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Fool’s Notion by Lisa J. Flickinger

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ABOUT THE BOOK:

Title: Fool’s Notion

Genre: Historical Romance

Kindle Edition, 187 pages; pb 228 pages
Published September 14th, 2017 by Forget Me Not Romances, a division of Winged Publications. Pb ed. published Oct. 1, 2017.
ASIN: B075NQRSB5
ISBN: 1775129705 (ISBN13: 9781775129707)

Missouri mules were the best. Alda grew to love the creatures working side by side with her pa on their farm along the banks of the Missouri River. He would be hopping mad when he realized his wife and daughter colluded behind his back to sell a pack string. It wouldn’t matter that they were trying to save the farm. Alda struck out on her own to drive the team over fifteen hundred miles. By day three, her lead mule Bessie refused to take one more step. It was a good thing the handsome cowboy Cord stopped by to lend a hand or Alda might still be sitting in the dust. Now, Alda needed the man to move on so she could continue her journey. Judging by the spark in Cord’s eye … it just might take some convincing.

 

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Lisa J. Flickinger, author of historical novels Fool’s Notion, Ella, and All That Glitters, lives and writes from the cliff of a river along the majestic Rocky Mountains. When not writing or reading, you will find her scouring antique shops or sipping a maple latte with friends and family. To learn more about her visit http://www.lisajflickinger.com or her Facebook author page Lisa J. Flickinger.

 

MY REVIEW:

 Fool’s Notion by Lisa J. Flickinger first caught my eye with its unusual and intriguing cover. A redheaded woman in a beautiful period dress is watching a mule train trek across barren land. I knew there had to be a great story there.

In 1883, Alda Lealand of Kansas has decided to take the California trail as a single lady. Unusual enough, but she is also driving a pack of mules 1500 miles cross-country to be sold following her mother’s death and father’s disappearance. Cord is the bounty hunter who can’t settle down, but can’t keep himself from coming to Alda’s rescue more times than she would like.

I really enjoyed this light-hearted western. I often found myself laughing at situations in which the characters found themselves. The romance is sweet, albeit not smooth, due to the personalities and baggage both Alda and Cord have.

Alda has to learn that God is a “God who cared about His family, not like a fickle earthly father-like her father-but a God whose love was deep and wide.”

I found the perfect phrase for me to remember when I act like a stubborn mule, dig in my heels, and hold on like I’m right and no one better challenge me…
“You’re not above forgiving, are you?…”

All in all, just a great, fun book that I learned a few lessons from as I had a great time getting to know the characters. Highly recommended.

I gratefully received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and Celebrate Lit. This in no way influenced my opinions. I was not required to leave a positive review.

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Purchase Link:

https://amzn.to/2lD43Uh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Lady of Tarpon Springs by Judith Miller

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ABOUT THE BOOK:

Title: The Lady of Tarpon Springs

Paperback, 320 pages
Published July 2018 by Bethany House Publishers
ISBN:0764231065 (ISBN13: 9780764231063)
Also available in Kindle ebook and 2 other editions
Much to the dismay of her Greek family, Zanna Krykos makes a living as a lawyer in Tarpon Springs, Florida. When her friend Lucy needs legal advice about the business she inherited upon her father’s passing, she ends up asking Zanna to run the business instead so she can focus on her medical career.

Nico Kalos is a Greek diver who has worked on sponging boats in the Aegean Sea since the age of 14, giving him a vast knowledge of the trade. When he hears of an opportunity to lead a group of spongers to the United States, he seizes it. But his excitement is quickly quelled when he arrives only to discover that a young woman with no experience in the business will be in charge of the new crews.

But as Zanna and Nico face even more complications than they could have imagined, they must learn to work together or risk everything they’ve worked so hard for.

MY REVIEW:

First of all, if Judith Miller’s name is on it, I buy or read with confidence, knowing that a well-satisfying book awaits. The artist’s use of pastel sunsets and sunrises in the background of Miller’s recent covers makes them very aesthetically pleasing. Two reasons to read the book before you even open the cover or swipe the first page.

I love Judith Miller’s books because they are well-researched. In this case, The Lady of Tarpon Springs was a fun, mysterious education about the Greek sponge divers off Florida’s coast in the early 1900’s. This was a part of history I’d never heard of.

Then there is the sparking, light sizzle of a clean romance. How fun to view it through the eyes of a Greek family’s expectations.

I enjoyed the inclusion of the somewhat irritating, interfering Rochester sisters. They really add a surprising depth to an already good story.

Miller’s writing style is inviting, making what could be profoundly unknown seem familiar, while also keeping my interest. Never once did I feel a-sea nor wonder when the book would end.

Fun Quotables:
“‘What’s that you’re saying about fifty men?’ Her mother dipped a piece of crusty bread into olive oil. ‘I think one will be enough, Zanna.’”

“ …his bushy black eyebrows wriggled like frightened caterpillars attempting an escape.”

I highly recommend this book. I gratefully received a complimentary copy from the publisher and NetGalley. This in no way affected my opinions, for which I am solely responsible. I was not required to leave a positive review.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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Judith Miller

Judith McCoy Miller is an award-winning author whose avid research and love for history are reflected in her bestselling novels. Judy and her husband make their home in Topeka, Kansas.

 

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The Fashion Designer, #2 The Pattern Artist by Nancy Moser

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ABOUT THE BOOK:

Title: The Fashion Designer
Paperback, 320 pages
Published July 1st, 2018 by Shiloh Run Press
ISBN1683226011 (ISBN13: 9781683226017)
Series
Also available in ebook format

The American Dream thrives in 1912 New York City

Annie Wood, the housemaid-turned-pattern designer in The Pattern Artist, jumps at the chance to design her own clothing line when a wealthy New York couple offer to finance her endeavor. Joining the project is Annie’s new husband, Sean Culver, her best friend at Butterick, Maude Nascato, and a mother figure, Edna Holmquist.

Annie and her colleagues give up their careers, risking everything to follow a shared passion: clothes that are both fashionable and functional for modern, busy women in 1912.

Personal and financial setbacks threaten to keep the business from ever selling a single dress and test old relationships and new romances. No one said it would be easy. But the promise of the American Dream holds a deep hope for those who work hard, trust God, and never give up.

MY REVIEW:

As The Fashion Designer by Nancy Moser starts, changes in society were great or were imminent. Women were tired of sitting at home, unable to do more than silently support their men. They wanted the right to be included in the working force, and also the right to vote. They wanted a new sense of purpose.

In this sequel to the Pattern Artist, Annie and Sean are now married, and Annie, Maude, and Edna have a big purpose-to start a fashion company for the average working woman… or so they think…

I enjoyed seeing how humans planned, but God Himself came to the rescue time after time. I liked that when one person would get discouraged, another would pick up the mantle of encourager. It was interesting to see how one person of faith and vision could influence so many others. Annie succeeded because she trusted in God and she well understood her mission. “We’re offering our customers more than just a dress,” Annie said. “We’re offering them the chance to embrace their choice to be a modern woman.”

At times the book had a “Grace Livingston Hill” feel to it, as there were so many singles starting out who rather quickly found God’s choice of partner. I would have preferred a few less main circle characters and storylines, and a little more fleshing out of the forerunners.

Bottom line: while this was not one of the fastest books I’ve read, it was great for gaining insight into the mindset of the American woman in the early 1900’s. I recommend this book. It can stand alone.

I gratefully received a copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. This in no way influenced my opinions. I was not required to leave a positive review.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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Nancy Moser is the award-winning author of thirty inspirational novels that focus on discovering our unique purpose. Her genres include both contemporary and historical stories.

Her latest historical novel is “The Pattern Artist” about Macy’s and the Butterick Pattern Company in 1911 New York City. It was a finalist for a Romantic Times award. Its sequel is “The Fashion Designer”.

Other recent titles include the Downton Abbey-inspired Manor House Series: “Love of the Summerfields”, “Bride of the Summerfields”, and “Rise of the Summerfields.”

Her historical bio-novels allow real women-of-history to share their life stories: “Just Jane” (Jane Austen), “Mozart’s Sister” (Nannerl Mozart), “Washington’s Lady” (Martha Washington) and “How Do I Love Thee?” (Elizabeth Barrett Browning.)

“An Unlikely Suitor” was named to Booklist’s Top 100 Romance Novels of the last decade.

Nancy’s time-travel novel, “Time Lottery”, won a Christy Award, and “Washington’s Lady” was a finalist.

Her contemporary books are known for their big-casts and intricate plotting. Some titles are “The Invitation”, “John 3: 16”, “Crossroads”, “Solemnly Swear”, “The Sister Circle”, “The Seat Beside Me”, and “The Good Nearby”.

Nancy and her husband live in the Midwest. She’s earned a degree in architecture, traveled extensively in Europe, and has performed in numerous theaters, symphonies, and choirs. She knits voraciously, kills all her houseplants, and can wire an electrical fixture without getting shocked. She is a fan of anything antique–humans included.

Website: www.nancymoser.com

 

 

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The (A) Christmas Prayer by Wanda Brunstetter

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About the Book:

Title: The Christmas Prayer

Paperback, 176 pages
Expected publication: September 1st, 2018 by Shiloh Run Press
ISBN
1683226577 (ISBN13: 9781683226574)

Beloved, bestselling author of Amish fiction, Wanda E. Brunstetter takes readers on a journey in 1850 along the California Trail.

Only the brave—or foolhardy—would attempt a cross-country journey late in the season. Three wagons meet up in Independence, Missouri, in April 1850, and their owners decide to keep forging ahead despite many setbacks and delays. December finds them in the Sierra Nevada Mountains when a sudden snowstorm traps them, obscuring the trail.

Cynthia Cooper is traveling with her mother and the man she has promised to marry. But as Christmas is upon them and they are hunkered down in a small cabin, she is forced to reevaluate her reasons for planning to marry fellow-traveler Walter Prentice. When a widowed father heading to a California ranch and a gold prospector both show an interest in Cynthia, she weighs her dreams for marriage alongside her responsibility to care for her mother. Can love win over her timid heart?

MY REVIEW:

This historical romance, The Christmas Prayer by Wanda Brunstetter, is a very promising plot that fell short for me. I have read several of Brunstetter’s Amish books and really liked them. I have read at least one other historical romance she wrote that I thought was a true winner. This one, I believe, just was too short (it is a novella) and space ran out before the narrative could conclude smoothly. I think, had this book been a novel, things would have happened at what I would consider a good speed and it could have been a great book.

I felt for poor Cynthia stuck on the westward trail in 1850 with a much older, unkind, uncaring fiancé. Especially when there were two highly eligible other young men in their little wagon train. The children, Amelia and Alan, had very integral roles.

The portrayal of the characters was interesting, but at the end, I wanted to see more fleshing out. I realized many were more two-dimensional than I would have liked.

The journey was interesting, but it seemed to reach a climax, then abruptly loose ends were tied up and the novella ended. I felt like I was riding a horse at a good canter, but then the horse suddenly came to an abrupt stop at the edge of a bluff, and I got thrown.

Two songs characterized this book for me: in one spot, Keith Green’s early 80’s hit, “So You Wanna Go Back to Egypt?!”; and “You Can’t Hurry Love(You Just Gotta Wait).”

Quotable: “When our hope is lost, that’s when we need to rely fully on Him, for with God, all things are possible.”

I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley. All opinions are my own, for which I am solely responsible. I was not required to write a positive review.

 

About the Author:

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Wanda Brunstetter

New York Times bestselling and award-winning author, Wanda E. Brunstetter is one of the founders of the Amish fiction genre. She has written close to 90 books translated in four languages. With over 10 million copies sold, Wanda’s stories consistently earn spots on the nations most prestigious bestseller lists and have received numerous awards.

Wanda’s ancestors were part of the Anabaptist faith, and her novels are based on personal research intended to accurately portray the Amish way of life. Her books are well-read and trusted by many Amish, who credit her for giving readers a deeper understanding of the people and their customs.

When Wanda visits her Amish friends, she finds herself drawn to their peaceful lifestyle, sincerity, and close family ties. Wanda enjoys photography, ventriloquism, gardening, bird-watching, beachcombing, and spending time with her family. She and her husband, Richard, have been blessed with two grown children, six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

To learn more about Wanda, visit her website at www.wandabrunstetter.com.

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A Caffeine Conundrum, #1The CafFUNated Mysteries by Angela Ruth Strong

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About the Book:

Title: A Caffeine Conundrum,

#1 The CafFUNated Mysteries

Kindle Edition, 227 pages
Expected publication: September 1st,2018 by Mountain Brook Ink
ASIN
B07FRXWSVM
Solving a murder mystery is harder when you don’t trust your partner…or their taste in beverages.

Sassy city girl Tandy Brandt moves to the small town of Grace Springs to start a coffee shop, never imagining she’ll be competing with local beauty queen Marissa Alexander and her dream of running a tea house. Unfortunately, the current store owner dies before selling the location to either of them, and they both become murder suspects.

The unlikely pair team up in an attempt to discover the real killer, though with the secrets in Tandy’s past and Marissa’s infamous clumsiness, they could be their own worst enemies. Despite their differences, they follow clues to question a sweet, apple pie baking antique store owner, a GQ Santa in the retirement center, and a hipster millionaire with no social skills. Will they be able to figure out whodunit and prove their innocence before one of them goes to jail…or worse?

MY REVIEW:

Warning: laughter will come easily as you read this Christmas-themed cozy by Angela Ruth Strong. When paired with coffee or tea, there may be some liquid spouting or spewing as you work to hold the mirth in.

Indeed, the trouble begins with both coffee and tea. Marissa, a bumbling, almost-beauty queen who loves tea, can’t decide whether Tandy, a grunge-wearing, toy dog lover and coffee aficionado should be her enemy or her friend.

This novel is more than just a barrel of laughs, however. While I laughed my way through the whole thing, howling out loud at the ridiculousness of the characters’ situations, they also presented with very real problems: jumping to conclusions prematurely, taking others for granted, and needing to put up façades of perfection.

I love Angela Ruth Strong’s humor, her word pictures(ex: “blizzard of thoughts”), similes(ex:”as subtle as a snow scraper”), and references to pop culture. But most of all, she points to the answer that every soul needs-grace in Christ.

Quotables:

“She needed to work on being kind rather than being nice.”

“We all need grace. Even if it’s for harm caused accidentally.”

“If people could change, then it was ok to make mistakes and grow from them. It was ok not to be perfect.”

“By accepting that she needed grace, her shame had been wiped away.”

I gratefully received an e-copy of this book from the author. This in no way affects my opinions, for which I am solely responsible. I was not required to leave a positive review.

About the Author:

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

 

 

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The Hope of Azure Springs by Rachel Fordham

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About the Book:

Title: The Hope of Azure Springs

Genre: Historical Fiction

Paperback, 336 pages
Published July 3rd, 2018 by Revell
ISBN
0800734734 (ISBN13: 9780800734732)

MY REVIEW:

Where will Em decide her best future lies, in The Hope of Azure Springs by Rachel Fordham?

Fordham brings to life the story of a “prince” and “princesses,” beauty and ugliness, and the ugly reality of lonely children who travel the orphan train west to very uncertain futures.

I loved Abigail and Abraham Howell and the generosity and love they show to Em in her hour of need. I also appreciate the fact that one of their children is NOT walking in their ways. How true to life that can really be.

I also loved that the heroine is not beautiful by most people’s description of beautiful. Beauty comes from the inside out. This is one discussion my husband and I have repeatedly with our young, single twenty-somethings. Can Caleb, the sheriff, ever start seeing with eyes of the soul?

Sometimes we think the little things we do for others don’t matter. Not so. Em discovers this when Abigail lends her a clean nightgown. “…it was not just a nightdress, it was kindness.”

A few other quotables:

“Where does a caged animal go when it is freed?”

“How will you ever truly live if you are too afraid to be where you need to be?”

Definitely, a book to read to experience the varied lives of orphan train children. I gratefully received a copy of the book from the publisher and NetGalley. This in no way affected my opinions. I was not required to leave a positive review.

 

About the Author:

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Rachel Fordham

Website

Rachel Fordham has long been fascinated by all things historical or in the words of her children “old stuff”. Often the historical trivia she discovers is woven into her children’s bedtime tales. Despite her love for good stories she didn’t attempt writing a novel until her husband challenged her to do so (and now she’s so glad he did). Since that time she’s often been found typing or researching while her youngest child naps or frantically writing plot twists while she waits in the school pick-up line. In addition to her passion for storytelling she enjoys reading, being outdoors and seeing new places. Rachel lives with her husband and children on an island in Washington state.

 

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A Rumored Fortune by Joanna Davidson Politano

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About the Book:

Title: A Rumored Fortune

Paperback, 416 pages
Published July 31st,2018 by Fleming H. Revell Company (first published July 2018)

Tressa Harlowe’s father did not trust banks, but neither did he trust his greedy extended family. He kept his vast fortune hidden somewhere on his estate in the south of England and died suddenly, without telling anyone where he had concealed it. Tressa and her ailing mother are left with a mansion and an immense vineyard and no money to run it. It doesn’t take long for a bevy of opportunists to flock to the estate under the guise of offering condolences. Tressa knows what they’re really up to. She’ll have to work with the rough and rusticated vineyard manager to keep the laborers content without pay and discover the key to finding her father’s fortune–before someone else finds it first.

Award-winning author Joanna Davidson Politano welcomes readers to Trevelyan Castle, home of the poorest heiress in Victorian England, for a treasure hunt they’ll not soon forget.

MY REVIEW:

Powerful!! A Rumored Fortune, only the second book written by Joanna Davidson Politano, is on my list of top ten for 2018. More importantly, though, this novel will be in the running for top honors among book awards. This is my prediction for a novel of such high-caliber.

Tressa Harlowe’s odd vineyard-keeping father has disappeared from their mid-1800’s castle. Sadly, the search begins not so much for him, but for the treasure rumored to have been behind.

I should mention the narrative switches between first person, the rich heiress, Tressa; and third person, Donegan, the vinedresser in a class beneath her. Considering the societal differences so important at that time, this is extremely
clever of Politano.

This book grasped my attention from the start and held on, like the sea and mist that surround the castle and rarely loosen their clutches on it or its land.

Sadly, no matter what time period, people change very little. There are those who hear of someone else’s fortune and justify it should be theirs instead; schemers descend like vultures determined to get their share of the grand meal.

Obviously, Politano is an anglophobe and describes the area, life, and characters with a poetic prose that makes them “a wonder to behold.” She is a romantic in the linguistic sense of the word.

Fortunately, Politano is quite the romantic in the more common sense of the word. We see several possible romances, involving more than just the main characters. Which will thrive, and which will die, because there was no real connection?

Speaking of connections, Tressa has three main interests: her father, (and the vineyard because that was his obsession); relationships, and the fortune. Politano weaves them all together in an unforgettable story of agricultural lessons for life, including the spirit, romance, and intrigue that will leave you amazed at the experience you have just sojourned.

Hard to pick just a few quotes, but here are some faves:
“Strength comes to the branch through connection, and that’s what I’m offering.” How Tressa needs connections in more ways than one!

“It takes a harsh summer to yield abundance in the vineyards…When you feel you’re dying in the summer, all a branch needs to do is hang on.” So timely for anybody going through a rough patch!

“…isn’t the sort of man I would imagine knowing much Scripture.” ‘No, …he simply lives it out.’” We all need to live out our faith like that unnamed character!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. (I also bought my own copy.) This did not affect my opinions in any way, nor was I required to leave a positive review.

About the Author:

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Joanna Davidson Politano

Joanna Davidson Politano freelances for a small nonfiction publisher but spends much of her time spinning tales that capture the colorful, exquisite details in ordinary lives. Her manuscript for Lady Jayne Disappears was a finalist for several contests, including the 2016 Genesis Award from ACFW, and won the OCW Cascade Award and the Maggie Award for Excellence. She is always on the hunt for random acts of kindness, people willing to share their deepest secrets with a stranger, and hidden stashes of sweets. She lives with her husband and their two babies in a house in the woods near Lake Michigan and shares stories that move her at www.jdpstories.com.