Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Guest Blogger Review And TWO Giveaways!

I am so excited to have my oldest daughter, Lauren, guest reviewing today. She is reviewing Hank Smith's book, Be Happy. Since she worked with him at EFY and took a class from him as well, she seemed the logical choice.

I am also reviewing a book today, Kristin Holt's new story, Sophia's Leap Year Courtship, so be sure to scroll all the way down to read my book review AND enter both giveaways!

Lauren's Review:

I recently finished the book Be Happy by Hank Smith, and no surprise, I give it a similar review to how I would feel about all Hank Smith works. I absolutely loved it! But this one was different for me. Let me explain.

Last week, I came home from teaching school after a terrible and very long day. I was feeling extremely grumpy and, like the sometimes-sassy second graders I deal with, I definitely needed a nap. But before I could escape peacefully to my room, some words were had with a family member and I marched upstairs, grabbed a chocolate bar (just like my mom, am I right??) and plopped down to feel sorry for myself. Just then, I glanced over to see the book I was supposed to be reading and hadn’t even opened yet. “OH GOOD,” I thought a little sarcastically, “I’m in a rotten mood and am having a rotten day. Teach me to be happy, Brother Smith.” And do you know what? He did.

I was expecting a book about smiling more, laughing, service and maybe even a bit about a gratitude journal, which is exactly what I got. But oh no, it didn’t stop there. In addition there were many other ways to be happy that are backed by science and studies (who knew Hank Smith was so versed in psychology?), a deep look into the scriptures, quotes from general authorities and other famous figures masterfully woven in, history lessons, and a deeper understanding of what the Lord is telling us when He says “men are that they might have joy.”

If you know Hank Smith, you know that he is a master storyteller and that definitely shines through in this book. From personal experiences, including his baby touring the house story that still gets me every time I hear it, to an interesting look at the life of Thomas Edison that I had never thought of before, the stories he chose to represent his concepts of positivity are perfect for what he is trying to accomplish. I also enjoyed that he took a chapter to address depression, because so many people struggle with it, and the rest of us can’t understand and sometimes don’t know what to say. I appreciated his insight and feel more equipped to help those around me.

My absolute, hands down, favorite part of the book was his section on patience. If you look back to the first paragraph, I clearly don’t have enough and sometimes the second graders reeeallllyyyy bring that out of me (I really do love them. Even when they ask me why I’m so tall and why I smell like bread pudding. They’re the best.) Hank Smith brings up some good ideas to increase your patience and understand its importance, and by doing so VOILA! more happiness! But what was most relevant to me in the book was being patient with the Lord. Smith writes, “..Allow the Lord to do his work in His due time. Because that kind of patience is also directly hardwired into happiness. Why? Because the Lord knows what He’s doing, and we don’t know his mind or purposes. But remember? He told us our purpose is to have joy.” Sometimes, we forget not only to be patient and happy with others, but with ourselves and the Lord as well. This book is perfect for people of all ages, the stories will make you laugh, cry and want to be better, and you will never look at the microwaves at Home Depot the same way again.

Here's the back copy:

You can be happy—solidly, genuinely happy—no matter what's going on around you, no matter what happens to you, no matter what storm comes along to batter and bruise you.
Keep reading, and I'll show you how . . .

Face it: it's not always easy to feel happy. With all of the worries and trials of day-to-day life, the cares of the world can seem overwhelming. But as popular speaker and author Hank Smith demonstrates, no matter your circumstances, you can be happy—the kind of happy that illuminates you from the inside out, a joy that does not depend on what happens to you but on what you do with what happens. With his characteristic humor, Hank offers readers a fresh perspective on finding joy in the journey with a collection of tools and strategies designed to inspire genuine happiness, such as:

• Learning to develop an optimistic outlook
• Understanding how to deal with feelings of depression<
• Mastering ten simple tricks to jump-start your joy each day

Featuring an inspiring collection of real-life examples, enlightening doctrinal direction, and motivating goals, Be Happy is the guide you need to start living a happier life, today!

You can download your copy here

Julie's Review:

Kristin Holt is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. I love how she can draw me into a story and time period and make me feel like I am right there. This story was no different! (Also, it's part of the Timeless Romance Singles so it's just over a hundred pages long. Perfect for the days when I need an escape, but don't have a lot of time!)

Chadwick Hughes has sent away for a mail order bride after more than a year of letters and long-distance courtship between them. He's built a house for her and is excited to finally be married. Unfortunately, his bride doesn't come because she never existed. He's been duped. His close friend advises him to hire the town's only female lawyer to look into the matter for him. And that's when the worst point of his life becomes the best.

Sophia has sent away for a husband, one who can accept a wife who earns a wage. She hasn't been accepted anywhere, and has a newspaperman who humiliates her at every turn. Perhaps even a loveless marriage would stop the gossip and help her maintain some semblance of dignity. When she gets her first client in Chadwick Hughes, she's determined to do her best work. But events soon show her that there's more to Chadwick than she imagined and perhaps they can help each other.

I loved the sparks between Chadwick and Sophia. Even though this is a shorter story, I loved how easily the characters interacted and their romance was a slow burn. The obstacles between them were realistic and relatable and as a reader, I was turning pages long after I should have put it down to see how it all turned out! The Wyoming setting was perfect and easy to imagine from the descriptions. I also enjoyed seeing women in unusual careers, especially at this point and time when women were scorned for being anything other than a homemaker. The readers also get a peek into the lives of Joe and Naomi from a previous story, which was a treat as well. This was a satisfying love story that had me smiling at the end. I think historical romance fans will love this one! 

Here's the back copy:

Union Pacific Station Agent Chadwick Hughes has everything in a state of readiness to welcome his mail order bride…everything but the bride. The woman he’s corresponded with for a year didn’t change her mind or miss her train in Omaha—she never existed. Chadwick’s mortified to discover he’s been swindled by a fraudulent matrimonial agency in Chicago. He needs a lawyer if he’ll ever recover a dime of the fortune he spent on worthless membership fees and the nonexistent bride’s transportation west.

Sophia Sorensen, Attorney at Law, is a spinster on the edge of propriety. The good people of Wyoming Territory are open to a lot of things, including Lady’s Privilege during Leap Years, but some aren’t fond of her day-to-day behavior. Why, the woman rides her bicycle hither and yon, showing her petticoat ruffle and ankles. She might be the least ladylike specimen beneath Wyoming skies, but it’s entertaining to watch her court the U.P. Station Agent, Chadwick Hughes, the most-eligible bachelor in the county.

You can download your copy here

Here's the blog tour stops:


Melanie said...

What an awesome mother-daughter team!! I love both of your reviews!

Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Thank you! You're so sweet!

Kristin Holt said...

Thank you, so much, Julie!
I so appreciate your thoughtful and gracious review of SOPHIA'S LEAP-YEAR COURTSHIP. Wow! Thank you!
~ Kristin Holt

Julie Coulter Bellon said...

You are welcome, Kristin! I love your stories!

NaDell said...

The top giveaway says it hasn't started yet...

Julie Coulter Bellon said...

NaDell, I'm not sure why that is happening! I contacted the publisher. Thanks for the heads up!