Enter to win a copy of THE JOY OF BEING MOM in the Moms Rock Giveaway Hop (ends 5/31/21)

Hello there!

It’s time for another awesome giveaway hop! I’m joining with host MamatheFox and lots of great bloggers, who are giving away fun prizes in the Moms Rock Giveaway Hop.

To hop over to the giveaway hop page, simply click on the blue InLinkz button below (the one with the frog on it). That will take you to the main Moms Rock Giveaway Hop page, where you’ll be able to see all the bloggers and click through to enter their giveaways.

And now, for the FINCHNWREN giveaway!

This month, the FINCHNWREN blog is giving away the perfect, faith-filled book for moms. Judy Brisky’s The Joy of Being Mom is a wonderful and encouraging book for moms, who so often have very full and tiring days. Brisky shares how to walk out mom days with faith, courage, and wisdom, sharing her own life experiences and all that she’s learned over her years of mom life (and she has two adult sons, so she’s learned much wisdom!). For more on the book, you can read my review of it. Just click on The Joy of Being Mom to read my review and learn more about it.

How to enter to win The Joy of Being Mom

Just click on the link below that says “Enter here!” That will take you to a Giveaway Tools page, where you’ll be able to enter in a variety of ways. Giveaway closes 5/31/21. One winner will be selected to win a copy of the book. 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 Joy of Being Mom” Review & Giveaway (ends 5/31/21)

#sponsor #partner

Recently, The BlogAbout Blogger Network sent me the perfect read for May (you know, Mother’s Day)! I received two copies of Judy Brisky’s The Joy of Being Mom. One copy is for me to give away to a FINCHNWREN reader! This was a wonderful and faith-building read. Let me tell you more!

About The Joy of Being Mom

Author Judy Brisky has written a book that’s appropriate for moms in any stage of parenting, from infant (well, really, even during pregnancy) all the way through our kids’ adult lives. The Joy of Being Mom contains 11 chapters on life, parenting, motherhood, marriage, and the Christian faith; and also about how God is right there for us in our mothering, every step of the way. Each chapter includes wisdom, instruction, ideas, and even stories of Judy’s own life experiences and how she walked through them. At the end of each chapter is a short but rich study guide (including a brief chapter review, applicable Bible verses, questions, “Heart Connectors,” and a prayer), as well as a coloring page for Bible journaling lovers!

Judy is a mother of 5 (three children in heaven, and two adult sons), mother-in-love to two daughters-in-love, and grandmother to Poppy (who’s also in heaven). She and her husband Mike spent years on the professional golf tour circuit; Judy homeschooled their two boys and Mike golfed as they raised their family. Those boys are now adults. Judy and Mike have been married for over 30 years and are now involved in ministry at Gateway Church. So, Judy is especially able to speak on many seasons of a mom’s life!

In The Joy of Being Mom, Judy’s Christian faith, joy in the journey of the mom life, and desire to share wisdom with other mothers shines on every page. Readers will get to hear about the way Mike and Judy came to faith and met God; how the Bible impacted their parenting and enduring the losses of three children; and how to live in the moment and enjoy their family relationships. There’s so much that moms at any point of their lives (even once the children are grown and have left the house) will benefit enormously. Judy’s voice is also delightful; she speaks to readers as if they are women she has come alongside to love and cherish. All of that makes The Joy of Being Mom a bright and refreshing read.

What I learned–and loved–about this book

One of my favorite things about books that come out of Gateway Publishing is this: while the authors teach and instruct on Scripture, life experience, and ministry, the books are always uplifting, encouraging, and never heavy or judgmental. I may definitely feel, while I’m reading, that God has instructions or corrections for me; but I never feel like I’m being shamed or condemned, or that the authors are putting burdens on me that are too heavy for me to carry. What a relief! And Judy Brisky’s book has all those same qualities. It was lovely to read.

I loved her reminders that our words have an enormous impact on our children. Are we speaking life over them? Or are we criticizing their flaws without offering them ways to improve? Her words on timing and lovingkindness in our speaking and teaching are on point and really able to instruct moms.

She shares a story from the life of Jesus that beautifully illustrates the heart we can have as we raise our kids. Although Jesus was the Son of God, He laid aside His position in order to lovingly serve the disciples, even to the point of washing their dirty feet. Amazing.

Judy also knows that a mother’s days are both full and sometimes…long. She found herself that putting her faith and reliance on God each day helped her to walk through those days with grace and love, instead of quick tempers or irritation. In addition, she shares tons of practical suggestions that enable moms to handle the responsibilities of life, like chore charts, teaching kids to communicate with grace, and staying involved in the Bible as individuals and as a family.

I’d love to tell you everything that I loved about this book and its wisdom. But I’m also a person who hates to give spoilers! So instead, I’m going to share some of my favorite quotes. Here they are:

  • “…He knows exactly what kind of mother your children need…God equips every mother with the specific tools she needs to help her children grow into loving, mature adults.”
  • “One of the most important things we can teach our children is that mistakes do not lessen God’s love for us or our love for each other. Love is not something we have to earn, nor is it something we have to worry about losing.”
  • “Listen to your children and thank them for sharing with you. Let them know that what they have to say matters and is important to you.”
  • “When you think there’s nowhere to go and the dim light at the end of the tunnel has faded away, He will be your Light. He will show you “a pathway no one knew was there.” Whether this pathway is one of healing, restoration, or guidance, it will bring you to the heart of God. It will guide you to the place of knowing that your heavenly Father loves you, takes care of you, and is always faithful to you, even when you don’t understand.”
  • “Don’t be discouraged if there is an area of weakness in your life. We are all in the process of learning, growing, and healing. Go to the Father and ask Him to help you.”

More than anything else, I love that while Judy Brisky has tons of wonderful ideas and perspectives to share with moms, a major theme in her book is that God LOVES us all so much, and that He is ALWAYS ready to help us, to share His lovingkindness with us, and to help us with our parenting and families. We are never alone; we have the God of all comfort on our side!

How you can enter to win your own copy of The Joy of Being Mom

The FINCHNWREN blog has one copy of he Joy of Being Mom to give away to one reader! Beginning at 9:00 a.m. EST on May 16, 2021, readers can enter to win this. Simply 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. Giveaway closes 5/31/21, and one winner will be selected to win. Best wishes!

Enter here!

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclaimer: From time to time, FINCHNWREN may receive a free product or service. We are not required to write a positive or glowing review, nor are we additionally compensated for these reviews. We share our own opinions, and our family’s opinion, of these products. We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

Terri Blackstock’s fabulous newest: “Aftermath” – A JustRead Blog Tour & Giveaway (ends 5/18/21)

Aftermath JustRead Blog Tour Welcome to the Blog Tour for Aftermath by Terri Blackstock, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!


AftermathTitle: Aftermath Author: Terri Blackstock Publisher: Thomas Nelson Release Date: May 11, 2021 Genre: Christian Romantic Suspense/Thriller

This gripping new thriller from New York Times bestselling author Terri Blackstock will leave you on the edge of your seat. A devastating explosion. Three best friends are at the venue just to hear their favorite band . . . but only one of them makes it out alive. A trunk full of planted evidence. When police stop Dustin with a warrant to search his trunk, he knows it’s just a mistake. He’s former military and owns a security firm. But he’s horrified when they find explosives, and he can’t fathom how they got there. An attorney who will risk it all for a friend. Criminal attorney Jamie Powell was Dustin’s best friend growing up. They haven’t spoken since he left for basic training, but she’s the first one he thinks of when he’s arrested. Jamie knows she’s putting her career on the line by defending an accused terrorist, but she’d never abandon him. Someone is framing Dustin to take the fall for shocking acts of violence . . . but why?

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound | Christianbook | Bookbub


Terri Blackstock

Terri Blackstock has sold over seven million books worldwide and is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. She has had over twenty-five years of success as a novelist. She’s the author of If I Run, If I’m Found, and If I Live, as well as such series as Cape Refuge, Newpointe 911, Moonlighters, and the Restoration series. Visit her website at www.terriblackstock.com.

CONNECT WITH TERRI: Website | Facebook


(3) winners will receive a print copy of Aftermath by Terri Blackstock!

Aftermath JustRead Giveaway

Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway began at midnight May 11, 2021 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on May 18, 2021. 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 the policies found here.

ENTER GIVEAWAY HERE https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

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

JustRead Publicity Tours

*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

My review of Aftermath

Aftermath: (noun) Something that results or follows from an event, especially one of a disastrous or unfortunate nature; consequence. (from Dictionary.com)

In the aftermath of disaster, emergency personnel descend on the scene. They work rapidly to locate victims, remove survivors from dangerous situations, prevent further tragedies from occurring.

But what if the disaster is a crime scene? Then all those efforts still have to happen, but in addition, suspects must be located and secured so that no further harm is done. What happens, though, when the wrong guy is arrested?

In Atlanta, three people are going about their lives, unaware that those lives are about to be turned upside down. College student Taylor is at a concert/political appearance with her two best friends. Jamie, an attorney, plans to pick up her young daughter from her mother’s home, after a case is closed and her client is acquitted. Former U.S. military and current security consultant Dustin is driving alone, but is suddenly pulled over by a group of armed police and ATF agents. They demand to search his trunk. And what the officers find there shocks Dustin and impels them into action. Once he is booked, he contacts the only person he knows who might be able to help him: Jamie.

What follows is a fascinating tale that touches myriad aspects of the human experience: a suffering and perhaps dying spouse; guilt determined by the media rather than in a court of law; the joys of family and children; struggles with mental illness; revenge; and beneath all of those, the character of each individual that determines the actions taken and choices made. Will another innocent person be made to suffer in the aftermath of others’ decisions?

I was thrilled to discover that one of my favorite authors of inspirational suspense thrillers, Terri Blackstock, was releasing her next book. Aftermath is excellent! I loved reading this book about a good man arrested for a horrendous crime he didn’t commit, the childhood friend turned lawyer who fights to get him set free, and Taylor, a random young woman who got, so to speak, caught in the crossfire. Never predictable, and including challenges faced by real people today, this novel grabbed me from the first chapter. (In fact, I read it all in one day; it would have been in one sitting except I had to eat lunch!) I love Blackstock’s thrillers, and the faith that her characters either encounter or lean on to get through their difficulties. If you’re looking for an exciting novel that you won’t be able to put down, Aftermath is the book for you!

Sound amazing?

Well, the publisher has provided a sample chapter for you to read! Just click on this LINK if you’d like to check it out! Once you’re on the Aftermath page, scroll down a bit and you’ll see a spot where you can click on the book cover to read a chapter. I’m certain you’ll find it compelling!

Enjoy! –Wren

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

Win a Crayola Craft Pack in the Life’s a Beach Giveaway Hop (ends 5/18/21)

Hi everyone!

It’s time for another fun craft giveaway! I’m joining with lots of fun bloggers in the “Life’s a Beach Giveaway Hop,” hosted by Blogger Talk Media. I’m giving away something fun for your kids to use to create, now that the school year is finally winding down!

The FINCHNWREN blog is giving away a Crayola Craft Pack! One winner will receive all these goodies:

  • Crayola Paint Your Own Artist Creation (includes a canvas imprinted with a hedgehog, paintbrush, and 4-pack of washable paints)
  • Two Creative Kids Super Blast Art sets (each includes 2 spray pens and two stencils; remember to use smocks and cover your painting surfaces, as paint may stain)
  • Crayola Marker & Paint Pad (8″ x 10″ size, 25 pages suitable for markers and paint)
  • Three 1-ounce packs of Crayola Model Magic (my favorite soft, squishy modeling material) in red, yellow, and blue
  • Two-pack of mini lined journals with colorful covers (Mom may want these!)

How to enter to win:

Simply 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. Giveaway closes on May 18, 2021. One winner will be selected to win. Best wishes!

Enter here!

And now, how to enter the Life’s a Beach Giveaway Hop!

You’ll definitely want to visit the linkup page for the Life’s a Beach Giveaway Hop, where you’ll find tons of cool blogs giving away neat prizes. Over 50 bloggers will be giving away a cool variety of prizes. To get there, just click on the blue InLinkz button below (the one with the frog on it). That will take you to the linkup page, where you’ll be able to enter to win!

Enjoy! –Wren

“Finding Uncle Newton and his Nemesis” – A JustRead Blog & Giveaway (ends 5/11/21)

Finding Uncle Newton JustRead Blog Tour Welcome to the Blog Tour for Finding Uncle Newton and his Nemesis by Douglas P. Cornelius, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!


Finding Uncle NewtonTitle: Finding Uncle Newton and his Nemesis Author: Douglas P. Cornelius Publisher: Gatekeeper Press Release Date: March 15, 2021 Genre: Middle Grade/Teen Historical Fiction (age 13-17)

She is outgoing, but orphaned. He is introverted, but a world-renowned scientist. Would moving in with Uncle Isaac Newton work? When his head was always in a book or the Bible? Teen-aged Catherine Barton tries desperately to connect, so seeks a match for her energy in the London coffeehouses. That women were not welcome there in the late 1690’s would not stop her, and she does find promising boyfriend John. Meanwhile, Uncle Isaac, as new Warden of the Mint, has his own challenges—nabbing counterfeiters, including the notorious, William Chaloner. He enlists Catherine to spy at the coffeehouse, and she welcomes the bond—all until boyfriend John gets implicated in a counterfeiting scheme. Then a case of smallpox, a pandemic scourge that had killed millions just decades earlier, sends her off to dreaded isolation in the countryside. And Uncle Isaac’s battle to nab the devious Chaloner turns into a challenging chess match. Will famous scientist Newton be embarrassed by a scofflaw from the street? Will Catherine ever find her true connection? Based on actual historical events and people. Author is a prior recipient of Moonbeam and Illumination Awards for books for faith-driven teens.

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound


Douglas Cornelius

Illumination and Moonbeam award-winning author Douglas P. Cornelius hails from the Twin Cities, MN. He began writing after careers at Target, Ameriprise, and 3M. A Cornell University graduate, his hope is to reveal the lives of impactful Christian figures through story, rather than biography. Doug has been married for 45 years and has two children, three grandchildren, cat Selah, and new puppy Scout.



(1) winner will receive a print copy of Finding Uncle Newton and his Nemesis, winner’s choice of another book by the author, and a $25 Amazon gift card!

Finding Uncle Newton JustRead Giveaway

Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway began at midnight May 4, 2021 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on May 11, 2021. 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 the policies found here.

ENTER GIVEAWAY HERE https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

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

JustRead Publicity Tours

*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

My review

Finding Uncle Newton and his Nemesis provides middle-grade and teen readers with a glimpse into the life of scientist Sir Isaac Newton. Set in England in the late 1600s and peopled with actual historical figures, this book tells the story of what might have happened when his orphaned niece, Catherine Barton, came to live with him after “aging” out of the orphanage she lived in (at age 16!). Imagine a vibrant, extroverted teen moving into her uncle’s home; her uncle who had a brilliant scientific mind, a vigorous Christian faith, and…a temper.

While her Uncle Isaac had already published his masterwork Principia Mathematica when Catherine came to live with him, both his scientific and faith explorations were far from over. The monarchy had faced immense difficulties with England’s economy, and these difficulties were exacerbated by large counterfeiting operations, when bogus coins were struck and used as legal tender. To help solve this crisis, Newton was appointed Warden of the Mint and tasked with finding and arresting the counterfeiters.

In Finding Uncle Newton and his Nemesis, young readers will meet a number of actual people who lived in Newton’s time and interacted with the scientist and, perhaps, his niece, such as:

  • Edmund (sometimes spelled Edmond) Halley
  • Captain William Phips
  • Counterfeiter William Chalmoner
  • Newgate prisoner Cecilia Labree
  • Colonial poet Anne Bradstreet
  • and more

In addition, author Douglas Cornelius also includes excerpts from actual letters in this book (although their 17th-century language has been updated for today’s readers).

Sir Isaac Newton is one of my favorite scientists of all time. His exceptional scientific discoveries still affect us and inform our understanding of astronomy and science today. Many people might be surprised to learn that he investigated the Bible and the realm of faith just as intensely. Finding Uncle Newton and his Nemesis is an engaging story about Newton and his niece Catherine, who deeply desires to be loved and valued. Newton’s pursuit of England’s counterfeiters while serving as Warden of the Mint provides a wonderful, and true, spy story. I so enjoyed the way Cornelius wove the actual letters and statements of counterfeiter Chalmoner into this tale (proving yet again that people really haven’t changed much over the years). Readers will gain a wonderful insight not only into Newton’s faith, and into his ideas and discoveries as well.

Finding Uncle Newton and his Nemesis is a fantastic read for teens, and also, I’d believe, for late elementary-aged students. This book could be enjoyed either as a reader or a family read-aloud.

Enjoy! –Wren

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

“Cake” Cookbook & Cupcake Stickers Giveaway! (Part of the Come What May Giveaway Hop, ends 5/15/21)

Hi everyone!

It’s May! And I have a charming giveaway for you…plus I’m joining in the Come What May Giveaway Hop, hosted by MamatheFox, along with lots of other cool bloggers. Keep reading for more info on how to enter all the giveaways!

To visit the Come What May Giveaway Hop page, where you’ll find all the giveaways, just click on the blue InLinkz button below (the one with the frog on it). That will take you to the hop’s home page, and you’ll be able to visit all the giveaway blogs, and enter them!

And now, for the FINCHNWREN giveaway!

I’m giving away this darling book, Cake, which is a beautifully illustrated book of delightful food stories combined with cake recipes. It is just a joy to read; the recipes are fun and the drawings are vivid and gorgeous.

I’m also giving away the 12-pack of cupcake stickers, pictured in the banner! Can you see the shadow around the cupcakes? They’re centered on top of sticky squares so you get a bit of a shadowed/elevated effect.

How to enter the FINCHNWREN giveaway

To enter, 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 to win in a variety of ways. Giveaway closes 5/15/21. One winner will be selected to win both the Cake cookbook and the cupcake stickers. Best wishes!

Enter here!

Enjoy! –Wren


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

“Begotten” – A JustRead Blog + Review Tour (plus giveaway, ends 5/4/21)

Begotten JustRead Blog + Review Tour

Welcome to the Blog + Review Tour for Begotten by Lisa T. Bergren, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!


Begotten Title: Begotten Series: The Gifted Trilogy #1 Author: Lisa T. Bergren Publisher: BCG Press Release Date: April 26, 2021 Genre: Christian, Supernatural Suspense Begotten is an edited, new edition of a novel previously released in 2006, The Begotten. At the height of the Inquisition, a secret half a millennium old is about to be exposed—a lost letter believed to have been written by Saint Paul but never part of the Christian canon. The letter speaks of men and women—the Gifted—with profound spiritual gifts that will strike fear in the heart of a Church dedicated to maintaining power. Now the letter has surfaced and the Gifted are gathering. But so are their enemies… PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Christianbook


Lisa T. Bergren

Lisa T. Bergren is the best-selling, award-winning author of over 60 books in a variety of genres, from children’s picture books to contemporary romance to supernatural suspense novels. She lives in Colorado Springs in a brand-new home she and her husband just finished building and intend to never leave, because she’s discovered she loathes moving. You can find out more about her at LisaTBergren.com

CONNECT WITH LISA: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


(1) winner will receive a signed print copy of Begotten, a custom Gifted candle, and a $50 Amazon gift card!

Begotten JustRead giveaway

Be sure to check out each stop on the tour for more chances to win. Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway began at midnight April 27, 2021 and lasts through 11:59 PM EST on May 4, 2021. 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 the policies found here.

ENTER GIVEAWAY HERE https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

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

JustRead Publicity Tours

*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

My review of Begotten

Gianni de Capezzana: knight of the Church, strong and courageous in his faith as he and his men seek to track down the Sorcerer, who is a murderer, destroyer, and ensnarer of the unwary.

Father Piero: transient priest, preacher of the Gospel of Christ, holder of a prophetic illuminated document, that foretells three who will bring life, healing, and faith to those in need.

Lady Daria d’Angelo: member of a noble Siena family famous for their weaving, who’s abiding in a convent after a broken engagement. She hopes to heal her own heart, not knowing that God has given her an unusual gift for healing others.

These three, although they don’t know it yet, are part of the Gifted, a group of Christians who’ve been brought together to share the gifts of the Spirit in a time when the Church was generally the only possessor of the Bible and the only groups and individuals authorized to speak of God and His directions. Yet a battle has begun between two sides that will engage them all, heart and soul, and draw others into a spiritual and physical fight between good and evil. Will they be able to stand against such a powerful enemy, with weapons that are spiritual, as they seek to save the lost and the broken?

Lisa Bergren’s exceptional gift for storytelling brings the struggle between the God and His children and the forces of darkness to life with appealing and varied characters. Life in Italy, in the 1300s, is captured vividly; readers can picture cathedrals, cobblestoned plazas, and walled castles as well as the challenges of existence in the Middle Ages. Just as powerfully, Bergren describes the lives of individuals called to follow God and gifted for His amazing purposes in this novel about Daria, Piero, Gianni, the Sorcerer, and others, and the forces aligned on both sides. This exciting book is the first in The Gifted series, with two more to come.

If you love a fantastic story, engaging characters, and inspirational fiction, you’ll love Begotten. Just be prepared for a wonderful, if sometimes frightening, tale of good and its fight against evil!

Enjoy! –Wren

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

Irene Hannon’s new novel: “Blackberry Beach” (a Revell Reads review)

#sponsor #partner

Hi everyone! I recently received a new Hope Harbor book from Revell Reads to share with you. Irene Hannon writes contemporary romance and romantic suspense novels, with faith as one of the key ingredients. Her newest book, Blackberry Beach, returns to the town of Hope Harbor, where new characters meet the lovely beachside town as well as old favorites from the series.

In earlier years, Katherine Parker had visited Blackberry Beach and loved its beauty, simplicity, and of course, the nearby ocean whose sound and rhythm permeated the village. So when her challenging and demanding career drives her to a moment when she knows that she needs some peace and quiet, she rents an oceanside cottage and settles in. She loves the secluded area and finds much to enjoy. The blackberry bushes, Charley’s food truck, with its incredible fish tacos, and an empty beach to stroll daily help her to catch her breath.

Zach Garrett would probably understand her perspective. After loss, he’s moved to Hope Harbor and started a new career with his own gourmet coffee shop. He has become a talented and artsy barista and loves the locals, and his coffee shop attracts both residents and visiting tourists. When a lovely woman buys a latte but doesn’t respond to his friendly conversation, preferring to hide behind her oversized sunglasses, he’s intrigued…but respectful. He’d love to find out more about her though. In a non-stalker-y way. He’s even more interested to discover that the woman is his near neighbor on the beach.

Katherine’s and Zach’s lives couldn’t be more different; yet underneath, they both lack, and hope for, some of the same things. But to find out if they might be compatible, they’ll have to have a real conversation. Personal hobbies, a volunteer opportunity, and maybe even the fish taco truck’s owner might help them along the way.

Irene Hannon’s contemporary romance is a gentle story that shows both the importance of human connection and the challenges of dating in this day and age, for adults of many ages! Her characters are appealing and interesting. Hope Harbor and its adjacent Blackberry Beach are described so beautifully that the reader will actually be able to see and imagine the luscious blackberries, smell the lavender, and mentally taste the truffles, as they follow Zach’s and Katherine’s journeys. And anyone who’s struggled with the questions of “Is God really good?” or “Can he be trusted with my hopes and dreams?” will appreciate the characters’ walks of faith.

Pick up this book if you’d like a lovely romance set on the beach, to visit Hope Harbor, and to remember God’s lovingkindness!

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclaimer: I received a copy of Blackberry Beach from Revell Reads. All opinions included here are my own.

Vooks-a brand-new way for kids to read! (giveaway ends 4/28/21)

#sponsor #partner

Recently, I had the opportunity to check out Vooks, a new way for kids to engage with reading storybooks online! Momentum Influencers provided a Vooks membership to me, plus another one-year Vooks subscription to give away to one FINCHNWREN reader!

What is Vooks?

Vooks is a streaming storybook service for families, and especially for kids. It provides unlimited streaming, is kid-safe, and includes no ads. Vooks’ library of storybooks is full of classic tales and new stories. Books can be downloaded or viewed while streaming on platforms such as Roku, Apple, AppleTV, AmazonFire TV, and more, on tablets, phones, and tv.

Vooks also includes free printable lesson plans to go with books! These might have a book summary, questions, and fun activities for kids and parents to engage with. Kids can color, draw, make foldable cubes, and learn as they’re completing fun activities. This is a wonderful resource for parents or teachers to use, especially during the time of corona.

Books are available for the preschool set all the way through elementary-aged students. Vooks covers a lot of subject matter in their books as well! Art, science, technology; colorful kid dictionaries, nature books, and seasons; creativity, biographies, and character qualities are just a few of the many categories kids can read about. Classic book titles like Curious George or The Mitten and book collections from Class Dojo and Dream Big are some of the many readers will find.

How does Vooks work?

Each book on the Vooks website contains the original book’s illustrations, vividly reproduced and animated in the digital book. When a reader clicks on a book selection, they can see a summary of the book, its category (art, biography, etc.), and the number of minutes it will take to complete the book. All the books are read aloud by interesting voice actors who help bring the book to life. The book’s “pages” turn automatically to match up to what the speaker is reading. All the beauty of children’s books is reproduced faithfully to provide a wonderful, engaging storytime read-aloud for kids, as the books’ original illustrations animate to match the story.

When parents sign up for their membership (and later, I’ll provide a link for a free 30-day membership you can try out!), they can set up profiles for their children. The Vooks home page allows readers to click on their profile avatar, which will take them to books arranged for them. From there, kids or parents can scroll through the book titles, click on one they’re interested in, and listen/view!

Each book’s “cover” contains a blue “Watch” button that can be clicked on to start the book, pause it, or resume. Readers can like books by clicking on hearts over the books, which will add them to the user’s favorites list. There is also a “Details” tab on each book that states its intended audience (e.g., 2-8), author, illustrator, and release date. As each word of the story (printed on each page) is read aloud, its letters go from gray (unread) to black (read), so kids can also be connecting words as spelling with their auditory versions.

What books will you find in the Vooks streaming service?

So many! I’ve already mentioned Curious George (you’ll find several of those) and The Mitten (with gorgeous new illustrations). There are books about science (Earth Yay!, Physics Animated, Shells: A Pop-Up Book of Wonder), Caldecott Award winner What Do You Do With a Tail?, and so much more. Here are some of my personal favorites!

  • Inventors Who Changed the World
  • Hats Are NOT for Cats!
  • The Road Less Traveled
  • Hattie Peck
  • The Very Cold, Freezing, No Number Day
  • A Dog By Any Other Name is Not the Same
  • Luis and Tabitha
  • and more!

There are books for preschool kids, kindergartners, elementary-ages. There are dictionary-ish books with vivid illustrations for the kid reader. There are books about cultures of the world, and about tons of animals. There are bedtime books and counting books. Just an abundance of riches for the reading family!

My impressions

Charming. Wonderful! Such an engaging experience!

We don’t have early readers at home at the moment. But what an incredible addition to our lives Vooks would have been, when we did! We spent many, many hours reading aloud, from the time our son was an infant, all the way up to family read-alouds in his upper grades. Picture books, chapter books, novels and nonfiction reads, all enriched our family as a whole and as individuals. I would have loved to have had Vooks to add to our family’s reading experiences!

Vooks brings children’s books to life so vividly and beautifully. Yes, children can use it on their own. But I venture to guess that parents will want to join in as well! The illustrations are gorgeous and the animation brings them gently to life in a way that adds richness and delight to the stories. The voice actors are so talented yet never distract from the story. And musical compositions add to the flow of the experience.

I recommend Vooks so highly to you, if you have kids ranging from preschool to elementary age. Vooks can add more reading and beauty to your kids’ lives, and to your family as a whole.

How to get your own free 30-day subscription—and enter to win a year’s sub!

Vooks has graciously made a free 30-day subscription of their streaming service available toFINCHNWREN readers. You can try Vooks free for 30 days! Go to VOOKS to sign up! 

And, you can enter to win a year’s subscription to Vooks as well! To enter this giveaway, simply 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. Giveaway closes 4/28/21. One winner will win a year’s subcription to Vooks. Best wishes!

Enter here!

If you don’t happen to be the winner of the FINCHNWREN Vooks giveaway, just click on Vooks to purchase your own.

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: Many thanks to Vooks for providing this product/product information for review.  Opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Interview with Barb Roose, author of “Breakthrough” Bible Study

#sponsor #partner

Hi there!

I wanted to share a fun interview with you with Audra Jennings of Audra Jennings PR and Barb Roose, author of the Bible Study “Breakthrough: Finding Freedom In Christ.” This study is on the Bible book of Galatians, which I’ll be reviewing and sharing with you in a few weeks. I started it this morning and I can tell it is going to be rich and meaningful.

Here is the first part of Audra’s interview with Barb.

Part 1 of an Interview
with Barb Roose,

Author of Breakthrough

For some, Christianity is a long list of rules to be followed, and it’s hard to be a “good Christian” because it always seems you’re breaking one of those rules. In Breakthrough: Finding Freedom in Christ (Abingdon Women), popular women’s conference speaker and author Barb Roose wants to help readers let go of the feeling they are not a “good enough” Christian and find freedom in Christ by studying Paul’s letter to the Galatians.

In this six-week study, Roose shows women that even the believers in the early church struggled to let go of rule-keeping and performance in order to embrace God’s free gift of grace. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul pours out his heart and faith to set them straight, addressing so many of the same questions and problems we still face today such as: Who has led you to believe you have to follow rules and “measure up”? Why do you think you have to be perfect for God? Does God only show up or love you when you “get it right”?
Q: You wrote the Breakthrough Bible study to celebrate God’s amazing grace and unconditional love, especially for Christians who are afraid that they have disappointed God or feel like they have to earn God’s favor or blessing. Did you struggle with this?
Oh yes! I grew up in a religious tradition of lovely people, but there were a lot of rules! While I heard about the gospel at an early age, I remember hearing more “dos” and “don’ts” from Christians around me than God’s love for me.
As a result of their influence and my own thinking, I spent decades judging myself as a Christian by how well I followed the “good” Christian rules such as never miss church, read the Bible every day, and others. Of course, there were seasons of life when I did miss church, I didn’t read the Bible, and I made mistakes. During those times in life, I feared that God was disappointed in me and I felt like a terrible Christian.
Years ago, I shifted my mindset. Instead of focusing on my performance, I decided to ruthlessly believe God’s promises about me and watch out for how He was working in my life. As I noticed where God was working in my life, I stopped feeling the pressure to earn His blessing and favor because I could already see Him giving them to me.

Q: We hear a lot about having freedom in Christ, but what does that actually mean for a Christian?
In the Breakthrough study, I define “freedom in Christ” as living free from fear and fully alive in God’s joy and purpose.
One of the most tangible examples for me is Jesus’ encounter with the immoral woman in Luke 7. While we don’t know where she came from or what she went through, we know that she cried enough tears at Jesus’ feet that she needed to use her hair to wipe them away. I can relate to that woman’s anguish at certain times in my life.
I love Jesus’ words to her, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” She didn’t say any or to do anything to earn Jesus’ forgiveness. He gives her peace just because she came humbly to his feet and Jesus set her free.
This is a powerful lesson for us, especially when we’ve got big regrets or the whispers from the pit of hell try to remind us of our mistakes. Jesus died to bring us freedom and we don’t have to earn it, only receive it and live in it.
Q: Breakthrough is a study of the book of Galatians. Why do scholars consider Galatians to be one of the most significant books in the New Testament?
Scholars consider Galatians one of the most significant books in the New Testament because it establishes the importance of the gospel of grace over the law. As the Apostle Paul writes to the Galatians, he presents the gospel as well as explains the relationship between God’s covenant with Abraham, Jesus as the New Covenant and why the law was needed in between.
Much like it is now, the gospel was under attack in the Galatian church by those who taught that salvation by grace wasn’t enough. Paul calls this a “twisting truth” that fools people now like it did then. If we don’t get clear on the gospel, then we will miss out on the freedom that Jesus died to bring us because we’ll be too busy trying to make ourselves right with God—and that isn’t the gospel at all.
Q: Oftentimes we are hesitant to start the hard conversations about diversity at the risk of offending someone or making a situation worse. What are some ways we can start (and continue) discussions with the correct heart?
As part of Paul’s dialogue with the Galatian church, he emphasized that Christ came to break down the divisions between believers, but that doesn’t mean that God intends for us to ignore our differences. God intentionally created humans with differences in color and culture. In Galatians 5:13, Paul writes that we should use our freedom to serve one another in love.
The best way that we can love people who look differently than us is to love them through listening, especially when we don’t know them. Listening begins with inviting people who look differently than us to share their life stories. I like questions like, “Would you tell me about your life?” or “How did your family celebrate special holidays?” or “What’s been hard for you lately?”
When we’re willing to listen to others, it’s a demonstration of humility that we care and respect the other person and their story.
Q: How does taking a shutdown day or practicing walking and talking help us achieve our breakthrough?
When we purposefully stop trying to do and give ourselves an entire day without a “to-do” list, our hearts and minds are freed to hear from God. Taking a walk and praying while we’re walking focuses our hearts, minds and souls on God. Time and time again, I’ve experienced God’s presence, peace and often, divine revelation when I quiet my heart, mind and body.
Q: How do justification and sanctification fit in with your “finding freedom” theme?
Both sanctification and justification are a result of God’s activity in us. Justification is God’s “not guilty” declaration on us because we are redeemed through Jesus’ sacrifice for us. Sanctification is a combination of our willingness and God’s power to make us more like Christ. As we say “yes” to where God wants to transform us, He does the work in changing and transforming our thoughts so that we reflect Christ’s love, joy, peace and more.
Q: How can we be more supportive rather than judgmental Christians, especially with a friend that has fallen into sin?
This is such an important question! I’ve heard from so many hurting Christians who’ve walked away from the church because they made a mistake and Christians were quick to criticize.
We all make mistakes. All have sinned. Paul taught us that our role as believers is to gentle and humbly help those who’ve fallen. We’re not to add to someone’s guilt by telling them how badly they messed up and we’re gossip about them because Paul also taught in Galatians 6 that we’re all prone to faltering.
So, we gently and humbly help people when we follow in Jesus’ footsteps like he did with Zacchaeus the tax collector or the adulterous woman. First, we go to them, not avoid them. Then, we don’t shame them, but rather listen to their story. Finally, we affirm God’s truth and pray with them. We don’t have to save them or force them back on the right path again, that’s God’s job, but not ours.
Q: It seems like since the pandemic began last year that people in general have become more and more argumentative and staunch in their opinions over everything, even related to how the local church handles certain situations. What does Galatians teach us about agreeing (or disagreeing) together?
Unfortunately, churches have a reputation for what they are against more than what they are for. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul reminded the people that God sent Jesus to die for all. Paul teaches the principles of the gospel over and over again in Galatians because he knew how quickly people could get swayed by someone else’s agenda.
I have a dangerous theory: I believe that the gospel transcends and can transform even our greatest struggles as Christians and humans. The gospel addresses racism, sexism, poverty, family dysfunction and so much more. However, just as the Galatian believers began to listen to Judiazers with a false gospel agenda, as a Church, our ears have been bent by other agendas as well. Some of those agendas are very good things, but they aren’t the gospel.
Breakthrough: Finding Freedom in Christ
by Barb Roose 

Available April 6, 2021 from Abingdon Women

 Participant Workbook — Paperback ISBN: 9781791014223 / $16.99 — eBook ISBN: 9781791014230 / $16.99
Leader Guide — Paperback ISBN: 9781791014247 / $14.99 — eBook ISBN: 9781791014254 / $14.99
DVD ISBN: 9781791014261 / $49.99

About the author

Barb Roose is a popular speaker and author who is passionate about teaching women to live beautifully strong and courageous in spite of their fears so that they can experience God’s great adventure of faith and purpose for their lives.
Roose enjoys teaching and encouraging women at conferences and events across the country, as well as internationally, including national platforms such as the Aspire Women’s Events, She Speaks Conference, and many more.
She is the author of three books, Surrendered Devotional, Winning the Worry Battle, and Enough Already, and five Bible studies, Breakthrough, Surrendered, I’m Waiting, God, Joshua, and Beautiful Already. Her writing has been featured in many magazines, and she also writes a regular blog at BarbRoose.com. She hosts the “Better Together” Facebook Live events and podcast.
Roose lives in Toledo, Ohio, and is the proud mom of three adult daughters. Her perfect day includes sleeping in, taking a long walk outside, shopping for shoes and eating two big bowls of chocolate peanut ice cream.
Visit Barb Roose’s online home at barbroose.com. Readers can also keep up with her on Facebook (BarbaraRoose), Twitter (barbroose), and Instagram (barbroose).

I’m looking forward to sharing more with you about Breakthrough: Finding Freedom In Christ soon!

Enjoy! –Wren