Brand-new from Lisa Phillips: “Expired Return”

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I love, love, love Lisa Phillips’ thrillers! And Expired Return, book 1 in Lisa’s “Last Chance Fire and Rescue” series, has introduced me to awesome characters that I fell in love with immediately. In addition, protagonists Pepper and Allen are strong and appealing (with just a little bit of mystery). Keep reading and you’ll get to read some excerpts of their story!

Expired Return JustRead Blog Tour Welcome to the Blog Tour for Expired Return by Lisa Phillips, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

About the Book

Expired Return

Title: Expired Return Series: Last Chance Fire and Rescue #1 Author: Lisa Phillips Publisher: Sunrise Publishing Release Date: January 31, 2023 Genre: Christian Romantic Suspense

She’ll give everything to protect her family.

He always knew she was the one. Veterinary tech Pepper Miller lives a quiet life in Last Chance County. She’s watching her niece until her sister shows up…if she ever does. When Victory’s father demands he take over her care, Pepper knows something has gone wrong. With a new drug in town, and her sister embroiled in a dangerous bargain, it’s up to Pepper to protect the people she loves. Even if it costs every secret she’s ever kept. Fire Department liaison Allen Frees lives with the injuries he sustained as a police officer in a raid gone wrong. He’s put his life back together but getting the truck crew and engine squad to succeed might be his toughest assignment yet. When Victory is nearly kidnapped at a community event, Allen steps in to help Pepper keep her niece safe. The one thing he couldn’t fix was the love he lost, but he isn’t going to let Pepper walk away this time. No matter what walls he has to break down. Last Chance County returns in this blazing new series from Sunrise Publishing. PURCHASE LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | BookBub

More Books in this Series

Expired Hope Expired Promise Expired Vows


About the Author

Lisa Phillips

Lisa Phillips is a USA Today and top ten Publishers Weekly bestselling author of over 50 books that span Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense line, independently published series romantic suspense, and thriller novels. She’s discovered a penchant for high-stakes stories of mayhem and disaster where you can find made-for-each-other love that always ends in happily ever after.

Lisa is a British ex-pat who grew up an hour outside of London and attended Calvary Chapel Bible College, where she met her husband. He’s from California, but nobody’s perfect. It wasn’t until her Bible College graduation that she figured out she was a writer (someone told her). As a worship leader for Calvary Chapel churches in her local area, Lisa has discovered a love for mentoring new ministry members and youth worship musicians. Discover the world of Last Chance Fire and Rescue at

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

Tour Giveaway

(1) winner will receive a print copy of Expired Return, a $10 Amazon gift card, and sticker swag from Last Chance County!

Expired Return JustRead Giveaway

Full tour schedule linked below. The giveaway begins at midnight January 31, 2023 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on February 7, 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

And now–a little of Expired Return for you to read!

In Excerpt One, you’ll meet the fabulous Pepper. And in Excerpt Two, you’ll meet Allen!


Eighteen months, and the police in Last Chance County still hated her.

“Come on. Let’s get this done.” Donaldson motioned her to a seat, unaware of his brash tone.

She settled into the hard plastic chair on the short side of the desk. The edge had a metal ring fixed to it for securing handcuffs. Great. She’d been given the criminal’s chair.

Go figure. How about they have a little trust?

Donaldson lifted his brows.

Pepper said, “Aren’t you going to ask me a question?”

Thankfully, no one else was around to see this. It was seven thirty in the morning, which was why she’d chosen this time. The police department wasn’t exactly on her way to work.

“I figured you knew how this worked.” Donaldson slid over a legal pad. “But okay, what did you want to report?”

Pepper held herself very still. “I came here because I need help, not to be browbeaten.”

“I apologize.” He didn’t look apologetic. He looked like he wanted to get this over with as soon as he could.

That was what her actions had accomplished.

She’d turned a perfectly nice family man and good cop into a guy with an attitude who wanted her out of here as fast as possible.


“Anyway, I might have something for you to look into. So give me a call back.” Allen tapped the dash screen and ended the call to Tate, where he’d left the local private investigator a message. Maybe his friend could help Pepper. It certainly wasn’t in Allen’s
purview as the City Hall liaison to the fire department.

He shoved the truck into park and let out a long sigh.

I have to go. And wasn’t that the truth? The woman did nothing but try to get away from him.

Instead of letting that go around and around in his mind, Allen shoved the door open. He moved his seat back and dragged the folded wheelchair across his body. He set it down on the ground beside his vehicle.

In the process, he got the thing mostly unfolded. Enough he could sit in it.

Allen shifted his body to the edge of the seat and clasped the tether that hung from the grab handle. He braced his foot and lowered himself hand over hand using the rope knots, so he didn’t fall too fast.

He’d learned that one the hard way.

He grabbed the last knot and lowered his butt into the chair. Shifted his foot. The other foot. Shut the door. Clicked his keys.


He thanked God every chance he got that he’d managed to figure this process out—with some modifications to his truck so it was drivable for him. People had tried to tell him the process was too convoluted or that someone with a disability like his couldn’t drive anything but a van—as if—or a tiny car. Barf. Well, they could quite frankly pry this truck from his cold dead hands. Or bury him in it.

Enjoy! And don’t forget to enter the giveaway so that you might win a copy plus book swag!


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

Laura Frantz’s fabulous newest: “The Rose and the Thistle” (a review)

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Lately, I’ve taken to reading historical fiction again. Years ago, I gorged (you get this, if you love reading) on tons of books about several particular eras–so much so that I got to where I couldn’t even think of reading any more about them. And I gave up the genre as a whole. But, there are some amazing writers who’ve drawn me back to centuries and historical events that I knew only a little about. And they’ve provided a banquet of images about these–with periods of time I’ll remember because they peopled their books with such memorable, wonderful characters.

And so! That’s what Laura Frantz has done for me with her lovely The Rose and the Thistle, and its main characters. Scottish laird (or lord) Everard Hume. Protestant. War hero. Eldest of many brothers. And English Lady Blythe Hedley. Catholic (or Jacobite), Brilliant. Learned. Multilingual. Beloved only daughter. These two (and their families) live on the edges of England and Scotland in 1715, when the British crown has changed hands yet again, with Catholics and Protestants regarding each other as abhorred enemies. Yet circumstances throw these two not only into each other’s path, but into the very same home. (Or castle, as it were.)

My thoughts

The Rose and the Thistle is just breathtaking.

This is a book that you must, must read. Exquisite character creation and development. Wonderful world-building. Descriptions of both the animate (be they people, animals, or birds) or the inanimate (like the gorgeous clothing you see on that fabulous book cover). And language! (Not coarse, mind you; but the enormous difference between the spoken British English and the Scots tongue.) Blythe and Everard are from different worlds; they speak different languages; and although they both profess the Christian faith, the ways they worship have placed them on two sides of a war.

And yet.

Frantz brings these two worlds together with great skill and flair. Her protagonists, and those dearest to them, are fascinating. And it seems as though there’s no way that the two of them could ever become friends, much less connect in any meaningful way.

This is a book that so richly brings to life the world of 1715, with (in England and Scotland, anyway) dangerous intrigue and the desire of two almost equally matched groups who wish to enthrone their own choice of ruler. Yet far away from the throne are individuals with their own private lives and wishes. And perhaps, love.

This is a marvelous book. I adored every single minute I spent reading, and I don’t think I’ll every forget Blythe and Everard, and their story. Highly recommend!

Enjoy! –Wren

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

The NET TEXT Bible: just the thing for a new year’s Bible reading–or a new believer (closed)

**Congratulations to Leela, the winner of The NET TEXT Bible!**

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I’ve got an amazing Bible to tell you all about today! Momentum Influencer Network provided a hardcover copy of The TEXT Bible (NET) to me. It’s the most inviting, engaging Bible–perfect for starting out a new year and connecting to God in a new and beautiful way. Here’s the beautiful subtitle, which will engage you even more: “Uncover the Message Between God, Humanity, and You.” Let me tell you more–plus, there’s a giveaway for you to enter!

About The TEXT Bible

The TEXT Bible was designed for readers to really learn to SEE God. And to HEAR Him, and to KNOW Him and love Him more. Michael and Hayley DiMarco designed the additions to the Bible (it’s the New English Translation–NET) to help readers really engage with God. They’ve written these moments of engagement with new believers, students, and young adults in mind. (But really, any person who’d like to engage with God in a new and cherished way will find this Bible amazing.) The idea is as if you could send God a text–and He would answer!

The DiMarcos have developed a new, easy-to-understand study method, described by the word TEXT:

  • Talk to God
  • Encounter God and humanity in Scripture
  • eXamine your heart
  • Talk to others—to help readers of every experience level interact with God’s message

Then, Michael and Hayley have included tons of extras in this Bible. They are amazing! These include: The Big Q of the TEXT (God’s answers to life’s big questions); “Who Is God?” (almost 100 devotions on God’s person or character); learning to pray God’s Word; meeting the people and events of the Bible; following the threads (the big topics of Scripture) across the Bible; and definitions of words and literary categories. These are all designed to work alongside the TEXT study process.

My impressions of The TEXT Bible

I love this Bible! It is full of so many outstanding helps and engaging activities. And they’re all just what we need, as humans who are desiring to approach God and dwell in His love and His presence. The TEXT process itself (Talk to God, Encounter God and humanity in Scripture, eXamine your heart, Talk to others) is a tool which can help anyone who might find the Bible intimidating, or who wouldn’t know how to start with God’s Word. (Or where to start!) It is a fantastic set of habits that we can use to create regular and rich times with God, and an understanding of the Bible, and build on the knowledge of God’s interactions over time with humans–and how He might wish to interact with us.

Yes, this Bible is a tool that will bless and engage new believers and young ones. But, it will also enable seasoned or older believers as well, by providing a beautiful and fresh process they can use to encounter God. As my dear friend loves to say,

The grass withers and the flower fades, but the Word of our God endures forever.”

Isaiah 40:8, The Bible (NIV)

And so this wonderful Bible enables us to engage not only with the everlasting, never-ending Word of God–but with God Himself. What an outcome!

Some of my favorite moments from this Bible

Here are some wonderful moments that have meant so much to me.

  • I LOVE the Praying the Scriptures sidebars! They combine elements of Scriptures (in this one, Psalms 46, 18, 125, 50, and more) to help the reader begin a conversation with God. We pray God’s words in conversation back to Him. And His Word is solidified in our hearts and minds as we connect with Him.
  • Did you know that Jesus is pointed to, or referenced, in every book in the Bible? Yes, even Genesis, and the rest of the Old Testament, all the way into the New. In The TEXT Bible, every book begins with how you can see and find Jesus in that particular book. It is so cool! It almost creates a treasure hunt for God.

  • The end of the Bible has a great concordance, a hashtags list (it’s very neat), and maps. But it also has a great spiritual gifts chart, several Bible reading plans (whether you’re looking for one about Jesus, the major books of the Bible, or reading the whole Bible). Plus fascinating charts explaining the New Covenant, spiritual wisdom vs. worldly wisdom, and prophecies fulfilled about Jesus. And last but not least, the topic list and location of the Praying the Scriptures prayers!

  • I love that The TEXT Bible‘s resources use Scripture to interpret Scripture. So many of the TEXT moments in this Bible include references to numerous Bible verses that reference the ideas or doctrines that are being discussed–letting the Bible speak on its own topics. So important, and incredibly so for newbies who are just learning the ways of faith.
  • What I love the most about The TEXT Bible is that it’s really designed to help its readers know God better, to understand His Word, and to draw close to Him. It’s a wonderful goal–and one I believe this Bible accomplishes, over and over and page by page.

About the authors

Michael and Hayley DiMarco are the bestselling and award-winning authors of more than 40 books including Own It, God Guy, God Girl, and A Woman Overwhelmed. Michael and Hayley have now served as general editors on three Bible projects. Together, they work side-by-side at Hungry Planet, a company they founded that creates winsome and spiritually based content for teens and
adults. They live in Eugene, Oregon, where Michael serves as a pastor.

Where you can purchase The TEXT Bible–plus a discount!

Learn more about The TEXT Bible (NET) at this website.

You can get 50% off your copy of The NET TEXT Bible if you order before Valentine’s Day! Just click on the purchase link here for the discount (before February 14, 2023, remember!).

And, you can enter to win!

The FINCHNWREN blog is privileged to be able to give away a hardcover copy of The TEXT Bible (NET) to one reader of this blog! To enter, just click on the link below that says “Enter here!” That will take you to a Giveaway Tools entry form, where you can enter to win in a variety of ways. US entries only, entrants must be 18 and older. Giveaway closes on January 21, 2023. Best wishes!

Enter here!

Enjoy! –Wren


Many thanks to Harper Collins Christian Publishing for providing a sample of the product for this review. Opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.

A new novel about Lady Jane Grey: “A Life Renewed”

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One of the historical accounts that’s always captured my interest (and my heart) is that of the life of Lady Jane Grey (Dudley), the “‘Nine Days’ Queen” of England (July 10-19, 1553). Brilliant, learned, a faithful believer (as a Protestant), she reigned during the tumultuous days following the death of Henry VIII’s son (Jane’s cousin) Edward VI; and before her other cousin Mary’s eventual rule. Edward VI had favored Protestantism and during his reign the English Reformation continued and flourished. He named Jane his heir as the future queen of England, desiring the Reformation to continue. Yet his half-sister Mary, who was Catholic, had a large number of supporters, and as a result Jane’s short reign ended with her imprisoned and eventually beheaded for treason.

It’s such a tragic history; and yet Jane was such a remarkable young woman. (She was only 17 at her death.) Wonderful author Olivia Rae asks the question, “What if?” What if Jane escaped execution–and continued to live, in this novel, in Germany? And what if Queen Mary changed her mind and sent an assassin after Jane?

A Life Renewed JustRead Blog + Review Blitz Welcome to the Blog + Review Blitz for A Life Renewed by Olivia Rae, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

About the Book

A Life Renewed

Title: A Life Renewed Series: Secrets of the Queens #1 Author: Olivia Rae Publisher: HopeKnight Press Release Date: April 2, 2020 Genre: Christian Historical Romance

In 1554, Lady Jane Grey, “The Nine Days’ Queen” was executed for high treason. But what if, instead of feeling the blade on her neck she secretly survived?

Escaping execution, Lady Jane hides as a peasant girl in a principality in Germany. She loves the simple life and never wants to return to England. But her benefactor, a power-hungry German prince, wants to march on London and place her on the English throne again, thereby increasing his dominance in Europe. If she doesn’t agree with his plan, her beloved childhood nurse will be put to death. Desperate for help, Jane must put her trust in the mysterious spy Asher Hayes. Asher Hayes is done rounding up Protestants for “Bloody Mary” and wants nothing more than to live a quiet life as a farmer and expunge the blood of many from his hands. Except Queen Mary isn’t done with him yet. She throws his father, mother, and sister into prison on false charges in order to force him to accept one last mission – find and kill Lady Jane Grey. But when Asher discovers Lady Jane isn’t a threat to the throne as he believed her to be, he faces a devastating decision – does he sacrifice his family for the woman who reigns in his heart?

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

About the Author

Olivia Rae

Olivia Rae is an award-winning author of historical and contemporary inspirational romance. She spent her school days dreaming of knights, princesses and far away kingdoms; it made those long, boring days in the classroom go by much faster. Nobody was more shocked than her when she decided to become a teacher. Besides getting her Master’s degree, marrying her own prince, and raising a couple of kids, Olivia decided to breathe a little more life into her childhood stories by adding in what she’s learned as an adult living in a small town on the edge of a big city. When not writing, she loves to travel, dragging her family to old castles and forts all across the world.

Olivia is the winner of the Angel Awards, New England Readers’ Choice Award, Golden Quill Award, American Fiction Award, Illumination Book Awards, and the Southern Magic Award. She has also been a finalist in many other contests including the National Readers’ Choice Awards. She is currently hard at work on her next novel.

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

Tour Giveaway

(1) winner will receive a Book Gift Box including the books A Life Renewed & Salvation, a $25 Amazon gift card, 3-pack notebooks, CCB cheese dip mix, English Holdsworth chocolates, Lavender Essential Oils, Sandalwood-scented wax cubes, Handmade soap, Red Current Cassis Candle, Silk Scarf, and Olivia Rae Swag!

A Life Renewed JustRead Giveaway

Full tour schedule linked below. The giveaway begins at midnight January 11, 2023 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on January 18, 2023. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. No shipping restrictions. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

Enter Giveaway Here

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

JustRead Publicity Tours

My thoughts about A Life Renewed

You know already that Lady Jane Grey is one of my favorite historical figures. What a loss her life was; what could that exceptional young woman have become, had she been allowed to live? Olivia Rae has brought her to life again in this book of historical fiction that’s also a re-creation of what could have happened–had Jane’s life been spared. Olivia’s characters are real, period-specific and -appropriate, and captivating.

Jane (and those who’ve allowed her to live, hidden, in the northern German area of Hanenburg) is faithfully devoted to following Christ as a Protestant. Although Hanenburg is part of the Holy Roman Empire, they’re devotees not of the empire’s Catholic faith, but the one that Luther, also German, espoused.

Asher Hayes spent his life identifying and handing over Protestants as a spy for Queen Mary. He is a Catholic believer who’s firmly decided that the Protestant way is wicked and wrong, especially after the injuries that group committed against his own family. But Mary promised him that his spying and delivering over to death days are over…until she changes her mind and sends him after Jane.

God’s mighty army? Do you hear your own words? God does not want war. He wants us to give Him praise and glory. He wants us to honor Him by loving one another. You have even preached on such words. ‘Love thine enemy.'”

Lady Jane Grey, A Life Renewed

Each of these two is absolutely convinced that their side of Christianity is the right one. And Jane is suspect of anyone new who seems to have a connection to England. But Asher and Jane get to know each other in an unusual way, with neither at first truly knowing the other’s identity. And they begin to care, deeply, for the other. But when the prince of the Hanenburg area decides to raise an army in Jane’s name to firmly establish his own rule against the Catholic ruling family of the Holy Roman Empire, Jane is in even more danger.

“Believe me when I say I never wanted any of this. I never wanted to be queen. I never wanted to flee England. I never wanted to be a martyr for the Protestant faith. I never wanted to be the head of some great rebellion. All I ever wanted was to live a quiet life—alone with my books and educational pursuits.”

Lady Jane Grey, A Life Renewed

What an amazing story! I love Olivia’s portrayal of Jane and Asher (and Queen Mary and Mrs. Ellen, Jane’s nurse) in the terribly dangerous time in which they lived. And I love thinking of a Jane who survived–and maybe even found love. This is a beautifully written book that you’ll adore, just as I did. (And don’t forget to enter the giveaway for this book and another, and amazing book swag!)

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.

“Captive Set Free” by Valerie Limmer–a review

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Do you have a grip on, or understanding of, what it means to forgive? How to forgive? Why to forgive–and why we should forgive? I don’t mind telling you that this is something I’ve truly struggled with, off and on throughout my life. Valerie Limmer’s lovely, refreshing book is both a primer and an advanced-level teaching–in a kind, humble, and honest manner–on forgiveness. It is beautiful, sometimes full of epiphany, and definitely a book I recommend for you. Here’s more about it, plus my own review a little later in the post. (Plus, you can enter to win!)

Captive Set Free JustRead Blog Tour Welcome to the Blog Tour for Captive Set Free by Valerie Limmer, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

About the Book

Captive Set Free

Title: Captive Set Free Author: Valerie Limmer Publisher: Green Sap Publications Release Date: October 18, 2022 Genre: Non-Fiction, Christian Living

Have you been hurt? Are you hounded by turbulent feelings and looping thoughts? Do you know you need to forgive but aren’t sure where to begin?

Captive Set Free is a lamppost along the path of healing, offering engaging stories and examples, explaining how forgiveness fits into our spiritual DNA, and examining mindsets that make forgiving easier or harder. In this book, you’ll learn how to – take concrete steps to forgive; – be sure forgiveness has taken hold in your heart; and – guard your spirit from bitterness, both now and in the future. If you’re tired of being imprisoned by pain and toxicity and want to step into the free and abundant life Jesus has planned for His children, this book is for you.

PURCHASE LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookDepository | IndieBound | BookBub

About the Author

Valerie Limmer

Valerie Limmer is a missionary in Japan. She is neither a therapist nor a theologian, but she has experienced severe abuse from a handful of people. In Captive Set Free, she shares the principles and techniques she’s learned in her own life on her journeys towards forgiveness.

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

Tour Giveaway

(1) winner will receive a copy of Captive Set Free and a $25 Amazon gift card!

Captive Set Free JustRead Giveaway

Full tour schedule linked below. The giveaway begins at midnight January 9, 2023 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on January 16, 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/CAN 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 & experiences with Captive Set Free

Life isn’t easy. In fact, it’s sometimes breathtakingly hard; and painful. Despite the fact that at my core, I’d LOVE for life to be full of sunshine, flowers, and kittens every single day, I am reminded (sometimes more often than I’d prefer) that instead, it’s often difficult. It IS gorgeous too. But sometimes the things that bring us joy (people and relationships) can also bring us pain, heartbreak, and sorrow.

Here’s the question: what do we do with that deep inner pain that results from our interactions with people, whether they’re those we love or those we don’t even know? Scripture’s–and Jesus’s–answer is clear.


Honestly? I don’t even WANT to forgive, sometimes. I want justice! Restoration! Removal of the pain!

Yes, I’m really that emphatic about it in my heart of hearts. But that life and those habits and thought patterns, if left unchecked, can leave me in a well of bitterness. And that bitterness entraps me, binds me, fills my mind with ugly, critical thoughts. And keeps me from living the abundant life Jesus promises me.

Valerie Limmer knows that terrible pain can happen in life. And in her beautiful book, she talks about the wheres, whens, whys of forgiveness. And, she talks about the hows. I need to know why I should forgive. But I also need to know how–and Valerie speaks to that. Here are some of my favorite thoughts that she shares in Captive Set Free:

  • “Jesus longs to free us from the painful burden of unforgiveness. He wants to construct a better future for us, but He won’t force us into anything. So, now we must decide what we want.”
  • “We always tend to walk in the direction our eyes are looking. This is just as true in the emotional and spiritual realms as it is in the physical one…When we adjust the direction of our gaze and focus on the forgiveness of the cross rather than on the hurt that’s pierced our hearts, our futures are infused with Jesus’ hope and promise…We’re left with a decision. We may not have had a choice over what happened to us, but we have a choice now. It is a sacred gift God has given us.”
  • “In reaching out for Him, we may realize we’ve been in His arms all along. God can redeem and heal lives filled with abuse. He can “give back the years the locusts have eaten” (Joel 2:25, my paraphrase) if only we have the courage to let Him perform His divine surgery on our hearts.”
  • “It’s all a matter of focus. When we criticize others, our ability to examine ourselves begins to slip.”

Really, there is so much in this book that will equip you on your own journey toward learning to forgive. I’m a list person, so I love the practical actions that Valerie recommends. These are some of them that I’m embracing now:

  • Take thoughts captive to the cause of Christ and decide to stop embracing past hurts–while at the same time acknowledging (and not denying) my own emotions
  • Utilize exercises to encourage healing/enable forgiveness: realizing my own emotions; praying about it with God; being willing not to demand having the last word; journal; meditate on helpful Scriptures (listed in her book)
  • Guard my heart WHILE actively engaging
  • And–pace myself. This isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon!

I so needed this book, and I’m truly thrilled to recommend it to you. It will encourage you, inform you, bless you, and help you to embrace and live–with beautiful outcomes–the path of forgiveness.

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.

“You’re Joking Me” ~ a kid joke book by a kid! (review)

**Congrats to Sue D, the GA winner!**

#sponsor #partner

I had the opportunity to check out a super-fun book that is just the thing you’re looking for, if you need a book to increase laughter and amusement among your kiddos this Christmas! The book is You’re Joking Me: Jokes for Kids by a Kid, by William Daniel. Clean, punny, entertaining–this book will make you smile and will bring mirth and merriment to your families. Keep reading for more about this book and its kid author–PLUS how you can enter to win your own copy & book swag!

About You’re Joking Me

Written by a kid for kids!

What happens when a pony sings?

He gets a little horse.”

Ha! That laugh is from the hilarious collection of more than 450 puns, riddles, one-liners, and knock-knock jokes that are sure to have kids (and their adults) laughing up a storm.

You’re Joking Me: Jokes for Kids by a Kid (Revell, Nov., 2022) by William Daniel, Blythe Daniel’s son, is the perfect stocking stuffer, birthday gift, or a fun book to keep in the car or around the dinner table. Its witty, clean humor that’s age-appropriate humor and doesn’t bring laughter with put-downs or sarcasm.

InYou’re Joking Me, William hopes to model what good humor for kids should look like. He has noticed that dark or inappropriate humor is flooding today’s communities and feels he can bring an alternative to put smiles on people’s faces. William also has a passion for encouraging other kids to start telling puns instead of sharing disrespectful humor at the expense of another person.

Some of his jokes have made it on television interviews, a Newsweek article, and a comedy club where William presented his jokes and met the mayor! You can see some of these below.

Want to hear another joke?

What happens when snowmen get nervous?

They get cold feet.”

About the author, William Daniel

Ready to get to know our joke star?

William Daniel is a middle schooler, a WWII enthusiast, and a competitive gymnast. He builds model airplanes and wants to be a pilot someday. He has an older sister, Maris, and a twin sister, Calyn, and is the younger by four minutes. As you can imagine, he enjoys making people laugh, which he does for family, friends, and at school. William lives in Colorado with his family and dog, Riley.

You can check out his article on Newsweek or see the video below of when Colorado Springs’ KOAA News 5 (NBC affiliate) came for the unboxing of You’re Joking Me and to interview William.

My thoughts about You’re Joking Me

It has been a very, very long time since I was in middle school. But I remember SO clearly thinking then, that joke books were the best thing ever!

Turns out, they still are! William Daniel’s wonderful book breathes life into the joke world with over 450 jokes (be they punny, knock-knock, one-liners, or riddles) with humor, clever insight, and joy.

Did you get a chance to read William’s article on Newsweek? (Just click on the highlighted link.) I love so much of what he says! William believes that this book is the result of seeds that were planted, watered, nurtured years ago, when he began to tell jokes years ago in 2nd grade. (He’s in 7th grade now.) I love that perspective! God really has given all of us–even when we are or were children–gifts and talents that are unique to us and His purposes for us. What a lovely encouragement. And we can see how God planted those seeds in William, and how he, his family, and God nurtured those in him over the years. He worked on his jokes, improved them, and now, here it is: his first book!

By writing a joke book for kids, I am encouraging other children and young people to start telling puns instead of sharing disrespectful humor that might be at the expense of someone else. That kind of humor upsets me; you might even be putting someone who has had a traumatic experience at risk by exposing them to rude comments or jokes about something they have been through. I am very pleased to help those who are getting harassed by others with this kind of humor.

William Daniel, Newsweek Magazine, “My Turn,” October 10, 2022

William’s jokes are clean. Funny. Clever, too! They are jokes that kids will love to read and tell themselves, to others. They are so fun! I recommend this book to you for your kiddos and your family. (You’ve still got time to get copies for Christmas stockings!) But before I tell you where you can get your own copy–and even how you can win one–let me tell you some of my favorites from You’re Joking Me. So fun–I smiled and even laughed. And you will too!

Some of my faves from You’re Joking Me

This is, again, SUCH a fun joke book. Check out the following–the proof is in the pudding!

Q: What is a potato’s favorite game?

A: Two truths and a fry.

Q: What did the pirate say to his doctor when he was asked what hurts?

A: “Eye, Matey.”

Q: What do you say when a bird comes flying at your face?

A: “Duck!”

And last. But definitely not least. My most favorite: fantastic wordplay on one of my most beloved movie tropes!

Q: What did God think when he needed somebody to build an ark?

A: I Noah guy.

You’re Joking Me, William Daniel

Watch William’s interview on Colorado Springs NBC affiliate, KOAA News 5

Enter to win You’re Joking Me plus more!

The BlogAbout Blogger Network has given me a copy of You’re Joking Me: Jokes for Kids by a Kid plus joke magnets from the book!

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. (You’ll even have a chance to earn extra giveaway entries by commenting with your own joke below!) Giveaway closes on January 2, 2022. US entrants only; must be 18 and older to win. (Kids, get your parents to enter for you!) Best wishes!

Enter here!

Where you can purchase You’re Joking Me

You’re Joking Me is available at lots of booksellers, including the ones listed below!



Barnes & Noble

Enjoy! –Wren

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

“Burn the Dawn” by Lisa Phillips: Book 2 in the Brand of Justice series (a review)

My friends! Do you love suspense? Do you love strong female characters that you can sympathize and root for? (And do you mind being scared just a little here and there?)

I have just the book for you then! Author Lisa Phillips provided a copy of Burn the Dawn for me. It’s the second of her books in the Brand of Justice books (the first one is Cold Dead Night, and that’s how I discovered Lisa and her fantastic protagonist Kenna!). Let me tell you more!

About the book

Kenna is still alone. But she prefers it that way. (Except for her AWESOME dog, Cabot.) Just as she did in her younger years with her famous author (and investigator) father, she travels the U.S., although she’s traded in her RV for a van that’s big enough to contain a kitchenette, mini-bathroom, and sleeping area. Just perfect for the two of them.

After her time with the FBI ended, Kenna was licensed as a private investigator. And she goes where others desperately need her help. Now, she’s in northern California. Where, in one small region, three young women have gone missing. One by one. Only to reappear, injured, dazed, and forgetful about what has happened to them. And no one knows who’s behind the abductions.

And now there’s another young woman missing.

My thoughts

Keenly observant. Slow to trust. Yet fierce and strong (her hand-to-hand combat skills!), especially when it comes to protecting vulnerable women and children.

Burn the Night begins with a search-and-rescue mission. Just outside of town, the pine forest begins, and a group of volunteers, including Kenna and Cabot, has gathered to receive last-minute instructions from the mission commander. But the two have noticed one man in particular. Perhaps it’s a gut feeling? But if both the dog AND the human have noticed him…

Let me tell you, you will NOT be able to put the book down from there. (And that’s just a few pages in!) It is gripping. Heartbreaking. And yet so encouraging to watch Kenna courageously, passionately, and fearlessly seek out the lost and target the criminals. It turns out that these abductions are not just the crimes of a single perpetrator. There is more than one person targeting these young women. And it’s not obvious who is on the side of the angels…and who isn’t.

In addition, Kenna discovers that her father just might have had connections in this town. But are they people that she can trust? And did they really know her dad, or are they just dropping names in order to gain Kenna’s loyalty?

I honestly could not predict what Kenna and Cabot were going to face next. She is so incredibly skilled as an investigator, even as she keeps her heart protected. But she’s going to need help from others in order to solve these crimes. Because the perpetrator has no qualms about killing those in the way, or those who aren’t of use anymore. (Or who’ve betrayed the organization.) She’s going to face killers. Kidnappers. The worst of criminals. Will she have to do it alone…or will she have allies? Besides her very, very good dog, Cabot.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough to you. Lisa Phillips is the most incredible storyteller–and Kenna is a fantastic protagonist. (I fell in love with her in Cold Dead Night, and I am ALWAYS going to be on the lookout for a new book about her!) If you love thrillers and, like Kenna, have a heart for the downtrodden and cruelly-used, you are going to love Burn the Dawn. You won’t be able to turn the pages quickly enough!

Visit the author, Lisa Phillips here

You can find the Lisa Phillips on social media on the following links:

Lisa Phillips’ author website



Enjoy! –Wren

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

“Portal Slayer: Beneath the Shadows” ~ review & GA (ends 12/19/22)

#sponsor #partner

Oh my friends! If you loved Tolkien’s books, or any other novel about wars between the forces of light and those of darkness, you will LOVE S.L. Dooley’s Portal Slayer: Beneath the Shadows. Keep reading for more on the book, my thoughts on it, and a cool giveaway you can enter!

Portal Slayer JustRead Blog Tour Welcome to the Blog Tour for Portal Slayer: Beneath the Shadows by S.L. Dooley, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!


Portal Slayer: Beneath the Shadows

Title: Portal Slayer: Beneath the Shadows Series Realms of the Periferie #3 Author: S.L. Dooley Publisher: Torn Parchment Release Date: December 2, 2022 Genre: Fantasy (clean)

Darkness comes in many forms.

Raelyn is about to encounter them all. Hidden away in the Schade Catacombs, a single portal remains in Alnok. And, pushed to near defeat, Cosyn has unleashed all his forces, taking Earth to the brink of a world war. Raelyn, in the midst of her own debilitating doubt, finds a new ally. But when no one will follow, she strikes out on her own, determined to reach the catacombs and close the portal. Only then can she finally return home. In the far north, her mentor and guide Kade, wounded and desperate, leads a band of soldiers, also on a path to the catacombs. As an impenetrable darkness falls on the realm of Alnok and Earth’s annihilation seems inevitable, Raelyn finds nothing is what it seems. Her calling, her newfound skills, even her reason for being in Alnok are shrouded in uncertainty. But she must uncover the light in the darkness of Alnok, and her own heart, to locate and destroy Cosyn’s last link to Earth. If she fails, she will have no home to return to.

PURCHASE LINKS: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound | BookBub


S.L. Dooley

S.L. Dooley is a fantasy author looking for a neverending story to go boldly through the wardrobe into another adventure. She’s a wife and mother of two grown kids. She lives in Texas where she collects old books and new journals.

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


(1) winner will receive a copy of the Realms of the Periferie trilogy, tea, and a mug!

Portal Slayer: Beneath the Shadows JustRead Giveaway

Full tour schedule linked below. The giveaway begins at midnight December 12, 2022 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on December 19, 2022. 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.


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

JustRead Publicity Tours

My impressions

A Quest.

With perilous pitfalls and dangers ahead. Unseen, and perhaps unrecognized, enemies. And a Cord, a fellowship, divided.

Moving between two realms, Raelyn struggles to lead her small band to meet another of their group, with a quest to close the portal (the plye) that exists between the two worlds. For an enemy, Cosyn, has marshaled all his forces to destroy Earth Apparent, Raelyn’s home–where her brother and father still are. Cosyn is wicked, deceitful, and cruel–he’ll remind readers of the leader of earth’s fallen angels, who seeks only to steal and kill and destroy. And Cosyn needs that portal to be open in order to do that.

Raelyn thinks that she’s the last person who should be leading others on a quest, which is really a war, with the two sides basically being those of Light (Raelyn’s, Kade’s, Joshua’s, Jinny’s, and her brother Peter’s side–as well as Arkonai’s, the True Light) and those of darkness (Cosyn’s. And all those who follow him, whether they’ve been revealed yet or not.). Oh, and I should also mention–dragons. Giants. Water sprites.

Raelyn’s personal quest is to follow Arkonai and his words, and to lead those in her care faithfully. Regardless of her own private doubts, regarding her fitness to lead, her ability to encourage those who follow, and the failures both in her past and her present. Both she, and Kade, leading another group to meet Raelyn’s, are desperately in need of hope as they strive to fulfill their purposes. But there is One who will stand by them and help them, even in their darkest hours.

This surge of power did not come from anything within. This was Arkonai, shining through him only after Kade had made room. “Remember this moment,” Kade said…”The darkness we will encounter will be like nothing you have experienced…The catacombs are not only guarded, they contain every vile form of Cosyn’s twisted imagination. But this”–Kade gestured around the boat, allowing his light to spill from his palms–“escapes what he believe to be even his best-laid plans. This light, in many forms, is accessible to all.”

Portal Slayer: Beneath the Shadows

Raelyn, Kade, and their friends (the Cord of the Periferie) will need all of Arkonai’s gifts, given to them, to prevail against Cosyn and those allied with him. But they have powerful weapons none of the enemies possess: worship. Love. And something else: the gifts and callings that were given to each one of them, individually.

What a wonderful book–and allegory! The Cord’s Quest is clear. But the way isn’t always. Each of them has (like we do!) to walk step by step in faith, trusting in the Word and the goodness of Arkonai (or for us, God) to bring them to the end of the quest, and to defeat the enemies. It is hard. Challenging. It may feel impossible at times. Will the forces of good win? You’ll have to read Portal Slayer: Beneath the Shadows to find out!

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.

“The Narrow Gate” book duo: a review

#sponsor #partner

If you’re a fan of the Narnia or Tolkien books, you’re going to want to hear about these!

About the books

The Broken Crown

Title: The Broken Crown
Series: The Narrow Gate #1
Publisher: Trouvaille Books
Release Date: May 23, 2016
Genre: Clean YA Fiction

Princess Emilia Aurelius was only seven when she watched her mother die at the hands of her father—martyred for believing in the God of the Atlas Empire’s Insurgo rebels. At seventeen, exiled to a military outpost where no one knows her true identity, she’s vowed to leave her royalty behind and explore the truth of the Insurgo rebels her mother loved.

When the Emperor of Atlas summons the princesses from each of the provinces to the imperial city to choose a wife for the crown prince, Emilia must leave her military life behind to join a royal court rife with cunning and intrigue. Navigating the waters of court politics and budding love are treacherous on their own, but Emilia fears for her life should anyone learn of her Insurgo sympathies.

With an unlikely ally in the captain of the emperor’s guard, Emilia must uncover the truth of the Insurgos, start a revolution, and learn to become the princess she’s vowed never to be, all while protecting her heart from a prince who could sign her death warrant.

The Desolate Reign

Title: The Desolate Reign
Series: The Narrow Gate #2
Publisher: Trouvaille Books
Release Date: February 20, 2020
Genre: Clean YA Fiction

Emilia Aurelius should be a queen, but she’d settle for not being a fugitive. Taking refuge in the Borealis court seems her only chance to find a haven from Emperor Cyrus, who is playing a dangerous game of power with a set of rules all his own. Unfortunately her own country is on the brink of civil war, attacked from within and without by the very people she’s sworn to save—the Insurgos.

With the truth of the Insurgos’ God and agenda murkier than ever, Emilia embarks on a treacherous quest for truth and her rightful place as queen. Neither will come without a price. Political pressure may force her to choose between her crown and her heart, while the search for ancient secrets unearths more questions than answers.

A mysterious prisoner may hold the information she seeks if she’s willing to bargain. What is the Narrow Gate? Can she finish what she started and save the Insurgos from extinction… even if they don’t want to be saved?

My thoughts

I am a huge YA book fan. I’m new to Amory Cannon’s books but I devoured these!

In The Desolate Reign, A king allows his wife to die a horrible death. Then sends their daughter, Emilia, to a far-off military outpost where she’s neither known nor recognized. She trains and fights for years, under an alias. Until Emperor Cyrus summons princesses from each province for his son to select as his own wife. Emilia is her father’s only child. So despite the fact that she’s spent the last ten years training and fighting, she has to adapt to the world of women. Her only ally seems to be the Emperor’s Guard Commander Felix. And the God who has called her to a higher purpose.

But the Emperor, and all his provinces, have an agenda and a genocidal mission against the believers in God, called Insurgos. (The empire formally worships a so-called god that they’ve developed a false religion around. If Emilia’s faith were revealed, she’d be executed. As it is (in addition to having to win the prince’s affections), she’s going to have battles, barbs, and an enormous fight to keep the Emperor from discovering her secret. The emperor has heard of the Gate; and he’s going to do all that he can to gain it for himself, to win eternal life and reign. He’ll do all he can to wrest it from the true God. And anyone from the Insurgos who gets in the way.

And that’s just in book #1!

Emilia’s (and Felix’s!) story continues in The Broken Crown. She and Felix are no longer in the Emperor’s lands. They’re not quite certain where they should be heading, but Felix encourages Emilia to listen to God, the Ancient One, who leads them to go to Borealis, Emilia’s home kingdom. There, she’ll find a forgotten relative, unseen enemies, and a call for something greater that she has no idea how to achieve. But there are voices of wisdom and life waiting to help guide her.

Wow! Emilia’s story combines the life of Esther from the Bible, with a dystopian world, a beauty pageant, and the Roman Empire. Emilia has been called into a holy calling and a life-saving purpose, but she has to learn how to take the daily, smaller steps of the walk of faith to get to those. She’ll make mistakes, of course (we all do!). But her faith and unexpected allies will carry her on. Now, we just need book #3 to find out how Emilia’s, Felix’s, and the others’ stories end!

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.

The CSB Explorer Bible for Kids (review)

#sponsor #partner

Are you looking for a vivid, inviting Bible that children will love opening up to read? I have just the kid Bible for you then: The CSB Explorer Bible! I received a copy from the publisher and it is just the Bible that kids can open up and jump right into, with no worries or confusion about where they are in the Word, what it all means, and why and how they should read it. Let me tell you more, plus keep an eye out for the giveaway. (There’s also a 50% off code!)

What is the CSB Explorer Bible for Kids?

Here’s the intro from the publisher:

“The CSB Explorer Bible for Kids is made to help kids place God’s Word in the middle of God’s world. Within its pages, kids will explore and interact with the people, places, and things of the Bible and God’s creation. This Bible features a fun and engaging full-color design with images, illustrations, timelines, and study helps placed throughout to equip and excite kids of all ages to better read, know, and apply God’s Word for a lifetime.”

This Bible is chock-full of fascinating, captivating information. It’s designed for a kid “explorer,” filled with illustrations and soundbites that reinforce that. For example:

  • Excavating the Past: 205 photos and illustrations that connect archaeological findings to the Bible and its events
  • Exploring Creation: 115 factoids and images to help readers connect today’s life to the Bible (cool science facts, architecture, art, music, astronomy, and lots more)
  • Character Field Guide: 79 character profiles of key Bible personages (like Elijah, Philip, Mary and Martha, Rahab, Hagar, Benjamin, and more)

  • Discovering the Truth: Key Bible truths set alongside verses (and sometimes, QR codes) to help kids internalize what God’s Word can mean for them
  • Charting History: Timelines! 15 illustrated timelines set events of the Bible (such as the days of creation, Good and Bad Kings in the Book of Jeremiah, The Cycle of Sin, Herod Who’s Who, and Paul’s missionary journeys)
  • All of these are listed, per category, in tables of contents at this Bible’s beginning

In addition, kids will find clear and colorful introductions and explanations for each book of the Bible; QR codes which will take them to further activities and videos; a glossary and concordance; and (this is REALLY cool), highlighted verses throughout the Bible that would be fantastic memory verses. A wonderful feature is the Christ in Context segment for each book of the Bible, which illustrates how all that history, prophecy, worship, praise, and God-designed events point to Jesus, the coming Messiah (in the Old Testament), and Jesus who died for our sins and rose again (in the New Testament).

Clear, exciting, beautiful–and understandable even by kid readers!

What I think kids will love

So much! There is so much in this Bible that children will love. I think they’ll love, in particular, these things:

  • The way the Bible connects past events with present ones, to help them understand that this book is for today and for them
  • The key highlighted verses that help kids to, “Pay attention to this!” That provides understanding and context, as well as verses to remember or memorize.
  • The “Discovering Truth” buttons that have a key truth about God PLUS its verse addresses
  • The Character profiles that make Bible authors, villains, kings, and others–all individuals–real people
  • That they can sit down, open the Bible anywhere, and find truth, and God Himself reaching out to them in love.

My favorite parts

As a child, I came to faith in Christ. I was given a lovely Bible in the KJV. Here’s what I knew: a handful of memorized verses from camp, like John 3:16, 1 John 1:9, and 2 Timothy 3:16. Each of these is so important! But other than those and the table of contents at the beginning, I understood nothing about the hows, whens, and whys of the Bible. When did these things happen? Why should I read this book? And how on earth should I approach God’s good Word? I had no idea. And while I was beginning to love God, His book was a mystery to me.

And *this* is what I love most about this CSB Explorer Bibles for Kids. It is ACCESSIBLE. Children can open this Bible, look at the beginnings of each book or at sidebars or QR codes, and they themselves can SEE:

  • What does God want to tell them?
  • Why was this Bible book written?
  • When did it happen?
  • What does it tell us about Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and God the Father?

This is the Bible that you want to get for your children in order that they can pick it up, know it is written for them, and that they can read it, understand it, and know God better in the process.

And, you can see a video here

Click on this link to watch a quick video about this amazing kids’ Bible. Scroll down and you’ll see the video on the right.

Enter to win the CSB Explorer Bible for Kids here

You can enter to win a giveaway, where the prize is the CSB Explorer Bible for kids! Blessed Freebies is hosting this giveaway, which ends 12/15/22. Click on the link below that says, “Enter here!” to visit the entry page. Follow the directions there to enter.

Enter here!

Where you can purchase this Bible–plus get 50% off

At Lifeway’s website, you can purchase the CSB Explorer Bible for Kids, through 12/31/22, at 50% off!

Just click on the highlighted link above and use this PROMO CODE: SAVE50EB


Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: I received a copy of this Bible from the publisher. All opinions and thoughts expressed here are my own.