24 April 2014

Diana Reviews "The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn" by Lori Benton

The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn

Reviewed by Diana Flowers*****

Historical Page-Turner!

Author Lori Benton has penned an exciting journey of one young woman's dangerous quest to find freedom in the frontier wilderness of North Carolina — amidst snow storms, wild Indians, mountainous terrain, and shadowy, dense forests filled with wild animals. It is also a breathtaking tale of romance, long buried secrets, treachery, and abuse. 

After her stepfather commits an unspeakable act, Tamsen Littlejohn makes an impulsive escape, enlisting the aid of frontiersman Jesse Bird to guide her to safety. The hawk-like beautiful Jesse was adopted by the Shawnee as a young boy, and Cade is the only father Jesse has ever known. Together they drive cattle once a year to Morganton and know the mountainous territory like the back of their hands. But Jesse's agreement to guide Tamsen to the Watuga settlement in NC is more than either of them have bargained for…as he is accused of kidnapping and murder and Tamsen is faced with hardships she never could have foreseen. And neither of them anticipated the shocking secret Cade has withheld lo these many years, nor did they expect to fall in love…

I can certainly see why Lori Benton's first book, Burning Sky, has been nominated in two categories for the 2014 Christy Awards! She is a phenomenal author; whose descriptive imagery and exhilarating storyline takes the reader to another place and time and leaves them there until the climactic conclusion! I fell in love with the loyal Jesse and the brave Tamsen, and when I finished their story I felt as though I was leaving good friends behind—so admirably and realistically were they portrayed. I also was entranced by the mystical aura Cade exuded, and the historical events that took place in the story. Another winner by author Lori Benton you won't want to miss!

This book may be purchased through Amazon, CBD, BAM and your local bookstore.

GIVEAWAY: This week we will be giving away two copies of Lori's new release "The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn" and a $10 Starbucks gift card!

**Please leave a comment with your email address to be entered in the drawing. **

22 April 2014

Teresa S Mathews reviews The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn by Lori Benton

The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn
By Lori Benton
Waterbrook Press 2014
Reviewed by Teresa S. Mathews
5 Stars*****

Lori Benton has once again woven a hauntingly beautiful love story that drew me in from the very beginning.Tamsen Littlejohn is not happy with the fact her cruel stepfather is pushing her into a marriage with a man she knows little about but for her mother's sake she agrees to meet the man.

Ambrose Kincaid was not at all what Tamsen was expecting; he was handsome, even if he did have fiery red hair, quite charming with his Virginia accent and he was completely smitten by Tamsen's exquisite beauty. Perhaps this arrangement could have worked out until Tamsen sees what she thinks is Mr. Kincaid's cruelty to his slaves. Thinking he must be made of the same cloth as her abusive step-father she abruptly leaves him in the restaurant and rushes back home.

Jesse Bird has heard the story of how he became part of the Shawnee tribe as a small boy but as hard as he tries he cannot remember what happened the day his parents were killed. After losing his adoptive Indian parents at the age of ten, Jesse Bird is taken in by Cade; a man with the blood of two completely different worlds flowing through his veins. Cade has loved Jesse like a son and shared a lot about his past but there is one secret he hasn't shared with Jesse, a secret that will change both of their lives should it come to light.

When Tamsen has a deadly altercation with her stepfather she runs to the stable in search of her mother's servants hoping they can help her escape only to run into Jesse Bird. When Tamsen explains what has happened Jesse makes a life changing decision; somehow he knows that God wants him to help this beautiful young woman. Too bad before this is all said and done he will be a man wanted for kidnapping and murder!!

Jesse and Tamsen head for his home in the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina only to be pursued by her stepfather and Amboise. It is during that journey Jesse and Tamsen realize that God has planned their destiny and if they keep the faith He will work everything out for their good; but oh the things they will have to endure before they get to live happily ever after!!

Last year when I read Lori's debut novel Burning Sky I was impressed with the beauty of her writing and I couldn't believe there was any way she could improve upon it. But when I started reading this latest treasure I was awestruck by the fact that what seemed impossible had happened. This book blew me away with how fast I was pulled into it; it was so engrossing I found I had read 63 pages before I even realized it. It has been quite a while since I read a book of this length in less than two days! Oh the emotions that were stirred while I was reading this; there was joy and amazement all the way to horror and unbelief and back again to laughter and satisfaction at the most enthralling ending! This should be at the top of everyone's wish list for 2014; I promise you will not be disappointed. Thanks Lori for a story that has forever found a special place in my heart.

UPDATE: Please congratulate Lori on being a finalist for two Christy Awards for her first book Burning Sky! Congrats Lori, excellent job!! 

You can purchase this treasure by Lori at AmazonCBD, and Barnes and Noble and other bookstores.

GIVEAWAY: This week we will be giving away two copies of this wonderful book and a $10 Starbucks card! International Winners Ebook Only! Please like or follow Lori's Facebook Author Page and leave your email address in your comments. 

20 April 2014

When Overcoming Means Surrender by Lori Benton

Author Lori Benton

When I think of overcoming, most often I imagine reaching a mountaintop, completing a task…
Meeting a challenge.
Enduring a trial.
Putting a weakness or bad habit behind me.
But what about those times when, despite our effort, prayer, and faith, the challenge isn’t met, the trial doesn’t end, the loss is irreversible, the mountain proves too steep to climb?
Letting go. Waiting. Surrender.
Far from defeat, surrender can be overcoming in another guise, when we surrender our will and plans and timetable to God, when we come to the end of our striving, and with open hearts say, “Not my will, but Yours be done.”
There was a season of surrender in my life. It came in the years following my treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 1999. I’d been a writer for eight years at that point and had every intention of continuing on that path as soon as the chemotherapy and radiation were finished, and I got the all-clear from my oncologist. The all-clear came, but no matter how hard I tried post-chemo, I couldn’t write the way I used to. It felt like half my brain had been left behind in that chemo room where I’d spent so much time the previous six months.
I was experiencing what’s called chemo fog. After a year or two of fighting it, trying to find my way out of it—through discipline, prayer, better nutrition, exercise, anything I could think of to help my brain recover—I was forced to admit this mountain is too steep for me, this loss may be irreversible. I surrendered my dream of writing novels to God.
Okay, Lord. You haven’t taken away my desire to write, but You haven’t returned the ability. I don’t know what to do, so I’m going to trust that if You want me to write again, You’ll heal my brain—at some point. I’m going to trust You to give me the peace I need in order to do nothing but rest, and wait, until You tell me otherwise.
For me, that was overcoming. Overcoming my impatience, my plans, my will, my sense of timing. My finding my self-worth and identity in writing.
It wasn’t until 2004 I felt the Lord nudging me to try writing again. Turns out He still had a plan for me regarding writing. He just had some maturing He wanted to do in me first.
Whether its reaching the top of that mountain, or finding peace when the strength to climb is taken away, God is using every circumstance in our lives to grow us up, to ready us for the endless fellowship we’ll enjoy with Him in eternity, and to bless each other now, to encourage each other with the comfort we’ve been given.
During this Easter season, take a moment to picture our hero, our Savior, Jesus, on His knees sweating blood in the Garden of Gethsemane, beseeching His Father, “Let this cup (this cup brimming with physical suffering, separation from God, the burden of our sins, yours and mine) pass from me. Nevertheless… not my will, but Yours be done.”
Our greatest example of overcoming through surrender.

The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn
The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn is Lori Benton's second novel released by Waterbrook Multnomah!
Book blurb:
Frontier dangers cannot hold a candle to the risks one woman takes by falling in love

In an act of brave defiance, Tamsen Littlejohn escapes the life her harsh stepfather has forced upon her. Forsaking security and an arranged marriage, she enlists frontiersman Jesse Bird to guide her to the Watauga settlement in western North Carolina. But shedding her old life doesn’t come without cost. As the two cross a vast mountain wilderness, Tamsen faces hardships that test the limits of her faith and endurance.

Convinced that Tamsen has been kidnapped, wealthy suitor Ambrose Kincaid follows after her, in company with her equally determined stepfather. With trouble in pursuit, Tamsen and Jesse find themselves thrust into the conflict of a divided community of Overmountain settlers. The State of Franklin has been declared, but many remain loyal to North Carolina. With one life left behind and chaos on the horizon, Tamsen struggles to adapt to a life for which she was never prepared. But could this challenging frontier life be what her soul has longed for, what God has been leading her toward? As pursuit draws ever nearer, will her faith see her through the greatest danger of all—loving a man who has risked everything for her?

CFP:  Thanks so much for this beautiful testimony, Lori! And congratulations to Lori on her DOUBLE Christy Award finalist status, announced this past week!  Lori's novel "Burning Sky" is a Christy finalist for debut and for historical novel.  

GIVEAWAY: This week we will be giving away two copies of Lori's new release "The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn" and a $10 Starbucks gift card!  We'll have two to three reviews of Laurie's lovely novel!!!  Answer this question:  Has God left you with anything you've had to surrender completely over to Him?  How has it affected your relationship with Him?  

God So Loves Me by Marian Baay

We love Him, because He first loved us.
—1 John 4:19

Earlier this week, when I woke up in the morning, I felt miserable; I was in pain and felt sorry for myself. This was so unlike me. I have had many similar mornings of pain and usually I just grunt several times and get up and do what I can. But that morning it was different. Soon the words of the song of one of my favorite Southern Gospel groups sounded in my mind—God So Loves Me by Greater Vision, written by Rodney Griffin—and I couldn’t get rid of the song, especially the words of the title rang through my mind all day. I felt it was the Lord telling me that He loves me. Not just loves me, but so loves me—like in John 3 verse 16: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” The word so gives it a deeper meaning. He so loved me that he was willing to do something extraordinary for the love he had—and still has—for me. He gave his only Son and made Him a sacrifice to pay for my sins. How absolutely amazing is that?

"God so loves me. He truly loves me.
God so loves me, and that’s why I love God."
—quote from the song God So Loves Me

The previous night, shortly before I went to sleep, I was reminded of something our pastor always tells me, “God must love you lots as He is allowing you to go through so much pain and trials.” At times when he said that, he almost sounded jealous.  Years ago, when he first told me this, I didn’t understand anything about that. I only had questions, like; why do I have to go through pain and trials? Why do I have to suffer? There was so much I wanted to do still being so young . . .
But through the years I have learned a lesson, or actually more than one—I have seen how I am, I have seen who I am, and it isn’t pretty. By allowing me to have my difficulties, God has done me a huge favor. He has kept me close to Him. Oh, I have strayed many times—sometimes only for a day, sometimes for a week, or month, or even longer than that. Each time, using different ways, it was always His love that drew me back to Him. I can tell you that through the years, I have kept God pretty busy by being “myself”. But yet He loves me in all my weakness and stubbornness. He guides me through every storm, will never let me perish, nor let me drown in the raging waves of a battering storm. God so loves me—He holds me firmly and tightly and carries me upon His shoulder. Nothing can separate me from His love ever!

“If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all . . .  It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written:
“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
—Romans 8:31-39

This Easter, I hope and pray that you will see the depth of God’s love for you and you will know this undying, deep love, and can repeat the words with me: God so loves me!

© Marian Baay

From all of us at OWG—A wonderful and blessed Resurrection Day!

God So Loves Me by Greater Vision

19 April 2014

Jesus Our Savior by Teresa S. Mathews

Jesus Our Savior 

The sights, the sounds, the horrors 
Seeing His precious blood being shed.
How can the ones that praised His name
Be the ones that are now wanting him dead?

Hearing him cry out to his Father,
Why have you forsaken me?
It broke my heart as he closed his eyes, 
Drew his last breath and died upon that tree.

They carried him away to a cold dark tomb,
And sealed him there for good.
How can he arise in three short days?
Maybe we misunderstood.

The crying, the pain, the restlessness
How long will this torment last?
Please God how can we take this,
When will this sorrow pass?

Three days now are gone
It’s the first day of the week,
We are headed for the tomb
Our Lord’s burial place we seek.

There in the distance it can be seen
The stone has been rolled away. 
Two angels shining brightly now proclaim
He’s not here He Is Risen Today!

No longer is He sealed in that cold dark tomb
The Risen Lord is He
King of kings and Lord of Lords
He Will Reign for Eternity.
©Teresa S. Mathews

Both of these beautiful pictures were provided by http://www.crosscards.com/facebookcovers

18 April 2014

A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexander Reviewed by Carrie Fancett Pagels

A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexander (Bethany House)

A Beauty So Rare, A Belmont Mansion Novel Book #2
(Bethany House Publishers)

5 stars *****
By Carrie Fancett Pagels

Another Belmont Hit!
What a wonderful read! A Beauty So Rare starts out a little bit slow but have no worries, Tamera Alexander soon takes off with a story wonderfully woven. I was tickled pink over heroine, Eleanor's reaction to certain colors of clothing, which I enjoy. Mr. Geoffries, a German archduke, and is a wonderful hero. Eleanor is strong and capable and learns to trust her heart, over the course of the story. Loved the secondary characters, with the widowed ladies and their children receiving help through the hero's and heroine's efforts. Some terrific antagonists, with great characterization.

This is the second book in the Belmont series and I can't wait to read the next book when it releases! The reader can settle in on A Beauty So Rare for a nice long read, though--as it comes in just under 500 pages!!!

Bibliotherapy: Eleanor's father has Alzheimer's and must be placed in an institution. Tamera does a great job in showing how irascible and even dangerous someone can become with dementia. Having had several loved ones with this disorder I've seen how someone with Alzheimer's can turn on the very ones they love the most--the paranoia that sets in can be terrifying. Beautiful and tasteful showing of both the sweet and the awful moments of coping with a parent in these later stages of deterioration.

Also, although it isn't dwelt upon, Eleanor begins the story in a combat field hospital with a dying man. So we have a 26-year-old woman experiencing the horrors of war (I could have done without some of those scenes) and so the reader can assume she has some PTSD issues.  With Eleanor now 30, in the story, she is also struggling with singleness and being "an old maid." She feels abandoned by her father and it is her intense loneliness at Aunt Adelicia's home that helps cement her relationship with "the gardener" who isn't a gardener at all! Having been almost 30 when I married my husband, I know it is worth the wait, as it is for the heroine!

Superlatives: This book will be on my best of 2014 list here on the Overcoming With God. We OWG reviewers publish these "Best of" lists the end of December. The book will also be entered in the Bibliotherapy category as well.

Highly recommend--don't miss this!

Disclosure: I purchased this book as a paperback through Amazon but I also received a Kindle copy through NetGalley and am under no compulsion to post a positive review. The reviewers on the OWG blog love Tamera's books so much that we made sure everyone got a copy of this new release, in paperback, for the gorgeous cover, too. I also ordered the audio copy of the book. Unfortunately, the narrator on the book doesn't do the story justice--so I'd recommend that you read on Kindle, setting the font to large, if you have difficulty reading long books with your eyes, like I do.

Giveaways: We are giving away several items this week, including copies of the book and my surprise pink giveaway and a $10 Starbuck gift card.

16 April 2014

Noela Reviews A BEAUTY SO RARE by Tamera Alexander

A Beauty So Rare

A Beauty So Rare
by Tamera Alexander
Bethany House Publishers (March 24, 2014)

Reviewed by Noela Nancarrow
~5 Stars~ *****
A Rare Beauty!

To read Tamera Alexander’s novel ‘A Beauty So Rare’ is to step back into the pages of history to visit the luxurious Belmont Mansion in Nashville, Tennessee during the year of 1868... just a few years after the brutal civil war had officially ceased. The dreadful war images almost fade away as you take in the grandeur of the exquisite estate with its expansive lavish gardens and magnificent palatial home. It is there we meet the lady of Belmont Mansion, the beautiful although demanding and intimidating Adelicia Cheathum, known by many as the richest woman in America.

Eleanor Braddock, niece of Adelicia, is financially devastated due to the failing health of her father. After committing her father to an asylum, she arrives as arranged to her Aunt’s grand estate to stay until she gets back on her feet. Eleanor comes with a pre-determined practical and hardworking plan to support herself and to pay for her father’s care. But Adelicia has plans of her own for her niece. They include an engagement to a wealthy suitor and a more leisurely high society lifestyle in keeping with Adelicia’s social circles. Personality and ideals clash, because Eleanor is unable to shake the images of Nashville's destitute war widows whilst living in such luxury. But when Eleanor finds her own plans falling into pieces, she begins to seriously consider the wealthy acquaintance of her aunt.

Archduke Marcus Gottfriend aka Marcus Geoffrey, second in line to the throne in Austria, has come to Nashville anonymously to spend time living his life catering to his interests for a change, while also longing to leave his mark in America with his combined passions of nature and architecture. But he has responsibilities to his fiancĂ©, family, and country, and knows he will soon have to return. Working in the enormous glass-walled conservatory in the Belmont grounds, he meets Eleanor and discovers her to be a breath of fresh air, a woman without pretences, and with a generous heart like none other. With all that binds them, they know the growing affection between them cannot be allowed to bloom. Will love find a way in the impossible? I loved seeing Proverbs 16:9 being played out… ‘A man’s mind plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”

There was so much to love about this book: The fascinating history and impeccable research that has gone into this story; the multi-layered characters that invoke in you an intense longing for; and the smiles and chuckles the clever dialogue prompts to name just a few. Spiritually, I departed with the reminder of how intimately God cares for each of us, and that He will guide us to a better place than imagined when our trust is placed in Him. Tamera Alexander is an outstanding storyteller and has created a rare beauty with an excellence that should definitely be savoured!

* * * * * * * * * * * * 

This book may be purchased through Amazon, CBD, BAM, or your local bookstore.

GIVEAWAYS: This week we are giving away a paperback and e-book copy of A Beauty So Rare, a Starbucks $10 Card, a pink surprise giveaway, AND Tamera is offering a signed copy, too!!

*Please leave a comment to enter and don't forget your email addy! If you'd like, share an instance with us of how you've seen God care for you intimately!

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