Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Freedom’s Price by Christine Johnson

149When Englishwoman Catherine Haynes loses both her parents and her home in 1856, she decides to cross the Atlantic to find her American mother’s family in Louisiana. She enlists the help of Tom Worthington, a dashing Key West man who makes his living salvaging wrecked ships, but whose real goal in life is to bring to justice the man who stole his father’s ship and caused his untimely death.

When Catherine finally arrives at her family’s plantation, she finds it in disarray and her family absent landowners. Torn between returning to Key West with Tom or beginning the hard work of restoring the plantation, Catherine soon finds herself snared in a plot to steal her inheritance. When an incredible secret comes to light, both she and Tom will face a choice. Can they relinquish the dreams that have been holding them captive in order to step forward in faith–even if it costs them everything?

My Thoughts: There is much to praise here in Johnson’s latest release. It’s an intriguing story from the very start and one that I could hardly put down. As the mystery unfolds, the suspense increases. For me, the only drawback were the characters. While I liked and sympathized with them both, they never felt very consistent to me and they often swung from being too naive to being too astute. But even this couldn’t keep me from turning pages long after I should have been asleep. Freedom’s Price was an exciting conclusion to the Keys of Promise series. I look forward to more Christine Johnson in the future.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving Freedom’s Price 4 stars and highly recommending it to those who enjoy Christian Historical fiction or a light Christian mystery/ suspense.

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

Posted in Book Reviews

Summer Reading: Recommendations and Wish List

Hello, fellow Christian Fiction fans!! I’m bringing you 12 books today for your summer reading list.

My Summer Wish List: Here are 6 books that are releasing THIS summer. I’m hoping to read and review each of them.

Fly Away by Lynn Austin Does this title sound familiar? It should. It was one of her first books and she’s re-releasing it this summer!! It’s been cleaned up and revised. I haven’t read it already so I’m looking forward to digging in.

Freedom’s Price by Christine Johnson I was greatly impressed with Johnson’s release last summer and have been looking forward to another visit to the historic Key West.

Seven Brides for Seven Mail-Order Grooms  I enjoy a good mail-order bride story, and I love the concept behind this novella set. Sounds like an enjoyable summer read to me!

A Name Unknown by Roseanna White  Who couldn’t use an intriguing story this summer? The cover alone begs you to pick it up!

On Love’s Gentle Shore by Liz Johnson I’ve enjoyed Johnson’s Prince Edward Island series and have been anticipating my next “trip” to the island this summer!

High as the Heavens by Kate Breslin  If you’ve followed my reading habits for very long, you likely picked up on the fact that I enjoy a good war fiction novel. The cover alone screams “Pick me up!!” and the description promises a great adventure.

My Recommendation List: Here are 6 books that have released earlier this year. You’ll find reviews for all of them here on the blog, but suffice it to say that I loved them. If you haven’t picked them up yet then it’s time! Past time, in fact. 😉

Life After by Katie Ganshert  This gripping contemporary novel has become a highlight of my reading year. There’s such a depth to the characters that it’s mesmerizing. It may sound a little deep for a summer read, but I have a feeling you won’t regret making time for this one.

The One True Love of Alice-Ann by Eva Marie Everson My favorite take on war fiction is from the homefront. There was something cozy and delightful about this entire novel. It’ll make a great summer read!

The Message in a Bottle Romance Collection  If you like romance, adventure, short stories, and a water setting, you’re in for a treat here!

My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho by Susanne Dietze  If you’re looking for a comedy, then look no further. I laughed all the way through this one and read it in two days.

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen  It’s the start of a new Regency series and it’s bound to keep you entertained this summer.

When Tides Turn by Sarah Sundin  This is another war fiction novel. Sundin concluded the Waves of Freedom series earlier this year. I recommend you start at the beginning of this series and enjoy all the romance, struggle, and mysteries it has to offer.

Now it’s your turn!! What do you have in your summer bag? Do we have any books in common this summer? Or any that I’ve talked you into adding to your TBR list? 

 

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Seven Brides for Seven Mail-order Husbands Romance Collection

147Seven women seek husbands to help them rebuild a Kansas town.

Meet seven of Turtle Springs, Kansas’, finest women who are determined to revive their small town after the War Between the States took most of its men. . .and didn’t return them. The ladies decide to advertise for husbands and devise a plan for weeding out the riff raff. But how can they make the best practical choices when their hearts cry out to be loved?

Abigail’s Proposal by Cynthia Hickey
When her father never returned from the war, Abigail Melton stepped into his role as town mayor. The town needs men, and she needs a husband—and she has a big idea how to find both—but her first duty is to hire a sheriff. And drifter Josiah Ingram will do just fine.

The Kidnapped Groom by Susan Page Davis
Riding through the Flint Hills on his way to Dodge City, cowboy Sam Cayford finds himself the kidnapping victim of two children. When he meets their lovely mother, Maggie Piner—whom the kids insist he should marry—Sam starts to question God’s plans versus his own.

A Clean Slate by Susanne Dietze
Schoolmarm Roberta “Birdy” Green won’t marry any of the prospective grooms flocking to town. After losing her fiancé in the war, the only love her broken heart can bear is for her students. But then she takes on a new pupil—Drew Cooper, one of the gentlemen drawn to Kansas by the advertisement for grooms.

Sunshine of My Heart by Darlene Franklin
Debbie Barker longs to bring beauty to her new home on the prairie, where her family moved after the war, and seeks a husband to help her father run the ranch. Zack Gage returned home from the war to a life in ruins—family dead and business bankrupted. He answers the mail-order husband ad to seek a fresh start. But neither Debbie nor Zeke know what they are doing when it comes to ranching. . .or love.

Come What May by Patty Smith Hall
Chardy Stevens is at the end of her rope. Between running her late father’s store and tending to her four younger brothers, she barely has time to breathe, much less look for a husband to help her. The boys scare off most of her prospects and throw Chardy together with her childhood friend Luke, a disabled veteran who seeks her happiness above his own.

Dime Novel Suitor by Carrie Fancett Pagels
Widow Caroline Kane is the proprietor of a restaurant and inn—and responsible for her five teenaged siblings. But she has no plans of finding a mail-order groom. Britisher Barden Granville IV is on a “cowboy holiday” when he finds himself flat broke in Kansas.  When he answers an old “help wanted” ad, Caroline misconstrues Barden is there as a potential husband. Will the beautiful and fiesty widow cause the new vicar to make Kansas his home?

Louder than Words by Gina Welborn
After years of writing abolitionist pamphlets and chronicling soldier life during the war, J.R. Lockhart is bored and jumps at the opportunity to investigate an advertisement for husbands for an article in Godey’s Lady’s Book. Jane Ransome would like to help the charming-but-oblivious-to-life-out-West man chronicle the courtships developing in town, but she has her own husband to find—one who will fit perfectly in her picket-fenced Kansas home.

My Thoughts: I was smitten with this collection from the moment I had first heard about it. The concept behind it was well thought out. You can tell the authors collaborated together because the entire collection took place in the same town, over the same time frame, and the characters crossed over in each of the stories. And they did a really great job with this.
The problem we often see with novellas is that they tend to lack the depth that we usually find in a full-sized novel. This was no exception. In some way or another, each of the stories lacked tension or depth of character. But at the end of the day, this was an entertaining read. It’s a lighthearted collection with a solid spiritual message attached to each one of the stories. And each of the stories was set in a charming town with equally charming couples.

 

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving it 4 stars and recommending it to those who enjoy Christian novellas.

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

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: The Bracelet by Dorothy Love

148“There are no secrets that time does not reveal.” 

Savannah, Georgia – 1858

Celia Browning dreams of the day when her childhood sweetheart Sutton Mackay comes home to Savannah after two years in Jamaica managing his family’s shipping interests. Sutton has all but proposed, and their marriage will unite two of the city’s most prominent families. But just as Sutton returns, a newspaper reporter arrives in town, determined to pry into twin tragedies that took place at the Browning mansion on Madison Square when Celia was a child.
While the journalist pursues his story, someone is trying to frighten Celia. When she receives a series of anonymous notes, and a bracelet imbued with a chilling message, Celia realizes that her family’s past has the power to destroy her future.
As the clouds of war gather over Savannah, and her beloved father’s health worsens, Celia determines to uncover the truth about what really happened all those years ago.
Inspired by actual events in one of Savannah’s most prominent 19th-century families, The Bracelet is the story of a young southern woman whose dreams fracture under the weight of her family’s tragic past.

What I Loved: I enjoyed everything about this novel. It was historically rich and the setting really came to life. The suspense was just right for someone like myself who likes the thrill but scares easily. The mystery kept my mind working. I was intrigued from page 1 and she kept my attention until the very end. Love had outdone herself with this one.
I started off listening to the audio version, which I can also recommend. It was a treat to hear the deep southern accents. I believe the narrator nailed her interpretation of the characters. And it wasn’t long before I had to pick up the ebook version so I could continue reading even when I couldn’t listen.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving it 5 stars and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys Christian Historical or Christian mystery.

Posted in About the Book

Announcing the Release Date for Out of the Ashes+Book Trailer+Pre-order Link

If you’ve been following me on Facebook, you might have caught the big news that I had FINALLY moved on from line-edits and was able to set the release date. Here’s a glimpse at the big moment:
But praise God, I’m done with this round!!! The final words in my acknowledgments (also the final words in the entire novel) sum up my feelings nicely. Take a look:
But most importantly, I want to thank my Lord. From the beginning to the end, You were there. In the midst of the planning stages, when all of my best-laid plans were shoved aside and Yours were ushered in. When writing came easy and when writing was painful. On the mountaintops of reader’s praise and down in the valleys of criticism. I couldn’t have walked this path alone, and I’m forever grateful that I don’t have to. I pray that my work and my attitude along the way has brought You glory, for this is why I’m here.

So what’s next for the novel in progress? Formatting! You can catch all my current woes and a Superman/Batman conversation on Facebook. While I wrestle with the paperback format, I have one final team of proofreaders combing the novel for lingering typos.
While we finish up, you can pre-order your ebook copy from Amazon and enjoy the book trailer. You’ll find the release date at the end of the video! 
And a great big thank-you to Amanda Tero for her work on the video. She took my vague idea and found the perfect song, performed it, and then threw the video together. It’s a joy to work with you!!

 

And in case you’ve missed them, enjoy the trailers for books 1 and 2:

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: A Love so True by Melissa Jagears

145Jagears Delivers a Wonderfully Romantic Read with a Hero and Heroine to Cheer For

Evelyn Wisely has a heart for the orphans of Teaville and works at a local mansion that rescues children out of the town’s red-light district and gives them a place to live. But her desire to help isn’t limited to orphans. The owner of the mansion, Nicholas Lowe, is willing to help her try to get the women working in prostitution out of the district as well–if she can gain the cooperation and support of local businessmen to go against the rest of the community.

David Kingsman has recently arrived in Teaville from Kansas City to help with one of his father’s companies in town. While he plans on staying only long enough to prove his business merit to his father, he’s shown interest in Evelyn’s work and is intrigued enough by her to lend his support to her cause.

They begin with the best of intentions, but soon the complications pile up and Evelyn and David’s dreams look more unattainable every day. When the revelation of a long-held secret creates a seemingly insurmountable rift between them, can they trust God still has a good plan for them despite all that is stacked against them?

My Thoughts: I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Teaville (and not just for its name!) and the cast of characters I meet here each time I visit. I’d like to tour this stunning mansion, visit these neighbors, and work alongside these tender-hearted folks. There’s something comforting about settling down into a fictional town. I’ll be sorry to see it end, but I’m looking forward to the next installment all the same.
One of the biggest highlights for me in A Love so True, which was also true of book 1, is the spiritual message. I was always convicted about ways that I might have been too quick to judge someone as I read this novel. Through David and Evelyn’s actions, Jagears, doesn’t excuse sin so much as she shows compassion for those caught up in it as well as practical ways we can love and witness to them.
My one drawback was how the tension lagged a bit in the middle. I still greatly enjoyed the novel. And I commend her for the way she handled a sticky situation toward the end of the novel. The characters were truly inspiring during this phase of the story.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving A Love so True 5 stars and recommending it to anyone who enjoys Christian Historical Fiction.

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

Posted in Book Reviews

GIVEAWAY and Book Review: The Secret Slipper by Amanda Tero

146Being a cripple is only the beginning of Lia’s troubles. It seems as if Bioti’s goal in life is to make Lia as miserable as possible. If Lia’s purpose is to be a slave, then why did God make her a cripple? How can He make something beautiful out of her deformity?

Raoul never questioned the death of his daughter until someone reports her whereabouts. If Ellia is still alive, how has she survived these ten years with her deformity? When Raoul doesn’t know who to trust, can he trust God to keep Ellia safe when evidence reveals Bioti’s dangerous character?

As time brings more hindrances, will Raoul find Ellia, or will she forever be lost to the father she doesn’t even know is searching for her?

What I Loved: I appreciate knowing that when I pick up a Tero story, I’ll find something with a strong Christian message. This young lady has much respect for the gospel and presents it well within her work and The Secret Slipper was no exception.
Tero brings a new and creative take on the classic Cinderella story. She strips it of all magic and, instead of a common romance, it’s a love story between father and daughter. I admire the creativity that went into this novella as well as the series.
The setting comes to life with authentic names. And among the rich setting was a timeless message about God turning the difficult things of life into blessings.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving The Secret Slipper 5 stars and I recommend it to those who enjoy fairy tale retellings and especially to the younger audience. This a series mothers can feel confident about handing to their daughters.

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

Pick up your copy of The Secret Slipper

Giveaway Details: 

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U.S. Giveaway: Enter to win the set of “Befriending the Beast” and “The Secret Slipper”

International Giveaway: Enter to win the eBook set of “Befriending the Beast” and “The Secret Slipper”

Giveaway winners will be announced on Amanda’s blog May 5, 2017.

 

Connect with Amanda

Email: amandaterobooks@gmail.com

Website: http://amandatero.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/amandaterobooks

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/amandateroauthor/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/amandaruthtero/

Blog: http://www.withajoyfulnoise.blogspot.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/AmandaTero

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/amandatero

 

 

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.