Tuesday, 13 January 2015

PROMOTION & DOUBLE REVIEW'S - BEFORE WE SAY I DO - ENTERTAINING ANGELS SERIES BY EMERALD BARNES

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Following the best-selling first book of the series, Entertaining Angels, comes Before We Say I Do, An Entertaining Angels Short Story.

Title: Before We Say I Do
Series: Entertaining Angels
Author: Emerald Barnes
Release Date: 13th January 2015

BLURB from Goodreads
It’s been one year, and Chase Sanders and Madison Andrews are about to declare their love for one another in the most sacred of ways. Everything has been going perfectly, especially when an old friend returns to town to stand by Chase’s side on their big day. But is Zach there to see their union, or is he concealing the truth of why he’s actually back in town?

Chase has lived perfectly fine without his father around, but now that his father is divorcing again, he is seeking forgiveness. Chase can’t look at his father, let alone forgive him.

Before Chase and Mads can say “I Do,” Chase must first learn to let go of the past before the dark forces that haunt his nightmares come to life.


PURCHASE LINKS
Nook  
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[The author has generously sent me an e-copy of Before We Say I Do, which I will be reading as soon as I can squeeze it!]



EXCERPT

wings
 
Madison

The day had finally come. I was marrying my best friend. Tears of joy stung my eyes, but I tried to hold them in. I couldn’t cry. Not now. Mom and Mandy would kill me if I messed up my makeup.

I stared in the mirror. I had come a long way in the two years since I’d met Zach. We graduated high school, and I was now working on a degree in counseling. I’d fallen head-over-heels in love with my best friend, and I learned to love myself for who I really was. I won’t lie. It hasn’t been easy for me. Sometimes I would look in the mirror, and I’d see the fat girl from high school.  Other times, Chase would wrap his arms around my waist and reassure me that he loved every inch of me – whether I was big or small. It didn’t matter to him. I was beautiful. When he’d say that, I’d remind myself that God had loved me enough to send his angel just to show me that I was important, loved, and beautiful.

Eventually, the way I saw myself began to change. I no longer compared myself to photo-shopped pictures of models in magazines or my friends who were smaller sizes than me, and I began to look at myself as a daughter of the King. God formed me. He knew exactly what I would look like, and as He’d told me before, He only makes beautiful things.

A knock sounded at the door, and Mrs. Cheryl asked, “Can I come in?”

Mom answered the door and let her in. I turned to face her and saw the tears form in her eyes. “Don’t!” I said, “I can’t cry. Mom has threatened me if I mess up my makeup.”

She laughed and said, “I’m so happy that you’re going to be my daughter-in-law!”

She wrapped her arms around me and pulled me close. I could hear her sniffle, but I fought the tears back again. I wasn’t going to cry. Not now at least.

“I’m happy that you’ll be my mother-in-law. I couldn’t ask for a better one.”

She pulled away and smiled at me before wiping away her own tears. I had always felt like Mrs. Cheryl was a second mom. And now, she would be!

“How’s Chase?” I asked.

“He’s nervous.” She laughed. “But he’s excited to finally make you his wife, girly.”

She winked at me, and Mom said, “Cheryl, you won’t do! Don’t embarrass the poor child.”

“It’s better than making her cry, Maggie.”

Mom laughed and said, “I’m going to check on the photographer. We need to start doing pictures as soon as we can.”

I nodded, and Mom left the room.

“Can you help me sit?” I asked Mrs. Cheryl.

“Sure, honey.”

She walked over to me and helped lift my train, so I could sit comfortably without wrinkling the dress too much. The beaded bodice felt a little tight, but I wanted to look my best. I wasn’t loosening it at all.

“You look gorgeous,” Mrs. Cheryl said, pulling her phone out of her purse and snapping a picture of me.

“Thank you,” I said, smiling at my future mother-in-law.

“Are you nervous?” she asked, taking a seat beside me.

“Yeah,” I answered, honestly. “Not the marrying Chase part. That I’m okay with, but I’m afraid I’ll trip or mess up my vows or something.”

I laughed, praying that what I’d just spoken wouldn’t come true at all. I don’t suppose it mattered. I was about to be joined with Chase forever in our very own happily ever after. I knew not all marriages were perfect, and I didn’t expect ours to be any different. I did hope that we would have a beautiful marriage as close to perfect as possible. I knew that if we put God first, we could get through anything; however, the wedding night was what really made me nervous. I just didn’t want to tell Cheryl that.

Chase and I had waited until marriage. It was what was right to do according to the Bible. We wanted to be each other’s firsts and each other’s lasts. At least we were both new at it. I wondered if that was why he was nervous, too. I mean, I certainly understood that.

“Is that all?” she asked, staring at me knowingly. I briefly wondered what all Chase might have told her. This might be awkward. I didn’t even talk to my own mom about stuff like this.

I hated to lie, but I didn’t want to have this conversation. I nodded and said, “Yeah. I guess.”

She patted my leg and said, “There’s nothing to worry about, dear. You two will learn each other’s rhythms before you know it.”

Oh my gosh. Was she really talking about this with me?  “Uh. Yeah. I know.”

She laughed. “You don’t have to be so shy. I’m not your father. I’m not in denial about what happens on the honeymoon.”

I felt the blood rushing to my cheeks, and I was thankful for the pink blush already coloring them. 

“Are you worried about what he may think about your body? I know that’s always been a concern of yours.”

“Well, partly, but I know he loves me for my flaws and all.”

“Honey, you don’t have flaws. You’re perfect. Have you forgotten what God has done for you?”

I shook my head, biting the inside of my cheek. I wasn’t going to cry now. “No,” I said, “I’ll never forget what he’s done. Zach’s here too.” I added on that last bit to distract her from the conversation she seemed wanted to have.

“Is he?” She smiled broadly. “I always loved him. I knew he was special from the start.”

“I was blind,” I said. “I thought I might actually have a crush on him. Boy was I glad when I 
decided that I wanted Chase! How awkward would it have been to fall in love with an angel?”

Cheryl let out a deep laugh and said, “It could be worse. You could’ve fallen for a man like Chase’s father.”

Her smile faded at the mention of him. She rarely brought him up, but I couldn’t blame her for that. He’d left her for another woman and ignored them for the first seven years he’d been away. He’d only just started talking to Chase again two years ago. Even Chase didn’t want to tell his dad about our union, so we kept it a secret from him. I didn’t know if that would work or not, but Chase really didn’t want him ruining the day. I wasn’t going to force him to invite his father to our wedding, though. It was entirely his decision.

“We didn’t invite him, you know,” I said.

“I know. I told Chase to, but he refused. I don’t blame him.”

“Nor do I, but he may have seen the announcement in the paper.”

“Well, then he’ll understand that his son doesn’t want anything to do with him. He shouldn’t have left us, Mads.”

“I know.”

I didn’t know what else to say. I hated that Chase had such a rocky relationship with his dad. I couldn’t imagine not having Dad around, but then again, Dad didn’t cheat on Mom and have a new family while ignoring me completely for the first few years of his new life.

Mom pushed the door open and said, “Come on, Mads. It’s time for pictures.”

I looked at Mrs. Cheryl and gave her a big smile. She stood and extended her hand out to me. 

“Let’s go, Mads. It won’t be long until you’re officially part of the family.”

I wrapped my arms around her in a tight hug after she helped pull me off of the chair I sat in. She kissed my cheek, and we walked out of the room and into the sanctuary where we were about to take pictures. It was now a little over two hours before I officially became Mrs. Chase Sanders.


***GIVEAWAY***

Enter to win one of five digital copies of Before We Say I Do!!


And, in honor of Before We Say I Do's release, 
Entertaining Angels, the first book in the series is $0.99!!
Nook 
Kobo 

REVIEW
Before We Say I Do

Title: Before We Say I Do
Series: Entertaining Angels
Author: Emerald Barnes
Release Date: 13th January 2015

BLURB from Goodreads
It’s been one year, and Chase Sanders and Madison Andrews are about to declare their love for one another in the most sacred of ways. Everything has been going perfectly, especially when an old friend returns to town to stand by Chase’s side on their big day. But is Zach there to see their union, or is he concealing the truth of why he’s actually back in town?

Chase has lived perfectly fine without his father around, but now that his father is divorcing again, he is seeking forgiveness. Chase can’t look at his father, let alone forgive him.

Before Chase and Mads can say “I Do,” Chase must first learn to let go of the past before the dark forces that haunt his nightmares come to life.


PURCHASE LINKS
Nook  
Kobo  
iBooks


INITIAL THOUGHTS
I don't know how I had missed reading Entertaining Angels as I do seek out books by this author as I do enjoy her writing style. I actually bought an e-copy of Entertaining Angels to read first as this is a novella about the same characters. After reading Entertaining Angels I did want to know how the main characters were doing so I was looking forward to reading this novella. I know some will see my review of Entertaining Angels, saying about it being overly religious for my personal reading taste and wonder why I wanted to read this novella. . . the reason is that I love Emerald's writing style and her plots are so interesting and she draws you in, she is a thought provoking author. Emerald writes in a way that makes you feel part of the journey of the characters within the book. You feel invested in the characters, and attached to them. So I simply had to read this novella.

MY REVIEW
I answered a call from Emerald Barnes, asking for reviewers that could also do a release day blitz. The lovely author sent me a free e-copy of this novella in exchange for my honest review. The cover is. .. well I already loved the cover before I knew it was an actual real life wedding photograph! I love it, the clasped hands, the bride and groom at either side of the door keeping the tradition of the groom not seeing the bride prior to the wedding. The cover perfectly depicts a scene from within the book. Would this cover make me pick this book up from a book store shelf? Yes!
So this novella takes place a year after the story of Entertaining Angels. Mmmm forgive me for being vague but I am trying not to give away major spoilers if at all possible from the book or novella. We arrive on the scene of Chase and Madison's wedding day. Madison's mum is being the main wedding planner checking everything is running to time and plan. Chase's mum is a little more relaxed about the day. Chase and Madison are getting married in the church they have visited together for over a year now. Madison began visiting the church in Entertaining Angels. The young couple are so in love and totally sure in their love for one another. So it is a surprise and a little shock when Zach turns up at the church prior to the ceremony. Zach has been travelling since helping Chase and Madison find each other, and recognise their love for one another. Those of you who have read Entertaining Angels will know why it could worry Chase and Madison somewhat that Zach suddenly appears. Those who read book one will also know exactly why Zach is so special too. Chase is immediately worried that something is wrong or going to go wrong between himself and Madison. Zach reassures both Madison and Chase that they are both fine, that he returned to see them wed. However you could say Zach has an ulterior motive. Chase's father has been trying to reach out to his son for a while. Chase is still hurting a lot about the way his father abandoned him and his mother. His parents went on to divorce and his father literally dumped Chase and started a new family. His father is now divorcing his second wife and wants to make amends with Chase. Zach is here to try to encourage Chase to let go of his negative memories and thoughts around hi father so that it doesn't mar his happiness with Chase. Chase made the decision not to invite his father to his wedding so is understandably shocked and becomes angry when he see''s his father at the church. Chase has to do a lot of soul searching, he is desperate to speak to Madison but also knows how important the tradition of not seeing the bride before she walks down the aisle is to Madison's mother. The young couple end up holding hands around a door so they can speak to each other without seeing each other. Madison is really supportive whilst at the same time trying to help Chase see both sides of the whole "should I forgive my dad" argument. Madison also kind of tricks Chase into actually answering his own questions and doubts with the use of bible verses and proverbs which although I would state I don't really read religious books when it comes to Emerald Barnes and how her religious references really fit the plot of her book and her characters, and I do like to read.
So did I enjoy the novella? I honestly did yes. Hence the 5/5 stars on Goodreads! Would I recommend the novella? Yes, but please read Entertaining Angels Bk1 first! Would I want to read another book or novella in the Entertaining Angels Series? Yes please! I read the sneak peek of Entertaining Angels Bk2 novel which I also rarely do as I prefer to start a book fresh and read it when it's all available to read. I break so many of my usual reading and reviewing rules with Emerald Barnes titles! Would I want to read other titles by Emerald Barnes? Yesss! I SO want to read Bk3 and learn more about Lexi's story. Emerald's book are really thought provoking, she makes you look back on experiences you have had yourself and persuades you to look at them in a different way. Emerald's books leave you with a feeling of contentment and perhaps what I would describe as peace. After reading one of Emerald Barnes books I want to tell everyone to read them and shout out about them too!

REVIEW
Entertaining Angels
Title: Entertaining Angels
Author: Emerald Barnes
Release Date: 24th July 2014

BLURB from Goodreads
Madison Andrews can’t face her reflection in the mirror. All she sees is a big, fat nobody. Yet, deep inside she longs for something more, something that’s not skin deep.

Along comes Zach, the new guy in school. He’s smoking hot and totally out of her league. She somehow catches his eye, and he makes her feel beautiful for once. But just as she gets close to Zach, her nerdy best friend, Chase, won’t let Madison doubt her true beauty, no matter how many meals she skips.

Even as Madison begins to realize that she is more than what she thinks, darker forces are at work, darker than the lies and mocking from her peers, stopping her from amounting to her full potential. Can Madison find true happiness in her own skin?


PURCHASE LINKS

INITIAL THOUGHTS
I have read and thoroughly enjoyed other books written by Emerald Barnes, so I was looking forward to this one, hoping it would be something like "Read Me Dead". I also enjoy emerald's writing style, so I guess this should be an easy, enjoyable read.

MY REVIEW
I downloaded this one from Amazon UK . The cover features a female, probably Madison from the book, looking quite happy, sitting in grass. There is also a male pictured, so that could be Chase or Zach.There is the usage of "white light" on the cover which I initially thought was to go with the "Angels" part of the book title. I like the way the halo is used over the "g" of the word angel, it brings a little cute touch to the cover which suggests "fun". Would the cover make me pick up the book in a bookstore? I think I'd pick it up and take a look at the blurb so yes.
First of all it does say in my review policy that I do not read heavily religious content/books, having said that I tend to break every one of my reading and reviewing rules for Emerald's books. I chose to buy this book and read it as I have read and loved two other books written by Emerald. I totally admit I don't go to church on a regular basis though if someone asked my religion I would say Church Of England probably without thinking about it. I tend to believe "God" is everywhere and you can pray/speak to him when and where you wish. I do also believe in the "afterlife" too. Now having said all that I did enjoy the plot of this book, hence the 4/5 stars on Goodreads. The main characters are Madisons or "Mads" to her friends who is on the larger side, who is unhappy with her body and image. (Come on ladies we've all thought this at some point in our lives), she puts herself down, regularly skips meal, to the point of not eating or drinking at all and ending up collapsing. You may presume that Mads doesn't have supportive friend & family, which is definitely not the case. Her parents but her new pretty clothes and so on but she is constantly picked on by her younger brother Connor who regularly call's her names such as "fatty", or drawing attention to her weight or what she is wearing and even making nasty comment when she is eating too. Mads parents do tell Connor off and on one occasion in the book take his phone from him. I do feel they should have told him off and perhaps punished him more especially when they realised how affected Mads was by it. Mads is also being bullied and picked on at school by what I can only describe as the "popular, built like a twig (you know what I mean ladies). This girl threatens Mads several times in the book that she will make Mads life hell and she really means it and does it too. Mads best friend Chase tries his best to support her, as does newcomer to the area Zach. Zach is both figuratively on a mission to support Mads when he see's her being picked on by the popular girl and her followers at school. As you read further into the book you realise that Zach truly has been sent on a mission.
This book is about growing up, the "coming of age and more independence" of Mads and there are positive messages throughout. Madison's parents also quite forcefully encourage her to get a job and start earning her own money. This book is set in America so some things easily translate over to us in the UK, whereas others may not be the same as they would be in the UK.
I can imagine this being read in junior school, Sunday schools and the like. It really does make you think. It certainly made me think of bullying I underwent both in childhood for being "different" to others and within my adult life from peers within a home and work situations. The book is religious, which normally puts me off a book. Each chapter begins with a bible verse, which I really found myself enjoying a lot. It was towards the end of the book, that it became more about going to church, accepting God into your life etc. Which I know some people will love, sadly I felt like the book became a little too pushy on the religious parts. At one point I felt that Chase, his mother and Zach were "badgering" or being overly forceful in suggesting Madison going to the church with them. I also know from reading the book that they all had her best interests at heart but it did come across a little aggressive.
There are also two bonus sections, the first is Zach's story, about his mission, who sent him, what he was thinking and feeling at different parts in the book. The other bonus section is told from Chase's point of view. I did enjoy both bonus stories though of course they were quite religious in content too.
So did I enjoy the book? I enjoyed the actual basis of the plot, and the "moral of the story" part. It was just a little too pushy with the religious content. I felt the over use of the religion kind of spoilt the book a little for me. Would I recommend the book? Yes, to younger YA readers, and for schools to help teach better tolerance of one another and use within an anti bullying campaign.
Would I like to read another book in this series? ie. about the same characters? I think I'd want to read more about Chase and Madison, but my "star rating" would still probably reflect the fact that I do not like overly religious themes/books. Would I read other titles by Emerald Barnes? I have read other titles by this author and always look out for new titles by her and I will continue to do so.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR



Emerald Barnes resides in a small town in Mississippi and has the accent to prove it. She tries her hardest to write novels that appeal not only to young adults but to those who are young at heart as well. She mainly writes suspense/thrillers in the YA genre, but she dabbles in other genres and her books are enjoyed by all ages! She’s constantly working on new novels and has more ideas than she knows what to do with. She’s also a volunteer at the World Literary Cafe which is amazing, and she is a crazy grammar nazi who proofreads novels!
When she isn’t writing or proofreading novels, she’s spending all of her time with her nieces and nephews. She’s a self-proclaimed nerd, avid reader, and TV watcher. God is number One in her life, and she thanks Him continuously for His love and favor.  




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