Patricia Bradley’s newest thriller: “Counter Attack” (a review)

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Patricia Bradley has a fabulous new suspense novel out. Thanks to Revell Reads, I was able to read this fast-paced clean romance/police procedural. In this first book in Bradley’s new Pearl River series, you’ll meet Alexis and Nathan–and a frightening serial killer who’s determined to destroy them.

About Counter Attack

A serial killer. The dark web. And deceased victims, left with a white chess piece nearby.

Alexis Stone doesn’t normally dress in such provocative clothing. But she’s undercover, hoping to find the killer who’s responsible for the deaths of two young women. And the last person she’d expected to run into, in this Chattanooga bar, is the man she’d loved in high school; Nathan Landry.

Turns out he’s undercover as well. But when an altercation on the street leaves a suspect dead and Alex in the hospital with her own gunshot wound, she’s placed on leave. The only trouble is, she’s not too good at being still or quiet. So when her own beloved grandfather, the sheriff of small town Pearl River, suffers a heart attack, she agrees to serve as interim chief deputy in his place. But it looks as though the serial killer has followed Alex to Pearl River.

Maybe, things are about to get personal.

My thoughts

I absolutely could not put down Counter Attack! Patricia Bradley pens a fascinating, heart-pounding ride of a thriller novel. I’m personally a huge fan of police procedurals, and I loved Alex, Nathan, and Alex’s grandparents. There’s also an AWESOME K9 who’s part of the Pearl River force. And a serial killer who follows a law enforcement officer to a new city (or small town, in this case)? That’s riveting and even terrifying. And, you won’t be able to stop reading either!

I found the ways that chess was used to indicate action or movement fascinating. (I don’t play chess myself, but the author takes pity on those of us who don’t and explains the meanings of the various plays.) And Bradley’s characters are infused with so much life–even the ones who are living on the dark side; you’ll cheer the good guys on even as you hope those who are mired in destruction can be saved. Or caught, at the very least!

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Alex’s strength and determination are fierce, yet the reader gets to know a little of her heart of hearts, and the reasons for her choices and stubbornness, as the story unfolds. Her grandparents are amazing. (And the grandmother cooks up so many recipes that I grew up with myself, and found the very mention of mouthwatering!) Nathan is the perfect hero. Although he let Alex go, he never, ever forgot her. And he’ll do anything to help her know that he never will.

Fabulous thriller with amazing characters. Pick up a copy of this novel for yourself!

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Revell Reads. All opinions shared here are my own.

“In the Shadow of the River” ~ Ann H. Gabhart’s newest (a review)

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Hi friends! I’m so grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to read Ann H. Gabhart’s newest novel. Revell Reads sent me a copy of In the Shadow of the River, a story about a young woman living, of all places, on a steamboat. Here’s more about the book, plus my thoughts about it.

About In the Shadow of the River

Jacci Reed grew up on a steamboat from as early as she could remember. But one night, her mother grabs her out of bed, and tries to whisk her away…only to be met by someone who means them great harm. At great expense to herself, Jacci’s mother, Irena, escapes with her daughter onto another steamboat. On this one, Irena’s actor father takes them in. He’s the Duke, a leading actor on the boat’s performances.

Later, as a young woman, Jacci has joined her grandfather, and others, in the musical theater and vaudeville that the steamboat offers visitors. Every night, they dress up to sing, dance, and perform comedy and just a little drama. Jacci loves performing; perhaps more than that, she loves the gently rolling river that brings her to a new location each and every day. But a day is coming that may put her face to face with an enemy she doesn’t even know she has. And her very life may be in danger.

My thoughts about In the Shadow of the River

I’m always happy to run across an Ann H. Gabhart book. Several of her novels (Angel Sister, Scent of Lilacs, Along a Storied Trail) are books I’ll never forget, with characters I adored. I’ve always enjoyed the ways Gabhart takes unusual settings (Shaker communities in the 1800s, a southern town and its preacher’s family, Kentucky in the Depression years) and creates stories and people that are truly unforgettable. In her newest, In the Shadow of the River, she brings readers into the close-as-family ties of a troupe of steamboat performers, who’ve been together for years and years. (Except for the new performers hired here and there.)

We get to meet Jacci as a little girl of almost-six, in 1881. When an attempted kidnapping changes her home (and her mother’s) from a steamboat to a showboat (that’s also a steamboat), Jacci meets the grandfather she never knew she had. As her mother attempts to survive the attack, Jacci gains several new “aunts” in addition to her grandfather Duke. And she begins to settle into her new home, despite a deep sadness.

When we see Jacci again, she’s a young woman, grown and performing alongside her traveling showboat family. She is beautiful and doesn’t resemble her mother at all. She isn’t aware that that is really a dangerous thing, hiding a dangerous secret. Oh, and there’s Gabe; the son of the boat’s captain and Jacci’s “aunt” Marelda; who’s been reminding her since she was 5 that he was *not* her brother.

I loved this new world that Gabhart created. I’ve actually been on a steamboat (clearly, not in 1896), but never thought of the lives of the performers who’d have traveled on the showboats in their heyday. Jacci and her “family” are an incredible and fascinating group. There’s Jacci, who’s lovely but quite able to set good boundaries. Aunt Tildy, who’s an amazing cook and prayer warrier. Grandfather Duke, who’s never been much on parenting until his granddaughter entered his life. And mother Irena, who’s fierce in her protection of her daughter. And Gabe, Jacci’s “not-brother,” who’d do anything for her.

Once again, Ann H. Gabhart has created an unusual group of individuals living a *very* unusual life. And the secrets which are endangering Jacci’s life are believable and frightening. Here’s a wonderful book, with some sweet references to faith, for fans of historical fiction.

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Revell Reads. All opinions shared here are my own.

Enter to win Bath & Body Works and Hello Kitty in the Berry Good Giveaway Hop! (ends 6/15/23)

Hi friends!

Can you believe it’s June? This month totally sneaked up on me! But still, it’s something to celebrate, so I’m joining MamatheFox and lots of other cool bloggers for the Very Berry Giveaway Hop! Keep reading on how to enter all the giveaways, below!

How to enter the Berry Good Giveaways in the Hop

First, click on the blue InLinkz code below (the one with the frog on it). That will take you to the main Berry Good Giveaway Hop linkup page, hosted by MamatheFox. There, you’ll see each participating blog’s name. Click on the highlighted names, and those will take you to each individual blog’s giveaway so you can enter.

Enter the FINCHNWREN blog giveaway here!

The FINCHNWREN blog is giving away this duo in the Berry Good Giveaway Hop! One entrant will win:

  • “You’re the Berry Best” gift set from Bath & Body Works. This set includes my most favorite scent, Strawberry Pound Cake, in a minis trio of a body spray, body lotion, and antibacterial hand wash. I love, love, love this scent and am excited for one of you to win this!
  • And, just because I also love Hello Kitty, I’m including a mini Hello Kitty Lenticular Journal. There’s a set of 20 Hello Kitty stickers in the back as a fun bonus!

How to enter the FINCHNWREN giveaway

Just click on the highlighted link below that says, “Enter here!” That will take you to a Giveaway Tools page, where you’ll be able to enter to win in a variety of ways. US entries only; must be 18 and older to win. Giveaway closes on June 15, 2023. Best wishes!

Enter here!

Enjoy! –Wren


MamatheFox and all participating blogs are not held responsible for sponsors who fail to fulfill their prize obligations.

“The Girl with Fire in Her Veins” ~ fab new fantasy from Dawn Ford (+ GA!)

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Hi there, my friends!

Dawn Ford has another wonderful book for you in her Firebird Series. This one is Book Two, and it’s called The Girl with Fire in her Veins, and you don’t want to miss it. Keep reading for more plus your chance to win.

The Girl with Fire in Her Veins JustRead Blog Tour

Welcome to the Blog Tour for The Girl with Fire in Her Veins by Dawn Ford, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

About the Book

The Girl With Fire in Her Veins

Title: The Girl with Fire in Her Veins Series: Firebird #2 Author: Dawn Ford Publisher: Expanse Books Release Date: April 25, 2023 Genre: YA Fantasy

Former servant girl Tambrynn struggles with her new firebird abilities, especially the internal fire she cannot control. So, she, along with her Watcher Lucas, and her grandfather Bennett journey to a hidden mountain keep to find the answers she seeks before she sets the kingdom aflame. But there’s a new dragon who’s targeting Tambrynn, a mergirl who wishes to manipulate her, and the froggen king, Siltworth, who hasn’t forgotten that Tambrynn destroyed his watery reign. When her father, the evil mage Thoron, attacks someone she loves, Tambrynn’s group is separated and she has to face another powerful foe alone. Is she strong enough to withstand the deluge? Or will she drown in the fire and the flood?

PURCHASE LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop | BookBub

More Books in this Series

The Girl with Stars in Her Eyes

About the Author

Dawn Ford

Dawn Ford writes fantastical YA stories with a fairy tale flair. The Girl With Stars in Her Eyes, formerly Kingdom Come, won the 2016 ACFW Genesis Award for the Speculative genre. Dawn also has a middle-grade twisted fairytale Woodencloak, which is the first of four books in her Band of Unlikely Heroes series. Dawn lives in Iowa with her husband.

Connect with Dawn by visiting to follow her on social media and sign up for newsletter updates.

Tour Giveaway

(5) winners will receive a signed paperback copy of The Girl with Fire in Her Veins plus a set of either star or flame themed Color Street nail strips chosen at random!

(2) winners will receive a signed copy of The Girl with Stars in Her Eyes along with The Girl with Fire in Her Veins nail strips

The Girl With Fire in Her Veins JustRead Tours giveaway

Full tour schedule linked below. The giveaway begins at midnight May 29, 2023 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on June 5, 2023. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to JustRead Publicity Tours Giveaway Policies.

Enter Giveaway

Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

JustRead Publicity Tours

My thoughts about The Girl with Fire in Her Veins

Between the beginning and the end of a high fantasy novel series, there are the betwixt-and-between adventures. Like The Two Towers. Or The Silver Chair. The first wild adventure is over, but the final chapter of the story hasn’t been told. But the beloved heroes must fight; grow; become. To travel and to meet new individuals, whose characters aren’t always immediately visible. The heroes’ story definitely isn’t over yet. To reach the final stories of the series, there are first paths they must take, strength they must build, and weapons they must ply.

If you have read Dawn Ford’s The Girl with Stars in Her Eyes (click on the link for my review), you’ve met Tambrynn, the titular protagonist, along with her Watcher, Lucas. You’ve seen beasts and Tambrynn’s terrifying father, Thoron. And you’ve been introduced to the Kinsman, who watches over, redeems, and hears the prayers of his beloved ones.

In The Girl with Fire in Her Veins, Tambrynn’s quest continues. Now, her journey’s companions include her grandfather, Bennett; a fire dragon/woman, Audhild; Lucas, of course; and villains both terrifying and powerful. (Oh. And her father, Thoron, who’s still bent on his wicked plans.)

Tambrynn has discovered that she’s a firebird; yet she hasn’t yet been able to manage her firebirding abilities. And her (and the realm’s) enemies will fight her in order to wrest control over them from the Kinsman. Tambrynn doesn’t know what part she is to play in the fight between good and evil. Yet she, and her companions, must stand together, save each other, and hear the Kinsman’s voice, to keep from being captured, or captivated, by the wiles of their enemy.

Don’t miss Tambrynn’s story in the latest of Dawn Ford’s Firebird Series! You’ll cheer her on, and you’ll be engrossed as each of the companions brings their own gifts and wisdom to the fight. (Then, like me, you’ll be all too ready to read book #3, when it comes out–soon, I hope!)

Enjoy! And don’t forget to enter the giveaway! –Wren

Disclosure: I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.

“The Secret to Happiness” ~ a review

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Did you know that author Suzanne Woods Fisher has a lovely series entitled about a beautiful, homemade ice cream shop, the Cape Cod Creamery? I’ve just had the privilege, courtesy of Revell Reads, of reading Book 2 in the series. It has a charming title AND a charming cover! It’s The Secret to Happiness. Let me tell you more about the book, and my impressions of it!

About the book

When you open The Secret to Happiness, you get to meet the cast of characters first, as Suzanne Woods Fisher opens the book with her characters’ names, ages, and mini-bios. First on the list is Callie, who’s 28, and was recently fired from her job. (And for WHAT a reason!) Next, there’s Dawn, Callie’s cousin. Also 28, she’s the part owner of an ice cream shop in Cape Cod. Her mother Marnie (third on the list) co-owns the creamery with her.

Then, there are some very interesting guys! There are some love interests of the owners of the Main Street Creamery; a cool little 6-year-old named Leo the Cowboy; and a professor who’s teaching a community class and is also the author of a self-help book called The Secret to Happiness.

Each of the female protagonists gets some face time as the lead in the story, and readers get to know these women’s own points of view. While you’d think that there would be some natural friendships and relationships, there’s much more beneath the surface in each one. They come together at the Main Street Creamery in some unexpected ways, as each one is hoping to discover exactly what the secret to happiness is.

“You can’t make everyone happy. You are not ice cream.”

Unknown, The Secret to Happiness

My thoughts

I fell in love with so many things that were part of my own first impressions of The Secret to Happiness. First, that wonderful title! Then, the marvelous sunshine-y blue cover with those amazing frozen bars. And last but not least, in my first impressions: the cast of characters. I knew immediately upon reading the their names and bios that I wanted to know more about them!

And, the author did not disappoint. I loved Callie and Dawn (and Marnie) even as I sympathized with their relationships and the challenges therein. I don’t think I’ve thought before as I’ve read a book, how much of our own internal dialogues are never spoken; and so consequently

, those around us (or close to us) miss some of the key parts of our stories. The conflict in this book is fascinating. And some of the time, the other parties in the conflict don’t even know that there IS conflict going on. The Secret to Happiness is part of what will eventually be a trio of books in the Cape Cod Creamery series. But the stories for each of these characters in this book, #2, are fascinating, captivating, and oh-so-readable.

I can’t complete my review without mentioning three other parts of the book that I loved. First, the quotes! Each chapter begins with one, and they’re fantastic and set the tone of the chapters (and the book, overall) beautifully. Second, the descriptions of the food! There are so many just-scrumptious-sounding descriptions of ice cream, ice cream bars, and other delicious food. (Suzanne Woods Fisher could be a food writer if she got tired of being a book writer!) And third. Leo the Cowboy! He is the most delightful character. What a kid. I cared for many of the characters in this book, but Leo stole my heart.

This was a truly lovely read. There was conflict, yes; but it was interesting and so true-to-life. I loved the characters and their inner dialogue. These were honest and showed their vulnerabilities, but also invited us, the readers, to love them and root for them. The Secret to Happiness was a delicious and marvelous read. I’m planning to find a copy of book #1 of the Cape Cod Creamery books. And I’ve read the first chapter of book #3–and I’m keeping an eye out for it! And even though I read The Secret to Happiness out of order, it was an absolutely wonderful book anyway. I recommend it to you!

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Revell Reads. All opinions shared here are my own honest ones.

Marvelous read in a new genre for me: steampunk! “The Clockwork City” (a review)

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I’ve just read the most extraordinary book! It’s a steampunk novel by Shelley Adina called The Clockwork City, with a fabulous setting (steampunk Venice) and a wonderful heroine, Georgia Brunel. Lady (the dowager baroness, actually) Georgia Brunel, of Britain.

Steampunk: (n) a subgenre of science fiction and fantasy featuring advanced machines and other technology based on steam power of the 19th century and taking place in a recognizable historical period or a fantasy world.

About The Clockwork City

The Clockwork City (Amazon purchase Link)
Series: Lady Georgia Brunel Mysteries #1
Release Date: May 24, 2023
Genre: Steampunk Mystery (Clean)

April 1895. A painting holiday in Venice. A villa on the canal. A body in the water?

Lady Georgia Brunel, widowed a year, has been looking forward to her holiday in the Duchy of Venice with her companion, Millicent Brunel. The clockwork city’s annual art exhibition is in full swing, and old friends and new acquaintances make for an exciting social whirl. The married Lord Somersby would pursue her if he dared. Several members of the nobility, including those with connections to Lord and Lady Dunsmuir, make entertaining companions. And Georgia will never admit that Dustin Seacombe, the disheveled and irritating Texican Ranger who steps on one’s gown and will not confide his business in Venice, is the most interesting of all.

And then early one morning, the body of Lord Somersby washes up on the water stairs at the Brunel villa. An empty gondola floats nearby. Many assume it is an accident. The Duchy police assume a lover’s quarrel, with Georgia as their suspect. For there are powerful factions in the city who want this case solved and submerged as soon as possible. Georgia and Millie must act quickly to clear her name and discover the real murderer, before Georgia finds herself dancing with death instead.

My thoughts about The Clockwork City

So! This is a marvelous introduction to the steampunk world, if you haven’t visited there before! (I *think* that this is the first steampunk book I’ve read. I think!) Shelley Adina has created a remarkable setting, in the 1895 world of Venice, Italy. Canals, gondolas, the Doge–all clothed in the extravagant, lovely fashions of the end of the 1800s. Only this time: women are highly educated. They (alongside men) are scientists. Inventors. And creators (and pilots) of the steam-propelled airships, steam landaus, and more.

I suppose that steampunk could be classified as “fantasy,” since it rewrites our own history (see, for example, the “Texican” Ranger; the “clockwork” of the title; Nouveau Orleans and the Fifteen Colonies). These are fascinating! They provide a little “wink” to readers, as we realize and decipher the meanings and connections that Shelley placed in the book. So while there’s a quite perplexing murder mystery to solve, with many layers to unwind, this marvelous steampunk world is rolling along beside that mystery. Plus, Venice is always a fascinating locale.

I also adored The Clockwork City‘s protagonist and supporting characters. Georgia, Millie, and the Venetians and Europeans (and let’s not forget the Texican) are wonderfully created. There are backstories that we learn about some of them, but others are just hinted at. Plus, Shelley creates a Venice that these visitors find compelling and fascinating; but to them (and likely to the reader), it’s still a foreign land that they must navigate. And navigating a foreign culture when a murder has been committed? That’s particularly frightening, and at times, opaque.

I particularly enjoyed the children in this book. They’re also very interesting, yet Shelley never creates a false note in their portrayal.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Clockwork City, and the craft and skill that Shelley Adina displays as she invites us into 1895 and steampunk Venice. Whether you’re a steampunk fan or not, I recommend this book to you. Marvelous! It’s truly a magical read.

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author. All opinions expressed here are my own honest ones.

Beautiful, redemptive novel: “A Path to Acceptance”

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I was privileged, some time ago, to read A Path to Forgiveness by Lisa James (what a deeply moving, incredible story). This is her second book in The Prodigal Woman Series, this time featuring Penelope, a young woman who’d been sold to a tavern owner (read: brothel). We meet Penelope about ten years after her introduction into this life.

A Path To Acceptance JustRead Blog Tour

Welcome to the Blog Tour for A Path To Acceptance by Lisa M. James, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

About the Book

A Path to Acceptance

Title: A Path to Acceptance Series: The Prodigal Woman Series Author: Lisa M. James Publisher: Independently Published Release Date: May 19, 2023 Genre: Christian Romance / Fantasy

Wanton. Tainted. Immoral. These were all words that could describe Penelope. After being forced into a world of harlotry to cover her parents’ debts, Penny learned how to survive without feeling. When a mysterious man approaches Penny with an offer to free her from her situation, Penny soon discovers that leaving her tavern could not rid her of the reputation she gained as a harlot. Would anyone be able to see beyond her tainted past?

Abandoned by his father as a child, Ryland refuses to depend on anyone but himself. Surviving as a mercenary for wealthy landowners, he accepts an assignment to free a harlot from a life of slavery. Frustrated when he is forced to take her under his care, Ryland discovers there is more to this harlot than her beauty. Can her unshakeable faith bring him back to a Redeemer he has long since rejected? Discover the story of a tainted woman in A Path to Acceptance.

PURCHASE LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop | BookBub

More Books in this Series

A Path to Forgiveness

About the Author

Lisa James

Lisa M. James is a Romantic Fantasy and Christian Fantasy author. Her novels have made the Amazon Best Sellers list for numerous categories, including: Fairy Tale Fantasy, Sword and Sorcery Fantasy, Christian Fantasy, and Religious Romance. She is committed to creating fantastical worlds with clean romances and diverse female leads. When not writing, Lisa can most often be found watching Disney movies or enjoying homemade chai. Connect with Lisa by visiting to follow her on social media and sign up for newsletter updates.

Tour Giveaway

(1) winner will receive a paperback copy of A Path to Acceptance & a Vera Bradley Crossbody bag (plum pansies print)!

A Path to Acceptance JustRead Giveaway

Full tour schedule linked below. The giveaway begins at midnight May 22, 2023 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on May 29, 2023. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to JustRead Publicity Tours Giveaway Policies.

Enter Giveaway

Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

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My thoughts

Penelope has lived in forced slavery as a sex worker for ten years. She was told how to survive it by the head harlot at her tavern. And later, interestingly enough, Penelope met the Redeemer; and she has lived in hope of his redemption even as her life stole so much from her. She lived the life of a prostitute on the outside, while inside she had the faith of a believer.

But not truly, any hope of rescue.

Until rescue comes indeed. After a handsome and mysterious man watches Penelope, and the comings and goings of the tavern for over a week, he leaves; only to return to take her away, at the request of Audora, a blind vintner who had been served by Penelope while having to stop at the tavern as her cart was repaired. Penelope finally agrees to leave with Ryland. But can she leave behind the inner damage that 10 years of forced sex work had done to her, as she gains freedom and the opportunity to work for Audora? Unfortunately, troubles follow her; but they’re those she’s never had to face in the context of freedom. Plus, war is coming for her new homeland; and it’s war with the Redeemers’ enemies, the sorcerers. Penelope has the Redeemer and she has the gift of faith. But will those be enough?

I absolutely fell in love with Penelope, and was captivated by her story, and by Ryland’s, the metalworker/weapons maker who sidelines as a mercenary. (Just the right person to rescue Penelope!) Lisa James is exceptionally good at creating characters she helps us to understand both inside and out (and we really come to comprehend the damage that Penny’s former life has left on her mind, soul, and even spirit). There’s not only our co-protagonists, Penelope and Ryland. There’s also Audora, the vintner; Tedley, her head steward; Benesh, Audora’s nephew; Luke and Noah, young brothers; and the warriors, priests, and other residents of her new village. She has to adjust to this new life (which still feels uncertain), and to be healed of the desperate pain of her past. It’s going to take a lot of events and interactions to take her down the new path that’s set before her. There’s even love waiting; but can she convince herself that, even with the Redeemer, she’s worthy of it?

This is absolutely a book you don’t want to miss. God’s redeeming and healing love–rescue of a woman from the sex trade (which Lisa James does describe obliquely, not flagrantly)–and the opportunity to see His hand at work in not only her life but in the events of her new land. It’s heartbreaking, marvelous, and so encouraging.

Be blessed–Wren

Disclosure: I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.

The NIV Verse Mapping Bible will transform your Bible study times (a review)

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What kind of Bible study appeals to you most? I’ve noticed that I’ve cycled through different styles through the years, according to my own needs and my family’s. Lately, though, I’ve been hungering for a deeper way to dig into the Bible. And this amazing Bible has been absolutely what I’ve been looking for. And more! Zondervan sent me a copy of their NIV Verse Mapping Bible, and I’m very excited to share my experiences with you!

About the NIV Verse Mapping Bible

I received the NIV Verse Mapping Bible in Navy Floral Leathersoft with a Thumb Index. That’s a softcover binding that is smooth pale beige Leathersoft on the spine and back of the Bible, with a textured blue and white floral cover on the front. The page edges are a silvery golden color, and there are two satin ribbons sewn in for bookmarks; a navy blue one and a beige one. The book has a nice heft to it, and the cover makes it very easy to hold in your hands. It lies open when you’re working with it on a table or hard surface. The thumb index has indented page edges along with stickers showing which Bible books are in its section (e.g., GAL EPH PHIL COL arranged vertically, indicating that the books of Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians are located there).

Inside, there is so much to discover! The Bible translation is the New International Version (NIV). And it’s designed with Kristy Cambron’s rich and exceptional Bible study system, Verse Mapping. The Verse Mapping’s 5-step system is described for the reader in the Bible (just after the table of contents), but this is what it’s comprised of:

  • Verse: Choose and write out a Bible verse.
  • Design: Check out this verse in 2-3 other Bible translations, and write them down, underlining key words.
  • Develop: Look up the key words in Hebrew (for the Old Testament) and Greek (in the New Testament), and write down their meanings.
  • Actions: Ask questions of the text or verse. What would it have been like to have been there, to see the actions or events? Read the verses that appear before and after the one you’re studying for more context.
  • Outcome: What is God showing you or saying to you in this verse or passage? How do they impact you today?

Cambron also recommends that the reader uses and actually writes IN the Bible, in the (verse mapping) maps provided or in the wide margins of other pages. Other tools needed are pens or markers, a Bible App or concordance (like Strong’s Concordance or Vine’s Expository Dictionary, but you can also find those tools and more online), and most important, blocking out time to spend in the Word.

The NIV Verse Mapping Bible also has these fantastic tools and additions for its reader, included in its pages:

  • Introductions for each Bible book, with authors, date written, setting, themes, and an introduction
  • “Verse maps,” which are pale green shaded pages with boxes for each of the 5 steps; there are 350 that are partially filled-in (with a verse already chosen, extra translations for comparison, and key words with the Hebrew or Greek definition and number), and 70 that are completely blank (for you to use to select a verse and fill in)
  • A topical index for important key words plus the Bible verses they’re found in (e.g., “God, as Our Refuge;” “Patience;” “Calling”)
  • Wide margins for extra notes

My thoughts about the NIV Verse Mapping Bible

As I was thinking about how to describe my time with this Bible, and how it has enriched and made even more meaningful my quiet times and study times, the phrase “embarrassment of riches” came to mind, specifically with this definition:

so many good things or people that it is impossible to decide which of them you want”

Cambridge Dictionary, online

That’s the phrase that *almost* describes what I’ve found in this Bible. There is just SO MUCH for the reader–and as I page through this Bible, I just see more and more that I want to seize upon or engage with. I love the wide margins for notes. I love the blank verse maps, where you can fill in the verse of your choosing to study. But I also love the verse maps which are partially filled in, where the reader does the additional study and makes the verse her own. I have worked on several verses already–but I have found so many others that I can’t wait to study when I finished the ones I’m studying now.

In earlier years of my life, I adored the inductive study method, where you use many of the tools and processes that are part of the verse mapping plan; and I attended quite a few semester-long inductive Bible study classes. And this may not be true for you, but when I became a mom, I found that I had to do my Bible studies and quiet times a bit differently. So, for quite a few years, I attended different types of Bible studies. But I never lost my longing for, or appreciation of, inductive study.

How thrilled I was to discover, and to review, the NIV Verse Mapping Bible! It has much of the rigor of inductive study; in the comparison of different translations, the investigation of key words in the Hebrew and the Greek; the attention paid to the meaning of the original writer and audience. And while it guides the reader in studying a verse at a time (rather than the entire book), it is not at all a surface process.

Rather, it will take you face to face with God’s Word–and, I believe, into His presence, with the end result of knowing Him better at the same time. What a reward for the student!

How to begin with the NIV Verse Mapping Bible

Like me, if you choose to study the NIV Verse Mapping Bible, you’ll want to take some time to carefully read the directions for how to follow the Verse Mapping method. You’ll want to familiarize yourself with how to look up the Greek and Hebrew key words with online or print book helps. And, you’ll want to discover which of your pens and markers will work best on this Bible (which won’t bleed through, and which will show up clearly on the pale green boxes), which you can do by trying them on out on the back empty pages. Then, you’ll want to set aside a special time to engage with the Word and with the Lord. Your time will be so precious.

From there–truly, the sky’s the limit! You’ll just need to select your first verse to study. I began with some that are old favorites, like 2 Timothy 3:16, Hebrews 4:12, 1 Peter 3:15. (And I have an ever-growing list for when I’ve fully completed those!) What I discovered was that these old favorites still have an incredible amount to teach me, as I study, pray, and consider what these words might have meant to the original audiences. Truly, the Word is refreshing, amazing, and full of what we need for everyday life–each and every day.

My experiences with the NIV Verse Mapping Bible have been both rich and beautiful. I recommend this Bible for anyone who’d like to get to know God and His Word more deeply and personally. It truly contains beauty, mystery, joy, and the opportunity to grow in wisdom and knowledge.

Where you can purchase the NIV Verse Mapping Bible

I loved this Bible so much–and maybe, it’s just what one of you has been looking for! You can purchase it from a number of booksellers, including Amazon, Christianbook, FaithGateway, and more.

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: I received a copy of the NIV Verse Mapping Bible from Zondervan. All opinions and thoughts shared here are my own.

“26 Below” ~ fab new cyber thriller from Kimberly Woodhouse (my review; and more!)

#sponsor #partner

Are you a fan of cyber thrillers–or suspense novels set in Alaska–or mysteries starring strong female leads? You will definitely want to read Kimberly Woodhouse’s newest book: 26 Below, from her Alaskan Cyber Hunters series. (It’s Book One.) I absolutely raced through it. Keep reading for more on the book plus my review.

26 Below JustRead Blog + Review Tour

Welcome to the Blog + Review Tour for 26 Below by Kimberley Woodhouse, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

About the Book

26 Below

Title: 26 Below Series: Alaskan Cyber Hunters #1 Author: Kimberley Woodhouse Publisher: Kregel Publications Release Date: April 4, 2023 Genre: Christian Romantic Suspense

“A THRILL RIDE . . . AS CURRENT AS TODAY’S FRONT-PAGE NEWS!” –Colleen Coble, USA Today best-selling author

A curse. A killer. A chill in the air. Temps are dropping and time is running out. In her new role as Emergency Operations Center director for Fairbanks, Alaska, Darcie Phillips prevents disasters. But none of her training can prepare her for the terror that’s coming. As a cybersecurity specialist, Jason Myers is determined to ferret out any threats to the town he now calls home–and that includes his reckless brother and his ecoterrorist friends. When an old woman’s wild prediction–widespread destruction as soon as the Fairbanks temperature falls to 26 below–hits national headlines, neither Darcie nor Jason sees a real risk to anything but tourism. Then the bodies start dropping. Darcie is relying on her experience and intelligence to stop a killer; Jason is relying on God to guide the way. But they’ll have to work together to find the truth and prevent their Alaskan town from becoming a city of nightmares. “An action-packed page-turner that . . . blew me away. If you like stories of intrigue, action, romance, and biblical hope, this is the story for you.” –Tracie Peterson, ECPA and USA Today best-selling author

PURCHASE LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | ChristianBook | Bookshop | BookBub

About the Author

Kimberley Woodhouse

Kimberley Woodhouse is the best-selling author of more than thirty books and novellas, including A Deep Divide, Bridge of Gold, and The Mayflower Bride, as well as the coauthor of the Heart of Alaska series with Tracie Peterson. Kimberley’s writing has earned a Carol Award, the Christian Market Novel of the Year, the Holt Medallion, and many others. A proud former resident of Alaska, she now makes her home in the Pennsylvania Poconos.

Connect with Kimberley by visiting to follow her on social media or subscribe to email newsletter updates.

Tour Giveaway

(1) winner will receive a $50 Amazon gift card!

26 Below blog tour giveaway

Full tour schedule linked below. The giveaway begins at midnight May 15, 2023 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on May 22, 2023. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US Amazon accounts only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to JustRead Publicity Tours Giveaway Policies.

Enter Giveaway

Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

JustRead Publicity Tours

My thoughts

The end is near! It is coming! We must prepare!…When it hits twenty-six below, all will be lost. People will die! The end is near!”

An old woman, from the book 26 Below

There’s nothing like a frightening word spoken by a woman and caught on social media about the coming disaster in Alaska to make people worry (or laugh at her, and ignore her, depending on the audience). People are calling the old woman, probably mockingly, the Prophetess. And Darcie Phillips, new director of the Emergency Operations Center in Fairbanks, Alaska, has noticed her. And wondered. But first, there’s an enormous amount of work for her tiny staff to accomplish in order to get emergency services and procedures in place in the event that a disaster occurs. Darcy can’t necessarily prevent those, but she can create systems and connect emergency services, shelters, state troopers, hospitals, and fire departments so that when the unthinkable happens, Alaska is ready.

Or can she?

Turns out that even before she started working, a group who’s determined to wreck her systems and show that the government is incompetent has been in planning–and in play. But at the moment, no one knows that these people exist.

Darcie’s team–which is ridiculously small despite the enormous task before it–is composed of competent and committed individuals who have thrown themselves together with her to accomplish what seems like the impossible. But the Prophetess continues to pop up with her frightening warnings, then she disappears again. And no one knows who she is or where to find her. Does this woman actually know something that Darcie can use to protect Alaskans?

I thoroughly enjoyed reading 26 Below! This is truly the kind of suspense/thriller I adore. And I loved Darcie, and Jason Myers, who comes to work with the Emergency Operations Center with his own exceptional computer skills. Darcie and Jason might just be a perfect fit; but they’ll have to overcome a disaster, the pains and betrayals of their own pasts, and 26-below weather to discover that. Oh–and, they’ll have to survive.

Read 26 Below for an exciting, sometimes frightening ride through beautiful, untamable Alaska–and those who love the state and call it home.

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.

Enter to win these Mom Goodies in the Moms Rock Giveaway Hop! (Ends 5/31/23)

Hey there darlings!

I’m joining MamatheFox and lots of other neat bloggers for another celebration of moms this month! We’re all giving away prizes in the Moms Rock Giveaway hop–and you could win!

How to visit the Moms Rock Giveaway Hop page

You’ll want to visit the Moms Rock Giveaway Hop page for sure! That’s where all the participating bloggers have linked up their giveaways. At this page, you’ll be able to see all the giveaway blog names. By clicking on their highlighted links, you’ll be able to visit and see their giveaways, and enter to win!

Just click on the blue InLinkz button below (the one with the frog on it). That will take you to the main giveaway hop page. Check out all the giveaways and enter them–you just might end up winning one!

Enter to win the FINCHNWREN Mom Goodies giveaway

The FINCHNWREN blog is giving away these Mom Goodies in the Moms Rock Giveaway Hop! One entrant will win these goodies:

  • A darling white beaded bracelet from Francesca’s that says “MAMA” in periwinkle beads, with mint green bead accents
  • Prayers & Promises for Women book of encouraging words and Scriptures
  • Expressions from Hallmark blank note cards, with huge fucshia peonies pictured in a farmhouse pitcher
  • A 3-CD set of meaningful words from women, in O’s Little Guide to Starting Over, from the editors of O, The Oprah Magazine

To enter to win this prize pack, just click on the “Enter here!” link below. That will take you to a Giveaway Tools entry form, where you’ll be able to enter in a variety of ways. US entrants only. Must be 18 and older to win. Giveaway closes on 5/31/23. Best wishes!

Enter here!

Enjoy! –Wren


MamatheFox and all participating blogs are not held responsible for sponsors who fail to fulfill their prize obligations.