo Wright resides in the hills of Wisconsin writing spirited turn-of-the-century romance stained with suspense. Coffee fuels her snarky personality. She lives in Neverland with her Cap’n Hook who stole her heart and will not give it back, their little fairy TinkerBell, and a very mischievous Peter Pan. The foursome embark on scores of adventure that only make her fall more wildly in love with romance and intrigue.

Let's get real...

If your book became a movie, who would you cast for your main characters?
Well, I’d definitely cast Tom Hiddleston for Joel (and then I’d be sure I was on set every day). Ivy would be played by me, because otherwise I’d be really jealous of anyone opposite Tom—ahem—I mean, Joel.

Grant would be played by Ryan Eggold from The Blacklist

Kaine would be played by Italia Ricci who is currently starring opposite Keifer Sutherland on Designated Survivor.

Name three places you’d like to travel to & why...
Well I love LOVE to travel. I’ve had the blessing of traveling many places around the world but three remaining on my bucket list are: Ireland (because it’s green), Norway (because my husband is Norwegian), and Russia (because I love cold and snow)

Share one pet peeve you have.
I’m pretty flexible with stuff, so not much gets under my skin. But I really hate arriving at the office in the morning being talked to before I get my stuff in order and coffee poured. I’m sort of the proverbial morning “crank”.

Which of your characters do you secretly have a crush on?
If I had a crush on one my of characters it’d be Joel Cunningham. But mainly because the model for his character was Tom Hiddleston. *Insert swoony-sigh here

Connect with Jaime on her website:

Pre-Order: The House on Foster Hill  (comes out November 21)

Enter the giveaway below: 

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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

How to Write A Novel Using the Snowflake Method by Randy Ingermanson | RE:View

This book is perfect! It's such a great way to think about plotting. I started it thinking it might take me a while to get through (most craft books do) but the way this one is formatted is AWESOME. It starts out as a story that then leads you into the second half (more like later 1/3) that breaks down the process for you.

If you're like me, learning through story and example is SUPER helpful. Randy starts out with a story of someone that could easily be you or I and then has her go through his snowflake process but in a story type of way. The story itself is a little cheesy, but I think that's the point. It's to instruct by example, not to be brilliant.

Then, what I like even more, is at the end he pulls apart THAT story and shows how he used his method (The Snowflake Method) to write the story. Brilliant!

I'd highly recommend this to anyone who is struggling with their plotting process or looking to streamline how they plot. It would even be great for those looking to 'think outside the box' as far as plotting technique goes. I've found it useful in my own stories but also as a tool. I don't do everything exactly as Randy suggests, but that's kind of the point. It's tool, not a rigid way.

All writers should do themselves a favor and read this book!

My Rating: 5*
Purchase: How to Write A Novel Using the Snowflake Method

Book Description 

A Magical Key to Unlock Your Creative Wizard

Are you writing a novel, but having trouble getting your first draft written? You’ve heard of “outlining,” but that sounds too rigid for you. You’ve heard of “organic writing,” but that seems a bit squishy to you.

Take a look at the wildly popular Snowflake Method—ten battle-tested steps that jump-start your creativity and help you quickly map out your story. All around the world, novelists are using the Snowflake Method right now to ignite their imaginations and get their first drafts down.

In this book, you’ll follow the story of a fictitious novelist as she learns to tap into the amazing power of the Snowflake Method. Almost magically, she finds her story growing from a simple idea into a deep and powerful novel. And she finds her novel changing her—into a stronger, more courageous person.

Zany, Over the Top, and Just Plain Fun

Friday, November 3, 2017

A Small Book About A Big Problem by Edward T. Welch |Re:View

A little book to help you face the reality of anger in every day life.

A Small Book About A Big Problem by Edward T. Welch | Book Review

This is a small book that I wish had been a little bigger. Don't get me wrong--I think the content is very good and the format is really engaging in the way that you can go through a section a day, but I think that an opportunity was missed.

I have loved previous books by Edward T. Welch and I know the he has a lot of wisdom to share and good things to say. The book itself is filled with insight and wise statements and that may be something that is just right for you, but for something as big (and prevalent) as the topic of anger, I personally think this book could have been expanded.

I found myself coming to the end of a section and feeling like I wanted more. More ways to think about the topic of that day's section, more insights into how we can combat our own anger, more applicable scriptural passages. I felt a little cheated.

That may sound negative and I don't want it to; I just want to be honest. I think that, if you go into this book with the attitude that you need to supplement with your own Bible reading and journaling to truly flesh out the topic, it could be a great devotional book for you. I also think it could be great to go through with a friend where you could challenge each other to think deeply about what you've read and to be honest with yourself and each other.

All of that to say: Yes, I would recommend this book, but I would give the caveat that it will be best used as a kick-starter to deeper conversations with others and self-reflection. With that in mind, I think you'll find a lot to take away with from this book.

My rating: 3.8*
Purchase: A Small Book About A Big Problem 

Book Description
(from Amazon)
Look closely at any day and we can usually find anger in both our actions and attitudes. Things spill or go missing, we get stuck in traffic, and the people we live and work with often make life even harder. We want to stay calm, but what do you do when you feel your blood pressure rise yet again? Anger is so common yet it also destroys. It leaves its mark on us it s not healthy which is one reason we hear so much about finding peace. And it leaves its mark on others. The wounds we inflict on others when we are angry the loss of intimacy, trust, security, and enjoyment in our closest relationships give us compelling reasons to look closely at our anger and think carefully about how to grow in patience and peace. If you have just gotten irritated for the umpteenth time today, you might wonder if change is possible. Can anyone grow in patience and peace? Yes. But you need a plan. Biblical counselor and psychologist Ed Welch invites readers to take a 50-day journey that unpacks anger and encourages readers to become more skillful at responding with patience to life s difficulties. Along the way, readers will be introduced to Jesus, the Prince of Peace the only one who can empower his people to grow in patience, peace, and wholeness.

I received this book for free but was under no obligation to post a review. I do so under my own motivation and the opinions I have expressed in this review are honest and entirely my own.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Lydia Howe | Author Chat

Author Chat with Lydia Howe

I've been a little behind on the blog recently, so sorry friends! But, I'm excited to introduce you to Lydia Howe. 

Lydia Howe (aka Aidyl Ewoh) spent her teenage years reading and writing late into the night. Now in her twenties, she has hiked the mountains of the Far East and lived in the Andes Mountain Range of South America, built life-size models of dinosaurs, taken road trips across Europe, and explored caves in North America. Lydia grew up in a 135 year-old barn and spent six months in a tipi. An enthusiastic writer of Middle Grade and Young Adult fiction, she has three published books to date: Cave Secrets of the Pterodactyl, Action Kids' Club, and Cool Critters of the Ice Age. She blogs regularly at Noveltea.

Lets get real...

Tell us a little bit about yourself...

Some of my earliest memories are of my mom and oldest sister reading to me, so it’s no surprise that I grew up as a bookworm. Becoming a writer was a natural next step, and one that has been a lot of fun, and offered a lot of challenges, over the last decade.

The power of words, and the ability of a well-written book to drag you far into another world or era of time, has been a huge inspiration to me. I’ve learned an incredible amount from books, as well as having been endlessly entertained. The thought of being able to pass that joy and knowledge along to others has kept me writing even when things get tough.

Is there a funny story associated with writing this book?

This book is about cousins and the importance of family. When I was growing up I was incredibly close with my cousins. There were four of us: my sister, me, and our two girl cousins who were also sisters, who hung out together all the time. I had fun pulling various stories from our childhood to add into the book - like the time my older sister convinced us that vanilla extract was actually caffeine, and that if we added it to orange juice we’d get all the hyper effects of having caffeinated pop. (Apparently we were gullible.)

Were your characters easy to pin down or did you discover them along the way as you wrote the book?

The four main characters are very loosely based off of us four girls, so they came together very naturally during the first draft of the book. In fact, they were some of the easiest characters for me to write, and yet they all turned out unique and special in their own way. I also had fun creating the supporting character cast, even though they weren’t based off of anyone in real life.

What’s your favorite snack while writing?

I’ve found I work best when I have something in my mouth, so I drink a lot of water and suck on a lot of ice while concentrating. I also keep flavored lifesavers and jolly ranchers near by. But if we’re talking about an actual snack, then probably fresh fruit - yummy! Plums and nectarines have been my go-to snack recently.

What’s your encouragement for younger writers aside from “keep writing”? 

There’s no doubt about it: If you want to be a successful author you’re going to go through a lot of rejection - not just when you get to the querying stage, but when you get to the revising/editing part of writing. Early on in my writing career I had an author tell me that I would need to develop thick skin and learn to graciously listen to and accept advice that I really didn’t like. Boy has that ever been true. But, being willing to set aside my feelings and what I want to try and objectively listen to feedback has been really good for me. That doesn’t mean you should take everyone’s advice when it comes to writing, but being willing to listen to the hard stuff and make changes when needed? Well, that goes a long way.

When you get an idea for a novel, what is the first thing that you do? 

The first thing I do when I get an idea is a lot of brainstorming and praying. Generally, I spend a couple of weeks, months, or even years, developing the idea in my head and praying for clarity as I go about everyday tasks. I also have a couple of good friends that I’ll send texts to, telling them what I’m thinking of and asking for their feedback. Eventually, I get to the “writing it down” stage, but that generally takes a while to arrive there.

September is Classical Music Month so, in keeping with that theme, do you have a favorite character from a classical novel?

Ooh, that’s neat, and no, I didn’t know that! One of the books I’ve been working on has a main character who is a classical musician, so I suppose I should have come across that information somewhere in my research. :)

I’m not a huge Jane Austen fan, but I really like Mr. Knightly from Emma.

What is your favorite fall snack food?

Do s’mores and caramel apple suckers count? ;)

What are you currently reading?

Seeking Refuge by Stephan Bauman, Matthew Soerens, and Dr. Issam Smeir. So far it’s a really informative and well-written book. I also just finished My Brother’s Crown by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould.

Thank you for hosting me on your blog, Emilie! I had fun answering your great questions.

Where Dandelions Grow
by Lydia Howe

Cousins are forever, or at least they’re supposed to be.

What happens when your world falls apart and your dreams are mocked by those closest to you?
Destiny’s idyllic childhood full of laughter and cousins abruptly ended when her mom uprooted the family to move them across the country with strict instructions to never talk about Swallow Ridge again. Eleven years later Destiny moves back to her hometown, determined to find her cousins… and answers. 

Plagued by generations of bitterness and manipulation, Destiny hides her life-long goal - unwilling to let anyone else trample her fragile dreams. But living in the cozy town full of dandelions teaches Destiny there’s more to life than what she’s been taught. 

Is it possible Swallow Ridge not only holds the answers Destiny so intensely searches for, but also the hope?

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

My favorite things for NaNoWriMo

I am so excited for November and this upcoming NaNoWriMo season. If you don't know what it is, check out their website for more details.

For this post celebrating the FIRST day of NaNo, I thought I'd compile a post of things I find indispensable to make it through the month.

Favorite Things For NaNoWriMo


This may be a given...I mean, I think by now you all know how much I love my coffee, but I couldn't start my NaNo list without it. And, the best news? There is coffee made specifically for book lovers! My friend Shelly over at Book Lovers Coffee makes some of the most incredible blends. I'm telling you...this coffee is delicious and bookish. There isn't anything better in my opinion.

Go check out her website:

Pssst! This Pumpkin Spice autumn blend is AMAZING!

A good mug

Maybe it goes without saying, but what is coffee without a great mug? For me, I find a few things to be majorly important about mugs.
1) They must feel great in my hand. None of these miniature little handles that only allow two fingers in there. Nope!
2) They must hold an immense amount of coffee (or tea) and do so well.
3) They must inspire me. This last one is a personal thing and every person will find certain things inspiring over others. For me, I enjoy bookish mugs which is why I've made fun designs in my Society6 shop to reflect my love of books, reading, and writing.

Check out my shop mug designs here:

Um....just incase you weren't sure, YES the 11oz is worth it. We're talking the perfect hand-hold for the mug 😉

White board

Now were getting into the nitty-gritty of NaNo. The writing! I love to plot things out on a white board because it's visual as well as easy to erase and/or add to as you go. Keep track of the scenes you're on, see your story arc, and jot down new ideas as you go.

Fuzzy Socks

This may not seem crucial, but it is! Those toes of yours will certainly get cold sitting around writing all day. Especially as the weather starts to take a turn for winter, you'll find these fuzzy socks as a necessity, not just a want.

A place

Whether it's your favorite coffee shop, couch, chair by the window, your bed, or your best friends porch, make sure you have a place (or more than one). It may seem like a silly thing, but if you think of going to a coffee shop as "your place" for writing, you're mind will become accustomed to writing there. It's not to say you can't write in other places, but have one spot that's your "special writing spot". Then use that after NaNo is over to keep the magic alive!


This last one is probably the most important (and my favorite, favorite). PEOPLE! You need your people, whether that's locally or globally, you need to have friends who are struggling along in the writing trenches with you as well as those who may not understand this whole crazy writing thing but are willing to support you in it. There are lots of options for this - those in a writers group near you, those online in a writers group or support group (like mine linked below), and those on the NaNo website.

Then, for those non-writing friends, just take a few minutes to tell people in your life why you're doing this crazy 50k words in a month thing. Chances are they will be super proud of you AND will help to keep you motivated by asking you how you're doing.

So, go and write fearlessly!

Join my NaNoWriMo Support & Encouragement group:

Join the NaNoWriMo website and community:

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A Time To Rise by Nadine Brandes | Re:View

A fantastic end to a thrilling series, A Time To Rise fulfills all of my hopes for the end--and beginning--of Parvin's story!

From the very beginning with Parvin in book one (A Time To Die) to following her to the end of this book, it has been an emotional roller coaster of highs, lows, excitement, sadness, crazy miracles, and hints of romance. And yet, coming to the end, I really felt as if it was all "right".

I won't go into much detail here since I don't want to spoil anything, but this third book will take you to places you never expected to go with Parvin, Solomon, and the rest of the unique and eclectic cast of characters. The storyline delves deeply into what it means to truly sacrifice.

Skelly Chase is back as well, and proves to be a very interesting character. I think that's one of the things I admire most about Nadine's writing. She doesn't just make cut and dry characters, she creates whole people who are flawed just like you and I. It makes these characters real as well as it connects you to them in a way that is both beautiful and sometimes uncomfortable due to the depth of emotion you experience toward them.

I really enjoyed the setting of this book as well. We see more technology included and I also noticed how the world we saw from Parvin's point of view expanded as she experienced more and grew as a character.

While I'm sad to see the series end, the ending itself was really appropriate for the series as a whole. It left you satisfied with everything all tied up, as good endings do.

I would definitely recommend this series to those who enjoy YA dystopian with a hint of futuristic-ness to their novels. It has a strong Christian theme to it, but this works well with the story.

A Time To Rise by Nadine Brandes
My rating: 5*
Purchase: A Time To Rise #3, A Time To Speak #2, A Time To Die #1

Book Description
(from Amazon)

What more can you sacrifice than your life? 

Parvin Blackwater is dead.

At least that’s what the Council—and the world—thinks. But her sacrifice tore down part of the Wall long enough to stir up hope and rebellion in the people. Now she will rise again. Strong, free, and fearless.
Parvin and Solomon must uncover the mysterious clues that Jude left behind in order to destroy the projected Wall once and for all. Meanwhile, the Council schemes to new levels of technology in its attempts to keep the people contained. Can a one-handed Radical and a scarred ex-Enforcer really bring shalom to the world?

I received this book for free but was under no obligation to post a review. I do so under my own motivation and the opinions I have expressed in this review are honest and entirely my own.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Lindsay Harrel {Writer Wednesday}

A little bit about Lindsay...

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

Connect with Lindsay...


Get to know Lindsay...

You and Writing 

Tell us a little bit about you and your writing journey...

My love of writing began with a love of reading. I read all the time—I even tried to sneak books at the table during dinnertime. Much as my parents encouraged me, they were not okay with that. J As far as writing goes, I was that little kindergartner who asked for stacks of printer paper so I could fold it in half, staple it, and call it a book. In high school, I took creative writing as my elective. But it was then that I decided writing books was too hard and there was too much competition.

Instead, I pursued journalism and became a writer/editor in a variety of positions for about ten years. When I did my master’s program in English, I remembered my forgotten love of writing fiction and decided to try my hand at writing a book. It’s really cool to look back on that dream I had as a child finally realized.

Your Writing 

Tell us a little bit about your book...

What was one thing (or character) that surprised you while writing this book?
When I originally plotted the book, it was going to be about Megan only (she’s the sister who got the heart transplant and decided to fulfill her donor’s bucket list). Her sister Crystal was going to go along, but be an antagonist of sorts. But when I told the story concept to my agent, she said she thought maybe the sister should have her own point of view—that maybe she had a story to tell. And she did. In fact, I ended up relating so much more to her than to Megan. That really surprised me!

Did you get to do any fun research for the book?
Oh yes! It is set all over the world (Paris, London, Greece, Rome, Peru, China, etc.), so I got to do research on all the places I want to see someday! I wish I could have taken a research trip to see it all for myself, but I had a young toddler when I was writing this. Also, I wasn’t making any money from writing yet so I just couldn’t justify it at the time. But I did try to convince my husband! J


Now let's talk about writing...

How long did you write before you got published?
I got degrees in journalism and English, but I didn’t begin pursuing publication until August 2011. I signed with my agent in November 2013 and got my first contract (for One More Song to Sing) in March 2016. Then I got my two-book contract with Thomas Nelson in late 2016 and signed it in January 2017. (But we all have different journeys!! Don’t be discouraged if your journey doesn’t go as quickly as mine. I have friends on both sides of the spectrum—some who were published before me and some who are still working toward it.)

What’s your encouragement for younger writers aside from “keep writing”? We hear this a lot, but dig deeper. Is there something else that helped you?
I absolutely recommend getting training through My Book Therapy’s Storycrafters Online Program or something similar. Spend time honing your craft and don’t be afraid to invest a bit of money to do so. I 100% believe that part of the reason I was able to learn the writing craft and become published is because I did this and really invested in this. I know not everyone can spend the money; that's okay too. Find ways to learn the craft in a way that works for the type of learner you are, even if it means checking out books or audiobooks from the library. There are plenty of free resources online. Remember, this is a career, not just a hobby. Treat it as such and give it the time and energy it deserves. Stay focused and remember the long game.

How do you balance your writing life with “real” life? Any tips or tricks to share?
I have a baby and a toddler and I stay home with them. If I can do it, so can you. I think the biggest tip I have is to carve time out for it every week. Make an appointment on the calendar and keep it as if it were a doctor’s appointment, Bible study, or one of the million other things you have on your calendar. Set realistic goals too—don’t expect to write an entire scene if you’ve crammed the rest of your day so full that you have no energy at the end of the day.


In honor of the fall, what’s your favorite fall treat?
I like the caramel apple spice drink from Starbucks. Oh, and pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.

When you were a child, what did you dream of growing up to be?
I did dream of being an author, but also a lawyer. I decided to become an author and married a lawyer, so I think I’m covered!

Will you participate in National Novel Writing Month? If so, what’s your plan to keep your writing on track?
No, because I have a February 1 deadline to turn in my next novel to my publisher, so I’m drafting my book mostly in October! My goal is to write one scene a day, five days a week. If I can do that, then I’ll have finished drafting my book in about 10-11 weeks. Then comes editing!

What are you currently reading?
I just finished Michele Phoenix’s The Space Between Words (highly recommend!) and am about to pick up Lauren Denton’s The Hideaway.

Lindsay has graciously offered an ebook copy of One More Song to Sing as a giveaway! Enter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway