1867 Windsor, Ontario, Canada, and Detroit, Michigan
When Canadian barrister Percy Gladstone finds his aristocratic British family unexpectedly descending upon him for Christmas, he turns to American social reformer Eugenie Mott and her fledgling catering crew, The Sugarplum Ladies, for help. Little does Percy, AKA Lord Kent, realize that this Christmas may start entirely new traditions. And little does Miss Eugenie Mott, to her chagrin, realize that the British idea of Christmastide extends through Epiphany! This Christmas is one to remember.
About the Author
Carrie Fancett Pagels, Ph.D., writes stories about overcoming with God’s help (including a Romantic Times Top Pick inspirational novel). She has 25 published fiction books. Carrie is an ECPA-bestselling award-winning author. She won the Maggie Award for Excellence medallion. Twenty-five years as a psychologist didn’t “cure” her overactive imagination. She’s the mother of two and married to the love of her life.
“I love the idea of helping others help themselves.”
The Sugarplum Ladies by Carrie Fancett Pagels is a delightful, light historical Christmas novella. The gorgeous holiday cover itself will be enough to draw you in.
Eugenie Mott, an 1867 Detroit resident, is resisting her father’s schemes to marry her off to a much older man. She prefers her work helping Civil War widows gain skills as waitresses so they can acquire needed jobs.
After meeting Canadian lawyer Percy Gladstone, Eugenie is drawn into his company. When Percy’s parents arrive from England while Percy has sent his servants on Christmas break, can the ladies that Eugenie has been training rise to meet the need?
I loved the heart both Eugenie and Percy have for helping others. Eugenie realizes that just giving money to a cause isn’t enough. She is a social reformer on a small scale, taking area widows, some of whom have turned to questionable ways to earn money, and giving them help for a lifetime by teaching them marketable skills.
In so many ways, the giving spirits of both Percy and Eugenie caused them to reach out to those around them and better lives. “This was what Christmas was truly all about. Loving others as Christ would love us.”
I found the notes about names, factual events, and recipes at the end very interesting!!
I was gifted a copy of the book by the author, plus bought my own copy. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.
Magnificent!! I really enjoy Ms. Pagels’ stories that blend faith and history.
Can their hearts overcome the darkness of the mountains?
To escape a forced marriage, Cora Taylor travels from England to the Blue Ridge Mountains in search of her brother, who is working as a teacher in a mission school. She hopes to find a place where her nursing skills and independent ideas will be accepted and appreciated, but nothing prepares her for the wild mixture of isolation, community, brokenness, and hope within these mountains…or in the person of Jeb McAdams.
Returning from the devastation of World War 1 emotionally damaged, Jeb McAdams struggles against the rampant mountain alcoholism to soothe his nightmares. It’s easy to hide within the mountains, or it was, before Cora Taylor arrived. Now, she seems to show up at every turn, bringing her modern ideas, curiosity, and beautiful eyes with her.
Bound by their shared war history, the pair develop an unlikely friendship, which unexpectedly hints to something more. But when Cora’s desire to help the women of the mountains crosses an unspoken line, will Jeb be able to protect this feisty flatlander from the wrath of the mountain men or will he end up losing much more than his heart?
I am so in awe of The Heart of the Mountains by Pepper Basham that I doubt my review can do it justice. While The Heart of the Mountains is actually a sequel to Laurel’s Dream, it could easily be a companion book to Catherine Marshall’s Christy. Basham has so well transported the reader into the same world that Marshall originally created, albeit with different characters.
The style, language, and premise is similar to Christy. An outsider enters the mountains, is rejected by many, yet forges ahead with a mentor. As Cora Taylor falls in love with the mountain’s unique culture and people, I was in rapture as I read one the best Christy-like books out there(and there have been several lately, but all pale in comparison to Basham’s offering.
You will physically ache for the mountain people as well as the outsiders who wish to help them.
So many heroes in this book. But besides the Cora and Jeb(a couple who will live in my mind forever), Caroline McAdams is a wonder. Her trust in God is rock-solid, even in horrible times, and she exhibits unconditional love. She looks beyond actions and sees the heart desires.
“God did love His children. Anyway and always. No matter how broken or lost.” The characters in the novel grapple with (among other themes) social justice, racial equality, and fighting against unimaginable odds. Would Cora be trampled underfoot by all the obstacles in her new world? “People dealt with grief in so many different ways. Some wore their wounds better than others. Some sank beneath the pain, others soared.”
I love finding nuggets of truth for today, my “Notable Quotables,” and Pepper Basham provided so many. What a glorious book!
I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit, plus I bought my own copy. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.
Magnificent!! I am in awe of this Appalachian- life novel! Ranks right up there with Christy!!
About the Author
Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor with southern Appalachian flair. Both her historical and contemporary novels have garnered recognition in the Grace Awards, Inspys, and ACFW Carol Awards. Her historical romance, The Thorn Healer, was a finalist in the 2018 RT Awards. Her historical romance novels, My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge and The Red Ribbon, and her contemporary novels, the Mitchell’s Crossroads and Pleasant Gap series, showcase her Appalachian heritage, as well as her love for humor and family. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she is the mom of five great kids, a speech-language pathologist to about fifty more, and a lover of chocolate, jazz, hats, and Jesus.
It’s so interesting how one idea can influence an entire series, or…how one person’s story can.
The idea for The Heart of the Mountainsstarted in Laurel’s Dream with a hint of a family history story about a girl named Kizzie. (Someday, I hope to bring Kizzie’s story to the pages of a book). From there, the idea began to grow out of a love for my Appalachian culture into a series of books which highlighted (and fictionalized) stories from my family history.
The main story in The Heart of the Mountainsis about Jeb and Cora, two different people with similar servant hearts, but the secondary story that touched me so much was the one based on my great grandfather’s life. I write about it in the Author’s Note at the end of the novel, so I won’t go into detail about it. However, what I loved getting to do is bring the truth of God’s redemption in my great grandfather’s life…to life again.
I never knew “Papa Rat”. I only knew the stories handed down to me by my granny and my mama, but in writing this story, I feel as though I had a tiny opportunity to “meet” him in these pages. He was a gruff mountain man with a broken past which led him to make a whole lot of broken choices, but his story is incredibly encouraging, because it points to the God of broken people. My great grandpa wasn’t left in his brokenness, but, after years of running away from God, he would later recount that God pursued him. The beauty of Sam McAdams’ journey in The Heart of the Mountains is only a little glimpse into what I imagine my great grandpa’s redemption story looked like.
Because my great grandpa was forever changed when Jesus saved him (as any of us should be).
I think that’s what my granny and her siblings (and even “Papa Rat” himself) would want most -that his story would point to Jesus. I hope that’s what you see when you read about Sam McAdams in The Heart of the Mountains.
Have you ever read a book based on family history? One of my favorites is Catherine Marshall’s Christy.
1890, Helena MT Song of the Rockies is the story of a sweet music teacher and eleven boys given one chance or else! Evan Russell lost everything—his ranch, his wife, and now, after trusting relatives with his young son, even the little boy is missing. How can a beautiful symphony of the heart come from such chaos?
Mirielle Sheehan, a music teacher at an exclusive boys’ school, believes scholarships for disadvantaged boys will solve the plight of hopeless homeless children. Mirielle’s challenge is to turn eleven street ruffians of various ages into stellar, disciplined boys with a future. Most think guttersnipes like this should be sold into indenture to learn a trade or pressed into the military. Get those miscreants off the streets!
Evan Russell, new mining millionaire, lost everything in the disastrous winter of 1886. Then his wife died leaving him with a son. Relatives in Helena offer a safe home for the child while Evan must find work in the mines. When he returns, he’s devastated to learn the entire family perished in a fire, and his son has never been found. Though he gained a fortune, he’s lost everything he valued! Romantic, sweet adventure set in picturesque Helena, Montana written by a bestselling author who is also a professional genealogist.
“Could eleven unruly boys really become future community leaders?”
Song of the Rockies by Angela Breidenbach takes us back to Montana in 1890, as Montana stands on the brink of statehood. This is the second book of the Queen of the Rockies series. I suggest reading the series in order.
While Calista and Albert laid the groundwork in the first book for the eleven boys, street ruffians according to most, to be cared for, many still want rid of these “newsies.” Mirielle Sheehan has just a few days to find a way to pay for all eleven boys’ education at the private school where she teaches music.
I love Mirielle, who is another of those brave souls who will stand against society for what she knows is right. She loves the newsies and sees them as valuable humans, not because of what they’ve done, but because God made them in His image. She enlists the help of Evan Russell, who has his own agenda, and Mrs. Broadmore, a leader among high society’s ladies.
I thought the solution Mirielle comes up with is genius, and she executes her plan well. Evan fits into the story nicely and makes a great romantic foil. However, I felt his part of the story seemed like it ended too abruptly. I wanted to see this vein of the novel more developed with a more full resolution.
I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.
“I suppose we just keep trusting as we keep on doing.”
“There could be no fracture in the team’s purpose. Not a bit of doubt. Hopelessness sprouted as easily as faith. Whichever seed they chose to plant, that’s what they’d harvest.”
Great! I am Ready for the Next Installment!
About the Author
Angela Breidenbach is a professional genealogist, media personality, bestselling author, and screenwriter. She’s also the Christian Authors Network president. Angie lives in Montana with her hubby and Muse, a trained fe-lion, who shakes hands, rolls over, and jumps through a hoop. Surprisingly, Angie can also. Catch her show and podcast, Genealogy Publishing Coach!
Song of the Rockies idea came from the need to continue deepen the experience from Queen of the Rockies to share more about the orphaned children on the streets of Helena MT in the late 1800s. A lot of readers asked a lot of questions that kept me fired up and involved in the story. That led to the full six-book series because I just couldn’t stop once the first book sparked all the curiosity.
The people of Montana are very civic-minded, committed to volunteerism, and helping those who can’t help themselves. And that’s the modern society. But that kind of a “personality” of a place doesn’t come from a void. The people of Montana have a reputation of being intensely independent. But the heart of the people isn’t about independence, that’s just the way we are because life here is spread out and requires a lot of individual effort to survive and thrive. The result of such a spread-out population is the opposite of intense independence—devout and loyal support of one another. So, though Montanans are independent, we’re also fiercely supportive.
An ironic history tidbit I ran into on my research for this series, but couldn’t use, was the famous Thomas Meagher who was originally from Ireland. We have a massive, gorgeous statue of him on his horse in front of the Montana State Capital Building in Helena because of his contributions toward Montana becoming a state. He was educated in Ireland by the Jesuits and then in England. He spent time in France as well. His last name is pronounced like the planet, “Mar”. The irony is that Thomas Meagher escaped from imprisonment in Australia, banished there by the British for crime of sedition. He believed in Irish independence. Thomas was a hero to the Irish independent movement, a Civil War hero who flipped from supporting the Confederate South to the Union when the Catholic Church put their support behind the North, and after a successful military career he moved to Montana. Evidently, he put all those skills to good use as Montana became a state. But he was also a well-known scoundrel whose stories didn’t always add up. He met his end in a murky manner, well that’s what they say… Thomas was purportedly drinking and playing cards on a paddle boat up the Missouri River near Fort Benton. Somehow, though he was supposedly a good swimmer, he managed to fall overboard and drowned. Was he drunk? Was he cheating and murdered? Did he run into those he’d flipped on during the war? Was he pushed over? He did have a bad knee… No one knows. His body was never found. Hmm… We have a bar/pub in Missoula called the The Meagher Bar that serves delicious Irish fare. So, if you visit Montana, please don’t ask for the “Meeger” Bar, not a soul will understand what you’re looking for. But now, you know how to pronounce his name.
A hijacked airplane. A fatal disaster. A desperate soul in need of salvation …
Willow’s spirited, carefree, and far too young to die. Trapped on a hijacked airplane with no promise of survival, Willow’s forced to confront her darkest fear as well as her soul’s deepest need.
Terror in the Skies is the first novella in the Turbulent Skies Christian Thriller series, an unforgettable collection of interconnected novellas about strangers traveling together aboard a doomed flight. Find out why Christian fiction readers can’t stop raving about this heart-stopping, fast-paced series you can devour in a single sitting.
If you like harrowing stories of faith and redemption, spine-tingling adrenaline surges, and heart-pounding Christian suspense, you’ll love these edge-of-your-seat novellas by USA Today bestselling author, Alana Terry.
Dive into the breathtaking Turbulent Skies series today. Just be careful … you may not be able to read just one!
Terror in the Skies by Alana Terry was a different kind of read for me. I wasn’t ready for the first-person narration, almost stream-of-consciousness thought. Willow Winters, who starts to tell us the story of her and her roommate’s plane hijacking, goes down several rabbit trails on the way.
Willow pontificates on everything from human trafficking to illicit drug use to environmental protection then climbs on a soapbox about Flint, Michigan’s water issue. I wish this book had been presented as a social ills book, instead of suspense. Even the suspense part (not a major part of the novel that I was hoping for) becomes secondary to the social gospel and the True Gospel. We all need to think seriously about eternity, but for me, this story has too many side journeys and barely delivers as a suspense novel. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author through Celebrate Lit. This in no way affects my opinions, for which I am solely responsible.
2 Stars – Not So Good – I Would Not Recommend This Book
(Please note that many other Celebrate Lit reviewers and others have liked or loved this book. Please choose for yourself, not just based on my recommendation.)
About the Author
Alana is a pastor’s wife, homeschooling mom, self-diagnosed chicken lady, and Christian suspense author. Her novels have won awards from Women of Faith, Book Club Network, Grace Awards, Readers’ Favorite, and more. Alana’s passion for social justice, human rights, and religious freedom shines through her writing, and her books are known for raising tough questions without preaching. She and her family live in rural Alaska where the northern lights in the winter and midnight sun in the summer make hauling water, surviving the annual mosquito apocalypse, and cleaning goat stalls in negative forty degrees worth every second.
More from Alana
I’m excited to share my new Turbulent Skies Christian Thriller novella series with all of you! The inspiration behind this series came when I was taking a flight a few years ago … and indulging in one of my favorite past times – people watching! As I looked at the various passengers around me, I started to wonder about their lives … and it was from that line of thinking this novella series was born!
I first wrote a book about a terrifying experience on board an airplane years earlier, (Turbulence, Book #5 in the Kennedy Stern series) and because many members of my amazing Readers’ Club had been asking me to write a book featuring Willow, one of their favorite characters from the Kennedy Stern series, it seemed fitting that Willow gets to be the star in the first of these novellas.
Terror in the Skies is Willow’s story. She’s a chic Alaskan college student, a free spirit who finds herself sharing a dorm room with a conservative Christian missionary kid. Willow first makes her appearance in the Kennedy Stern Christian suspense series, meaning that over a hundred thousand readers have met her!
I can’t tell you too muchabout this life-of-the-party aspiring actress (mostlybecause I don’t want to spoil anythingfor you if you happen to still be making your way through the Kennedy Stern books). But I can tell you she is the first main character in this six-book novella series that helps answer the question: “Who are you really sitting next to hundreds of feet up in the air?”
Maybe, like me, after reading this series, you’ll never look at your fellow passengers the same way!