Posted in Book Reviews

GIVEAWAY!! Plus Author Interview and Book Review: A Holy Passion by Alicia G. Ruggieri

228“My heart begins its slow crescendo at the news. Mr. Brainerd – my Mr. Brainerd – has come at last.”

After a few scant years of solitary missionary work among the American Indians on the colonial frontier, David Brainerd has been forced off the field once more by his terminal illness. A man who has sacrificed every earthly comfort for the sake of Christ, he takes refuge in the home of Reverend Jonathan Edwards, eminent Great Awakening theologian and pastor… and the father of a young woman named Jerusha. 

Unbeknownst to David, Jerusha Edwards has nurtured an affection for him since she met him long ago. Their renewed acquaintanceship challenges Jerusha to understand the meaning of selfless, Calvary love. Yet does such love demand too great a sacrifice for her to make?

Told with an emphasis on the known facts of Jerusha and David’s relationship as well as his missionary undertakings, this novel carefully embellishes the historical record, weaving a bittersweet tale of romantic, holy devotion.

 

I’ve packed a great deal in this blog post for you. A Holy Passion is a fiction book based on non-fiction events and characters. You’ll find my interview with the author, my review, and a giveaway for a paperback copy. Enjoy! 

My Interview with Alicia G. Ruggieri:

What was your inspiration for A Holy Passion?
My husband, Alex, and I used to live in Rhode Island, and we liked to take weekend jaunts exploring interesting places in New England. One time, a few years ago, we stayed at an old inn that had named its rooms after historical inhabitants of the town in which it was located. Our room was named after a young woman who had been captured by American Indians during a raid. At the time, I mentioned to Alex that I’d like to write a novel about that young woman. Well, I didn’t end up writing about her, but the idea of writing a colonial-era story got stuck in my mind for good. Sometime after that, I remembered a little book on my sister’s bookshelf: The Life and Diary of David Brainerd. I had never read the book, but I’d read a brief history of his life somewhere else and found him admirable. I also remembered that the biographer had mentioned that it was possible that the resolutely-unmarried missionary had entertained a romantic relationship with Jonathan Edwards’ daughter, who cared for him on her deathbed. Well, at that, the wheels of my writerly mind began turning… So that was the start of it!

How much research went into this novel? Did you research before or during the writing process?
As I started this project, I wanted to be sure that I accurately represented the people depicted in it (most of them are real people that we will meet in heaven someday), and so I really tried to delve deeply into both secondary and primary sources. The novel includes a list of some of the sources I used. Though most of the research was book-based, one of the fun parts of the research included traveling to Yale in New Haven and to Northampton, Massachusetts, to see the actual places Brainerd would have seen.
My research for this novel began well before the actual writing started and ended… Has it ended? 🙂 The fun – and sometimes heart-stopping – part of writing historical fiction is that there’s always something new to learn and another side to the story that you can explore.

Are there any books you’d recommend for us to read to learn more about David Brainerd?
If you only read two books on David Brainerd, read his Life and Diary. Alongside it, read David Wynbeek’s Beloved Yankee. Wynbeek’s book will make the Diary come to life for you. It’s out-of-print, but it’s the best and most readable adult biography of Brainerd available, in my opinion.

What was the most surprising thing you learned about these people?
One of the things that surprised me was the legacy that Brainerd left. This man died unmarried and childless; never graduated from seminary; and most of his work on the mission field, with the exception of the Crossweeksung revival, appeared a failure. He spent most of his own spiritual life in deep discouragement, and his body basically fell apart by his late twenties. This doesn’t sound like the kind of man who leaves a great legacy, does it?
Yet, over and over, I found Christians since Brainerd’s death who pointed back to him as their spiritual father, as the one who passed the torch to them, through his honest, God-seeking diary and through his life’s example of incredible endurance, made possible only by dependence moment-by-moment upon the Holy Spirit. Jim Elliot, Hudson Taylor, William Carey, and Henry Martyn are just a few of these who were encouraged as a result of Brainerd’s life and work.

Could you relate to any of them? In what way?
Oh, yes! That’s one of the things that drew me into the story and kept me writing… These “characters” are real – they existed – we can go and visit their graves – and their experience of the Christian life was also real. In Hebrews 12:1, the Bible talks about how we have a great cloud of witnesses, those who have gone before us. We can look at their testimony and know that God’s testimony in His Word is true. We can see how they lived and how they died, and we can pattern our own lives after theirs, as John Wesley, leader of Great Awakening in England, advised that we do.
One of the specific things that really encouraged me was the honest way in which Brainerd describes his lifelong, severe battle with discouragement/depression as a Christian… and the way that he continued to persevere through it. Before I read his diary, I had heard it described as somewhat bleak because of the way Brainerd often wishes (literally) for death to come or continually relates his hopelessness that God will ever use him. That is true; his diary is the account of a man who went through significantly more “demon-possessed valley” experiences, as Oswald Chambers describes them, than mountaintop ones. However, as a result, reading Brainerd’s diary centuries later, I felt a spiritual kinship with and encouragement from this man who pressed on, despite the dark clouds that would not lift, despite the seeming lack of measurable spiritual progress. I find myself now remembering his example when discouragement loom, remembering to take heart, take hope in God, and to press on, not in a fake kind of joy, but in a determined belief that I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13)
Another way that I found I could relate to them was through Jerusha’s struggle to let Brainerd go. How often have we prayed for something before God, all the while with our spiritual hands tightly gripping that thing or person, refusing to let God take it or them and do what His loving will is with them or it? I know that has often been the case with me.

What was the biggest obstacle to writing this novel?
The sheer feeling of inability that often overcame me in the midst of the writing. Above all, I didn’t want to misrepresent these people in any way, and sometimes, especially in the beginning of the writing, I wasn’t sure how to form David’s character. God mercifully led me to write this in first-person, present tense, from Jerusha’s perspective, and seeing David from Jerusha’s eyes helped immensely.

What are you hoping the reader will get out of it? 
Well, the thing that made the greatest impression on me during the writing of this was the message that flames brightly from David’s life – and Jerusha’s – more than 250 years after their deaths: Hold nothing back from Christ. Give up lands, houses, relationships, and ambitions, if they distract in any way from the high calling we have in Christ Jesus. Christ Jesus is worth all of it, and more. In his day, David was unusual, peculiar, because of his total commitment. We are each called to this. We are called to it in a day of innocent indulgences and diversions; we are called to it when sleep is so appealing, yet we know that God wants us to plead before His throne; we are called it when the compromise the world asks of us is so small, so seemingly insignificant.
Growing up, my mom often said in response to a Christian dilemma of what to do or not to do, “Count the cost. The cost is high.” And it is. We would do well to ask ourselves daily, as Brainerd did, “Am I counting the cost?”
So, if nothing else, I hope that readers will be inspired by David and Jerusha’s story of doing just that – counting the cost – that they will be inspired by it to do likewise, to think of their own lives in light of eternity.

Light and Quick Questions:

Do you journal?
Oh, dear, I am such a delinquent journaler! 🙂 Yes, but not consistently. I like to journal my prayers sometimes because I often can express myself better in writing than in speech.

What’s the one thing (besides God and family/friends) that you don’t think you could live without?
Stories, in some form, of course! 🙂

Do you write in the morning or evening?
Usually in the morning, but when I’m on a deadline, I will write any time.

Do you think you would have been a patient nurse like Jerusha?
I think genuine, God-given love makes any of us patient, so I have a feeling that any one of us could have been patient as Jerusha was, if we loved David as she did.

What is one of your favorite old hymns?
Oh, there are so many good ones, but one of my favorites is Charles Wesley’s “Arise, My Soul, Arise.”

 

Here are my thoughts on A Holy Passion: 

What I Loved: A Holy Passion is a fiction novel based on real events and real people. From beginning to end, it’s clear the author spent a great deal of time researching everything from the lifestyle, disease, conflict, and down to her best perception of the characters’ real personalities. Naturally, there are areas where she’d have to fill in the blanks with her imagination, but her imagination felt as real and as plausible as the tidbits of facts that were woven in.
The bulk of the novel is told through the first person, present tense. This is a style that I find harder to wrap my mind around. I knew the story would be worth persevering and I’m grateful that I did. After the first couple of chapters, the present tense became rather natural to me, and I no longer tripped over it.
I found it delightful to meet up with big names and events that have been passed down through Christian circles for the last two centuries. And it was refreshing to get to meet two of these people who I have never heard of before now. The romance is at first relatable and entertaining. It’s not hard to understand Jerusha’s feelings as she anticipates David’s appearance and, later, his attention. But the further the story moves, the deeper and more awe-inspiring the romance becomes. From a historical standpoint, you’ll learn a great deal about tuberculosis, evangelism among the Indians, and some of the conflict surrounding the Great Awakening.
But the highlight of the novel is truly the spiritual content. Alicia brings David’s biggest desire for living a dedicated life of service to Christ and through evangelizing the lost to bear on the reader. It was the type of message, through the type of means, that will weigh on my heart, and help to bring me back to the basics, for a long time to come.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving A Holy Passion 5 stars. I recommend it to those who enjoy Christian Fiction, especially those looking for novels based on real believers. Also for those who enjoy Christian Historical Fiction and those looking for more novels about the 1700s.

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

 

Giveaway Info: 

The author is generously providing a paperback copy to one of my readers. Follow the link to enter the giveaway!

*Continental U.S. residents only due to shipping costs, but an ebook version can be provided for international readers.

*Giveaway ends Sunday night, May 20th. This blog post will be updated on Monday, May 21, 2018 to announce the winner. If a response is needed and the winner doesn’t claim the prize within 7 days, a new winner will be selected.

CONGRATULATIONS: JoAnna Gommensen!! You’re our winner!!
*Expect an email from either me or Alicia.  

 

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Posted in Book Reviews

How to Use Social Media to Help Your Favorite Author

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I’ve recently found myself in Amazon’s Reviewer Jail, and I’ve learned that I’m not alone in here. This “jail cell” is getting rather crowded. I’m not about to tell you that honest reviews are no longer valid or that we authors don’t care about them or don’t need them. That just isn’t true. But what I do want to focus on are the various ways you can share the work of your favorite author, or the enjoyable novel you’ve been reading, without sharing a review. I hope this list gives you new and easy ways to get active. And for my fellow cellmates, I hope it brings you a new area to focus on now that Amazon has taken away your ability to review on their site.

First of all, for many authors, Amazon is not the only place where you can leave your honest review. Traditionally published novels will also sell on sites such as Christianbook.com and Barnes and Noble. For the self-published author, you’d have to ask since many, myself included, are published solely through Amazon. However, no matter which publisher your favorite author works with, you can always leave your honest review on Goodreads.com. Membership here is free, and you’ll find many book-loving people to share your thoughts with there.

If you blog, you can share your review link on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook. Since Facebook allows limitless wordcounts in a single post non-bloggers can leave their full review on their wall as well as several book-focused groups within the site.

But I promised you some non-review related things, so here we go . . .

Recommendations:
Honest to goodness, personal word of mouth will go a long way. That doesn’t mean you mindlessly recommend every book. You want to be personal about it. Be sincere. Be authentic. Here are some ways to do that:
1) Post the book’s link on your wall and tag a friend who you think will be perfect for that book. Be sure to let them know why you think they’re a good fit. If you or your friend are the shy type, you could always private message the link and info.
2) There are several book-loving groups on Facebook. Readers in these groups are often looking for something new to read. It’s only a matter of time before someone is looking for something you’ve already read and can recommend.
*If you’re a Christian Fiction reader on Facebook, Avid Readers of Christian Fiction would be a great place to start.  Another happening group is Celebrate Lit Community Forum.
3) Recommend your favorite new read to your book club.
4) Request your favorite author’s books at your public and/or church library.
5) Goodreads has a super easy way to recommend a book with a single click to your Goodreads friends. If you’re a member, be sure to use this feature.
6) Don’t forget, Goodreads also has many groups, most of which are divided into genres. There are lots of ways to share your favorite books there.

Share:
1) One of an author’s main promos is running a sale or freebie offer. When you hear of the sale, be sure to share it! This helps your fellow book friends and your favorite authors. Don’t be afraid to tag or private message your friend when you know that particular book is a great fit for them.
2) And again, don’t forget your book-lovers groups. Several groups allow sale/freebie links.
3) When you find your favorite author offering a giveaway, don’t be stingy. Share the giveaway link on your wall!! Tag a friend. Don’t leave it just on your wall, but share it with your favorite readers’ group as well.
4) Another major promo for an author is a Facebook party or live chat. You’ll be doing them a great favor by inviting interested friends to their party and sharing their party link on your wall. *Again, don’t annoy your friends by inviting them to a party they won’t enjoy. Only invite those who you truly think will be interested.

Novel Quotes:
Probably second to the recommendation of a trusted friend is hooking a potential reader with a quote from the novel. Here are a few ways to do that:
1) Many readers share the first line of the novels they read. Maybe that could be your new first step when you start a book is to share the first line with your friends on Facebook, or Twitter if the line is short enough.
2) Personally, I’m a big fan of the last line of the first chapter. You could shake things up a bit by sharing that line instead. Or share both on separate days.
3) I’ve seen a group of bloggers posting the first line of a novel. They call it First Line Fridays. You might consider hopping on board with them or starting your own ring of bloggers.
4) Share one of your favorite lines after you’ve finished the book. Share on your wall or at the end of your review.
*Just be sure not to share any spoilers!!
5) Many authors put together their own graphics with favored lines from the novel. When you see one, share it! Or if you’re crafty, put one together yourself and share it with the author. You can also pin these graphics on Pinterest.

Personal Novel Pics:
There is nothing more recognizable than the book’s cover. So show off the book you’re reading. You can take the picture of the physical copy or your e-reader with the cover on the screen. Here are a few ideas, but the possibilities are endless.
1) Selfie with the book
2) Take a pic at your child’s practice
3) While reading on your lunch break
4) Outside on a sunny day
5) Inside on a rainy day
6) Sitting on the sofa beside your comfy blanket
7) On the table beside your cup of tea or coffee
8) Your stack of TBR books
I’ll stop there but suffice it to say that readers LOVE to see pictures of books. I promise, they’ll enjoy your pics no matter where you take them. You could take a new pic with each book or make a habit by taking a pic of what you’re reading once a week.

Give it Away:
You can’t beat sharing a book by giving it away!
1) Buy a copy as a gift for a friend who would enjoy it.
2) Donate your copy to your public or church library.
3) Host a giveaway on your blog or social site.
* Just remember that you are NOT allowed to give away Advanced Reader Copies. How do you know if your copy is an ARC? If you received a copy BEFORE the book was released whether through the publisher, author, or some other review program: You most likely have an ARC. They are trusting you NOT to share this copy and to leave an honest review wherever you review books. When in doubt, just ask!

Book Awards and Games:
Here are some other fun and simple ways to share your favorite author’s work.
1) Nominate or vote for the novel on a Goodreads list. These lists get a LOT of traffic. Being visible here could mean a lot to your favorite author, even if they don’t get the highest number of votes. Again, don’t vote willy-nilly. There are so many variations of lists, so it shouldn’t be hard to find an honest fit for your favorite novel.
2) At the end of the year, month, or season, share your top reads with your friends. You can post this on your blog or on your favorite social media site. Be sure to let the author know that you selected them as a favorite. They’ll appreciate it, I promise.
3) Cover games. Again, the most recognizable aspect of a book is the cover. Playing a little game with the cover would give exposure and have fun with your friends at the same time. Maybe pit two covers against each other to see which is the favorite. Or cover up the cover photo and leave one small spot visible and see which of your friends could guess the cover first.

Send a Note:
Okay, so this last suggestion doesn’t spread the word about the novel, but it does spread the love. Consider sending the author a note. You never know what that might mean to them. God may just use you and your humble message to encourage them during a hard week.

I’d love to hear from you! Do you have any suggestions that I didn’t include?

 

 

Posted in Book Reviews, Fiction Friday

Spring Review Update

I can’t believe how fast the months are zipping by!! When I set out at the beginning of the year, I had purposed to squeeze in more books from my backlist. As it turns out, I’m falling behind. Between all the great new releases to keep up with and the extra writing time, I’m having a harder time working in 2 novels from my backlist. I’ve decided that I want to continue with the Backlist Review posts but I’ll be grouping 2 or 3 months together. But the good news is that the more time I spend writing, the books I can add to your TBR list. 😉 So here’s a quick look what I’m working on and some of the books on my lists.

Here is just a sampling of the New Releases that I’m looking forward to getting my hands on. Are any of these on your wishlist as well?

 

And here’s a small sampling of the books on my Backlist. Have you read any of these yet, or are they sitting on your TBR pile still?

 

And here’s a small peek into what I’m working on. Aside from these 4 known drafts, I’m also working on 4 new drafts as well. But I’m not releasing any info on those just yet so stay tuned to hear the latest. You’ll hear the news first on Facebook.

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: First Impressions by Debra White Smith

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First Impressions: A Contemporary Retelling of Pride and Prejudice

Lawyer Eddi Boswick tries out for a production of Pride and Prejudice in her small Texas town. When she’s cast as the lead, Elizabeth Bennet, her romantic co-star is none other than the town’s most eligible–and arrogant–bachelor.

My Thoughts: It was interesting to see how the story could have played out in the 21st century. And I really enjoyed the angle Smith brings to the story by having them act out the Pride and Prejudice play. There were some elements of the original story that I felt like were very creatively translated into the new story. But I also felt like there were some elements that were either forced or flat out uncomfortable. For me, one of the more disappointing areas were the characters’ view of marriage. I know in the original, Mr. Bennet has a great deal of disdain for his silly wife. But for me, to have Mr. Boswick have such open and unrepented disdain for his wife while claiming that the only reason he isn’t divorced is because he’s a Christian had me feeling like a Christian’s responsibility in marriage was misrepresented.
First Impressions was a solid retelling of Pride and Prejudice. It was a light, entertaining read whether you’ve read Austen’s famous novel or not.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving First Impressions 4 stars and recommend it to Contemporary Fiction fans or those who enjoy Austen retellings.

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

 

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: No One Ever Asked by Katie Ganshert

204Challenging perceptions of discrimination and prejudice, this emotionally resonant drama for readers of Lisa Wingate and Jodi Picoult explores three different women navigating challenges in a changing school district–and in their lives.

When an impoverished school district loses its accreditation and the affluent community of Crystal Ridge has no choice but to open their school doors, the lives of three very different women converge: Camille Gray–the wife of an executive, mother of three, long-standing PTA chairwoman and champion fundraiser–faced with a shocking discovery that threatens to tear her picture-perfect world apart at the seams. Jen Covington, the career nurse whose long, painful journey to motherhood finally resulted in adoption but she is struggling with a happily-ever-after so much harder than she anticipated. Twenty-two-year-old Anaya Jones–the first woman in her family to graduate college and a brand new teacher at Crystal Ridge’s top elementary school, unprepared for the powder-keg situation she’s stepped into. Tensions rise within and without, culminating in an unforeseen event that impacts them all. This story explores the implicit biases impacting American society, and asks the ultimate question: What does it mean to be human? Why are we so quick to put labels on each other and categorize people as “this” or “that”, when such complexity exists in each person?

What I Loved: From page one, you’re pulled into this real-to-life story. Everything from the situations to the characters to Ganshert’s writing style came across as real. It’s almost hard to explain. But there’s something about her writing style that makes you feel like you’re coming home. It’s relatable. And there’s such a natural atmosphere on the page that is both enchanting and consuming.
I don’t believe this is a novel that you can pick up and read in one sitting. Or at least it wasn’t for me. It was something more solemn. Something that deserved more time and contemplation as you read. Oh, it’s entertaining to be sure. But it’s not the sort of fast-paced entertainment that leaves you feeling light and airy. It’s the kind that sticks to your ribs and changes you from the inside.
Ganshert has done an amazing job and I think this will be a lasting favorite for me.

Rating and Recommendation: I highly recommend it to those who enjoy Christian Contemporary Fiction or those who are looking for fiction that deals with real-life issues. I’m giving it 5 stars.

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

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: A Refuge Assured by Jocelyn Green

200Lacemaker Vivienne Rivard never imagined her craft could threaten her life. Yet in revolutionary France, it is a death sentence when the nobility, and those associated with them, are forced to the guillotine. Vivienne flees to Philadelphia but finds the same dangers lurking in the French Quarter, as revolutionary sympathizers threaten the life of a young boy left in her care, who some suspect to be the Dauphin. Can the French settlement, Azilum, offer permanent refuge?

Militiaman Liam Delaney proudly served in the American Revolution, but now that the new government has imposed an oppressive tax that impacts his family, he barely recognizes the democracy he fought for. He wants only to cultivate the land of his hard-won farm near Azilum, but soon finds himself drawn into the escalating tension of the Whiskey Rebellion. When he meets a beautiful young Frenchwoman recently arrived from Paris, they will be drawn together in surprising ways to fight for the peace and safety for which they long.

What I Loved: From the very first chapter, I recalled just why I love Green’s writing so much. She has a way of bringing history, romance, action, and God’s truth together in one enthralling package. A Refuge Assured was a ride from start to finish. The pages kept turning with tension lurking around every corner.
I appreciate how she brings the harsh realities of life to bear on the characters without discrimination. For more sensitive readers, they would like to know that Green has a bit more of a graphic nature. A Refuge Assured deals with some difficult violence in the first few chapters but things mellow out into a more comfortable level. Don’t mistake me, I wouldn’t say it was outside of Christian Fiction bounds, but, for those who are uncomfortable with violence, especially those who are unfamiliar with the realities of the French Revolution, some of those scenes may come as a shock to you. I wouldn’t say Green glorified in the violence but she did bring the reality of it to the reader’s attention.
The spiritual aspect was on the lighter side and only really came into focus at the end of the novel. However, the characters often sought God throughout their trials.
The romance was endearing. But I’d say it was the history that really took center stage. I’m fairly new to the French Revolution so there were new details to learn here. From the start, I felt like I was able to view history through the eyes of someone who walked through it, and that’s what Historical Fiction should do for the reader. One of the rare aspects of the French Revolution was how it colored things here in America. I found this very interesting and learned a great deal about my early country.

Rating and Recommendation: I highly recommend it for those who enjoy general Historical Fiction, fiction featuring the French Revolution or Post American Revolution, and for the Christian Historical Fiction fan. I’m giving it 5 stars.

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

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Beneath a Prairie Moon by Kim Vogel Sawyer

225Readers rabid for the sweet historical romances of Tracie Peterson and Tamara Alexander will flock to best-selling author Kim Vogel Sawyer’s prairie-set heartwarmer of high society cast-off and the western town that welcomes her.

Abigail Brantley grew up in affluence and knows exactly how to behave in high society. But when she is cast from the social registers due to her father’s illegal dealings, she finds herself forced into a role she never imagined: tutoring rough Kansas ranchers in the subjects of manners and morals so they can “marry up” with their mail-order brides. Mack Cleveland, whose father was swindled by a mail-order bride, wants no part of the scheme to bring Eastern women to Spiveyville, Kansas, and he’s put off by the snooty airs and fastidious behavior of the “little city gal” in their midst. But as time goes by, his heart goes out to the teacher who tries so diligently to smooth the rough edges from the down-to-earth men. How can he teach her that perfection won’t bring happiness?

My Thoughts: This is a classic romantic/prairie/mail-order bride sort of story. It was endearing. There were some humorous mail-order bride mix-ups. There was also an unexpected threat toward the end that I thought really shook things up in a good way.
I felt like Sawyer offered a very solid view of marriage and she carried that theme all throughout the novel. I enjoyed the rustic prairie town feel and the characters were inviting. Sadly, the story lagged a bit for me at times. There was a couple point of view characters that didn’t seem to serve a purpose until the last quarter of the novel. I was deeply invested in Abigail and Mack and couldn’t wait to get back to them each time the focus shifted. I did really appreciate the way Helen, Bill, and Mack leaned on God at every point, and the way Abigail grew in her faith. They served as good examples for the reader.

Rating and Recommendation: I think this will be a delightful read for those who enjoy a mail-order bride or prairie story. I’m giving it 4 stars.

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

Posted in About the Book

Announcing: If Only it were Yesterday’s Release Date by A.M. Heath

Liz's Date

My team and I are hard at work, and it’s time to finally set the date!! If you enjoy Christian fiction, especially Historical Christian Fiction, then you’re going to want to look for Liz’s story on September 4th. This fun-loving novel grew out of my own avid-reader journey, and it’s something that I hope will touch the heart of fellow readers. Here’s the official blurb: 

Liz Cooke has two problems in life: Her social media is filled with brewing political conflict and her idea of a perfect man seems to have gone extinct a century ago. Inspired by the contents of an antique trunk, Liz dreams she time-travels to 1885. As she sets out to enjoy the Victorian era in all its glory, armed with knowledge gleaned through historical novels and period dramas, will she find the past to be all that she thought? And does the right man for her exist only in her dreams or has he been in her life all along?

Loosely inspired by Alice in Wonderland, A.M. Heath brings you a fun read chock-full of humor and whimsy with a special message for the avid reader in all of us.

If you’re looking forward to picking up a copy, please add it to your Goodreads TBR list! 
*And feel free to snag any graphic on this page to share with your closest reading buddy!! 

Liz Quote with date

 

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Reviews: March’s Backlist Review: 1 Large Novella Set

I’ve been enjoying the backlist titles I’ve found time for so far this year. And I hope you’re enjoying the collective review posts. Normally, the reviews are short and sweet but with a large novella collection, that just isn’t possible. And this time, I only had time for 1 backlist title. I hope to tackle a few more in time for next month’s post. 
*All links lead to Goodreads. 

185The Lassoed by Marriage Romance Collection:
Come along on a romantic journey jam-packed with all the angst of marriages founded upon practical choices as well as coercion. Meet nine couples who barely know each other before they find themselves suddenly married—to please family, to stem the tide of gossip, to save the land—and joined for life. But can love grow when duty comes before romance? 

There’s something endearing about an arranged marriage…or an unexpected marriage. I enjoy watching the characters fall in love slowly and tenderly versus the normal fashion found in your typical novel. So this collection was a must-read for me.

The Substitute Bride by Angela Bell: Elliot finds himself married to the wrong sister . . . or was she the right one for him all along?
I absolutely loved this one!!! Hands down one of my favorite novellas to date. I sympathized with Gwyn and Elliot. I thought they worked well together. And I just flat-out loved it.

Bridal Whispers by Angela Brieidenbach: Gossip sends a recent widow into matrimony with his deceased wife’s cousin. Can they develop a real marriage?
This was another smashing hit for me. The characters were well developed and the story flowed nicely. I enjoyed the extended family dynamics surrounding the couple as much as the couple themselves.

Mule Dazed by Lisa Carter: Old friends are reunited . . . and then forced to marry. This was a fun read. There were moments when I felt like the author rushed ahead a bit and I was momentarily confused. But overall, it was another good story from a collection that is quickly becoming a favorite.

The Sweetwater Bride by Mary Connealy: Tanner kidnaps his bride . . . or was he rescuing her? Debba had lived alone for years in a secret valley until Tanner comes into her life. But will love change her mind about the outside world?
Connealy knows how to craft a unique story with unique characters. You truly have no idea what you’ll find besides a great story and this novella was a prime example. The story dragged a bit towards the end for me but it was forgivable.

A Highbrook Hoodwink by Rebecca Jenson: Will marrying to give her fatherless child a new life bring Katie blessings or heartache?
True to its form, A Highbrook Hoodwink was a marriage in name only story. It’s always sweet to watch the couple fall deeper and deeper in love at a slower pace like these stories tend to show. It was an enjoyable story, although I often felt like I was being told about the characters’ feelings instead of experiencing them.

Not So Pretty Penny by Amy Lillard: Desperate for a farm hand, Penny buys herself a husband from the jail cell, and she just might have taken on more than she bargained for.
This was a cute story from start to finish. It may have been a tad too convenient toward the end, but it carried a solid message on not seeking revenge.

All’s Fair by Gina Welborn: Will a feud keep would-be lovers apart, or will love mend an age-old feud?
This was one of my favorites. It was heartwarming, charming and carried a timeless message about forgiveness and love.

The Colorado Coincidence by Kathleen Y’Barbo: When Gloree is forced to marry a passing stranger to save her ranch, will their meeting be a coincidence or a blessing from above? I wanted to enjoy this one more than I did. I found it too summarized toward the end. However, the final letter was superbly romantic.

Railroaded into Love by Rose Ross Zediker: Left with the choices of jail, saloon work, or marriage to an old friend, will a marriage of necessity to a traveling preacher be what Molly needed all along? This one was really cute and started off strongly. It grew a tad tedious for me toward the end, but overall this was an enjoying way to end the collection.

I enjoyed some of these stories more than others. At the end of the day, this was one of my favorite collections to date.

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Winning Miss Winthrop by Carolyn Miller

224Years ago, the man who stole Catherine Winthrop’s heart rejected her–and she’s never recovered from the grief. Now tragedy has brought him back into her life. This time it isn’t her heart he’s taking, it’s her home and her family’s good name.

Jonathan Carlew’s serious demeanor and connection to trade, not to mention the rumors surrounding his birth, have kept him from being a favorite of the ladies, or their parents. Now, suddenly landed and titled, he finds himself with plenty of prospects. But his demanding society responsibilities keep pressing him into service to the one woman who captured his heart long ago–and then ran off with it.

These two broken hearts must decide whether their painful past and bitter present will be all they can share, or if forgiveness can provide a path to freedom for the future.

Set in the sumptuous salons of Bath, Regency England’s royal breeding ground for gossip, Winning Miss Winthrop is the first volume in the Regency Brides: A Promise of Hope series. Fans of the wholesome and richly drawn first series won’t want to miss this new set of characters–or appearances by their old favorites.

My Thoughts: This was a perfect read for my Spring Break. It was light, romantic, and had strong Austen vibes. It reminded me a great deal of Persuasion although I don’t think the author was attempting a retelling. But it carried a lot of the same great elements in an original format.
There were areas where I felt like the story lagged a bit for me, but overall I found it highly entertaining and read the bulk of the book in one day because I refused to put it down. Miller gave us a peek at the two upcoming stories in the series and I can’t wait to see what happens next for both of these ladies.
There was a sound spiritual message here on forgiveness and kind service to your neighbors.  . . . And yet, I found some of their biting comments to antagonists a bit off-putting. They seemed to take great pleasure in putting someone in their place when they were in the “right.” There could have been a bit more humility in some of those scenes. I think it was meant to be entertaining, but I found it a little vindictive.
At the end of the day, this was a sound Regency novel complete with all the parlor drama, romance, and a trip to Bath.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving Winning Miss Winthrop 4.5 stars and recommending it to those who enjoy Christian Fiction or Christian Regency.

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