I received this book for free from TLC Book Tours for review consideration, opinions expressed are 100% my own. This post contains affiliate links as indicated by an asterisk. Purchases from these links provides a small commission to me at no extra cost to you.Saving Abby by Steena Holmes
Series: Saving Abby #1
Published by Lake Union
Publication Date: May 31, 2016
Setting: Belgium, Canada, France, Italy
Source: TLC Book Tours
Amazon Kindle* | Amazon Paperback*
All children’s book illustrator Claire Turner ever wanted was to be a mother. After six years of trying to conceive, she and her husband, Josh, have finally accepted that she will never be pregnant with a child of their own.
Yet once they give up hope, the couple gets the miracle they’ve been waiting for. For the first few months of her pregnancy, Claire and Josh are living on cloud nine. But when she begins to experience debilitating headaches, blurred vision, and even fainting spells, the soon-to-be mother goes to the doctor and receives a terrifying diagnosis. Since any treatment could put their unborn baby’s life at risk, the Turners must carefully weigh their limited options. And as her symptoms worsen, Claire will have to make an impossible decision: Save her own life, or save her child’s?
USA Today and New York Times bestselling author Steena Holmes brings us an unforgettable story of one woman’s courage and love.
Saving Abby and Abby’s Journey by Steena Holmes destroyed me and then filled me back up with hope in these novels about the courage to protect our true loves and chase the dreams we are destined for.
My Thoughts on Saving Abby:
Saving Abby destroyed me (in the best possible way) and I’ll tell you why. Before my first baby boy arrived on the scene, we suffered the loss of our daughter and another miscarriage. I had almost given up that we’d have those babies that my husband and I dreamed about. Our third pregnancy was the charm and our oldest baby boy was born.
When we decided to try for our second baby, this time we failed to get pregnant for 2 and a half years, my Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) worsened, we gave up on having another baby, I went back on Remicade to treat my RA, and bam! Got pregnant with baby boy #2.
But I remember those heartbreaking days of infertility. Crying at my desk when I’d see other pregnant co-workers. Longingly staring at families in the mall. Getting angry when I’d hear the news of some parent abusing their child, I knew my children would have a loving and adoring home. Pleading with God that if I got pregnant again, I wanted to bring my baby home, I could not handle another loss.
So reading Claire and Josh’s story in Saving Abby brought back many painful and hopeful memories as they struggled to get pregnant. And then the unabashed and unexpected joy when they got pregnant after losing all hope. I remember the joy and I felt it for Claire and Josh.
So when Claire, a fellow planner extraordinaire filled with wanderlust, starts getting unrelenting headaches, she does everything humanly possible to protect her unborn child. What transpires is a beautiful story about true love, not only between Claire and Josh but between Claire and her baby and the courage to protect those we love.
Author Steena Holmes wrote characters full of heart and passion, and though these could be read as stand-alone books, Saving Abby explores the relationship between Claire and Josh and really sets the stage beautifully for what happens in Abby’s Journey. I highly recommend reading Saving Abby* first.
I received this book for free from TLC Book Tours for review consideration, opinions expressed are 100% my own. This post contains affiliate links as indicated by an asterisk. Purchases from these links provides a small commission to me at no extra cost to you.Abby's Journey by Steena Holmes
Series: Saving Abby #2
Published by Lake Union
Publication Date: Feb. 14, 2017
Setting: Canada, Belgium, England, Germany
Source: TLC Book Tours
Amazon Kindle* | Amazon Paperback*
Twenty-year-old Abigail Turner has only known her mother, Claire—who died shortly after she was born—through letters, videos, postcards, and journals. Abby’s father, Josh, has raised his precious daughter himself, but his overprotectiveness has become stifling. Abby longs to forge out on her own and see the world after a childhood trapped indoors: she suffers from bronchopulmonary dysplasia, which means a case of the sniffles can rapidly escalate into life-threatening pneumonia.
But when Abby’s doctor declares her healthy—for now—her grandmother Millie whisks her away to Europe to visit the Christmas markets that her mother cherished and chronicled in her travel journals. Despite her father’s objections, Abby and Millie embark on a journey of discovery in which Abby will learn secrets that force her to reevaluate her image of her mother and come to a more mature understanding of a parent-child bond that transcends death.
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Steena Holmes offers a tender and heartfelt exploration of parental love and a daughter’s longing for connection in the poignant next chapter following Saving Abby.
My Thoughts on Abby’s Journey:
So if Saving Abby destroyed me, Abby’s Journey filled me back up with hope. Again, author Steena Holmes writes real, believable, well thought out characters. Abby is a chronically ill patient, who inherited her mother Claire’s desire to travel. Through her childhood she’s been stuck inside, the slightest exposure to a cold can end her up in the hospital fighting for her life.
As a chronically ill patient myself, I know that sometimes it’s difficult for people to put themselves in our shoes. But Steena really portrayed well the fears, thoughts and dreams of Abby. I’ve struggled with my fears about getting sick and ending up in the hospital. Because the Remicade I take to treat my Rheumatoid Arthritis suppresses my immune system, I pick up infections easily that quickly escalate and take me longer to recover from. I volunteered at my kids’ school one Christmas, and brought home the flu and pneumonia that made me miss Christmas with my boys and had me on the verge of a hospital admittance. That was a hard reality check for me.
The need for my Remicade prevents me from traveling to India to visit my grandmother and introducing my boys to her and the country of their ancestry. But the fear for my health and consequently how it impacts my boys, is crippling. My lack of physical traveling but wanderlust to explore new places is actually what prompted me to start the Travel the World in Books Reading Challenge.
But Abby doesn’t want her illness to prevent her from going on this journey her mother wants her to go on. Despite her father’s objections, Abby goes on this trip of a lifetime anyway. Not only does Abby get to know the ghost that is her mother better, but she visits the most charming and delicious stops along the way. The journey itself made me want to hop on a plane to Europe at Christmas to visit the castles, browse the markets, try some warm mulled wine and sample the 50 chocolate shops in Belgium. Yep, I’d totally cheat on my RA diet for that!
Abby’s Journey* is a heartwarming story about having the strength to fulfill our destiny and follow our dreams.
I love to travel vicariously through books and others’ stories so I’m thrilled that author Steena Holmes tells us about the research she did for Abby’s Journey and the trip that inspired the story and setting. Now, who’s coming with me to Belgium?
Taking Abby’s Journey
by Steena Holmes
Hands down, Abby’s Journey was my favorite book to write – mainly for the fact I was able to share my travelholic passion within this story!
When it comes to researching for my novels, it usually means pouring over articles online but for Abby’s Journey, the majority of my research was hands-on, which we all know, is the best kind of research!
There’s a scene set in London and I mention Abby’s excitement over visiting Harrods. I will never forget my first time walking into that glorious building and experiencing their markets for the first time. Can we say chocolate overload? I ate so many samples and tried so many different dishes while wandering those markets that I ended up cancelling a lunch reservation I’d made.
Every Kristkindle Markt in Abby’s Journey is one I visited personally. I drank my first Gluwein (a mulled wine with spices) while walking through the Munich Christmas Market our first night in Germany. I experienced what a true market is supposed to feel like in Regensburg and felt overwhelmed in Nuremburg.
Nuremburg is known for one of the most famous Christmas markets. One look at the red coverings over the stalls and anyone and everyone who has been to Nuremburg would recognize it immediately. This market is set within the main square and is super crowded. Not only did I enjoy more Gluwein but I was on the hunt for the fig people.
My favorite market – hands down – was Regensburg. It’s known as the Romantik Road Markt. It’s set within the grounds of Thurn und Taxis – a beautiful castle in the middle of town. Twinkling lights guide you through the pathways and you feel transported to a small town in the middle of the Bavarian forest – it’s that magical. I stood transfixed for a good half hour while I watched a basket weaver spin a tale to a small group of children while he created a basket. I didn’t understand a word he said but I didn’t need to. My one regret was not buying one of his baskets … but since we were leaving the following morning and I only brought a carryon with me for luggage (silly me), I had no way to get the basket home.
Would I ever return to Germany for the Christmas markets? Absolutely! One of my goals in writing Abby’s Journey was to share my love for the markets with my readers in hopes that they would want to experience them personally as well. Who knows, maybe I’ll one day do a reader tour where we’ll head to Germany for this very reason!
If you’d like to know more about my trip to Germany and the markets, please visit my travel blog – Steena Travels: Author at Large – where I share my passion for travel with like minded readers!
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TLC Book Tours is letting me give away one copy of this book! Thank you TLC Book Tours!
Rules: Open to US/Canada residents only, giveaway ends 4/7/17 at 12:00am. Mom’s Small Victories will notify the winner via email. The winner must respond with mailing address within 48 hours. If a response is not received within 48 hours, another winner will be selected. Mom’s Small Victories will send the winner’s address to TLC Book Tours who forwards it to the publisher. The publisher is responsible for mailing the book to the winner.