Posted in History

The History Lover’s Playground: Digitized Newspapers

I want to share a website that I ran across during my research. This is for the author, history buff, or those who are bored and looking for something new to read. 😉
 It’s called: Chronicling America, Historic American Newspapers. 

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I found this website when I was searching up headline news during the year 1885. As it turns out, I wasn’t finding much…until I opened this site. 

Here are some of the perks: 
Over 2,000 newspapers (as in titles) to view on the site
Papers from most of the states across the nation
Dates range from 1789-1924
They have a newspaper directory where you can search for a paper they didn’t have on the site that was printed between the years 1690-present.
The site is part of the Library of Congress.
Narrow down your search to a particular year or section of years
Narrow down your search by state
You can view the full paper or just the front page.
Easy to navigate
Great zoom
You can “clip” out images and save them straight to your computer.
It’s FREE!
What better way to find out about the people of another generation than to read their newspaper!!

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I clipped out the sports section of the Memphis, TN paper from 1885. Enjoy!

Now it’s your turn! Go check the page out for yourself if you haven’t already. Make sure to bookmark it so you can return as often as you like!

I’ll be bringing you some of the interesting things I had uncovered during my search in a later post, but for today, I’d love for you to share something interesting with me that you found from one of these newspapers. Happy Reading!!

Posted in Book Reviews

GIVEAWAY and Book Review: True to You by Becky Wade

142Exciting Start of a Brand-New Series by a Contemporary Romance Fan Favorite

After a devastating heartbreak three years ago, genealogist and historical village owner Nora Bradford has decided that burying her nose in her work and her books is far safer than romance in the here and now.

Unlike Nora, former Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient John Lawson is a modern-day man, usually 100 percent focused on the present. But when he’s diagnosed with an inherited condition, he’s forced to dig into the secrets of his past and his adoption as an infant, enlisting Nora to help him uncover the identity of his birth mother.

The more time they spend together, the more this pair of opposites suspects they just might be a perfect match. However, John’s already dating someone and Nora’s not sure she’s ready to trade her crushes on fictional heroes for the risks of a real relationship. Finding the answers they’re seeking will test the limits of their identity, their faith, and their devotion to one another.

What I Loved: One of the first things that struck me when I finished reading, was how invested I had become with this family. I felt like I really knew them, and more than that, I really liked them in the same way you might feel about an old family friend. I can’t wait to revisit the Bradford family in the rest of the series!
I was able to start my Bradford journey with Wade’s novella, Then Came You.  While it’s not necessary to read the novella to understand the novel, if you’re planning to read it, I’d recommend reading the novella first since the novel spoils the novella. The novella is an epistolary, meaning that the entire story is told through letters, journals, and such. I adored how True to You carried on this theme by ending each chapter with a series of text messages or emails. It was a unique touch that paid off.
But above all the wonder, fun, charming characters, and moving plot is a solid Biblical message about finding your identity in Christ ALONE. I appreciated Wade’s efforts to bring these broken, and often self-reliant, characters to a deeper understanding of Christ and our relationship with Him.

A note to the conservative readers: Both the novella and the novel feature a rape. The details are handled in a tasteful way and never experienced through a point of view character, so the harsh realities are kept to a minimum. Because it wasn’t experienced through the point of view character, I wasn’t bothered by it, but you’ll have to judge for yourself.
The kissing scenes were also tastefully handled, but I’ll be honest and say that I found some of the lingo Wade used to be tasteless for a Christian novel. While I’m on board with characters showing and even thinking about their desires to some degree, I found it strange to have these desires so blatantly labeled with the terms “sexual desires” and low or high “libido.” It’s just not what I expected to find. It wasn’t to the degree that it ruined the story for me, but I could have done without it and been happier for it. Not everyone will agree with me. My comments here are meant for other readers who lean on the more conservative side in their fiction reading.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving True to You 5 stars and recommending it to anyone who enjoys Christian Romance.

~I received a copy from Litfuse. I was not compensated for this review. All thoughts are my own.

GIVEAWAY INFORMATION:

 Do opposites really attract? John and Nora might just be the perfect match. Find out in True to You, book one in Becky Wade’s new series! Genealogist and historical village owner Nora Bradford has decided that burying her nose in her work and her books is far safer than romance in the here and now. Former Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient John Lawson is a modern-day man, usually 100 percent focused on the present. But when he’s diagnosed with an inherited condition, he’s forced to dig into the secrets of his past and his adoption as an infant, enlisting Nora to help him uncover the identity of his birth mother. Finding the answers they’re seeking will test the limits of their identity, their faith, and their devotion to one another.

Celebrate the launch of Becky Wade’s new series by entering to win a fabulous prize pack and $100 cash card!

One grand prize winner will receive:

  • A copy of True to You
  • A $100 Visa cash card
  • A prize pack hand-picked by Becky

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on May 30. The winner will be announced May 31 on the Litfuse blog.

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: What Hope Remembers by Johnnie Alexander

143When Amy Somers loses her job as a lobbyist, she moves to Misty Willow, well aware that she’s crossing bridges she’d burned years before. With all the mistakes she’s made and the uncaring things she’s done–even to her own family–she can hardly believe that happiness will find her, especially when Gabe Kendall, her first crush and her first kiss, rides back into her life atop a buckskin mare.

A former Marine, Gabe is at loose ends after serving a prison sentence for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He sees beyond Amy’s hard exterior to the girl he once knew and loved, and he longs to see her open her heart. Yet with his vision clouded by shame for his past and fears about the future, he finds it difficult to see the path ahead.

But the memory of that long-ago kiss just may have the power to reignite a romance that brings out the best in both of them.

My Thoughts: There’s something gratifying about reading the redemption story of a previous bad boy or in this case a bad girl. What Hope Remembers is a satisfying conclusion to the Misty Willow series. I only wish I had found time to read the first book of the series. While you can understand the stories easily enough if you read them out of order, there is a family drama that is building and evolving through out each of the three novels. Readers will appreciate Amy’s happy ending more if they had more experience with her devious history.
For me, the story took too long to really take off. The characters are wonderfully flawed and you can’t help but feel for them as they navigate their fresh starts, but I would have liked more tension throughout the story. Aside from that, it’s a beautifully written story. I appreciate the way Alexander was able to craft characters who felt, responded, and appeared to be real and not fictionalized.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving What Hope Remembers 4 stars and recommending it, and the entire series, to anyone who enjoys Christian Contemporary or Christian Fiction with real-to-life characters.

~I received a copy from Revell. I was not compensated for this review. All thoughts are my own.

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: With this Ring Novella Set

144Humorous Historical Romance Novella
Collection Offers Love and Laughs

Four top historical romance novelists team up in this new collection to offer stories of love and romance with a twist of humor. In Karen Witemeyer’s “The Husband Maneuver,” Marietta Hawkins decides to grab the reins when the ranch foreman she loves seems to be leaving forever. Regina Jennings offers “Her Dearly Unintended,” where friends stranded by a rising river pretend to be newlyweds when a dangerous stranger arrives.

Mary Connealy’s “Runaway Bride” finds a Texas ranger getting more than he expected when he rescues a young woman fleeing a dangerous arranged marriage. And Melissa Jagears’ “Engaging the Competition” finds a young woman forced to assist the man she’s sparred with for so long after an accident leaves him helpless. Each tale is a fun blend of history and romance that will delight readers.

What I Loved: As a whole, this collection was delightful. If you’ve read novella sets in the past, you’ve probably noticed that not all sets are winners. Rest assured, With This Ring is a collection you can pick up with confidence. These four authors know how to spin a tale in both the full-sized and smaller-sized portions and not leave the reader feeling cheated. If you’re looking for fast-paced, historical novellas, look no further!

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving With This Ring 5 stars and recommending it to anyone who enjoys Christian Historical Novellas.

 

Posted in Book Reviews

Christian Fiction Cover Wars: Author’s Battle

It’s time for round 2 of the Cover Wars!! This week, I’m pairing up two covers from the SAME author to see which one is our favorite. Place your vote in the comments below!

Alicia G. Ruggieri: Such heartfelt beauty!! Can you pick your favorite?

 

Karen Witemeyer: I love the playfulness on both covers. But which is your favorite?


Julie Klassen:
Two showstoppers from the same great author. Do you have a favorite?

 

Jody Hedlund: Talk about breathtakingly beautiful! Whoever designs her covers needs a raise! But which is your favorite?


Denise Hunter:
Which of these romantically sweet covers if your favorite?

 

I can’t wait to hear which ones you will proclaim the winners. I know I didn’t make it easy on you. 😉 But that’s the point of this game after all. Lol

Here were my winners:
Ruggieri: While I think both are stunning, I’m quite smitten with the emotional shot of Ben at the piano. So I’ll be choosing A Love to Come Home to.
Witemeyer: YIKES! This is hard. I really love them both. But I think I love A Worthy Pursuit just a tad more. Maybe it’s her lovely smile that wins me over.
Hedlund: Again, it’s another toss-up. But…I’ll have to say, Newton and Polly. I love all the blue and grays in the cover.
Klassen: Girl in the Gatehouse is my fave. I love her dress and the flowing purple ribbon adds a nice touch. Plus the gatehouse looks like a mini castle!
Hunter: The Goodbye Bride. While both are lovely, I’m head over heals in love with the emotion and the splash of pink on this cover.

I’ll be collecting votes until people stop commenting. Then I’ll update the post to announce the winners. If you’ve missed the first Cover Wars or missed seeing who won, you can check it out here.

UPDATE: Feel free to share your opinion in the comments below. But for the sake of announcing a winner, I’m going to share the tallies. 

Ruggieri: The Fragrance of Geraniums wins! Geraniums 6 – A Love to Come Home to 4
Witemeyer: A Short-Straw Bride takes it home. Short-Straw 7 – A Worthy Pursuit 3
Hedlund: Newton and Polly wins! Newton 8 – Luther and Katharina 2
Klassen: Klassen leaves the battle with a tie. 5 votes each for Girl in the Gatehouse and The Tutor’s Daughter
Hunter: Married til Monday takes it home. Monday 7 – The Goodbye Bride 3

*Late Voters: I don’t intend to adjust the winners for additional votes, but I’ll gladly chat with you about your favorites if you choose to comment. 

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: An Uncommon Protector

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Overwhelmed by the responsibilities of running a ranch on her own, Laurel Tracey decides to hire a convict—a man who’s just scary enough to take care of squatters and just desperate enough to agree to a one-year post.

The years following the war have been hard on Laurel Tracey. Both her brother and her father died in battle, and her mother passed away shortly after receiving word of their demise. Laurel has been trying to run her two hundred acre ranch as best she can.

When she discovers that squatters have settled in her north pasture and have no intention of leaving, Laurel decides to use the last of her money to free a prisoner from the local jail. If she agrees to offer him room and board for one year, he will have to work for her to pay off his debt.

Former soldier Thomas Baker knows he’s in trouble when he finds himself jailed because he couldn’t pay a few fines. Laurel’s offer might be his only ticket out. Though she’s everything he ever dreamed of in a woman—sweet and tender-hearted, yet strong—he’s determined to remain detached, work hard on her behalf, and count the days until he’s free again.

But when cattle start dying and Laurel’s life is threatened, Thomas realizes more than just his freedom is on the line. Laurel needs someone to believe in her and protect her property. And it isn’t long before Laurel realizes that Thomas Baker is far more than just a former soldier. He’s a trustworthy hero, and he needs more than just his freedom—he needs her love and care too.

My Thoughts: There’s lots of ranch-stealing action in Gray’s latest release! With a setting that western readers will appreciate, An Uncommon Protector sends the reader out to a ranch where a lone woman is attempting to salvage her property in spite of the fact that everyone around her seems to think otherwise. Tracey finds more than a ranch hand from the most unlikely person: a former prisoner.
Shelley reminds the reader that honor and worth are not based on a person’s circumstances or their past. While I found that many of the characters’ attributes and thoughts were talked about a bit too repetitively, I think there’s an entertaining story here that many will enjoy. It’s a fast-paced adventure with heart.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving An Uncommon Protector 4 stars and recommend it to those who enjoy Christian western or Christian historical.

~ I received a copy from The Fiction Guild. I was not required to give a review and was not compensated in any way. All thoughts are my own. 

Posted in Book Reviews

GIVEAWAY and Book Review: My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho by Susanne Dietze

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Journey now to Ruby City, Idaho of 1866 where…
A Marriage Mishap Creates an Awkward Love Triangle in this Silver Mining Town

Looking forward to a quiet life and a full stomach, mail-order bride Rebecca Rice is pleased to marry her shopkeeper intended, Mr. Fordham, until the justice of the peace calls him Thaddeus, not Theodore—proceeded by the title Deputy.

Is it possible to marry the wrong man?

When the newlyweds realize they’ve married the wrong partners with similar names, an annulment seems in order—and fast, since Rebecca’s true intended is impatient to claim her as his own, not to mention Rebecca would never marry a lawman like her father. But when the legalities take longer than expected, Rebecca wonders if Tad wasn’t the right husband for her all along. . . .

More from My Heart Belongs in Series…
My Heart Belongs in Fort Bliss: Priscilla’s Reveille by Erica Vetsch (January 2017)
My Heart Belongs in the Superstition Mountains: Carmella’s Quandary by Susan Page Davis (March 2017)
My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island: Maude’s Mooring by Carrie Fancett Pagels (July 2017)
My Heart Belongs in the Shenandoah Valley: Lily’s Dilemma by Andrea Boeshaar (September 2017)

What I Loved: From start to finish this book had captivated me. I ran across Dietze before through some of the novella collections I had read in the past, and her writing stood out to me. Not only was I thrilled to get my hands on her full-length novel, but I found it to be all that I had expected from her. I found characters that I enjoyed spending time with, as well as a charming supporting cast.
I read the entire book in two days and laughed the whole way through. It was the perfect light-hearted read that just hit the spot. I only wish I had the time to start it all back over again.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho 5 stars. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys Christian Historical Fiction, Christian comedy, or is looking for a delightful summer read.

~I received a copy from the publisher through Netgalley. All thoughts are my own. I was not compensated for this review.

Giveaway Details: 

Susanne Dietze is hosting a giveaway on her page. Giveaway ends on May 5th at 11:59 pm. Winner to be announced on Susanne’s page.

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Posted in About the Book

Out of the Ashes’ Blurb

3The release date for Out of the Ashes is inching closer and closer these days. In fact, the release date is soon to be announced. I have some other goodies for you today. I have the official book description and the Goodreads link!!

Sometimes peace is won through battle.

Haunted by the memories he can’t escape, Ralph Williams wants to be left alone to lick his wounds. He doesn’t understand why he’s forced into the company of the one woman he least desires. Can God bring him healing through such uncomfortable circumstances?

Frank Harper thought he had left the war and its turmoil behind, but the home to which he has returned is anything but peaceful. When racial tensions arise in Maple Grove, Frank finds himself on a battlefield once more. He’s desperate for peace, but at what cost?

When George Chandler heads off to wed his beloved bride, things don’t go as expected. Just as George starts to get comfortable with what he believes is God’s new plan for his life, history threatens to repeat itself. Will he fight for the woman he’s come to love, or will he let her go?

The War Between the States has destroyed more than just a nation. In four years, it has damaged bodies and wounded souls until the people think that nothing is left. Will they find the healing they so desperately need from the God that loves them?

YAY!!! Don’t you just love it?! Lol And if you caught my post about writing blurbs then you already know that this beauty didn’t come easily. 😉 I had some great help from members of my critique team. Then my editors dusted it off for me. They’re such wonderful helpers. Without them, I might have gone with something like, “Just read the book.” Lol 

Now for you Goodreads fans, here is the link for Out of the Ashes. Go ahead and let folks know that you’re planning to read it! And if you haven’t read the first two novels yet, you’ll want to add them to your TBR list as well. And be sure to read in order.

Book 1: Where Can I Flee

Book 2: In the Shadow of Thy Wings

Book 3: Out of the Ashes

Posted in Fiction Diner

Fiction Diner Chat

A Quick Update: I had started the Fiction Diner series as a way to document and share recipes as I challenged myself to try a new recipe every week of 2017. While I’m having loads of fun cooking up new food and sharing the results with you, I just don’t have the time to keep up with the blog series right now.
Besides trying to wrap up edits and publish my 3rd novel, finish the 1st draft of 4th novel, plot 3 additional novels, I also have 2 birthday parties and a wedding to provide cake for, a teenager in football and youth for the first time, 3 other active children, and a laundry pile–much like my reading pile–that never disappears. Lol
Needless to say, the additional work of the weekly Fiction Diner series is an added stress that I don’t need.

New Plans: However, I plan to bring it back later in the year. But it’ll most likely return as an occasional post instead of a weekly post.

FOOD CHAT!!!: But I didn’t just bring you here to listen to me whine about my workload, let’s talk food!!
Name a recipe that you’ve always wanted to try to make but haven’t done it yet?
How about a recipe that you’ve always wanted to master, but have been unsuccessful at so far?
As for me, I’ve always wanted to try to make Fried Ice Cream. Those words don’t even belong together so it MUST be good. Lol
And I’ve always wanted to master pie crust and biscuits, but so far my attempts aren’t worth bragging over.

Book Quote: It wouldn’t be Fiction Diner without a quote from a fiction novel. Enjoy this lovely graphic and beautiful words from Katie Ganshert’s latest release, Life After. 

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Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: To the Farthest Shores by Elizabeth Camden

116Acclaimed and Award-Winning Author’s Talent Continues to Win Fans

It has been six years since army nurse Jenny Bennett’s heart was broken by a dashing naval officer. Now Lieutenant Ryan Gallagher has abruptly reappeared in her life at the Presidio army base but refuses to discuss the inexplicable behavior that destroyed their happiness.

Ryan is in an impossible situation. One of the few men in the world qualified to carry out a daring assignment, he accepted a government mission overseas that caused his reputation to be destroyed and broke the heart of the only woman he ever loved. Honor bound never to reveal where he had been during those six years, he can’t tell Jenny the truth or it will endanger an ongoing mission and put thousands of lives at risk.

Although Ryan thinks he may have finally found a solution, he can’t pull it off on his own. Loyalty to her country compels Jenny to help, but she never could have imagined the intrigue she and Ryan will have to face or the lengths to which they will have to go to succeed.

My Thoughts: Camden has a way with words that I’ve always enjoyed. She is one of those authors I know I can count on to deliver a well-rounded story with fully developed characters and a plot that entertains. To the Farthest Shores was no exception.
I don’t want to give away any spoilers so I’ll speak vaguely of Ryan’s “inexplicable behavior that destroyed their happiness.” It’s nothing that sensitive readers should be cautious over so rest assured there. However, it’s the type of storyline that I personally don’t care for and try to avoid anytime I can. Because it’s something that I don’t like, I found myself struggling more with this particular novel. And yet…I also found myself relating to Jenny more and more as the story unfolded. The last 100 pages brought me to tears as I watched her struggle with unforgiveness in ways that were all too familiar to me. Our circumstances were different but our hearts were the same. It was a blessing to know and cheer on the heroine in such an intimate way as the novel reached its end.
In the midst of all of this, Camden brought to life a lovely message on forgiveness.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving it 4.5 stars and recommending it to anyone who enjoys Christian Historical Fiction.

~I received a copy from Bethany House. I was not compensated for this review or required to give a favorable one. All thoughts are my own.

*If you HAVE to know what about this storyline bothered me and don’t mind a small spoiler, feel free to email me. 🙂