Category: Giveaway

First Line Friday

First Line Friday | Week 88 | The Encircled Anthology

It’s First Line Friday! That means it’s time to pick up the nearest book and quote the first line. Today I’m sharing from Beyond the Stars, Past the Moons by Jebraun Clifford, one of the stories in the Encircled anthology:

First line from "“Beyond the Stars, Past the Moons” by Jebraun Clifford: I have less than one hour to live.


What’s the book nearest you, and what’s the first line?

About Encircled

Experience six of the world’s most beloved stories in a whole new light! From historical to futuristic, these retellings will take you to an enchanted forest, a cursed castle, and far beyond. Uncover secrets of a forbidden basement, a hypnotic gift, and a mysterious doll. Fall in love with a lifelong friend or brand-new crush. Venture to unknown lands on a quest to save a prince, a kingdom, or maybe even a planet. With moments of humor, suspense, romance, and adventure, Encircled has something to offer every fan of fairy tales, both classic and reimagined.

You can find Encircled online at

Amazon US | Amazon AU | Apple Books | Barnes & Noble| Kobo

Click the button to check out what my fabulous fellow FirstLineFriday bloggers are sharing today:

You can then click the link which will take you to the master page of all this week’s #FirstLineFriday posts.

And you can click here to check out my previous FirstLineFriday posts.

Share your first line in the comments, and happy reading!

And don’t forget to click here to check out my Amazon shop for my top picks in Christian fiction!

Stacy Monson - Three Psalms for Busy Women

Guest Post | Stacy Monson shares Three Psalms for Busy Women (and a #Giveaway!)

Today I’m delighted to welcome Stacy Monson to the blog. Stacy’s latest book, Open Circle, releases this week, and it looks like an excellent read. And she has a giveaway! And it’s open internationally! One random commenter will be chosen.

Psalms for Busy Women

Life can be crazy busy. Rather than put your head down and power through each day, find those touchpoint moments when you can seek God’s calm and strength. They need only be long enough to remember who He is, and who you are in Him.

Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me.

– Psalm 103:2

It’s easy to get caught up in the stress of each busy day and forget to see where God is at work. He is at work, just rarely in big moments that involve fireworks, thunderous applause, and flashing lights (unless you count the miracle of nature all around us). He’s there in the smile of a child after a tantrum, the hug of a friend in the midst of bad news. The cry of a newborn, and the understanding tears of one who knows infertility.

It’s important to look back and recognize moments when we received exactly what we needed—a phone call, a hug, a job offer, unexpected good news. He surrounds us with people who know us and love us (anyway). He provides what we need to face each day.

Instead of focusing on what’s lacking, pause throughout your busy day to thank Him for all the blessings He showers over you, and praise Him with every fiber of your being.

Be still and know that I am God.

– Psalm 46:10

This isn’t a request—it’s a two-fold command. God knows there is little stillness in our high-tech lives. With calendars crammed full of activities, there’s no time to be still! So we must make the time. God tells us Be still. Only then can we know who He is. And this verse tells us He wants us to know Him. Amazing.

When we are still (in the car waiting for the kids, in the silence of early morning, or on a break at work), that’s when we can hear His voice, feel His presence, know He’s there. He is who He says He is: Creator of heaven and earth, lover of our soul, Lord over our calendars.

The God who created you knows you better than you know yourself, and loves you with a perfect, all-consuming love. When you take the time to be still, you can know who He is as well.

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing.

– Psalm 143:10

One of a woman’s greatest strengths can also be her greatest weakness. We are do-ers. When something needs doing, we jump in with both feet. Wobbling on our heels, we race from this commitment to that, leaping over obstacles, praying we stay upright as we take on yet another request. The flip side of this is burnout, resentment, and exhaustion.

How often do we pause and ask God if this new “opportunity” is what He wants for us? Instead of seeking His will for our many options, we make decisions based on the warm, fuzzy feeling of being needed, then we ask Him to save us from the issues of our own making.

The next time an offer comes your way, pause and turn your attention to the One who wants only the very best for you. Let Him teach you to say yes or no, to live on the firm footing of His purpose for you.
Great thoughts, Stacy. Thanks for sharing!

About Stacy Monson

Author Photo Stacy MonsonStacy Monson is the award-winning author of The Chain of Lakes series, including Shattered Image, Dance of Grace, and The Color of Truth. Her stories reveal an extraordinary God at work in ordinary life. Residing in the Twin Cities in Minnesota, she is the wife of a juggling, unicycling physical education teacher, mom to two amazing kids and two wonderful in-law kids, and a very proud grandma of 3 (and counting) grands.

You can find Stacy online at:

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter

Her newest book, Open Circle, releases June 21 (available for pre-order HERE!). Here’s a bit about the story:

Mindy Lee “Minnie” Carlson’s dream job has dropped into her hands, but there’s a catch. She has four months to revive Open Circle, the town’s only Senior Adult Day Center, or the doors will close, leaving her jobless, and the seniors she cares for stranded.

After decades traveling the globe and documenting the forgotten people of the world, Jackson Young discovers his beloved Grandma Em is still alive in Minnie’s small town. Overjoyed, he races back to his hometown to reconnect with her, only to discover she’s been Minnie’s surrogate grandmother for the past twenty years.

When Grandma Em has a stroke, his ideas about her care pit him against Minnie’s determination and expertise. For Grandma Em’s sake, and the future of Open Circle, they’ll need to do the impossible – find a way to work together.

To celebrate, Stacy is giving away a fun canvas tote bag with a paperback copy of Open Circle and other goodies!

(For a winner in the U.S. An international winner will receive an Amazon gift card of comparable value).

Stacy Monson Giveaway

Click below to enter the giveaway

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2018 Australia Day Giveaway

2018 Australia Day Christian Fiction Giveaway

It’s Australia Day today!

And I’ve teamed up with twelve Australasian authors to offer an exclusive Australia Day Christian Fiction Giveaway!

All the books are either by Australian authors, or set in Australia (most are both). So it’s your chance to have a virtual holiday Down Under!

You can also win more entries by forwarding the unique code you’ll receive in your verification email. Note: if you don’t get the verification email, check your spam box, or the Promotions tab if you’re a Gmail user.

Good luck!

2018 Australia Day Giveaway

2018 Australia Day Christian Fiction Giveaway

It’s Australia Day today!

And I’ve teamed up with twelve Australasian authors to offer an exclusive Australia Day Christian Fiction Giveaway!

All the books are either by Australian authors, or set in Australia (most are both). So it’s your chance to have a virtual holiday Down Under!

You can also win more entries by forwarding the unique code you’ll receive in your verification email. Note: if you don’t get the verification email, check your spam box, or the Promotions tab if you’re a Gmail user.

Good luck!

Giveaway - Introducing Author Interviews

Introducing Author Interviews (and a Giveaway)

Some background …

I started my book review blog, Iola’s Christian Reads, in September 2011, after winning an ebook in an online giveaway. I’d just bought a Kobo (Kindles weren’t yet available here in New Zealand), and was keen to build my electronic library.

The book was delivered via NetGalley, and I found that I could get free ebooks from many of my favourite authors and publishers if I promised to write a review on a blog, and on sites such as Amazon. Paperbacks cost around $30 each in New Zealand at the time, so this seemed like a good deal.

Iola’s Christian Reads was born.

Back then, most book blogs were just that: book blogs. Posting book reviews. But the world has changed, and blogging has changed to keep pace.

It’s no longer enough to have a basic Blogger blog with just book reviews. Readers want to get to know authors, and a low-risk way of trying books from new-to-them authors. They want author interviews and giveaways.

I have reached a milestone at my original Blogger blog, Iola’s Christian Reads. I’ve posted my 1,000th post. And it will be my last (I think. I do reserve the right to change my mind if that’s where I think God leads).

Instead, I’m going to focus more on developing this website, getting into a regular blogging schedule and having more of what readers want. In fact, I asked my email newsletter subscribers what they wanted, and the overwhelming response was author interviews. (Gulp.)

So here is my proposed schedule for the rest of 2017:

  • Monday: Bookish Question
  • Tuesday: Review of a new Christian fiction release
  • Wednesday: Author interview or general blog post
  • Thursday: Repost of a review of an older Christian novel
  • Friday: #FirstLineFriday

Note that these are New Zealand time … which is a day ahead of most of the US! (I think we’re 23 hours ahead of Hawaii. When we visited last year, we arrived 17 hours before we left after a 12-hour flight. Go figure).

I’ve been posting my #BookishQuestions since April.

Each week I post a question, and give my answer. I also post the question on Instagram, and find I get more interaction there than her on my website (click here to follow me on Instagram).

Book reviews—well, you know what book reviews are.

First Line Friday? I’ll tell you more about #FirstLineFriday next week.

Today I want to ask you about author interviews.

Although my preference would be to interview contemporary Christian romance authors, I’m open to interviewing any Christian author. If you write Christian fiction and would like to be interviewed (say, to promote a new book), drop me a line via the contact form on the About page.

If you’re a reader, which authors would you like me to interview? What do you want to know about your favourite authors? Do you want to ask about their book, their writing process, their reading habits, or more personal questions like whether they like cats or dogs better?

Tell me your ideas!

As a thank you, one commenter will win a Kindle copy of one of the four RITA finalists pictured here (winner’s choice):

It's RITA Time!

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Giveaway | Then There Was You by Kara Isaac

Book Giveaway: Then There Was You by Kara Isaac

Introducing Then There Was You

Kara Isaac is my favourite Kiwi Christian author … although Kiwi Christian authors is a very short list. So perhaps it’s better to say that she’s one of my favourite authors of contemporary Christian romance, and one of the reasons I love her work is because of the Kiwi angle. But I’m also biased because I edited Then There Was You, which means I got to read it before most people. Bonus!

Then There Was You is her third novel, following Close to You, and Can’t Help Falling. It has some minor characters in common with the previous books, but it’s a standalone novel. It starts in the States, moves to Sydney, and also has some scenes set in New Zealand (yay!).

Here’s the Amazon description:

Paige McAllister needs to do something drastic. Her boyfriend can’t even commit to living in the same country, her promised promotion is dead on arrival and the simultaneous loss of her brother and her dream of being a concert violinist has kept her playing life safe and predictable for six years. Things need to change. A moment of temporary insanity finds her leaving her life in Chicago to move to Sydney, Australia. There she finds herself, against many of her convictions, as a logistics planner for one of Australia’s biggest churches, and on a collision course with her boss’s son.

Josh Tyler fronts a top-selling worship band and is in demand all over the world. But, in the past, his failed romantic relationships almost destroyed both his reputation and his family. He’s determined to never risk it happening again. The last thing he needs is some American girl tipping his ordered life upside down. Especially one who despises everything he’s ever worked for and manages to push every button he has.

When Josh and Paige are thrown together to organize his band’s next tour, the sparks fly. But can they find a way to bridge the differences that pull them apart? Or will they choose the safety and security of what they know over taking a chance on something that will require them to risk everything?

Giveaway Time!

I’m biased. But I loved Then There Was You—it’s her best novel yet (and I hope there will be many more). Paige was intelligent, funny, and vulnerable, and a great match for the more flamboyant Josh. Who, of course, is everything she never wanted in a man.

And vice versa.

Then There Was You releases next week. The ebook is currently on special for $3.99 (which will increase after release), and there is also a paperback. I’ve already ordered my copy!

I’ve also ordered an extra copy to give away … New Zealand postal addresses only. Sorry!

I’ll also give away a Kindle version to someone not lucky enough to live in the Land of the Long White Cloud.

Both contests close at midnight on 26 June 2017 (New Zealand time), and I’ll announce the winners two weeks from today, here on the blog.

If you can’t wait that long, you can click here to pre-order Then There Was You from Amazon.

To find out more about Kara Isaac, click here to visit her website.