About Me I am a retired librarian and I now support books and authors through my reviews.

I have always loved to read and I was able to share that love through my work as a public librarian for 22 1/2 years. I now promote literacy by reading, and then writing reviews. I love to support authors by sharing my reviews with others!

Friday, January 31, 2020

Lone Star Ranger by Renae Brumbaugh Green: Review & Giveaway

About the Book

Book: Lone Star Ranger
Author: Renae Brumbaugh Green
Genre: Christian Historical Fictio
Release Date: January 21, 2020

Elizabeth Covington will get her man.

And she has just a week to prove her brother isn’t the murderer Texas Ranger Rett Smith accuses him of being. She’ll show the good-looking lawman he’s wrong, even if it means setting out on a risky race across Texas to catch the real killer.

Rett doesn’t want to convict an innocent man. But he can’t let the Boston beauty sway his senses to set a guilty man free. When Elizabeth follows him on a dangerous trek, the Ranger vows to keep her safe. But who will protect him from the woman whose conviction and courage leave him doubting everything—even his heart?

Click here to get your copy.


It is August, 1877 and Elizabeth Covington's life is about to change. A trip to Houston, Texas with her brother Evan turns into a rip-roaring adventure when he is accused of being the notorious criminal James Weston Hardy and Elizabeth is forced to prove his innocence. Add one Texas Ranger who is sure that Evan has killed several people and you have a book worthy of any Western story that you've ever seen on TV or in a movie!

Lone Star Ranger is filled with mystery and adventure but there is also humor and laughter as refined and proper Elizabeth works to prove that Evan is not a murderer! I enjoyed the interaction between Elizabeth and Rett Smith because this determined Texas Ranger is constantly challenged by five-foot-eleven Elizabeth and she is more than capable of defending her brother! But then, as they are thrown together in dangerous situations, Elizabeth and Rett realize that their differences may not be as strong as they thought.

This is an enjoyable story of determination, faith, and learning to fully trust in God. If you enjoy Christian romance and historical fiction set in the Old West, you will want to read Lone Star Ranger by Renae Brumbaugh Green.

I received a complimentary copy from Celebrate Lit Book Tours but I wasn't obligated to write a favorable review.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

About the Author

Renae Brumbaugh Green is a city-girl-turned-country-diva. She’s married to a handsome country boy named Rick, and she’s mom to four nearly-perfect, nearly-grown children, two rowdy dogs, and some ducks. They live in rural Texas where Renae wears overalls, western boots, and bubblegum pink nail polish. She’s a bestselling author of over 30 books, an award-winning humor columnist, and an online English teacher. In her free time, she can be found leaping tall buildings and rescuing kittens from trees. Or, she’d like to do those things, if she had free time.  

More from Renae

I’ve been a fan of historical romance from the moment I graduated from The Babysitter’s Club. A friend of mind introduced me to the Love Comes Softly series by Janette Oke, and I was hooked. In college, between exams and extracurricular stuff, I read those books like they were M&Ms. That’s why, when I started writing grown-up fiction, I knew historical was my genre.

But there’s another reason—perhaps a more compelling reason—why I had to write The Texas Rangers series. See, my granddaddy was a Texas Ranger. Not the baseball player kind. The gun-toting, cowboy-hat-and-badge-wearing kind. As far as I know, he was not a master of any kinds of martial arts, so if you’re a fan of Walker, Texas Ranger, I’m sorry to disappoint.

And he was not alive during the late 1800s, as are the characters are in this series. Grandaddy died in 1980 when I was 12 years old. He was a good man, known for rescuing puppies and bringing small gifts and toys to children in stressful situations—i.e. when their parents were arrested. My favorite memory of him is sitting on his lap, falling asleep to the sound of his big, round pocket watch ticking. I have a picture of myself, age three, sitting on his knee while he typed up his reports. I love that typewriter picture, and find it significant since I’m now a writer.

Grandaddy was Robert Everett Smith, and Grandmother (yes, I called her that—she was very formal, but also very sweet) was Ellie Marie (Edgar) Smith. The two lead characters in Lone Star Ranger are named Rett (Everett) and Elizabeth, in their honor.

Like Grandmother, Elizabeth is refined and formal, yet strong headed, with her own lady-like brand of spunk. She hails from Boston, and is a little overwhelmed at the grit and gravel of Texas lawmen. But she’s not intimidated—not even by handsome Texas Ranger Rett Smith.

Thanks so much for sharing in my cherished family memories. I hope you enjoy the story as much as I enjoyed writing it!

 —Renae Brumbaugh Green

Blog Stops

Among the Reads, January 21
Pause for Tales, January 21
deb’s Book Review, January 24
Texas Book-aholic, January 25
Becka Jimenez, January 26
Betti Mace, January 30
Wishful Endings, January 30
Maureen’s Musings, January 31
Older & Smarter?, January 31
Hallie Reads, February 3


To celebrate her tour, Renae is giving away the grand prize of a $50 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, January 30, 2020

A Vow for Always (Discovery, #6) by Wanda E. Brunstetter

A Vow for Always (Discovery, #6)ABOUT THE BOOK

Book 6 of an exclusive 6-consecutive-month release Amish serial novel.  In A Vow for Always, the conclusion of New York Times bestselling author, Wanda E. Brunsetter’s The Discovery, Luke Stoltzfus’ memory completely returns, and he rushes home to Lancaster County. When Meredith reunites with Luke, hours before her wedding to Jonah, she realizes her feelings for Jonah were never true love. Can Jonah’s heart withstand the way Meredith must break it to regain real love and restore her family?


Grandma Smucker had reminded Meredith Stoltzfus many times that life didn't stop just because a person died. As she struggles with being a widow and mother of baby Levi, Meredith remembers this and realizes that perhaps she will have to let go of her life with Luke and seek a future with Jonah Miller, the Amish neighbor who has expressed interest. She also realizes that even though her father-in-law seems accepting, her mother-in-law Sadie isn't ready for their son to be replaced by another man! Meredith needs help financially and emotionally but she doesn't want to to alienate Elam and Sadie. She wants her son to know his grandparents so what should she do? What would be best for her son --- and for her?

Meanwhile, near Philadelphia, there is a young man suffering from amnesia who suddenly remembers that his name isn't Eddie; he doesn't know his last name and he doesn't recall anything else from his past but he does know that his first name is Luke.

A Vow for Always is the conclusion of The Discovery--A Lancaster County Saga series and even though it offers a satisfying conclusion, it doesn't promise a happy ending for everyone concerned. Wanda E. Brunstetter shows once again her ability to weave a story that is entertaining, realistic, and inspirational. Fans of Amish fiction will find A Vow for Always an enjoyable book and a satisfying series!

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

View all my reviews


New York Times bestselling and award-winning author, Wanda E. Brunstetter is one of the founders of the Amish fiction genre. She has written close to 90 books translated in four languages. With over 10 million copies sold, Wanda's stories consistently earn spots on the nations most prestigious bestseller lists and have received numerous awards.

To learn more about Wanda, visit her website  Facebook  Twitter  Pinterest


The Discovery--A Lancaster County Saga

Book 1 - Goodbye to Yesterday
Book 2 - The Silence of Winter
Book 3 - The Hope of Spring
Book 4 - The Pieces of Summer
Book 5 - A Revelation in Autumn
Book 6 - A Vow for Always

End Game (Capital Intrigue, #1) by Rachel Dylan

End Game (Capital Intrigue, #1)ABOUT THE BOOK

When elite members of the military are murdered on the streets of Washington, DC, FBI Special Agent Bailey Ryan and NCIS Special Agent Marco Agostini must work together to bring the perpetrator to justice. Unfortunately, all evidence points to a Navy SEAL sniper whom Bailey refuses to believe is guilty.

When Bailey and Marco start to connect the dots between the victims, including a link to a powerful defense contractor, they wonder if there's a deeper cover-up at play. Then Bailey is targeted, and it becomes clear that someone is willing to kill to keep their dark secrets.

With the stakes getting higher by the moment in a twisted conspiracy, there's a rush against the clock to determine whom they can really trust. As allies turn to enemies, the biggest secret yet to be uncovered could be the end of all of them.


I loved the books in Rachel Dylan's Atlanta Justice series because they revealed her knowledge of the law and they also had a core group of characters that were featured in the three books of the series. Dylan now has a new series and this first book is a doozy! End Game is set in Washington, DC and it is filled with intrigue and an inside look at our US government. There are agents from the FBI, NCIS, and several other government agencies who become involved in the murders of several members of the military and the race begins to stop the deadly agenda of the killer (or killers)! Who is behind these murders and is government corruption involved?

FBI Special Agent Bailey Ryan and NCIS Special Agent Marco Agostini are the main focus in End Game but they are supported by several friends and it's obvious that future stories in the Capital Intrigue series will focus on some of these friends. This is one reason that I love Dylan's books...they allow us to build relationships with the characters as we continue to read the series. Second reason: Intrigue, action, and suspense. Just when I thought I knew who was behind these deadly acts, another clue would surface. Third reason: Dylan's books are always rich in faith and the act of prayer is always incorporated into the plot. Bailey has a deep faith in God and she talks to Him constantly and it is the Christian witness that she shares that helps to bolster Marco's own belief. And did I mention romance? Bailey and Marco's working relationship deepens into attraction and then into something more; their chemistry is intense but I can always count on Dylan to keep the romance exciting but unobjectionable.

I thoroughly enjoyed End Game and I am eager for the next book in the series. If you enjoy romantic suspense and Christian fiction, you definitely want to read this book. It's a keeper!

I received a complimentary copy from the author and publisher but there was no obligation for a positive review. These are my own thoughts and opinion.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Rachel Dylan is an award-winning and bestselling author of legal thrillers and romantic suspense. Rachel has practiced law for over a decade including being a litigator at one of the nation's top law firms. She enjoys weaving together legal and suspenseful stories. Rachel writes the Atlanta Justice Series which features strong, female attorneys in Atlanta. Deadly Proof, the first book in the Atlanta Justice series, is a CBA bestseller, an FHL Reader's Choice Award winner, a Daphne du Maurier Finalist, and a Holt Medallion Finalist. Rachel lives in Michigan with her husband and five furkids--two dogs and three cats. Rachel loves to connect with readers. You can find Rachel at her Website    Facebook     Twitter    Pinterest

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Wednesday, January 29, 2020

When God Made the World by Matthew Paul Turner; illustrated by Gillian Gamble

When God Made the WorldABOUT THE BOOK

From the author of the bestselling children's book When God Made You comes a rhythmic, whimsical journey through creation--for little readers who love science and wonder and the beginnings of all things.

For spiritual parents who are looking for a different kind of creation book, Matthew Paul Turner's When God Made the World focuses on the complex way that God created our vast and scientifically operating universe, including the biodiversity of life on our planet and the intricacies of a vast solar system. Scottish illustrator Gillian Gamble brings the natural world to vibrant life with rich colors and poignant detail certain to stretch young minds and engage imaginations.


And just like a star might showcase God's light or a waterfall give us a sign of God's might, the same could be said of me and of you---how we live, how we love, tells God's story too.

This is just a sampling of the beautiful words that children's author Matthew Paul Turner shares in his newest book When God Made the World. Once again he is able to captivate children as he teaches them and, this time, it is God's Creation story that he explores in this 48-page book. Turner's rhyming text and the beautiful illustrations by Gillian Gamble make this a book that young people will find irresistable and being able to read it with your children and grandchildren offers a wonderful opportunity to talk about our Heavenly Father and to learn just how our world began.

I believe this would be a wonderful addition to home, church, and school libraries and I highly recommend When God Made the World.

I received a complimentary copy of this book but there was no obligation to write a positive review. These are my honest thoughts.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

View all my reviews


Matthew Paul Turner has made his mark as a force in the Christian children's book publishing market. With his unmatched gift for rhyme blended with deliberate messages of hope and empowerment, Turner's books When God Made You, When God Made Light, and When I Pray for You have become bedtime favorites for families across America and now, his latest book is When God Made the World, releasing in late 2020.

Turner lives in Nashville, Tenn. with his wife Jessica and their three elementary-aged children. In his free time, he enjoys portrait photography, woodworking, and cooking for his family and friends.

Connect with him at his Website    Facebook     Twitter    Instagram

Gillian Gamble is an illustrator and story writer from Dundee, Scotland who is now living in lovely County Durham. Her education includes a MA from the University of St. Andrews and she has illustrated three books.

For more information visit her Website    Facebook    Twitter    Instagram    

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Shall We Dance? by Shelley Shepard Gray


At twenty-seven, Shannon Murphy has just discovered that she has two sisters she never knew. Now, through Shannon's loving persistence, the three of them are moving in together above her dance studio in Bridgeport. Shannon is excited to make a home with her sisters and to grow her budding business. Then she meets her newest client--he has all the right muscles, a perfect smile, and a lot of attitude. Will Shannon be able to keep things professional with this charming stranger?

Dylan Lange has a lot on his mind. He's just been assigned a new partner at his job with the Bridgeport Police, and while he's busy striving to protect and serve his town, he's also trying to keep his baby sister out of harm's way while she heals from her own trauma. And on top of everything else, he's gone and lost a bet with his buddies, forcing him to take dance lessons. But when he walks into the dance studio to meet his instructor, a young and beautiful brunette with a sweet southern drawl is the last person he expected to find.

Get ready to fall in love again as Shelley Shepard Gray takes us back to Bridgeport, Ohio, where nobody gets left behind and a powerful community helps ordinary men and women to find extraordinary strength inside themselves.


Shall We Dance? is the first book of a new series by Shelley Shepard Gray and this is a contemporary series instead of the Amish books that she often writes. Twenty-seven year old Shannon Murphy has convinced her two sisters to come to Bridgeport, Ohio, to live with her in her dance studio. Sounds normal, right? Well, not quite because Shannon has just discovered that she even has sisters so there is sure to be a lot of adjustment for all three of them!

This is a heartwarming story that follows Shannon, Traci, and Kimber as they explore their new relationship and there are also some feelings to explore between Shannon and a dance student. Police officer Dylan Lange doesn't seem the type to want dance lessons but he has no choice...he lost a dare and he has to pay up! Dylan is a good guy who is trying to help and support his troubled sister Jennifer but he also feels an intense attraction when he is with Shannon.

I always enjoy a story that has familiar names and places and Gray includes many references to Ohio and Kentucky in her plotline. Readers who live in these states will recognize many of the sites and places that she mentions.

As I read this story, I could imagine how all of these characters will influence the future books of the Dance With Me series and I look forward to learning more about them. Will Shannon and Dylan stop at six dance lessons or will they continue to dance with each other? Do Traci and Kimber adapt to life in small-town Bridgeport, Ohio? Can Jennifer overcome her past and find a happy future?

If you enjoy contemporary fiction with a small-town setting, intriguing characters, and romance, you will want to read Shall We Dance?

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author but there was no obligation to write a positive review. These are my own thoughts.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

View all my reviews


Shelley Shepard Gray has published over seventy novels. She currently writes Amish romances for Harper Collins, Kensington, and Simon & Schuster and contemporary women’s fiction for Blackstone Publishing.

Before writing romances, Shelley lived in Texas and Colorado, where she taught school and earned both her bachelor’s degree in English literature and elementary education and later obtained her master’s degree in educational administration. She currently lives in Colorado Springs and writes full time. Shelley is married, the mother of two young adults and she is an active member of her church.

Learn more about Shelley at her    Website     Facebook 
                                                       Twitter       Pinterest    Instagram

Monday, January 27, 2020

The Way of the Brave (Global Search and Rescue #1) by Susan May Warren

The Way of the Brave (Global Search and Rescue #1)ABOUT THE BOOK

Former pararescue jumper Orion Starr is haunted by the memory of a rescue gone wrong. He may be living alone in Alaska now, but the pain of his failure--and his injuries--has followed him there from Afghanistan. He has no desire to join Hamilton Jones's elite rescue team, but he also can't shirk his duty when the call comes in to rescue three lost climbers on Denali.

Former CIA profiler and psychiatrist Jenny Calhoun's yearly extreme challenge with her best friends is her only escape from the guilt that has sunk its claws into her. As a consultant during a top-secret mission to root out the Taliban, she green-lighted an operation that ended in ambush and lives lost. When her cathartic climb on Denali turns deadly, she'll be forced to trust her life and the lives of her friends to the most dangerous of heroes--the man she nearly killed.

Her skills and his experience are exactly what's needed to prevent another tragedy--but in order to truly set Orion free from his painful past, Jenny will have to reveal hers. They'll have to put their wounds behind them to survive, but at what cost?

Leap into action with this high-octane, breakneck new series from bestselling author Susan May Warren.


This is my first Susan May Warren book and the endorsements are very accurate--I was drawn in from the beginning and the action and adventure never let up. The two main characters, Orion Starr and Jenny Calhoun, have a bond of sorts. They actually met several years ago, they are each very accomplished in their perspective professions, and they both have a very fragile relationship with God. It is during a very intense and dangerous mountain rescue that Orion and Jenny must learn to trust each other and God. Will they begin to see each other as more than friends? Will their faith and trust be strong enough to see them through?

The Way of the Brave offers excitement and adventure coupled with friendship and romance and I recommend it to all who enjoy Christian romance. There is also an event at the end that suggests another great book in this Global Search and Rescue series.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell but I wasn't obligated to write a positive review. These are my own thoughts.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I can't help be amazed at the gifts God has delighted me with - a wonderful husband, four amazing children, and the opportunity to write for Him.

Over the years, writing has become, for me, a way to praise God and see Him at work in my life.  I met my husband in Minnesota and this is where we honeymooned and dreamed of living. The north woods easily became the foundation for my first series, The Deep Haven series, based on a little tourist town along the shores of Lake Superior.

Our family moved home from the mission field in June 2004 -- and now we live in the beautiful town I'd always dreamed of! God has amazed me anew with His provision, and blessings -- and allowed me a season when I can write full time for Him.

You can learn more about my life and work  by visiting my Website   
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Sunday, January 26, 2020

Raising the Challenging Child: How to Minimize Meltdowns, Reduce Conflict, and Increase Cooperation by Karen Doyle Buckwalter, Debbie Reed, Wendy Lyons Sunshine

Raising the Challenging Child: How to Minimize Meltdowns, Reduce Conflict, and Increase CooperationABOUT THE BOOK

What's the worst you've ever faced as a parent? An all-out tantrum at the mall? A son who won't take out his earbuds to listen to you? A daughter who's failing at school and won't do her homework? A teen who constantly breaks curfew? A call from the police? Whatever you're dealing with, Raising the Challenging Child will help.

Building on their work at Chaddock, a nonprofit organization that has worked with some of the most challenging kids in the nation for more than 150 years, the authors empower frustrated parents with practical tips and real-life examples on how to

- minimize behavioral meltdowns
- reduce conflict
- increase cooperation
- promote healthy attachment
- improve family relationships

The strategies they share work both for the child who is going through a difficult phase brought on by life disruption or trauma, and for the child who faces chronic struggles. Parents, teachers, and those who work with children and youth will find positive, practical steps they can start taking today in order to understand and address the baffling behavior of the child under their care.


This book is titled Raising the Challenging Child but I believe that it offers excellent advice for rasing all children. Parenting is never easy and guiding a child to adulthood can seem overwhelming but this book offers a wealth of information. Divided in three parts, it focuses on (1) the parent or caregiver; (2) the child; and (3) the steps for parent and child to follow so that conflict can be reduced and cooperation will increase. I was impressed with the excellent advice in the thirty chapters and I especially liked that each chapter offered sections such as " Perhaps you've done this...instead, try this...", "Perhaps you've said this...instead, say this...", and "Perhaps you've thought...instead, try considering this..." I often found myself thinking "Wow, I really have done that!"

I was eager to read this book and I believe that Raising the Challenging Child is a valuable resource for ANYONE who works with children!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell and was under no obligation to post a positive review. These are my own thoughts.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Karen Doyle Buckwalter, MSW, LCSW, is director of program strategy at Chaddock in Quincy, Illinois. She serves on the board of directors' advisory board of the Theraplay® Institute in Chicago and has trained and consulted at family behavioral health organizations and youth foster care centers in the US, the UK, Australia, Denmark, and beyond. In addition to her degrees, Karen completed a two-year marriage and family therapy training program and 500-plus hours in diverse modalities, including Theraplay, Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) ®, and other attachment, trauma, and developmental approaches. Karen also hosts a weekly podcast, Attachment Theory in Action.

Debbie Reed is president and CEO of Chaddock. Currently engaged in doctoral studies, she has also played a leadership role in child- and family-serving organizations at the state and national levels, including the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services' Child Welfare Advisory Committee, the CEO council of the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, and the national board of the United Methodist Association of Health and Welfare Ministries. In addition, she trains and consults with organizations on topics related to nonprofit leadership. Debbie also writes a weekly leadership blog, Reed About Leadership.

Wendy Lyons Sunshine
 is an award-winning writer and journalist. She is coauthor of The Connected Child.

View all my reviews

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Broken Promises by Melody Carlson: Review & Giveaway

About the Book

Book:  Broken Promises
Author: Melody Carlson
Genre:  Middle Grade
Release Date: December 15, 2019

A school play sounds like fun…for some.

As she settles into life in the middle school of her new hometown, Zoey agrees to audition for the school play to encourage Louisa. Isn’t that what a BFF does? But she’s none too sure it’ll actually be fun—especially when she’s cast as a dog! Louisa really does need her support though when some of the older girls get upset at a sixth grader landing the lead role. Zoey does her best to be supportive and finally begins to feel really at home with her grandparents and at school.

Until someone pulls the plug on all her dreams.

Click here for your copy. 


Melody Carlson once again writes about sixth-grader Zoey and her best friend Louisa and even though I am much, much older, I thoroughly enoyed this book that targets readers in the middle grades. Louisa is very excited to try out for the school play and she wants Zoey to be in it also, and even though Zoey admits to possessing little talent and having no enthusiam, she does end up getting a part in the musical Annie. What follows is a realistic story about middle-school students and all of the drama that young people in this age group often experience: bullying, jealousy, and trying to fit in with other students. Zoey also has a lot of conflicting emotions to deal with: she felt that her mother dumped her at her grandparent's house but now she is beginning to enjoy small-town life and then...all of this might change if her mother comes to take her back to Seattle.

Broken Promises is a charming story that tugs at your heart as Zoey deals with living with her grandparents and trying to gain acceptance in a new school. Louisa and her Christian family are wonderful influences for this young girl who had never been exposed to God's Word until she came to Cedarville and the author is able to share a subtle faith message throughout the book. I also appreciate that Grams, Gramps, and Uncle Ned are so loving and supportive because, in today's society, many grandchildren now live with their grandparents.

This is the third book in the Being Zoey series and I am eager to see what the future holds for this young girl. I surely recommend it for young readers and I also believe that this would be a great book to read together and then discuss with your own daughter/granddaughter.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author but there was no obligation to write a positive review. These are my honest thoughts.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

View all my reviews

About the Author

Melody Carlson has written more than 200 books for teens, women, and children. That’s a lot of books, but mostly she considers herself a “storyteller.” Her young adult novels appeal to teenage girls around the world. Her annual Christmas novellas become more popular each year. She’s won a number of awards (including RT’s Career Achievement Award, the Rita and the Gold Medallion) and some of her books have been optioned for film/TV. Carlson has two grown sons and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and yellow Lab dog.  

More from Melody

For many tweens, middle school is a jungle of insecurities, mean girls, and disappointments. As usual I gave Zoey plenty to deal with. Including a BFF with high expectations and an absentee mom who still hasn’t grown up. Even though some people let her down, Zoey keeps plugging along, even playing Sandy the dog in the school play. And through her struggles she changes and matures — kind of like real life.

Blog Stops

janicesbookreviews, January 19
deb’s Book Review, January 22
Texas Book-aholic, January 23
Older & Smarter?, January 25
Mary Hake, January 25
Blogging With Carol, January 29
Remembrancy, January 29
Vicky Sluiter, January 30


To celebrate her tour, Melody is giving away the grand prize package of a copy of Broken Promises and the classic Annie movie (DVD or digital download, winner’s choice)!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

Listen Well, Lead Better: Becoming the Leader People Want to Follow by Steve Harling, Becky Harling

Listen Well, Lead Better: Becoming the Leader People Want to FollowABOUT THE BOOK

Why do so many leaders prioritize their speaking skills when communication studies show we spend more time listening than reading, writing, or speaking? The reality is, most people are below-average listeners, and it's keeping them and their team members from reaching their potential.

In Listen Well, Lead Better, Steve and Becky Harling share 10 practices that will help you be a more effective listener and leader. Learn how to ask better questions, make people feel heard and valued, and create an open and positive culture. Strong listeners also enjoy greater credibility, navigate conflicts better, and foster more engaged teams. Above all, the lessons here will help you hear from God more clearly and gain his wisdom on all matters in life. Becoming a better listener will transform how you lead and relate to everyone.


If you are wondering about the difference in a good leader and an excellent leader, you should find the answer by reading Listen Well, Lead Better. In their new book authors Steve and Becky Harling set out to prove their theory that communication is the key to leading better and that 80 percent of good communication involves listening. There are ten chapters that are packed with practical advice, their personal experiences, and many questions to help you reflect on what you've just read. I especially like that Listen Well, Lead Better also has an abundance of Bible scripture and that the last chapter is devoted to creating a sacred space to reflect and listen to God. Chapter Ten reminds us that 'learning to listen is really the key to influence' and that learning to listen to God is the greatest key of all!

There are a multitude of self-help books about achieving success and Listen Well, Lead Better certainly deserves your attention.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House but there was no obligation for a positive review. There is my honest opinion.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Steve Harling is a thirty-five-year veteran of church and nonprofit leadership. As the president of a global ministry, Steve travels around the world mentoring leaders and speaking at mission events, Bible conferences, and leadership retreats.
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Becky Harling is a certified speaker, leadership coach, and trainer with the John Maxwell Team. She is the author of several books, including How to Listen So People Will Talk, and she speaks nationally and internationally at conferences, retreats, and training events. The Harlings travel widely from their home base in Colorado Springs.

View all my reviews

Friday, January 24, 2020

A Promise Child by Kathryn Spurgeon

About the Book

Book:  A Promise Child
Author: Kathryn Spurgeon
Genre: Inspirational historic fiction
Release Date: September 10, 2017

She can’t survive the ‘30s alone…

Sibyl Trimble does everything she can to keep her family together. Before falling in love with a handsome, penniless hobo, she lived a life of new cars, speakeasies dances, and fancy cloche hats. 

Then the Great Depression hits Oklahoma. The wind blows topsoil away, hundreds of jobless men hang around town, and the economy falls apart. Even Fremont, her strong, stable husband, grows discouraged and considers leaving as they struggle to put food on the table.

When disaster strikes again, will Sibyl and Fremont move on to California or try to survive in Oklahoma? Neither option sounds promising.

Click here to get your copy  


Once again author Kathryn Spurgeon has written a novel that is based on true facts from her grandmother's life. Sibyl Trimble was her grandmother and Spurgeon has used both family records and historical facts to continue her grandmother's story. It is now January 1936 and Sibyl is happily married to Fremont Pope and the mother of two children. Her life, however, is far from easy because the Depression has left Shawnee, Oklahoma with failing banks, failed businesses, no jobs, and extreme poverty, not to mention the dust storms they had to endure! As Sibyl works to feed her children and live a Christian life, she still struggles with the realization that the wealthy father that she once adored isn't as admirable as she once thought. "As a child, Papa had always seemed bigger than life to me. A dad I cared about. Along the way, my vision of him had fallen, and I struggled with how to view him now." I was so sad for this daughter who had lost faith in her father!

Sybil's story is a tale of family hurts and extreme poverty and even when Sibyl felt defeated, she never completely lost hope until....an unthinkable tragedy came to her family and Sibyl and Fremont found themselves floundering. Had Sibyl Trimble Pope finally reached the end of her rope? Would she and Fremont be able to walk through this fire unscathed? Did God really see their pain?

I enjoyed this second book in the Promise series and I truly appreciate the research that Spurgeon has devoted to it. A Promise Child is often sad but the time period that it covers was an extremely difficult time in our nation's history. My Daddy was a child during this time and he has mentioned how hard it was on his Kentucky farm family. This novel is an accurate depiction of the heartache and struggles that our nation suffered so it is often sad but it shows that through the worst times imaginable, those who loved and trusted in a greater power were able to see it through. Another testament to the power of love and trust!

A Promise Child is the second of a three part series devoted to Sibyl and Fremont Pope and it  covers their lives until 1939. I am so eager to learn what is ahead for Sybil, Fremont, and their families and I recommend it to all who enjoy historical fiction! If you enjoy stories of hope and faith, you will want to read A Promise Child.

I received a copy of this book from the author but I wasn't required to write a favorable review. These are my honest thoughts.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

View all my reviews

About the Author

Kathryn Spurgeon, an award-winning author and recipient of a 2018 Illumination Book Award, has published over a hundred stories, articles, and poems. She grew up on an Oklahoma farm before moving to South Korea, where she adopted two children. She and her husband, Bill, hold weekly studies in their home for international college students. They have six children and twelve grandchildren.  

More from Kathryn

Researching and writing about the 1930s has been a blast, and although it was the economically worst decade of the last century, faith, love, and life went on. It has been fun to glimpse into that historical time and find amazing and uplifting stories. Sibyl Trimble, my grandmother and the ever up-and-down, emotional but brilliant lady, did her best to create a great family environment. Seeking God, she also studied, taught, and shared about Christ in the midst of heartaches. Based on a true story, I hope this tale will inspire, uplift, and bring a touch of nostalgia to your day. The strength and courage Sibyl revealed can encourage us all and I am honored to share her tale with you.

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, January 16
A Reader’s Brain, January 20
Betti Mace, January 22
Life of Literature, January 23
deb’s Book Review, January 23
Older & Smarter?, January 24
Bigreadersite, January 26
Emily Yager, January 28
Pause for Tales, January 29