Recap – August 2017

August sure has been fun! I reviewed 10 books, and interviewed 2 authors. We also had a special bonus; A Cover Reveal for Sarah Monzon’s new book “The Esther Paradigm” (which is available for pre-order on amazon).

Join me for a fun look back at August 2017 as we have a quick recap of the books reviewed, and the author interviews that took place in August.

Clicking on any of the titles will take you to that post.

Books Reviewed:

ToWagerHerHeart  To Wager Her Heart 

VowUnbroken  Vow Unbroken

ThePromiseOfBreezeHill  The Promise of Breeze Hill

Freedom's Ring   Freedom’s Ring

MHBISV  My Heart Belongs in the Shenandoah Valley

32867786  Embracing Hope

Many Sparrows  Many Sparrows

12DaysAtBleaklyManor 12 Days at Bleakly Manor

TheLastSummer The Last Summer

ChristmasAtCarnton  Christmas at Carnton

Author’s Interviewed:

CarylMcAdoo  Caryl McAdoo

LoriBenton2  Lori Benton

Cover Reveal & Author Interview

TheEstherParadigm The Esther Paradigm

 

Let’s Connect:

Which of the books reviewed in August are you looking forward to reading?
Maybe you have read one of the books featured in August, which one?

Embracing Hope by Janell Butler Wojtowicz

Synopsis:

Take a poignant look into the broken heart and daily struggles of Christian college dean Drew McKinley. The story chronicles the turbulent first year in his desperate journey to understand God’s motives for the sudden death of his wife and his quest to find hope in his future.

Crossing his perilous path are Allison, a graduate student and new employee in the dean’s office, and Chris, the handsome but egotistical student senate president.

The road Drew must navigate is fraught with career upheaval, a reawakening heart and the struggle for forgiveness and restoration. Will Drew finish his journey to embrace the hope God offers, the love Allison shares and the guidance Chris needs, or will he turn his back on all three with catastrophic consequences?

My Review:

Embracing Hope surprised me with how much I grew to love the characters! These characters came to life. They stepped off the pages and waltzed right into my heart. I cheered for their successes and felt myself praying with them in their struggles. I didn’t expect to connect with this book, as much as  I did.

I have to be honest, as I picked up this book, I really wasn’t sure if I would enjoy it. But before you throw stones, let me tell you why. I love reading, reading is my ticket to travel. I’ve traveled around the world and back in time through the pages of beloved books. I work full-time at a Christian university and I knew that reading this book wouldn’t be much of a trip. However, I can say with all honesty that in reality anytime we view the world through another’s eyes we are essentially taking a journey. I share this with you because if you, are on the fence trying to decide if you should read this book, please take my advise and read this book. I am so very glad that I took a chance and read this delightful book!

Janell has penned a beautiful story. Rich in detail, with realistic, believable characters that linger with you long after closing the pages. The story could have ended several different ways, and not knowing what would happen, kept me turning pages late into the night.

Embracing Hope is a poignant, heartfelt story that you won’t soon forget. I give this stirring, emotional story 5 stars.

(I receive complimentary books for review from publishers, publicists, and/or authors, including Netgalley. I am not required to write positive reviews. The opinions I have expressed are my own.)

Favorite Quote:

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Bonus:

To read an excerpt of Embracing Hope – click here

About the Author:

Janell Butler Wojtowicz 2Janell Butler Wojtowicz, born and raised on an Iowa farm, was one of those kids who loved to write the dreaded “What I did on summer vacation” essay. It’s no surprise that she has spent her entire 30-year career in writing, including journalism, Christian higher education public relations, and local government public information. She is a freelance writer/editor, and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Janell and her husband, Frank, live in New Brighton, Minnesota. She has two step-sons and three step-granddaughters.
Janell enjoys connecting with her readers. You can find Janell at the following:

Web Page // FaceBook // Twitter // Goodreads //

  Embracing Hope

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Spotlighting New Author: Janell Wojtowicz and her debut book “Embracing Hope” with an excerpt

Friends, please join me in giving a warm welcome to up-and-coming new author Janell Wojtowicz. I’ve invited Janell here today to share with us about her brand-new book debut “Embracing Hope”.  As a special bonus Janell has included an excerpt from “Embracing Hope”.

Janell Butler Wojtowicz, born and raised on an Iowa farm, was one of those kids who loved to write the dreaded “What I did on summer vacation” essay. She attended the University of Northwestern in St. Paul, Minnesota, earning a bachelor’s degree in, naturally, Written Communication/Journalism Emphasis. She returned to Iowa where she worked as a reporter/editor at three small town newspapers for 10 years.

Janell left the small town Iowa life when she married, Frank Wojtowicz, a family friend, who lived in Minneapolis. (By the way, her Polish last name is pronounced “Why-tow-vitch.) She worked in public relations at her alma mater, the University of Northwestern; Leadership Foundations, a nonprofit organization supporting inner-city Christian ministries; and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. Today, Janell owns a freelance service, A Portrait in Words. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America.

Janell and Frank, live in New Brighton, Minnesota, a pleasant suburb of the Twin Cities. She has two step-sons, a step-daughter-in-law, and three step-granddaughters.

Janell enjoys connecting with her readers. You can find Janell at the following

Web Page // FaceBook // Twitter // Goodreads //

About “Embracing Hope”

 
Embracing_Hope_CoverChristian college dean Drew McKinley mourns his dead wife and still wears his wedding ring. He stumbles on a desperate journey to understand God’s motives for her tragic death. Crossing his perilous path is Allison, a graduate student and new employee in the dean’s office. Even as she deals with financial hardships, she recognizes Drew’s unresolved grief from her own loss. Putting up a roadblock is Chris Whitney, the handsome but egotistical student senate president. He carries the secret burden of a dysfunctional family and a below-the-surface temper. The road Drew must navigate is fraught with career upheaval, a reawakening heart, substance and domestic abuse, a violent assault, and the struggle for forgiveness and restoration. Will Drew finish his journey to embrace the hope God offers, the love Allison shares, and the guidance Chris needs, or will he turn his back on all three with catastrophic consequences?

Inspiration for the book

Janell never set out to write a novel. The idea—and compulsion!—came after watching a BBC version of “Jane Eyre” in 2007. That night she dreamed the beginning, pivotal scene in the middle and the ending of “Embracing Hope”, and began writing it the next day. As the story developed and went through several titles, the hope theme emerged. But what is hope? Is it wishful thinking and sitting around waiting for things to change for the better? Or is hope something more tangible—something you need to take steps to achieve? The hero in “Embracing Hope”, Drew, begins to understand hope, and realizes he needs to step out in faith. Fearful and reluctant at first, Drew takes steps to find hope. Those steps included mentoring, a gritty missions experience, bravery in a crisis, and forgiveness that seemed impossible. He had to look beyond himself. The result was he gave tangible hope to others, he discovered what God wanted him to do with his life, and he found hope through the love of a strong woman.

Excerpt

Drew wrung his hands. Something else was wrong. Mitch had never seen Drew visibly upset. Even during those first days after Kendra’s death and throughout counseling, he had never displayed much emotion beyond sadness, loneliness, and the inevitable questions. But tonight, the young man’s discomfort was painfully evident as his eyes darted about the room and he pulled the coat tighter around him.

Long seconds of silence passed. Then, finally, “I crossed the line,” he mumbled.

Mitch froze. “What line?”

Drew’s hand scraped through his hair again. “With a student. I … I hugged her.”

Mitch barely heard Drew’s whispered words.

“She was upset … and about to cry—” He jumped up and retreated to a dark corner of the room. “I—I could be in trouble with my job. They fire men for this. It’s…it’s sexual harassment! She could press charges!”

Mitch followed Drew, his heart accelerating. “Take it easy. Don’t panic. Explain slowly what happened.”

Drew backed against the wall, his arms stiff at his sides, hands fisted. “I don’t remember most of it…just hugging her. I’m not even sure what we were talking about before.”

“Where did this happen? Who was it?”

Drew stared at the floor. “My office. I didn’t do it on purpose and the door was wide open.” He shook his head. “I can’t tell you who… I don’t want to get her in trouble.”

Mitch released the question, but he already knew the answer. “Was it Allison Bennett?”

Drew’s head snapped up, fear-filled eyes wide.

Mitch placed a firm hand on Drew’s forearm afraid his friend would run out of the house. “Relax. I know you. It wasn’t sexual harassment, and I’m sure Allison realizes that, too.”

He steered Drew back to the couch. “You didn’t cross the line. You aren’t her professor. You aren’t her dean. You aren’t her direct supervisor. You’re both university employees and you’re both responsible and single adults.”

Drew twisted his ring. “I feel like I cheated on Kendra.”

“That’s a natural feeling. But it’s OK to move on, Drew, as hard as it seems right now. The bigger problem is you’ve been holding your emotions in too long and someday they’ll come out.” Mitch chuckled. “Actually, I think they leaked out this afternoon.”

Drew groaned and pinched the bridge of his nose. “This can’t be happening. It’s not right.”

“What do you think of Allison?” Mitch wondered.

His friend opened his mouth then closed it again. Was he even breathing? Finally, “I like her.”

“Obviously,” Mitch snickered. “Why?”

Drew looked up as if searching the sky. The silence stretched on and Mitch gave him a gentle pat on the back. “Be honest.”

He inhaled deeply. “She’s genuine and honest. She doesn’t try to impress you or turn the attention on herself. She’s a bit negative at times, yet she’s also warm and supportive. But this afternoon, she was hurting, and I wanted to stop the hurt.”

“Do you find her attractive?”

Longing replaced the fear in Drew’s eyes. “Most men would.”

“I’m not asking other men. I’m asking you.”

“Yes. She’s pretty.” Drew picked at the top button on his coat. “She’s also confident, intelligent, pretty, and articulate.”

Mitch tucked his laughter away. “You said ‘pretty’ twice.”

Drew catapulted off the couch, brushed past Mitch, and headed for the door.

“Would you like to be in a relationship?” Mitch asked, catching up with him.

“No! It’s too soon.” Drew stared at the floor. “I knew Kendra since we were freshmen in college. That’s a third of my life. How can I toss her aside so quickly?” Drew tugged at his wedding ring, and seeing his distress jerked Mitch’s heart.

“Kendra’s death has affected every area of your life: your job, your health, your faith, your hope for the future. She will always have a special place in your heart, which is where she belongs.”

“I don’t want to forget her.” His hand reached for his head.

Mitch gently grasped Drew’s wrist. “Liking a woman—being attracted to a woman is not going to make you forget Kendra. But that embrace was a decision, Drew. You made a subconscious decision to reach out to someone you care about. You’re moving on so let God do the leading. Don’t freak out when feelings emerge. Don’t run from them. You’re a vital young man with a broken heart that’s finally starting to heal.”

Trisha:  Janell, thank you for stoping by to share about your new book. What a great excerpt. I look forward to reading more!

Friends, please share your thoughts and encouraging words with Janell in the comments below.