Tag Archives: blogging

Guest Post — Carole Jarvis, Blogger at The Power of Reading

26 Nov

I connected with Carole at The Power of Words early in my blogging. We participated in many of the same blog tours, and our opinions consistently lined up. We started a back and forth comment communication, and our friendship grew. In her reviews, Carole always says what I wish I had said! Her reviews are insightful and cover everything you need to know about the book without anything extraneous. I get lots of my reading recommendations from Carole. If you don’t follow her already, I urge you to visit her blog. You will love it!

Today, Carole is sharing about her love of books, the creative arts, and her blogging journey. Thanks, Carole, for being a great book friend and for helping me celebrate today!

Guest Post — Carole from The Power of Words

When I first stumbled upon the world of blogging, I was immediately drawn to Beckie’s By the Book and discovered many wonderful books thanks to her recommendations. In addition to sharing a common faith and love for books, the fact that we are southern gals who live in the same state (Georgia) makes our connection even more special.  

I am honored and humbled that Beckie invited me to participate in her ten-year celebration. In reflecting on what to write about, I decided to simply share a little about my love for books and hopefully, in the process, encourage some who read this to become bloggers. 

While I love the creative arts, I’m not a writer; in fact, writing is painfully hard and slow for me most of the time. I’m a musician and have been a church pianist for 56 years. This picture was taken at my daughter’s wedding, which I played for, just before she moved to Germany for eight years to lead a campus ministry – and I can’t think of a better profile picture.

My Mom helped me cultivate a love for reading at an early age by bringing me a Bobbsey Twins book twice a month on her paydays ($1.25 in hardback at the time) – and then on to Cherry Ames, Judy Bolton, Nancy Drew, and Agatha Christie. Then something incredible happened in my late teens when I discovered that books not only entertained, but that many had the power to touch and change lives. Here are a few novels of the past that deepened my faith and literally redirected the ministry path my life took as a young adult, stories that earn the highest of recommendations (titles linked to their Amazon page).

The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas

Dear and Glorious Physician (the story of Luke) by Taylor Caldwell

In His Steps by Charles M. Sheldon

The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson


Many years later, I discovered the seasonal catalogues of Christian Book Distributors. While I poured over every page, it was their “New and Recommended” section in the middle on which I mainly focused, and I discovered some absolute gems there. Below are five such books that again earn my highest of recommendations, read when the writing of reviews wasn’t even on my radar

Coldwater Revival by Nancy Jo Jenkins

Saving Sailor by Renee Riva

Daughter of Liberty by J. M. Hochstetler

William Henry Is a Fine Name by Cathy Gohlke

Sutter’s Cross by Dale Cramer

So how does someone who hates to write become a book reviewer? I’m still asking myself that, actually. Bottom line, it was books like the five mentioned above that made me want to somehow let everyone know how incredibly wonderful they were. A friend encouraged me to start a blog where I shared my love for the creative arts – books, music, and artwork. Knowing that detailed reviews like high school and college demanded weren’t the answer, I started searching online for how to write a book review, compiled the best ideas, and came up with what worked for me. Beckie has been not only a friend, but a great encourager – and there are many more like her in the blogging community. So, if you’ve ever wanted to really support authors and share writing that inspires you, let me encourage you to try blogging. It’s easy, fun, and there’s a strong network out there. It may sound trite to say that if I can do it, anyone can, but that’s just about the case.

It was in 2012 that I began this journey and I wanted to share some of my favorite books from those first 2-3 years of blogging. These are all outstanding and have a clear spiritual message (titles are linked to my reviews).

Lost and Found by Ginny L. Yttrup

Mother of Pearl by Kellie Coates Gilbert

In Broken Places by Michele Phoenix

The Air We Breathe by Christa Parrish

When Sparrows Fall by Meg Moseley

The Courier of Caswell Hall by Melanie Dobson

A Promise Kept by Robin Lee Hatcher

To Win Her Favor by Tamera Alexander

An Endless Christmas by Cynthia Ruchti

I’ll end with a tribute to a personal friend who just happens to be a very talented author, Dale Cramer. Although not currently writing, two of his novels won the Christy Award and all are excellent. Dale and I went to the same church during his years of publication and it was great to share in his book signing at the release of his last book in 2013, Though Mountains Fall.

Beckie, thank you so much for the honor of being on your blog. You are a skilled reviewer of great integrity, as well as a cherished friend, and I wish you many more years of blogging.


Thanks so much, Carole, for sharing from your heart. And I know that my readers have a great list of book recommendations now too!

Wife, mother, pianist, avid reader, Christ follower, Carol Jarvis blogs at The Power of Words.


Guest Post: Iola Goulton, Blogger

20 Nov

“I have this friend from New Zealand.” I love saying that! Now, I have never met Iola Goulton in person, but our online interactions and reading her blog make me feel like I really know her. That’s just how the online book community works. Iola is a freelance editor and writes insightful reviews of Christian fiction, making her a go-to resource for the best in the inspirational market. I depend on her reviews and search out those books she recommends. Finding out about authors from Australia and New Zealand is a great added perk!

I would love to travel to New Zealand one day and if I ever do, a side trip to meet Iola is on the bucket list! Here’s hoping that our paths cross one day soon, either in the US or in New Zealand.

Thanks, Iola, for sharing about your reading and blogging life.

Guest Post from Iola Goulton

When Beckie approached me to contribute a guest post as part of her celebration of ten years as a book blogger, I was thrilled to accept. Beckie, and people like her, are what make the Christian book blogging community a great place to be. It’s my online home.

I don’t know about you, but I was always the odd child out. I was the child who loved silent reading time at school, who loved visiting the library, and who could always be found with a book. I was the child who read anything, even the cereal packets. I read and reread my favourite books. And I knew lots of strange facts, because after I’d read all the children’s novels, I moved onto children’s encyclopedias (in my defence, I lived in a tiny town with a tiny library).

But I always felt like I was the odd one out. No one else loved reading the way I did — or if they did, they kept quiet about it. LIke I did.

I discovered the world of online reading in around 2010, and realised I wasn’t the only book nerd around. There were hundreds — thousands — of readers like me. People who loved words, loved stories, loved books. We connected over our shared love of books despite living on opposite sides of the planet.

I discovered the (now defunct) Amazon Discussion Forums, Goodreads, and book blogs. Discussing favourite books and authors through text-based communication suited me. Being in different time zones meant conversations took place over hours and days rather than seconds and minutes, and that gave everyone the opportunity to contribute. It felt fairer and more democratic than real-life conversations where the person with the loudest voice is the one who gets the most attention.

Not long after I discovered book blogs, I won an ebook in book blogger giveaway. This led to me discovering NetGalley and joining the book blogger community myself. Now I follow bloggers from around the world, reading reviews and discussion posts, and adding to my neverending to-read pile. It’s hard to believe there was once a time when I’d read every book I owned and would go back to reread old favourites while I waited for my next visit to the local Christian bookstore to see if there was anything new in stock.

I’ve even been able to meet few other book bloggers in real life. Australian author Dorothy Adamek invited me to stay with her in Melbourne a few years ago. Melbourne is also the home of Rel Mollet of Relz Reviews … so we arranged to meet Rel for coffee and a chat at the local Koorong store. Rel is a kindred spirit. It felt like we were two halves of a whole as we compared notes on books, authors, and blogging.

I’ve also met Elle of Soul Inspirationz here in New Zealand. I was driving to Wellington, and Elle’s hometown of Taihape was the perfect place to stop for lunch. Her boss said to take as long as she wanted … so we did (I don’t think he realised how long two people can talk books). As with Rel, the conversation flowed thick and fast as we shared our stories and talked about our favourite novels and authors. We eventually stopped talking when we realized we’d each missed phone calls from people who were wondering where we were. Oops.

I haven’t had the priviledge of meeting Beckie or any other US book bloggers in person (although I did meet author Candace Calvert when she visited my home town of Tauranga as part of a New Zealand cruise)67. But I can assure you that friendships formed online are real friendships, despite what the technophobes might say. And we’re all Christians, which means we will get to meet one day in that great library in heaven. Because heaven has to have a library, right?

Beckie, congratulations on ten years of book blogging. It’s been a priviledge to get to know you online, and I look forward meeting you for real one day.

About Iola Goulton

Iola Goulton is a New Zealand book reviewer, freelance editor, and author, writing contemporary Christian romance with a Kiwi twist. She is a member of the Sisterhood of Unpronounceable Names (Iola is pronounced yo-la, not eye-ola and definitely not Lola).

Iola holds a degree in marketing, has a background in human resource consulting,  and now works as a freelance editor specialising in Christian fiction. She has also developed the Kick-Start Your Author Platform Marketing Challenge, an email course for authors wanting to establish their online platform.

When she’s not working, Iola is usually reading or writing her next book review. Iola lives in the beautiful Bay of Plenty in New Zealand (not far from Hobbiton) with her husband, teenage son and cat. She is currently working on her first novel.

Top 10 Tuesday — 10 Years of Reading Changes

19 Nov

I am celebrating 10 years of book blogging this month. Woo hoo! (You can find my 10 Year Blogiversary Giveaway HERE.) Over the last 10 years a lot has changed — 3 children out of the house and well into successful adulthood (through with college/grad school/law school), a new daughter-in-law, and a first grand baby on the way — some very great changes! With the increased time on my hands, my reading life took off at a greater pace and back to the pre-kid levels I once enjoyed. And book blogging has influenced my reading choices even more so.

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday theme — Changes in My Reading Life — fits in well with my month long blogiversary celebration as I reflect on all the benefits blogging has brought to my life. So here are some of the changes that have occurred in the past 10 years.


10 Years of Reading Changes

Reading on a schedule. Book blogging requires a good bit of organization, and reading according to a schedule keeps me from being too behind in my reading commitments.  Where once I picked up any old book that caught my fancy, I now have a list I follow pretty faithfully.

Reading new-to-me authors. I have been introduced to some great new favorite authors because I was introduced to them through blogging opportunities. Of course, this just makes the TBR pile bigger and bigger.

Reading small press and indie-published authors. One big benefit to blogging is coming into contact with authors who are independently published or from smaller houses. Again, I have new favorites I may have missed because of limited exposure. I hope my blog has introduced you to some great authors you may have missed otherwise.

No more binge-reading. In the past when I found an author I liked, I read ALL the books! I can remember reading Mindy Starns Clark’s Million Dollar Mysteries straight through. Now due to that pesky schedule, I have to wait to fit in books to read.

Less and less just because books. Again the reading schedule keeps me from reading on a whim. I am trying to allow for more gaps in the schedule to accomodate books that catch my eye and my fancy.

Reading the book first. This is one great perk to book blogging. I often receive books before release dates, making me very smug around my reading friends.  😉

Being in the know 😉 . Being in contact with authors, publicists, and publishers has increased my awareness of new books coming up in the future. It has also increased my book-bullying tendencies and my street cred with my book club. (Insert eye-rolls and raucous laughter here.)

Expanding genres. While I have always been very eclectic in my reading, I have added more books from less favored genres. Contemporary romance and Amish fiction were low on my preferred list, but because of blogging I have must-read authors from those genres now.

All the books — all the time. My reading time has increased with every book that makes its way into my house. It is not unusual for me to be reading 3 books at a time — one hard copy, one on Kindle, and one audiobook.

So there you have it — 10 years of book blogging has filled my shelves and my life with wonderful stories, authors, and experiences. I highly recommend it!


Guest Post — Courtney Clark, blogger at The Green Mockingbird

13 Nov

Today Courtney Clark the fabulous blogger behind The Green Mockingbird is our guest poster. Courtney and I connected several years ago when we both judged for the Inspy Awards. Our opinions tracked then, and they continue to now. If you want to know what books you should read next, you definitely need to read Courtney’s blog. She has been doing this blogging gig for six years, along with all her other jobs — baking, running a restaurant, working at a community college . . . . Not sure when she finds the time to read, but I am glad she does. Courtney knows how to get to the essence of a book, and I depend on her recommendations.

While our friendship has continued on social media and through our blog interactions, I had the greatest pleasure meeting her in person in Nashville last week. What a joy! Cannot wait to get together again.

Thanks, Courtney, for sharing with us today!


Three Things I Love About Book Blogging by Courtney Clark

The books!

At the heart of reading and books are the stories. Stories educate, entertain, and increase empathy for other people. When it comes to reviewing books, one happy perk is all the first looks at new releases by my favorite authors. Also, having the opportunity to “read outside of my comfort zone” has allowed me to learn more and discover impactful stories I would not have otherwise considered.

The authors!

It has been a privilege to meet authors through interviews, social media, and the occasional in-person bookish event. Getting to support these authors through sharing about their books and characters is even more special when I can call them friends! Being a book blogger has increased my understanding of the publishing process, too, and all the creative hard work that goes into getting a story on the page.

The blogging community!

The online community of book bloggers and blog readers is fantastic and supportive. I’ve become friends with several wonderful people through blogs and their extended social media. With this interaction I have found new reading recommendations, gushed over the same books and characters, and had ample opportunity to learn from the stories we love. Participation in a few special award events, like the annual INSPYs, has been exciting and enlightening, too!

If you are considering starting a book blog or growing your love for reading into something more, I hope these positive things about book blogging have encouraged you! Thank you for taking the time to read this post. Let’s wish Beckie a happy blogiversary and many more years of reading to come!


A Reviewer’s POV

16 Sep

Usually I am the doing the asking when it comes to books and authors. But today, yours truly is featured on the Suspense Sisters blog! What an honor! Check out what I think about the fun business of book reviewing. A special thank you to cozy mystery writer E. E. Kennedy for including me.

Book Giveaway — If you leave a comment on the Suspense Sisters post you will be entered to win a copy of Ellen’s cozy mystery, Murder in The Past Tense.



Suspense Sisters Header 6-16-15


The Suspense Sisters (and a Mister!) is the go-to blog to learn about mystery and suspense from some of today’s top inspirational authors. Members of the team are: Elizabeth Goddard, Cynthia Hickey, E.E. Kennedy, Marji Laine, Dr. Richard Mabry, Nancy Mehl, Dana Mentink, and Roxanne Rustand. Thanks so much y’all!