Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Writing from the Trenches: Tips and Techniques from Ten Award-Winning Authors

400YOU … and an Army of Ten!

TEN-HUT! Gear up for your writing with tried-and-true tips from the trenches. Ten award-winning authors share invaluable tips and secrets they’ve gleaned the hard way, offering a broad range of insights and opinions on the best way to tackle subjects such as the following:

Plotting Techniques
Research
Characterization
Villains We Love to Hate
Dynamic Dialogue
Sigh-Worthy Heroes
The Right Heroine for the Job
Hooking Your Reader in the First Chapter
Scene Endings to Lead Your Readers On
Creating a Movie Set
Making your Readers Cry
Deep POV
Copyediting your Manuscript
Indie Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing
Marketing for Those Who Hate Marketing

At last … a writer’s tool that provides the experience and expertise of ten authors who’ve been on the front lines of publishing and lived to teach about it: Connie Almony, Lynnette Bonner, Hallee Bridgeman, Louise Gouge, Michelle Griep, Julie Lessman, Elizabeth Ludwig, Ane Mulligan, MaryLu Tyndall, and Erica Vetsch.

My Thoughts: This was a terrific overview of writing. There were so many sections covered that it’s a must-read for aspiring authors. The beauty of it was that it was compiled together by ten different authors so you’re getting the strengths from each author. I found it so helpful that I immediately offered to buy a copy for the aspiring author that I’m coaching.
As a published author, I didn’t really find “new” information but rather a new way of explaining old information which I found really helpful. I kept finding myself quoting something from this book as I pulled my notes together for the aspiring author I was critiquing.
The layout was perfectly arranged so that one point naturally flowed into the next. The beginning opened with all ten authors sharing how they plot their novel. While it did start to feel a tad repetitive with each author giving nearly the same intro, all ten authors had vastly different styles of plotting. I found this section really interesting and I didn’t find any one author who did it exactly like myself, so I certainly walked away with some ideas for things I could try in the future.
I do feel obligated to share a warning for more conservative writers. There’s a section on how to create a great hero which was extremely well thought out and packed full of outstanding material. The author even shares a vast selection of examples from her writing. I’m the sort who learns best by example so I double appreciate that sort of effort. But in this particular case, I found the majority of the examples a bit steamier for my personal tastes. While I wholeheartedly stand by the information, for more conservative writers, I would just caution you that may find yourself skimming. But the information itself should NOT be skimmed over but soaked up instead.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving it 5 stars and highly recommending it to aspiring authors looking for a solid overview and to published authors looking to finetune some areas or seeking a great teaching aid.

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

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Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Romancing the Bride by Melissa Jagears

403Marrying a stranger to save a ranch is one thing; losing the land on their wedding day is another.

Desperate to keep the ranch where three of her children and a husband lie buried, Annie Gephart must marry or sell. Which of the few bachelors in town would consider a surprise proposal to wed a plain widow with a rebellious daughter, a spirited boy, and unpaid taxes—without laughing in her face?

Jacob Hendrix has never fully let go of his ranching dreams despite ending up as a small Wyoming town’s marshal. The job wouldn’t be so bad, except he’s more errand boy than lawman. When Annie proposes marriage without a single coquettish bat of an eyelash, can he commit himself to a woman he hardly knows for a choice piece of property he’d be an idiot to pass up?

But taxes aren’t all that threaten Annie and Jacob’s plans. Cattle rustlers, crumbling friendships, and wayward children make this marriage of convenience anything but. When they lose what they’ve sacrificed everything to save, will the love of a stranger be enough?

Romancing the Bride is the first book in the Frontier Vows Series by award-winning Christian romance author Melissa Jagears. If you like heartwarming marriage-of-convenience stories, you’ll love this sweet romance filled with endearing characters.

My Thoughts: One of the things that I came to admire from Jagears’s last series, Teaville Moral Society, was that she took on a difficult subject, creating a novel that was more than simply romance and historic western culture. And while the “realness” featured in Romancing the Bride wasn’t overly in-depth, it does bring a genuine feel to the story. Cattle rustling, corrupt leaders, gangster type of bullying, and land theft were all intricately woven into the tale. Add in a rebellious teen and the death of loved ones and you have something that modern readers can relate to as well.
But I don’t mean to make this sound like a somber book because it wasn’t! That’s the beauty of it. Jagears brings the essence of a tough reality inside of a highly entertaining novel. It was romantic. Jacob and Annie had great chemistry together and their plight was realistic. The supporting cast was authentically crafted.
From beginning to end, the religious content was properly in focus. Accepting Christ’s gift of forgiveness and salvation without earning it was among one of the greater themes, although there were others woven in.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving Romancing the Bride 5 stars and highly recommending it to those who enjoy Christian historical fiction, Christian western, or marriage of convenience stories.

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

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Time Will Tell by Anne Mateer

36Returning home after two years at the Buffalo Ladies’ Seminary, Annis Jackson believes God has blessed her with the perfect homecoming: a whirlwind romance with a man she’s loved from afar during her time at school. Except the object
of her affections, Hugh Hylton, is related to her father’s most bitter enemy, a man determined to see Toledo firmly in the grip of the state of Ohio and the very one funding Hugh’s newspaper venture. 

After several years of newspaper work in Buffalo, New York, Hugh Hylton jumped at his uncle’s offer of financial help to start a newspaper on the opposite shore of Lake Erie. And when he discovers during the steamship voyage to his new home that the woman he’s been dreaming about for the past year, Annis Jackson, loves him back, his future seems secure. He arrives in Port Lawrence, part of the newly named town of Toledo, ready to approach her father and declare his intentions toward her. 
But Annis fears Hugh doesn’t understand the depth of the personal conflict over the positioning of Ohio’s state line and persuades him to conceal their relationship until she can prepare her father to accept Hugh in spite of his family connections. Then the Michigan militia arrives in the Toledo Strip, determined to prevent Ohio elections, and the situation gets out of hand, making their secret more difficult to guard. Suddenly the future of the newspaper—and their relationship—is as unstable as the fate of Toledo itself. 

Will Hugh and Annis survive their feuding families? Only time will tell. 

What I Loved: This is the Anne Mateer that I love and miss! I thoroughly enjoyed the historical detail about a conflict that I knew nothing about. The creator in me geeks out at the thought process behind developing a story based on a microscopic moment in history. The characters were endearing and well-crafted. I especially adored the relationship between the sisters and the “Whoa, Philly” remarks. I wasn’t sure if the romance would keep my attention as well since it was about an established couple trying to navigate the difficulties surrounding them versus falling in love for the first time, but I found myself really enjoying it. And Mateer weaves all of this together with a solid message on repentance and trusting Christ to care for even the details of your life.

Rating and Recommendations: I give it 5 stars and recommend it to those looking for a Christian historical novella or those interested in Michigan/Ohio history.

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: A Sparkle of Silver by Liz Johnson

15Ninety years ago, Millie Sullivan’s great-grandmother was a guest at oil tycoon Howard Dawkins’ palatial estate on the shore of St. Simons Island, Georgia. Now, Millie plays a 1920s-era guest during tours of the same manor. But when her grandmother suggests that there is a lost diary containing the location of a hidden treasure on the estate, along with the true identity of Millie’s great-grandfather, Millie sets out to find the truth of her heritage–and the fortune that might be hers. When security guard Ben Thornton discovers her snooping in the estate’s private library, he threatens to have her fired. But her story seems almost too ludicrous to be fiction, and her offer to split the treasure is too tempting to pass up . . .

Get ready for a romantic escapade through dark halls and dusty corners that will have you holding your breath and sighing with delight as two charming characters get caught up in the adventure of uncovering the past and finding their way to an unexpected future.

My Thoughts: A Sparkle of Silver was absolutely delightful! It was romantic. Millie and Ben had great page-turning chemistry together. The mystery was engaging and had snagged me completely. I really enjoyed watching Millie’s great-grandmother Ruth’s story unfold and the romance and intrigue that went along with it. Johnson hooked me with the prospect of dark halls and dusty corners being the setting of a fascinating puzzle and she did not let down! I thoroughly enjoyed slipping away into a world, both past and present, that Johnson had created for us. And beyond all the romance and mystery was a sound message centered on trusting Christ with your needs and forgiving yourself. Johnson became a new favorite author with The Red Door Inn and she secured that spot with A Sparkle of Silver.

Rating and Recommendation: I highly recommend this one to Christian fiction fans who enjoy dual-timeline novels, great escapes to vacations along the shore, and light mysteries. I’m giving it 5 stars.

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

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: The Cumberland Bride by Shannon McNear

401Thomas Bledsoe and Kate Gruener are traveling the Wilderness Road when conflicts between natives and settlers reach a peak that will require each of them to tap into a well of courage.
A brand new series for fans of all things related to history, romance, adventure, faith, and family trees.

Love and Adventure Are Discovered on the Wilderness Road
In 1794, when Kate Gruener’s father is ready to move the family farther west into the wilderness to farm untouched land, Kate is eager to live out her own story of adventure like he did during the War for Independence and to see untamed lands. And she sets her sights on learning more about their scout, Thomas Bledsoe. Thomas’s job is to get settlers safely across the Kentucky Wilderness Road to their destination while keeping an ear open for news of Shawnee unrest. But naïve Kate’s inquisitive nature could put them both in the middle of a rising tide of conflict. Is there more to Thomas’s story than he is willing to tell? Is there an untapped courage in Kate that can thwart a coming disaster?

Join the adventure as the Daughters of the Mayflower series continues with The Cumberland Bride by Shannon McNear.

More in the Daughters of the Mayflower series:
The Mayflower Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1620 Atlantic Ocean (February 2018)
The Pirate Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo – set 1725 New Orleans (April 2018)
The Captured Bride by Michelle Griep – set 1760 during the French and Indian War (June 2018)
The Patriot Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1774 Philadelphia (August 2018)​
The Cumberland Bride by Shannon McNear – set 1794 on the Wilderness Road (October 2018)
The Liberty Bride by MaryLu Tyndall – set 1814 Baltimore (December 2018)

My Thoughts: The Cumberland Bride is a strong historical novel with a strong plot twist. The depth of research and attention to detail struck me almost immediately. McNear weaves in such an authentic feel to the everyday lifestyle as well as the scenery. I did feel like it took me longer to get into, but once I was hooked, I was WAY in. I don’t want to ruin anything but wow! The plot twist was remarkable and it completely changed the course of the story. I was enthralled by the new tidbits of Shawnee culture that I had never heard of before. And McNear brings all of this together with a strong Christian message of saving faith and living out your faith in Christ. I appreciated all the Scripture she weaved in for the reader.

Rating and Recommendation: I’d recommend this one to Christian Historical fans, especially those interested in Native American stories. I’m giving it 4.5 stars.

~ I received a copy from the publisher. I was not compensated for my review and all thoughts are my own.

Posted in Book Reviews

Interview and Book Review: Bittersweet by Krista Noorman

262He owns a food truck. She owns a bakery. He walked out on her four years ago without a word. Will his return bring them a second chance or is it a recipe for disaster?

Harper Hensley’s greatest joy is baking. She’s co-owner of a cute little bake shop, creating delicious treats to her heart’s content, and happily dating a successful lawyer. Life seems perfect. Until Logan Riggs, the man who walked out on her without a word four years ago, rolls into town in his new coffee food truck, living the dream they were supposed to share together.

The last thing Logan ever wanted was to leave Harper, but unforeseen circumstances forced him to make that choice. He never meant to hurt her or ruin their plans of starting a food truck. Now he’s back to make things right, hoping to convince her to work with him, and longing for a second chance with the woman he loved from the start.

Coffee and cupcakes belong together. But is the truth about Logan’s disappearing act too much to forgive? Can Harper move past the bitter to get to the sweet?

*****

Second Chance with You is a series written by a group of sweet, clean romance authors connected by the the idea that past loves, broken apart for a myriad of reasons, can be brought back together—some by chance, some by circumstance, some by choice.

Bittersweet is part of the Second Chance with You series. All books in this series are standalone and can be read in any order.

My Thoughts:

If you’ve followed my blog for any amount of time, you would have already been introduced to Krista Noorman. She’s one of my favorite Indie authors, and not just because we’ve become friends, but because she happens to write a particular style of story that I’m quite fond of. I thoroughly enjoy a good friction-filled romance. And once again, Noorman delivers! Here are 3 quick reasons you should give Bittersweet a try:

Cupcakes and Coffee really do go together! If you enjoy those novels that involve your favorite foods and that make you hungry and cozy all at the same time, you’ll feel right at home here!

Friction. Filled. Romance. 🙂 These two really start off with a bang. Logan wants her back, but Harper isn’t ready to forgive him. If you like to witness the sparks, you’ll want to grab this one … and any all the other Noorman novels while you’re at it. 😉

If you like your romance plot to contain unexpected twists and turns, you’re in for a treat! I’ve read a lot. And I’ll be honest, there was one point about a third of the way in where I questioned what in the world she was intending to do with the rest of the pages. LOL I wasn’t questioning for much longer! She truly did fill out every one of those pages and some of those ways, I didn’t see coming!

Disclaimer: I typically review Christian fiction, so I feel better about pointing out that Bittersweet was written for the clean fiction genre. The main difference is that clean fiction doesn’t require a faith element. The characters in this book did allude to Christian beliefs but their faith never became a focal point. One disclaimer to point out is that there is a single use of the phrase, “Go to H…” Otherwise, the language content was clean. And the romance was clean as well. I’d still gladly recommend it but to the right reader. 🙂

I took the chance to interview Krista about her latest release, and I was surprised to learn something new about my friend. Check it out: 

Now let’s talk, cupcakes and coffee, shall we!! In your novel, Harper runs a bake shop. Is this something you’ve ever considered doing?

Not at all. Though I love cute little shops like this and always enjoy their yummy treats, I am not much of a baker.

Likewise, Logan runs a coffee food truck. If you weren’t writing, would you consider opening a coffee shop?

I don’t think I’d ever want to run a coffee shop or food truck. There are a lot of behind-the-scenes logistics, permits, and business stuff that just don’t sound like very much fun. But maybe working in one might be fun to try for a day. 😉

One of my favorite scenes is when Harper had a lot on her mind and kept messing up her cookies. Lol We’ve all been distracted cooks at some point or another. Can you tell us one of your own personal mishaps in the kitchen?

Oh goodness. One time, I made peanut butter cookies and I’m not sure if the baking soda was bad or I put too much in, but it left the nastiest aftertaste ever. I also made homemade biscuits once and they were dry and nasty—pretty much paperweights. My husband has teased me often over the years about both of these little mishaps.

I understand there’s a whole collection of second chance romance novels in the works. Who are the other authors we’ll be hearing from and where can we find them?

The series is called Second Chance with You. There are nine authors, including myself, and the common theme of our novels is a second chance at love. Each is a standalone story, so the series can be read in any order. You can learn more about the books and authors on our Amazon series page here:
https://www.amazon.com/author/secondchancewithyou

Which character did you most relate to? Why?

I think Savannah, Harper’s business partner. She’s kind of the mom figure to Harper, being a little older than her, and her reactions were a lot like mine would’ve been in the situations Harper finds herself in.

Lightning Round:
If you were forced to open a food truck, what would sell?

Can you sell toast in a food truck, because that’s pretty much all I can make. haha! Kidding. I think the coffee food truck idea would be fun. I’d go with that.

Do you watch Food Truck Race or baking challenges on Food Network?

I don’t (we don’t have the Food Network), but when we used to have cable years ago, we watched Cake Boss all the time and the occasional cooking competition show.

Favorite flavor of cupcake?

CHOCOLATE!

Favorite coffee?

Mocha latte, please.

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You can pick up your copy from Amazon today. And it’s on sale this week only! 

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Posted in Book Reviews

Interview and Book Review: Legacy of Mercy by Lynn Austin

372Having returned to Chicago, young socialite Anna Nicholson can’t seem to focus on her upcoming marriage. The new information she’s learned about her birth mother continues to pull at her, and she hires Pinkerton detectives to help her find the truth. But as she meets people who once knew her mother and hears stories about the past, Anna soon discovers that some secrets are better left hidden.

At the same time, unflattering stories about Anna are leaked by someone who would love to see her disgraced and her engagement broken. And as Anna tries to share her faith with her society friends, she understands that her choice to seek God’s purpose for her life isn’t as simple as she had hoped.

When things are at their darkest, Anna knows she can turn to her grandmother, Geesje de Jonge, back in Holland, Michigan. Geesje’s been helping new Dutch immigrants, including a teen with a haunted past, adjust to America. She only hopes that her wisdom can help all these young people through the turmoil they face.

What I Loved: If you’ve read Waves of Mercy, you might have felt like there was more to the story. I’ll be honest with you, I was one of those rare human beings that was actually completely satisfied with the ending as it was. But that doesn’t mean, I wasn’t thrilled to get my hands on the “new ending!” And, boy, was it worth it! This was even better than the first one!
What Austin does so well, is that she brings a historical setting to life with well-developed characters and a rich spiritual message. Legacy of Mercy was a powerful story on dealing with grief and forgiveness. The story picks up right where Waves of Mercy leaves off and brings over the same lessons we were learning in the first novel and re-emphasizes their importance and adds to them in a beautiful way. I’ve read some continuations that felt like an extended epilogue but this was not that sort of novel at all! It was a fantastic ride that didn’t end until the very last chapter.

Rating and Recommendations: I give Legacy of Mercy 5 full stars and recommend it to those who enjoy historical Christian fiction. While it’s possible to read the books out of order and understand them, you’d appreciate Legacy of Mercy more if you read them in order.

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

 

It’s always a treat to hear from the author and to listen in as they describe the details of their novel in their own words. Please, enjoy this interview:

1. Legacy of Mercy will be released on October 2 and will be the first sequel you’ve ever written. What made you decide to write a sequel?

My readers decided for me! I received many, many letters from them asking if there would be a sequel to “Waves of Mercy.” The main character, Anna, is only in her twenties and is a new Christian, so when she decides to return to Chicago and marry her fiancé at the end of the book, readers wanted to know what happens next in her life. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to explore what happens next for Anna, too. She has just discovered who her birth mother is, so naturally she’ll want to learn more about her. She’ll also want to solve the mystery of who her real father is and what became of him. What if he is still alive? Lots of material for a story here, especially when the other people in Anna’s life try to discourage her investigations.

2. This story is set in your hometown of Holland, MI. Did you discover anything surprising while you were researching these books?

I knew very little about the early history of Holland, Michigan when I began this series—only that it was settled by Dutch immigrants. What surprised me was how much they suffered to establish a settlement here, including religious persecution, a malaria plague, and a devastating fire. Their enduring faith in spite of all their many trials was a huge inspiration to me.

3. The city of Holland must have seen an increase in tourism since you started writing about it. You even did a bus tour, tell us about it.

The book seems to have sparked a renewed interest in local history. The Holland tourist bureau told me they’ve guided several happy tourists to the places described in my book. And I was very pleasantly surprised by the interest in my “Waves of Mercy” bus tour! When I offered to guide interested readers to some of the settings from my book, I never imagined there would be enough interest to fill two chartered busses! There may even be another tour after “Legacy of Mercy” releases.

4. You are known for writing multi-generational books and Legacy of Mercy is no exception. What intrigues you about writing in this style?

I enjoy creating women’s personalities from various eras and exploring how the roles and opportunities changed for women from generation to generation. I find it very interesting to see how the choices one generation makes has an influence on each generation after them. It causes me to be more thoughtful in the way I live, knowing that my children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren may be impacted by my life.

5. Which character in Legacy of Mercy do you identify with the most and why?

I would have to say I identify the most with Geesje DeJonge. For one thing, she is about the same age as I am, and has lived long enough to be able to look back through the years and analyze them. She is in a position to see all of the ways and times when God carried her through—something we usually only see in hindsight, not when we’re going through the difficulties. I’m at the same stage in my life, and I can see God’s faithfulness to me in spite of the many times I questioned His wisdom.

6. When you sit down to write a story, do you know how it is going to end? Describe your writing process. How do you stay disciplined and not get distracted?

I never know how a story will end when I start writing. I rarely even know what comes next when I’m writing a chapter! I begin with the historical setting, and as I’m doing my research, my characters usually begin to take shape in my mind. I flesh them out by developing resumes for them so that they become real people in my mind, with backgrounds and personalities. Then I figure out where to begin the novel and simply make up the plot as I go along. If I’m surprised then the reader will be surprised.

My deadline keeps me disciplined. I know that if I write a certain number of pages a day, I’ll finish the book on time. I also know how very hard it is to write well when I’m behind schedule and a deadline is looming. Wanting to avoid that last minute panic keeps me disciplined on a daily basis.

As for distractions—there are so many! Over the years, I’ve had to learn when to put the book aside and enjoy a pleasant distraction (an old friend who has come to town, an afternoon with my husband), and when there’s no value in the distraction and it will only make the writing process harder.

7. Did anything surprise you about the Legacy of Mercy story?

Yes. One of the main characters ends up in an impossible situation, which put me in an impossible situation as I tried to figure out what to do! But I just kept writing and the dilemma untangled in a very natural but surprising way. (You’ll see when you read it!)

Also, the ending surprised me—a lot! I hope that all of my readers who asked for a sequel are pleased with it.

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Backlist Titles August and September

I’ve been enjoying some of the books on my backlist this year. Here are the two novels that I’ve read during August and September.
*Both links will take you to Goodreads.

7

Tired of pining for handsome sheriff Ward Gleason, seamstress Hazel Andrews plans to head East for a fresh start—until Ward finds an abandoned child. Hazel can’t turn down his request that she watch the little girl while he investigates a spate of crimes. But spending time with Ward is sending local gossips—and Hazel’s heart—into turmoil. 

Nothing in Ward’s world is the same since he took charge of orphaned Meg…and that includes his growing feelings for Hazel. A fake engagement will allow them to care for the child together until Hazel moves away and finds someone more worthy. But with little Meg convinced she’s already found her forever family, can Ward and Hazel dare to make her dreams come true, along with their own?

Tailor-Made Husband

My Review: This was an enjoyable read. Romantic. Sweet. With an interesting mystery to keep your mind engaged. This is perfect for those looking for a light western.
I’m giving it 4.5 stars.

93Grace McCaffery hopes that the bustling streets of New York hold all the promise that the lush hills of Ireland did not. As her efforts to earn enough money to bring her mother to America fail, she wonders if her new Brownie camera could be the answer. But a casual stroll through a beautiful New York City park turns into a hostile run-in with local gangsters, who are convinced her camera holds the first and only photos of their elusive leader. A policeman with a personal commitment to help those less fortunate finds Grace attractive and longs to help her, but Grace believes such men cannot be trusted. Spread thin between her quest to rescue her mother, do well in a new nanny job, and avoid the gang intent on intimidating her. Grace must put her faith in unlikely sources to learn the true meaning of courage and forgiveness.

 Grace’s Pictures

My Review: I waited so long to finally get to this one and I enjoyed it. There was natural setting, one that didn’t make you feel like were visiting a fictional world but a real one. While there were areas where I felt that the main characters were inconsistent, the spiritual threads of redemption, trusting God, and finding your worth in Christ really shined here.
I’m giving it 4 stars.

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: A Tale of Two Hearts by Michelle Griep

280Book 2 in Reader Favorite Michelle Griep’s Charming Once Upon a Dickens Christmas Series

London, 1853: Innkeeper’s daughter Mina Scott will do anything to escape the drudgery of her life, for there’s nothing more mundane than serving customers day after day. Every minute she can, she reads and dreams of someday becoming a real lady—and catch the eye of William Barlow, a frequent guest at the inn.

William is a gentleman’s son, a charming but penniless rogue. However, his bachelor uncle will soon name an heir—either him or his scheming cousin. In an effort to secure the inheritance, William gives his uncle the impression he’s married, which works until he’s invited to bring his wife for a visit.

William asks Mina to be his pretend bride, only until his uncle names an heir on Christmas Day. Mina is flattered and frustrated by the offer, for she wants a true relationship with William. Yet, she agrees. . .then wishes she hadn’t. So does William. Deceiving the old man breaks both their hearts. When the truth is finally discovered, more than just money is lost.

Can two hearts survive such deception?

My Thoughts: Are you looking for a solid dose of Christmas cheer? You’ll find it right here in A Tale of Two Hearts. From the moment the book begins, I felt like I stepped into a Victorian Christmas setting. It was cozy, warm, inviting, and I always enjoy the historical facts that Griep weaves into her Christmas stories. While I did feel like there were characters who needed more depth, I greatly appreciated the lovely example Griep gives us of Christ wiping away our sins and forgiving our debts.

Rating and Recommendation: I recommend this to those looking for a Christian Historical or Christmas novel. I’m giving it 4 stars.

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

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: The Heart Between Us by Lindsay Harrel

331

Lindsay Harrel presents a powerful story of healing, adventure, and learning how to live life to the fullest.

Megan Jacobs always wished for a different heart. Her entire childhood was spent in and out of hospitals, sitting on the sidelines while her twin sister Crystal played all the sports, got all the guys, and had all the fun. But even a heart transplant three years ago wasn’t enough to propel Megan’s life forward. She’s still working as a library aide in her small Minnesota hometown and living with her parents, dreaming of the adventure she plans to take “once she’s well enough.” Meanwhile, her sister is a successful architect with a handsome husband and the perfect life—or so Megan thinks.

When her heart donor’s parents give Megan their teenage daughter’s journal—complete with an unfulfilled bucket list—Megan connects with the girl she meets between the pages and is inspired to venture out and check off each item. Caleb—a friend from her years in and out of the hospital—reenters her life and pushes her to find the courage to take the leap and begin her journey. She’s thrown for a loop when Crystal offers to join her for reasons of her own, but she welcomes the company and the opportunity to mend their tenuous relationship.

As Megan and Crystal check items off the bucket list, Megan fights the fears that have been instilled in her after a lifetime of illness. She must choose between safety and adventure and learn to embrace the heart she’s been given so that she can finally share it with the people she loves most.

What I Loved: This was an adventure from page to page! But more than an adventure, it was a story with real heart. I loved watching Megan and Crystal evolve and their relationship deepen as the story unfolded. I also enjoyed witnessing their own personal love stories as well.
Harrel did an amazing job describing the various countries. There was enough info to feel as if you have left the states, but not too much that it slowed the story down. And there were so many tidbits sprinkled throughout, that I couldn’t help wondering if Harrel had been on this trip herself.
Aside from all the traveling and romance, there was a solid story centered around some very important themes. Turning to Christ, letting go of a painful past, learning not to worry, and forgiveness was among the spiritual highlights.

Rating and Recommendations: I happily give The Heart Between Us 5 stars and recommend it to Contemporary Christian fans or for those looking for a good vacation read.

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