BLOG, Favorite, Revell

The Edge of Belonging by Amanda Cox

About the Book

Title: The Edge of Belonging

Author: Amanda Cox

Publisher: Revell

Released: September 2020

Genre: Christian Dual-Time, Contemporary

When Ivy Rose returns to her hometown to oversee an estate sale, she soon discovers that her grandmother 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-time 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 Impressions

The Edge of Belonging is such a spellbinding, dual-time novel from Amanda Cox. I foresee Edge of Belonging winning an award for debut novels. For myself, I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the page. Heart-rending themes such as foster homes, homelessness, human trafficking, depression, and PTSD are dealt with from both the sufferer’s and a loving helper’s POV. The raw loneliness hurt, and need that several of the characters experience is portrayed so poignantly. It seems each character in the earlier story (Harvey, Pearl, Thom, and Miriam) feels they are on the edge of belonging to some degree.

In the later story, Ivy is the focal point who feels like she doesn’t quite belong, but her best friend Reese has often struggled with those same sentiments. I was thrilled to see how the book’s title applied to so many. I also loved seeing the hope and mercy that certain characters, especially Pearl and Reese, generously dole out to others. Again, so many of Ms. Cox’s characters show significant growth by the end of the story.
While it is easy to see early on where the stories will connect, there remains the fascination of just how Ms. Cox is going to work it all out.


I usually like to pick a favorite character, but they were all faves. I love Reese for his steadiness and undying care. Harvey, for the way he supersedes his own fears to love another. And Pearl, for her radar to find and genuinely love lost souls.
Get your own copy of this must-read debut!
I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher through Revell Reads via NetGalley. All opinions are my own and no positive review was required.

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent!

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.

Connect with Amanda on her website at https://amandacoxwrites.com

or on Twitter @amandacoxwrites

ARC, BLOG, Favorite, NetGalley, Purchase, Waterbrook-Multnomah

The Librarian of Boone’s Hollow by Kim Vogel Sawyer

About the Book

Title: The Librarian of Boone’s Hollow

Author: Kim Vogel Sawyer

Publisher: Waterbrook-Multnomah

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

A traveling librarian ventures into the mining towns of Kentucky on horseback and rediscovers her passions in this powerful novel from the best-selling author of A Silken Thread.

During the Great Depression, Addie Cowherd dreams of being a novelist and offering readers the escape that books gave her during her tragic childhood. When her adoptive father loses his job, she is forced to leave college and take the only employment she can find–delivering books on horseback to poor coal mining families in the hills of Kentucky.

The small community of Boone’s Hollow is suspicious of outsiders and steeped in superstitions that leave Addie feeling rejected and indignant. Although she finds an unexpected friend in an elderly outcast, the other horseback librarians scorn her determination to befriend Nanny Fay.

Emmett Tharp grew up in the tiny mountain hamlet where most men either work in the coal mine or run moonshine. He’s the first in the community to earn a college degree, and he has big dreams, but witnesses the Depression robbing many young men of their future.

Then someone sets out to sabotage the library program, going so far as to destroy Addie’s novel in progress. Will the saboteur chase Addie and the other librarians away, or will knowledge emerge victorious over prejudice? Is Emmett the local ally that Addie needs–and might their friendship lead to something more?

Inspired by the real WPA program that sent librarians on horseback to deliver books to hill families in Kentucky, Kim Vogel Sawyer immersed herself in Appalachian history to tell this captivating story.

My Impressions

A while back, some polls were taken of Christian fiction readers. Many said their favorite fiction book of all time was Catherine Marshall’s Christy. Now we are blessed with several Christy-like books on the market. Certainly, the Appalachia of times gone by has a nostalgic pull for readers.
Kim Vogel Sawyer’s depiction of the Kentucky hills and her proud, but superstitious people will sate some of the longings to know these people who lived by their own code of honor. It wasn’t enough to live in the hills, one needed to be born and bred in the hills, know the neighbors from birth, and adhere to the superstitions.


In 1936, Addie Cowherd and Emmett Tharp, near strangers, and separate of each other, leave college in Lexington, KY, and attempt to make their respective homes in Boone’s Hollow (pronounced ”Holler” by the mountain folk). Emmett is rejected because of his outside education; Addie, for being a total stranger to an area where being a stranger ”like to as not” can get you shot on sight.
Sawyer shows us throughout the story what life in the mountains could be like. Superstitions run high, distrust of strangers is learned early, family feuds are fed for generations, and anyone stepping off the mountain is seen as a traitor.
Stills hide in the trees, feeding addiction, which then, in turn, feeds abuse, yet neighbors refuse to break the ”code of honor.”


I couldn’t believe that at the end of the story, Ms. Sawyer had me loving the person she had shown unlovable. That’s talent! And those are characters- who can forgive that mightily! So much to learn, more than even reading, from the people of ”Boone Holler.”
My two favorite characters (who like to be too shy to take a bow) would be Emmett’s mother, Damaris, and Nanny Fay. They just might could be the backbone of the mountain.
I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher through NetGalley. I also bought my own copy, to be sure I didn’t miss it. All opinions are my own, and no positive review was required.
Notable Quotables:
“…yawning during a sermon is most certainly a sin.”
“Just ’cause nobody else knows you done somethin’ extra special don’t mean it ain’t special.”
”She’d cracked that mirror herself so her soul could escape if the mirror captured it, but she didn’t want to take no chances by looking at herself too long.”

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent!

About the Author

Award-winning, bestselling author Kim Vogel Sawyer told her kindergarten teacher that someday people would check out her book in the library. The little-girl dream came true in 2006 with the release of Waiting for Summer’s Return. Kim’s titles now exceed 1.5 million copies and are available in six different languages. A former elementary school teacher, she now enjoys a full-time writing and speaking ministry. Kim’s passion lies in writing stories that point the reader to a deeper, more intimate relationship with God. When Kim isn’t writing, you’ll find her traveling with her retired military hubby, spoiling her granddarlings, petting the cats, quilting, or–as time allows–participating in community theater. You can learn more about Kim’s writing and speaking ministries at her website, KimVogelSawyer.com. 

Biblical Fiction, BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, Purchase

Trouble in the Ruins, #3 Stones of Gilgal by CL Smith Celebrate Lit Tour and Giveaway



About the Book

Book:  Trouble in the Ruins

Author: C.L. Smith

Genre:  Biblical fiction

Release Date: September 2019

Return to the turbulence of ancient Canaan in Book Three of The Stones of Gilgal. Even the raging floods of the Jordan could not stop the Israelites from crossing the river and setting up camp near Jericho. Canaanite kings and kingdoms—even the Anakim giants—are in turmoil. Former enemies jostle for power in new alliances, united only in their determination to destroy the Israelite invaders.

When the massive fortifications of Jericho collapse, Salmon rushes into the ruins to save Rahab, the beautiful harlot who had rescued him and his fellow spy from certain death. But saving her from her own city is not so easy. And that is only the beginning of the trouble, treachery and devastating ruins they and their friends face as they settle into their new life in the Promised Land.

Click here to get your copy!

My Impressions

CL Smith’s Trouble in the Ruins, # 3 Stones of Gilgal, gripped my heart with terror and wonder. Terror of the Anakim in the land. I wondered as Smith describes the Anakim and their devotion to Baal if I would have been faithful to follow Joshua and Caleb’s urging to conquer the Promised Land (although that actually occurred in a previous book, we see so much of the Anakim, I can understand the Israelites’ fear. If only they could KNOW that their God is greater…) Wonder at the greatness of God.
“Night after night, the stars declared Yahweh’s message. Israel did not face evil alone. God would provide a deliverer. It was the message of Passover.”
Evil abounds, whether in Jericho, or in the Anakim, or the hearts of man, not fully committed to God. We travel with Israel and observe the wondrous defeat of Jericho, only to see the treachery that causes the defeat at Ai. I love how each character is presented as realistically, struggling, and sometimes failing, in their walk with Yahweh. Yet we see several attaining redemption, while others reject Yahweh and rail against Him. I liked how even the “good” characters like Caleb’s daughter Acsah and her friend Abihail find they need forgiveness and cleansing. Sometimes those who think themselves most righteous have to re-examine God’s Word for guidance on how to treat others.


My heart yearned in agreement with statements about the young people:
“Passover is not their story, but it must become so. It is the birth story of our people. I must tell it and retell it. Make it theirs. Tell it every year until I die—my parting gift to future generations.”
So many touching quotes. So many competing storylines, yet they work. Especially if you have read the first two books, which I had not, or are familiar with the Biblical Exodus. I give Ms. Smith points for putting the map in front (where I believe all maps belong) and the lengthy character list in back, where one can refer to it, once you have enough knowledge to hang your hat on. Otherwise, I find a list of names at the front off-putting. Add footnotes to Biblical allusions and references, great! At times the prose is not only compelling, but it is also melodic. This is a book that was hard to put down, as I followed each character and grew to love them.
Of course, with so many characters getting their turn in the sun, many did not see the ending I was hoping for. Fortunately, we are promised two or three more books to bring this Israelite saga to a satisfying conclusion. I went and bought the first two stories. I would have bought the sequels if they were available. If you like exciting Biblical fiction, give Trouble in the Ruins a try.
Notable Quotables:


“…we must not let the living force of the story be lost.”

“God transforms tears into jewels. He has a new plan for me than the life I imagined. A higher place, and it will be good.”

“Welcome to a place where identity and dignity are found in covenant with Yahweh.”

I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit. (I also bought my own copy.) All opinions are my own, and no positive review was required.

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent

About the Author

C.L. SMITH, former missionary, retired junior high English/history teacher, has captivated audiences around the world for years with the timeless thrill of biblical tales. Now her six-part Stones of Gilgal saga brings the mayhem and miracles of the book Joshua to life. Well researched and beautifully written, the author weaves her lifetime love of learning and people into the fabric of the biblical text, creating a tapestry of rich scenes and colorful characters the reader will not soon forget.

Learn more at www.stonesofgilgal.com

More from C.L. Smith

The Stones of Gilgal biblical novels follow the epic adventures of a group of ordinary young Israelites. As they battle evil together, they sink their roots deeper and deeper into the bedrock of God’s Truth and Love, slowly growing from a stand of saplings to a forest of giants.

Two of the seven young characters in my series have to deal with a lot of Trouble in the Ruins in this bookLots of trouble. Lots of ruins.

Rahab the Harlot barely escapes the ruins of Jericho, but the ruins of her former life threaten to keep her ever an alien among the people of Yahweh.

Abihail is Acsah’s best friend from childhood, but she is also a fictionalized daughter-in-law of the biblical Achan. Her life is slammed with heart-rending trouble and ruin as that horrific Old Testament drama unfolds.

The Title: Trouble in the Ruins

The inspiration for this title comes from a couple of “plays on words” in Hebrew.

Trouble: The name Achan in Hebrew sounds very similar to the word Achor meaning trouble. The story of the biblical character Achan is forever tied to the word trouble at the end of Joshua 7 when the valley where he was stoned and buried under a “monument” of rocks received the name the Valley of Achor.

Ruins: Achan’s sin led to defeat at a little fortress known as Ai which means ruin. Some scholars suggest that the fortress was built on or near the ruins of a city destroyed in an earlier time. Following the glory of the crossing of the Jordan and the crumbling walls of Jericho—the Hebrew mind would find great dramatic irony in Israel being defeated by a “ruin.” The story jolts us out of complacency, underscoring the life and death consequences of obedience versus breaking covenant with God.

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, September 1

For the Love of Literature, September 2

For Him and My Family, September 3

Sara Jane Jacobs, September 4

Emily Yager, September 4

Artistic Nobody, September 5 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 6

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 7

deb’s Book Review, September 7

Inklings and notions, September 8

Betti Mace, September 9

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, September 10

Batya’s Bits, September 11

Ashley’s Bookshelf, September 12

Mary Hake, September 12

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, September 13

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, September 14

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, C.L. Smith is giving away the grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card!! (U.S. Only)

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/fff7/trouble-in-the-ruins-celebration-tour-giveaway

Barbour, BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, NetGalley

The Black Midnight, #7 True Colors by Kathleen Y’Barbo

About the Book

Book: The Black Midnight

Author: Kathleen Y’Barbo

Genre: Christian Historical Suspense

Release Date: August, 2020

Two Series of Murders Seem Mysteriously Connected

Book 7 in the True Colors series—Fiction Based on Strange-But True History

Three years before Jack the Ripper began his murderous spree on the streets of London, women were dying in their beds as The Midnight Assassin terrorized the citizens of Austin, Texas. Now, with suspicion falling on Her Majesty’s family and Scotland Yard at a loss as to who the Ripper might be, Queen Victoria summons her great-granddaughter, Alice Anne von Wettin, a former Pinkerton agent who worked the unsolved Austin case, and orders her to discreetly form a team to look into the London matter.

The prospect of a second chance to work with Annie just might entice Isaiah Joplin out of his comfortable life as an Austin lawyer. If his theories are right, they’ll find the The Midnight Assassin and, by default, the Ripper. If they’re wrong, he and Annie are in a bigger mess than the one the feisty female left behind when she departed Austin under cover of darkness three years ago.

Can the unlikely pair find the truth of who is behind the murders before they are drawn into the killer’s deadly game? From Texas to London, the story navigates the fine line between truth and fiction as Annie and Isaiah ultimately find the hunters have become the hunted.

Click here to get your copy!


My Impressions

As I started the Black Midnight, #7, True Colors, by Kathleen Y’Barbo, I was shaking in my boots. What kind of grisly murder story was I in for this time? The True Colors series has been very interesting, as different authors take turns spinning factual historical crimes into a fascinating, but often gruesome story. The inclusion of a romantic thread often collides against the seriousness of the crimes.
Y’Barbo has taken on the story of “The Servant Girl Killer“ which occurred in Austin,Texas in 1884-1888 added it to the story of Jack the Ripper in England, starting in 1888.
I was glued to the pages as Annie, a distant royal, and a Pinkerton, tried to keep her sleuthing job hidden from her Granny, the Queen. Ike, also a Pinkerton, is obviously in love with Annie, but can the two locate the killer in Austin while falling in love?


Y’Barbo did a tremendous amount of research and it was so neat that she shared so much of it with us in fiction form, including a certain room in the Palace, crime scenes, and the many varied rumors about the possible perpetrators of the murders. I found my reading speed increasing as the story wound up, my heart beating way too fast.

There are author notes at the end that separate fact from fiction and allow the reader to be doubly educated. For those who enjoy mysteries and crime thrillers with a touch of romance, The Black Midnight is a good choice. But be loyal and have your other society member’s backs!
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit via NetGalley. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent!

About the Author

KathleenYbarbo

Bestselling author Kathleen Y’Barbo is a multiple Carol Award and RITA nominee of more than sixty novels with almost two million copies of her books in print in the US and abroad.

More from Kathleen Y’Barbo

I am a tenth generation Texan, but London has held a place in my heart for over ten years. You see, I have a son who has lived there for more than a decade. Thanks to him and his family of three—my granddaughter was born there on New Year’s Eve 2019—the city will always be special to me. There is absolutely nothing like walking those streets with a thousand years of history close enough to touch.

It was on a walk with my son through this great city that the stories of nineteenth century London came alive. With fog shrouding the rooftops of buildings that were hundreds of years old and our footsteps echoing on the cobblestones, I could imagine a time when lack of electricity and CCTV would make this place less than charming on a dark night. What reminded me of my favorite childhood movie, Mary Poppins, quickly became more reminiscent of Jack the Ripper. And then a story was born.

Only I just had half the story.

The other half came to me several years later when I stumbled across an article in Texas Monthly magazine about a serial killer who rampaged through Austin, Texas in 1884 and 1885 and was never caught. Some surmised this madman, called “The Midnight Assassin” by some, might have been Jack the Ripper honing his skills before he crossed the Atlantic to begin his famous crime spree in Great Britain.

But Austin? Ironically, my other two sons lived in Austin. So while part of my heart was in London, two more parts of that same heart resided in the Texas capital. I thought I knew Austin inside out. Between one of my sons getting not one but two degrees from the University of Texas (this Aggie grad is still proud of him in spite of what I jokingly call his burnt orange rebellion) and my other son living there and managing a restaurant at the time (and who just graduated from Texas A&M Galveston last month!), I had spent many years in the city. And yet I had never heard of the Midnight Assassin.

Research turned up a tale that sounds so close to fiction I had to write about it. Discovering the theory that the Austin killer might also be the Ripper just added to my interest—neither had been caught. And I like to write about Pinkerton detectives.

From there the story unfolded. If you’ve read any of my historical romances, you know that I love incorporating actual history into my stories. As you’ll see when you read The Black Midnight, this book is no exception. While I will continue writing the historical romances I love to bring to you, I will confess that writing this book has me itching to research another one like it.

What’s next in my foray into true crime novels? Maybe Houston. You see, I have a daughter who lives there…

In the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy reading The Black Midnight as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Blog Stops

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, August 27

Genesis 5020, August 27

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 27

Inklings and notions, August 28

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 28

Ashley’s Bookshelf, August 28

Older & Smarter?, August 29

Texas Book-aholic, August 29

Artistic Nobody, August 29 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

For the Love of Literature, August 30

Connie’s History Classroom, August 30

For Him and My Family, August 31

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, August 31

Betti Mace, September 1

Robin’s Nest, September 1

Bigreadersite, September 1

deb’s Book Review, September 2

Splashes of Joy, September 2

Just Your Average reviews, September 2

Rebecca Tews, September 3

Just the Write Escape, September 3

Emily Yager, September 3

Christian Bookaholic, September 4

reviewingbooksplusmore, September 4

KarenSueHadley, September 4

Remembrancy, September 5

Through the Fire Blogs, September 5

21st Century Keeper at Home, September 6

Tell Tale Book Reviews, September 6

Blogging With Carol, September 6

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, September 7

Life of Literature, September 7

Mary Hake, September 7

Godly Book Reviews, September 8

Back Porch Reads, September 8

Daysong Reflections, September 8

Pause for Tales, September 9

Blossoms and Blessings, September 9

Hallie Reads, September 9

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Kathleen is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 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/ffb7/the-black-midnight-celebration-tour-giveaway

ARC, Bethany House, BLOG, Purchase

The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus by Jaime Jo Wright

About the Book

Title: the Haunting at Bonaventure Circus

Author: Jaime Jo Wright

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

Released: September 1, 2020

1928
The Bonaventure Circus is a refuge for many, but Pippa Ripley was rejected from its inner circle as a baby. 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.

Present Day
The old circus train depot will either be torn down or preserved for historical importance, and its future rests on real estate project manager Chandler Faulk’s shoulders. As she dives deep into the depot’s history, she’s also balancing a newly diagnosed autoimmune disease and the pressures of single motherhood. When she discovers clues to the 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 Impressions

“Life was not unlike the wisp of fog that curled around the base of a grave marker, softly caressing the marble before dissolving into the violet shadows of the night.” And so, Jaime Jo Wright begins spinning her chilling web of mystery, wonderment, and deceit in The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus.
At first, it seems like there might be a lot of unrelated information we are given. Like Alice in Wonderland, we just never know down which rabbit hole Ms. Wright will take us, or what to do with the scenes we see. With a dual timeline story, Wright alternates chapters between past and present. Double the rabbit holes; add a baby elephant, a Sasquatch-like man, a self- proclaimed medium, and a pit-bull, in no particular order.

We see young Pippa Ripley, adopted daughter of the circus owner, who longs to know her people and find value in her life. Before we can discover too much about Pippa, Wright pulls us out of the mire and thrusts us into the quagmire that is Chandler Faulk’s story. As we sort through her present-day needs to survive, excel, and raise a child on her own, we are again uprooted and thrown back into the circus world, or as close as Pippa is allowed to venture. Actually, Wright does a wonderful job of feeding us just enough information about each young lady, both searching for belonging, significance, and love. Then, like a crazy carnival ride, we are tossed back and forth between the two narratives, hanging on for dear life, and trying our best to hang onto our wits as well. When I finished the book, I looked back in astonishment, amazed at the wild ride I’d been on, helpless to change it (I tried, but Pippa wouldn’t listen).


What a slowly-building whirlwind adventure that turned out to be! The book is finished but the repercussions will live on in my mind. Dare to read the book and leave it unfazed.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and publisher through NetGalley. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent!

About the Author

Daphne du Maurier and Christy Award-Winning author, Jaime Jo Wright resides in the hills of Wisconsin writing suspenseful, mysteries stained with history’s secrets. Jaime lives in dreamland, exists in reality, and invites you to join her adventures at jaimewrightbooks.com!

Bethany House, BLOG, Favorite, NetGalley

Piecing It All Together, #1 Plain Patterns, by Leslie Gould

About the Book

Title: Piecing It All Together 52536471

Series: #1 Plain Patterns

Author: Leslie Gould

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

Released: August 2020

Genre: Amish Dual-Timeline

 

When Savannah Mast’s fiance dumps her a week before their wedding, she flees California for the safety of her Amish grandmother’s farm near Nappanee, Indiana. She’s not planning on staying long but becomes unexpectedly entangled in the search for a missing Amish girl. She can’t leave–especially not when her childhood friend Tommy Yoder is implicated as a suspect.

When Savannah accompanies her grandmother to Plain Patterns, a nearby quilt shop, the owner and local historian, Jane Berger, relates a tale about another woman’s disappearance back in the 1800s that has curious echoes to today.

Inspired by the story, Savannah does all she can to find the Amish girl and clear Tommy’s name. But when her former fiance shows up, begging her to return to California and marry him after all, she must choose between accepting the security of what he has to offer or continuing the complicated legacy of her family’s faith.

 

My Review

Piecing It All Together, #1 Plain Patterns, by Leslie Gould, is one novel I want to label purely “Wunderbar.” I was fortunate to catch a sample chapter somewhere on my phone and I was hooked. I immediately requested a copy from NetGalley. I must admit, I was a little uncertain. Some of Gould’s collaborations I have loved, while one particular series was not my style. But I am so glad I didn’t miss this one, and I will be first in line for book two, it is that enticing.

Piecing It All Together 1
Gould’s riveting novel is a dual-timeline, with two young women, either Amish or with
Amish ties, who are desperately seeking their place in life. Gould weaves so much
tension into each story, switching between the two effortlessly. I couldn’t stand to put the
book down and finished it in one day. So many emotions are pulled out of the reader’s
heart, as you journey life with both present-day Savannah and 1842’s Emma and begin to
see the greater picture come together.
So many takeaways for any reader. As we see overt and covert prejudice, we see what
the cost is to fight for true equality. Some people don’t give troublesome teenagers a
chance to grow and mature into upstanding adults. We see characters who, one step at a
time, rise far above anything they’d ever imagined. And we see incredible courage in the
face of insurmountable odds, only to be recognized after the fact. Faith and forgiveness
lived out to the fullest. I can’t rave enough about this book and its unforgettable
characters.

Piecing It All Together 2
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and publisher through
NetGalley. No positive review was required and the opinions are solely my own.

My Rating

5 Stars- Hits My Reading Sweet Spot

 

About the Author

151399Leslie Gould is the #1 bestselling and Christy Award-winning author of thirty novels. She received her MFA from Portland State University and teaches writing at Warner Pacific University. Leslie enjoys traveling, hiking, and history. She and her husband, Peter, are the revolving-door parents of four children and two cats. Visit her at http://www.lesliegould.com/.

You can also connect with Leslie on Twitter.

Twitter

 

Bethany House, BLOG, NetGalley

At Love’s Command, #1 Hanger’s Horsemen by Karen Witemeyer

About the Book

Title: At Love’s Command  53166117._SX318_SY475_

Series: #1 Hanger’s Horsemen

Author: Karen Witemeyer

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

Released: June 2020

Genre: Christian Historical Romance, Western

 

 

 

 

Ex-cavalry officer Matthew Hanger leads a band of mercenaries who defend the innocent, but when a rustler’s bullet leaves one of them at death’s door, they seek out help from Dr. Josephine Burkett. When Josephine’s brother is abducted and she is caught in the crossfire, Matthew may have to sacrifice everything–even his team–to save her.

 

My Review

Karen Witemeyer can be counted on for several hours of enjoyable historical fiction. At Love’s Command, #1 Hanger’s Horsemen, is no exception. Captain Matthew Hanger and 3 other men are so disillusioned with the atrocities of victory at Wounded Knee (1890) that they leave the military and join to form a vigilante service to solve crimes the local lawmen can’t. But this group, Hanger’s Horsemen, agrees not to use their guns to kill unless absolutely necessary.
This is the story of how Matt Hanger and Josephine Burkett meet. This novel proves that adage, “There’s somebody for everyone.”
Matthew seems so grief and conscience-stricken that he is only able to be a commanding military figure, kind and caring to his comrades, but otherwise without emotions or entanglements. He just isn’t the type to go soft in the head over some female.

At Love's Command 1
It takes someone like Jo who isn’t cowed by his “I’m in-charge” demeanor, but who is also abundantly capable in her field to catch his attention. While I appreciated Matt’s growing admiration for Jo, I felt like her lack of listening to him at times could have been downright dangerous. I wanted her to respect him a little more in his area of expertise. Just my opinion.
I look forward to reading the stories of the other Horsemen, but especially Jonah, who is a man of color. He already promises to be a very unique and interesting person, who might educate a few of us.

At Love's Command 2
Another point of interest in the novel for me is the faith element. It is an integral part, without being drawn-out or preachy. Just shown as the basis for life.
Redemption and growing up are also themes of this book, thank goodness. Our God is a God of second chances, but sometimes it is hard to know if you dare trust a promise-breaker again.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and publisher through NetGalley. I was not required to leave a positive review. These are my own thoughts, voluntarily submitted.

 

My Rating

5 Stars – Superior- Hits My Reading Sweet Spot!

 

About the Author

3114906For those who love to smile as they read, bestselling author Karen Witemeyer offers warmhearted historical romance with a flair for humor, feisty heroines, and swoon-worthy Texas heroes. A transplant from California, Karen came to Texas for college, met a cowboy disguised as a computer nerd, married him, and never left the state that had become home.

Winner of the National Reader’s Choice Award, HOLT Medallion, ACFW Carol Award, Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award, and a finalist for both the RITA and Christy Awards, Karen is a firm believer in the power of happy endings. . . and ice cream. She also loves to reward her readers. Every month she gives away two inspirational historical novels to someone from her newsletter list and offers substantial bonus content on her website. To learn more about Karen and her books, or to join her subscriber list, please visit www.karenwitemeyer.com.

 

BLOG, Purchase

Miss Fanshawe’s Fortune, #2 The Brides of Mayfair, by Linore Rose Burkhard

About the Book

Title: Miss Fanshawe’s Fortune54593789._SY475_

Series: #2 The Brides of Mayfair

Author: Linore Rose Burkhard

Publisher: Lilliput Press

Genre: Christian Regency Romance

Released: August 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

Respectability was all she needed to win his heart…and precisely what she lacked.

Miss Frances Fanshawe’s past is shrouded in mystery. Raised genteelly as an heiress to a fortune, she is forced to question everything after her mother dies and leaves her with only a single clue to the money. Unless she can locate her father or otherwise prove her heritage, not only the fortune but her very respectability is at stake.

In line for a baronetcy, Sebastian Arundell has no time for sorting out questionable tangles for young women with dubious histories. No matter if they are young, appealing, and have ridiculously large chocolate eyes to melt a man’s heart. But when it becomes apparent that other people are after Frannie’s supposed fortune, he is drawn to investigate. As the search deepens, Frannie falls in love with handsome, proper Sebastian. But if it only proves what he suspects—that she’s an illegitimate pauper—will all hope to win his heart be lost?

 

My Review

Whoa. This is a Dickensian Regency that will have you learning as you laugh,
wonder, and swoon with the story.
For all its ostentatious words, Miss Fanshawe’s Fortune by Linore Rose Burkhard is a
very clean, fun, and relaxing weekend read.
The first item that made me a happy reader was the inclusion of a glossary, timeline,
and map at the back of the book. These appendices are mentioned in the front, so
you know what tools are available, should you desire.
“Edward Arundell suspected from the moment he almost ran her down on
Monmouth Street, that Miss Fanshawe would be trouble.” Second inkling this will be
a great book. A great opening line.
A dear widow woman who has been ousted from society because of a terrible
accident, Mrs. Arundelle is both a delight and an enigma, as she holds a longstanding
grudge. Yet, she quickly insists that homeless Miss Fanshawe should be her society
companion and eventually, an inexplicable part of the family.
Of course, who would not love poor, sweet Frannie, who only wants respectability
and answers? I felt like I was watching a play, cheering for a romance between
Frannie and somewhat stern Sebastian (Beau).
Miss Fanshawe's Fortune 2
Roadblocks to the romance and to any answers to Frannie’s ancestry are plenty. This
is where the unbiased observer can see just how far Sebastian goes in his search for
Frannie’s answers until the search becomes his quest, too. Got to love a gentleman
like that.
But if this were a play, the supporting actress award would have to go to Mrs.
Fanshawe. Bold, manipulative, shrewd, and cunning, she is also overbearing,
designing, and determined. What a character. She certainly drives a lot of the action.
Hopefully, others can put on the brakes.
Miss Fanshawe's Fortune 1
If you like Regency romances with faith, mystery, and high-brow language of the ton,
then this is a great book for you.
I received a complimentary copy of this book, plus I bought my own. All opinions are
my own. No positive review was required.

My Rating

5 Stars- Hits My Reading Sweet Spot

 

About the Author

Linore Rose Burkard

Linore Rose Burkard


Website


Twitter

Linore Rose Burkard ( L.R.Burkard) is a serious watcher of period films, a Janeite, and hopeless romantic. An award-winning author best known for Inspirational Regency Romance, her first novel (Before the Season Ends) opened the genre for the CBA. Besides historical romance, Linore writes contemporary suspense (The Pulse Effex Series, as L.R. Burkard), contemporary romance (Falling In), and romantic short stories (ie., “Three French Hens”). Linore has a magna cum laude English Lit. degree from CUNY which she earned while taking herself far too seriously. She now resides in Ohio with her husband and family, where she turns her youthful angst into character or humor-driven plots.
BLOG, Celebrate Lit Publishers, Celebrate Lit Tour, Purchase

Dual Power of Convenience: #1 Independence Islands by Chautona Havig with Giveaway

Dual-Power-of-Convenience-FB-Banner-768x284

About the Book

Book:  Dual Power of Convenience

Author: Chautona Havig

Genre:  Christian Contemporary Romance

Release Date: July 28, 2020

When Richard Danforth inherits the family estate on Merriweather Island, he 52900839._SY475_doesn’t have time to deal with it—especially not from halfway across the globe. He’s too busy working to become the world’s newest billionaire and avoiding the women who would detract him from his goals.

Enter Lyla Santana. Fresh out of Oxford University with a degree in antiques and a relationship that nearly killed her to leave, she’s eager for the isolation and treasure trove that is Danforth Hall. Lyla also is determined to avoid men at all costs. Forever.

It was supposed to be a match made on paper. With him halfway across the globe, they’d never have to see each other again.

So, what’s Richard doing on Merriweather just weeks after the wedding? And how will his arrival test Lyla’s faith, not to mention stretch their so-called relationship?

In a twist on billionaire romance and marriage of convenience, this “Merriweather book” kicks off a new series featuring five islands, six authors, and a boatload of happily-ever-afters.

The Independence Island Series: beach reads aren’t just for summer anymore.

 

 

Click here to get your copy!

 

My Review

This series, Independence Islands, authored by six various raconteurs, promises to be as refreshing and unique as a visit to Merriweather Island could be. Southern to-the-core, you can close your eyes and feel the refreshing breezes and hear the waves and the call of the gulls. In this first book, Dual Power of Convenience, Chautona Havig introduces two females whose friendship develops when Lyla Santana moves to the island to catalog antiques. Mallory Barrows is the islander who befriends Lyla. As Lyla helps Mallory find ways to better sell her merchandise in her mobile bookstore, Mallory returns the favor with her knowledge of the island people. This friendship will be essential as Lyla enters into a marriage of convenience with the island’s “favorite son,” whom she has never met. She does not expect the marriage to change her life, per the agreement.

Dual Power of Convenience 1
Havig tackles not one, not two, but three tropes here: a marriage of convenience, fake relationship, and billionaire. She approaches this in a way that encourages the reader to be willing to suspend disbelief while enjoying tongue-in-cheek, witty banter between characters. A few pop culture references are totally fitting and hilarious, some with double entendre. While a billionaire from a little country called Azadi might be the first hint a practical reader should run the other way, real problems like allergies, getting rid of an unwanted pet, and visits to the coffee/bookstore and taco truck, balance the feelings of normalcy.

Dual Power of Convenience 2

The question becomes, can Lyla and Richard ever find a sense of normalcy to their very unusual marriage? I recommend this novel as a great way to spend a few relaxing hours.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and publisher. All opinions are solely my own and no positive review was required.

 

My Rating

5 Stars- Hits My Reading Sweet Spot

 

About the Author

media-headshot-sm-240x300Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her on the web and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.

 

More from Chautona

Did I Really Agree to Write a Romance Series?

When my fledgling little idea for a single book transformed into a series that then transformed into a SERIES, I kind of missed the part where I agreed (and likely suggested, if truth be told), that the books should be contemporary romance.

I mean, beach reads.  Romance.  Duh.

There’s just one problem?  I rarely write a straight-up romance.  And if I do, it’s usually a short novella in a collection—often at Christmas.

Why?

Isn’t it obvious?

Despite nine kids and being married for almost thirty-two years, I am THE most unromantic woman on the planet. No habla amor.  Or something like that.

So there I was, toodling down the 395 (a treacherous bit of road between my house and the publisher’s) when all of what I’d agreed to exploded in my brain.  I’m still scraping brain matter off the windshield and trying to stuff it back in. I need every last one of those “little gray cells,” thank-you-very-much!

Romance.  My heart sank.  Boy meets girl.  They like each other.  They fight.  They get back together.  They live happily ever after.

It’s a thing, folks.  A formula.  And if you deviate, true romance readers get annoyed.  What was I going to do?  I didn’t want to write romance.  Not really. I had ideas.  The prequel book had been all about trying to bring a young woman back to the Lord.  That’s more my speed, okay?

The wheels began churning.

The ones in my head, I mean.  The tires still rolled along the ground. Fortunately, my cranial explosion hadn’t caused an accident or anything.  Just in case you were curious.

I considered making each one loosely related to a fairy tale retelling.  I’d have a Cinderella story, a Beauty and the Beast, a… nope. That made it that far and I just couldn’t.  The minute we got to Sleeping Beauty, I’d have my readers in comas.  No. Thanks.

Next came Rom-com.  We’d make it funny.  All the stuff that happens in beach romances gone wrong.  Why not?  We live once!

I was yawning before the thought finished forming.

Right about then, I think, is when I wondered what kind of tropes I needed to consider.

See, romance tropes are a thing.  I even talk about them on my podcast.  The tingling sensation that comes when a good idea is brewing happened.  A grin formed.

Tropes. I’d play with tropes.  I’d take all those familiar things and twist them somehow.  Why not?  It would be fun.

And it was.

Right about then is probably when I began recording my ideas.  Creosote and sage whizzed past at breakneck speeds (let me dream.  I’m not a speed demon, but c’mon… for the sake of poetic license and all?). And the ideas whizzed faster (no license needed.  They really did).

Book 1.  Marriage of convenience.  I mean, those are always fun, right?  So why on earth would someone need to get married?

Every idea I came up with has been done… and done again.

That’s when I upped the stakes. Authors do that, you know. We come up with a way to torment our characters, and then we say, “Okay, now how can I make this worse?  Nope, I need it even worse.  Oh, and…” Bam!  The story goes from interesting to can’t-put-it-down.  All because we’re not afraid to be cruel to non-existent people. Score!

How’d I do it with this one? I added in another trope. One I personally just can’t “get.”  People love the things, and I’ve got no idea why.  But it answered my first question of why someone might need a marriage of convenience or… as my gal puts it… “a paper marriage.”

My guy became the world’s newest billionaire.

Yep, you read that right. I wrote a “billionaire romance.”  Sort of.  Now, if I could figure out how on earth I’d take two people on opposite sides of the world and get them together.

*insert hands rubbing together in fiendish delight*

Oh, yeah.  I did it.  And even more than that, I love it.  I made my characters do some stupid things. I really did (you know, like how two Christians didn’t even pray about their marriage decision?  Like how they didn’t even ask if the other person was saved?  Why should they?  They’ll never see each other again… they said.  Ha!  The Lord had other ideas.  Sorta.  This is fiction, right?  Oops! I suddenly feel like that crazy Kathy Morningside in Miss Congeniality).

From Adelanto to Kramer Jct., I planned out that first book—Dual Power of Convenience.

(the title gives away that reason for marrying, no?  Also, links may be affiliate links that provide a small commission at no extra expense to you.)

It was almost too easy.

Then I started playing with the next ones, and the series became a reality to me.

– Dual Power of Conveniencewhen a woman too afraid of men goes to work for a man who is too busy making money to want anything to do with that whole marriage and family thing.

– Bookers on the Rocks— This couple’s marriage is on the rocks (that’s the trope, of course), and neither of them has a clue. They’ve been married for twenty-five years, neither is having an affair, no one wants a divorce, life is good, so why is it on the rocks?  You’ll see…

– Directing Hearts— The Crawforths got tricked into allowing a reality matchmaking show film on their islands. Brooks Crawforth tangles with the director until their verbal battles turn into a different kind—a battle for their hearts (enemies to “lovers”)

– Just a Memory— In this one, Mallory Barrows (who makes appearances in all of the books) comes across an old journal that tells a story she’d never heard. It’s the old Patti Paige song “Go On with the Wedding” but over forty years later!  Mallory knows something that might just create a (here comes the trope) second chance at romance.

Printed on Her Heart— After being instrumental in so many couples’ relationships, it’s Mallory’s turn in this dual-trope story.  In this one, we get a mashup of friends to more and love at first sight.  Can’t wait to share it.  Squee!

Okay, that’s the deal.  Yes, I really did agree to write a romance series.

And yes, it probably was my idea.

I might deny it to my dying day, but it is also a whole lot of fun… so far.

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, August 5

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 5

Inklings and notions, August 6

lakesidelivingsite, August 6

deb’s Book Review, August 6

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, August 7

Rebekah Jones, Author, August 7

For Him and My Family, August 7

Artistic Nobody, August 8 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, August 8

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 9

Ashley’s Bookshelf, August 9

21st Century Keeper at Home, August 9

She Lives To Read, August 10

Simple Harvest Reads, August 10 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, August 11

Adventures of a Traverlers wife, August 11

Emily Yager, August 12

Stories By Gina, August 12

CarpeDiem, August 12

cultivating us, August 13

Connect in Fiction, August 13

Livin’ Lit, August 13

Read Review Rejoice, August 14

Quiet Workings, August 14

Blossoms and Blessings, August 14

Just Your Average reviews, August 15

Rebekah Reads, August 15

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, August 15

Lis Loves Reading, August 16

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, August 16

Splashes of Joy, August 16

Pause for Tales, August 17

Captive Dreams Window, August 17

Spoken from the Heart, August 17

Lots of Helpers, August 18

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, August 18

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book (winner’s choice of eBook or paperback format)!!

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/ff14/dual-power-of-convenience-celebration-tour-giveaway

BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, Favorite, YA

Dust, #1 Heirs of Neverland, by Kara Swanson and Giveaway

Dust-FB-Banner-768x284

About the Book

Title: Dust

Authors: Kara Swanson

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Release Date: July 21, 2020

The truth about Neverland is far more dangerous than a fairy tale Claire Kenton Swanson-Dust-195x300believes the world is too dark for magic to be real—since her twin brother was stolen away as a child. Now Claire’s desperate search points to London…and a boy who shouldn’t exist. Peter Pan is having a beastly time getting back to Neverland. Grounded in London and hunted by his own Lost Boys, Peter searches for the last hope of restoring his crumbling island: a lass with magic in her veins. The girl who fears her own destiny is on a collision course with the boy who never wanted to grow up. The truth behind this fairy tale is about to unravel everything Claire thought she knew about Peter Pan—and herself.

 

Click here to get your copy!

 

My Review

“When did this fairy tale become a nightmare?” So moans Claire Kenton as she re-examines the old Peter Pan book, the only clue she has to her missing brother, Connor.
Reasons NOT to read DUST by Kara Swanson:
1. You don’t want to know about the 2020 YA inspirational book that has everybody abuzz. This book is a shoo-in for awards.
2. You don’t like books changed up. You’ll stick with the tried-and-true, don’t mess with perfection, please. Only as Kara Swanson so ably points out in her retelling of the Peter Pan tale, Neverland actually ISN’T perfect.
3. You don’t like dark retellings. Ah, but if there weren’t darkness, you wouldn’t see the light. The pixies are best seen at twilight or dawn. Also, darkness and shadows are an unfortunate part of life. But, “You were created for more than to bear the weight of your shadows—but you have to choose to no longer let them define you.
You have to choose to let the light shine through the shattered pieces.”

Dust 1


4. You don’t see any need for Pan to grow up. Who-wee, in Dust, we see the real results of Pan’s refusal to think beyond childish imaginations. All of Neverland is out of whack.
5. You don’t think your YA could learn any helpful lessons from Dust. I’ve found as a parent, your child only listens so much. But find someone else promoting the same thinking through a fun avenue like an action-packed, slightly dark book, and they’ll absorb lessons almost by osmosis.
6. Too much darkness in this tale. Not true. It is dark, but choices are made, like Claire’s. ”And most of all, for me, for the girl who believed she was broken but who couldn’t see the beauty shining inside. For the person the creator of the stars made me to be. ’I choose light.’ ”

Dust 2


7. Dust ends on a cliffhanger. I can’t help you there. But author Kara Swanson has SHADOW coming out next! Don’t miss either of these!
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit. This in no way affects my opinions which are solely my own.

 

My Rating

5 Stars- Hit My Reading Sweet Spot

About the Author

As the daughter of missionaries, Kara Swanson spent her childhood running Kara-Swason-_-Floral-Headshot-1000-300x300barefoot through the lush jungles of Papua New Guinea. Able to relate with characters dropped into a unique new world, she quickly fell in love with the fantasy genre. The award-winning author of The Girl Who Could See, Kara is passionate about crafting stories of light shattering darkness, connecting with readers, and becoming best friends with a mermaid—though not necessarily in that order. Kara chats about coffee, fairy tales and bookish things online (@karaswansonauthor) and at karaswanson.com

 

 

More from Kara

I wrote Dust not just for those who grew up loving the original Peter Pan story — but especially for the children who were left behind. Those of us who never escaped through a window to a magical world, whose childhoods oftentimes felt a little shadowed.

Dust follows Peter Pan when he is cast out of Neverland, grounded in London. For the first time, this Peter has to start thinking about someone other than himself—and become a beacon to remind any Lost ones that there is still magic to be found.

Dust also follows a young woman named Claire who can create pixie dust, but is desperately afraid of herself because when her fears and insecurities leak out, her dust starts to burn. Claire has seen too many shadows to believe in fairytales anymore and is doing everything she can just to lock away the strange dust dripping from her fingertips. But when she meets Peter, he challenges everything she thought she knew.

I wrote Claire for those of us who may feel too weighted to even remember what it feels like to have hope lift your soul. Who can look at ourselves and all we see are our own shadows and shortcomings.

Throughout the course of the novel, Peter has to teach Claire how to see the spark of light inside herself that is far brighter than the darkness. As he helps this girl learn how to fly, Peter rediscovers what it is that truly makes him Peter Pan: the unquenchable childlike belief that there are weightless thoughts in all of us that can lift us out of the shadows.

This story is a love letter to anyone who has ever needed that reminder. We have value simply because we exist. We do not have to be weighed down by our shadows. There is still light that can lift our hearts if we have faith, trust…and a dash of the impossible.

 

Blog Stops

Andrea Christenson, July 31

Rebecca Tews, July 31

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 1

Texas Book-aholic, August 1

For the Love of Literature, August 2

deb’s Book Review, August 2

Emily Yager, August 2

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, August 3

Blessed & Bookish, August 3

Through the Fire Blogs, August 4

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, August 4

Worthy2Read, August 5

Losing the Busyness, August 5

Adventures of A Travelers Wife, August 5

Remembrancy, August 6

Wishful Endings, August 6

Inklings and notions, August 7

April Hayman, Author, August 7

For Him and My Family, August 8

Musings of A Sassy Bookish Mama, August 8

Inside the Wong Mind, August 9

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 9

Nancy E Wood, August 9

Tell Tale Book Reviews, August 10

Mia Reads, August 10

Simple Harvest Reads, August 11 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Faery Tales Are Real, August 11

Artistic Nobody, August 12

Ashley’s Bookshelf, August 12

Pause for Tales, August 12

Just the Write Escape, August 13

Blossoms and Blessings, August 13

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Kara is giving away the grand prize package of a Dust-themed bundle that includes a signed hardcover, bookmarks, character cards, Peter + Claire art print, and an exclusive Dust pin!!

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/fe3a/dust-celebration-tour