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Of Fire and Lions by Mesu Andrews

ABOUT THE BOOK:

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TITLE: Of Fire and Lions

AUTHOR: Mesu Andrews

PUBLISHER: Waterbrook-Multnomah

PUBLISHED: March  2019

The Old Testament book of Daniel comes to life in this novel for readers of Lynn Austin’s Chronicles of the Kings series or Francine Rivers’ Mark of the Lion series.

Survival. A Hebrew girl first tasted it when she escaped death nearly seventy years ago as the Babylonians ransacked Jerusalem and took their finest as captives. She thought she’d perfected in the many years amongst the Magoi and the idol worshippers, pretending with all the others in King Nebuchadnezzar’s court. Now, as Daniel’s wife and a septuagenarian matriarch, Belili thinks she’s safe and she can live out her days in Babylon without fear–until the night Daniel is escorted to Belshazzar’s palace to interpret mysterious handwriting on a wall. The Persian Army invades, and Bellili’s tightly-wound secrets unfurl with the arrival of the conquering army. What will the reign of Darius mean for Daniel, a man who prays to Yahweh alone?
Ultimately, Yahweh’s sovereign hand guides Jerusalem’s captives, and the frightened Hebrew girl is transformed into a confident woman, who realizes her need of the God who conquers both fire and lions.

 

MY REVIEW:

Of Fire and Lions by Mesu Andrews lives up to its exciting, exotic name. It will be one of my faves for 2019!! Such a complex story, so many deep emotions, and such great God lessons set against the impossibly capricious and precarious times of the rising and waning Babylonian empire. Themes of faithfulness to Yahweh, the strength of love, HIS forgiveness, restoration with family, secrets, and so much more. My heart is so full, I would urge anyone with an interest in Biblical history to read Andrews’ well-researched and amazingly crafted account of Daniel.
One of the themes I found most applicable to my life: What is more important? Personal comfort or following God’s Will? Ouch!!
Quote(The heart-rending cry of many a parent, including myself):
“ ‘I failed to convince the people I love most that Yahweh is real.’
‘You have not failed, and you can’t convince them. Only Yahweh can work in a heart to help those we love to believe. We must simply love them with an honest and transparent heart.’ “
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Waterbrook-Multnomah. I am not required to leave a positive review and all opinions are solely my own.
 

MY RATING:

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Copy of Copy of Of Fire and Lions

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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Mesu grew up with a variegated Christian heritage. With grandparents from the Pilgrim Holiness, Nazarene, and Wesleyan Churches, her dad was a Quaker and mom charismatic. As you might imagine, God was a central figure in most family discussions, but theology was a battlefield and Scripture the weapon. As a rebellious teenager, Mesu rejected God and His Word, but discovered Jesus as a life-transforming Savior through the changed life of an old friend.

The desire for God’s Word exploded with her new commitment, but devotional time was scarce due to the demands of a young wife and mother. So Mesu scoured the only two theology books available–children’s Bible stories and her Bible. The stories she read to her daughters at night pointed her to the Bible passages she studied all day. She became an avid student of God’s Word, searching historical and cultural settings as well as ancient texts and original languages.

Mesu and her husband Roy have raised those two daughters and now enjoy a tribe of grandkids, who get to hear those same Bible stories. Mesu’s love for God’s Word has never waned. She now writes biblical novels, rich with spiritual insight learned through fascinating discoveries in deep historical research.

Her first novel, Love Amid the Ashes (Revell)–the story of Job and the women who loved him–won the 2012 ECPA Book of the Year in the Debut Author Category. Her subsequent novels have released with high praise, shedding light on some of the shadowy women of Scripture. Love’s Sacred Song (Revell, 2012) tells the story of the beloved shepherdess in King Solomon’s Song of Solomon. Love in a Broken Vessel (Revell, 2013) tells the story of Hosea and Gomer and is the final stand-alone novel in the Treasures of His Love Series. Her fourth novel, In the Shadow of Jezebel (Revell, 2014) tells the fascinating story of Queen Athaliah and the courageous Princess Jehosheba.

The Treasures of the Nile series (Waterbrook/Multnomah, 2015-16) included The Pharaoh’s Daughter and Miriam and spanned Moses’ life from birth to the Exodus. Her 2017 release, Isaiah’s Daughter (Waterbrook/Multnomah), explores the life and ministry of the prophet Isaiah and the tumultuous days of Judah under the reigns of Ahaz and Hezekiah but focuses on the woman Hephzibah–a fascinating character in Jewish legends.

Mesu writes in their log cabin tucked away in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains. Her best friend is an American Staffordshire Terrier named Zeke, who keeps her company on long writing days. Zeke also enjoys watching movies, long walks in the woods, and sitting by the fireplace on rainy days.

BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, NetGalley, Uncategorized

The Seamstress by Allison Pittman

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About the Book

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Title: The Seamstress

Author: Allison Pittman

Genre: Historical Fiction

Release date: February 5, 2019

Publisher: Tyndale

A beautifully crafted story breathes life into the cameo character from the classic novel A Tale of Two Cities.

France, 1788
It is the best of times . . .

On a tranquil farm nestled in the French countryside, two orphaned cousins—Renée and Laurette—have been raised under the caring guardianship of young Émile Gagnon, the last of a once-prosperous family. No longer starving girls, Laurette and Renée now spend days tending Gagnon’s sheep, and nights in their cozy loft, whispering secrets and dreams in this time of waning innocence and peace.

It is the worst of times . . .

Paris groans with a restlessness that can no longer be contained within its city streets. Hunger and hatred fuel her people. Violence seeps into the ornate halls of Versailles. Even Gagnon’s table in the quiet village of Mouton Blanc bears witness to the rumbles of rebellion, where Marcel Moreau embodies its voice and heart.

It is the story that has never been told.

In one night, the best and worst of fate collide. A chance encounter with a fashionable woman will bring Renée’s sewing skills to light and secure a place in the court of Queen Marie Antoinette. An act of reckless passion will throw Laurette into the arms of the increasingly militant Marcel. And Gagnon, steadfast in his faith in God and country, can only watch as those he loves march straight into the heart of the revolution.

 

Click here to purchase your copy!

 

MY REVIEW:

1788 Paris is dark, gritty, and terrifying; beautiful, lavish and out-of-touch. While the Seamstress by Allison Pittman has much action in the poor countryside, much thought and control are determined in the capricious capital. With its model being The Tale of Two Cities, The Seamstress yet holds forth rays of hope peeking through the backdrop of the dank Bastille on a hot, steamy day. What an incredible, overall effect the completed story has on one’s heart. Abandonment, adoption, intrigue, faith, faithlessness, famine, excess, forgiveness, greed, love, lust, loyalty, rebellion in every form; all are here and present in Paris where the food is scarce and the anger is plentiful. Pittman relates her tale through two cousins, Laurette and Renee. Unsatisfied Laurette’s part is told in the third person, while innocent Renee’s is narrated in first. I half wondered if that encouraged the reader to favor the purer Renee? Silver-tongued Marcel and godly, poor farmer Gagner are major players in the drama. This is certainly a character-driven novel as we see a nation fighting against itself for survival. I loved the great attention to historical detail and political climate, while God’s Word was seamlessly woven into the story in small but efficient sound bites at just the right time. This is a book to leave you reeling!
I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley and Celebrate Lit. I was not required to leave a positive review and all opinions are my own.

 

MY RATING:

 

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About the Author

Allison Pittman is the author of more than a dozen critically acclaimed novels and a three-time Christy finalist—twice for her Sister Wife series and once for All for a Story from her take on the Roaring Twenties. She lives in San Antonio, Texas, blissfully sharing an empty nest with her husband, Mike. Connect with her on Facebook (Allison Pittman Author), Twitter (@allisonkpittman) or her website, allisonkpittman.com.

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Guest Post from Allison

My dream of being an author began by “finishing” other author’s works, fleshing out the stories of neglected characters. When I read the final books in the Little House series, I was far more interested in Cap Garland than I was in Almonzo Wilder, and I imagined all kinds of stories in which he was the hero.

This, The Seamstress, is one of those stories that came to me in a single burst of thought. I was teaching my sophomore English class, discussing through the final scenes in A Tale of Two Cities, when the little seamstress in those final pages reached out to me. She is a nameless character, seemingly more symbolic than anything. Dickens, however, gives her an entire backstory in a single phrase: I have a cousin who lives in the country. How will she ever know what became of me? I remember pausing right then and there in front of my students and saying, “Now, there’s the story I want to write.”

Now, years later, I have.

While every word of every Charles Dickens novel is a master class in writing, what he gave to me for The Seamstress is the kind of stuff that brings life and breath to fiction. I have to convey the fact that any character on my pages—no matter how much story space he or she is allotted—has a life between them. Every man was once a child; every woman a vulnerable young girl.

So, Dickens gave me the bones of the story. A seamstress. A cousin in the country. A country ripped apart; family torn from family. I did my very best to put flesh on those bones, but no writer can ever bring the life and breath. Only a reader can do that.

 

Blog Stops

Fiction Aficionado, February 9

The Lit Addict, February 9

The Power of Words, February 9

Jennifer Sienes: Where Crisis & Christ Collide, February 10

Lis Loves Reading, February 10

Maureen’s Musings, February 10

Carpe Diem, February 11

A Baker’s Perspective, February 11

All-of-a-kind Mom, February 12

Emily Yager, February 12

Mary Hake, February 12

Stories By Gina, February 13

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, February 13

The Christian Fiction Girl, February 13

Inspired by fiction, February 14

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 14

Remembrancy, February 14

Through the Fire Blogs, February 15

Seasonsofopportunities, February 15

Inspiration Clothesline, February 15

Books, Books, and More Books, February 16

Inklings and Notions, February 16

Locks, Hooks and Books, February 16

Bibliophile Reviews, February 17

Texas Book-aholic, February 17

Margaret Kazmierczak, February 18

A Reader’s Brain, February 18

By The Book, February 18

Multifarious, February 19

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, February 19

Pause for Tales, February 19

Bigreadersite, February 20

Simple Harvest Reads, February 20

Janices book reviews, February 20

For the Love of Books, February 21

Book by Book, February 21

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, February 21

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, February 22

To Everything A Season, February 22

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 22

 

Giveaway

 

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To celebrate her tour, Allison is giving away a grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card, a hardcover copy of The Seamstress, and this copy of A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens!!

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/db0e/the-seamstress-celebration-tour-giveaway

BLOG

Taken in Texas, #4 McKade Law Series by Susan Sleeman

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ABOUT THE BOOK:

TITLE, SERIES: Taken in Texas, #4 McKade Law

PUBLISHER, PUBLISHED: Love Inspired Suspense, February 2019

GENRE: Christian Romantic Suspense

A cowboy protector from her past…

A McKade Law novel

Working her first case as deputy sheriff with her ex-boyfriend, Detective Cord Goodwin, Kendall McKade is determined to track the kidnappers—even if it makes her a target. Desperate to find the abducted victim, his aunt, Cord must keep Kendall safe…while also caring for his recently orphaned nephew. Teaming up threatens to rekindle Cord and Kendall’s relationship, but first, they must solve a life-threatening mystery.

 

MY REVIEW:

The last of the McKade Law Series, Taken in Texas by Susan Sleeman is a juxtaposition. On the one hand, there is the warmth and welcome emanated by the McKade clan. Sleeman describes the ranch and the extended family so well, one could almost hear the laughter and feel the family hugs. On the other hand, desperation seeps out as Cord and “rookie detective” Kendall McKade hit brick walls investigating his aunt’s disappearance.

Can Kendall and Cord forgive themselves and work confidently together despite their past to find his aunt before time is up, or will time expire for Kendall as well?

Sleeman’s action is always heart-pounding and unpredictable. What I didn’t foresee coming was the “false ending.” That left me reeling, as well as the characters.

If you enjoy Christian romantic suspense, read Susan Sleeman. She defines it.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. I was not required to leave a positive review. All opinions are my solely own.

MY RATING:

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

4053429SUSAN SLEEMAN is the bestselling author of over thirty-five novels with more than one million books sold. She writes romantic suspense novels that are clean with inspiring messages of faith. Readers love her series for the well-drawn characters and edge-of-your-seat action. She graduated from the FBI and local police-citizen academies, so her research is spot-on and her characters are real.
In addition to writing, Susan also hosts TheSuspenseZone.com. She has lived in nine states but now calls Oregon home. Her husband is a retired church music director, and they have two beautiful daughters, a very special son-in-law, and an adorable grandson.
To learn more about Susan’s books sign up for her monthly email that includes exclusive excerpts, giveaways, and other goodies. http://www.susansleeman.com/susans-ne…

 

 

 

 

 

BLOG, Favorite, NetGalley, Revell

Mending Fences, #1 The Deacon’s Family by Suzanne Woods Fisher

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ABOUT THE BOOK:

SERIES: The Deacon’s Family

PUBLISHER, DATE: Revell, February 2019

GENRE: Amish Romance

Every saint has a past. Every sinner has a future.

Luke Schrock is a new and improved man after a stint in rehab, though everyone in Stoney Ridge only remembers the old Luke. They might have forgiven him, but nobody trusts him.

Amos and Fern Lapp allow Luke to live at Windmill Farm under two conditions. First, Luke must make a sincere apology to each person he’s hurt–a four-page, single-spaced list. Second, he must ask each victim of mischief to describe the damage he caused.

Simple, Luke thinks. Offering apologies is easy. But discovering the lasting effects his careless actions have caused . . . that isn’t so simple. It’s gut-wrenching.

And his list keeps growing. Izzy Miller, beautiful and frustratingly aloof, also boards at Windmill Farm. Luke’s clumsy efforts to befriend Izzy only insult and annoy her. Eager to impress, Luke sets out to prove himself to her by locating her mother. When he does, her identity sends shock waves through Stoney Ridge.

Bestselling and award-winning author Suzanne Woods Fisher returns to her beloved Stoney Ridge for this brand-new series featuring some of her readers’ favorite characters.

 

MY REVIEW:

Suzanne Woods Fisher has become an author whose books I snatch up as soon as they are available. She is such a wordsmith that one’s whole being is drawn into the worlds she creates. In Mending Fences, Fisher combines a couple different series as Luke Schrock returns home to Amish Stoney Ridge after his third stint in rehab.
This is a novel of second chances; caring for the unlovable; longing for what one doesn’t have, while perhaps missing what is offered one; discovering that one’s foolish actions can have both negative and positive consequences. And the laughter!! Fisher knows how to present serious truths in a hilarious setting.
I felt my heart sympathize with quiet Izzy who is learning to be plain. I wanted to like bad boy Luke who is trying to reform, but still carries a bit of an attitude. I especially liked the characterizations of Amos, Fran, and Bishop David Stoltzfus. Each is more than they initially appear. David is unlike many of the bishops one reads about, very caring, respected, thoughtful, and wise.
Since it is forbidden to quote the whole book, here are a few quotes I liked:
“Like I said, forgiveness, that comes naturally for us. It’s trust that’s hard to restore. Trust is a fragile thing. There’s no such thing as a little violation of trust, especially if you are the one who was betrayed.”
“He was a pity party of one.”
and,
“at any given moment, your life is going to be determined by your view of you, or God’s view of you.”

I can’t wait for the next installment, book two of The Deacon’s Family.

This book can be read without benefit of the other series, as enough backstory is revealed. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. All opinions are my own and I was not required to leave a positive review.

 

 

MY RATING: 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

suzanne-woods-fisherSuzanne 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 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

Bethany House, BLOG, Favorite, NetGalley

Between Two Shores by Jocelyn Green

ABOUT THE BOOK:

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AUTHOR: Jocelyn Green

TITLE: Between Two Shores

PUBLISHER, DATE: Bethany House, February 2019

GENRE: Historical Fiction

The daughter of a Mohawk mother and French father in 1759 Montreal, Catherine Duval finds it is easier to remain neutral in a world that is tearing itself apart. Content to trade with both the French and the British, Catherine is pulled into the fray against her wishes when her British ex-
fiance, Samuel Crane, is taken prisoner by her father. Samuel asks her to help him escape, claiming he has information that could help end the war.

Peace appeals to Catherine but helping the man who broke her heart does not. She delays . . . until attempts on Samuel’s life convince her he’s in mortal danger. Against her better judgment, she helps him flee by river, using knowledge of the landscape to creep ever closer to freedom. Their time together rekindles feelings she thought long buried, and danger seems to hound their every mile. She’s risked becoming a traitor by choosing a side, but will the decision cost her even more than she anticipated?

 

MY REVIEW:

I love history. I love bits of French. Combine the two into a most compelling tale of the Seven Years’ War (French and Indian War), and I was caught more efficiently than a beaver or fox in a trap. Jocelyn Green unfolds her tale, Between Two Shores in alternating time swatches. Green starts when Catherine, part Mohawk, part Canadian- French, accepted by neither nation, is ten. Then, suddenly like rapids on the rushing river, the novel skips ahead to the “present time” of the narrative, 1759; then, like the river meandering and curling back on itself, retreats back to an earlier essential era, only to repeat this ebb and flow several times throughout the novel. A little truth here, a little more here, too much at one time could perhaps be overwhelming. It seems this could be symbolic of the way Catherine has to slowly piece together her life and how her faith will affect her actions toward her father, Bright Star, Joseph, and eventually two nations.
My heart hurts for Catherine as she searches for a hero and true love. She seems to think love is an equal trade of sorts until finally faced with the question of whether she can love for love’s sake alone.
I did not cry during this novel, but I wanted to. At times, I, too, wanted to wretch, or faint, or plan an escape. NOT for the faint of heart. Bravo to Jocelyn Green for writing a different kind of historical romance, one that surprised me around every bend of the river, and certainly had me talking back to her!

Great Quotes:
“What is courage… but moving forward in the face of fear? If there was nothing to be afraid of, we would have no need to be brave.” ~ Samuel
…”But she was wholly who the Great Good God had made her…”

There are discussion questions at the end. Also included are author’s notes about what events and people included are factual. This book comes highly recommended. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and NetGalley. All opinions are my own, and I was not required to leave a positive review.

MY RATING:

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

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Jocelyn 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.Jocelyn 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.

BLOG, NetGalley, Revell

In Too Deep, #2 Dive Team Investigations by Lynn H. Blackburn

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ABOUT THE BOOK

AUTHOR: Lynn Blackburn

SERIES: Dive Team Investigations, #2

PUBLISHER, PUBLISHED: Revell; November 2018

When the dive team is called in to recover a body from a submerged car, they aren’t prepared to find an encrypted laptop–or an unsettling connection between investigator Adam Campbell and the dead accountant.

Adam turns to his friend Dr. Sabrina Fleming–a professor at the local university with unparalleled computer security and forensics skills–to recover the files from the laptop. But the deeper they dig, the deadlier the investigation becomes. When evidence uncovers a human trafficking ring and implicates members of Adam’s own family, he and Sabrina will have to risk everything to solve the case.

The truth could set hundreds free–but someone is willing to do whatever it takes to silence anyone who threatens to reveal their secrets. Award-winning author Lynn H. Blackburn invites readers back to Carrington, North Carolina, where everything is not as it seems and sinister elements lurk behind the idyllic façade.

 

MY REVIEW:

A forensic dive team in North Carolina is the focus of Lynn H Blackburn’s series, Dive Team Investigations. In book one, we met the team members and focused on Ryan and Leigh’s story. Book two, In Too Deep, tells the chilling tale of Adam and Sabrina. While I believe the book could stand on its own, I started out feeling that the team members were already my friends, not people I had just met.

What’s to love about this book? Blackburn strikes a good balance between great romantic suspense and relationship-driven narrative. What I loved most is that Sabrina is intelligent beyond belief, yet that character trait is countered by an unusual lack of common social skills. In other words, a great, but lovable, flawed protagonist.

Heavy topics are handled within these pages. My antennae went up. We’re talking about sex trafficking and labor trafficking. Where is the author taking me? Guilt, awareness, action? For me, I choose awareness.

I loved that prayers are a part of everyday needs in the novel, and some are spoken aloud. They’re not preachy, but natural, clear, and honest.

Points to Blackburn for exhibiting a sense of humor at a few critical points. Some thoughts just made me laugh. Try “baby cops.” Another was a paragraph listing Sabrina’s many injuries, followed by the statement she had never looked more beautiful. That just tickled my funny bone.

Thought-provoking quotes:
“You love the victims and the victimizers. We don’t understand that, Lord.”(How true!)
and
“…it’s not about how big our faith is. What matters is how big our God is.”~Sabrina

I highly recommend this series, and can’t wait for Gabe and Anissa’s story. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions are solely my own, and no positive review was required.

 

MY RATING:

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

17521786Lynn H. Blackburn believes in the power of stories, especially those that remind us that true love exists, a gift from the Truest Love. She’s passionate about CrossFit, coffee, and chocolate (don’t make her choose) and experimenting with recipes that feed both body and soul. She lives in South Carolina with her true love, Brian, and their three children. Her first book, COVERT JUSTICE, won the 2016 Selah Award for Mystery/Suspense and the 2016 Carol Award for Short Novel. Her second book, HIDDEN LEGACY, released in June 2017. She began a new series, Dive Team Investigations with BENEATH THE SURFACE in March of 2018.

 

Bethany House, BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, NetGalley

Flights of Fancy, #1 American Heiresses by Jen Turano

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About the Book

 

Title: Flights of Fancy

Author: Jen Turano

Genre: Christian Historical Romance, Gilded Age flights-of-fancy-194x300

Release date: January 1, 2019

Publisher: Bethany House

Miss Isadora Delafield may be an heiress, but her life is far from carefree. When her mother begins pressuring her to marry an elderly and uncouth duke, she escapes from the high society world she’s always known and finds herself to be an unlikely candidate for a housekeeper position in rural Pennsylvania.

Mr. Ian MacKenzie is known for his savvy business sense and has built his reputation and fortune completely on his own merits. But when his adopted parents are in need of a new housekeeper and Isadora is thrown into his path, he’s unexpectedly charmed by her unconventional manner.

Neither Isadora nor Ian expected to find the other so intriguing, but when mysterious incidents on the farm and the truth of Isadora’s secret threaten those they love, they’ll have to set aside everything they thought they wanted for a chance at happy-ever-after.

 

Click here to order your copy!

MY REVIEW

Just when I think Jen Turano can’t come up with any fresh ideas for her hilarious historic comedies, she proves me wrong again. I loved the spirit of adventure and positivity that Isadora (“Izzie”) possesses. The Duke of Montrose sounded like a “monstrosity” of a man and nuisance. On the other hand, how many readers will find themselves enthralled with Ian and his love for his fellow man (well, his looks COULD play into the picture.) Uncle Amos and Aunt Birdie are pure strokes of literary genius and the four children are beyond lovable. Now I can’t wait for the next books in this series.
Some favorite quotes:
“…God occasionally throws obstacles our way so we’re forced to grow into the people he wants us to be.”
“…what with how often people forget to show kindness to those most vulnerable. I imagine it must pain God no small amount when He witnesses us ignoring those in need.”
During the time I was reading this, I heard, “Good, Good Father” by Chris Tomlin on the radio. Somehow it seemed very apropos to the book.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through Celebrate Lit and NetGalley. All opinions are my own and no positive review was required.

MY RATING

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About the Author

Named One of the Funniest Voices in Inspirational Romance by Booklist, Jen Turano is a USA Today Best-Selling Author, known for penning quirky historical romances set in the Gilded Age. Her books have earned Publisher Weekly and Booklist starred jen-turano-200x300 reviews, top picks from Romantic Times, and praise from Library Journal. She’s been a finalist twice for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards and had two of her books listed in the top 100 romances of the past decade from Booklist. When she’s not writing, she spends her time outside of Denver, CO.

 

 

 

Guest post from Jen

Q & A With Jen Turano

 

“Flights of Fancy” is the first book in the American Heiress Series. What inspired you to write this series?

The inspiration for this entire series started off with a What If? All of my proposals for new series start off that way, and this time it was – What if Consuelo Vanderbilt had balked when her mother insisted she marry the Duke of Marlborough – and then that led to – What if she’d run away until her mother came to her senses? Just like that, an entire series was born – a bit of a different take on American heiresses because in all three books, my heiresses might decide to go a tad…rogue. We start off with Miss Isadora Delafield – who does run off to avoid marriage to a duke, then we get to meet Miss Poppy Garrison, who is an unexpected heiress but who can’t quite seem to get a handle on the expected social decorum of the day, and then the final book revolves around Miss Beatrix Waterbury – who gets banished to Chicago after she annoys her mother one too many times, and once there, well, gets up to a bit of mischief.

 

How do you come up with the names of your characters?

I find most of my names as I research the New York Four-Hundred, although I normally take a first name here, a last name there so I’m not stepping on any toes by writing about an actual historical figure – except for some of the main figures in New York society back then, such as Mr. Ward McAllister – who was the social arbiter of the day, or Mrs. William Astor, who was the queen of that society. What I don’t do is simply make up names, no matter how outrageous they may appear. And, no matter how I may love a certain name, if the character decides it doesn’t suit them, that’s it, it’s out and I’m back to the drawing board.

 

How do you picture your character? Do you use Pinterest, magazines, movies?

Odd as this may seem, I don’t use pictures for my characters. They start off in my mind as a blurry figure, and then, they develop from there – I like to keep my descriptions of them somewhat vague on the pages so that the reader can imagine them exactly the way they’d like them to be.

 

What are some of your favorite resources for historical research?

I’ve been building up a research library over the past few years and now have over 200 books dedicated to the Gilded Age. My favorites are – “A Season of Splendor” by Greg King, “Society as I Have Found It” by Ward McAllister, “The Gilded Age in New York – 1870-1910” by Esther Crain, and “ ‘King Lehr’ and the Gilded Age” by Elizabeth Drexel Lehr.

 

The setting for “Flights of Fancy” is a bit of a departure for you since it’s set in and outside of Pittsburgh. Any reason for that?

My mom was born in Pittsburgh, and unfortunately, her father, a prominent attorney back in the day, died when she was only four. I thought it would be cool to set a story in Pittsburgh, which would then allow me to really dive into some research. And get this – while I was doing that research, I found this obscure journal called “Memoirs of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. In that journal was a bit about my great-grandfather, Fred, his wife, Susie, my grandfather, and his brother and sister, but I’d never heard about this brother, who apparently died quite young. One of the most fabulous research tidbits I’ve uncovered to date.

 

What are you working on now?

I’ve just recently turned in the content edits for the second book in this series, “Diamond in the Rough,” and I’ve also turned in a novella about the Harvey Girls that will be coming out in a novella collection in Fall, 2019. With those out of the way, I’m now starting the third and final book in the American Heiress series, Miss Beatrix Waterbury’s story, but I’m having a bit of a struggle with the hero at the moment – he was supposed to be Edward, but he doesn’t want to be an Edward – I think he wants to be Norman – but, time will tell on that one – don’t hold me to the name – it’ll depend on if he changes his mind or not – pesky characters.

 

You seem to enjoy adding animals in many of your stories. Will we find any animals in “Flights of Fancy?”

Since Miss Isadora Delafield ends up on a farm, I do believe you will find a few animals, such as an adorable cow by the name of Buttercup, a few goats that seem to have a great liking for laundry, and…there might be some chickens.

 

Thanks for stopping by today, everyone! Always enjoy visiting with all of you – in fact, that’s the best part of my job!

All the best,

~ Jen ~

Blog Stops

The Avid Reader, January 10

Among the Reads, January 10

Through the Fire, January 10

To Everything A Season, January 10

Reflections From My Bookshelves, January 11

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, January 11

Blogging With Carol, January 11

Southern Gal loves to Read, January 11

Back Porch ReadsJanuary 12

KarenSueHadleyJanuary 12

Godly Book Reviews, January 12

Daysong ReflectionsJanuary 12

Livin Lit, January 13

The Christian Fiction Girl, January 13

The Becca Files, January 13

Texas Book-aholic, January 13

Rebekah’s Quill, January 14

Blossoms and Blessings, January 14

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, January 14

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 14

All-of-a-kind Mom, January 15

Just the Write Escape, January 15

Stories By Gina, January 15

God’s Little Bookworm, January 16

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, January 16

Splashes of JoyJanuary 16

Janices book reviews, January 16

Happily Managing A Household of Boys, January 17

Mary Hake, January 17

Maureen’s Musings, January 17

Bibliophile Reviews, January 17

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, January 18

Baker Kella, January 18

Simple Harvest ReadsJanuary 18 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 19

Captive Dreams Window, January 19

Robin is Bookish, January 19

Carpe Diem, January 19

Have A Wonderful DayJanuary 20

Life with the Tribe, January 20

Inklings and NotionsJanuary 20

Rachel’s Back Talk, January 21

Inspiration Clothesline, January 21

amandainpaJanuary 21

A Baker’s Perspective, January 21

Locks, Hooks and Books, January 22

Pause for Tales, January 22

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, January 22

Raining Butterfly Kisses, January 23

Live Love Read, January 23

A Rup Life, January 23

Bigreadersite, January 23

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Jen is giving away a grand prize of a trunk filled with all of Jen’s full-length novels released to date!!

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/d8d1/flights-of-fancy-celebration-tour-giveaway

Revell

A Bound Heart by Laura Frantz

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ABOUT THE BOOK:

TITLE: A Bound Heart

AUTHOR: Laura Frantz

PUBLISHER, PUBLISHED: Revell, January 2019

GENRE: Christian Historical Romance

Though Magnus MacLeish and Lark MacDougall grew up on the same castle grounds, Magnus is now laird of the great house and the Isle of Kerrera. Lark is but the keeper of his bees and the woman he is hoping will provide a tincture that might help his ailing wife conceive and bear him an heir. But when his wife dies suddenly, Magnus and Lark find themselves caught up in a whirlwind of accusations, expelled from their beloved island, and sold as indentured servants across the Atlantic. Yet even when all hope seems dashed against the rocky coastline of the Virginia colony, it may be that in this New World the two of them could make a new beginning–together.

Laura Frantz’s prose sparkles with authenticity and deep feeling as she digs into her own family history to share this breathless tale of love, exile, and courage in Colonial America.

 

MY REVIEW:

Laura Frantz is truly a master of vivid descriptions of beautiful landscapes and sea/skyscapes as she lyrically composes the lives and times of her historical characters. A Bound Heart is set in Scotland. While Ms. Frantz is such a romantic writer she could probably make Antarctica sound like a vacation spot, I had to wonder if I would like the island of Kerrera any more than Isla did.
Smugglers, fighting against unjust taxes, a corrupt court, an ocean voyage of horrors, several love triangles; all make for a very tightly woven story. Frantz’s characters are full of life, passion, and pride in their heritage. When these freedoms are removed, what will remain behind?
It was very interesting to learn about the Scots’ way of life in the 1750s. I must admit, I had a hard time with a love triangle involving a married person. While no wrong actions occurred, I would have preferred to see one party or the other take steps to put physical distance between them. The glossary was a huge help, as was the context in which Frantz used the unfamiliar words. A few wonderful quotes:
On the horrid ship: “Lord, all I have is Ye. Make that enough.”
“Fear had a terrible taste.”
This is a good book, but it will not be my favorite Frantz book. To each his own. Anxiously awaiting the next Frantz novel.
I was given a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. All opinions expressed here are solely my own and no positive review was required.

MY RATING:

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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 that 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 2986307credited 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.

 

BLOG

The Sleuth’s Dilemma, #2 The Librarian Sleuth by Kimberly Rose Johnson

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ABOUT THE BOOK:

TITLE: The Sleuth’s Dilemma, #2 The Librarian Sleuth

AUTHOR: Kimberly Rose Johnson

PUBLISHER, PUBLISHED: Mountain Brook Ink, February 2019

Anna loves her job as a high school English teacher until everything goes sideways. The one bright spot in her life is Titus Gains, the school counselor, who is there for her at every turn.

Titus’ boss complicates his ordered world when she tasks him with running a meeting that changes everything. How had he not noticed Anna earlier? Someone is out to destroy her, and he can’t let that happen.

As the head of the English department, part of Luke Harms’ job is to make sure everything runs smoothly. Things went haywire when Anna was put in charge of the big writing contest. Entries are missing, Anna appears to be in danger, and her job is on the line. Luke is investigating and wants to make things right for this woman he’s starting to care about.

Can a trio of school officials along with Nancy Daley, the town sleuth, stop the saboteur before it’s too late? And will Anna choose the right man, or lose them both?

 

MY REVIEW:

Teachers are notoriously overworked and I could certainly feel, as a former teacher and one who has many teacher friends, the huge weight of an additional, unwanted assignment. English teacher Anna Plum is saddled with running the high school writing contest as the former chair has refused to continue in that role. While Anna agrees to chair the contest, bad things begin to happen and she begins to wonder if it was a huge mistake.

The characters are well-drawn. I especially liked Anna as a former teacher. Her fears were very believable. The whole scenario of a single teacher with a few close friends who would go to bat for her was a home run for me. Nancy Daley, the librarian, is very loyal and would be a great friend to have. I enjoyed the tension between Nancy and her deputy sheriff boyfriend as they learn how to trust each other without necessarily giving up delicate information. I liked the romantic aspect as well as the mystery that kept me guessing. In short, I really loved it, even though I haven’t yet read book one. ( Which is now higher on my TBR pile.) If you are looking for a sweet, mysterious romance that includes asking for God’s guidance, buckle in and come along for the ride Kimberly Rose Johnson provides.
I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions are expressly my own and no positive review was required.

MY RATING:

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Award-winning author Kimberly Rose Johnson married her college sweetheart and lives in the Pacific Northwest. From a young child, Kimberly has been an avid reader. That love of reading fostered a creative mind and led to her passion for writing. She especially loves romance and writes contemporary romance that warms the heart and feeds the soul. 7082210

Kimberly holds a degree in Behavioral Science from Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington, and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers.

You can sign up for Kimberly’s newsletter via her website at: https://kimberlyrjohnson.com/

Bethany House, BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour

Mind Games, #1 Kaely Quinn Profiler by Nancy Mehl

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About the Book

 

Book: Mind Games

Author: Nancy Mehl

Genre: Suspense

Release Date: December 2018

Publisher: Bethany HouseMind-games-194x300

FBI Behavioral Analyst Kaely Quinn’s methods may be highly unorthodox, but her talent is undeniable. She’s done her best to establish a new life for herself after being demoted and transferred to St. Louis when a reporter revealed she’s the daughter of an infamous serial killer. But when that same reporter claims to have received an anonymous poem predicting a string of murders, ending with Kaely’s, it seems her old life has followed her.

When a body is found that fits the poem’s morbid predictions, Kaely and her new partner, Special Agent Noah Hunter, are forced to move past his skepticism of her approach and work together to unravel the deadly riddle.

With a brazen serial killer who breaks all the normal patterns on the loose, Noah and Kaely are tested to their limits to catch the murderer before anyone else, including Kaely, is killed.

 

Click here to purchase your copy!

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MY REVIEW

I have read several of Nancy Mehl’s romantic suspense novels, and I always enjoy them. In Mind Games, Mehl’s latest thriller, a vigilante is out to avenge himself on a serial killer’s daughter, Jessica Oliphant, now Kaely Quinn, a top FBI profiler. Noah Hunter, Kaely’s new partner, needs to get close enough to this strange agent to protect her, without repeating the mistakes of his predecessor.

We often expect FBI agents to be consummate professionals, but Mehl shows hers as human and flawed, thankfully. This is why her books are so enjoyable. I feel like the protagonists are actually within reach of the average person. While some situations in the novel may create extreme worry and tension for the reader, the circumstances seem so very possible. Kudos to Mehl. Also, I absolutely loved Mehl’s ending. I didn’t see it coming and I have been debating in my mind about how plausible it really is. That is one sign of a great book- it makes you think, ruminate, and wonder.

A quote to think about, when we as Christians wonder how others can deal with all the degradation of certain fields:
“Those who know God should be the ones to confront the darkness, to chase the evil. We have the weapons. Those who don’t know Him have only themselves.”

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley and a paperback from Celebrate Lit. All opinions are my own and no review was required.

About the Author

Nancy Mehl (www.nancymehl.com) is the author of more than thirty books, including the Road to Kingdom, Finding Sanctuary, and Defenders of Justice series. She received the ACFW Mystery Book of the Year Award in 2009. She has a background in social work and is a member of ACFW and RWA. She writes from her home in Missouri, where she lives with her husband, Norman, and their Puggle, Watson. She is part of The Suspense Sisters: www.suspensesisters.blogspot.com, along with several other popular suspense authors. She is also very active on Facebook.

Guest Post from Nancy

Writing Mind Games is a dream come true. I’ve been interested in FBI profiling for years. I’ve read about it, studied it, and watched every TV special I could find on the subject. So when the chance finally came to write the book I’ve always wanted to write, I jumped at it. Thankfully, through the help of another writer, I was hooked up with a retired FBI profiler. I was so excited. Until I found out I had almost everything wrong. Yes, I had some understanding about profiling, but I knew nothing about the FBI and how it works.

First of all, the FBI doesn’t call the men and women who profile criminals, profilers. They’re called Behavioral Analysts. The plot for Mind Games had my analyst running around the country solving crimes while she was stationed in St. Louis. Uh, no. Behavioral analysts do travel, but they all work out of Quantico in Virginia. So…I rewrote.

There were ways around my conundrum, but one solution led to more and more problems. We finally worked through them. Then I spent the next few months learning acronyms. CIRG, CJIS, NCAVC, HRT, UNSUB, CNU, THU, ViCap, CODIS, SWAT, ERTU, OPU, THRU, ERT… Well, the list goes on and on. The FBI is made up of many specialized units. And a plethora of acronyms, it seems.

I rewrote Mind Games three times before my source said we were good to go.

If you assume I’m out of the woods now, you’d be wrong. I haven’t had the nerve to open up the manuscript I sent her for book two in my Kaely Quinn Profiler series. I figured I had Fire Storm right but… Well, I can tell from her email comments I’ll be doing more rewriting. Sigh.

So is it worth it? A resounding yes! I love learning, and as long as my analyst friend hangs in with me (she has the patience of Job), I’ll keep at it.

I hope you enjoy Mind Games. It’s edgy but fun. Kaely Quinn is a quirky character. She was thrown out of Quantico because her version of profiling is… Well, you’ll just have to read the book to find out!

 

 

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, December 11

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, December 11

The Lit Addict, December 11

amandainpaDecember 11

A Reader’s BrainDecember 12

Daysong ReflectionsDecember 12

Livin’ Lit, December 12

Reading Is My SuperPower, December 13

By The Book, December 13

Lighthouse Academy, December 13

Multifarious, December 14

Jennifer Sienes: Where Crisis and Christ Collide, December 14

Splashes of JoyDecember 14

Back Porch ReadsDecember 15

Real World Bible Study, December 15

Robin is Bookish, December 15

Janices book reviews, December 15

C Jane Read, December 16

Ashley’s BookshelfDecember 16

The Becca Files, December 16

Bigreadersite, December 16

Quiet Quilter, December 17

Margaret Kazmierczak, December 17

Godly Book Reviews, December 17

All-of-a-kind Mom, December 18

Just the Write Escape, December 18

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, December 18

Simple Harvest Reads, December 19 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)

Mary Hake, December 19

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 19

For the Love of Literature, December 20

Remembrancy, December 20

Inklings and notionsDecember 20

Carpe Diem, December 20

Tell Tale Book Reviews, December 21

Locks, Hooks and BooksDecember 21

Pause for Tales, December 21

A Baker’s Perspective, December 21

Have A Wonderful DayDecember 22

Book by Book, December 22

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, December 22

Bibliophile Reviews, December 23

To Everything a Season, December 23

Southern Gal Loves to Read, December 23

Cafinated Reads, December 24

Texas Book-aholic, December 24

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 24

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Nancy is giving away a grand prize of a copy of Mind Games and the three books in Nancy’s Defenders of Justice series, plus a $20 Starbucks gift card!

Two additional winners will also receive a copy of Mind Games!

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/d73b/mind-games-celebration-tour-giveaway