Book Review: A Spring of Weddings by Tony Shiloh & Melissa Wardwell

This is my first every Celebrate Lit blog tour post. Yay! I hope you are as excited as I am.

And they are also giving away a Kindle, so check out that giveaway here.

A Spring of Weddings is collection of two stories about, as I’m sure you guessed, Spring weddings. I don’t normally like Romance books, but there were a few things that made this collection special.

I give this book 4/5 stars.

Category: Fiction (Contemporary Christian Romance)

The first story in this collection is “A Proxy Wedding” by Toni Shiloh. This was the first book of hers that I’ve read, though I like her blog. I have to say, the unique premise of this story caught my attention right from the start. I didn’t even know what proxy wedding was, let alone a double proxy wedding. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but there were definitely a few surprises in this cute, well planned tale.

Hope Beyond Savannah” is the second part of the collection and was written by Melissa Wardwell. It was also my first time reading anything by this author. It was an interesting story, but in my opinion, things happened so fast without enough time for character development. Maybe it would have been better as a full length novel. I really appreciated the multicultural aspect of this story. I should also mention that if you don’t like to read about lots of kissing and physical affection, this isn’t the story for you. It felt like, “ugh, more kissing,” but as I mentioned before, I don’t really like romances. I still found the story interesting, though. And I felt for the main character, Lily. Poor thing!

Overall I would definitely recommend this book for a quick, entertaining read.

I was given a copy of this book by CelebrateLit Publishing in case I wanted to review it. All opinions are my own.

 

Click here to purchase your copy

About the Book

Book: A Spring of Weddings: A Contemporary Spring Weddings Collection

Authors: Toni Shiloh & Melissa Wardwell,

Genre: Contemporary, Romance

Release Date: March 30, 2017

A Proxy Wedding

Carly James values loyalty and friendship above all, so when her best friend calls asking her to be a proxy bride, she says, ‘yes.’ How hard can it be to say ‘I do’ so that her best friend can be with the one she loves? Only, Carly never counted on the feelings that began to swirl around with the proxy groom.

Damien Nichols likes life lined up from A to Z, but when his best friend calls in a favor, disorder begins to reign. Instead of taking a quick flight to the proxy wedding, he must take a road trip with the proxy bride. Carly’s free-spirit attitude bumps heads with his meticulous approach to life. As Damien discovers the woman underneath the carefree façade, his emotions become involved.

Will love become real at A Proxy Wedding?

Hope Beyond Savannah

Lily Allman and Nikotemo (Nik) Lagatuo were the poster children for the term “opposites attract.” He was an evangelist and CEO for a non-profit from Samoa who grew up in a large loving family. She was a blond bombshell with a funky style and no family to call her own. Two of the most unlikely people meet in the most unlikely of places, but God had a plan when He brought them together. They never let their differences deter them from the love they had for each other, but when Nik’s mother comes to the States for the wedding, the idea of wedded bliss is shaken. Can prejudices be over looked, insecurities overcome, and hope for a better future be restored so that these two can have all that was promised?

About the Authors

Toni Shiloh
Melissa Wardwell

Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Once she understood the powerful saving grace thanks to the love of Christ, she was moved to honor her Savior. She writes to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness.

Melissa Wardwell was born and raised in a small mid-Michigan community living there still with her Husband and three children. She enjoys taking pictures, reading, and leisurely rides with her husband on their motorcycle. All her stories revolve around women who are mothers. Single mothers, widowed mothers, young mothers, married mothers, and even women who have a mother’s heart but no children of her own.

Her hope is that each story touches your heart, gives you hope, or just gives you a moment away from the chaos of life.

Guest posts from Toni & Melissa

A Proxy Wedding

By Toni Shiloh

Spring is here! I love it because I always think of new beginnings as the flowers bud and then bloom. The trials and tribulation of the winter season are no longer on my mind. My hope that the winter season would not linger begins to become visible as new life takes shape on the bare trees. The seeds I planted in faith of God’s faithfulness sprout up in hope and promise.

When I sat down to write A Proxy Wedding, I had to imagine spring time, because the dreary, overcast skies outside my window were a constant reminder that I was in a season of sickness. One person would get sick, then the next, and the next. By the time the last person got sick, the round would start over. Visits to the doctor were made. Miserable kids were constantly whining in their discomfort.

It. Was. Rough.

It made perfect sense for me to throw my characters into a new situation. One that would make the stretch, take them out their comfort zone, and search for God’s goodness. I wanted to give them a hint of goodness and throw in a trial or two so they could make the decision that sometimes, risk is worth it. Just as we all react differently to new situations, so did my characters.

Carly was intent on making lemonade from her lemons. She tries to get the handsome broker, Damien, to see the importance of smelling roses and lingering over new adventures. Of course, Damien wasn’t partial to the frivolity. He’s so intent on becoming a success that he had no time to slow down.

In order for them to see God’s handiwork in their lives, I had to remind them that they were not products of their past. That in God, they’re a new creation with new opportunities available to them.

I hope you enjoy A Proxy Wedding. May you think of the Father’s love as you take time to stop and smell the roses.

Hope Beyond Savannah

By Melissa Wardwell

I hope you enjoy this story of love, acceptance and new beginnings. It was a joy to write because there is much more to it than the hope of marriage. It is about the blending of two families who are from two completely different cultures. Researching the island traditions, beliefs, and customs was not only fun, but enlightening. Being able to return to my background in bridal as well as the most beautiful city in the United States was just an added bonus.

With Nik and his family being from another country, I gave you a glossary of words and phrases used so you knew what was being said. I found the language to be rather beautiful and to not include it would take away from who these people are. I also give a small explanation as to what Rock-a- billy is. Lily is a funky chick who dresses in a fun and exciting way. When I saw this couple in my head, I knew it would be quite the uncommon match. As you will soon see, they fit together quite nicely.

My point in using a bi-racial couple for this story was based on what we have been seeing in the news lately. It is unlike anything I have ever done but after talking to friends in similar relationships, I knew I had to step out on this limb. I think it is time we begin to look at people through the eyes of God and not man, then we would see how beautiful we all are. It doesn’t matter what color our skin is or what our past contains, we are all God’s creation and we are beautifully and wonderfully made.

Blog Stops

April 25: Blossoms and Blessings

April 25: Lighthouse Academy

April 26: A Baker’s Perspective

April 26: D’S QUILTS & BOOKS

April 27: Blogging With Carol

April 27: Avid Reader Book Reviews

April 28: Moments Dipped in Ink

April 28: Mary Hake

April 29: Reading Is My SuperPower

April 29: The Power of Words (Spotlight)

April 30: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

April 30: Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner

May 1: Quiet Quilter

May 1: Kristin N. Spencer

May 2: Kat’s Corner Books

May 2: Karen Sue Hadley

May 3: Books. Books. And More Books.

May 3: History, Mystery & Faith

May 4: Jeanette’s Thoughts

May 4: A Greater Yes

May 5: Carpe Diem

May 5: Christian Bookaholic

May 6: These Splendid Sentences

May 6: Just Jo’Anne

May 7: God is Love

May 7: Ashley’s Bookshelf

May 8: Autism mom

May 8: Caffeinated Reads

May 9: Bibliophile Reviews

Giveaway

To celebrate the tour, Celebrate Lit Publishing is giving away a Kindle! Click here to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

Happy reading,

Kristin

Book Review: Nehemiah – Becoming A Godly Leader

This post was originally part of my old book review website “Christian Book Lady,” which I will be shutting down next week.

I give this book 5/5 Stars.

Category: Non-fiction :: Target Audience: Christian Leaders

Nehemiah: Becoming A Godly Leader by Gregory Brown is a wonderful resource full of truth and practical application.

This book is a great resource to Bible teachers and small groups, but it is so simple that anyone could read it and gain understanding. That is one of the things I love the most about this book, is it’s accessibility.
The Biblical principles of leadership that Gregory Brown explores and expands on from the book of Nehemiah have the potential to change the world. If every leader would allow the principles in this book to shape their lives and leadership styles, we would see a great change, and even as Brown suggests many times, revival.
“Jesus said when the church is unified, we will see many souls come to Christ; the world will know that Jesus came from God…Sadly, most ministries swing to the other extreme. Most churches and ministries work very independently. In fact, they are often so worried about losing members that they never work with other churches at all. However, when you look at the early church, which also experienced revival, they were very unified.”
After reading this book, I can confidently state that Brown is a brother in the Lord that wants to see the lives of many transformed by the love of God through servant leadership. He discusses important topics such as unity, dealing with discouragement, leading by example, serving even when we don’t like the job or feel qualified, the importance of dealing with conflict instead of overlooking it, and how to deal properly with the provision God has given us.
This book would a blessing to any believer that wants more clarity on what it means to faithfully serve Jesus Christ, whether they are in leadership or not.

Book Review: From Fiery Trials by Marisa De More

This post was originally part of my old book review website “Christian Book Lady,” which I will be shutting down next week.

I give this book 5/5 Stars.

 

Category: Non-fiction :: Target Audience: Adults

From Fiery Trials by Marisa De More is true, challenging, and encouraging. If you have struggled with mental illness, depression, or demonic influence, this book will encourage you as you turn to Jesus Christ for deliverance. Marisa De More’s testimony of her childhood is intense, but encouraging. I love how she approached everything in such humility. She also approaches issues that all Christians have in a very biblical way, explaining the seasons of growth she went though individually and also in her marriage with her husband, Barry. I loved this book so much, and I believe it will encourage many others.

One of the main themes of this book is, “Why has God created me? What am I supposed to do with my life?” I feel like the answer will encourage so many people in their quest to serve the Lord.

Personally, God used this book to minister to me during a very difficult time in my walk with Him. The illustrations and visions paint a perfect picture of God’s love, grace, and mercy. Thank you for your transparency and honesty Marisa! May the Lord continue to bring you closer to Him

Book Review: Carol and the Belles by Chautona Havig

This post was originally part of my old book review website “Christian Book Lady,” which I will be shutting down next week.

I give this book 5/5 stars.

Category: Fiction :: Contemporary

Themes include: Giving Abroad, Christian Dating, Orphanages, Family, Christian Friendships

I am delighted to review Chautona Havig’s most recent edition to her collection of wonderful holiday books“Carol and the Belles.” As usual Chautona’s natural “tell it like it is” style flows through each page, and while this book does deal with some serious issues, I didn’t find it to be too serious or heavy. If you add this to your stack of easy and enjoyable winter reading, you won’t be sorry. The story almost reminded me of Jane Austen’s “Emma” meets “The Shop Around The Corner.” I don’t want to give too much away, because that would just be a shame. It will no doubt be a Christmas favorite for years to come.

Are you curious? Good. Here is a brief synopsis that Chautona wrote that won’t give anything away.

Their childhood letters formed the friendship of a lifetime.

As part of an international school pen pal program, Carol and Michal began writing monthly letters twenty-five ago.  So, when Carol’s artisan guild decides to send an emissary to the United States to investigate a new gift store and potentially negotiate contracts for importing Romanian handcrafts to several major American cities, Carol applies.  Finally, the chance to meet Michal after all these years!

But Carol’s arrival in Rockland is fraught with surprises, misunderstandings, and a string of both awkward and delightful dates.  Michal and the “belles” do everything possible to make the visit memorable and special, but when Carol decides to apply for a work visa, things get really interesting.

As a self-professed “world’s most non-spontaneous person,” Michal discovers that following your heart and the Lord’s leading just might also lead you into unexpected places and spontaneous decisions.

Since I met my husband through the fine art of letter writing, aka Facebook messaging, this book holds a special place in my heart.

Book Review: Space Drifters – The Emerald Enigma

This post was originally part of my old book review website “Christian Book Lady,” which I will be shutting down next week.

 

I give this book 4/5 stars.

Category: Fiction :: Science Fiction

Space Drifters: The Emerald Enigma

Paul Regnier is a native Southern Californian like me, and his appreciation and enthusiasm for Science Fiction was not lost on me. There are several obvious references to Star Wars, and I found the crew to closely resemble the mishmash of the crew from the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. I loved the characters. They will win you over right away. Even though Captain Starcrost (the protagonist) wears the same pants as Hans Solo, he most reminds me of Malcom Reynolds from the Firefly franchise. His tough exterior seems a bit irritating at first, but once he meets Jasette, the bounty hunter with an unexpected past, we finally get a glimpse of his softer side.

If you are a true sci-fi fan, you will appreciate the detail that Regnier put into “The Emerald Enigma.” There were scenes that reminded me of ‘Lost in Space,’ but there were also plenty of new and unexplored ideas, one being a ship computer that has an actual personality. It was basically like reading a mashup of all my favorite kinds of sci-fi. Well done, Reignier. There wasn’t anything inappropriate in this book, in case you are wondering. And for me, the most refreshing thing about the entire book was Blix, whose voice automatically sounded like Abe Sapien in my head from the first moment I read his dialogue.

As far as spiritual content, it is very subtle. One of the main characters is a Christian and has a Bible. He shares his faith with the other characters. There are a few mentions of prayer.

The only disappointing aspect was that this book doesn’t have a concrete ending, since it is the first in a series. It definitely leaves you wanting more.

Book Review: The Peaceful Wife by April Cassidy

This post was originally part of my old book review website “Christian Book Lady,” which I will be shutting down next week.

 

I give this book 5/5 stars.

 

Category: Non-fiction :: Target Audience: Christian Wives

The Peaceful Wife by April Cassidy is a treasure and a wonderful resource for any woman of God.

“Control and aggression kill romance for both men and women. Passivity also kills romance on either side of marriage.”

If this is true, what solution is there for having a happy, balanced marriage? This book sets out to answer that question using the Bible and practical, real-life examples.

This book is much more than a collection of blog entries from April Cassidy’s popular blog, peacefulwife.com. Instead it is a well thought out book that is extremely balanced and biblical in its approach to a God centered marriage. She does some very difficult things in this book effortlessly. April explains submission in a way that will help every wife to understand the beauty of what submission actually means, and also shares what things are inappropriate within a marriage for men and women. Although this book is written primarily to wives, I feel like there is definitely helpful information in this book for both men and women. The author of this book has taken all of her personal research and experience regarding learning how to be a godly wife, and lovingly compiled it into one book. Have you ever wondered why your husband shuts down in a seemingly random way? This book is for you.

One of the things I appreciated the most about this book is that it also warns women in dangerous situations to seek help, and never once equates submission with abuse, but distinguishes the two very carefully. This will be my go to book for future counseling sessions with wives. I wish I would have had a book like this when I first got married. Thank you, April. It is clear that you poured your heart and soul out in this book for our benefit.

Book Review: Jack by Chautona Havig

This post was originally part of my old book review website “Christian Book Lady,” which I will be shutting down next week.

 

I give this book 5/5 stars.

Category: Fiction :: Western

Jack (Ballads from the Hearth Book 1)

Chautona Havig always brings a fresh perspective to whatever genre she tackles, and this western set on the prairie is no different.

“Jack,” which is based on a song that the author’s father used to sing during her childhood about life on the prairie, is a wonderful book with themes of romance, pursuing your dreams (while respectfully rejecting the expectations of others), and overcoming bitterness. The author also included inspiration from Much Ado About Nothing, which will be extremely obvious if you have ever read the Shakespearean piece of literature. I loved the character development along with the authenticity of a story set in this time and place. You will have a hard time putting this one down. It is an easy and enjoyable read which is appropriate for any age.

Here is the book description as provided by the author:

A lot of hullabaloo on the prairie. 

Jack Clausen has led a hard, lonely life, but he’s content with a good job as a cowboy, a faithful horse, and the Lord. But when a near tragedy flings him into the path of a lovely young lady, Jack’s resolve to stay single and alone wavers. 

Hazel Meissner has everything a young man could hope for–kindness, gentleness, and just enough playfulness to keep things interesting, but when accusations tear at their relationship, Hazel’s true strength emerges. 

Without forgiveness, many lives will be irrevocably changed. 

Jack is the first book in the Ballads from the Hearth series. This book was inspired by the old ballad, “Cowboy Jack” and Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing.

I hope you enjoy this fun, but pensive read, as much as I did.

Book Review: The Fragrance of Surrender by April Geremia

This post was originally part of my old book review website “Christian Book Lady,” which I will be shutting down next week.

I give this book 4/5 stars.

Category: Fiction :: Women’s/Contemporary

The Fragrance of Surrender by April Geremia

This book by April Geremia is full of unexpected twists and turns, triumph and heartbreak. It is an emotional roller coaster that the reader will experience as the scent of oranges through the grove become almost real. When I began to read this book, I didn’t think I would like it. To be honest, I found the writing to be overly complex. I prefer simple writing. But the more I read, the more I had to know what happened. The characters won me over, especially Gabriella’s son, Sammy. This book definitely presents the gospel message, which is what Gabriella needs to overcome her intense despair. The only theological problem I had is that when she mentions heaven, the time seems to coincide with time on Earth, and we know that God lives apart from time. Besides that, though, the theology was spot on.

This book is very interesting and contains elements of suspense and romance (through two married characters, and even the younger characters have what seems to be an innocent love interest). I would recommend it to other readers who are looking for a more serious read.

Book Review: Philippians – Pursuing Spiritual Maturity by Gregory Brown

This post was originally part of my old book review website “Christian Book Lady,” which I will be shutting down next week.

I give this book 4/5 stars.

Category: Nonfiction :: Target Audience: Christians

In, “Philippians: Pursuing Spiritual Maturity,” Gregory Brown has done an excellent job explaining the book of Philippians. Brown’s systematic style which he uses in his “The Bible Teacher’s Guide” series is shown in this book. It is perfect as a resource for anyone who wants to run a small group, or just better understand the book of Philippians.

I don’t know how Brown does it, but he always stays neutral in areas where other authors cannot. In this book that is important because one of the main themes in Philippians is unity, and the author spends a large chunk of this book describing the importance of unity as well. Whatever end of the theological scale you are on, I guarantee you will find this book helpful, and respectful of your denominational beliefs.

The main theme of this book is pursing spiritual maturity. Brown answers important questions. “What is the right attitude we must have in order to pursue maturity?” “Why is it important to have the right attitude — a holy discontent — in order to pursue spiritual maturity?” “In what ways is God challenging you to be more disciplined in your spiritual life?” “How do we keep the right focus?” But he goes through the important foundation for our spiritual maturity in the first half of the book by establishing our need for Jesus Christ, sanctification, unity, and living a life worthy of the gospel.

This book is another great addition to “The Bible Teacher’s Guide” series, and I look forward to reading many more.

Book Review: Granddad’s Story by Roger Deloach

This post was originally part of my old book review website “Christian Book Lady,” which I will be shutting down next week.

I give this book 4/5 stars.

Category: Fiction :: Target Audience: Christians / Middle Grade

Granddad’s Story by Roger Deloach is a sweet tale. It is exciting to hear the story from the grandfather’s perspective as he tells his grandchildren. And what a story it is! I do have two small criticisms of this book. The first is that the grandfather telling the story is Jess, which was not obvious. I had to go back and reread that several times to make sure. That is not a spoiler, but is an important part of the story. The second is that sometimes the characters sound like adults instead of 11-year-olds. I found this to be especially true with Chuck’s dialogue. There were some things that I thought were too coincidental, but in the end they made sense. This is a fun book that I would gladly let my 9-year-old read. I’m sure she will love it! Thank you Roger Deloach for such a heart warming tale.

This book is totally clean. I didn’t anything even remotely bordering on edgy or inappropriate.