Category: Balance of Faith whilst Living

#WYChristmasReadathon No.1 | Book Review of “Finding Father Christmas” (omnibus ed.) & “Engaging Father Christmas” by Robin Jones Gunn

Posted Sunday, 20 November, 2016 by jorielov , , , , , 0 Comments

Book Review Banner using Unsplash.com (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Frank McKenna

Acquired Book By: I am a new reviewer for Hachette Books and their imprints, starting with FaithWords which is their INSPY (Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction) imprint of releases focusing on uplifting and spiritual stories which are a delight to read whilst engaging your mind in life affirming and heart-centered stories. I found Hachette via Edelweiss at the conclusion of [2015] and have been wicked happy I can review for their imprints Grand Central Publishing, FaithWords & Center Street.

I received a complimentary copy of “Finding Father Christmas (omnibus) Engaging Father Christmas” direct from the publisher FaithWords (an imprint of Hachette Book Group Inc.) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why I wanted to read Christmas Romances & Fiction this year:

A few years back I wanted to participate in Christmas #readathons – one hosted by an author who likes to pull people together in the book blogosphere and on social media but the other one was meant to be co-hosted between myself and my friend Christine (of whom had maintained her own bookish blog at readerlymusings.com). I never had the proper chance to focus on either one – even as December had a way of coming back round, none of the Decembers I tried to participate was successful; last year notwithstanding as I had a thirty day virus! Oy!

This year, I wanted to make a new tradition of settling into holiday stories between November and December – even extending into January if I found stories I felt would resonate with me at that point in time. I have the hardest time ‘letting go’ of the holiday movies on tv by early to mid January – as it’s the end of the season I love so much to watch! Those films which air on Hallmark Channel and Lifetime are such a delight to become caught up inside due to the innocent joys and the pure happiness of being connected to family and community. We can all use extra joy and I celebrate the light of the festive season being played out on the dramas and romances or comedies this time of the year!

I used to read Christmas stories all the time – long before I blogged my reading life, but somewhere along the way I fell out of step with why I loved reading them! I would queue them from my library or purchase copies outright to include on my own bookshelves, yet the joy of simply ‘reading them’ left me curiously detached! Until this year, where I decided – I don’t want to just ‘watch!’ the holidays unfold this year or listen to the music on the radio starting Thanksgiving week – I want to fully embrace what I’ve always loved doing – reading select Christmas stories and/or inspiring books which make me smile or uplift my spirit in some way that co-relates to the Christmastide and Wintry season!

Therefore, this review of the newly released omnibus of Ms Gunn’s novellas in the Father Christmas series will kick-off my readings which throughout November and December will offer a bit of a capstone glimpse inside the stories which lift up my spirit and make my heart smile! A true mixture of fiction and non-fiction releases – including a few surprises along the way! I happened to have found all of these to read and/or review ahead of the #WYChristmasReadthon which splendidly worked out well for cross-promoting purposes where I can engage in what are you reading this Christmas Season with other readers seeking out wicked good #ChristmasReads!

It’s a beautiful time of the year, and settling back into the stories I always loved reading is an immeasurable joy of mine! These readings and showcases are running a bit concurrent to my science fiction showcases this month, so you’ll always have something unexpectedly awesome to read about if you continue to visit with me this November!

I’d love to know what your picking up to read this season

– be sure to leave your #currentreads and recommendations in the comment threads!

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#WYChristmasReadathon No.1 | Book Review of “Finding Father Christmas” (omnibus ed.) & “Engaging Father Christmas” by Robin Jones GunnFinding Father Christmas | Engaging Father Christmas
Subtitle: Two Novels in One (Omnibus)
by Robin Jones Gunn
Source: Direct from Publisher

By beloved author Robin Jones Gunn, two timeless, heartwarming Christmas novellas bound together for the first time in an omnibus edition.

In FINDING FATHER CHRISTMAS, Miranda Carson's search for her father leads her unexpectedly to London with only a few feeble clues as to who he might be. Immediately welcomed into a family that doesn't recognize her, and whom she's quickly coming to love, she faces a terrible decision. Should she reveal her true identity and destroy their idyllic image of her father? Or should she carry the truth home with her to San Francisco and remain alone in this world? Whatever choice she makes during this London Christmas will forever change the future for both herself and the family she can't bear to leave.

In ENGAGING FATHER CHRISTMAS Miranda Carson can't wait to return to England for Christmas and to be with her boyfriend, Ian. She has spent a lifetime yearning for a place to call home, and she's sure Carlton Heath will be it, especially when a hinted-at engagement ring slips into the conversation. But Miranda's high hopes for a jolly Christmas with the small circle of people she has come to love are toppled when Ian's father is hospitalized and the matriarch of the Whitcombe family withholds her blessing from Miranda. Questions run rampant in Miranda's mind about whether she really belongs in this cheery corner of the world. Then, when her true identity threatens all her relationships in unanticipated ways, Miranda is certain all is lost. And yet . . . maybe Father Christmas has special gifts in store for her after all.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Find on Book Browse

ISBN: 9781455565948

Also by this author: Kissing Father Christmas

Also in this series: Kissing Father Christmas


Genres: Christmas Story &/or Christmas Romance, Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Contemporary Romance, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Short Story or Novella, Spirituality & Metaphysics


Published by FaithWords

on 6th September, 2016

Format: Paperback Edition

Pages: 352

Published by: FaithWords (@FaithWords)
an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc. (@HachetteBooks) via Hachette Nashville

Formats Available: Hardcover, Audiobook & Ebook

The Father Christmas Series includes:

Finding Father Christmas & Engaging Father Christmas (omnibus edition) by Robin Jones GunnKissing Father Christmas by Robin Jones Gunn

Finding Father Chistmas

Engaging Father Christmas

Kissing Father Christmas (Synopsis)

Converse via: #INSPYbooks, #ChristmasReads

About Robin Jones Gunn

Robin Jones Gunn Photo Credit: Ross Gunn III

Robin Jones Gunn has written 82 books over the past 25 years, with almost 4.5 million copies sold worldwide. She received a Christy Award for her novel Sisterchicks in Gondolas, and speaks at events around the US and Canada as well as in South America, Africa, Europe, and Australia.

Photo Credit: Ross Gunn III

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #WYChristmasReadathon
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Posted Sunday, 20 November, 2016 by jorielov in 21st Century, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Christianity, Christmas Romance &/or Holiday Story, Contemporary Romance, England, FaithWords, Family Life, Inheritance & Identity, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Modern Day, Post-911 (11th September 2001), Romance Fiction, Single Mothers, Spirituality & Metaphysics, When Calls the Heart

Blog Book Tour | “You’ve Got This” (How to Look UP when Life has you DOWN) compiled by Elise Hahl feat. Al Carraway and Hank Smith

Posted Monday, 14 November, 2016 by jorielov , , , , , 0 Comments

Book Review Banner using Unsplash.com (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Frank McKenna

Acquired Book By: I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Cedar Fort whereupon I am thankful to have such a diverse amount of novels and non-fiction titles to choose amongst to host. I received a complimentary copy of “You’ve Got This” direct from the publisher CFI (imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why I wanted to read this collection of inspiring stories:

I was invited to this blog tour by the author Elise Hahl of whom I was thankful who introduced me to this inspiring non-fiction collection of human interest stories and affirmations of positivity which can inspire teenagers to find courage and strength in their growing years. I find these kinds of collections cross-relatable and cross-applicable – as the wisdom and truth of what is being shared is timeless. When your growing up there are moments where you like to have self-reflection and self-motivating modes of inspiration to guide you on your path. You can have a wonderful support system within your family and/or community but there are times where it is best to withdraw internally and seek out the answers  you’re pursuing through your continuing journey where you lean on your faith most directly.

As I will be adopting out of foster care in the future – I am keenly interested in finding books I will one day be recommending to my children. Either for fiction or non-fiction interests and pursuits as the joy of reading and seeking solace in literature is one of the blessings I want to instill in my children. You can gain so much through books – it’s something that I look forward to sharing with them. Therefore, this is one of those motivational books I was keen to read and become acquainted with in case down the road it would become quite handy to have knowledge of whilst giving me the chance to share it with my child(ren).

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Blog Book Tour | “You’ve Got This” (How to Look UP when Life has you DOWN) compiled by Elise Hahl feat. Al Carraway and Hank SmithYou've Got This
Subtitle: How to Look UP when life has you DOWN
by Al Carraway, Elise Hahl, Hank Smith
Source: Direct from Publisher

Life is tough, but so are you! Learn how to work through life’s trials with advice from popular youth speakers, including Hank Smith and Al Carraway, who have endured a few challenges of their own. This encouraging book will help you see trials as essential stepping-stones to becoming who you’re destined to be.

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781462119424

Also by this author: More than the Tattooed Mormon

Genres: Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Memoir, Non-Fiction, Spirituality & Metaphysics


Published by CFI (imprint) Cedar Fort Inc

on 1st October, 2016

Format: Paperback Edition

Pages: 128

Published By: CFI (imprint) of Cedar Fort Inc (@CedarFortBooks),

an imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc (@CedarFortBooks)
Available Formats: Paperback, Ebook

Converse on Twitter via: #LDSFaith and #INSPY #nonfiction

About Al Carraway

Al Fox Carraway

Al Fox Carraway has spent the last four years inspiring the world with her story of conversion, redemption, and finding faith. As a blogger and award-winning public speaker, her message has reached millions. This up-close look at her life will show you what it means to truly trust in the Lord.

Photo Credit: Al Fox Carraway headshot by Beka Price Photography.

About Elise Hahl

Elise Hahl

After serving as a missionary to the Brazil Manaus mission, Elise Babbel Hahl completed her studies in English at Stanford University, married her mission pen pal, and went on to earn a master’s degree in writing from Johns Hopkins University. Her work has been published in Choosing Motherhood, Whereabouts: Stepping Out of Place, Education Next magazine, Do NOT Attempt in Heels, and recorded on “The World in Words” podcast. She lives with her husband and four children in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area.

About Hank Smith

Hank Smith

Hank Smith has been a full-time religious educator for the Church for 12 years, teaching seminary and in the Religion Department at BYU. Hank is a favorite speaker with Especially for Youth, BYU Education Week, and Time Out for Women. With his trademark sense of humor and his captivating stories and examples, Hank makes it fun to learn gospel principles and strengthen personal testimonies.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

The collection itself is portable – not only for the slimline publication but because it is broken into different sections by each of the contributing authors – each of whom have something unique to share about how their faith re-energised their hope and provided grace in their lives through their adversities. Each of them has a new perspective to offer and a life lesson to impart on the young reader who might be seeking advice but isn’t as sure about the kind of advice that needs to be sought. Sometimes you read inspiring stories just to let you mind wash over something positive even if the pursuit of the story isn’t readily known at the time. Read More

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Posted Monday, 14 November, 2016 by jorielov in Balance of Faith whilst Living, Biblical History, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Cedar Fort Publishing & Media, Christianity, Historical Perspectives, Indie Author, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Inspired by Stories, Lessons from Scripture, Mormonism, Non-Fiction, Questioning Faith as a Teen, Religious History, Short Stories or Essays, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Vignettes of Real Life, World Religions

Non-Fiction Book Review | “My Underground American Dream” by Julissa Arce

Posted Saturday, 12 November, 2016 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By: I am a new reviewer for Hachette Books and their imprints, I started by reviewing two releases by FaithWords, their INSPY (Inspirational Fiction) imprint of releases focusing on uplifting and spiritual stories which are a delight to read whilst engaging your mind in life affirming and heart-centered stories. I found Hachette via Edelweiss at the conclusion of [2015] and have been blessed to start reviewing for them.

I received a complimentary copy of “My Underground American Dream” direct from the publisher Center Street (an imprint of Hachette Book Group Inc.) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Why I have wanted to read this memoir ever since I first heard about it:

I am growing more interested in reading human interest stories, memoirs and select biographies or autobiographies whilst I also find certain topics and subjects in Science are the ones I am enjoying the most to read and discover. When I first saw this release was upcoming this Autumn, I knew I wanted to read it because it was almost as if our current events and the news had converged on this release to bring to light an ongoing topic of narrative about something that affects so many people living in America today.

I had seen a documentary about Latinos living in California and part of the documentary shifted to reflect that some of the families on-camera were currently undocumented. I felt perhaps they should have been featured as I knew their status is always in jeopardy but also, they have so much they have to face everyday, why put their safety at risk by being in a documentary?  I never forgot that particular news feature I had seen within the past year. It was more about culture and art than it was about undocumented immigrants, but still, it had highlighted the issue to an level of insight where you could gather how difficult it was to live with a secret which could affect you so very dearly.

I wasn’t sure what I would find inside – as until I saw the release was pending, I honestly had not heard of Ms Arce’s story. I thought it was interesting how her status changed and how she found success in one of the hardest finance districts – there was an interesting story there awaiting my eyes – that much I knew for sure! It became one of my most anticipated #nextreads and one that I was thankful I had a chance to review for Center Street.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Non-Fiction Book Review | “My Underground American Dream” by Julissa ArceMy Underground American Dream
Subtitle: My True Story as an Undocumented Immigrant who became a Wallstreet Executive
by Julissa Arce
Source: Direct from Publisher

What does an undocumented immigrant look like? What kind of family must she come from? How could she get into this country? What is the true price she must pay to remain in the United States?

JULISSA ARCE knows firsthand that the most common, preconceived answers to those questions are sometimes far too simple-and often just plain wrong.

On the surface, Arce's story reads like a how-to manual for achieving the American dream: growing up in an apartment on the outskirts of San Antonio, she worked tirelessly, achieved academic excellence, and landed a coveted job on Wall Street, complete with a six-figure salary. The level of professional and financial success that she achieved was the very definition of the American dream. But in this brave new memoir, Arce digs deep to reveal the physical, financial, and emotional costs of the stunning secret that she, like many other high-achieving, successful individuals in the United States, had been forced to keep not only from her bosses, but even from her closest friends.

From the time she was brought to this country by her hardworking parents as a child, Arce-the scholarship winner, the honors college graduate, the young woman who climbed the ladder to become a vice president at Goldman Sachs-had secretly lived as an undocumented immigrant. In this surprising, at times heart-wrenching, but always inspirational personal story of struggle, grief, and ultimate redemption, Arce takes readers deep into the little-understood world of a generation of undocumented immigrants in the United States today- people who live next door, sit in your classrooms, work in the same office, and may very well be your boss. By opening up about the story of her successes, her heartbreaks, and her long-fought journey to emerge from the shadows and become an American citizen, Arce shows us the true cost of achieving the American dream-from the perspective of a woman who had to scale unseen and unimaginable walls to get there.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Find on Book Browse

ISBN: 9781455540242

Genres: Biography / Autobiography, Current Events


Published by Center Street

on 13th September, 2016

Format: Hardcover Edition

Pages: 304

Published by: CenterStreet (@centerstreet)
an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc. (@HachetteBooks) via Hachette Nashville

Formats Available: Hardcover, Trade Paperback, Audiobook and Ebook

Converse via: #NonFiction + #CurrentEvents

About Julissa Arce

Julissa Arce Photo Credit: Vincent Remini

JULISSA ARCE is a writer, speaker, and social-justice advocate. She is the cofounder and chairman of the Ascend Educational Fund, a college scholarship and mentorship program that assists immigrant students, regardless of their immigration status, ethnicity, or national origin. Julissa is also a board member for the National Immigration Law Center and for College Spring. Prior to becoming an advocate, she built a successful career on Wall Street, working at Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch.

Photo Credit: Vincent Remini

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Posted Saturday, 12 November, 2016 by jorielov in 21st Century, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Brothers and Sisters, Debut Author, Equality In Literature, Father-Daughter Relationships, Immigrant Stories, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Life in Another Country, Memoir, Modern Day, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, Non-Fiction, Political Narrative & Modern Topics, Post-911 (11th September 2001), Siblings, Social Change, Tattoo Art & Design, Vignettes of Real Life

Blog Book Tour | “The Unsaid” by Aaron Blaylock the author of “The Land of Look Behind”.

Posted Sunday, 30 October, 2016 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I have been a blog tour hostess with Cedar Fort for the past two years, wherein I took a brief hiatus from hosting before resuming this August 2016. I appreciate the diversity of the stories the Indie publisher is publishing per year, not only for fiction and non-fiction but for healthy eats within their Front Table Books (cookbooks). I appreciate their dedication to writing general market, INSPY reads and LDS focused stories across the genres they publish.

I was selected to be a part of the “The Unsaid” blog tour wherein I received a complimentary copy of “The Unsaid” direct from the publisher Sweetwater Books (an imprint of Cedar Fort Inc.) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why I was curious to read this one:

Having read the author’s previous release and debut with Cedar Fort The Land of Look Behind, I was curious about his sophomore release with the publisher – where he would take an interesting thesis of an idea and run with it – regarding what becomes of our unspoken thoughts and how those thoughts can still have meaning even if we do not feel that they do, as to us, they are discarded before they become tangibly noticeable. OR do they?

It’s an interesting premise – especially regarding the old adage about ‘thoughts are things’ and the cautionary tales of keeping your mind in check, in case your thoughts are overtaking your focus, etc. Sometimes the things we think could have a negative effect on us without even our conscious being aware of the impact whilst there is a pause of thought towards ‘whom’ overhears us when we are merely thinking thoughts and working out our feelings in the cosy comfort of our heads. There was something about this one that sparked an interest to see where the author would take us in the story-line but also, how he would handle the juxtapositions of Maggie, his lead character(s) and the heart of the matter, too!

I marked this as a ‘time slip’ simply because it’s moving between Heaven and Earth – which in of itself, is a slip in time.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Blog Book Tour | “The Unsaid” by Aaron Blaylock the author of “The Land of Look Behind”.The Unsaid
by Aaron Blaylock
Source: Direct from Publisher

"A bright white light consumed her field of vision as sh was rapidly pulled away from her station... the light quickly faded to darkness and closed in until all was black."

Maggie's job at the Department of Thoughts and Records in heaven is pretty simple. She is a spirit curator - an observer of human life who sorts and categorizes every unsaid thought. When Eric shows interest in the new girl at work, Maggie can't help ignoring the rules to understand the wonders of mortality and love. But meddling in mortal affairs has consequences that Maggie couldn't have ever imagined...

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781462119059

Also by this author: The Land of Look Behind,

Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Time Slip and/or Time Shift


Published by Bonneville Books

on 1st October 2016

Format: Paperback Edition

Pages: 208

Published By: Bonneville Books (@BonnevilleBooks),

an imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc (@CedarFortBooks)
Available Formats: Paperback, Ebook

Converse on Twitter via: #TheUnsaid

About Aaron Blaylock

Aaron Blaylock

Born and raised in Arizona, Aaron is proud to call the desert home. He came of age in the suburbs of Sacramento, California and as a missionary in Jamaica, where he fell in love with the people and their culture, but he has always been drawn back to the valley of the sun.

He married his childhood crush, and the girl of his dreams, in 2001. Together they are raising four beautiful and rambunctious children. He worked as a freelance sports reporter for The Arizona Republic for nearly ten years, combining his love of writing and sports. In his storytelling he draws heavily on his love of history, adventure, his faith and his own life experiences.

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Posted Sunday, 30 October, 2016 by jorielov in 21st Century, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Cedar Fort Publishing & Media, Content Note, Fly in the Ointment, Indie Author, Indie Book Trade, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Men's Fiction, Modern Day, Realistic Fiction, Time Slip, World Religions