Lynette Eason’s “Crossfire” ~ a Revell Reads Review

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Revell Reads sent me a copy of the newest Lynette Eason book in the “Extreme Measures” series: Crossfire. If you’re a fan of strong female characters and suspense reads, you will want to check out this book!

About Crossfire

The FBI. SWAT teams. Hostage situations. And the approaching 15th anniversary of a terrible event from Julianna’s past; one that still gives her nightmares.

She’s able to sort of bury the memories all the rest of the time. But in the days approaching the anniversary of the school shooting when she was a student, the memories refuse to be buried.

Julianna is a top-notch FBI special agent and negotiator. In fact, she hasn’t lost a hostage yet. But she’s about to be involved in negotiating for hostages in a cascade series of crimes. First, in a courtroom where not only the judge but the jury and some marshals are taken captive. While she’s working that assignment, she meets Clay Fox, whose sister is one of the hostages. Clay is a former army sniper, and while he’s exceptionally competent at his job as a school resource officer, he’s got pain and secrets of his own.

But when Clay sees Julianna in action, he is a bit…smitten. Slowly they become friends. And coincidentally, Julianna’s sister Dottie is a student at Clay’s high school.

But the cascade of hostage situations is beginning. There are some terrible ones. And the perpetrator is asking for Julianna as a negotiator by name. He, or she, is escalating. And those that Julianna loves the most might become the next targets.

My thoughts


Once again, Lynette Eason has crafted a highly readable thriller with appealing and even vulnerable (at times) characters. She unfolds Julianna’s story in a fascinating way, even as a sweet romance might be developing between the special agent and Clay. They do have a lot in common, after all, beginning with their careers. They also have unhealed pain from the past that suddenly impacts their present.

I enjoyed seeing Julianna’s work as a hostage negotiator. (Not that I’d ever want to see that in person!) She is measured and effective, and readers will totally root for her. Eason also illustrates that dealing with past pain (or not dealing with it) really does impact the current day.

Crossfire is a great read. You will love it if you’re a fan of suspense thrillers with a bit of clean romance and a lot of mystery; intersecting with faith. I recommend it!

Enjoy! –Wren

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

“Circumvent” ~ a Just Read Blog & Review Tour (CLOSED)

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Circumvent JustRead Blog + Review Tour

Welcome to the Blog + Review Tour for Circumvent by S. K. Derban, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!


Circumvent Title: Circumvent Author: S. K. Derban Publisher: TouchPoint Press Release Date: November 9, 2017 Genre: Clean Ready Mystery When perfection turns to panic an isolated couple must learn: “For we walk by faith, not by sight…” Imagine living in a quaint, beach-front cottage on the Hawaiian island of Maui. You have an amazing job, combined with the pleasure of working from home. Lunch breaks become a daily picnic on the sand. Dessert is always included because of your marriage to a famous pastry chef. Life could not be any better. Or so it seems… French-born, Nikki Sabine Moueix travels to Hawaii for a special work assignment, but the job of writing an article about a famous Swiss pastry chef generates more than a magazine piece. They fall in love, get married, and Nikki Moueix becomes Mrs. Ruggiero Delémont. When another assignment calls for Nikki to spend three weeks in France, Ruggiero’s schedule prevents him from joining her. She travels alone, advancing straight into danger. After a threatening confrontation, Nikki wakes up in a French hospital with no knowledge of her past. After she fails to check in, Ruggiero panics and pushes for an immediate investigation. But as he closes in, Nikki’s new found friend moves her to another city. It becomes a game of hide and seek with Nikki as the prize. CIRCUMVENT allows readers to form a bond with Nikki as they yearn for her to remember. They will cheer for Ruggiero and his relentless determination to locate his beloved wife. This is a story about two people who never lose their faith in God, and find amazing friends to help them along the way. PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound | BookBub


S.K. Derban

S.K. Derban resides with her husband in Southern California. Although born in the United States she moved to London within the first three months, and remained in England until the age of five. Her father, an American citizen, was a decorated veteran of the Second World War. Her British mother was involved with the London Royal Ballet Company, and a great fan of the arts. After returning to the United States, Derban’s life remained filled with a love of the theatre, and a passion for British murder mysteries.

S.K. Derban’s personal travel and missionary escapades are readily apparent as they shine through into her characters. Readers are often transported virtually across the globe. She has traveled to Hong Kong on five separate occasions to smuggle Bibles into China, and has been to Israel on seven missionary trips. Derban’s other adventures include visits to Bangkok, Greece, Egypt, Italy, and the Caribbean. Beginning with her faith in the Lord, S.K. Derban relies on all aspects of her life when writing. She hopes her books will allow readers to go on holiday without having to pack!
CONNECT WITH S. K.: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


(4) winners will receive a signed copy of Circumvent and a $25 Amazon gift card!

Circumvent 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 September 27, 2021 and lasts through 11:59 PM EST on October 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.


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

JustRead Publicity Tours

*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

My thoughts about Circumvent

I am a definite fan of suspense novels. And Circumvent definitely falls into the suspense category.

It’s more than that, though. It’s a tale of a romantic marriage with an unusual history; and, it’s also a picture of what a frightening event can look like when viewed through the lenses of faith. (It’s also a snapshot of two newlyweds who talk about their physical love life A LOT, in certain spots. It still fits in the clean Christian fiction category; maybe it seemed a bit more than I often notice.) While Ruggiero stays at his chef position at a restaurant on Maui, Nikki, his wife who is a writer for a food magazine, travels to cover a French wine festival that will span several cities. When Nikki lands but doesn’t respond to Ruggiero’s messages, he becomes concerned. When he discovers that she never checked into her hotel, he’s even more worried. Eventually, the police become involved in two countries.

Nikki is a bit worried; but not for any of the reasons her husband is. In fact, she doesn’t even know she has a husband. She has woken up in a hospital and doesn’t remember anything about her life; not even her name. But there is a kindly doctor who’s taken quite an interest in her; even to the point of moving her into his apartment. Twists and turns that the reader won’t foresee are ahead, all the way to the end of the book!

So what did I think about this romantic suspense novel? First, I liked the characters (especially a Hawaiian policeman, as well as Nikki and Ruggiero). I couldn’t imagine how they’d find their way out of this situation, and was definitely curious about how things would be resolved. (I won’t tell you how, though! No spoilers!)

Second, I liked the twists and turns of the novel, and the locations (both in the U.S. and in France) that the author set the scenes in. They were imaginative and quite captivating.

Third: I liked this…but it made me nervous at the very same moment! It is a terrifying thought to imagine someone who’s in a foreign country, alone, but has lost his or her memory. Nikki is at the mercy of people on all ends of the spectrum, from very good to very bad. Her husband has no idea where she is. And he can’t find her.

If that’s not enough to keep you reading through til the very end, I don’t know what would be!

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.

“Fresh Scars” ~ A JustRead Blog & Review Tour (and giveaway; ends 6/28/21)

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Fresh Scars JustRead Blog + Review Tour

Welcome to the Blog + Review Tour for Fresh Scars by Donna Mumma, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!


Fresh Scars Title: Fresh Scars Author: Donna Mumma Publisher: Firefly Southern Fiction (Iron Stream Media) Release Date: June 15, 2021 Genre: Southern Fiction Time heals all wounds . . . or does it? Asia Butler and her sister, Ivy Butler Morelli, have not spoken in fifteen years. As children, they endured brutal emotional abuse from their mother, Veronica, and want only to forget the past . . . and each other. But the past comes calling when they each receive a letter from Veronica s attorney promising much-needed cash if they will fulfill her dying wish and consent to cleaning out their childhood home. Asia and Ivy reluctantly return to their hometown of Emerson, Florida, only to discover the house is a hoarder’s nightmare filled with strange mementos and clues hinting that they were not the only victims of Veronica’s sadistic nature. Can this new pain be the path to their healing? Will they be able to choose forgiveness over resentment? PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound | Christianbook | BookBub


Donna Mumma

Donna Mumma perfected storytelling in her first grade classroom, spinning tales exciting enough to settle a roomful of antsy six-year-olds. She is an award winning author, and loves to write about flawed people who find a way to overcome and thrive. A Florida native, she loves spending time with her husband, adult children, and their energetic collie, Duke

CONNECT WITH DONNA: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


(1) winner will receive a signed copy of Fresh Scars plus a $10 Amazon gift card!

Fresh Scars 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 June 21, 2021 and lasts through 11:59 PM EST on June 28, 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.


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

JustRead Publicity Tours

*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

About Fresh Scars

Ivy and Asia are sisters. One is now a married mom who owns several businesses, alongside her husband. The other is a teacher of special-needs students. Once deeply bonded, they haven’t seen each other nor spoken since high school. Then, a letter from a Florida attorney strikes them to the heart. Their mother, whom they also haven’t seen in all those years, is requiring them to come together again in their hometown to go through her home and possessions…in order to receive their inheritance, an enormous amount of money. For different reasons, they both need this money desperately. So they return to Florida to confront their past, their abusive mother, and each other.

They are ill-prepared for the secrets, scars, and hidden history that awaits them. Not to mention the absolute wreck of their mother’s home. Can they dig through all the garbage and mess in time? And are they strong enough to bear the pain, the lies, and the memories that will bombard them in the process?

Forgiveness. Reconciliation. Truth. It’s all ahead of them, if they can just stand the pain long enough to reach them.

My impressions

WHAT a book.

I’m so incredibly grateful that I didn’t miss this one! I have to admit, I was a bit nervous before I began to read. I could tell by the beautiful cover art which told me that at least one character in Fresh Scars had suffered pain. But Donna Mumma captures the reader’s heart in the book’s early pages with Ivy’s and Asia’s personalities, experiences, and stories. Each of them has plenty of secrets of their own to deal with, in addition to the huge gulf that stretches between them. But they begin to work, to speak about their own pain and suffering, and what they unearth has the capability to transform their lives forever.

But they’ll have to deal with the pain of their mother’s abuse (which is significant and horrible) to get there.

While I hate to always agree with The Dread Pirate Roberts’ (you know, from The Princess Bride) statement that “Life is pain, Highness,” the truth is that we have all encountered pain in some form or another. It’s the price of living in this fallen world, and also, a factor that God does say He does use for good in His children’s lives. That doesn’t mean that we actually can always embrace that pain, or be grateful to encounter it. Sometimes, like Ivy or Asia, we prefer to bury it down deep, where we think no one can find it, or to deny that it happened altogether. But eventually, it does seek to worm its way out of us. And its secret presence shows cracks and evidence in our lives even before then.

That sure promise of God’s, though, is right there waiting for us in that pain. As well as His helping hand to enable us to find our ways through the suffering. So reading Donna’s story, in which she never rushes through or brushes over her characters’ pain, but unfolds their experiences and enables them to share them, is definitely a rich and an incredible experience. And knowing that that hand of God is there, behind the scenes, to heal and to help, is so encouraging. Both for Ivy and Asia certainly, but also for us as well.

Don’t miss Donna Mumma’s deep and moving book. It does contain descriptions of abuse, addiction, and self-harm. But those are never gratuitous or cheaply used. Instead, they show that even from the deepest of places, Asia and Ivy can recover…and readers can too.


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

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

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.


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

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.

“Unknown Threat” by Lynn H. Blackburn (a review)

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Hi there!

If you love inspirational suspense thrillers, you’ll love the new Lynn H. Blackburn book I just finished! Revell Reads sent me a print copy of Unknown Threat. It had engaging characters, fascinating suspense, and an appealing story. I couldn’t put it down!

Luke and Zane are out for their Monday morning run. They used to run as a trio; with their friend and fellow Secret Service agent Thad. But Thad was gone and now it was just the two of them. They lost Thad when his car exploded as he turned the ignition one night. There are no clues, and there is no explanation for the crime. But the guys are trying to move forward even as they mourn the loss of their friend.

As they finish their run around the lake and head back toward the parking lot, a shot rings out; and Zane falls to the ground. Luke dives to the asphalt beside him. Zane is hit, but still alive. Shots continue to echo and both are injued. Then, something all too familiar happens again; Zane’s car explodes. Luke and Zane survive but other agents aren’t so lucky. Who could possibly be targeting the Secret Service in its Raleigh, North Carolina office?

FBI agent Faith Malone is put in charge of the investigation. Faith, and her boss, believe that Luke’s and Zane’s attack is connected to Thad’s murder earlier. But they have no idea who is seeking to decimate the agents. There have been no trips to North Carolina by the president or the vice president. And other agents are now under attack. Then, they discover that there was a woman in the car with Thad in the explosion. A woman that was not his wife.

Faith and Luke, who’s recovering from his own injury, are desperate to protect the other agents and discover who’s behind the shootings and explosions. Could it be the head of the local mafia? They reach out to confidential informants, other agents, and the medical examiner’s office. There just don’t seem to be any clues they can follow.

Before the investigation is over, an incredible story of loss, lies, love, and crime will be revealed. And Faith and Luke may discover, despite their allied yet often-competing agencies, that they might be just right for each other romantically. But to pursue a romance, they’ve both got to survive an ever-deepening and extremely dangerous case. Will they be able to come out on the other side?

Lynn H. Blackburn is a master weaver of the suspense story. I loved all the characters and I was fascinated with the storyline. (I’m a definite fan of the police procedural, and this was such an exciting one!) I couldn’t have predicted the way things would have turned out; Blackburn kept me guessing til the very end. I was thrilled to find out that she has another novel coming out in this “Defend and Protect” series. I can’t wait, and I definitely recommend this book to you!

Enjoy! –Wren

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

Lynette Eason’s fabulous new action thriller: “Active Defense”

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Hi there!

Are you a fan of Christian fiction? I am, especially if it’s in the suspense or thriller category! And, I have a fabulous new read to share with you. Revell Reads sent me a copy of Lynette Eason’s newest novel, Active Defense, from the author’s DANGER NEVER SLEEPS collection. It has been a fantastic book! Keep reading for more!



In Kabul, Afghanistan, surgeon Heather Fontaine serves in the U.S. military’s forward operating base. She spends hours performing surgeries in enormous tents which look rough on the outside, but are filled with modern, top-notch medical equipment. Dr. Fontaine and her fellow doctors and nurses serve both military personnel and Afghan civilians.

After a particularly traumatic experience, Heather returns home to what she hopes will be a quieter life, where she can practice medicine in peace and avoid the dangers she faced in combat situations. Following her honorable discharge, Heather hopes that the nightmares and stress will end and that she can ease into an existence where terror isn’t a daily companion. She thinks that she is making progress, until she reconnects with some friends for a pool party to welcome home one of the nurses who served alongside Heather in Afganistan. Gina had lost her husband, who’d served in the Army, and she was also trying to adjust to a different life back in America. But Heather had been trying to (kindly) avoid seeing Gina, since she was a vivid reminder of one of Heather’s worst days in Kabul.

Trauma and stressful memories aren’t the only things that are keeping Heather from a healthy integration to civilian life. She has somehow acquired a stalker. She’s never seen enough of the person to be able to identify him or her. But she’s seen enough to be nervous and on her guard.

When she’s sure she sees the stalker on her way into the pool party, she takes off after him. But when someone grabs her, she responds with a self-defense move that leaves her friend Travis, who’d run after her to help, with a reddened and bruised eye. The stalker gets away, but Heather shares her story with Travis and her friends. Travis, who’s been captivated by Heather since they met, decides to step up and see if he can help her to stay safe. He’s in private security and used to protecting those in his care.

Still feeling nervous after the party, Heather returns home but feels uneasy as soon as she enters her home. Her clothing and possessions have been moved around. So, without stepping further into her house, she decides that everyone (including herself) would be safer if she left town. Unfortunately, she’s about to discover that the danger she’s in isn’t content to let her go.


My thoughts about Active Defense

I’ve been a Lynette Eason fan since the first book of hers I read, years ago! And, I’m a huge fan of her recent series DANGER NEVER SLEEPS. Active Defense is the third book in the series, which is all about Heather’s friend group (many of whom are military or ex-military, in law enforcement or private security). But, you won’t have to read the previous books (although I’m sure you’ll want to when you finish this one) to enjoy the newest book in the series.

Eason crafts a fantastic suspense novel. Heather and Travis are sympathetic and interesting characters. But the story itself is amazing! It’s an excellent mystery combined with a fun romance, centered around men and women of faith. I totally recommend it…and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series after reading a small teaser of it at the end of Active Defense!

Do check out Lynette Eason’s Active Defense. It’s a wonderful read.


Enjoy! –Wren


DISCLOSURE: I received a courtesy copy of ACTIVE DEFENSE from Revell Reads. All opinions are my own.

What steals your peace of mind? Ashley Willis’ “Peace Pirates” tells you how to get it back! (Review & Giveaway; ends 6/26/20)

**Congratulations to Elissa J, who won the giveaway!**


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Do you struggle with keeping your mind and thoughts peaceful when the struggles of life dog your footsteps and try to keep you down and distracted? If so, I have a wonderful book to recommend to you. The BlogAbout Blogger Network sent me a digital copy of Ashley Willis’ Peace Pirates to read, and it’s a remarkable book. Keep reading for my thoughts, and for an opportunity to win a signed (on the cover!) hardback copy of your own!



What is it that makes mom life so hard at different moments? I know I’ve often thought, “If I didn’t have THIS challenge (or THAT challenge), things would be so much better.” Or peaceful. Or wonderful. Or, “I’d be a much better mom if I didn’t have THIS particular thing going on.”

So often, we believe that all our problems would be solved and we’d be consistently AMAZING mothers if we didn’t have certain particular external struggles. But what if I told you that peace is attainable in our minds, our hearts, and our homes?

And that it really is something we can achieve? Ashley Willis’ wonderful and encouraging new book, Peace Pirates: Conquering the Beliefs and Behaviors that Steal Your Treasure in Motherhood is ready and willing to teach us how.


About Peace Pirates

Peace Pirates is divided into three sections. In the first, “Confessions of a Pirate Mom,” Ashley shares about her own life and experiences (as a wife and mom of 4) that caused her to learn that she (and moms in general) were in enormous need of peace. During a number of challenging years, Ashley pursued personal healing and learned that living and walking in peace of mind really was possible.

In the second section, “The Four Peace Pirates,” Ashley outlines four habits or ways of thinking/acting that try to pirate away our peace:

  • Mommy Martyrdom (I can do it all! Don’t try to help me! Really, I can get this!)
  • Comparison Chaos (Oh. Look at her hair! And her kids are so well-behaved! I wish that I had that…)
  • Clenching Control (You know what this is. It’s that whole control freak thing.)
  • Excessive Expectations (Those unsaid, unspoken demands that our family members should be doing this thing. Or that thing. Then being cranky and unkind when those demands aren’t met. Oh, and we can do this to ourselves just as much as we can to others.)

But Ashley doesn’t just leave us with these probably very recognizable habits. (I could definitely see clearly, upon reading these chapters, which ones I struggle with the most.) But she helpfully provides a quiz in the book as well, if you would like some help in identifying which of these areas you might have. For each one, she gives hope for change as well as the ways to change these, with God’s help, grace, and His Word.

The third section takes a loving look at the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Although she, an imperfect human as we all are, was entrusted with such an enormous task of mothering, she approached it with faithfulness to God and belief in Him, and took the opportunity to “treasure up (all those) things in her heart.”


My thoughts and reactions to this book

I loved it!

I love Ashley’s voice. She speaks to the reader genuinely, kindly, and with a great sense of humor. The reader never feels looked down upon or judged. Rather, you know that Ashley is reaching out with a hand to help you climb out of habits that are keeping you from being the mom you wish you could be. And, she gives specific, realizable instructions and ways you can do so.

I saw myself so clearly in the section called “Excessive Expectations.” I have always expected A LOT of myself. And due to some health challenges I’ve had here and there over the past eight years, I became a person who suddenly couldn’t do as much as I thought I could. Let me tell you, I judged myself harshly for that. And there wasn’t anyone who could wave a magic wand and make me that girl that I was in the past who could go, go, go. And just as Ashley says, that way of thinking “distract(ed) me from God’s will, defeat(ed) my spirit, and deplet(ed) my energy.”

Yet here’s the truth. God doesn’t expect me to be that person. He probably never did in the first place! Instead, He is loving me and holding out a hand to help me to gain that peace of mind and proper perspective that will change me, and my home and family. I loved the writing exercise Ashley included, where the reader writes down her expectations, the heart desire of each, and how it would promote peace in the home. (Plus a few more.) When we can see something in black and white, it can really open our eyes and enable us to move forward!

I was also beautifully encouraged and blessed by Ashley’s recounting of Mary’s example.


Final thoughts

Do you recognize yourself in any of these types of Peace Pirates? Or, are you feeling discouraged with your mom life, and unable to make any changes? If you are, this is the book for you. It’s lovingly and kindly written, and filled with grace and help. I so recommend it!


How to enter to win a copy!

The BlogAbout Blogger Network has provided a signed (on the book cover!) hardback copy of Peace Pirates for me to give away to one FINCHNWREN reader. To enter, 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 6/26/20. Best wishes!

Enter here!


Enjoy! –Wren

DISCLAIMER: From time to time, FINCHNWREN may receive a free product or service. We’ll then tell you our own honest opinions about it. 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.

3 Books to Add Meaning & Value to Your Spiritual Walk

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I have been privileged to read and review books for a number of years. I am a total booklover, but sometimes there are books that not only are an excellent read but make an impact on you or your life personally. WaterBrook Multnomah sent me these books to read and review, and I wanted to let you know about them! They’ve all impacted me in multiple, and postive, ways.



Dee Brestin’s The Jesus Who Surprises: Opening Our Eyes to His Presence in All of Life and Scripture is both a book and a Bible study. It can be used in a group, or by one person on her own. We all know that Jesus is mentioned many times in the Old Testament, but we may not know exactly where. Here, Brestin draws us through different segments of the Bible (the books of Moses, the Psalms, and the prophets) to show us a more intimate portrait of Jesus and to connect the dots between the OT and the New.

Each chapter focuses on an image of Jesus pulled from those three Bible segments and is introduced beautifully by Brestin, who shares her own experiences and even her own suffering and how Jesus met her. We learn about Jesus’ love and the seemingly paradoxical correction He administers (see the moneychangers in the Temple); how to live and serve out of joy rather than obligation; the Lamb as He’s beautifully described in Isaiah; intimacy and prayer; the royal Wedding; suffering; God’s holiness, and more. The book’s Bible study sections include lots of room for the reader to answer questions; to ponder; and to journal.

This is a deep, intimate, sweet, and beautiful study. It brought meaning and vividness to my personal quiet times, and my own view of and understanding of Jesus. I’ve heard tons about Dee Brestin and her amazingness over the years, but this was my first time to read one of her books. I’m only sorry I waited so long! The Jesus Who Surprises was one of my most favorite reads/Bible studies of 2019.



As a new Christian, years ago, one of my most pressing questions was: how do I know what God wants me to do?

Over the years I have learned to hear God better. I certainly don’t get it right every time or always hear God well. But there are moments when I do, and those moments have brought beauty, joy, and fulfilling careers and choices to me (and, I hope, to those around me). There’s also the downside, though. As a human, with failings, family histories, and traditions, I don’t always get His voice and direction right. (Ugh!) So I do still have that same question, reframed a tiny bit: how do I hear God well?

Nathan Finochio, teaching pastor and worship leader, has a book that I’d recommend to anyone who’s wrestling with the same questions I did and do, still: Hearing God. This book is honest, funny, and designed to help you tear away the “myths” about hearing God so that you have a better perspective to understand how He might be speaking to you. Such “myths” include: that it’s always easy; that if messed-up people weren’t around you you’d hear Him better; that the Holy Spirit can be divided from the Bible; that if your life weren’t full of so much messed-up stuff you’d hear Him better.

I love what emerged as the bottom line for me: God loves me, desires for me to grow toward maturity, and will continue working with me when I mess things up (or when I don’t!). Nathan’s funny, conversational style clearly explains what God might be doing with us despite our faith traditions, our bad habits, and our own misconceptions. Hearing God is great. We actually used it as a read-aloud in our homeschool; it was perfect for me and my teen!




Core 52 by Mark E. Moore’s subtitle says it all: “A fifteen-minute daily guide to build your Bible IQ in a year.” In 52 chapters, Moore starts with Creation and ends with Heaven, and covers tons of information on what the Bible actually SAYS about these topics. Which is awesome! This book would be perfect not only for individual study and reading, but for quiet times, small groups, and even classroom teaching in a religious setting.

Here are some of the other topics Moore covers in Core 52:

  • The Fall, Covenant, and Holiness
  • Our True Identity
  • Jesus and David
  • Prophecy
  • The Messiah
  • Wisdom
  • Prayer, Money, and the Golden Rule
  • And clearly, tons more; that just scratches the surface of the 52 topics!

Each chapter starts with a question (e.g., “Who do you say Jesus is?” or “How can I achieve greatness?” or “What kind of kingdom is the kingdom of God?”). Then, Moore writes an essay which explores those questions (and sometimes, inspires further questions!). Each chapter closes with a summary of key points.

There is a box alongside each chapter that gives a daily (for 5 days each week) assignment to complete. Those assignments include reading the essay, looking up Scriptures, Scripture meditation, and a related activity that varies from chapter to chapter, like taking communion, writing notes, seeking out ways to grow in different areas. There are also bonus assignments for overachievers (ha ha!) and extra reading ideas.

Reading and utilizing Core 52 will take the reader through what almost amounts to a discipleship course on living and walking with Christ, understanding the Christian church, and becoming deeply familiar with the Bible and its precepts. While it would definitely be effective for new Christians, it will be just as powerful for more seasoned Christians.


Are there books or materials you’ve deeply enjoyed lately in your life? Be sure to share in the comments below!


Enjoy! –Wren


DISCLOSURE: From time to time, FINCHNWREN may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog. 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.

I received these books from WaterBrook Multnomah to read and review.

FLASH GIVEAWAY! “More for Mom” Review (CLOSED)

#sponsored #partner


If you’re one of my readers who is a mom, are you breathing a sigh of relief that the school year is *almost* over? You can have the best kiddos in the world and still be exhausted at the end of a full year. Does this sound like you? If so, I have the perfect summer read for you. The Blog About Blogger Network gifted me with Kristin Funston’s new book, More for Mom: Living Your Whole and Holy Life this spring. And, they have provided an extra copy so that I can give it to a FINCHNWREN reader! (This is a FLASH giveaway closing 5/27/19, so enter today!)



Do you ever feel overwhelmed by your to-do list? Or just tired when you look at the laundry pile/weeds to be pulled/calendar of events for your family? Do you feel as though you could be living a successful life and ministry if you *only* could remove one thing from the stack, something that seems to interfere with the life you want to live?

Kristin Funston has life and relief to speak to you then. She, too, struggled with this “overwhelm” feeling that causes us to feel that we have to keep producing and keep striving; as the marked-out word on the book cover suggests, that life and people just want “more” from Mom. Do you ever feel like that; that people just keep asking you to do more, more, more, and that you are trying to serve out of a cup that is already emptied out; or even, a cup that is cracked already?

Maybe this is just what our culture has shaped us to believe. I’ve certainly lived life that way and had those moments. (Especially if you’re a type A person like I am.) At a recent physical, my doctor and I were talking about stamina and energy levels, and the cost of doing more than we can. He said, “Well, if you can just carve out a “reasonable” schedule…”

Yes. I actually laughed when he said that. 🙂

Sometimes in the midst of mom life a reasonable schedule isn’t always possible. We can have the orthodontist appointments, the coop classes, the driving lessons calendared. But we aren’t always able to calendar sudden colds or the flu; unexpected emergencies; or the meals you’d like to provide to a dear friend in need. And over time, that constant demand of schedule can not only wear us down physically but emotionally and spiritually as well. How can we recover from, and learn to operate from, a place where we can understand that MORE is not demanded from us, but is provided FOR us by the God who loves us?

Kristin Funston offers a different mindset for us to operate from:

“Each of us is a whole person with one whole life,
and we were designed to experience the holy of this life now, on earth.”
(p. 7)

Okay, that sounds great. But what does it mean exactly? To Kristin, it means that we don’t have to live “compartmentalized” life, where changing diapers is one thing, teaching Sunday school is another section of my life, meal planning is another, work life is another. Really, our lives aren’t composed of the “important” and “non-important” parts. It’s all one life, and it’s all significant. All of the seemingly disparate parts of our lives are really all just one, whole life; one that has Him to steer us through, fill us up for, and stitch all those different parts together into one beautiful whole. One where we actually experience rest.

That’s just the first chapter. Throughout the rest of the book, Kristin unpacks these from this original “whole life” thesis statement:

  • Experiencing joy, contentment, and (yes, even) a holy life
  • Learning to develop a mental mindset that keeps our thoughts in a beautiful and useful path
  • Showing love by engaging with others both inside and outside our families
  • Dealing in a healthy manner with personal expectations and avoiding comparisons
  • Really, really seeing others
  • Understanding the real purpose of our lives
  • And tons more!

And while all of this is so, so awesome (and trust me; this is a remarkable book that has been incredibly meaningful to me), there are two things that really made it truly life-giving for me.

  1. There is no expectation in this book anywhere to make me think that I need to be a perfect mom.
  2. It. Is. Hilarious!

While Kristin is offering readers this beautiful way of looking at our lives and engaging with God for more joy, more peace, and more contentment…she is just so real. And makes you laugh while you read it! I am definitely an anti-spoiler girl (i.e., I avoided every single news article or blog post about Marvel in the weeks heading up to “Avengers: Endgame” because I did NOT want to know what happened before I sat in that theater seat!) but I just have to share with you some of these funny moments from More for Mom:

  • “If I can barely manage my life, how can I be godly?” (p. 91)
  • “Yow. Not going to lie. This verse hurt my feelings.” (p. 69)
  • “After a long day of (poorly) parenting my two-year-old, I find peace and even laughter when I sit and write words down in a journal or prayer book.” (p. 126)
  • “I have a terrible memory and am very easily distracted. I believe this is partly because of the changes that child rearing caused in my body and mind, but I also know it’s because there are roughly twelve bazillion things running through my mind at any given time.” (p. 150)

And all of this is important to me for several reasons. First, I REALLY believe that we need to laugh more. Life is just hard sometimes, and it hurts. And we can get worn down and forget how much laughter not only lifts our spirits but also puts smiles on the faces of those we love. SO important.

Second, I love that Kristin gets down on the floor with her readers. She’s not sitting high up in the air on some podium of righteousness that we can barely see. She is right down there in the trenches with us. She has struggled with our own struggles; she has had the snarky thoughts that we have had; and she’s made some mom mistakes that are so familiar to us. She makes it funny even as she’s making it real…and that gives us hope that we can do this too.


In closing…

Has this been a rough year for you as a mom? Are you just so, so glad that we are on the cusp of summer? Do you feel as though you just can’t accomplish one more thing? Or, if none of these things is true for you (yay for you if so!), would you just like to read a book that will blow a fresh air of encouragement across your mom life? Then More for Mom: Living Your Whole and Holy Life is THE book you must read this summer. You will learn so much, focus your gaze differently on your life, and learn how to live this mom life in joy and peace.

I loved it. And so will you.


And the giveaway!

One FINCHNWREN reader will win a copy of More for Mom: Living Your Whole and Holy Life! Simply click on the pink “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. This is a flash giveaway, so it will close on Monday, May 27. Enter now and watch your email to find out if you won on Tuesday, May 28!

Enter here

And the winner is: Leela. Congratulations, Leela!

Best wishes! And enjoy! –Wren


DISCLOSURE:  From time to time, FINCHNWREN may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog. 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.




“Holiday Cookies” ~ A Review

Are you always looking for fun and different cookies you can make in December for the holidays?

I admit, I am.  We make biscotti every Christmas…but often we’ll search for something different or unusual that we haven’t made before.  We love making spritz cookies (the cookie press is so fun to use) but I’m often disappointed by the bland flavor.  We like making sugar cookies, especially multicolored ones that you roll up.  But what else is out there?



Elisabet der Nederlanden’s Holiday Cookies has tons of holiday cookie options—many of which I’d never even heard of before!


What will you find in Holiday Cookies?

Food stylist and professional recipe developer Elisabet der Nederlanden is a resident of Berkeley, CA, but was born in and grew up in Sweden.  She learned to bake as a child and worked in a bakery as a teen.  She loves decorating for Christmas (and all its associated celebrations, like St. Lucia Day) and baking wonderful cookies and treats.  So, she brings her love and experience with baking and goodies to this book, which truly is a labor of love.  She searched out, prepared, and selected 50 unusual and delicious cookies whose origins are from countries all over the world.

What I really love about this cookbook is that you’ll find the usual suspects of Christmas cookies (like bark, gingerbread cookies, sugar cookies) but they are livened up with gorgeous decorations, unusual flavors, and unexpected tweaks that make cooking, and decorating, more enjoyable and fun.  The pictures are absolutely breathtaking and they WILL make you want to scurry to the kitchen and bake!  It’s also written in a lovely conversational manner that will make you feel as though der Nederlanden is sharing her fabulous cookie wisdom with you.



She begins with cookie-baking and decorating tips (including a great section on royal icing, which makes rolled cookies so beautiful), helpful ideas for shipping cookies and storing them.  And then the fun begins!  Der Nederlanden has divided her book into 6 sections with 8 recipes each:

  • Very Merry Classics (with gingerbread cookies, black and whites, Red Velvet Crackle Cookies, stenciled shortbread rounds)
  • Cookie Exchange Party (where you’ll find Bejeweled Chocolate Cookies, Malted Milk Chocolate Cookies, Red-and-White Meringue Kisses and more)
  • Warm Holiday Spice (which includes Saffron Pistachio Biscotti, Cinnamon-Sugar Palmiers, and Thumbprints with Spicy Plum Jam)
  • Around the World (Swedish Pepparkakor, Mexican Wedding Cookies, Italian Pignoli Cookies, and other fun recipes)
  • Holiday Confections (with goodies like Apple Cider Caramels, Matcha Chocolate Bark with Berries and Coconut, and Smoked Almond and Cacao Nib Brittle)
  • and finally, Decorated Delights, where the author shares recipes for cookie ornaments, Gingerbread Place-Card Cookies, Stained-Glass Snowflakes, and even a Gingerbread House

The recipes all seem to be well-researched (and tested) and the directions are very clear and easy to follow.  (Of course you’ll still want to read through the cookie recipes before you prepare them; some of them have ingredients that you might not have on hand.)


Our favorites

We LOVE Swedish Pepparkakor.  The St. Lucia celebration is so beautiful, and pepparkakor cookies are served then.  The cookies are crisp and carry ginger and cloves (and of course, a bit of pepper).  I don’t have der Nederlanden’s fun goat and pig cookie cutters, but we do have lots of others!

I like the saffron biscotti recipe as well.  It is beautiful and colorful, thanks to the saffron, which I’d never have imagined as a biscotti ingredient!

Other favorites include the Minty Spritz Cookies (I told you I needed a good spritz recipe!), the Gingerbread Place-Card Cookies (although honestly my hand doesn’t have beautiful cursive handwriting with icing!), and the Citrus Sugar Cookie Ornaments.  So many fun recipes to add joy to Christmas celebrations!

More about the author:

Elisabet der Nederlanden’s website


Enjoy!  –Wren


DISCLAIMER:  I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

From time to time, FINCHNWREN may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog. 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.