Friday, September 18, 2020

Forsaken Island By Sharon Hinck

Forsaken Island
by Sharon Hinck
Publisher: Enclave
ISBN: 978-1621841357

Having loved everything Sharon Hinck, I absolutely HAD to be on the launch team for book 2 in The Dancing Realms series. Thankfully I was able to be part of it and I was given the ebook for my review.

Summary:

On an uncharted world, happiness is effortless and constant … but can true joy exist without sacrifice?

The people of Meriel have long believed their island world floats alone in the vast ocean universe, so they are astonished when another island drifts into view. With resources becoming scarce, Carya and Brantley quickly volunteer to search the new land for supplies.

After navigating a barrier of menacing trees, the pair encounter a culture of perpetually happy people who readily share their talents and their possessions. But all is not what it seems. At the core of the island is a horror that threatens everyone, including Brantley and Carya.

Freeing the villagers of the bondage they’ve chosen may cost Carya and Brantley more than they could have imagined. Even if the two succeed, they’ll have to find a way to return to Meriel quickly … or be cut off from their home forever.

My Review:

This was such a different story than the first one. Much more adventurous. It was wonderful to catch up with Brantley and Carya in Forsaken Island.

The story starts off almost immediately with them coming into contact with the island on the back of Navar. They make their way through the brush and then have very differing opinions on how to proceed. Whereas Brantley wants to plan and prepare, Carya wants to believe everyone is good and they must want to help the people of Meriel.

Once they begin interacting with the inhabitants of the island, it's almost like an episode of The Twilight Zone. Everyone is welcome, they can take what they need, there are no leaders as everyone is equal. Ah, sounds like, bliss, right? Carya and Brantley grabbed tons of food and prepared to head back to Meriel except for the fact the island wouldn't let them leave!

As they begin to understand life in this camp, they begin to realize that things are completely off kilter, but can't put a finger on it. They follow everyone to the convening and that's when they meet The Gardener, except he doesn't tend to things as a gardener would. Oh man, this is when things take a turn, and while not for good, good does happen. Hard to believe on an island that is being controlled by an evil presence.

Needless to say, there is so much that happens in this story and the depth of understanding how evil can slip into our lives, being able to see the world isn't what God created it to be because of sin, and that when the scales fall from our eyes/hearts we're able to see the truth.

Once again Sharon Hinck weaves a fantastic story of fantasy with spiritual truth in a way that draws the reader in and keeps them turning the page to the very end.

About the Author:

Award-winning author of The Sword of Lyric series, Sharon Hinck writes "stories for the hero in all of us" about women on extraordinary adventures of faith. Her novels are praised for their authentic characters, strong spiritual themes, and emotional resonance. For this series, she drew on her experience as a ballet teacher, dancer, and choreographer.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

The Birds & The Bees By Neena Gaynor

The Bird and the Bees Blog + Review Tour 
Welcome to the Blog + Review Tour & Giveaway for The Bird and the Bees by Neena Gaynor, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

I received the book from JustRead Publicity Tours as part of this tour. I've met so many amazing authors by taking a chance on their tours. And seriously, the name of the book as well as the cover pretty much begs you to read it! I do want to point out that the topic of abortion does come up in the story and I know that can be a trigger for some people so I wanted to make readers aware. It's done in a very mindful way.

ABOUT THE BOOK

The Bird and the Bees Title: The Bird and the Bees
Author: Neena Gaynor
Publisher: Mantle Rock Publishing 
Release Date: April 21, 2020
Genre: Christian Contemporary Romance

When Larkin Maybie buries her mother in the foothills of Appalachia, she is left all alone. Her only inheritance? A crazy aunt, a mountain of debt, and a run-down, secluded cabin left by a mysterious benefactor. While Larkin thinks an escape to a cabin miles from anything familiar might be exactly what she needs, the quick answer to her problems only leaves her with more questions... Questions concerning her true identity.

As Larkin searches for her link to the Lewandowski Estate, she begins to accept the kindness of strangers on Presque Isle and the affection of professional baseball player, Ketch Devine. Charged with caring for the cabin’s honey bees and haunted by past choices, Larkin struggles to move forward in a new direction and is running out of time. With summer and baseball season coming to an end, she must decide: what is the value of true love?

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Here's an excerpt from the book:

On the beach, the waves rolled upon the shore. The dark blue water caressed the beach like a mother pats her sleeping baby. I inhaled the lulling landscape, my mind expecting the smell of salt and sea, and shocked by the crispness of the air. The vastness of the lake continued to thrill me. As did the man who held me.

Ketch turned me to a large brick house. “Let’s go check this out.”

The deep, soft sand was difficult to walk through, and I stopped to remove my sandals. Ketch carried them and managed the sand in his shoes.

“Here’s the lighthouse. Have you ever seen one?” he asked.

I hadn’t. Ketch kept walking and talking, telling me about how the walls were constructed to withstand weather with a five-brick thickness.

“Remind you of anyone?” He gave me an insinuating, impish glance.

My Review:

I have to say I was fascinated by this story. I don't feel like the book blurb gives you a real taste of what's between the covers. I mean, it does... and it doesn't. There's just SO much more to it. To me, it was as though I was peeling back the layers of onions as I read the story.

First of all I found the names to be quite interesting: Larkin Maybie and Ketch Devine! Let's talk about Larkin first. I was fascinated by her. She has such caustic thinking and is pretty cynical about life altogether. Once you get to know her and her deceased parents, you kind of get why she is the way she is.

Ketch on the other hand... how do I peg this guy? He's pretty much perfect. So, because of that little fact, I can see why Larkin believes he's out of reach for a gal like her. Honestly, he's the kind of guy every mom hopes her son will grow up to be and every fella young girls dream about as they grow up. He's actually a very sweet example of God's mercy and grace.

I really loved the process of watching Larkin go through her growing understanding of faith. I thought the end of that process was rather abrupt after walking through so much of it with her. And while with most books I have issues with people falling in love by the end of the first week they've known each other this worked for me in a strange way. I'm not giving anything away as their affection for each other isn't as cut and dry or smooth sailing as "falling in love in a week" might sound. In fact, as I was reading the story I kept saying to myself, "You don't like it when people fall for each other this quickly. So why is this working for me?" Obviously it was the writing.

The backstory of the bee keeping wasn't as much of the storyline that I thought it would be. I was actually excited about it because some of our friends are beekeepers and I'm so curious about the whole experience. It was really neat to see how Larkin was able to handle them so well. How she understood them.

She also had such incredible insight into the other characters in the story. While she didn't seem to know how to have a true friendship with other people, you could tell Larkin was really trying. I also appreciated how the author covered Larkin's past and how she was dealing with it in the here and now, especially when other situations come up.

SUCH a well written book and I'm looking forward to more stories from her!



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Neena Gaynor

When not chasing after her two joyful little boys, Neena Gaynor enjoys beekeeping, a good cup of coffee, and writing.

She's spent much of the last decade traveling with her husband, Wade, a former professional baseball player. Throughout the 29 changes of address and the stresses of moving a young family, Neena has learned to embrace the peace that only comes from the steady accompaniment of Christ.

CONNECT WITH NEENA: Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest


TOUR GIVEAWAY

(1) winner will receive a $15 Chick-fil-A gift card!

The Bird and the Bees JustRead Giveaway

Be sure to check out each stop on the tour for more chances to win. Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway will begin at midnight September 15, 2020 and last through 11:59 PM EST on September 22, 2020. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.


 
Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!
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*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Generation To Generation By Yael Eckstein

Generation to Generation
by Yael Eckstein
Publisher: International Fellowship of Christians and Jews
ISBN: 978-0983532767

As a mom, it was a given that I would pass on my beliefs to my children. Now that I'm going to be my grandma, it's still part of my "job" to pass on our beliefs.  When Generation to Generation came up as a book to review for FrontGate I couldn't pass it up! I wanted to learn some ideas and traditions that I might be able to incorporate through this book for my family. I realize that it's based on the Jewish faith, but they tend to have such tight knit families, I knew there would be much I could absorb and channel into our Christian faith family.

Summary:

In Judaism, faith is passed down from one generation to the next primarily through the holy observances, rituals, and traditions that happen within the life of the family. Through the weekly observance of the Sabbath, Jewish children learn the importance of setting priorities and putting God first. As the family gathers around the seder table for Passover, children learn the value of asking questions and seeking wisdom. Each holiday observed, and each tradition followed are opportunities to reinforce the fundamental values of faith.

Generation to Generation unlocks these holy observances and traditions and reveals the key values they reinforce. Each chapter also includes a special section containing insight on how the observance is mentioned in the Christian Bible along with questions and Bible stories to discuss with your family. Bible memory verses are offered to reinforce each key value.

These are the values and rituals that Yael Eckstein learned from her father, that she and her husband are now passing on to their four children, and that will allow you to pass on a strong and living faith to your children and grandchildren.

My Review:

There was so much to glean from Generation to Generation! While our family has traditions based on family history, little to nothing is based on faith. Yes, we go to church every Sunday, kids attend Sunday school or youth group, and we participate in small groups, but other than that, we have very little in the way of traditions in regards to Christianity. Seeing myself type out those words, it breaks my heart.

This is where the book has come in very handy and very timely. While I may not have done a stellar job with faith based traditions and rituals with my kids, I can make sure I implement them with my grandkids!

In each of the chapters we're given a wonderful insight into observances we might just take for granted. I have such a better understanding now of days such as Shabbat (Sabbath) and Passover that I can help my children and grandkids learn how to observe them in a deeper way. In fact, this is a book that calls to be highlighted with all of its explanations helping to make this all clear!

What I really appreciate about this author and what she was taught by her family was the "pouring into" of the souls of her children. I think we get so focused on raising good children that we can easily forget the importance of their souls.

At the end of each chapter there are memory verses and a time to come together as a family to learn and understand. There is also such a rich knowledge of how the Jewish faith has been passed down through the generations and explaining the meaning of who they are biblically as well as how they fit into the gospel.

Topics I didn't expect to gain a deeper understanding of were: courage, hope, and gratitude, which are all vital to our future generations. We teach them in general, right, but do we do so in such an intentional way as provided in this book? I really don't think so. Shhhh don't tell anyone, but it makes me want to go spend a year in a Jewish family experiencing all of their observances!

Now you have the opportunity to win a copy of Generation to Generation!


About the Author:

Yael Eckstein is President and CEO of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, the largest provider of humanitarian aid in Israel. Annually, The Fellowship raises more than $127 million, helping 1.5 million Jews in need in Israel and around the world.

The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews was founded in 1983 by Orthodox Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, whose vision for building bridges of understanding and cooperation between Christians and Jews has been translated into the largest Christian-supported humanitarian agency helping Jews in Israel and around the world. You can learn more about the organization and Rabbi Eckstein here.

For more than 2,000 years, the Jewish people have preserved and maintained their faith from generation to generation, despite being exiled from their land and suffering persecutions, pogroms, and even the Holocaust, where six million Jewish women, men, and children were killed at the hands of the Nazis. In her book, Generation to Generation, Fellowship President and CEO Yael Eckstein unlocks the keys to how the Jewish people have successfully passed on the legacy of faith through the family,  and offers insights into how Christians can incorporate these principles within their own families to pass on a strong and living faith.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Almost A Bride By Jody Hedlund

Almost A Bride
by Jody Hedlund
Publisher: Northern Lights Press
ISBN: 978-1733753449

I've really enjoyed The Bride Ships series by Jody Hedlund so when she offered to have people join her launch team, I happily signed up! Thankfully I was able to be on the team and she sent me the ebook to aid in my review. I published my review of A Bride of Convenience in July! Be sure to check that out.

Summary:

Always close, but never a bride.
Longing to find true love, Kate Millington arrives in British Columbia on a bride ship. With countless men waiting to snag a bride, Kate has no trouble getting engaged. It’s staying engaged that’s the problem. After traveling to the remote mining town of Williamsville to marry her newest fiancé, she finds herself single again.
As the prosperous owner of a gold mine, Zeke Hart has everything he’s ever wanted except for a wife. At Kate’s arrival, he takes it upon himself to protect his childhood friend from the men clamoring to court her. The more he renews her friendship, the more he wants to win her for himself. But as much as Kate admires Zeke, she’s resolved not to marry someone who doesn’t share her faith.
When Zeke begins receiving anonymous threats, he unwittingly puts them both in grave danger. In the midst of peril, the past rises up to haunt them both, and Zeke realizes the fight for Kate’s affection may be his biggest challenge yet.

My Review:

It's sad seeing this series come to an end. The best part was, having book 4 come out just a couple of months after book 2 was published! What reader could ask for more when it comes to a series of books?!

Unlike the first 3 books, this one doesn't start off with the female main character on the ship. She's entering Williamsville to marry Herbert Frank, but the moment she sees him (after already meeting him in British Columbia) she decides she can't marry him! Turns out there's been numerous men she hasn't been able to stay committed to. I got a sense of Runaway Bride as we got to know her more. When it comes to men she's a bit flighty. I really appreciated how she knew she couldn't have more than a friendship with Zeke because of the fact that he'd rejected God.

Then there's Zeke. He's a rather controlling sort, but you can see it's because deep inside he's drawn to Kate as more than his friend's little sister. While he sets himself up as the town's liaison between Kate and any many who wants to court her, it's clear no one else will be the right one for her. So, basically none of them stand a chance.

Kate is a bit flighty when it comes to men and being engaged to them. Seems she has a habit of agreeing to a relationship or engagement before she's given it much thought. I was surprised at that revelation for the time period it was set in. It reminded me of Runaway Bride. lol She's determined to marry a man who is also a believer and with Zeke being on the outs with God, that means he's not in the running for becoming engaged to her. I think Kate had her priorities well mixed up because while she will only marry a Christian man, she seemed willing to marry just about any eligible fella who crossed her path. I think Zeke was needed to shake her up a bit!

In the meantime, the readers will fall for Mr. Peabody, Zeke's chef. Actually, he reminded me of Alfred, Batman's butler. He's kind, caring, and wise. He turned out to be my favorite character. Oddly enough, I liked Wendell, too. He's Mr. Peabody's grandson and Zeke's accountant. A quirky fellow, but one who gets things done. One at a time mind you. He can't count time and talk at the same time. hahahaha

I liked the storyline overall. While Zeke and Kate figure out their relationship, someone is sabotaging Zeke's mine. That added another layer to what was going on. The romance was rather steamy and when Zeke and Kate kiss... whew sparks were a'flyin'!

About the Author:

Jody Hedlund is the author of over thirty historicals for both adults and teens and is the winner of numerous awards including the Christy, Carol, and Christian Book Award.

Jody lives in central Michigan with her husband, five busy children, and five spoiled cats. Although Jody prefers to experience daring and dangerous adventures through her characters rather than in real life, she's learned that a calm existence is simply not meant to be (at least in this phase of her life!).

When she's not penning another of her page-turning stories, she loves to spend her time reading, especially when it also involves consuming coffee and chocolate.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

The Edge Of Belonging By Amanda Cox

The Edge of Belonging
by Amanda Cox
Publisher: Revell Books
ISBN: 9780800737405

Amanda Cox is a new author and I was looking forward to getting to know her writing. I was blessed to be on her launch team for The Edge of Belonging. I received the book from the author for participating on her team.

*I do want to give readers a heads up that suicide, sex trafficking, infertility, and abuse are covered in this book. Please be aware in case there are trigger situations for you as a reader. I know those topics are super heavy, BUT there's SO much hope in this story and it's beautifully written as you'll see in my review below.

Summary:

When Ivy Rose returns to her hometown to oversee her late grandmother's estate sale, she soon discovers that the woman left behind more than trinkets and photo frames--she provided a path to the truth behind Ivy's adoption. Shocked, Ivy seeks clues to her past, but a key piece to the mystery is missing.

Twenty-four years earlier, Harvey James finds an abandoned newborn who gives him a sense of human connection for the first time in his life. His desire to care for the baby runs up against the stark fact that he is homeless. When he becomes entwined with two people seeking to help him find his way, Harvey knows he must keep the baby a secret or risk losing the only person he's ever loved.

In this dual-timeline story from debut novelist Amanda Cox, the truth--both the search for it and the desire to keep it from others--takes center stage as Ivy and Harvey grapple with love, loss, and letting go.

My Review:

I want to start off by saying The Edge of Belonging left me incredibly satisfied and my heart feeling incredibly full. What. A. Story. I'm rather stingy on giving books five stars, but this one absolutely deserves it! I'm also beginning to believe that time-split novels need more room on my bookshelves.

The time is split between 1994 and present day. I couldn't decide which time period I kept wanting to read more! Thankfully the author gives us a great balance between both time periods. Believe it or not, all of the main characters worked their way into my hearts. They were all developed so wonderfully! Honestly, if you were to ask me which one I enjoyed getting to know the most, I wouldn't be able to pick.

Amanda Cox tackles difficult topics such as abuse in relationships as well as sex trafficking in a way that the reader can't help but feel compassion for the characters and disdain for those perpetuating it. Most of these topics are covered in an indirect way so that as readers, we understand what's happened, can see the pain through each of the characters, but explicit details are left out. She also covers homelessness in a beautiful way. This book is a great reminder that not every man or woman on the streets is a drunk or druggie. They each have individual stories as this one portrays.

I think the aspect I appreciate is that even in the rawness of the pain each of these characters are going through, we're able to relate to them in different ways. Loss, hurt, sadness are all experiences we have throughout our lives and because none of us escape life unscathed, we can see the beauty in the trials they each have gone through.

After reading this book, Harvey's story once again reinforces WHY I want to be a foster parent so much. Each child ends up in foster homes for different reasons, but for them to never feel loved or cared for breaks my heart. That's where Pearl becomes my hero, my example of the kind of person I want to be!

Ivy completely pulls on my heart strings for SO many reasons. She's been through so much and seems utterly lost when she should understand that she's completely found. And then there's Reese, Ivy's childhood friend. I want to believe that there are many more men like him in the world than we give them credit for. Ok, I guess if you were to twist my arm, he "might" be my favorite character in the book.

It's not typical for me to re-read a book, but this book is already calling me back for a second time around! Seriously, don't miss out on reading this story! It's simply beautiful!

About the Author:

Amanda Cox is a blogger and a curriculum developer for a national nonprofit youth leadership organization, but her first love is communicating through story. She holds a bachelor's degree in Bible and theology and a master's degree in professional counseling. Her studies and her interactions with hurting families over a decade have allowed her to create multidimensional characters that connect emotionally with readers. Amanda lives in Tennessee with her husband and their three children.

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Heart Of A Princess By Hannah Currie

Heart of a Princess
by Hannah Currie
Publisher: Whitespark
ISBN: 978-1946531841

I was looking forward to books 2 of the Daughters of Peverell since I finished book 1 in the series! I hadn't read much in the young adult genre, but Hannah's writing was so good I couldn't resist asking to review book 2!

Summary:


To the watching world, Princess Alina has it all – maids to serve her, a kingdom to revere her, a prince to marry her, and a wardrobe filled with enough frills, flounces and shades of pink to rival a flower shop. But behind the smiles and designer clothes, Alina has a secret. She’s barely holding it together. 
After a moment of panic almost ends in tragedy, Alina is sent to a refuge far from the palace to recuperate. Her family claim it’s for her own good but – faced with cows, knife-beaked ducks and far too many of her own insecurities – Alina is pretty sure it will kill her first. And Joha Samson, infuriating man that he is, will laugh as it does. 
Only there’s more to Joha than she realizes, and more to herself too. When the time comes to make a stand, will she find the courage?
My Review:

So, I was just going to jump right in talking about my thoughts on Alina in her story, Heart of a Princess. But then I thought that's really not the greatest way to start out a review except for the fact that this story IS about her. I'm going to do it! Just dive in.

Alina. Sakes alive! I wanted to do one of three things to that girl
  1. Give her a good spanking
  2. Feel sorry for her
  3. Actually understand where she's at in life
Honestly, I vacillated between all three throughout the book. I'd have to say my strongest urge to tell her to stop being such a stuck up, snotty brat came mostly at the beginning of the story which picks up right where book 1 finishes. What we have to remember is she's just turning 18. She didn't have her mother growing up because she died right after Alina was born, and her father isn't much of a dad to her.

Like I said, I can understand why she was behaving the way she did... to an extent. Also, her 18th birthday was horrendous. I'm trying to remember, but I'm pretty sure not a single person actually wished her a happy birthday, no cake, and no gifts. I'll give her a pass that day. The rest of the time...

I really loved the way Hannah took us into Alina's mind during her anxiety attacks. The more they happened the more I could almost feel the anxiety rising in me! The more the reader experiences this through Alina, the more we can understand some of her behaviors. The author did such a great job of blending it all smoothly into the storyline! Also, I could certainly imagine that no matter if you're royalty of a large kingdom or small, life can't be easy whatsoever! Glad I'm just a commoner.

Alina also grew a lot throughout The Heart of a Princess. When she has a major anxiety attack after she makes a huge blunder at her birthday and then has to address her people, Thoraben whisks her away to The Well so she can rest. When Alina learns she's been secreted away, her behavior is horrible! I'm sure her mother would've turned over in her grave! Can you imagine being horrified at the thought of sharing a bathroom?! And then the nerve of the people who run The Well offering her donated clothing! Alina also had no one to straighten her hair every. single. morning! Her world was basically over.

Thankfully, Malisa, not me, was in charge of The Well along with her husband, Pat and their son, Joha. Malisa and Pat were kind, thoughtful, and patient. I was more like Joha. All I could see was Alina's rudeness. Malisa on the other hand had an understanding of Alina's life unlike most.

As Alina grows, she is thrust into the world of the Rebels, which we learned about in book 1. Because of that, she's forced to understand more of what they represent. The best part of that is her journey of faith. Towards the end of the story, this growth and desire to learn more is my favorite part of the story and one reason why I love that this series is geared towards young adults. I think many people can relate to feeling like they aren't worthy or have to perform in such a way that they'll never be able to earn God's grace. The way this part of the storyline was handled was fantastic!

There's a wide range of emotions for poor Alina. She has to deal with Marcos, who she's engaged to, but the wedding has been postponed. Hurt by her brother and new sister-in-law. Terrified of being left at a house in the middle of nowhere and not knowing a single person. Feeling abandoned. These are the times I felt terrible for her and wanted to just hug her.

Overall, this was a great story and I'm certainly looking forward to Lady Wenderley's coming out at the beginning of 2021!


About the Author:

Aussie author, Hannah Currie, loves God, family, people (in small numbers, let’s not go crazy here!) and writing. She and her husband live with their three adorable kids in sunny Queensland, where it really is beautiful one day and perfect the next. Except, maybe, during heatwaves. They’re not so fun. She loves to connect with readers at www.hannahcurrie.com.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Hysterical Historical Fiction Authors That Are Must Read

One of my favorite genres to read is historical fiction that has me laughing out loud! I would have to say this is the perfect combination for a reader such as myself. I have a quirky sense of humor and I adore historical fiction! So, with that being said, here are a few of my favorite authors!

First, let's start with the first author I ever read that I found hilarious, Cathy Marie Hake. The first book I read of hers was Letter Perfect and I was laughing on page 1! I've also read That Certain Spark, Serendipity, Whirlwind, Fancy Pants, Forevermore, and Bittersweet. She does have some novella books that I haven't read yet as well as some short stories. She doesn't write any more because of health conditions, but I'm thankful for the books she has out!


Letter Perfect

If her own two feet don't end up tripping her, Ruth Caldwell's mouth is likely to get her into equal trouble. But Ruth has the best of intentions. Truly. It's just that her attempts to live up to her mother's expectations of how a lady should act have often yielded...well, less than impressive results.
Josh McCain is speechless when he sees Ruth step off the stage in Folsom, California. Sure, it looks like she's been sleeping in her gown for the past week, but with a crown of riotous curls and those deep green eyes, she's certainly the most beautiful woman he's ever met.
But Josh soon finds the sparks that fly upon Ruth's arrival aren't the romantic type. With her legitimate claims to an inheritance, the Broken P Ranch's future is suddenly precarious. And when Ruth's "accidents"--going beyond even her normal bumbling ways--seem to take a sinister turn, Josh must decide where his loyalties lie.
Fancy Pants

When Britisher Lady Sydney Hathwell's father dies, the American who planned to wed her suddenly reneges. Stranded in America and penniless, Sydney contacts a relative in Texas who, mistaking her male-sounding name, invites his "nephew" to join him on his ranch. 

"Big Tim" Creighton, however, is appalled when this mincing fop arrives at Forsaken. He determines he'll turn Fancy Pants Hathwell into a man before the boss returns home. From the get-go, he has "the kid" mucking stalls, clearing and plowing a field, and assisting with a difficult calving. But when Sydney's true identity is uncovered, Tim resents being deceived. Yet in time, he also finds that he doesn't like all the attention Sydney garners now that she's wearing pretty gowns...

Together Sydney and Tim will discover the importance of family and what it means to be a man--and a woman--of God.

Whirlwind

When Millicent Fairweather boards the Opportunity to journey to America, she's confident a better life awaits. Before she knows it, she's taken out of steerage to be a nanny to a delightful little boy who quickly wins her heart. Widower Daniel Clark isn't sure about the pretty bundle of energy who takes the nanny position, but he figures the voyage is only one week.

When disaster strikes, Daniel seizes the chance to rescue Millicent and her sister. A most convenient marriage ensues...only Daniel realizes his heart has been lost to Millicent, while she views it all as a business arrangement. Will this whirlwind marriage have a chance as Daniel sets out to woo his oblivious wife?

Next up is Jen Turano. She writes some of the funniest characters I know! I can't read her stories when Fred's asleep next to me because I never know when I'm going to literally laugh out loud because of something her characters do or say. I've read quite a few of Jen's novels, but not nearly all of them. My goal is to read them all and have them all. Thankfully, one of my books that Fred gave me for Valentine's Day is one of my favorites and it's autographed by Jen! Her Apart from the Crowd series is an all time favorite. I've been going back to read her first series and I can't get enough of them!
  

At Your Request (novella)

After her father lost the family's fortune, Wilhelmina was cast out of the fashionable set and banished to the wallflower section. Taking a position as a social secretary to help support her family, she's mostly come to terms with her new status. But when her old friend Edgar returns to New York society for the first time since she rejected his marriage proposal, she's newly ashamed at how far she's fallen--and how hastily she dismissed him years ago. Her strategy is to avoid a face-to-face encounter at all costs, but he seems to have other plans. Will Edgar take advantage of their now reversed positions and make her regret her refusal, or is there still hope for a friendship between them--or something more?

Behind the Scenes

After spending the last six years banished to the wallflower section of the ballroom, Miss Permilia Griswold has finally figured out a way to pass the time at all the New York high-society events she attends. Under the pseudonym "Miss Quill," she is the author of society gossip columns filled with tidbits only an insider in society--albeit one on the fringes--would know. 

When she overhears a threat against Mr. Asher Rutherford, the owner of one of the most up-and-coming department stores in the city, she's determined to warn him. But the irritatingly handsome man doesn't believe her, leaving her no choice but to take matters into her own hands. What she doesn't anticipate is that she'll end up putting herself at risk in the process--or that she and Mr. Rutherford, a man with secrets of his own, just might end up joining forces after all.

Out of the Ordinary

Working as a paid companion may be quite commonplace, but Miss Gertrude Cadwalader's eccentric employer makes her job unpredictable, to say the least. She finds herself carrying out an array of highly unusual tasks, including wearing peculiar outfits and returning items the woman pilfered. But when the wealthy Mrs. Sinclair catches Gertrude sneaking around the Sinclair yacht with some of the missing items in her possession, she immediately jumps to the wrong conclusion.

Shipping magnate Harrison Sinclair is caught in the middle of a misunderstanding between his mother and Gertrude, but he can't help coming to his friend's defense. Even as he hopes their friendship might become something more, Harrison is unprepared for the outlandish escapades that seem to follow the lovely, anything-but-ordinary Gertrude at every turn.

Caught by Surprise

After years of hiding her true nature, Miss Temperance Flowerdew is finally enjoying freedom outside of the shadow of her relations, so the last thing she expected on her way to work was to be grabbed off the street by a stranger and put on a train bound for Chicago.

When Mr. Gilbert Cavendish is called upon to rescue a missing woman, he follows the trail to Chicago only to discover that the woman is his good friend, Temperance. Before they can discover who was behind her abduction, they're spotted alone together by a New York society matron, putting their reputations at risk.

Even though Gilbert is willing to propose marriage, Temperance is determined not to lose her newfound independence. But when the misunderstanding in Chicago escalates into a threat on her life, accepting Gilbert's help in solving the mystery may lead to more than she ever could have dreamed.

More recently I became acquainted with Kristi Ann Hunter. Her characters have been an absolute delight to read and I listened to all 4 books in her Hawthorne House series all in a row via audiobook. They were AMAZING! I immediately started listening to her Haven Manor series as well as her brand new release of Vying for the Viscount! Love. Them! One of the reasons I loved all of her series is that characters cross over and you get to see them again! Our book club was so thankful to have her chat with us about A Noble Masquerade. She is our first author visit!


A Noble Masquerade

Lady Miranda Hawthorne acts every inch the lady, but inside she longs to be bold and carefree. Approaching spinsterhood in the eyes of society, she pours her innermost feelings out not in a diary but in letters to her brother's old school friend, the Duke of Marshington. Since she's never actually met the man she has no intention of ever sending the letters and is mortified when her brother's mysterious new valet, Marlow, mistakenly mails one of the letters to the unsuspecting duke.

Shockingly, this breach of etiquette results in a reply from the duke that soon leads to a lively correspondence. Insecurity about her previous lack of suitors soon becomes confusion as Miranda finds herself equally intrigued by Marlow, a man she has come to depend upon but whose behavior grows more suspicious by the day. As the secret goings-on at her family's estate come to light, one thing is certain: Miranda's heart is far from all that's at risk for the Hawthornes and those they love.

An Elegant Façade

Lady Georgina Hawthorne has always known she must marry well. After years of tirelessly planning every detail of her debut season, she is poised to be a smashing success and have her choice of eligible gentlemen. 

With money and powerful business connections but no title, Colin McCrae is invited everywhere but accepted nowhere. He intends to marry someday, but when he does it will not be to a shallow woman like Lady Georgina, whose only concerns appear to be status and appearance.

But beneath her flawless exterior, Georgina's social aspirations stem from a shameful secret she is desperately trying to keep hidden--and that Colin is too close to discovering. Drawn to each other despite their mutual intent to avoid association, is the realization of their dreams worth the sacrifices they'll be forced to make?

An Uncommon Courtship

Lord Trent Hawthorne couldn't be happier he is not the duke in the family. Free to manage his small estate and take his time discovering the life he wants to lead, he has grand plans of someday wooing and falling in love with the woman of his choice. When he finds himself honor bound to marry a woman he barely knows, his dream of a loving marriage like his parents' seems lost forever.

Life for Lady Adelaide Bell was easier when she hid in her older sister's shadow--which worked until her sister got married. But even with her socially ambitious mother's focus entirely on her, the last thing she expected was a marriage of convenience before she's been introduced to society.

With nothing going as expected, can Trent and Adelaide's marriage of obligation survive their own missteps and the pressures of London society to grow into a true meeting of hearts and minds?


An Inconvenient Beauty

Griffith, Duke of Riverton, likes order, logic, and control, so he naturally applies this rational approach to his search for a bride. While he's certain Miss Frederica St. Claire is the perfect wife for him, she is strangely elusive, and he can't seem to stop running into her stunningly beautiful cousin, Miss Isabella Breckenridge.

Isabella should be enjoying her society debut, but with her family in difficult circumstances, she has no choice but to agree to a bargain that puts her at odds with all her romantic hopes--as well as her conscience. And the more she comes to know Griffith, the more she regrets the unpleasant obligation that prevents her from any dream of a future with him.

As all Griffith's and Isabella's long-held expectations are shaken to the core, can they set aside their pride and fear long enough to claim a happily-ever-after?



Monday, August 31, 2020

The Haunting Of Bonaventure Circus By Jaime Jo Wright

The Haunting of Bonaventure Circus
by Jaime Jo Wright
Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN: 9780764233890

I was beyond excited to be part of Jaime Jo Wright's launch team. One never knows what to expect from one of her books. What mystery is lurking around every corner! The Haunting of Bonaventure Circus did NOT disappoint! I was sent her ebook for review purposes and then a paperback as well.

Summary:

Welcome to Bonaventure Circus,
where misfits go to hide.
In 1928, the Bonaventure Circus has become a refuge for many, but Pippa Ripley was rejected from its inner circle as a baby and is no longer content to leave the reason for that rejection unquestioned. When she receives mysterious messages from someone called the "Watchman," she is determined to find him and the connection to her birth. As Pippa's search leads her to a man seeking justice for his murdered sister and evidence that a serial killer has been haunting the circus train, she must decide if uncovering her roots is worth putting herself directly in the path of the killer.

Decades later, an old circus train depot's future hangs in the balance--it will either be torn down or preserved for historical importance, and its fate rests on Realtor Chandler Faulk's shoulders. As she dives deep into the depot's history, she's also balancing a newly diagnosed disease and the pressures of single motherhood. When she discovers clues to unsolved murders of the past, Chandler is pulled into a story far darker and more haunting than even an abandoned train depot could portend.

My Review:

Jaime Jo Wright's gift of writing time split novels it outstanding. She has the gift to knowing when to rip the reader from the time they're reading in and throw them back into the other time. It's rather jolting. Each time I left whatever time period I was in, I was desperate to back to that previous time, finishing what was happening in that moment. There was almost a desperation to go back to it.

I was absolutely drawn into the story of The Haunting of Bonaventure Circus. Like Pippa, I wanted to go to the circus world, something I've never even considered, but I think it was because of her deep desire to belong and to be known.

Sakes alive, there was definitely a creep factor with the Watchman. Is he good, is he evil? What does he know about Pippa's past?! I felt her anguish to want to know right along with her fear of how she'd find out.

Then there's Chandler in our current time learning about the lives surrounding the train depot and costume house. Those and the murders as well as missing people. I'm not a believer in ghosts, but Jaime Jo's writing definitely messes with me into almost... almost thinking that there could be something to it.

Once again, I appreciate the faith element that goes along with this story. There's a build up of it because of how the story is written, but it's fluid and makes sense. The characters' journey to understand how God is working in and through their lives during their time is a powerful one.

Honestly, there's SO much to say about this book but I can't say anything specific because there's NO way I'm giving anything away. If anyone ever wants to talk about the book as you're reading it, message me... it's THAT good. I just want to talk to others about it!

*I'm part of Jaime Jo Wright's launch team. I was provided a book for review purposes, but not asked to write a positive review. This is my personal opinion.

About the Author:

Jaime Jo Wright (www.jaimewrightbooks.com) is the author of five novels, including Christy Award winner The House on Foster Hill and Carol Award winner The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond. She's also the Publishers Weekly and ECPA bestselling author of two novellas. Jaime lives in Wisconsin with her cat named Foo; her husband, Cap'n Hook; and their littles, Peter Pan and CoCo. To learn more, visit www.jaimewrightbooks.com.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

A Life Once Dreamed By Rachel Fordham

A Life Once Dreamed
by Rachel Fordham
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 9780800735395

I was excited to see A Life Once Dreamed offered for review from Revell for this month! I have her book, Yours Truly, Thomas on my tbr shelf, but haven't had a chance to read it yet. I was thankful for the opportunity to read this book since historical fiction is one of my favorites and I was looking forward to reading Rachel's writing.

Summary:

Where you come from matters far less than where you're going
Six years ago, a shocking secret sent Agnes Pratt running in search of a new start. She found it in Penance, a rugged town of miners and lumberjacks in the Dakota Territory. In the shadow of the Black Hills, she became Miss Aggie, respected schoolteacher and confirmed old maid--despite being only twenty-four. But the past has a way of catching up with people.

When childhood friend and former sweetheart James Harris accepts a position as the town doctor, Aggie's pleasantly predictable days suddenly become anything but. James wants to know why Agnes left behind the life they had dreamed of creating for themselves--but he is precisely the one person who can never know.

Can a healing light be shed on the past? Or will the secret Agnes can't seem to outrun destroy her chance at happiness?

My Review:

A Life Once Dreamed is seriously the perfect title for this story! While we start off knowing that Aggie has a secret, even I wasn't prepared for what it would be... even trying to figure it out before we were told. So needless to say, when it's revealed, even I was surprised!

I really felt for Agnes. You could feel her struggle as she spends time with friends and their families. Even more so when James shows up on the scene. And poor James. All he wants is answers and to be accepted by his new, little town. Seems easy enough, right?

When James and Aggie see each other for the first time it creates quite the stir and the result forces them to spend a lot of time together. What I hadn't expected was Sam! Goodness, he's such a nice guy.

But, back to the main characters. Not only do I love historical novels, but ones set in a small town just give me warm fuzzies. There are always busy bodies (ahem, Minnie) and the Mayor. The friendships are always wonderful like the one between Agnes and Hannah. Everyone knows each others business and when something happens in a town like Penance, it affects everyone.

From the summary of the book you would have no idea how much happens within the pages of A Life Once Dreamed. A couple major events, but I can't speak about them because I don't want to give anything away. hahaha I know, terrible of me, but both are pivotal to the story and to the lives of Aggie and James. It's hard to be vaguebooking, but no spoilers allowed here!

In some ways the story reminded me of the tv show When Calls the Heart. It was just the feel of it that drew me into the story. And of course since I enjoy WCTH I would naturally like Rachel's story. Instead of Hearties, would we readers be called Dreamers? lol

If you're ready to head to the Dakota's this is the story for you! Now I'm looking forward to Rachel's other books!

About the Author:

Rachel Fordham is the author of The Hope of Azure Springs and Yours Truly, Thomas. She started writing when her children began begging her for stories at night. She'd pull a book from the shelf, but they'd insist she make one up. Finally, she paired her love of good stories with her love of writing and hasn't stopped since. She lives with her husband and children on an island in the state of Washington.

 
Creative Commons License
Woven by Words by Mimi B is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.