Daring to Hope by Katie Davis Majors

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How do you hold on to hope
when you don’t get the ending
you asked for?

When Katie Davis Majors moved to Uganda, accidentally founded a booming organization, and later became the mother of thirteen girls through the miracle of adoption, she determined to weave her life together with the people she desired to serve. But joy often gave way to sorrow as she invested her heart fully in walking alongside people in the grip of poverty, addiction, desperation, and disease.

After unexpected tragedy shook her family, for the first time Katie began to wonder, Is God really good? Does He really love us? When she turned to Him with her questions, God spoke truth to her heart and drew her even deeper into relationship with Him.

Daring to Hope is an invitation to cling to the God of the impossible–the God who whispers His love to us in the quiet, in the mundane, when our prayers are not answered the way we want or the miracle doesn’t come. It’s about a mother discovering the extraordinary strength it takes to be ordinary. It’s about choosing faith no matter the circumstance and about encountering God’s goodness in the least expected places.

Though your heartaches and dreams may take a different shape, you will find your own questions echoed in these pages. You’ll be reminded of the gifts of joy in the midst of sorrow. And you’ll hear God’s whisper: Hold on to hope. I will meet you here.

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This is the second book I have read by Katie Davis. I recently reviewed her first one, Kisses From Katie which can be viewed here.

I feel that Daring to Hope is more relateable for me, even though it is also more philosophical. In her first memoir, the things that Katie does are astounding and remarkable. She exemplifies the term “radical Christian” in the best ways. Not many people move across the world to do God’s work and live his word as she has done.

At that time she was 19 years old.

Now, slightly older and with a few more miles on her soul, she is easier to relate to as she grapples with the big questions and her understanding of God. Why is there so much suffering on Earth? He can heal everything, so why doesn’t he? How do we accept outcomes that we view as undesirable and know that it is what God allowed?

We look at pain and wonder why God would allow it. Sometimes we are climbing Mount Moriah, unsure of what God is doing or why He asks this of us. But even as we wonder why, even as we wait, we are the ones who cling to the Lord. We can say with Habakkuk that we will rejoice – not because we enjoy the barrenness and the brokenness, but because God will; be our strength. Even in the midst of seemingly impossible circumstances, we can experience His presence and can trust in His ultimate goodness. Our pain can bring about an intimacy with God that we otherwise might not know. Pg. 82-83

Katie uses many stories from scripture in writing her books. I like that she seems to have mostly chosen those less well known, rather than ones we all know like Noah’s Ark.

This book helped me to understand my calling as a friend and loved one. How do you bring comfort and witness to someone as they suffer? I always think of what I can do to fix their problem and feel helpless when I cannot. If nothing can be done, I feel angry.

… Maybe we are not called to alleviate suffering (as I had once imagined) as much as we are called to enter into the suffering of others and walk with them through it. We mourn with those who mourn, we weep with those who weep, we cry out with them for something better. Pg. 58

Daring to Hope is an exceptional memoir of a modern-day missionary working in Uganda. Katie is young but her writing has grown from the first book. You can tell that she has grown a lot as a person and is extremely inspiring. I would definitely read another book from her if she wrote one some day.

You can learn more about Katie’s mission at Amazima.

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Shadow Keeper (Shadow Riders #3)

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One family brings its own brand of justice to the streets of Chicago’s shadowy underworld as #1 New York Times bestselling author Christine Feehan returns to a series hot enough to burn…

The paparazzi can’t get enough of infamous bad boy Giovanni Ferraro. But unknown to them–and the women he beds–he’s just playing a role. Keeping the spotlight on himself keeps it off the family business. And if this lethal shadow rider can’t hunt in the dark, he’ll find his pleasure elsewhere…

Sasha Provis grew up on a Wyoming ranch and thought she knew how to protect herself from predators. But in the nightclub where she works, she’s fair game–until one of the owners steps in to protect her. Giovanni is gorgeous. He’s dangerous. And his every touch takes her breath away.

The devil at her heels may have finally met its match…

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Boy oh boy, does Giovanni ever mess up at the beginning of this book! I understand why he makes up the little game that he does. It would be incredibly hard to trust anyone who wasn’t family, with the position that he is in, and the work Shadow Riders do requires them to keep a public persona to distract from the family’s true work.

But it does not do him any favours with Sasha!

There is a lot of heart in Shadow Keeper. Both Sasha and Gee make sacrifices for each other, which I thought was heart-warming and a true example of how good relationships work. Sasha is facing the loss of her last remaining family remember due to illness, and there were scenes between them that brought me to tears.

This plot was very suspenseful but I found that it was also a tad predictable. I knew who the villain was long before the hero/ine figured it out, which was annoying … not only because I had to wait for the plot to catch up, but also because the premise of the Ferraro family is that they are world class investigators.

Overall, I enjoyed Shadow Keeper quite a bit but so far, nothing in this series has lived up to book one, Shadow Rider. I did find that the tidbits we got about Emme/Valentino, Vittorio, and Taviano/Nicoletta really served to get me incredibly excited about their books coming up.  Right now, the Shadow Rider and Torpedo Ink series are tied for my two favourite series and I wish there wasn’t such a long wait before new releases in each one!

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Beneath the Scars (Shadowlands #13)

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Josie doesn’t need any help raising her son.

Pregnant at sixteen, Josie learned the hard way about men and their empty promises. She picked herself up and is raising her eleven-year-old son. By herself. And that’s the way she intends it to stay. Unfortunately, her impressionable boy becomes fascinated by the scruffy, intimidating biker who lives next door.

The scars on Holt’s face are only the most visible of his wounds.

Out of the hospital after being attacked in his own damn house, Holt is coming to terms with the fact that his scars frighten people. Like his now-ex-girlfriend who ran after one look at him. Like his redheaded neighbor who hauled her boy away as if Holt was a serial killer. Fine. He’ll give the pretty bartender all the space she wants.

The Shadowlands will bring them together…

When Josie starts bartending in the exclusive, private club, she discovers her neighbor is a member. And a Master–a skilled powerful Dom who can make her fantasies come true. Slowly, the firefighter breaks down the walls around her heart, teaching her how to trust. How to love…

But when her son’s choices lead to disaster, can their relationship survive?

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Okay, first off, I hate this cover. It was actually a turnoff for me reading this book but I love the author and the series, so I knew better than to judge it by its cover.

That being said …

We have on our hands yet another fabulous Shadowlands story from Ms. Sinclair.

Beneath the Scars starts off much slower with the sex and BDSM than most of the books in this series have. Josie is new to the club and her first real scene occurs more than a quarter of the way into the book.

I love that the author has created a single mom romance, which is something I have been hoping she would do for a few years now. I also appreciate that the son wasn’t always full of warm and fuzzy feelings towards Holt. I felt that this is a fairly realistic portrayal of a new family forming, with all the ups and downs and stumbles that go along with.

I have become used to this author introducing a new kink in every one of her books. Unfortunately, there wasn’t one introduced in Beneath the Scars and I really missed this aspect. It was something that I had expected and looked forward to, so I kept waiting for this scene to happen.

The romance between Holt and Josie is more of a slow burn than an eruption of passion. They are immediately attracted to one another but move slowly due to a number of circumstances. Holt is heavily into bondage but there was limited use of other toys or kinks in this book. I feel that this book is closer to “romance” than erotica, at least compared to the others in the series.

Overall, a solid addition to the series and one I will definitely read again, but it didn’t completely fill up my bucket.

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Kisses From Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption

 

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What would cause an eighteen-year-old old senior class president and homecoming queen from Nashville, Tennessee, to disobey and disappoint her parents by forgoing college, break her little brother’s heart, lose all but a handful of her friends (because the rest of them think she has gone off the deep end), and break up with the love of her life, all so she could move to Uganda, where she knew only one person but didn’t know any of the language?

A passion to make a difference.

Katie Davis left over Christmas break her senior year for a short mission trip to Uganda and her life was turned completely inside out. She found herself so moved, so broken by the people and the children of Uganda that she knew her calling was to return and care for them. Her story is like Mother Teresa’s in that she has given up everything—at such a young age—to care for the less fortunate of this world. Katie, a charismatic and articulate young woman, has gone on to adopt 14 children during her time in Uganda, and she completely trusts God for daily provision for her and her family, which includes children with special needs.

To further her reach into the needs of Ugandans, Katie established Amazima Ministries. The ministry matches orphaned children with sponors worldwide. Each sponsor’s $300/year provides schooling, school supplies, three hot meals a day, minor medical care, and spiritual encouragement. Katie expected to have forty children in the program; she had signed up 150 by January 2008; today it sponsors over 400. Another aspect of the ministry is a feeding program created for the displaced Karamojong people—Uganda’s poorest citizens. The program feeds lunch to over 1200 children Monday-Friday and sends them home with a plate for food; it also offers basic medical care, Bible study, and general health training.

Katie Davis, now 21, is more than fascinating, she’s inspiring, as she has wholeheartedly answered the call to serve.

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I chose to read Kisses from Katie because I was initially intrigued by her experiences with adoption. As I mentioned recently in Instant Mom , adoption is near and dear to my heart. It is definitely a path that I feel called to in my life.

Katie adopted 14! children from Uganda, and she lives there with them in the ministry that she has built through her nonprofit organization. This is definitely a very different adoption path from what I would take – I’m not not proposing I move to Africa – however it was still incredibly inspiring to read about her joys and struggles.

This book is heavy on God, Jesus and the Christian faith. I am religious although my relationship with God is one I usually describe as “complicated”. I was raised in a family that believes in the Heavenly Father but did not attend church for anything other than weddings and baptisms.

At first, I was rolling my eyes at the amount of “God stuff” included in this book and was unsure if I wanted to finish it. But I pushed through because lately I haven’t been reading much and just wanted to get something finished. I am so glad that I did. Katie has inspired me to let go of some of the control that I try to exert over my life and trust that God will provide. I am such a stress case 98% of the time, but I have never been forced to go without life’s necessities. God has a pretty good track record of seeing me through hard times and I am going to just let go and trust that the means will come forth to provide.

Katie’s story is inspiring and one I would recommend to anyone interested in faith, missionary work, adoption from Africa and children’s advocacy. Many children in Uganda face unimaginable circumstances and it makes my heart ache to think of their suffering. This story has definitely inspired me to be a better person. There are opportunities everywhere you look to do a good turn.

Katie has recently published a second book called Daring to Hope. It will definitely be one I read soon.

You can learn more about Katie’s organization here.

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Sold to the Billionaire (Emily Tilton)

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As the daughter of the prime minister, eighteen-year-old Heather Gerber is used to society’s high expectations, until the day her entire world is radically changed in an instant and she becomes little more than property to be bought, sold, and used in any manner her future owner sees fit.

Brought to the Institute to be prepared for her eventual sale, Heather quickly finds herself naked, blushing, and helplessly aroused as she is thoroughly and painfully spanked by stern, handsome trainer Paul Federico. But though Paul knows that Heather will soon belong to a powerful billionaire, as he teaches her what it means to surrender her virgin body to a dominant man he cannot help falling for the beautiful, innocent girl. Can he find a way to claim her for his own?

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Sold to the Billionaire is a short novel by Emily Tilton. It is set during an alternate world, in a small country set in contemporary Ontario, Canada. There are scenes involving consensual non-consent, spanking, and anal sex.

I found this story to be extremely confusing and disjointed. It is part of a series (“The Institute Series”) but it was marketed as being easy to read as a standalone – no prior knowledge of the series necessary. This was not the case at all.

The book blurb available on Goodreads and Amazon insinuates that the story will be about two main characters, Heather and Paul. I didn’t find this to be accurate. In fact, the first intimate scenes are about Heather’s parents, which for me is just icky. I don’t want to read about the parents and the child/dren having sex, even though there is nothing between them (no incest). The POV character changes multiple times. I can think of at least five off the top of my head.

I also strongly disliked that there are scenes where female characters are raped and enjoy it. It is one thing to incorporate consensual nonconsent within a bdsm scene, but this is not the case.

Finally, this backstory that Ms. Tilton created to explain this alternate world was overly complicated. It could have been explained much more succinctly and simply, so the author could get down to the real business of the story.

Overall, not a story I would recommend.

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Rome’s Chance (Reaper’s MC #6.6)

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Rome McGuire knew he was in trouble the first time he saw her.

She was sweet and pretty and just about perfect in every way. She was also too young and innocent for the Reapers Motorcycle Club. He did the right thing, and walked away.

The second time, he couldn’t resist tasting her.

Gorgeous and smart, fun and full of wonder, she jumped on his bike and would’ve followed him anywhere. Still, she deserved a shot at happiness somewhere bigger and better than a town like Hallies Falls. Walking away wasn’t so easy that time, but her family needed her and he had a job to do.

When she came around a third time, he’d had enough. Randi Whittaker had been given two chances to escape, and now it was time for Rome to take his.

This time, the only way Randi would be leaving Hallies Falls was on the back of Rome’s bike.

**Every 1001 Dark Nights novella is a standalone story. For new readers, it’s an introduction to an author’s world. And for fans, it’s a bonus book in the author’s series. We hope you’ll enjoy each one as much as we do.**

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Rome’s Chance is the first book to be released in this series in more than a year and I am so thankful Ms. Wylde is back!! Both the heroine and hero were initially introduced as secondary characters in Reaper’s Fire although the timeline has skipped forward several years since then.

I haven’t compared the word counts but this book felt so much shorter than the previous novella, Shade’s Lady. I have no idea why that is because I enjoyed both books, but this one just felt much shorter!

I will warn you, this book was drawing out my tears more than any other I have read in months! I was sick while reading it and perhaps a little more emotional than usual, but there are still some sad moments that you should prepare yourself for.

There is much less sense of the MC in this Rome’s Chance. To me, it read more like a contemporary romance with a hero who just happened to ride a bike, than a typical Reapers MC book. There is no visit to the clubhouse, no discussion of club business, and the only other Reaper who is even named in the book is Gage. And he still doesn’t have a single line. Also, there is less sex than normal for this author, but considering the shorter word count of a novella, that is obvious. I just felt like they had a less physical relationship that I was expecting.

I am glad that this author is back and hope that we get another book before summer is over. I will read anything she writes!

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Instant Mom by Nia Vardalos

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Writer and star of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Nia Vardalos firmly believed she was supposed to be a mom, but Mother Nature and modern medicine had put her in a headlock. So she made a choice that shocked friends, family, and even herself: with only fourteen hours’ notice, she adopted a preschooler.

Instant Mom is Vardalos’s poignant and hilarious true chronicle of trying to become a mother while fielding nosy “frenemies” and Hollywood reporters asking, “Any baby news?” With genuine and frank honesty, she describes how she and husband Ian Gomez eventually found their daughter . . . and what happened next. Vardalos explores innovative ways to conquer the challenges all new moms face, from sleep to personal grooming, and learns that whether via biology, relationship, or adoption—motherhood comes in many forms.

The book includes laugh-out-loud behind the scenes Hollywood anecdotes, plus an Appendix on how to adopt worldwide. Vardalos will donate proceeds from the book sales to charities.

Vardalos candidly shares her instant motherhood story that is relatable for all new moms (and dads!)

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I have been very interested in listening to adoption related true stories lately. Adoption is something that calls to my heart. One day, when I am ready to start a family I will adopt. Hopefully I will be able to have biological children as well.  But I know that I will become a Mum through adoption.

I had no idea before coming across this book that Nia Vardalos, of My Big Fat Greek Wedding fame, had adopted and was the celebrity face of the national adoption campaign in the US. It seems natural now that she has written a book about the adoption process and her personal stories, even though she and her husband do not live the glam Hollywood lifestyle and seek to protect their daughter’s innocence and privacy.

Nia Vardalos is Canadian-born, which added a warm perspective for me. As a fellow Canadian, I could relate to a lot of her anecdotal stories, like wearing a snowsuit under her Halloween costume.

Instant Mom is a funny and poignant story of womanhood. I love Nia’s perspective on life. Her brand of feminism feels organic; it isn’t “ra-ra sisterhood” or anti-man. She doesn’t try to tell you what you should do. I found her story superbly easy to relate to and felt like she would be someone I could easily be friends with if she were to move in next door.

In a world where we all seem to take ourselves too seriously, we could use a little more light-hearted comedy and a few manners reminders from Nia!

This audiobook is read by the author.

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