BLOG, NetGalley, Revell

The Roll of the Drums, #2 The Amish of Weaver’s Creek by Jan Drexler

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(This site uses affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on a link, I may be compensated.)

About the Book

Title: The Roll of the Drums

Series: The Amish of Weaver’s Creek

Author: Jan Drexler

Publisher: Revell

Released: October 2019

Ruby Weaver’s curly red hair isn’t the only thing that sets her apart from her Amish community in 1863. Twenty-eight and single, Ruby doesn’t believe a woman needs to be married in order to be happy. Her ailing friend Lovinia Fischer, however, has other ideas and wants Ruby to promise to marry her husband after she dies. Never imagining she’d have to fulfill that vow, Ruby agrees. And she’s not the only one. Lovinia has extracted a similar promise from her husband, Gideon.

With both Ruby and Gideon reluctant to keep their promises, a compromise must be reached. Ruby will spend her days with Gideon’s family–helping to raise the children and keep the house–but her nights will be spent at her sister’s neighboring house. But this arrangement raises eyebrows in their conservative Amish community, and it soon becomes clear that Ruby must make a decision–marry Gideon or turn her back on her friend, the children she’s grown to love . . . and their father.

Get your copy here.

My Review

This series, The Amish of Weaver’s Creek, presents an unusual view of the Civil War. The first book, A Sound of Distant Thunder, saw Jonas off to war, taking the place of his (pacifist) drafted brother. Now, Jan Drexler provides us with the story of Ruby Weaver, Jonas’s sister. 
Poor Ruby is outspoken, red-haired, and brash. No wonder she is still single. When a new family moves into the area and settles, Ruby has no idea the effect that befriending them will have on her life. 

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Who, as a reader, won’t fall in love with Ruby? She isn’t your typical beauty, she doesn’t fit the typical behavior norms, and she isn’t just “perfect.” But she is loyal, kind, and she loves children. 
Gideon was a puzzle to me. I liked his determined character, his hard work, and his loyalty to those around him. Gideon feels like he failed God, and God cannot forgive him or use him. But the more I think about it, the more I believe his understanding of right and wrong or what he should have done, was very skewed in real life. Just my opinion. You’ll have to read the book to see what I’m referring to, and even then, you may have a different opinion. 

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All in all, I really enjoyed this book. If you like Amish, romance, or the Civil War, this might be a book for you. I can’t wait for book three! 
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and Revell via NetGalley
. This in no way affects my opinions, which are solely my own. 

My Rating

5 Stars- Superior – Hit My Reading Sweet Spot

About the Author

6583749.jpgJan Drexler brings a unique understanding of Amish traditions and beliefs to her writing. Her ancestors were among the first Amish, Mennonite, and Brethren immigrants to Pennsylvania in the 1700s, and their experiences are the inspiration for her stories. Jan lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota with her husband of thirty-five years, where she enjoys hiking in the Hills and spending time with their expanding family.

 

 

BLOG, Favorite, NetGalley, Revell

Stitches in Time, #2 The Deacon’s Family by Suzanne Woods Fisher

(My post contains affiliate links and I may be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on a link.)

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About the Book

Title: Stitches in Time

Series: The Deacon’s Family

Author: Suzanne Woods Fisher

Publisher: Revell

Released: October 2019

Detachment had worked well as a life strategy for horse trainer Sam Schrock. Until he met Mollie Graber . . .

New to Stoney Ridge, schoolteacher Mollie has come to town for a fresh start. Aware of how fleeting and fragile life is, she wants to live it boldly and bravely. When Luke Schrock, new to his role as deacon, asks the church to take in foster girls from a group home, she’s the first to raise her hand. The power of love, she believes, can pick up the dropped stitches in a child’s heart and knit them back together.

Mollie envisions sleepovers and pillow fights. What the 11-year-old twins bring to her home is anything but. Visits from the sheriff at midnight. Phone calls from the school truancy officer. And then the most humiliating moment of all: the girls accuse Mollie of drug addiction.

There’s only one thing that breaks through the girls’ hard shell–an interest in horses. Reluctantly and skeptically, Sam Schrock gets drawn into Mollie’s chaotic life. What he didn’t expect was for love to knit together the dropped stitches in his own heart . . . just in time.

Suzanne Woods Fisher invites you back to the little Amish church of Stoney Ridge for a touching story of the power of love.

 

Get your copy here.

My Review

Suzanne Woods Fisher’s trademark warmth, humor, and faith combine to make Stitches in Time (The Deacon’s Family, #2) another of her special, not-to-be-missed books. While this book is touted as the story between Mollie and Sam, it is very much also a continuation of the story of a maturing Luke Shrock and his marriage to Izzy. Will we see Luke chosen by lot to be the new deacon? In the last book, Luke desperately needed to grow up. In this book, God has been at work in Luke. Yet others need to find God’s help for their situations and stations in life.

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The fun thing about this story is that God had bigger plans than the characters. You can’t outmaneuver God; He lined up situations and people in such a way to bring the outcome He desired, despite the characters. God does this in real life, too.

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As you might guess, I was most impressed with Luke and Izzy, but Mollie and Sam do have a great story.
“…the more I pray, the more things happen.” Just one of the super great quotes in this book. You don’t need to read book one to enjoy this book, although I would highly suggest it. I found the three pages of “who’s who” in the front of the book helpful as I could see which books I’ve missed by which characters I didn’t know well.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and publisher via NetGalley. (I also bought my own paperback copy.) This in no way influenced my opinions, which are solely my own.

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My Rating

5 stars – Superior- Hit My Reading Sweet Spot

About the Author

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Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling, award-winning author of fiction and non-fiction books about the Old Order Amish for Revell Books, host of the radio-show-turned-blog Amish Wisdom, a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazine.

Her interest in the Amish began with her grandfather, who was raised Plain. A theme in her books (her life!) is that you don’t have to “go Amish” to incorporate the principles of simple living.

Suzanne lives in California with her family and raises puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. To her way of thinking, you just can’t take life too seriously when a puppy is tearing through your house with someone’s underwear in its mouth.

Suzanne can be found online at: www.suzannewoodsfisher.com

 

BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, NetGalley, Thomas Nelson

The Painted Castle, #3 Lost Castle series by Kristy Cambron

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 About the Book

Book: The Painted Castle

Author: Kristy Cambron

Genre: Historical Romance

Release Date: October 15, 2019

44441963Bestselling author Kristy Cambron concludes the Lost Castle novels with this sweeping tale of art and secrets long buried in England.

It was supposed to be a one-week job: survey an art find, collect a hefty fee, and use that to settle historian Kiera Foley’s life back into balance. But from the moment she sets foot in the East Suffolk countryside, the mysteries surrounding the old English manor and the enigmatic art thief who’s employed her stir more questions than answers. Then, Kiera finds the existence of a portrait captivating enough to upend all of her expectations. This one could be a twin-a painting so close in composition to a known masterpiece, it may be rendered priceless if it truly captured the likeness of a young Queen named Victoria.

Set in three time periods-the rapid change of Victorian England, the tumultuous skies over England’s eastern shores in WWII, and modern day-The Painted Castle unfolds a legacy of faith, family, and stories that are generations in the making.

 

Click here to grab your copy.

My Review

Kristy Cambron closes out her Lost Castle series with The Painted Castle, the story of Kiera and Emory. Reminiscent of an old movie, the accused art thief and the art historian/evaluator work together until the fire of rumors and truth gets too hot and combustion takes place.
Happily, we are simultaneously fed snippets of the survival of the castle manor and its inhabitants during WW II, plus another possible love development.
To make things even better, if not more complicated, Cambron weaves in and out yet a third tale of a young girl who sees her father murdered and grows up vowing to get revenge.
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This is one tapestry that shows the immense skill of the author, working so many different strands seamlessly together into a beautiful, satisfying and educational product. Authors like Cambron are opening my eyes to the world of WWII. I have always avoided reading about this time due to the great pain and terror it produced, but Cambron shows there is life between the times of terror. Love, kindness, and a desire to help others can flourish like a determined weed between cracks of cement in an otherwise ugly, resistant world of hate and war. I love seeing the best of humanity come out and shine forth brightly when it seems the worst of humanity is winning for a season. I especially saw this in Amelia and Wyatt’s story, which takes place at Parham Hill during WWII.
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My recommendation? You can read this book as a stand-alone. If you do, hurry and get the first two books like I plan to, and find out the riches you ‘ve missed out on.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit via NetGalley. This in no way affected my opinions, for which I am solely responsible.

My Rating

5 Stars- Superior – Hits My Reading Sweet Spot

About the Author

KRISTY CAMBRON is an award-winning author of historical fiction, including her Cambron-headshot-300x300bestselling debut The Butterfly and the Violin, and an author of Bible studies, including the Verse Mapping series. She’s a Women’s Ministry Leader at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY, and a passionate storyteller who travels to speak at events across the country, encouraging women to experience a deeper life in the Word through verse mapping. Her work has been named to Publishers Weekly Religion & Spirituality TOP 10Library Journal Reviews’ Best BooksRT Reviewers’ Choice Awards, and received 2015 & 2017 INSPY Award nominations. Kristy holds a degree in Art History/Research Writing, and has 15 years of experience in education and leadership development for a Fortune-100 Corporation, working with such companies as the Disney Institute, IBM/Kenexa, and Gallup. She lives in Indiana with her husband and three sons, and can probably be bribed with a coconut mocha latte and a good read.

 

More from Kristy

About The Painted Castle

A war-torn estate holding its secrets close. A lost library bricked off from the world. And a portrait-maker’s unknown masterpiece of a Queen named Victoria… What stories do they long to tell?

It was supposed to be a one-week snatch-and-grab: survey an art find, collect a hefty fee, and use that to settle historian Kiera Foley’s life back into balance. But from the moment she sets foot in the East Suffolk countryside, the mystery of an old English manor, a crumbling beekeeper’s cottage, and a library that had long ago been sealed off brick by brick, all stir more questions than answers. What begins as a novice assignment instead peels back layers, lulling Keira into the depths of the estate’s long-forgotten history.

Despite questions swirling around the enigmatic, rumored art thief who’s employed her, Keira finds the existence of a portrait captivating enough to upend all of her expectations. This one could be a twin—a painting so close in composition to a known masterpiece, it may be rendered priceless if it truly captured the likeness of a young Queen named Victoria…

1842— In order to salvage what’s left of her family’s shaky circumstances, artist Elizabeth Meade knows her duty must be to marry well. But she hopes looks can be deceiving enough to hide her true motives behind a congenial smile and gain entry into the ballrooms of England’s noble elite. Instead of husband-hunting, Elizabeth searches for the one thing that’s seared to her memory—the eyes of her father’s killer, whom she unwittingly sketched one snowy night in Piccadilly ten years before. She never expects to find answers tucked away in the countryside at Parham Hill, in the form of a portrait-maker who could help her artist dreams come true, if only she could forget the highwayman she’s hunted for the last decade—the estate-owner who unwittingly selects her as his betrothed…

1942—When the 390th Bomb Group arrives at Amelia Woods’ Parham Hill Estate, the American flyboys bring playing cards, B-17 “flying fortresses”, and enough bravado to believe they can triumph over Hitler just by staring him down. Amelia isn’t certain, and she’s unwilling to compromise the safety and security in a carefully-crafted world she’s built for the dozens of London-evacuated children left in her charge. But with Anderson shelters buried in the gardens and an Allied airfield a stone’s throw away, Amelia may have no choice but to wait out the war under blackouts and bombs, and accept help from the captain who offers it—even if it means risking all she has left of her late husband’s memory…

From the streets of Piccadilly and the lavish halls of Buckingham Palace to the countryside surrounding Framlingham Castle, a warn-torn estate, a hidden library, and the lost portrait of a queen come together to write the final chapter in the Lost Castle series. Set in three time periods—the rapid change of Victorian England, the tumultuous skies over England’s eastern shores in WWII, and modern day—The Painted Castle unfolds a legacy of faith and the family we fight for, of risk and reward, and the artful crafting of a story that can be generations in the making… yet still change everything about a single life.

 

Blog Stops

All-of-a-kind Mom, October 15

The Power of Words, October 15

A Baker’s Perspective, October 15

The Avid Reader, October 16

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, October 16

Betti Mace, October 16

Reflections From My Bookshelves, October 17

Fiction Aficionado, October 17

Through the Fire Blogs, October 17

Inklings and notions , October 18

AndreaChristenson, October 18

She Lives to Read, October 18

Bloging With Carol, October 18

The Christian Fiction Girl, October 19

Back Porch Reads , October 19

Christian Bookaholic , October 19

KarenSueHadley, October 20

Livin’ Lit, October 20

A Reader’s Brain, October 20

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, October 20

Genesis 5020, October 21

Worthy2Read, October 21

Life of Literature, October 21

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, October 22

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, October 22

janicesbookreviews, October 22

For Him and My Family, October 22

Older & Smarter?, October 23

Mia Reads Blog, October 23

The Becca Files, October 23

Daysong Reflections, October 24

Connect in Fiction, October 24

Texas Book-aholic, October 24

Just the Write Escape, October 24

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, October 25

Moments, October 25

Simple Harvest Reads, October 25

Pause for Tales, October 26

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 26

Lis Loves Reading, October 26

Hallie Reads, October 26

Living Life Free In Christ, October 27

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, October 27

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, October 27

Soutgern Gal Loves to Read, October 28

Remembrancy, October 28

Batya’s Bits, October 28

Leona J. Atkinson, October 28

BLOG

Once upon a Christmas: Contemporary Retellings of Timeless Tales

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This post contains affiliate links. If you click on the links, I may be compensated.

About the Book

Title: Once upon a Christmas: Contemporary Retellings of Timeless Tales

Authors: Andrea Boyd, Toni Shiloh, Mikal Dawn, Angela Ruth Strong, Jaycee Weaver

Released: October, 2019

Embrace the magic of the Christmas season with these contemporary twists on timeless tales.

Upon a Dream — A rare sleeping disorder keeps Talia from performing, but when Philip recognizes her gift, he’ll do whatever it takes to see her onstage.

Claim My Heart — Li Na and Colin Wen face off in a Mulan-esque courtroom battle where the real win might be losing their hearts.

A Snow White Christmas — Sheltered heiress Amala White flees her conniving stepmother’s plans and finds refuge with a handsome orchard owner and his seven quirky uncles.

Christmas Ella — Reality TV meets Cinderella story when a location director is swept off her feet by a rising star.

A Splash of Love — Las Vegas glitz meets Land of Enchantment culture in A Splash of Love, a modern twist on the Little Mermaid.

Get your copy here.

My Review

This is a delightful collection of five retold, re-imagined fairy tales, especially for the holiday season. I was familiar with one author, but I am now also on the lookout for the other authors’ works. Here are my quick thoughts on each:

Upon a Dream by Andrea Boyd
This anchor story for the collection sets Sleeping Beauty in a theater with a unique twist for modern-day. I enjoyed the unfolding of this retold fairy tale, with its updates for today’s world.

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Claim My Heart by Mikal Dawn
Would you believe I have never watched Mulan? As a result, I had no “original” with which to compare this. This was my least favorite, but it was because of the character’s integrity.

A Snow White by Toni Shiloh
I liked the way Marcus asked God for wisdom even about the relationship. The “seven uncles” was a neat idea, especially the way that the relationships occurred.

Once upon a Christmas 2

Christmas Ella by Angela Ruth Strong
Strong always surprises me with her ingenuity, creativity, and humor in unexpected places. I have never met a story of Strong’s I haven’t loved.

A Splash of Love by Jaycee Weaver
As full of deceit and treachery as the original tale, this one was more painful. You’ll have to read it to see why I say that.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the authors. This in no way affected my opinions, which are solely my own.

My Rating

5 Stars – Hit My Reading Sweet Spot!

About the Authors

Each of Andrea Boyd‘s series represents a different genre but all fall into the category of romance. All offer an element of her own brand of humor. And all are a tribute to God. 14689507
Besides writing, she loves spending time with her family, quilting, going to car shows, and driving around in her 1968 Barracuda convertible.
Andrea lives with her husband, Tommy, and at least a couple of cats in York County, SC.
You can visit her website @ http://www.andreaboyd11.com

 

Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Once she understood the powerful saving grace thanks to the love of Christ, she was moved to honor her Savior. She writes to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness.13656663

 

Mikal Dawn is an inspirational romance author, wedding enthusiast and proud military wife. By day she works for an international sports ministry, and by night she mutters to imaginary friends, performs sketchy Google searches, and procrastinates (like any good writer!). When she isn’t writing about faith, fun, and forever, she is obsessively scouring Pinterest (with coffee in hand, of course!) for wedding ideas for her characters. 16465702

Born and raised just outside of Vancouver, Canada, Mikal has lived throughout the southern and Midwest United States, currently residing in Oklahoma (and hoping it’s their last move!) with her husband, two of her three kids, and one ferocious feline.

4746114Angela Ruth Strong sold her first story to a national magazine while still in high school and went on to study journalism at the University of Oregon. Her debut novel LOVE FINDS YOU IN SUN VALLEY, IDAHO released in 2010 to a four-star review from Romantic Times. Angela loves connecting with fans and mentoring aspiring authors, which led her to start IDAhope Writers. She currently lives in Boise with her husband and three kids.

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A Nevada native and New Mexico transplant, Jaycee Weaver is also a wife and mother of 3. She enjoys reading, writing, singing, photography, & all things kitchen and crafty. She considers herself a recovering perfectionist and is grateful for the grace of God that covers a multitude of eclectic hot messiness.
BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour

Better Than Fiction by April W. Gardner and Michelle Massaro

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About the Book

Book: Better than Fiction

Author: April W. Gardner &  Michelle Massaro

Genre: Historical Fiction/Contemporary Fiction  Better-than-Fiction-cover-200x300

Release Date: April 4, 2016

Imagining him was harmless…until it wasn’t.

Romance novelist Meghan Townsend’s marriage is slipping, and no amount of prayer seems to help. She aims to recapture her husband’s waning attention by getting in shape and finds escape by crafting her own fictional love story. Taking inspiration for the hero from a new friend—the attractive, spiritual, and attentive Curtis Jameson—she pours her yearnings onto the page, and craves the kind of pulse-pounding romance found in her book, Racing Hearts…

In 1916 Corona, California, motorcars are all the rage, and racing them is what Meghan’s hero, Russell Keegan, does best. But when his competition vandalizes his car, the only mechanic available is a greasy woman in a man’s overalls.

After a racing accident claimed her father’s life, Winifred became the sole breadwinner for her family. She is disdained as a female mechanic, but her daddy’s trade is all she has left. Can she swallow her hatred of the races and take up Russell’s offer of big bucks to fix his car, or will she lose everything to mounting debt?

Under Meghan’s skillful pen, these two embark on a thrilling, adventurous romance. But she finds that writing those love scenes with Curtis’s face in mind takes her heart places it shouldn’t go. Will she realize in time that real life can be better than fiction?

 

Click here to get your copy!

 

My Review

Fiction that challenges one to think carefully about real life is always welcome in my book (or Kindle, to be exact.) April W. Gardner and Michelle Massaro have combined to create a time-slip novel of racing, avarice, grease monkeys, and modern-day friends who juggle families, church life, and keeping fit.

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Romance and the lack of it are big themes in this novel. What do you do as a modern married woman in a Christian marriage blown cold? Where do you take refuge? A very fun way to examine a tough but very real topic in the church today.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the authors and publisher via Celebrate Lit. This in no way influenced my opinions, which are solely my own.

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My Rating

4 Stars – Excellent – I would recommend this book!

About the Author

April W Gardner writes Christian historical romance with a focus on our southeastern April-headshot-237x300Native tribes. She is a copyeditor, military wife, and mother of two who lives in South Texas. In no particular order, April dreams of owning a horse, learning a third language, and visiting all the national parks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michelle Massaro writes contemporary fiction, soaked in grace. She makes her home in  Michelle-Massaro-253x300Southern California with her husband of over two decades and their four children. She’s dabbled in homeschooling, teaching Creation Science, and leading worship. When she isn’t tinkering with words, Michelle enjoys old Rogers and Hammerstein movies, making kefir, and Sudoku. A new lipstick and a good French roast always make her happy.

 

 

More from April and Michelle

April and Michelle get a lot of questions about how exactly co-authors write a book. Who writes which part? Did you have any trouble, any conflict? Valid questions! But in the case of Better than Fiction, it was no trouble at all, and neither author can remember a single heated disagreement. In part, because they’d been critique partners for eons and were already working together seamlessly.

It also helped that the story is made up of two intertwining novellas. Each author had her own blank canvas to color on with the other looking on and offering feedback. The most enjoyable part of the process was the challenge of making sure the events in the life of Michelle’s contemporary character (an author) influenced the characters’ decisions in April’s historical plot.

Why intertwining stories? The idea behind it was to show what it’s like to live in the mind of a writer, how her real life makes its way into her stories. The theme of emotional affairs was a good fit, as it is often all too easy for women—even Christian woman—to be drawn to another man and justify it as harmless friendship rather than admit she is looking to this person to fill a need that only God and her husband are meant to fill.

They decided to set the story against the backdrop of Michelle’s hometown of Corona, California in 1916 and the real-life Corona Road Race that took place in April of that year. It was the third race and, due to tragedy, the last.

From concept to “The End,” it took a span of about four years for Michelle and April to publish Better than Fiction, and as far as teamwork goes, it went off without a hitch. April was able to fly from her home in Georgia to stay with Michelle’s family and do research, and later, Michelle flew to Georgia for a concentrated writing weekend. The two had an amazingly fun time writing and working together.

Another question the authors get…will there be a sequel? Only time will tell.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, October 9

Among the Reads, October 9

Genesis 5020, October 10

Through the Fire Blogs, October 11

Betti Mace, October 11

Artistic Nobody, October 12

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, October 12

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, October 13

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, October 13

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, October 14

For Him and My Family, October 15

Remembrancy, October 15

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, October 16

Maureen’s Musings, October 16

Godly Book Reviews, October 17

Moments, October 17

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, October 18

Bigreadersite, October 18

Texas Book-aholic, October 19

For The Love of Books, October 19

janicesbookreviews, October 20

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 20

A Reader’s Brain, October 21

Inklings and notions , October 22

Simple Harvest Reads, October 22

Giveaway

To celebrate their tour, April and Michelle are giving away the grand prize bundle of a $20 Amazon gift card, themed mug and bookmarks, and handmade throw pillow that says, “Books, my happy place”!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/ed92/better-than-fiction-celebration-tour-giveaway

Barbour, BLOG

The Express Bride, #9 Daughters of the Mayflower by Kimberley Woodhouse

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About the Book

Title: The Express Bride

Series: The Daughters of the Mayflower

Author: Kimberley Woodhouse

Publisher: Barbour

Released: July 2019

The Wilderness Is a Great Place to Hide

Jacqueline Rivers manages a Pony Express station in 1860 Utah territory after her father’s death. There are daily stresses placed on her in this unconventional role—and now a government official is asking her to sniff out counterfeiters. When Elijah Johnson passes through on the stage while on an exhausting quest to find his boss’s heir, he doesn’t want to leave the beguiling station manager. In fact, he may never leave when caught in the crossfire of the territory’s criminal activities. Jackie can’t decide if Elijah is friend or foe. Can she remain strong when secrets of the past and present are finally unearthed?

Join the adventure as the Daughters of the Mayflower series continues with The Express Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse.

More in the Daughters of the Mayflower series:
The Mayflower Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1620 Atlantic Ocean (February 2018)
The Pirate Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo – set 1725 New Orleans (April 2018)
The Captured Bride by Michelle Griep – set 1760 during the French and Indian War (June 2018)
The Patriot Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1774 Philadelphia (August 2018)
The Cumberland Bride by Shannon McNear – set 1794 on the Wilderness Road (October 2018)
The Liberty Bride by MaryLu Tyndall – set 1814 Baltimore (December 2018)
The Alamo Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo – set 1836 Texas (February 2019)
The Golden Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1849 San Francisco (April 2019)
The Express Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1860 Utah (July 2019)
The Rebel Bride by Shannon McNear – set 1863 Tennessee (December 2019)
The Blizzard Bride by Susanne Dietze – set 1888 Nebraska (February 2020)
The Chisholm Trail Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo – (April 2020)

My Review

The Express Bride, # 9 Daughters of the Mayflower by Kimberley Woodhouse, is yet another slice of life in American history and women’s roles in it. This era, lasting only a year and a half, was nevertheless a very important part of our country’s history.

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Woodhouse incorporates an engrossing story of a millionaire seeking a long- lost family with that of a female express station operator. The story flows smoothly, employing romance, faith, and mystery as it serves a memorable history lesson on this time long past. I especially loved the mystery thread.
Well- done, Ms. Woodhouse!
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and publisher through NetGalley. This in no way affects my opinion for which I am solely responsible.

My Rating

5 Stars – Superior – Hits My Reading Sweet Spot

About the Author

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Kimberley Woodhouse is the best-selling author of more than twenty books who loves the JOY of story. A lover of history and research, she often gets sucked into the past and then her husband has to lure her out with chocolate. She’s spoken to more than 800,000 people at more than 2,000 venues and has taught the craft of writing around the country. Married to the love of her life for twenty-five plus years, she makes her home in Montana. You can connect with Kimberley at: www.kimberleywoodhouse.com www.facebook.com/KimberleyWoodhouseAu…

BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, Nonfiction

Whispers in the Pews: Voices on Mental Illness in the Church, edited by Chris Morris

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 About the Book

Book: Whispers in the Pews

Author: Chris Morris

Genre: Mental illness & Spirituality                unnamed-2-199x300

Release Date: November 9, 2018

Mental Illness is real. Will the Church get real?

This book is a collection of essays from various authors: men and women, pastors and congregants, counselors and nurses, parents and children. All have a unique view of how mental health conditions affect people, and how the church has responded to these circumstances. Whispers in the Pews tackles how the mentally ill have been, and still are, treated in the church at large by sharing stories.

This is not fundamentally a teaching book, but a book of moments and lives, knitted together by the common theme of mental health. No sermons will be included, though lessons learned from difficulties and their foundations in Scripture are encouraged.

This collection will expand your vision, and your heart, about what the church does well for the mentally ill, and where we can improve.

 

Click here to grab your copy!

 

My Review

Where does one begin expressing one’s thoughts about a book like this? Whispers in the
Pews, edited by Chris Morris, is a collection of various Christians’ thoughts on how the
church is, for the most part, failing to meet the needs of its members who are dealing
with mental illness. Each essay presented is written by a person who struggles. Most
struggle with depression and/or anxiety, but some struggle with illnesses such as bipolar
or schizophrenia. Many deal with PTSD.
Most feel like the church has ignored them. I know many sufferers are right when they
say Christians act like depressed people are those who don’t have enough faith or have
sin in their lives or even have dark forces at work in them.
Whispers in the Pews.png
I am one of those who believe that God “has given us everything we need for life and
godliness…” However, a few of those things He has given us are wise doctors,
medications for depression and other illnesses, and Christian counselors. Having dealt
with some of these issues myself and in others around me, the book made me a little
uncomfortable. Partly because the essayists are right; many churches do not deal
appropriately with this topic. However, I also feel like (don’t shoot me, please) ill people
need to concentrate on moving forward when possible. The Apostle Paul talks about
taking every thought captive and forgetting what is behind and reaching for what is
ahead. If anyone experienced trauma enough to send him into illness or had memories
of a horrible past he wished he’d never lived, it would have been Paul. We have to treat
with medicine, counseling, and retraining the thought pathways of the brain.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author through the publisher via
Celebrate Lit. This in no way affected my opinions, which are solely my own.

My Rating

4 Stars – Excellent, I would recommend this book

About the Author

Chris Morris writes about the juxtaposition of faith and unresolved pain, those moments where we feel like God should show up, but He doesn’t. His writing focuses on bringing ChrisMorrisFINAL-12-of-94hope, encouragement, and practical steps to those disappointments, so we don’t get stuck.

He is familiar with the confusion and pain of a life interrupted by an illness. He’s had seizures of one kind or another for his entire life. Some days, he loses hours of his day. Other times, the steel trap that used to be his mind…leaks like a sieve.

His daughter is epileptic and has had over 5000 seizures in her life. She is also a high-functioning autistic, with increasing frustration as she begins to realize she is not like her peers.

Every day, he is reminded in some way that his family will never be normal.

But he won’t give in, he won’t give up. He won’t let the pain and aggravation, the injuries and difficulties that are part of his normal keep him from living a full life. At least, most days that’s true. His heart is to show his readers how to do the same.

 

More from Chris

Mental illness isn’t going away any time soon, as statistics say more than one in four people are diagnosed with a mental illness in the United States. And yet, the church at large has had a mixed response to mental illnesses. The church should be the one place where people are accepted as they are, no matter the details. Jesus accepted everyone who came across his path—adulterers, tax collectors, fishermen, critics. It didn’t matter. As His footprint upon the earth, the church should be the same.

Even with, or perhaps especially with, mental health conditions, the instinct should be to lean into kindness and love. The local church body should gather around, provide a place of safety and transparency, upholding those who are not well in their midst.

And this is exactly what happens, sometimes. There are pastors who are actively looking to normalize mental health conditions by mentioning depression alongside diabetes as an illness that can be overcome.

But for every pastor looking to build a healthy understanding of mental illnesses, there is a pastor lumping depression in with pornography, equating anxiety with faithlessness, telling their congregation to avoid medicine for treatment, or otherwise refusing to recognize the complexity of mental illnesses.

Definitely there are spiritual disciplines that can help those suffering from depression, but often it’s not enough. And yes, talking with a pastor or a counselor can certainly provide some relief for anxiety, but that’s not always the path forward either. Sometimes medicine is the answer, or at least part of the answer. And sometimes, there is no answer. Sometimes, trauma has left an indelible mark upon a person that cannot be overcome.

How can anyone tell the young man who is battling depression because of his abusive upbringing with a violent alcoholic father that a little more Bible reading and some memorization of a few verses will make the nightmares go away? No, that’s not how it works.

That’s not to insinuate every mental health condition comes from trauma. But even when the root isn’t trauma, there is still complexity involved. Some come from chemical imbalances…and no, that’s not a cop out. This is why antidepressants ease the burden for many suffering from severe depression, because these medications work to balance out various neurotransmitters. This is why some diagnosed as bipolar are able to find rest from the highs and lows with lithium, because a lithium imbalance was the problem in the first place.

Unfortunately, these truths are not always appreciated or understood in the church at large. No, many pastors paint with broad strokes, equating any mental illness with immaturity in the faith. It’s uncomfortable at best, and fear inducing at worst, to tell a pastor that he’s wrong. Especially when it’s hard to nail down why it is that he’s wrong.

Because of this discomfort, many choose to put on a happy shiny Christian mask and act like they’re not hurting. It’s more painful to confront church leadership and answer all the accusations and questions.

Even more disheartening than putting a mask on, many with mental illnesses choose to step away from the church altogether. They’ve been hurt too often, and too consistently, to have any space left in their hearts for trust. So they hang tight to a belief in Jesus, but walk away from the church because it hurts too much. Some of the voices you’ll read in this book have walked away from church for this very reason.

We can do better as the church. We must do better.

This reality is why I’ve gathered almost two dozen voices to share their stories. It’s only in listening—truly listening with every fiber of our being—to story after story of mental illness that we are able to see just how different every person is, even when the diagnosis is the same.

Mental illness isn’t a simple diagnosis, under any circumstances. It’s not like a fractured shoulder blade, where the path to healing is clear. With a shoulder, the bone needs to be set, the shoulder needs to be immobilized, and healing will take place. If there’s a complex fracture, then surgery might be necessary. But, the basic path is the same. This is never true with mental health conditions. Too often the church has treated those with mental illnesses as though there is a straightforward path toward healthier living, and that’s been painful to bear.

Whispers in the Pews has been written because I am convinced that it is fundamentally stories that will change the allowances for bad theology and inconsiderate (or worse) treatment of people. By hearing the pain and the victories that others have experienced in the church, my hope is that there will be room for a new way to approach mental health—one that sees the person before the health condition.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, October 10

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, October 11

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, October 12

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 13

As He Leads is Joy, October 14

Kat’s Corner Books, October 15

Texas Book-aholic, October 16

janicesbookreviews, October 17

Just the Write Escape, October 18

Mary Hake, October 18

Kathleen Anderson, October 19

A Reader’s Brain, October 20

Rev. Rebecca Wtites: Read, Write, Pray, October 21

Inklings and notions , October 22

Artistic Nobody, October 23

Inspired by fiction, October 23

Giveaway

To celebrate his tour, Chris is giving away the grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/e97f/whispers-in-the-pews-celebration-tour-giveaway