Saturday, October 13, 2018

Book Review & Giveaway - A Tale of Two Hearts

Book Title: A Tale of two Cities

Author: Michelle Griep

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

Release date: September 1, 2018


Innkeeper’s daughter Mina Scott will do anything to escape the drudgery of her life. She saves every penny to attend a finishing school, dreaming of the day she’ll become a real lady—and catch the eye of William Barlow, a frequent guest at the inn.

William is a gentleman’s son, a charming rogue but penniless. However, his bachelor uncle will soon name an heir—either him or his puritanical cousin. In an effort to secure the inheritance, William gives his uncle the impression he’s married, which works until he’s invited to bring his wife for a visit.

William asks Mina to be his pretend bride, only until his uncle names an heir on Christmas Day. Mina is flattered and frustrated by the offer, for she wants a true relationship with William. Yet, she agrees. . .then wishes she hadn’t as she comes to love the old man. And when the truth is finally discovered, more than just money is lost.

Can two hearts survive such a deception?


Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She is the author of historical romances: The Captured Bride, The Innkeeper’s Daughter, 12 Days at Bleakly Manor, The Captive Heart, Brentwood’s Ward, A Heart Deceived, and Gallimore, but also leaped the historical fence into the realm of contemporary with the zany romantic mystery Out of the Frying Pan. If you’d like to keep up with her escapades, find her at or stalk her on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.


This is the second book in the Once Upon A Dicken's Christmas series, but it definitely stands alone and I was never lost at any time during this delightful read. It was a wonderful way to start my Christmas season reading!

I really enjoyed the character of Mina as I could relate to her love of reading. She is always looking for ways to improve herself and make her life in a way she would like. Of course, this can also lead to trouble as it does for her and Will, someone she likes very much.

Will has come to her father's Inn and she is smitten with him from the very start. When he asks her to pretend to be his bride, she jumps at the chance. From here we are taken into their complicated lie that leads them into one complication after another.

This is a story of romance set in the 1850's, so what's not to love? A story of redemption and faith makes it that more enjoyable. It was a lovely little book and I highly recommend it. I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

*This book was provided to me by Celebration Lit. I received a copy of this book to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my observations while reading this book.


To celebrate her tour, Michelle is giving away a grand prize of a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click HERE to enter.


-Victorian Christmas Foods
So, it’s September, and you know what that means? It’s back to school. Pumpkin spiced everything is just around the corner. And it’s nearly time for cardigans and colored leaves. But besides all these autumn staples, it’s also time to start thinking about Christmas, because it will be here before you know it. How about this year you plan ahead to serve some traditional Victorian food?

In my newest release, A Tale of Two Hearts, the heroine’s father is known for his annual oyster stew that he serves on Christmas Eve. Here’s a bit of the background on that tasty soup.

-Victorian Oyster Stew
Oysters have been savored in Britain since the days of the Romans. By Victorian times, industrialization cheapened oysters to the point of them becoming a staple of the poor man’s diet and were a frequent fare served in public houses. This, however, depleted their abundance, and by the mid 1800’s, the natural oyster beds became exhausted, making it harder to find good oysters. While other foods were served as well on Christmas Eve, oyster stew was as common as goose or turkey.

Another Victorian favorite that goes great on a crisp evening is good ol’ hot chocolate, though in Dickens’ England, it would’ve been called something else.

-Drinking Chocolate
What we now call cocoa or hot chocolate was called drinking chocolate in the mid 1800s. This beverage was a favorite among Victorian ladies. You can find recipes for it even from the Regency era (early 1800s) and here is one for you to make at home.

And last, but not least, who hasn’t heard of Christmas pudding? To our American ears, that sounds like a tasty dish that you’d eat with a spoon and slap a little whipped cream on top. Actually, it’s more like a fruit cake.

-Christmas Pudding
Christmas pudding is quite a production, one that begins well before Christmas Day. In fact, it begins on Stir-Up Sunday, the last Sunday before Advent (which is five weeks before Christmas). This is why when Mina, the heroine in A Tale of Two Hearts, returns home from dinner at Uncle Barlow’s, and though it’s not yet Christmas, she sees the pudding moulds on the kitchen table.

If these tastes and the accompanying smells still aren’t quite enough to get you in the Christmas spirit, then snatch yourself up a copy of the second book in the Once Upon a Dickens Christmas series. A Tale of Two Hearts is sure to get you in the mood.


Creating Romance, October 2

The Avid Reader, October 2

Genesis 5020, October 3

The Power of Words, October 3

Just Commonly, October 3

Baker Kella, October 3

Among the Reads, October 4

Fiction Aficionado, October 4

Godly Book Reviews, October 4

Inklings and Notions , October 4

Multifarious, October 6

Texas Book-aholic, October 6

Remembrancy, October 7

Splashes of Joy , October 7

Back Porch Reads, October 8

A Reader’s Brain, October 8

Simple Harvest Reads, October 9 (Guest Post from Mindy Houng)

Mary Hake, October 9

Carpe Diem, October 9

Britt Reads Fiction, October 10

Luv’N Lambert Life, October 10

By The Book, October 11

Book by Book, October 11

Bigreadersite, October 11

More Of Him, October 12

Pause for Tales, October 12

With a Joyful Noise, October 12

Have A Wonderful Day , October 12

Bibliophile Reviews, October 13

Vicky Sluiter, October 14

Daysong Reflections , October 14

Henry Happens, October 15

All-of-a-kind Mom, October 15

Blessings - Julie 

Friday, October 12, 2018

Book Review and Giveaway - Renewed

Book Title: Renewed

Author: Leigh Powers

Genre: Devotional

Release date: November, 2017


Ministry is a privilege, but it can also be a painful experience. Unrealistic expectations, church conflict, forced resignations, and our own struggles with burnout, loneliness, and insecurity can make church feel more like a place of wounding than a place of healing. How can wounded leaders find the courage to reject bitterness and keep loving the church?

Renewed is a forty-day devotional for women in ministry, ministry wives, and lay leaders who have been wounded by their congregations. You are not alone. God sees your pain. He knows your hurts. And he is waiting to bind up your broken heart. This forty-day journey into the healing love of Jesus will help you find the courage to stop hiding and start loving the church again.


Leigh Powers is passionate about helping women find hope and healing in God’s Word. A pastor’s wife and mother of three with fifteen years of full-time ministry experience, she is a freelance writer, Bible study and devotional author, and a graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. She blogs regularly at You can usually find her with either a book or knitting needles in her hand—and sometimes both.


This book really resonated with my heart. I have some tender wounds that have been caused by those in the church and, because we expect Christians to be kinder, the hurts inflicted by them seem to hurt worse than from others.

I love how the author is so real and honest about situations in her life. She doesn't try to soften her words but is totally open. I also love that she points us to the Word of God as a balm to our souls and also for wisdom for all situations. This is where our truth is found.

This book is written from a Pastor's wife point of view, but if you have been in any kind of leadership in the church, you are going to really relate to this lovely devotional. I found so much healing through her words and especially the questions for contemplation at the end of each day. There is also a table of contents that speaks specifically to situations that you may have need of wisdom about. I found this especially helpful because we all have things that are bothers us more than others and it was so nice to go right to that specific subject matter.

I love this book and I know that I will re-read it over and over again. It's the first book I've read that truly helped me in the area of hurts from the church people. If you've had the same experience, I hope that you will get your own copy. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

*This book was provided to me by Celebrate Lit. I received a copy of this book to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my observations while reading this book.


To celebrate her tour, Leigh is giving away a grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card!! Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click HERE TO ENTER GIVEAWAY.


I love ministry life. Several years ago, a young woman from Southeast Asia came to my English as a Second Language class for a year. Her English wasn’t very good, and I had to tug to get a word out of her. She came every week, but I wondered how much she was getting from the Bible stories we did during each class. At the end of the semester, I asked our class to share what they wanted to tell their friends and family when they went home. She looked up at me with big brown eyes. “I want to tell people about Jesus.”

Those are the ministry moments that thrill us. It is a privilege to help people find freedom in Christ, teach God’s word, worship with the congregation, and walk alongside people in their moments of joy or sorrow. On those days I can’t imagine choosing another life. Then there are days that make me want to hang it all up and go work at Wal-Mart. Days when anonymous letters get slipped under the office door. Days when you’re the brunt of gossip, when loneliness is like an ache in your bones, or when you start sending out resumes for new positions because you aren’t sure how much longer you’ll have the one you’ve got.

Ministry can be tough. Over the years I’ve met many women who have experienced the painful side of ministry. Church conflicts, forced resignations, depression, loneliness, feelings of inadequacy, and our own struggles with faith can take a toll. That painful side of ministry can make us start looking for an escape hatch.

I wrote Renewed in the middle of a difficult ministry season. It was a hard season, but it was also a season where Jesus showed up for me in an almost tangible way. At the same time, I was also hearing stories from other ministry wives and women in ministry that sounded all too familiar. I started putting words on the page, hoping that somehow God would use them to bring healing to other women in the same way he had brought healing to me. That outpouring of hurt, healing, and hope eventually became Renewed.

Some of you reading this are nodding along right now because you’ve been there too. You love the church, but you’ve seen how ugly it can be when we get it wrong. You’ve got wounds of your own, and sometimes you wonder if you can ever risk your heart again. If that’s you, I want you to know that there is hope. God has not abandoned you. God sees your hurt, he knows your pain, and he is waiting to bind up your broken spirit. He’s waiting. Turn to him, and may you find your spirit renewed.


Bibliophile Reviews, October 6

amandainpa, October 7

The Becca Files, October 8

Mary Hake, October 8

Genesis 5020, October 10

A Reader’s Brain, October 11

More Of Him, October 12

Godly Book Reviews, October 13

Carpe Diem, October 14

Kelly Harrel, October 15

Texas Book-aholic, October 16

Bigreadersite, October 17

Janices book reviews, October 18

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, October 19

Blessings - Julie

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Free Bible Study - Before I Go; Jesus' Final Teaching and Prayer


If you have ever wondered who Jesus Christ REALLY is or questioned His relevance in your life, I invite you to join us for the “Before I Go” study. All you need to complete this free online Bible study is 15-minutes per day and an e-mail address.

Jesus Christ stepped away from the crowds to spend His final moments with friends.

He knew His hour had come—His time on earth was short—so He did what any good leader would do: He offered tender instruction to His disciples, assured them of His love, and gave them one final assignment.

This detailed account of Jesus' final words and actions in John 14-17 helps us see Jesus Christ for who He really is.
These words, penned by one of Jesus’ dearest friends, reveal the heart of the Man, the Messiah, and the Redeemer. They are the gospel truth that brings freedom, joy, and transformation into our lives.


Sarah Koontz invites Christians of all ages to explore the beauty of God’s design through her writing at She is a passionate storyteller who enjoys using illustrations to communicate deep spiritual truths. Before I Go is Sarah’s fifth free online Bible study, and she hopes to write many more in the years to come.

Sarah and her husband, Ryan, recently established a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization to support this ministry and invite you to partner with them in their mission to “Feed God’s Sheep.” Every $1 donated to our ministry helps 5 people receive free Bible study material in their inbox.

By continuing to provide our Bible-centered resources free of charge, we are able to overcome many barriers and reach women around the globe with the spiritual nourishment they crave.

Sarah and Ryan live on thirteen acres in the heart of the Black Hills, SD. They have two beautiful daughters, Anya (10) and Nadia (9), a rowdy flock of chickens, and two cats. Sarah is an avid gardener, a faithful coffee drinker, lover of one-pot-dinners, and an unexpected homeschooler. When she’s not covered in dirt or caring for her family, Sarah loves to spend her weekends reading Historical Fiction and listening to Norah Jones on Pandora radio.


I have been so incredibly blessed to be on the launch team for Sarah Koontz's other Bible studies and was so excited when she announced this new study. It's absolutely amazing, as all her studies are, and I love that this one focuses on the final teaching and prayer of Jesus.

The study only takes about 15 minutes to do each day yet it gets deeply into the Word of God. I was amazed at how much I've learned while studying these chapters of John. I've read John many times, but Sarah pulls so much from the Scripture and I feel like I have a much deeper understanding of the words of Jesus.

Every day there is a focus word and I loved that they are verbs. Action words are so helpful to me as I go forth in my day trying to live my life as Jesus would. I would think about each word as I did various things or interacted with others in my life and tried to remember to act out my word by blessing others.

You can join in on this free study by going and registering HERE before October 15th. I absolutely love this study and I highly recommend the teachings of Sarah Koontz.  She is very Biblical and her teachings are sound. Plus, she's super nice and such a sweet person!

I hope you'll join the study as you'll learn so much! It's only a 3 week study so it's perfect for all of us busy women and you'll be done before the holidays really start. It's so exciting getting to know more about Jesus and His teachings!

Click on the graphic above to go to Sarah's website and reserve your spot today!

Blessings - Julie

MyMagazine Sharing Network for my Doggies!

So my two sweeties, Cookie and Mitzi, are quite thrilled because they received a wonderful package from the MyMagazine Sharing Network!

It was so funny because they could smell something delicious in the box before I even opened it and they could hardly wait for me to get it open! 😂 It was quite exciting for all of us to see what was inside.

Look at the looks on their faces! lol They got a big box of Milk-Bone brand Medium Dog Bones, which they both really love! (Did you notice that Mitzi always has to be in front?! lol)

They also received a package of Free Nature Recipe wet food, which they keep trying to get to. This will be their special treat this weekend and I know they are going to be so excited and gobble it down! I'm really happy that this wet food is grain free as I think that's so much better for my girls.

They each received a Milk-Bone brand dog bone right away and they both enjoyed it so much. I had to really hang on to this bone to get a picture because Cookie was anxious to get it!

Mitzi is always more dainty but she was grabbing at her's, too!

I'm so thankful to MyMagazine Sharing Network for sending these free samples to us! The girls were very thrilled, too.  Only thing is...every time I get a box now, they have to check it out as I open it to see if there's anything in there for them! 😂😂😂

Blessings - Julie

Monday, October 8, 2018

MyMagazine Sharing Network Yummies!

I received this delicious Pub Mix from the MyMagazine Sharing Network and - oh my gosh - it is SO good! I should say it was so good because it got eaten up almost immediately after receiving it!

This is another snack that I have never tried from my Fry's Food store where you can find the Kroger brand in my neck of the woods. I will be honest and say that I probably would have never tried it but now it's going to be a staple in my household!

It's packed with wonderful sesame sticks, peanuts, pretzel nuggets and pepitas. This was the cracked pepper and sea salt flavor (my personal favorite) and I can't tell you how delicious it is! In fact, I would go so far to say, for me, it was addictive! I loved everything in it, especially the two types of sesame sticks - one cheddar and one plain.

You can see it here set out on my patio table where we had a little party to celebrate our new deck and this Pub Mix was a hit! Everyone seemed to really like it as much as I do. It certainly makes entertaining easy when you can just have something this delicious that's already prepared ready for everyone. It would be perfect for game days, too, when everyone is sitting around watching their favorite team and wanting a yummy snack.

I highly recommend this mix! It's something that's on my shopping list now and I'm sure it will be on yours, too, once you try it.

*This Kroger Pub Mix was provided to me by the MyMagazine Sharing Network. This was a free sample give to me.

Blessings - Julie