Review, Snippet, & Giveaway: “After the Rain” by Brandy Bruce ~ Blog Tour

Review, Snippet, & Giveaway: “After the Rain” by Brandy Bruce ~ Blog Tour

After the Rain Blog Tour

About the BookT

Series: Sequel to The Last Summer

Genre: Adult, Christian, Contemporary, Fiction, Inspirational, Romance

Publisher: Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas

Publication date: February 4, 2019

Debra Hart is moving on. Maybe. Hopefully. One day.

As a radio show host, Debra spends her mornings as Miss Lonely Heart on air, empathizing with all the broken hearts in the Denver metro area. She spends her evenings watching old musicals and trying not to think about the guy who broke up with her and subsequently fell in love with one of her best friends. Alone in a new city, Debra questions where she belongs and who she is now. When she stumbles into the indie music scene, Debra meets singer Ben Price. Rock star appeal, with a day job as a worship pastor, Ben is everything Debra wants to avoid. But he’s determined to be her friend, and it so happens she could really use one. Because try as she might, nothing seems to erase the anger and betrayal she feels. It’s time for a new dream. But how does she start over when she doesn’t even know what she wants anymore?

GOODREADS | AMAZON

About the Author

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Brandy Bruce is a mom to three kids, a wife, a writer, a book editor, and someone who really loves dessert. She and her family make their home in the beautiful state of Virginia.

FACEBOOK | TWITTER | PINTEREST | INSTAGRAM | WEBSITE

Review

After the Rain is an emotional story that will grab your heart, all about GROWING. Much more than a romance, it is especially relevant for all 20-somethings searching for home and friendship. It’s one book I will reread with a happy smile (and I know I’ll see more layers of the characters upon a reread!).

I wasn’t sure I would 100% like Debra because of things that happened in The Last Summer, but wow how people (or characters) can be surprising! Seeing her life through her perspective not only made me think differently about events that happened in the previous book, but made me have more empathy and understanding of her behavior. This story, for her, meant change and pain and things that weren’t comfortable or what she expected, but by the story’s end, her identity is stronger and her life is a different kind of happy.

I especially enjoyed all the music aspects of this story, from a rockstar hero (who is the. kindest. ever.) to the music/theatreish quotes at the beginning of each chapter.

Let’s talk about the ROMANCE! It’s wonderful. Ben, the hero, is dimensional and complex, even though we never read things from his POV. (A feat worth noting because I think it requires major writing skills to write a main character this way!) The way Ben loves Debra just as she is mirrors God’s love for us, something not shied away from in the story. And Debra sure doesn’t make it easy for him. 😉 Faith and all its challenges, struggles, and even doubts are candidly expressed and remain an important part in Ben and Debra’s lives.

Amidst all the poignant complexity and slow growth of Debra’s relationships with her newfound friends, the adventurous side of Colorado living is included (rafting, hiking, zip lining, ohmy!)! I enjoyed this aspect, especially, because my family vacationed in CO many times when I was growing up.

I also really loved the friendships and “normal” things of the story, like falling asleep in the car on a long drive, toddler shenanigans, neighbors. Community. How change sometimes means discomfort and a new kind of normal. And how, through all of this, God remains constant, even when it’s hard to hear Him.

Thank you to SLB Tours for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Snippet

Deb, I miss you. I think about you. Just wanted to say it again. I read the text from Lillian—Lily—Spencer as the elevator doors opened. Then I tucked the phone into my small purse. I walked toward the exit of the condominium building I called home now, catching a glimpse of myself in one of the mirrors on the wall.This woman—with short hair, ringlets barely brushing my shoulders. Dark colors, chocolate-colored eyeliner—nervous about a simple thing like going to a coffee bar. I didn’t recognize her. I stopped mid-hallway and leaned against the wall, my heart hurting.

I’m starting all over.

No.

I closed my eyes. I’d cried all the tears already. None were left. But the pain didn’t stop. A reminder of how much I’d loved Luke Andersen. How ready I’d been to link my story to his for forever. But he’d chosen my friend Sara. Quiet, lady-like, sophisticated, predictable Sara. “Debra?” My eyes opened. Cassidy and Jake, my neighbors, stood in the hallway, looking worried. I must have seemed ill. With one hand, Jake carried a baby car seat, inside it their five-month-old daughter, Gilly, slept soundly. I pushed myself off the wall. “I’m okay,” I said without eye contact. I walked straight out of the building, to my car, and drove downtown.

Giveaway

ATR Blog Tour Giveaway

Giveaway includes the following:

  • Print copy (or e-copy if they want)
  • Umbrella
  • After the Rain guitar-pick necklace
  • DVD of Grease
  • Beatles quote mug
  • Coffee warmer
  • Earbuds
  • After the Rain bookmark
  • Notepad
  • Candy

Enter the giveaway HERE. Giveaway is subject to policies HERE.

Tour Schedule

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Review: “Bear No Malice” by Clarissa Harwood

Review: “Bear No Malice” by Clarissa Harwood

Last year, a favorite author’s praise prompted me to branch out and read a general fiction title, Impossible Saints. It ended up being one of my favorite reads of the year, and one I revisited recently as its sequel, of sorts, just released!

Bear No Malice by Clarissa Harwood is more like a companion novel whose timeline matches events of Impossible Saints. It focuses on a minor character from book 1 whose role was nearly that of a villain. I really loved this shift in perspective and how it introduces the idea that we all have unique perceptions of our actions and of others. Enough about my thoughts for the moment, here’s more book info and my wordy review!

About the Book

Beaten and left for dead in the English countryside, clergyman and reformer Tom Cross is rescued and nursed back to health by Miranda and Simon Thorne, reclusive siblings who seem to have as many secrets as he does. Tom has spent years helping the downtrodden in London while lying to everyone he meets, but now he’s forced to slow down and confront his unexamined life.

Miranda, a skilled artist, is haunted by her painful past and unable to imagine a future. Tom is a welcome distraction from her troubles, but she’s determined to relegate him to her fantasy world, sensing that any real relationship with him would be more trouble than it’s worth. Besides, she has sworn to remain devoted to someone she’s left behind.

When Tom returns to London, his life begins to unravel as he faces the consequences of both his affair with a married woman and his abusive childhood. When his secrets catch up with him and his reputation is destroyed, he realizes that Miranda is the only person he trusts with the truth. What he doesn’t realize is that even if she believes him and returns his feelings, he can’t free her from the shackles of her past.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

Bear No Malice is literary fiction at its best, with a vivid historical setting and a story that unfolds with a delicate complexity. Its Dickens-like intricacy takes the reader on a journey right alongside Tom and Miranda as they grow through friendship and exhibit unconditional love (not just in romance but with friends, with family) through mistakes, forgiveness, and reconciliation.

At times, Bear No Malice made me laugh with its tiny bits of humor (the fish fork!) then wrenched my heart out, all in one chapter. Mostly it wrenched my heart out and put it back together one tiny piece at a time. The telling of the story is a TREAT with its brilliant pacing (just slow enough to leave you wanting more of Tom’s, and especially Miranda’s, backstories) and sloooow building romance. But oh, how it pays off and is exquisite! Sometimes, though, I would forget I was reading historical fiction because the characters are so relatable and the emotions raw.

Tom and Miranda are good for each other because he’s magnetic and opinionated and she’s quiet and steady, yet just as stubborn and steadfast. Their personalities complement and spur each other to grow beyond themselves. Part of the brilliance of Tom and Miranda is that I saw myself in their humanity. I am like Miranda in several ways, not that I have experienced anything like her journey, but that her character was so real on the page I could identify with her longings. Her sometimes-reserved, sometimes opinionated ways. And even Tom and his ultimate need for reconciliation, his desire to serve others. They exemplify flawed and grace-covered people.

Another wonderful thread of this novel is its message of grace. It is subtle yet still a beacon for the perceptive reader. The message of the Gospel is portrayed as inherent to the characters, a refreshing and beautiful inclusion for the general fiction market. Tom and Miranda experience things and make choices rarely found in the inspirational genre. This freedom and space to candidly explore such situations makes the story all the more powerful because this novel has such a message of grace and forgiveness, of peace and homecoming, at its heart. **now is a good time for me to mention the content of this novel. It’s clean, with very few mild expletives (I could count them on one hand)**

Beyond the character journey, this novel also draws attention to social issues of the era, such as poverty, penitentiary conditions (kinda like halfway houses of the time), and the evolving roles of women. All of this functions to shine a light on our modern ideas, standards, and complacency, in a positive manner. I believe its intent is for the reader to look around and take note of his or her own community and opportunities. 🙂 For me, it was encouraging.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Check out my review of Clarissa Harwood’s previous book Impossible Saints

Mini Review: “A Bound Heart” by Laura Frantz

Reading a Laura Frantz book is always an experience, one to be savored with her lyrical prose, genuine characters, and heart-journey of a story. Her latest release, A Bound Heart, is as wonderful and poetic as I expected!

About the book: Though Magnus MacLeish and Lark MacDougall grew up on the same castle grounds, Magnus is now laird of the great house and the Isle of Kerrera. Lark is but the keeper of his bees and the woman he is hoping will provide a tincture that might help his ailing wife conceive and bear him an heir. But when his wife dies suddenly, Magnus and Lark find themselves caught up in a whirlwind of accusations, expelled from their beloved island, and sold as indentured servants across the Atlantic. Yet even when all hope seems dashed against the rocky coastline of the Virginia colony, it may be that in this New World the two of them could make a new beginning—together. 

Goodreads | Amazon

My thoughts: A Bound Heart is an intricately beautiful story of strength, faith, and romance, this sweeping tale stretches from the shores of Scotland to the wild risk and unknowns of Virginia (& beyond) during the height of the tobacco trade. Through it all, Lark and Magnus become increasingly beloved characters as they endeavor cling to their faith, navigate the changing world around them, and puzzle the inexplicable tie that binds them to one another. It was a joy to read this story and feel like a firsthand witness to the quiet strength of Magnus and the intelligent fortitude of Lark, experiencing all the ups and downs of their journeys, from the amusing antics of a wee child to a seafaring voyage full of danger to the wonder of fireflies.

“Fall Time, Cozy Time” Book Tag

While it’s looking a little more like winter every day, I’m still wanting to be in the fall frame of mind. I just love all the cozy things of the fall and winter seasons, including reading books by the fire!

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This book tag is one I saw on my friend Rissi’s BookTube channel and blog. Though I’m not following the video format, I still thought this was a cute tag and a way to talk about all the cozy things with the prompts!

Fall Time, Cozy Time Book Tag

1: Crunching Leaves: “The world is full of color – choose a book that has reds/oranges/yellows on the cover.”

How about a red, orange, and yellow cover?

Lizzy and Jane by Katherine Reay | Still Life by Dani Pettrey

When You Look at Me by Pepper Basham

2: Cozy Sweater: “It’s finally cool enough to don warm cozy clothing: what book gives you the  warm fuzzies?” 

Oh my goodness, a recent favorite that gave me the warm fuzzies was the delightful contemporary romance Rose in Three Quarter Time by Rachel McMillan. Also, anything by Melissa Tagg or Courtney Walsh instantly belongs in this category.

3: Fall Storm: “The wind is howling & the rain is pounding – choose your favorite book OR genre that you like to read on a stormy day.” 

Genre: historical romance!

Something like Sons of Blackbird Mountain by Joanne Bischof or The Matrimonial Advertisement by Mimi Matthews because they have such character depth, vibrant sense of place, etc

4: Cool Crisp Air: “What’s the coolest character you’d want to trade places with?”

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Definitely Tzivia Khalon from Ronie Kendig’s “Tox Files” series because…… she’s strong. SUPER smart. An archaeologist. She’s often underestimated because she’s gorgeous, but she can and will kick butt if necessary.

5: Hot Apple Cider: “What under hyped book do you want to see become the next biggest, hottest thing?”

Things Left Unsaid

Recently…. Things Left Unsaid by Courtney Walsh. Poignant, emotional, and REAL women’s fiction at its best. Because it’s an indie book, it might be a little under-the-radar for some readers who would really love it AND be blessed by its message. I hope YOU check it out!

6: Coat, Scarves, and Mittens: “The weather has turned cold & it’s time to cover up – What’s the most embarrassing book cover you own that you like to keep hidden in public?”

NONE! Maybe an older cover or two from 1990’s fiction that’s just not “appealing” by today’s standards, but otherwise, nope.

7: Pumpkin Spice: “What’s your favorite Fall time comfort food(s)?”

Anything with cinnamon. (But this is me all year longgggg.) I love all the baked things with cinnamon that seem to be season-appropriate, too. Apple pie, apple cinnamon doughnuts, cinnamon oatmeal, cinnamon cookies, spiced cranberry scones, cinnamon toast, and the list goes on…

YOUR TURN! What are your favorite things about fall? What would be your picks for these prompts? Join the tag if you want!

Review: “Things Left Unsaid” by Courtney Walsh

Today I’m EXTREMELY happy to share my review of Courtney Walsh’s recent women’s fiction indie release, Things Left Unsaid. While this might be a slightly new genre for Courtney, this story is as emotionally resonant as her contemporary romances.

Audiobook note: I switched back and forth between reading this and listening to the audiobook. I enjoyed the audio version and felt it was narrated with emotion and clarity. I’m a bit picky when it comes to audio narrators, so this was a pleasant thing!

About the Book

An emotional novel of family, friendship and forgiveness from Courtney Walsh, the New York Times bestselling author of Hometown Girl.

Lyndie St. James is thrilled that her best friend, Elle, is getting married but unprepared for the emotional storm of the wedding week and returning to her childhood summer home of Sweethaven. The idyllic cottage community harbors some of her best—and worst—memories. It’s not only the tragic death of her childhood friend Cassie that has haunted her for ten years, it’s the other secrets she’s buried that have kept her from moving on.

But Lyndie isn’t the only one with secrets.

Cassie’s mother, father and brother, still struggling with the loss, have been drifting further and further apart. And Elle herself, the last to see Cassie alive, carries an impossible burden of guilt. Now reunited, each of them has a choice: to reveal the truths of that night or continue to live in its shadow. That means embarking on a personal journey of the heart—to escape the darkness and all its regrets and to finally come to terms with the past and, especially, with each other.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

This story surprised me more than once. What I expected to be a story of friendship, summertime memories, and the way the past shapes identities became so much more with every new secret revealed and emotional layer pulled back. Courtney Walsh has penned (another) beautiful story of GRACE. Of how important it is to belong and be known, and to forgive… even if it’s about forgiving yourself.

I enjoyed how the pace of the story allowed for time to get to know the characters, especially Lyndie, in their current frames of mind before events pulled them all together in the same town. This timeline starts to paint a picture of the past and hints at the baggage each of them carries.

Courtney Walsh always manages to write relatable and even flawed characters, and Lyndie, Tucker, Elle, and Karen are all representative of the struggles we face. When you read this story, you WILL relate to at least one of them, whether their pain, grief, complacency, self-confidence struggles, or possibly the honesty, faith, and positive steps to growth call out to your heart.

I won’t give away any plot points or heart-wrenching secrets (you will have to discover them when you read this story) but I will say that this story deals with some sensitive issues. All of them have to do with the fallout of choices and mistakes, some of them long-buried or years in the making. Courtney Walsh’s straightforward style handles this sensitively and realistically which further proves her place on my must-read authors list! 

I went from laughing to crying and experiencing every emotion in between while reading! I highly recommend this book to women’s fiction fans or of authors like Katie Ganshert, Jennifer Rodewald, Amy Matayo, and Katherine Reay.

Thank you to the author for the advance copy of this book. This is my honest review.

 

Mini Review: “Jane by the Book” by Pepper Basham

Jane by the book

A couple months ago, Jane by the Book by Pepper Basham released as a part of the “Once Upon a Laugh” novella collection. I’m still reading my way through that one — it’s very fun! BUT NOW, Pepper’s novella is available on its own in paperback! *happy dance* If you’re looking for a cute and tender romcom, look no further that the adorably quirky Titus and Jane.

About the Book

Jane by the Book

Four years ago, Jane Warwick escaped the shame and heartbreak of being jilted at the altar by becoming a housekeeper at the secluded Inn at Simeon Ridge. Predictable and quiet, the inn helps Jane find a place to heal and celebrates her strengths, where she is promoted to head housekeeper. But an unexpected visit to Bath, England, upsets Jane’s plans and sends her out of her comfort zone, directly into the harrowing path of historical detective author, Titus Stewart.

The only plans Titus sticks to are family holidays and the ones that send him careening into his story worlds, but when an uptight and nervous innkeeper stumbles into his life – and his latest novel – nonfiction begins to take on a much more interesting gleam.

As the unlikely pair delve into the mystery behind a one-hundred-and-fifty-year-old letter, will they both uncover a romance that stands the test of time?

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

List of the reasons you should read Jane by the Book ASAP:

  • Pop culture and Sherlock and mysteries and general bookishness. Oh, and BATH, England!
  • A super-relatable heroine — whose cluelessness is realistic and sets up growth and personal realizations women of the world need to hear!
  • A wonderfully bookish and nerdy hero with an internal monologue that will make you giggle. He definitely earns the nickname #terrificTitus!
  • An intriguing family mystery with smart parallels to Jane’s own heart-journey
  • Simply put, CORGIS!
  • And, last but not least, a sweet and charming romance that will have you rooting for the happily ever after!

Top Ten Tuesday: Fall TBR + Mood Reads

It’s another Top Ten Tuesday, now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl!

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

Today’s official topic: Books on Your Fall TBR

Let’s talk FALL! I’m all about this getting-cooler season. Where I live, it still feels like summer, but I am planning for all things pumpkin, apple, and spiced very soon. This, of course, puts me in the mood to read (or reread) stories with fall settings. Today I’m sharing a list of books that make me feel all the autumn or fall coziness plus a few from my TBR!

Fall “Mood” Reads

The “Walker Family” series by Melissa Tagg | Specifically, books 2-3, Like Never Before and Keep Holding On make me feel cozy and crave all things APPLE (because book 3 has an orchard!)

The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn by Lori Benton | I’ll reread this book for ANY reason, but really, I remember its setting being vividly described and part of it evoking that crisp “chill” of fall air.

Hometown Girl by Courtney Walsh | Apple cider doughnuts, anyone???? Oh, and there’s a great little mystery in this one! I feel a reread coming up soon…

Where Trains Collide by Amber Stokes | This sweet little novella explores the landscape of the Pacific Northwest during an autumn season — a season of change for the characters, too! (HEY! This one is FREE on ebook platforms through Sept. 20!)

A Noble Groom by Jody Hedlund | A historical romance that makes the harvest unforgettable!

My Fall TBR

My actual TBR pile is insane. So , here are just a few of the new books that mostly release this season I plan to read!

 

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Amy Matayo | I’m reading this one now! Amy’s stories are always the best balance of thought-provoking and emotional.

My Hands Came Away Red by Lisa McKay | A new cover on an older classic! I’ve heard nothing but good things about this book.

Bear No Malice by Clarissa Harwood | OK, I know this doesn’t release til 2019, but I am doing a happy dance on the inside because I got my hands on an ARC! I LOOOOOVED book 1, Impossible Saints.

All Made Up by Kara Isaac | This sounds like such a cute story! I might have to catch up on Kara’s backlist before I read it, though, because I know Kat is a secondary character in some of her stories. that will be such a hard thing to do.

A Sparkle of Silver by Liz Johnson | Two words: Liz. JOHNSON! I cannot wait to see what she does with a southern mansion, a mystery, and opulence!

An Hour Unspent by Roseanna M. White | I have no doubt this long-anticipated series conclusion will be amazing.

Things Left Unsaid by Courtney Walsh | A new indie from Courtney that’s a spin on romance and women’s fiction – YES, please!

When You Look At Me by Pepper Basham | Music + Cupcakes + introverts + Pepper’s heart = a story I’ve been anticipating for a while!

Your turn! What’s on your Fall TBR? Do you have fall reads recommendations? Books you reread each fall? Let me know in the comments!