BLOG, Favorite, NetGalley, Revell

Two Steps Forward, #3 The Deacon’s Family by Suzanne Woods Fisher

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About the Book

Title: Two Steps Forward

Series: #3 The Deacon’s Family

Author: Suzanne Woods Fisher

Publisher: Revell

Released: February 2020

Genre: Amish Romance

Length: 319 pg

Back and broke in Stoney Ridge, Jimmy Fisher has coasted as long as he could through life on charm, good looks, and deep-set dimples. They always worked just fine for him–until they didn’t. His smile has no effect on the violet-eyed beauty he met at the Bent N’ Dent, the one with that stunning horse. She’s offered him a job, but nothing else.

The last thing Sylvie Schrock King needs around Rising Star Farm is a grown boy working for her, especially her neighbor Edith’s son. The woman holds a serious grudge against Sylvie and her son, and hiring Jimmy Fisher will only fan the flames of Edith’s rancor. But Sylvie is desperate for help on the farm, and Jimmy understands horses like no one else.

While Jimmy’s lazy smile and teasing ways steal Sylvie’s heart, Edith is working on a way to claim her land. Has Sylvie made another terrible mistake? Or is it too late to outfox the fox? More importantly . . . just who is the fox?

Writing with both wit and warmth, Fisher delivers a supremely satisfying conclusion to the popular Deacon’s Family series.

 

My Review

In this heartwarming, soul-searching tale, Suzanne Woods Fisher invites us back to Stoney Ridge. In Two Steps Forward, we see Luke Schrock maturing as a deacon; Izzy still looking for her missing childhood, and Jimmy Fisher returning from Colorado. Unsure of his plans, Jimmy accepts an unexpected offer from widow Sylvie Schrock King to help with her horse and farm.
Sylvie is a very likable character. She is independent, a hard worker, and she will defend and protect those she loves. For her, the question seems to be, is Jimmy worth loving?
I really couldn’t decide how I felt about Jimmy. Fisher drew him in such a way that I liked him, felt sorry for him, but despised and wanted to be done with him.

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The creek, which divides Sylvie’s property from Edith Fisher Lapp’s, is slowly meandering closer and closer to Edith’s house. Perhaps symbolic of the way Edith’s sphere of influence gets smaller and smaller the more in control of others she tries to be.
Edith is NOT a nice person, but Bishop David Stolzfus gives her lots of room (grace) to be herself. In our time in Stoney Ridge, I have enjoyed watching his people-handling skills, honed by hours of prayer. David is a very patient and wise bishop and is teaching Luke well by example.
While Luke has grown by leaps and bounds, Izzy is still chained to her unfulfilled childhood longings. Will she ever feel that she can move on without the ability to settle her past?

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Themes include righting wrongs towards others (mending fences); forgiveness (can those already given grace pay it forward)?; protecting those who can’t defend themselves (adoption or fostering). It’s important to take action, realizing by being part of the solution, we can help people, one by one.
Yet, a fourth theme was the importance of a loving father in the home.
I totally enjoyed this story and recommend it. That being said, I wish there had been one less twist at the end.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell and the author through NetGalley. This in no way affects my opinions, for which I am solely responsible.

My Rating

5 Stars- Superior – Hits My Reading Sweet Spot and makes me want to stay in Stoney Ridge.

 

About the Author

Suzanne Woods Fisher

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

A Girl’s Guide to the Outback by Jessica Kate

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About the Book

Book:  A Girl’s Guide to the Outback

Author: Jessica Kate

Genre:  Contemporary Romance

Release Date: January 28, 2020

How far will a girl go to win back a guy she can’t stand? This funny, sweet, and 44441985romantic story proves that opposites do attract—and that God has a sense of humor.

 Samuel Payton is a passionate youth pastor in Virginia, but below the surface, he’s still recovering from the blow of a failed business and insecurities he can’t shake. His coworker, start-up expert Kimberly Foster, is brilliant, fearless, and capable, but years of personal rejection have left her defensive and longing for a family. Two people have never been more at odds—or more attracted to one another. And every day at work, the sparks sure do fly.

When Kimberly’s ambitious plans for Sam’s ministry butt up against his risk-averse nature, Sam decides that obligations to family trump his work for the church. He quits the ministry and heads home to Australia to help his sister, Jules, save her struggling farm. As Kimberly’s grand plans flounder, she is forced to face the truth: that no one can replace Sam. Together they strike up a deal: If Kimberly comes to work on Jules’s dairy farm and lends her business brains to their endeavor, then maybe—just maybe—Sam will reconsider his future with the church.

As Kimberly tries her hand at Australian farm life, she learns more about herself than she could’ve ever expected. Meanwhile, Sam is forced to re-evaluate this spunky woman he thought he already knew. As foes slowly morph into friends, they wonder if they might be something even more. But when disaster strikes the farm, will Sam find it within himself to take a risk that could lead to love? And will Kimberly trust God with her future?

 

Click here to get your copy.

 

My Review

“Samuel Payton was an idiot.” What a great opening sentence to A Girl’s Guide to the Outback by Jessica Kate. Kimberly Foster and Samuel Payton may work together, but they seem destined to be each other’s number one antagonizer.
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Wow, this is the rom-com book to pick up for something light, yet with a message.
I liked and disliked all four main characters by turns, depending on whose point of view examined them. Kimberly, Sam, Jules, and Mick all have lots of personalities but the lies they believe often cause them to act as if there is only one possible trajectory for their lives. When their eyes see their own weaknesses, it tends to be through magnifying glasses that so enlarge their weaknesses and fears they can’t move forward. They have trouble viewing themselves in light of God’s Word, based on their own experiences or others’ perceptions of them.
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I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone interested in a lighter, clean rom-com with spiritual overtones.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit and NetGalley. This is no way affects my opinions for which I am solely responsible.

My Rating

5 stars – Superior – Hits My Reading Sweet Spot

About the Author 

jessica kateAustralian author Jessica Kate writes inspirational romances with wit, sass, and grit. Jessica is a screenwriting groupie, cohost of the StoryNerds vlog and podcasts, and her favorite place to be—apart from Mum and Dad’s back deck—is a theme park. She has traveled North America and Australia, and samples her favorite pasta wherever she goes—but the best (so far) is still the place around the corner from her corporate day job as a training developer. She loves watching sitcoms with her housemates and being a leader in a new church plant. Visit her online at jessicakatewriting.com; Instagram: jessicakatewriting; Facebook: jessicakatewriting; Twitter: @JessicaKate05.

 

Exclusive Excerpt

Click here to read an exclusive excerpt of the book!

Blog Stops

Among the Reads, February 3

Just the Write Escape, February 3

Through the Fire Blogs, February 3

Robin’s Nest, February 4

Hebrews 12 Endurance, February 4

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, February 5

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, February 5

Genesis 5020, February 6

Wishful Endings, February 6

Texas Book-aholic, February 7

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, February 7

Batya’s Bits, February 8

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 8

For Him and My Family, February 9

deb’s Book Review, February 9

Inklings and notions, February 10

Inside the Wong Mind, February 10

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 11

Kat’s Corner Books, February 11

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, February 12

Hallie Reads, February 12

Reflections From My Bookshelves, February 13

Mary Hake, February 13

Moments, February 14

Stories By Gina, February 14

Christian Chick’s Thoughts, February 15

Britt Reads Fiction, February 15

Pause for Tales, February 16

With a Joyful Noise, February 16

*No Giveaway for this Celebration Tour

BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, Kensington, NetGalley

Hannah’s Courage by Molly Jebber Celebrate Lit Tour with Giveaway

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About the Book

Book:  Hannah’s Courage

Author: Molly Jebber5-30-3019-Hannahs-Courage-FROM-Kensington-180x300

Genre:  Amish Historical Romance

Release Date: January 28, 2020

A loaf of fragrant cinnamon bread for breakfast . . . a sweet and creamy custard pie for dessert. In 1912 Ohio, the Amish Charm Bakery has something to delight locals and visiting Englischer alike. And within this warm, welcoming community, there’s always room for love to grow . . .

Hannah Lapp’s life, like a long-cherished recipe, is satisfying just the way it is. She enjoys whipping up desserts at the bakery, tutoring local children, and socializing with dear friends. One of those friends, Timothy Barkman, has made his interest in Hannah clear, but she’s been in no hurry to change her circumstances.

No sooner does she feel ready to grow closer to hard-working, handsome Timothy than Hannah finds she may have waited too long. Charlene Shetler intends to become Timothy’s fraa. It’s little wonder he’s attracted to such a pretty, forthright young woman, but is the newcomer all that she seems? Only when Hannah is willing to confront some difficult truths can she move bravely toward a life of abiding faith and love . . .

 

Click here to get your copy!

 

My Review

Hannah’s Courage by Molly Jebber is a cute, Amish romance with a love triangle that confounds me.
Hannah Lapp works in a bakery with Ellie and Magdalena, and eventually a few others. The relationships we see there are warm and energizing. If you wouldn’t want to work in Liza’s Bakery, you would at least want to make it a daily stop, like Sheriff Williams and Dr. Harrison. These older mid-life men are fun secondary characters, adding breadth to the story.

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No one but Timothy Barkman is going to like Charlene. At first, helping a newcomer to the area, he finds she attaches stronger than a hungry flea. Unfortunately, she’s rude and rotten to the core. (Ellie likes to call Charlene “Miss Nasty.”) Everyone but Timothy can see Charlene’s bad personality, and I’m left thinking, ”Can even a person in love be this blind?!” Charlene fails to consider Timothy’s wishes and requests about her forward behavior.

Hannah's Courage 1
As a former teacher, the book both delighted and dismayed me. These reactions had to do with Hannah and the course of actions she took. I can’t say more without spoilers.
What unimpressed me? The story moseyed a little slower than I would have liked. I wished the novel would have had a little more substance. Also, I felt like there was one possible loose end that loomed over most of the book and then quietly disappeared.
Why would I want to read more? The relationships in the bakery mentioned earlier. Maryann is a person that enters the book early on. By the end, I am intrigued enough that I will look for the next book by Molly Jebber to read her story.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and publisher. This does not influence my opinions. I am voluntarily leaving my thoughts, for which I am solely responsible.

 

My Rating

4 Stars – Excellent – I Would Recommend This Book

About the Author

Molly Jebber’s Amish Historical Romance books have been featured on Publisher’s Weekly’s Best Ten Recommended Reads, in USA Today’s HEA, Romantic Times and many Molly-Jebber-268x300other media sites. She’s tours and speaks for Stonecroft Ministries – Women’s Christian Connection, and about Amish history/traditions, writing, marketing, publishing, and her books. She loves God, her family, and friends. She enjoys swimming, golf, reading, and says yes to butterscotch pie and parasailing, but no to coconut and skydiving! Visit http://www.mollyjebber.com for a complete list of her books and speaking events.

 

More from Molly

I related to Hannah in this book where I had to find the courage to make some hard decisions. Maybe you’ve had some hard choices to make and finding the courage to follow through has been difficult for you.

Have you had a bad day where nothing goes right? We’ve all had those. Hannah’s has many days like this, and she is torn about what to do from one problem to the next in her life. She makes some snap decisions, and faces life-altering challenges. You’ll laugh and want to stomp your feet at the twists and turns in this story.  She’s good at giving her friends advice, but has trouble following it. I can relate to this in my life at times. Maybe you can too.

The Sheriff and Dr. Harrison are still regular customers at the bakery where she whips up mouth-watering desserts. She and her friends cry, laugh, and offer each other advice. I love time with girlfriends, and Hannah’s no different. You’ll relate to her, root for her, want to reach in the book and shake her at times (I’m sure my friends have wanted to do this with me a time or two!), and wonder how what the future holds for her.

I hope you’ll follow my blog tour and enter for a chance to win the Grand Prize at the end of the tour. The more you enter, the more chances you have of winning!

Thank you so much for your support and encouragement. Your Facebook comments help me to get to know you better, and I appreciate it so much!

 

Here’s a recipe Hannah’s whipped up for you. And there are more in the back of Hannah’s story.

 

Cake

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ¾ teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoonnutmeg
  • ½ teaspoonsalt
  • 1 ¼ cups vegetable oil
  • 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cupbrown sugar
  • 3eggs
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
  • 3large apples, peeled and cut into large pieced

Glaze

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • ¼ teaspoonvanilla

 

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease 9 x 13 pan with butter and coat with 2 tablespoons of flour
  2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Sift two additional times and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine oil and both sugars, and mix until well blended.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Add vanilla and mix again.
  5. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the batter and mix thoroughly. By hand, fold in apples and walnuts and mix until evenly combined.
  6. Spoon the batter into the prepared bundt pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  7. Remove cake from the oven and allow to cool in the bundt pan for 20 minutes.
  8. While the cake is cooling, prepare the glaze. In a saucepan, over medium heat, combine all of the glaze ingredients. Bring to a boil and allow the mixture to boil for 1 minute.
  9. Remove the cake from the pan, onto a serving plate. Spoon the glaze over the warm cake.
  10. Cool for a little longer before serving.

Blog Stops

The Avid Reader, January 30

Genesis 5020, January 30

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 31

Texas Book-aholic, January 31

Batya’s Bits, February 1

Quiet Quilter, February 1

She Lives to Read, February 2

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, February 2

Bigreadersite , February 3

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, February 3

For Him and My Family, February 4

deb’s Book Review, February 4

Inklings and notions, February 5

Jeanette’s Thoughts, February 5

Pause for Tales, February 5

Older & Smarter?, February 6

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, February 6

Blossoms and Blessings, February 7

Lighthouse Academy Blog, February 7 (Guest Review from Marilyn Ridgway)

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, February 8

Christian Bookaholic, February 8

For the Love of Literature, February 9

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 9

SusanLovesBooks, February 10

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, February 10

Connie’s History Classroom, February 11

SPLASHES of Joy , February 11

Locks, Hooks and Books, February 12

Vicky Sluiter, February 12

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Molly is giving away a Molly Jebber grand prize collection that includes a handmade quilt and Amazon card!!

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/f564/hannah-s-courage-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

 

 

Barbour, BLOG, NetGalley

The Blizzard Bride, #11 the Mayflower Brides by Susanne Dietze

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About the Book

Title: The Blizzard Bride

Series: The Mayflower Brides, #11

Author: Susanne Dietze

Publisher: Barbour

Released: February 2020

A Blizzard Changes Everything

Abigail Bracey arrives in Nebraska in January 1888 to teach school…and to execute a task for the government: to identify a student as the hidden son of a murderous counterfeiter—the man who killed her father.

Agent Dashiell Lassiter doesn’t want his childhood sweetheart Abby on this dangerous job, especially when he learns the counterfeiter is now searching for his son, too, and he’ll destroy anyone in his way. Now Dash must follow Abby to Nebraska to protect her…if she’ll let him within two feet of her. She’s still angry he didn’t fight to marry her six years ago, and he never told her the real reason he left her.

All Dash wants is to protect Abby, but when a horrifying blizzard sweeps over them, can Abby and Dash set aside the pain from their pasts and work together to catch a counterfeiter and protect his son—if they survive the storm?

My Review

Susanne Dietze pens a worthy addition to the Mayflower Brides series with her title, The Blizzard Bride. Hoping against hope for snow this year, the title appealed to me, as I love the cold ferocity of a blizzard (as long as my family is all safely ensconced at home with me).
Set in the open plains of Nebraska in 1887, Abigail Bracey agrees to help the Secret Service by posing as a school teacher while looking for a missing boy and a counterfeiter. That might have been simple if the operative assigned the case were not Dash Lassiter, who left her six years ago amid their dreams for a wedding.
Abby has a lot of courage and spunk, but she also needs to learn to rely on others and the Lord. Life’s difficulties have taught her to reject getting too close to people, and to trust only herself.
Blizzard Bride 1
Dash has been cut to the core by people’s mean assessment of his lack. I found myself wondering whether Abby would truly be able to see beyond these deficiencies or whether she would reject Dash for good. Then, the big question, can Dash see himself as a person of worth in God’s eyes, or will he forever believe his inability equals personal failure?
Themes in The Blizzard Bride include questions of unanswered prayers and why we suffer for others’ sins. We also see lessons of forgiveness, fairness, the spirit of love (& spunk) fostered by forgiveness.
Blizzard Bride 2
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and publisher through NetGalley. This in no way affects my opinions, for which I am solely responsible.
My Rating
5 Stars- Hit My Reading Sweet Spot

About the Author

Susanne Dietze began writing love stories in high school, casting her friends in the starring roles. Today, she’s the award-winning, RITA®-nominated author of several romances who’s seen her work on the Publisher’s Weekly, ECPA, and Amazon Bestseller Lists for Inspirational Fiction. Married to a pastor and the mom of two, Susanne lives in California and loves fancy-schmancy tea parties, the beach, and curling up on the couch with a costume drama and a plate of nachos. You can visit her on her website, www.susannedietze.com. 13657688

BLOG, NetGalley, Thomas Nelson

Synapse by Steven James

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About the Book

Title: Synapse

Author: Steven James

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Released: October 2019

Genre:  Christian Speculative, Sci-fi

Thirty years in the future, when AI is so advanced that humans live side by side with cognizant robots called Artificials, Kestrel Hathaway must come to terms not just with what machines know, but with what they believe.

Soon after experiencing a personal tragedy, Kestrel witnesses a terrorist attack and is drawn into a world of conspiracies and lies that she and Jordan, her Artificial, have to untangle. With a second, more brutal attack looming on the horizon, their best chance of stopping it is teaming up with federal counterterrorism agent Nick Vernon.

But the clock is ticking—and all the while, Jordan is asking questions Artificials were never meant to ask.

My Review

When I finished, I am reminded why I am drawn to speculative/sci-fi fiction. Being written from a Christian viewpoint, I like the conclusions better than those of a secular book. Steven James packs a lot of solid Biblical truth into Synapse and utilizes key story threads to do so. The lack of bad language or bedroom scenes is a real plus for me!
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I enjoyed seeing how James develops the characters of Kestral, Jordan, Nick, and Trevor. Interestingly enough, ALL of them show growth. You’ll have to read the book to see why that’s an ironic statement. The action really accelerated near the end. I love to be surprised by who some of the villains and allies are, and this book did not disappoint.
It did take me a while to get into the book, as James uses different point-of-views and even tenses for each character. Switching out of third-person past to the first-person present and back again was not comfortable for me. There were spots where James felt it appropriate to write the text all next to each other, with no breaks for words. These spots could be a paragraph long, and unfortunately, I was also fighting off dizziness the day I read this part, so I was doubly dismayed. All in all, though, I did enjoy the book. It came together well in the end. I would read another of Steven James’s novels and see where he takes mankind.
Synapse 2
I was given a complimentary copy of this book by the author and publisher. This does not affect my opinions, for which I am solely responsible.

My Rating

4 Stars – Excellent – I Would Recommend This Book

 

About the Author

Steven James is a national bestselling novelist whose award-winning, pulse-pounding thrillers continue to gain wide critical acclaim and a growing fan base.

His latest novel, SYNAPSE, a near-future thriller, is set to release on October 8, 2019.

Suspense Magazine, who named Steven’s book EVERY WICKED MAN one of their “Best Books of 2018,” says that he “sets the new standard in suspense writing.” Publishers Weekly calls him a “master storyteller at the peak of his game,” and RT Book Reviews promises that “the nail-biting suspense will rivet you.”

Steven deftly weaves intense stories of psychological suspense with deep philosophical insights. As critically-acclaimed novelist Ann Tatlock put it, “Steven James gives us a captivating look at the fine line between good and evil in the human heart.”

Equipped with a unique Master’s Degree in Storytelling, he has taught writing and storytelling on four continents over the past two decades and has spoken more than two thousand times at events spanning the globe.

Steven’s groundbreaking books on the art of fiction writing, STORY TRUMPS STRUCTURE and TROUBLESHOOTING YOUR NOVEL, have both won Storytelling World Awards. Widely recognized for his story-crafting expertise, he teaches regularly as a Master Class instructor at ThrillerFest, North America’s premier training event for suspense writers. He also hosts the biweekly podcast, The Story Blender.

When Steven isn’t writing or speaking, you’ll find him trail running, rock climbing, or drinking dark roast coffee near his home in East Tennessee.

Bethany House, BLOG, Favorite, NetGalley, PB

Veiled in Smoke by Jocelyn Green

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About the Book

Title: Veiled in Smoke

Series: The Windy City Saga (#1)

Author: Jocelyn Green

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

Released: February 4, 2020 ( I read an ARC.)

Genre: Christian Historical

Meg and Sylvie Townsend manage the family bookshop and care for their father, Stephen, a veteran still suffering in mind and spirit from his time as a POW during the Civil War. But when the Great Fire sweeps through Chicago’s business district, they lose much more than just their store.

The sisters become separated from their father, and after Meg burns her hands in an attempt to save a family heirloom, they make a harrowing escape from the flames with the help of Chicago Tribune reporter Nate Pierce. Once the smoke clears away, they reunite with Stephen, only to learn soon after that their family friend not only died during the fire–he was murdered. Even more shocking, Stephen is charged with the crime and committed to the Cook County Insane Asylum. Though homeless, injured, and suddenly unemployed, Meg must not only gather the pieces of her shattered life, but prove her father’s innocence before the asylum truly drives him mad.

My Review

“It was a lie, Meg had realized years ago, that the end of the war meant the end of suffering.” The Civil War is over, and the boys and men who survived are home. Yet Meg and her sister, Sylvie Townsend, discover that Stephen Townsend’s time in notorious Andersonville has wreaked havoc with his grip on reality. Meanwhile, Nathaniel Pierce of the Chicago Tribune interviews Stephen as a veteran. Life becomes murky when the city catches fire and Stephen’s best friend is murdered, leaving Stephen the cops’ main suspect.

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Jocelyn Green is an expert at creating historically accurate and intriguing backgrounds while painting in-depth portraits of her characters. Both Meg and Sylvie exhibit intense loyalty and love for their parents, as well as a great need for their approval. Unfortunately, their understanding of their parents’ love and care is limited by the blinders they wear.
The young ladies also wear blinders when it comes to the young men in their lives. They cannot truly see the love, honesty, and true character(or lack thereof) of their beaux.
So many ideas and themes are presented. Forgiveness. The idea that it’s ok to be imperfect, and in fact, sometimes imperfect is better. Also, accepting life as it is, imperfect, not expecting it to be rosy or requiring others to be perfectly well or perfectly behaved all the time. (Ouch! Preaching to myself!!) True compassion. Sometimes we can’t achieve this until we’ve walked a mile in somebody else’s shoes, or at least had a bit of hardship in life. Faith, believing God is limitless and truly in control.
Two more thoughts. It was hard to breathe as I traveled with Meg and Sylvie and Nate as they desperately tried to outrun the Great Fire. I could smell the smoke, my lungs felt full to bursting, and my anxiety level was high. And then many somethings began falling from the sky!

Veiled in Smoke 2


I had never heard of the term, “soldier’s heart.” How fitting. How sad. So many times, we, the civilians for whom those men and now women sacrificed, refuse to understand and accept with open arms our vets who return to us.
As usual, Jocelyn Green will have me thinking for a long time to come about people and their treatment of others.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and publisher. No positive response was required. All opinions are my own.
 

My Rating

5 Stars- Hits My Reading Sweet Spot ( and makes me think and think!)

About the Author

2578437Jocelyn Green is a former journalist who puts her investigative skills to work in writing both nonfiction and historical fiction to inspire faith and courage.

The honors her books have received include the Christy Award in historical fiction and gold medals from the Military Writers Society of America and the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association.

Complex and nuanced characters, rich historical detail and twisting plots make her novels immersive experiences. Her fiction has been praised by Historical Novel Society, Romantic Times, Library Journal, historians specializing in her novels’ time periods, as well as popular and acclaimed authors Laura Frantz, Lori Benton, Jody Hedlund, Sarah Sundin, Joanne Bischof, Julie Lessman, and more.

Jocelyn loves Broadway musicals, the color red, strawberry-rhubarb pie, Mexican food, and well-done documentaries. She lives in Iowa with her husband, two children, and two cats she should have named Catticus Finch and Purrman Meowville.

Visit her at jocelyngreen.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Bethany House, BLOG, NetGalley

The Major’s Daughter, #3 Fort Reno Series by Regina Jennings

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About the Book

Title: The Major’s Daughter

Series: Fort Reno Series (#3)

Author: Regina Jennings

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

Released: December 2019

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

Caroline Adams returns to Indian Territory craving adventure after tiring of society life. When she comes across swaggering outlaw Frisco Smith, his dreams to obtain a piece of property on the Unassigned Lands are very persuasive. When the gun sounds, they find themselves battling over a claim–and both dig in their heels.

My Review

Regina Jennings tells us the story of the land rush in Oklahoma when the territory was opened to homesteaders. Jennings’s main players in The Major’s Daughter are Caroline, born to privilege and respect; and Frisco Smith, who comes from an orphanage but gains respect through his lobbying for land for the common man.

the Major's Daughter 1
I gained respect for so many people as I read this book. For the Indians, who had been driven off their land, and made many false promises. For those men like Frisco, opportunists, yes. Yet, they were the ones who scouted out the new Unclaimed Territories and brought back to civilization the depiction of what life there could be. For those who, like the Major, had the responsibility to oversee the fairness of the land distribution on the day the lands were opened. Oy vey, the headaches! And last, but not least, for the people themselves who bravely attempted to race to claim the land, only to be hoodwinked, or beaten by Sooners, the capricious weather, or circumstances.
I liked the depictions of human nature as they emerge in the brand-new town of Plainwell. Will Caroline and Frisco get what they are really searching for, or will they settle for more than they bargained for?

The Major's Daughter 2
For me, a wonderful history/sociology lesson wrapped up in an attractive, delectable story. Thank you, Ms. Jennings.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. This does not affect my opinions, which are solely my own.

My Rating

5 Stars- Hits My Reading Sweet Spot

About the Author

132117Regina Jennings is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a history minor. She has worked at The Mustang News and First Baptist Church of Mustang, along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. She now lives outside Oklahoma City with her husband and four children.

 

Barbour, BLOG, NetGalley

The Gray Chamber by Grace Hitchcock

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About the Book

Title: The Gray Chamber

Series: True Colors: Historical Stories of American Crimes

Author: Grace Hitchcock

Publisher: Barbour

Released: January 2020

Step into True Colors — a new series of Historical Stories of Romance and American Crime

Will Edyth prove her sanity before it is too late?

On Blackwell Island, New York, a hospital was built to keep its patients from ever leaving.

With her late father’s fortune under her uncle’s care until her twenty-fifth birthday in the year 1887, Edyth Foster does not feel pressured to marry or to bow to society’s demands. She freely indulges in eccentric hobbies like fencing and riding her velocipede in her cycling costume about the city for all to see. Finding a loophole in the will, though, her uncle whisks Edyth off to the women’s lunatic asylum just weeks before her birthday. Do any of Edyth’s friends care that she disappeared?

At the asylum, she meets another inmate, who upon discovering Edyth’s plight, confesses that she is Nellie Bly, an undercover journalist for The World. Will either woman find a way to leave the terrifying island and reclaim her true self?

 

My Review

Grace Hitchcock’s The Gray Chamber would probably win my “Sleeper of the Year” award. (And, yes, I know it’s only January.) I thought this book would be fun and interesting. I did not bargain for a love in danger of being lost nor a trip to Blackwell’s Island, infamous in its time for housing “insane” women. This series of historical American crimes gives a fictional façade to journalist Nellie Bly’s visit to the island. 

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At first, we are immersed in an enjoyable turn-of-the-century account of Edyth and fencing master Raoul Banebridge. Edyth is dying to have her best friend Raoul “Bane” notice her as a woman, but her eccentricities seem to block his view. When finally, he begins to see Edyth for the woman she is, her eccentricities have enabled other shocking developments. 
This book is the stuff my nightmares are made of. It made perfect sense, and I could visualize it all happening. The evil mankind can perpetrate on another, made in the image of the same God!! My only hope as I read with elevated blood pressure and eyes scurrying over the pages was for a happy ending. Certainly, a chiller. However, as I think more about it, I can think of the Great Shepherd going after that one lost sheep, as well. The ultimate love that conquers hate. 

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Having read Hitchcock’s previous novel in this collection, The White City, I was pleased to meet Jude Law again. I always like it when novelists include fun tie-ins like this to their other works. 
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. This in no way influences my opinions, which are my own. 

My Rating

5 Stars- Hits My Reading Sweet Spot

About the Author

Grace Hitchcock is the author of The White City and The Gray Chamber from Barbour 16145482Publishing. She has written multiple novellas in The Second Chance Brides, The Southern Belle Brides, and the Thimbles and Threads collections with Barbour Publishing. She holds a Masters in Creative Writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in History. Grace lives in southern Louisiana with her husband, Dakota, and son. Visit Grace online at GraceHitchcock.com.

 

 

 

 

BLOG, Favorite, NetGalley, Revell

An Uncommon Woman by Laura Frantz

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About the Book

Title: An Uncommon Woman

Author: Laura Frantz

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

Publisher: Revell

Released: January 7, 2020

Unflinching and plainspoken, Tessa Swan is not your typical 18th-century woman. Born and bred on the western Virginia frontier along with her five brothers, she is a force to be reckoned with.

Quiet and courageous, Clay Tygart is not your typical 18th-century man. Raised by Lenape Indians, he returns a hero from the French and Indian War to the fort that bears his name, bringing with him Tessa’s long-lost friend, Keturah, a redeemed Indian captive like himself.

Determined to avoid any romantic entanglements as fort commander, Clay remains aloof whenever he encounters the lovely Tessa. But when she is taken captive by the tribe Clay left, his hand–and heart–are forced, leading to one very private and one very public reckoning.

Intense, evocative, and laced with intricate historical details that bring the past to life, An Uncommon Woman will transport you to the picturesque and dangerous western Virginia mountains of 1770.

My Review

 

If Laura Frantz’s name is on it, that is enough to tell me I’m going to love a novel, and most probably, consider it a favorite. An Uncommon Woman is no exception. Ms. Frantz takes the reader back to colonial Virginia, but the far side of the Appalachians, where the Buckhannon River runs free and life is hard. At a time when the Colonies are bursting at their seams, some have traversed the mountains to make the wildlands their home. But with Indian tribes both mistreated and feared, life on the frontier is unstable at best.

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Laura Frantz has an enviable way with words that mesmerizes the reader as she paints a comprehensive word picture of the dangers of the forts established at this time.
“How would I feel if” is the question I find myself asking when reading a Laura Frantz novel. One can’t help but be drawn into the lives of Tessa and her bereft family, who are honoring her pa by continuing the life he staked out for them. Yet Tessa remembers a fearful time in childhood that affected the whole community. She also longs to return to the East, a refined land she has never seen.
Colonel Clay Tygart, for whom the fort is named, is an enigma both in appearance and personality. A “white Indian,” where will his loyalties lie when the Indian unrest breaks loose?

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The secondary characters of Keturah, Tessa’s brothers, Tessa’s ma and the neighbor fill in the background to help weave a taut, suspenseful narrative that exposes human prejudices for what they are.
Vengeance-based feelings against people who might differ from oneself, held accountable for someone else’s actions. I wanted to cry at times, at others beg and plead with characters and whole groups of people to think more clearly, with forgiveness.
This is a story of many loves. A few romantic. * Sigh. * Several familial, but each different depending on the character of the persons involved. One strong friendship that supersedes all, beautifully portraying that “friend that is closer than a brother.”
I received a complimentary copy of this book. This in no way affects my opinions, which are solely my own.
 

 

My Rating

5 Stars- Hits My Reading Sweet Spot Straight On!!

About the Author

Now that you’ve read about a real favorite book of mine (Laura Frantz rarely misses!) it’s time to learn a little about the author herself.

Laura Frantz is passionate about all things historical, particularly the 18th-century, and writes her manuscripts in longhand first. Her stories often incorporate Scottish themes 2986307that reflect her family heritage. She is a direct descendant of George Hume, Wedderburn Castle, Berwickshire, Scotland, who was exiled to the American colonies for his role in the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715, settled in Virginia, and is credited with teaching George Washington surveying in the years 1748-1750. Frantz lives and writes in a log cabin in the heart of Kentucky. According to Publishers Weekly, “Frantz has done her historical homework.” With her signature attention to historical detail and emotional depth, she is represented by Janet Kobobel Grant, Literary Agent & Founder, Books & Such Literary Agency of Santa Rosa, California. Readers can find Laura Frantz at www.laurafrantz.net.

 

 

 

 

Barbour, BLOG, NetGalley

The Rebel Bride, #10 Daughters of the Mayflower by Shannon McNear

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About the Book

Title: The Rebel Bride

Series: The Daughters of the Mayflower

Author: Shannon McNear

Publisher: Barbour

Released: December 2019

During the clash between Union and Confederacy, quiet Tennessean Pearl MacFarlane is compelled to nurse both Rebel and Yankee wounded who seek refuge at her family’s farm. She is determined to remain unmoved by the Yankee cause—until she faces the silent struggle of Union soldier Joshua Wheeler, a recent amputee. The MacFarlane family fits no stereotype Joshua believed in; still, he is desperate to regain his footing—as a soldier, as a man, as a Christian—in the aftermath of his debilitating injury. He will use his time behind enemy lines to gather useful intelligence for the Union—if the courageous Rebel woman will stay out of the line of danger.

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

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

I was really looking forward to this book after reading an earlier Daughters of the Mayflower novel by Shannon McNear. While her previous book brought to mind authors such as Laura Frantz, Michelle Griep, or Jocelyn Green; The Rebel Bride fights for its place in a full field of Civil War novels. It alternately is compelling and then more of a textbook. The first sign of struggle is when the author, Shannon McNear, pens a very cautious “note from the author.” While I was impressed McNear wants me to follow her way of thinking, I did not feel she came across as confident in her ability to convince me.

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The storyline itself was sound and seemed at times strong, at other times weaker. A Sergeant from the Union Army, Joshua Wheeler, has had an arm amputated. He finds himself and several other very ill, POW Union soldiers billeted in a humble house in Georgia, following the Battle of Chickamauga. Pearl McFarlane, on the other hand, is the one pressed into caring for these grievously ill enemies. Can she handle the events God allows into her life around this time?
I liked the secondary characters that McNear factored into the story.
A father who is progressing through dementia; a wandering, curiously absent brother when work needs doing; and a shunned sister-in-law.
There were times the narrative shone, but it just didn’t flow smoothly, consistently, as I would have liked.

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The author’s ending note was quite long and a little off-putting because of said length. In retrospect, I believe there may have been too much information the author wanted to share, and the pressure of that came across in the written page. Please remember this is only my opinion and others, including yourself, may see the book quite differently.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley, which in no way influenced my opinions.

My Rating

4 Stars – Excellent – I Would Recommend This Book.

About the Author

6880909Shannon has been writing one thing or another since third grade and finished her first novel at age fifteen—but waited more than thirty years for her first book contract. In the meantime, she graduated from high school, attended college, met and married her husband, birthed nine children, lost one, taught five to drive, revised that first story innumerable times, and completed six others.

Her first published novella, Defending Truth, in A Pioneer Christmas Collection (Barbour, 2013 & 2015), was a 2014 RITA® nominee. She writes regularly for Colonial Quills, is a member of ACFW and RWA, and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.

Transplanted to North Dakota after more than two decades in Charleston, South Carolina, she loves losing herself in local history. When this homeschooling mom isn’t sewing, researching, or leaking story from her fingertips, she enjoys being outdoors, basking in the beauty of the northern prairies.

Connect with Shannon online at https://www.shannonmcnear.com/ or on Twitter @ShannonMcNear.