Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Wedding Score by Amanda Tero #BookReview #ACFWAuthor

Wedding Score by Amanda Tero #BookReview #ACFWAuthor

I recently read Wedding Score by Amanda Tero and loved this story. If you want a read that will help you in practical ways on the daily, whether you're single or not, pick up this story. You'll be glad you did.

Book Description:

Most girls dream of their wedding days. Except me. I’m too busy practicing piano and being the live soundtrack for everyone else’s weddings to think about my own. I’ve survived most of my twenties with harmonious chords and pleasant days.

So why is it that now, at twenty-seven, a discordant feeling presents itself? Is there a solid solution to loneliness when there is absolutely no potential husband on the horizon?

My Thoughts:

Single women will relate to Stephanie as she navigates a world full of reminders that she is getting older and still unmarried. Between her friends and cousins who are traveling their own road to marriage and her work as a wedding pianist and music teacher of toddlers for a Christian school, she's constantly bombarded with reasons to dream about changing her relationship status. But longings unfulfilled can easily open the door to ungratefulness and discontentment. Throughout the story, Steph learns to take her longings to Jesus and in turn finds she can bless others with the lessons she learns there.
I loved the musical references, the banter between the characters, and the realistic look at situations we as singles find ourselves in. In The Wedding Score, Amanda Tero takes a practical look at available solutions to the questions we often ask ourselves.
If you or a friend want to read a story about a single woman, written by a single woman for single women, pick up this book and be encouraged that you are never truly alone.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and have willingly provided my honest opinion in this review.

Recommended Books for Singles:

I don't often hear of book recommendations for singles. I've had to search the internet for the ones I've read. So I thought I'd provide a few recommendations here. 

  • Get Lost by Dannah Gresh. This one challenges a girl to fall more deeply in love with God and let Him handle all the what-ifs.
  • Praying for Your Future Husband by Robin Jones Gunn and Tricia Goyer. This one turns that prayer list around and challenges the girl to allow her singleness to grow into a better woman of God.
  • Also, I'm currently reading Love Defined by sisters Kristen Clark & Bethany Baird (now she's Bethany Beal, but she wrote her chapters as a single girl). It has a lot of practical tips, and I'm enjoying it so far.

Share, Share, Share!

If you are as excited as I am about a fiction book about a single woman by a single woman for single women, here are a few images you can share!

Let's Chat:

What are some embarrassing things people have said to you because you were single?
What are some ways you have seen others help singles feel loved and included in social situations?
What Bible verses have helped you when you struggle with discontentment?
Would you like to mention any (fiction or nonfiction) recommended books for singles?

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Living Lies by Natalie Walters #BookReview #ACFWAuthor

Living Lies by Natalie Walters #BookReview #ACFWAuthor


In the little town of Walton, Georgia, everybody knows your name--but no one knows your secret. At least that's what Lane Kent is counting on when she returns to her hometown with her five-year-old son. Dangerously depressed after the death of her husband, Lane is looking for hope. What she finds instead is a dead body.

Lane must work with Walton's newest deputy, Charlie Lynch, to uncover the truth behind the murder. But when that truth hits too close to home, she'll have to decide if saving the life of another is worth the cost of revealing her darkest secret.

Debut novelist Natalie Walters pulls you to the edge of your seat on the first page and keeps you there until the last in this riveting story that will have you believing no one is defined by their past.

My Review:

To give you a hint of my opinion on this story… After reading, I mailed a thank you note to Natalie for writing the book. She and I met at the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in Dallas in 2015 and her genuine, friendly personality struck me right away. We ate barbecue with a group of authors at a mom & pop diner in Grapevine, Texas, then at the next year’s conference in Nashville took some a moment to talk about this story idea when, if I remember correctly, she was still seeking an agent. I have one of the worst memories of anyone I know (sad), but I think I remember we prayed together about the appointments we had coming up. When she told me her story dealt with the subject of depression, I started praying for her and her work, because I knew the space in my heart, and no doubt many others’, waiting for a story that would minister on that level.

Not only did Living Lies entertain and capture me as a reader, it ministered to me and actually comforted me (Not sure I’ve ever said that about a suspense book!). Like the characters in this novel, I have friends and loved ones who choose daily to be overcomers in their battle with depression, so for me reading this book was absolutely refreshing. Knowing someone else “gets” how depression doesn’t magically go away after a few weeks of counseling sessions, but also that there is hope available every day, had me wanting to come back and see more of these characters down the road. The story also reminded me of practical ways I can encourage my people who suffer from chronic depression and let them know what incredible value they add to my life. The message in this story is so needed in the Christian community, where often depression is labeled as a spiritual weakness or a subject avoided completely.

The Plot:

The suspense thread had me racing through the pages, not to mention the fascinating way the author spotlights parallels between effects of chronic depression, emotional struggles of current armed forces, then the plight of Vietnam veterans who still suffer from the memories they carry and the treatment they’ve received.

The Setting:

Small-town investigative dynamics in this story are skillfully portrayed and interesting to read. The way the police chief treats Lane as if she were his own precious daughter, and the whole come-over-for-a-bowl-of-peach-cobbler relationship Charlie has with his aunt, had me settling into the story world like a comfortable blanket. But not too comfortable, because the mossy forests surrounding this Georgia town hold deadly secrets…and bodies!

The Characters:

Each character Natalie has crafted is unique and sparkles against the backdrop of the story. Christian fiction has now given me two reasons for the name Charlie to ignite a smile. Charlie Lionheart by Joanne Bischof and Charlie Lynch by Natalie Walters! I also have to mention Lane Kent’s name will stir a herd of butterflies for readers who are still shipping Lois & Clark from the 80-year-old Superman fandom. :) 

Charlie and Lane… the hero and heroine in this novel both gave me much to relate to. Lane’s five-year-old son, Noah—adorable! Charlie’s interactions with the boy and his patience, faithfulness, and reliability toward Lane and her family really makes him a stand-out hero. I liked Lane’s character and the glimpse into her “perfect” political childhood. One review I came across seemed impatient with the character Lane’s inability to snap out of her condition, but I’d like to encourage readers to remember that everyone’s encounter with depression is different. There may be similarities in every case, but each person’s experience is also as unique as their thumbprint. This story reminded me that when we think our friend or loved one should “be over this already,” what they really need from us is to know we’re not going anywhere, we're walking this road with them, we’ll help however we can, and they are more precious to us than anything in the world. Finally, here is a realistic book that portrays depression wrapped in hope.

The Romance:

How do I put into words? Here I’ll have to employ an acronym coined by Beth Erin at Faithfully Bookish: #swoof which stands for Squeezing Words Out Of Feelings. I sigh and tilt my head a little, smiling and trying to pinpoint a summary of Charlie and Lane’s relationship. She’s grieving the death of her husband two years passed, for which she blames herself. Having witnessed his share of encounters with PTSD and other emotional struggles left in the wake of combat, Charlie instantly senses a kinship with Lane and wants to offer her a lifeline. Where she is fearful, he is available to her. Where she’s unsure, he’s steady. He won’t let her disappear into her doubts about the relationship without knowing one hundred percent where he stands and how he feels about her. This, I think, is one of my favorite traits in a fictional hero. One who takes the risk, offers his attention, presence, and protection in a way that is so like Christ. (These men do exist outside of fictional books, ladies. I’ve seen them, though they are rare and usually taken. Ha!)

E-book Deal:

At the time of this post, the book is on sale for $1.99! What? Amazing! Grab your copy here:

Let's chat:

  • How many other Christian fiction books can you think of that deal with depression and emotional issues?
  • Have you ever found a book that tackled an issue close to your heart? What was the book?
  • Did you know Natalie Walters lives in Hawaii? What is the first thing you think of when you hear of Hawaii?

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Christian Fiction Releasing This Month - October 2019 New Releases #ACFW

October 2019 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Note: The posting of this list on the Sweet South Blog is not a review or an endorsement of any book on the list. All authors whose books are included on the ACFW New Releases list attest that their book meets CBA standards for clean, Christian content.

Biblical Fiction:

Lioness: Mahlah’s Journey by Barbara M. Britton -- To keep her orphaned sisters together, Mahlah must seek what has never been granted to girls, an inheritance of God’s Promised Land. (Biblical from Harbourlight Books [Pelican])

Contemporary Romance:

Hiding from Christmas by Alice K. Arenz -- No matter how hard she tries, Maddie Kelley can’t seem to fit in at Ornamental, a company founded by her great grandfather and his best friend. Now, after yet another screw-up, she’s been sent into the “enemy’s” camp—two hours away from home for the next two months. A punishment or a blessing? Her life is turned upside down when the mundane turns unexpected, and she finally discovers where her heart truly lies. (Contemporary Romance from Forget Me Not Romances [Winged Publications])

Practically Married by Karin Beery -- Ashley Johnson moved to northern Michigan to finally meet her fiancé face-to-face, but she arrived in time to attend his funeral. With no home back in Ohio, she decides to stay in what would have been their house, except his cousin Russ lives there too, and Russ has never heard of Ashley. To complicate matters, her fiancé accidentally willed her the family farm house. Eager to please everyone and desperate to disappoint no one, she proposes a marriage of convenience that could solve her and Russ’ problems, if they can get past her aunt, his sisters, and an ex-girlfriend. (Contemporary Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Once Upon a Christmas by Andrea Boyd, Mikal Dawn, Toni Shiloh, Angela Ruth Strong, and Jaycee Weaver -- Embrace the magic of the Christmas season with these contemporary twists on timeless tales. Upon a Dream: A rare sleeping disorder keeps Talia from performing, but when Philip recognizes her gift, he’ll do whatever it takes to see her onstage. Claim My Heart: Li Na and Colin Wen face off in a Mulan-esque courtroom battle where the real win might be losing their hearts. A Snow White Christmas: Sheltered heiress Amala White flees her conniving stepmother’s plans and finds refuge with a handsome orchard owner and his seven quirky uncles. Christmas Ella: Reality TV meets Cinderella story when a location director is swept off her feet by a rising star. A Splash of Love: Las Vegas glitz meets Land of Enchantment culture in A Splash of Love, a modern twist on the Little Mermaid. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

The Twin Bargain by Lisa Carter -- A mutually beneficial temporary arrangement…But can they keep it strictly professional? Nursing student Amber Fleming couldn’t be more stunned when ex-marine Ethan Green makes an offer: he’ll babysit her twin girls if she cares for his injured grandmother. Amber knows it’s temporary. Ethan isn’t one for roots—or their hometown. But his steadfast caring has her wanting more than friendship. And with help from Amber’s mischievous twins, can they risk becoming a forever family? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

The Amish Christmas Matchmaker by Vannetta Chapman -- With her wedding business thriving, Annie Kauffmann could never leave her beloved Amish community. So when handsome Amish cowboy Levi Lapp tries to convince her father to move the family to Texas, she must put a stop to it. If Annie finds Levi a wife, he might forget his dream of moving…but can she keep from falling for him herself? (Amish Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Sara’s Gift by Kimberly Rose Johnson -- Christmas is the season of giving, but Sara isn’t sure she is up to the task. Playing secret angel in high school was fun, and now, years later, Sara has the opportunity to do it once more on a bigger scale. She enlists the help of Gabe, her long-time best friend, to come up with a deserving recipient. But something is off with Gabe—he’s more attentive than usual.
The Christmas season has put Gabe in a reflective mood. His evaluation of his life has left him lonely and wanting more. But can his heart have its desire? That’s up to Sara. Can these two long-time best friends navigate their changing relationship, or will the romance Grinch steal their Christmas joy? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Their Christmas Prayer by Myra Johnson -- Searching for a new start, Pastor Shaun O’Grady can’t wait for his next foreign missionary assignment…until he begins working with Brooke Willoughby on the church’s Christmas outreach program. Even as they clash over program specifics, Shaun and Brooke are drawn to each other. Now Shaun’s not sure where he belongs: overseas for his ministry, or at home by Brooke’s side… (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Her Amish Holiday Suitor by Carrie Lighte -- Lucy Knepp has no time for heartbreaker Nick Burkholder…until a pretend courtship means she can finish her embroidery for a Christmas fund-raiser in peace. Nick’s arrangement with the too-reserved Lucy is the perfect cover while he repairs the cabin his brother damaged. But once Nick sees how vibrant Lucy really is, can he prove himself—and show their love is for all seasons? (Amish Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])


Chasing Dreams by Deborah Raney -- Reconsidering her dream of law school, Joanna Chandler finds promise in a possible wedding planning career—especially when she meets wedding DJ Lukas Blaine. But there’s more to Luke than meets the eye. The angry young boy he's been mentoring has lost his mother and become Luke's ward. How can Luke possibly find the time to start a new relationship or saddle someone else with a wounded child? He may have to let go of the woman of his dreams--and crush her dreams at the same time. (General/Contemporary from Kregel Publications)

Historical Romance:

Unwrapping Hope by Sandra Ardoin -- When Phoebe receives a handcrafted cigar box by mistake, her desperation to give her daughter something special for Christmas drives her to suggest a trade with Spence Newland, a man she views as no more principled than her daughter’s late father. But the more time she spends with the department store heir, the more Phoebe struggles to keep up her guard against him. Spence believes the cigar box will help him gain a reclusive investor's financial support for his proposed five-and-ten-cent stores. Yet he hesitates to bargain with a widow who mistrusts him for no apparent reason…until he meets a charming little girl at the train station who awaits the arrival of a prince. Will a betrayal in Phoebe’s past and Spence’s unraveling business plans derail their hope for happiness and keep a child’s fairy tale from coming true? (Historical Romance from Corner Room Books)

Hope’s Highest Mountain by Misty M. Beller -- Ingrid Chastain travels readily with her father to deliver vaccines to a mining town in the Montana Territory. But after a tragic accident leaves her alone and injured, Ingrid finds rescue in the form of a mysterious mountain man who tends her wounds. Micah Bradley gave up his own medical career after unintentionally bringing home the smallpox disease that killed his wife and daughter. With Ingrid dead set on trekking through the mountains to deliver the medicine as soon as she’s well enough, he has no choice but to accompany her through the treacherous, snow-covered Rocky Mountains. The risk-laden journey ahead will change their lives more than they could have known. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

Aiming for Love by Mary Connealy -- Josephine Nordegren is one of three sisters who grew up nearly wild in southwestern Colorado. She has the archery skills of Robin Hood and the curiosity of the Little Mermaid, fascinated by but locked away from the forbidden outside world--a world she's been raised to believe killed her parents. When David Warden, a rancher, brings in a herd much too close to the girls' secret home, her older sister especially is frightened, but Jo is too interested to stay away. David's parents follow soon on his heels, escaping bandits at their ranch. David's father is wounded and needs shelter. Josephine and her sisters have the only cabin on the mountain. Do they risk stepping into the world to help those in need? Or do they remain separated but safe in the peaks of Hope Mountain? (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

Lessons on Love by Susanne Dietze, Rita Gerlach, Kathleen L. Maher, and Carrie Fancett Pagels -- Step back into the classroom alongside four new teachers who face unexpected tests. In 1840 New York, Gilda’s religious beliefs are challenged. In 1870 Kansas, Mary helps ostracized immigrant children. In 1894 Michigan, Jesse discovers an unlikely friendship. And in 1904 Virginia, Margaret wants to make controversial changes. Will these tests teach the teachers about faith and love? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)


The Silver Lode by Suzanne J Bratcher -- A dying child and a seventy-year-old cold case draw historian Paul Russell and antiques expert Marty Greenlaw into a desperate search for the silver lode, a rich deposit of silver and gold one person considers worth murdering to keep. (Mystery from Mantle Rock Publishing)

Romantic Suspense:

Deadly Commitment by Kathy Harris -- When Danielle Kemp walks out of her downtown Nashville condominium, she gets the eerie feeling that someone is watching her. She's convinced that the homeless man outside her building is stalking her. But after learning the real identity of the intimidating stranger, she faces something even more threatening?the truth about her fiancé. (Romantic Suspense from New Hope Publishing)

Cold Pursuit by Gayla K. Hiss -- A December tour of Yellowstone National Park sounded like the perfect escape from Faith Chandler’s problems at home—until she discovers her tour guide is her jilted childhood sweetheart, Jake Mitchell. (Romantic Suspense from Mountain Brook Ink)

Legacy Restored by Robin Patchen -- She’s a new Christian working to take down an art thief and murderer. He’s a grieving artist who refuses to let another woman die needlessly. When their desires clash, will it lead to hostility… or fireworks? (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)

Young Adult:

Heart of a Royal by Hannah Currie -- Brought to the palace as a newborn, the royal life bestowed upon Mackenna Sparrow was never meant to last forever. With Princess Alina engaged to be married, Mackenna’s presence as companion is no longer required and, like it or not, she must return to the birthright which should have been hers – that of a commoner. But not everyone at the palace wants her gone. When the truths she’s based her life on start crumbling as fast as her future, will she find the courage to trust, both herself and the prince she’s fallen in love with? (Young Adult from WhiteFire Publishing)