Saturday, December 9, 2017

Book review with a giveaway: Christmas Embers by Chautona Havig


About the Book

Name of book: Christmas Embers
Author: Chautona Havig
Genre: Contemporary Christmas
Release Date: November 25, 2016


It’s a truth universally unacknowledged that sin will hunt you down and advertise its presence the moment you try to hide it.

Emily Byrne sits in her daughter’s classroom listening to the deepest wishes of twenty kindergarteners as she sketches them. But when little Joey Cordell breaks down, weeping and insisting the only thing he wants to find is his father, she isn’t sure where her Christmas project will take her.

Davia Cordell came to Rockland for one purpose–find her son’s father before she dies. An ex-prostitute, she’s well aware that the news will cause waves, but what’s a mother to do?

As these women join forces to search for Joey’s father–a Rockland area pastor, no less– Emily learns compassion for a woman who just wants the best for her son and can’t quite imagine that Jesus wants anything to do with her.

Each day, Davia weakens until Emily isn’t confident she’ll find the boy’s father in time–if at all. Doubts form. Should she look? Is it right to risk destroying a family like this–an entire church? The weight of that responsibility crushes her as Davia wastes away before her eyes.

A mother’s love. A boy’s confidence. A family’s faith. A preacher’s failure. Is redemption even possible anymore?

Christmas Embers: a story of love, failure, and redemption.

Click here to purchase your copy!

My Review

This book IS NOT warm and fuzzy for Christmas, but it does have some very sweet moments.

This book IS Intense.  Heart-Wrenching. Painfully Honest.  Well-Written.

I've been enjoying Chautona Havig's books for a while now, but this one stands out in its intensity.  It's the kind of book that is hard to put down, and when you're not reading it you're thinking about it, or praying for the characters, or dreaming about it at night.

At first I was a little jealous of what seemed to be the perfect marriage between Emily and Sean.  He's a minister in their church and she supplements the family's income by blogging.  When they came off their pedestals, I still loved the characters.  Both were so honest as they struggled.  The content is not easy to deal with, but it is clean, it is necessary, and it is very well-written.

I received a copy of this book from the author for review purposes.  The thoughts expressed here are my own.

About the Author

Author of the Amazon bestselling Aggie and Past Forward Series, Chautona Havig lives and writes in California’s Mojave Desert. With dozens of books to her name, Chautona spends most of her time writing, but when she takes the rare break, she can be found reading, sewing, paper crafting, or sleeping and dreaming of finishing the dozens of books swirling in her overly-active imagination at any given moment.








Guest Post from Chautona Havig

Infidelity to the Tune of Adeste Fideles


“I think my husband is having an affair.”

An explanation followed. Look, I tend to be one who assumes the best of others—to a fault even. I read the “evidence” and frankly could see it going either way. It’s hard to tell across thousands of miles. While others on the message board saw red flag after red flag—and frankly, I did, too—I also saw perfectly innocent explanations for things. It’s a curse sometimes—that ability to see both sides of an issue. I cautioned against assumptions no one would want other people to make of themselves. And I prayed she was wrong.

She wasn’t.

It wasn’t the first time I’d come face to face with infidelity. As a child, there was an extended family member. As a newlywed, one of my wedding party—then another. Then another. The excuses, the justifications. Friends and I went to confront a sister in Christ on her affair with her husband’s best friend. We foolishly asked “what happened?” regarding her marriage. Her words: “We drifted apart.”

I wanted to scream the words that battered my brain and heart. “Then row back together!”

But over the years, it just grew worse. One by one, wives and husbands tossed aside vows made to a brother or sister in Christ—vows made before the Lord—in favor of what sometimes were serial affairs. Abuse. Horror.

I’ve prayed women I love through court cases, medical visits, and disclosures from children no mother should ever have to hear. I’ve prayed for men I didn’t even like because of the pain their wives inflicted each time she left them alone with the kids. He knew. He always knew.

Adultery is real. It’s ugly. And there’s absolutely a cure for it. Jesus. 100% surrender to Jesus. But as long as we rely on those little loops on the back of our boots instead of the saving, healing, strengthening power of Jesus, we’re just as vulnerable as the next person.

And that’s why I wrote Christmas Embers. I took every heartbreaking story I’d observed over the years and put in each character for a reason. Every scene, every plot point, every twist—I put them exactly how and where they are for a reason.

They’re there as a warning.

This isn’t your lighthearted Christmas novel. Some have suggested I shouldn’t have set it at Christmastime. But you know what? Over half the disclosures I’ve ever heard of happened between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. I couldn’t get the idea of Joey’s story out of my head. And to write his story, it had to be at Christmas.

Let me say it again. While Christmas may not seem like the optimal time for a hard-hitting book like this, I had to do it. Adultery is reaching epidemic proportions in the church. There’s a solution. His name is Jesus.

Blog Stops

Carpe Diem, December 5
A Baker’s Perspective, December 5
Mary Hake, December 5
Moments Dipped in Ink, December 6
D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, December 6
Daysong Reflections, December 6
Fiction Aficionado, December 7
A Simply Enchanted Life, December 7
Genesis 5020, December 7
Blogging With Carol, December 8
The Power of Words, December 8
Bigreadersite, December 8
Reading Is My SuperPower, December 9
A Greater Yes, December 9
Radiant Light, December 9
Just Jo’Anne, December 10
For The Love of Books, December 10
Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, December 10
Aryn the Libraryan, December 11
A Reader’s Brain, December 11
The Fizzy Pop Collection, December 12
Books, Books, and More Books., December 12
Quiet Quilter, December 13
Seasons of Opportunities, December 13
Christian Book Devourer, December 13
Allofakindmom, December 14
Texas Book-aholic, December 14
Pursuing Stacie, December 14
Pause for Tales, December 15
Reader’s cozy corner, December 15
margaret kazmierczak, December 15
Red Headed Book Lady, December 16
Purposeful Learning, December 16
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 16
Janices book reviews, December 17
Christian Bookaholic, December 17
Karen Sue Hadley, December 18
Remembrancy, December 18
Blossoms and Blessings, December 18

Giveaway


To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away a grand prize of a 6 month Kindle Unlimited Subscription!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/c512

Monday, December 4, 2017

Book Review: Wings of the Wind by Connilyn Cossette

About the Book:

Can vengeance give way to forgiveness when one woman's destiny becomes entangled with the very enemies she sought to destroy?

Motherless and raised alongside her brothers, Alanah, a Canaanite, is no stranger to fighting. When her father and brothers are killed in battle with the Hebrews, she disguises herself and sneaks onto the battlefield to avenge her family. The one thing she never counted on was surviving.

Tobiah, a Hebrew warrior, has spent his share of time on the battlefield and is shocked to find an unconscious woman among the casualties. Compelled to bring her to a healer back at the Hebrew camp, he's unprepared for the consequences of what he intended as an act of compassion.

In order to survive, Alanah must unite with her enemy. But will a terrible revelation drive her toward an even greater danger?

My Review:

Author Connilyn Cossette brilliantly brings the Out From Egypt series to a close with Wings of the Wind.  There were so many excellent elements to this story.  First, the characterization.  Alanah, the enemy, was written in such a way that I was totally on her side.  The total honesty that I got from knowing her thoughts in this first person narrative drew me to her.  I felt her pain, was amazed at her strength, and experienced her joy.  I also loved Tobiah for his honesty and strength of character.  It was also a pleasure to spend time with characters from the previous books.

Secondly, the descriptive passages were excellent.  Cossette makes the reader feel the pain of a viper bite, the horror of living in Jericho as the walls fell, and the majesty of Yahweh dwelling in the midst of His people in the form of a cloud.

Finally, the lessons learned through the course of the story were substantive.  Lessons of forgiveness, redemption, and God's sovereignty were beautifully woven throughout the book.

This book is why I love biblical fiction.  Doing life with the Israelites as they neared the end of their wandering really brought this portion of Scripture to life for me.  I highly recommend it.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Bethany House, for review purposes.  The thoughts expressed here are my own.

About the Author:

When she is not homeschooling her two sweet kids (with a full pot of coffee at hand), Connilyn Cossette is scribbling notes on spare paper, mumbling about her imaginary friends, and reading obscure, out-of-print history books. There is nothing she likes better than digging into the rich, ancient world of the Bible and uncovering buried gems of grace that point toward Jesus. Although a Pacific Northwest native, she now lives near Dallas, Texas. Connect with her at www.connilyncossette.com.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Book review with a giveaway: The Heart of an Agent by Tracey J. Lyons


About the Book:


Name of book: The Heart of an Agent
Author: Tracey J. Lyons
Genre: Inspirational historical romance
Release Date: November 7, 2017


Tracey J. Lyons, the author of A Changed Agent, returns to the Adirondack Mountains of the 1890s in a novel of love, faith, and secrets…

Former Pinkerton spy Lily Handland has always dreamed of a quiet, safe life, free from chasing criminals and putting herself at risk. So when the opportunity to invest in a failing Great Camp in the Adirondacks comes to her attention, she quickly jumps at the chance.

Filled with grief, widower Owen Murphy wants to run away from it all. Though he’s worked hard to forge a future for himself, his guilt has kept him mired in the past. But all that changes when a headstrong, mysterious woman shows up at Owen’s door. Together, as Lily and Owen restore the beauty of the Great Camp, he begins to finally see a future. But will learning about Lily’s past destroy it all?

Click here to purchase your copy.

My Review:

This was a lighthearted, sweet romance that I enjoyed reading.  Rebecca, the main character, impressed me with her can-do attitude.  She also had refined tastes and a clear sense of propriety and etiquette.  The many experiences she had had as a Pinkerton agent had shaped her, but her desire to be settled and part of a community was a driving force in her decision making.  Author Tracey J. Lyons excellently portrayed Owen's grief and despair from his wife's untimely death.

This novel is the second in the Adirondack Pinkertons series, but it stood alone well.  References to the first book made me want to read A Changed Agent, because it sounded like a great book also.  

Fans of historical fiction and romance will enjoy this book, as well as anyone with a special interest in the Pinkerton agents, the Adirondack region of New York, or the Great Camps of the late 1800s.

I received this book from the author, through Celebrate Lit, for review purposes.  The thoughts expressed here are my own.

About the Author:


An Amazon Top Ten bestselling historical romance author of the Adirondack Pinkertons and the Women of Surprise series, Tracey was a 2017 National Excellence Romance Fiction Award finalist. She sold her first book on 9/9/99! Her books have been translated into several languages and are available in print, digital and audio formats. A true upstate New Yorker, Tracey believes you should write what you know. Her historical romances are all set in the New York State area. Tracey considers herself a small town gal who writes small town romances. You can learn more about Tracey and her books by visiting her website at www.traceylyons.com.





Guest Post from Tracey Lyons:

My family and I spent a lot of time in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State. When I came up with the idea for the Pinkerton series, I knew the books had to be set in a place that I loved. The Heart of An Agent, book 2 in The Adirondack Pinkertons series takes place at an Adirondack great camp. Imagine a time when people would travel from faraway places to hike the many trails or lounge on a porch in one of the famed Adirondack chairs. These intricate, grand structures, built during the latter part of the nineteenth century are part of the unique landscape and history that makes up the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York. I enjoyed creating the fictional Murphy camp, the setting for Lily Handland and Owen Murphy’s story.

Blog Stops:


Just the Write Escape, November 30
Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, November 30
Texas Book-aholic, December 1
Locks, Hooks and books, December 1
A Greater Yes, December 2
Faery Tales Are Real, December 2
Multifarious, December 3
To Everything a Season, December 3
Reader’s cozy corner, December 4
Janice’s book reviews, December 5
Carpe Diem, December 6
Bibliophile Reviews, December 7
Pause for Tales, December 8
Have A Wonderful Day, December 8
With a Joyful Noise, December 9
D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, December 10
Daysong Reflections, December 10
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 11
Mary Hake, December 11
My Writer’s Life, December 12
Books n Baubles, December 12
Jeanette’s Thoughts, December 13

Giveaway


To celebrate her tour, Tracey is giving away a Grand Prize Package of a tea-time themed gift box (Valued at over $75) and a $25 Visa Gift Card!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/c1f6

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Book review with a giveaway: 21 Days of Christmas



About the Book

Name of book: 21 Days of Christmas: A Fiction Lover’s Devotional
Author: Kathy Ide
Genre: Christian Fiction Devotional
Release Date: September 1, 2015


Christmas is more than just a holiday. It is a time to recapture the joy and wonder of God’s greatest gift: His Son, Jesus.

21 Days of Christmas will warm your heart with stories about giving, loving, and family. These engaging tales celebrate the hope and joy that make this blessed season unique. At the end of each story you’ll find an insightful message that will help you discover anew the true meaning of this special time of year. So grab a cup of hot apple cider with a cinnamon stick, curl up in your favorite chair beside a picture window overlooking a serene spot, and savor the true meaning of Christmas through these inspirational and encouraging stories.

Click here to purchase your copy.

My Review

I fell in love with this book when I saw it.  It is bright and Christmasy, it is comfortably sized, and it comes with a ribbon bookmark!  Then I began reading.  Each day's entry is written by a different author.  There is a Christmas-themed story to read, then a paragraph of life application based on the story.  I was blown away by what wonderful stories were told in just a few pages each time!  This devotional makes a nice addition to your regular quiet times during the Christmas season.  Or one might choose to read it to your family each evening around the Christmas tree.  It would make a wonderful gift, as well.

I received a copy of this book from the author, through Celebrate Lit, for review purposes.  The thoughts shared here are my own.

More About Kathy Ide

Kathy is the editor/compiler of the Fiction Lover’s Devotional series (www.FictionDevo.com) and author of “Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors” (http://secretsofbestsellingauthors.com). She has also written numerous articles, short stories, devotionals, play scripts, and Sunday school curriculum. She has ghostwritten ten nonfiction books and a five-book novel series.

She is also a full-time freelance editor, working with aspiring, new, and experienced authors as well as publishers.

Kathy speaks at writers’ conferences across the country.

She is the founder and coordinator of The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network (www.TheChristianPEN.com) and the Christian Editor Connection (www.ChristianEditor.com).

For more about Kathy, visit www.KathyIde.com.

Guest Post from Kathy Ide

Looking for a great Christmas gift for friends and family who love fiction … or devotionals? You can give them both in one book!

21 Days of Christmas: Stories that Celebrate God’s Greatest Gift is book two in the Fiction Lover’s Devotional series. It’s a collection of 21 fiction stories, each written by a different author—including well-known novelists such as Lena Nelson Dooley, Joanne Bischof, Jan Cline, and Lynn Kinnaman. Some stories are about the first Christmas, when Mary and Joseph brought God’s Son into the world. Others are about how we celebrate that history-changing event today. Each story is followed by a brief Life Application written by the author of that story.

The first chapter starts out with an amusing tale of a modern-day couple in the front seat of a car, on Christmas Eve, traveling to see relatives for the holiday. They’re griping about the hassles of the season, and hollering at the the kids, who are playing with the foil on Mom’s Jell-O salad in the backseat. Then we break from that to a scene of Mary and Joseph entering Bethlehem, about to bring God’s Son into the world. It contrasts the modern-day wife, not wanting to go into a sleazy diner because it’s the only place open on Christmas Eve, with Mary hesitating to go into a smelly barnyard to give birth. When the modern-day couple decide to tell their children the Christmas story—complete with snow and a little drummer boy—the contrasts become both highly funny and very poignant.

I wrote one of the chapters in the book. It’s about the first Christmas, from the perspective of Joseph. What he must have thought and felt when Mary was giving birth to Jesus, knowing that he had been personally given the divine responsibility to teach God’s Son about God. Based on the Old Testament teachings he’d been raised with, what did Joseph think Jesus would be like when He was born, and how did reality clash with those expectations?

This book makes a great gift for family and friends, with its beautiful debossed hardback cover, full-color interior, and a ribbon page marker. With stories about the Nativity as well as tales of modern-day people celebrating that event, almost anyone would enjoy receiving a copy and reading it—even those who don’t believe in Christ as their Savior. It’s small enough to be a stocking stuffer (or tucked into the pocket of a Christmas-themed pot holder!) and inexpensive enough to be a practical gift for those people you’re not sure will reciprocate, or who may feel uncomfortable if they didn’t get you anything.

This devotional would also be ideal to incorporate into an individual’s or a family’s advent celebration, reading one chapter a day during the three weeks leading up to Christmas.

Each chapter takes only about ten minutes to read, which makes it ideal for the hectic holiday season. And since each chapter stands alone, it doesn’t matter whether you read one or two stories, half the book, or the whole thing.

Other books in the Fiction Lover’s Devotional series are:

21 Days of Grace: Stories that Celebrate God’s Unconditional Love
21 Days of Love: Stories that Celebrate Treasured Relationships
21 Days of Joy: Stories that Celebrate Motherhood

Blog Stops


Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, November 21
Reflections From My Bookshelves, November 21
Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, November 22
Reader’s Cozy Corner, November 22
Blossoms and Blessings, November 23
Carpe Diem, November 23
Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner, November 24
Multifarious, November 25
A Reader’s Brain, November 25
A Greater Yes, November 26
Lane Hill House, November 26
Texas Book -aholic, November 27
Jeanette’s Thoughts, November 27
Karen Sue Hadley, November 28
By The Book, November 29
Seasons of Opportunities, November 29
Mary Hake, November 30
Have A Wonderful Day, December 1
Remebrancy, December 2
God’s Little Bookworm, December 3
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 4

Giveaway


To celebrate her tour, Kathy is giving away a grand prize of a set of 21 days devotional books!!
Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/c3c2

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Book review with a giveaway: Winds of Heaven, Stuff of Earth

Winds of Heaven, Stuff of Earth

SPIRITUAL CONVERSATIONS INSPIRED BY THE LIFE AND LYRICS OF 
RICH MULLINS

About the Book:

Rich Mullins was a once-in-a-lifetime singer/songwriter whose impact on Christian music and the church is still felt today, even twenty years after his passing. His words and music softened and inspired the most hardened hearts to believe. His was a ragged and raw faith of a pilgrim, poet, and prophet. Now more than a dozen of today’s singers, songwriters, producers, and authors gather to share never-before-heard stories and lessons that continue to influence their music and ministries today. These lessons, gleaned from Rich’s own struggles and pursuits, are combined with lyrics from unreleased Rich Mullins songs that will inspire longtime Mullins fans, new Christian music followers, and spiritual seekers trying to understand the reckless love of God.

You can purchase this book here.

About the Authors:

Andrew Greer
A multiple Dove Award-nominated singer/ songwriter and respected author, Andrew Greer is known for his soulful folk-gospel sound, instinctively captured on his critically-acclaimed Angel Band recordings. Andrew’s 2013 hymns project, All Things Bright & Beautiful, held the #1 position on Nielsen Christian SoundScan’s Instrumental chart for 25 consecutive weeks. The author of Transcending Mysteries, Andrew’s stories have appeared in Christianity Today, In Touch, and CCM Magazine. A native Texan, Andrew makes his home in Franklin, Tennessee.


Randy Cox
Randy Cox has nearly 40 years of experience in music publishing, including his work at Paragon Music, where he discovered Michael W. Smith, and at Meadowgreen Music, where he first signed Rich Mullins. As publisher or representative, Randy’s songs have been heard on more than 80 million recordings, including dozens of Grammy and Dove Award-winning albums. Randy lives in Nashville, Tennessee, where he also serves as adjunct professor at Trevecca University and a consultant with LifeWay Worship Resources and Spachtula Music.

My Perspective:

I was doing my own growing up in my Christian walk at the same time that Contemporary Christian Music was making great strides as an industry, and among all the great Christian music that had suddenly become available, the music of Rich Mullins affected me the most.  I remember driving by myself very late one night, listening to Christian music from the battery-powered cassette player in the seat next to me.  Nothing that I was hearing fit my need for something deep.  Everything I listened to as I traveled seemed "fluffy," and I wanted more than that.  I kept pulling the cassettes out, and replacing them with something else, until I put a Rich Mullins cassette in the player.  I had found what I was looking for.  His music took me deeper, spiritually.  After that, each new album he released touched me anew.

Years later, I was living in an area that was given a highly-publicized prediction of a major earthquake.  That was good for raising earthquake-preparedness awareness, but it also made me consider my own mortality.  What if I did find myself in the midst of a natural disaster?  I was single and far from my family.  Rich's lyrics were a comfort to me:

But when I leave I want to go out like Elijah
With a whirlwind to fuel my chariot of fire
And when I look back on the stars
Well, It'll be like a candlelight in Central Park
And it won't break my heart to say goodbye

Go big.  That was Rich in his relationship to God, and in his desire to serve the less fortunate.

A roommate and I saw Rich in concert at a church in Memphis, TN.  It was one of the best concerts I have ever attended, and it wasn't because of the light show.  You know how some really good books or movies stick with you, even after you've moved on to the next one?  This concert stuck with me for weeks.  We told everyone about it at church the next day, and on Monday I went to the Christian bookstore on my lunch break to buy the cassette. I really couldn't afford it, but I couldn't live without it.  The "glow" of having been at that concert, listening to a barefooted musician wearing blue jeans, lasted for weeks.

When he died, I cried for weeks, and sometimes years later I would still weep at earth's loss of this man.  His music has touched me like no one else's.  I still consider him as my favorite CCM artist.  At the risk of sounding uber-fanatical, I loved him and wanted to know everything I could about Rich Mullins.

My Review:

That's why I was thrilled to read this book.  It's not a biography-it's exactly what the subtitle claims:  Spiritual Conversations Inspired by the Life and Lyrics of Rich Mullins.  By reading how Rich affected those who knew him well, it allowed me to remember his influence on my life and get to know him better.  Each chapter is written by a different person, and the chapters are fairly short.  I took my time reading through this book so I could savor each reflection.

Rich was such a unique individual because of the depth of his love for God.  For this reason, I highly recommend it not only for all Rich Mullins fans, but for anyone who wants a glimpse of a life fully lived in the love and grace of God.

I am so thankful to Worthy Publishing for providing a review copy of this book.  The thoughts expressed here are my own.

Giveaway:

I have a copy of this book and a Winds of Heaven, Stuff of Earth t-shirt to give away to a reader of this blog, courtesy of Worthy Publishing.  To be entered into the giveaway, please comment on this post in answer to one or both of these questions:  What are your memories of Rich Mullins, or What or who was influential to you in your spiritual growth?   You have through Monday, December 4 to enter.  U S. residents only, please.

Finally:

Join the conversation about this book and Rich's influence on others here:  #windsofheavenstuffofearth


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Book review, recipes, and a giveaway: The Christmas Admirer by Laura V. Hilton

About the Book


Name of book: The Christmas Admirer
Author: Laura V Hilton
Genre: Amish Romance
Release Date: September 5, 2017


Amish romance fans will love this heartwarming holiday story, perfect for gift-giving.

Benaiah Troyer has loved Susanna King for as long as he can remember, but when his parents died in an accident a year ago, he broke up with her—for her own good. After all, he was now the sole caregiver for his three younger sisters. What woman would want to put up with that? Still, against his better judgment, he can’t help leaving her a gift now and then, anonymously addressing her name in big block print, just to catch a smile. Roses one month, maple syrup candy another; and maybe this time, something special for Christmas.

Susanna has never gotten over losing Benaiah, but now the clock is ticking. Her father is selling his glass-blowing business, remarrying in January, and moving to Iowa with his bossy wife-to-be. Angry and frustrated, Susanna realizes she’s left with three options: one, go with Daed to his new home with a new mom; two, stay in Jamesport, Missouri, as an old maid; or, three, the best yet, flush out her mysterious secret admirer. But how could she be with anyone else when her heart is still with Benaiah?

Click here to purchase your copy.

My Review

Poor Susanna!  Still heartbroken months after the love of her life broke up with her, her world is turned upside down again when her widowed father surprises her with news of his upcoming marriage.  Susanna struggles with this upsetting news and desires to reunite with her boyfriend Benaiah.  She must combat selfishness and willfulness in herself, yet she can be very loving and thoughtful.  I enjoyed getting to know this multi-faceted character and rejoiced when she turned to God for healing, guidance, and direction.

Benaiah, Susanna's former beau, has been overwhelmed with the responsibility for his family thrust on him after his parents' death, and must learn when to trust and when to act.  Watching his circumstances work out for good after committing them to prayer was very encouraging. 

Fans of Amish fiction will definitely enjoy this book.  Although it is set during the holiday season, readers will appreciate it at any time of the year.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Whitaker House, through Celebrate Lit, for review purposes.  The thoughts expressed here are my own.

About the Author

Amish fiction lovers responded positively and immediately to Laura V. Hilton’s debut novel, Patchwork Dreams, when she burst on the scene in 2009 with her unique series, The Amish of Seymour, set in the tiny town of Seymour, in Webster County, Missouri. Fans of the genre immediately recognized Hilton’s insider knowledge, not only of the Webster County community, but Amish culture in general. Her natural speech and writing patterns, she says, are uniquely “Amish,” acquired from her Amish maternal grandparents. The Amish of Seymour, includes Patchwork Dreams, A Harvest of Hearts, and Promised to Another. Her second series, The Amish of Webster County, is comprised of Healing Love, Surrendered Love, and Awakened Love. A stand-alone title, A White Christmas in Webster County, was released in September 2014. The Amish of Jamesport includes The Snow Globe, The Postcard and The Birdhouse. In spring 2016 she released The Amish Firefighter with the setting in Jamesport, MO, the same as for The Amish Wanderer.

Laura is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and a professional book reviewer. Laura and her husband, Steve, have five children, whom Laura home schools. The family makes their home in Horseshoe Bend, Arkansas.

Guest Post from Laura V. Hilton

Glass Blowing and The Christmas Admirer

Right before my youngest son joined the Coast Guard we went on a short mini-vacation to Springfield, Missouri, actually going farther north almost to Kansas City to see another Amish community near there in Osceola. There is a cheese factory there and my son wanted to try some of their cheeses – such as a ghost pepper cheese. Too spicy for me.

But upon the return to Springfield, Steve read about a glass blowers shop in the downtown area. We found the address and went to visit it. It is owned by an older gentleman and his son. They had a display area set up where people could see their wares and buy them and then a work area where the son mostly worked, and talked about how the fire needed to be so hot, and showed us how he worked and made things. As we watched, he made a lovely flower, a lily, in different colors of glass, green, white, pinks.

It was fascinating.
And I got to thinking what if…

I did some more research. Asked questions. Probably drove them nuts. But when Whitaker House indicated they’d be interested in a Christmas novel, I proposed one about a glass blower.

The story is set in Jamesport, Missouri, and while completely stand alone, it does have some continuing characters from other books I’ve written set in Jamesport. If you are interested, the books set there are:


The Snow Globe
The Postcard
The Birdhouse
The Amish Firefighter
The Amish Wanderer
The Kissing Bridge (part of Springs of Love collection)
The Christmas Admirer
Gingerbread Wishes (part of A Plain Thanksgiving collection–November 2018)
Love by the Numbers (February 2018)

I haven’t read any books about an Amish glass blower, but that’s not to say they aren’t out there. I haven’t read all the Amish books available. Jamesport is an area that is more tourist-oriented than the books set in Seymour / Webster County Missouri. They give buggy tours, have bed and breakfasts, open their homes for visitors to eat supper with them, and have businesses.

All Amish districts are different and the rules vary depending on the bishop and preachers. Some are more liberal and some more conservative. Some keep themselves distant and don’t welcome attention from non-Amish and some embrace it. While Jamesport is not as touristy as some districts in Lancaster Pennsylvania or in Ohio, it is much more so than others.

Susanna’s Cranberry Salad

Ingredients

3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (thawed), chopped
1 can (20 ounces) unsweetened crushed pineapple, drained
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 medium apple, chopped
2/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Directions

In a large bowl, mix the first six ingredients until blended. Refrigerate, covered, overnight.

In a large bowl, beat cream until stiff peaks form. Just before serving, fold cream and walnuts into cranberry mixture.Makes 16 servings.

Susanna’s Cranberry Sauce
For on top of turkey sandwiches as Becca requested

Ingredients

4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (thawed), chopped
1 cup sugar
1 cup water or orange juice

Directions

In colander, rinse cranberries. In sauce pan, add water or orange juice and sugar, boil until sugar is dissolved. Add cranberries and return to a boil. Lower to simmer and cook about 10 minutes or until most of the cranberries had burst. Let cool.

Susanna’s “Love Portion” Gingerbread

Ingredients

6 cups all-purpose flour
1 T baking powder
1 T ground ginger
1 t ground nutmeg
1 t ground cloves
1 t ground cinnamon
1 cup shortening, melted slightly
1 cup molasses
1 cup brown sugar
½ c water
1 egg
1 t vanilla

Directions

Shift together flour, baking powder, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon. Set aside.

In mixing bowl, mix shortening, molasses, brown sugar, water, egg and vanilla until smooth. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients until they are absorbed. Divide dough into three pieces, pat down until about 1 ½ inch thickness, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for three hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. On lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to ¼ inch thickness. Cut in desired shapes. Place cookies about 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 10 – 12 minutes in preheated oven. Cool on wire racks. When cool, decorate as desired.

Blog Stops

ASC Book Reviews, November 9
Books n Baubles, November 9
Janices book review, November 9
Avid Reader Book Reviews, November 10
Have A Wonderful Day, November 10
A Greater Yes, November 10
Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, November 11
God’s Little Bookworm, November 11
D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, November 11
Eat, Read, Teach, Blog, November 12
A Holland Reads, November 12
Simple Harvest Reads, November 12
Reading Is My SuperPower, November 13
Beck To Basics, November 13
Carpe Diem, November 13
Christian Bookaholic, November 14
Blossoms and Blessings, November 14
Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner, November 15
Reader’s cozy corner, November 15
Christian Author, J.E.Grace, November 15
Baker Kella, November 16
Quiet Quilter, November 16
Karen Sue Hadley, November 16
Pause for Tales, November 17
Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, November 17
Pursuing Stacie, November 17
For The Love of Books, November 18
Blogging With Carol, November 18
Pink Granny’s Journey, November 18
Bigreadersite, November 19
Vicky Sluiter, November 19
SusanLovesBooks, November 19
Locks, Hooks and Books, November 20
Moments Dipped in Ink, November 20
New Horizon Reviews, November 20
The Fizzy Pop Collection, November 21
A Simply Enchanted Life, November 21
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 21
Jeanette’s Thoughts, November 22
Daysong Reflections, November 22
Splashes of Joy, November 22

Giveaway


In honor of her tour, Laura is giving away

Grand Prize Package: The Christmas Admirer, “Unto Us a Child is Born” painting on decorative serving plate by Donna White, The Hearthside Collection, Inc., and commemorative Whitaker House/Anchor Distributors coloring book (not in photo).

1st Place Package: The Christmas Admirer and The Very First Christmas by Juliet David with interactive illustrations by Pauline Siewert (children’s book).

2nd Place Package: The Christmas Admirer and “The Woman Who Honors The Lord Shall Be Praised” myrrh-scented candle from abba Jerusalem!

Click the link to enter! https://promosimple.com/ps/c16f

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Book Review, Author Interview, and Giveaway: Out of the Ordinary by Jen Turano


About the Book



Name of book: Out of the Ordinary
Author: Jen Turano
Genre: Christian historical
Release Date: November 7, 2017


”With all the charm of a Regency romance, the humor of a drawing room farce, and the swoonworthy delight of a fairy tale, Turano’s first Apart from the Crowd historical absolutely sparkles.”–Publishers Weekly on Behind the Scenes

Working as a paid companion may be quite commonplace, but Miss Gertrude Cadwalader’s eccentric employer makes her job unpredictable, to say the least. She finds herself carrying out an array of highly unusual tasks, including wearing peculiar outfits and returning items the woman pilfered. But when the wealthy Mrs. Sinclair catches Gertrude sneaking around the Sinclair yacht with some of the missing items in her possession, she immediately jumps to the wrong conclusion.

Shipping magnate Harrison Sinclair is caught in the middle of a misunderstanding between his mother and Gertrude, but he can’t help coming to his friend’s defense. Even as he hopes their friendship might become something more, Harrison is unprepared for the outlandish escapades that seem to follow the lovely, anything-but-ordinary Gertrude at every turn.

“The second installment of Turano’s Apart from the Crowd series is laugh-out-loud enjoyable. The foibles of the characters, balanced out with a light-hearted yet meaningful love story, is a true treat. . . . All of the threads are tied together in the end, even the small mysteries and side stories. It makes for a very satisfying read when the last page is turned.”–RT Book Reviews

Click here to purchase your copy!

My Review

Once again, author Jen Turano gives the reader a book full of chuckles as quirky characters find themselves in preposterous situations.  The second book in the Apart from the Crowd series, this book  stands alone, but would be enjoyed even more fully if the reader had experienced the history of the characters.  Turano uniquely brings out a full story in a short time frame by using plenty of well-crafted dialog and detailed descriptions of events.  She also is a master of effecting compassion for very flawed characters.  As with all of this author's writings, I enjoyed this book and recommend it for those who like historical romantic fiction, especially set in New York City during the Gilded Age.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Bethany House, through Celebrate Lit, for review purposes.  The thoughts expressed here are my own.

About the Author

Jen Turano, author of nine books and two novellas, is a graduate of the University of Akron with a degree in clothing and textiles. She is a member of ACFW and lives in a suburb of Denver, Colorado. Visit her website at www.jenturano.com.












Q & A with Jen Turano

What Readers Want to Know from Jen

Hey Everyone! Thank you so much for stopping by today. Because I’m in the midst of a first draft, and in case you don’t know, I don’t actually care for first drafts – all those pesky blank pages, but…I’m getting off track…where was I? Oh yes, why I brought up first drafts in the first place. You see, I’m a little scattered when I’m doing a draft, and because of that, and because my mind is a scary place to visit while filling up those already-mentioned blank pages, I was having a tough time coming up with a post for Celebrate Lit. That’s why I reached out to my fabulous readers, and…here are some of the questions their inquiring minds wanted to know about me or my books. I hope you enjoy them!

Why write in the Gilded Age?

When I started writing historical romance after experimenting with other genres, I didn’t write Gilded age but Regency pieces. However, when I ran across the book “The Court of Mrs. Astor in Gilded Age New York” by Greg King, I was intrigued, and a little baffled about how it came to be that I was so unfamiliar with that riveting time in history. It’s an era where unprecedented fortunes were made at a remarkable rate, those fortunes responsible for so many scandals that I’ll have enough fodder for stories to last me for years. The antics of the members of high society are vastly intriguing, as are the fashions of the day, which is exactly why I’ve never had second thoughts about choosing to write Gilded Age romances.

How do you come up with such unusual names for your characters?

I get asked this a lot. And, contrary to popular belief, I don’t make up the names of my characters. I search through obituaries from the 1800’s, peruse books on the New York Four-Hundred (those were members of high society – chosen by Mr. Ward McAllister, the social arbiter of the day,) and I also scour old census records. I do occasionally pair a first name with a different surname so that my main characters aren’t real historic figures because that can get tricky. Not long ago, while reading through Memoirs of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania: Person and Genealogical, Volume 1, I found a bit on my great-grandfather, which was cool – not that I’ll be using him, but I might have a character modeled after him at some point in time. Another interesting tidbit about choosing names is this – names only work for me if the characters decide they like the names I select for them. If they don’t like the name, they simply stop cooperating. I can’t write their stories until I choose another name. An example – I was recently going to name a heroine Georgianna – but it was like trying to write through mud. As soon as I changed her name to Myrtle, I was back in business.

What is the most ordinary thing you enjoy doing?

I love to shovel snow.

Who is responsible for your book covers? Do you choose the model/setting?

Bethany House’s design team does all of my covers, and occasionally they hire out the job to other design houses. The only input I give is when I send in a character/setting sheet, describing my heroine and listing a few scenes that I feel might be good for the background. In “Out of the Ordinary,” I suggested having Gertrude on or near a boat, and the design team then hired a model who resembled my character sketch and put her on a boat.

Which character has been the most difficult to write?

All of my characters give me trouble at some point in time, but recently, Mrs. Davenport was the character who was being incredibly difficult. For the first three edits of “Out of the Ordinary,” she was too complicated and a bit on the dark side, but after I changed her backstory, and remembered she was supposed to be eccentric, not deranged, she turned into a delightful lady, one I enjoyed writing.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever Googled while doing research for a book?


I don’t know if this is crazy, more on the lines of idiotic, but I once googled Gentleman’s Clubs when I was looking for an all-male club my hero would want to join. That was a definite mistake, especially since I didn’t include a very important word – historic. Well, the next thing you know, all sorts of naughty sites were flashing in front of my eyes, and to this day, I still get advertisements for singles looking for a good time and all sorts of other interesting…offers.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Nope, it never entered my head to pursue a career in writing, nor was I ever a person to even keep a diary or a journal. I’m pretty sure I wanted to be a movie star when I was younger, but when that didn’t pan out, I majored in fashion and spent quite a few years working for department stores. It wasn’t until my son was in third grade and we wrote a book together just for fun that I began entertaining the thought of trying to see my stories in print.

How long did it take you to break into the publishing world, and how many books did you write before that happened?

What everyone needs to understand is that publishing is a cut-throat business. I had no idea when I decided to try and get published what the competition was like, and if I had, well, I might have nipped the whole idea of getting a book into print right in the bud. But, because I knew I only wanted to go the traditional route, it soon became clear, what with all the suggestions I was getting about the work I was sending out to agents, that I needed to up my game…a lot. I experimented with quite a few different genres – middle grade, YA, contemporary women’s fiction, Regency romance, and then Gilded Age, getting really proficient with query letters in the process. It wasn’t until I started writing historical romance, though, that I really began getting requests for full manuscript. After I’d been writing for about three years, I finally signed with an agent. She never sold the book she signed on to represent, but after I wrote “A Change of Fortune,” she sold that within two months. Long story short – it took me about seven years to get published from the time I wrote my first book, and…I have seven manuscripts that will never see the light of day because they’re awful.

Is there a reason you include so many animals in your stories?

I’ve always been an animal lover, and as such, I really enjoy writing different animals into my scenes. Dogs are my favorites, followed by pigs, and most of the characteristics my animals have are traits I’ve seen in real life. Matilda, the pig in “A Match of Wits,” was inspired by a pig I used to see in New York. She was so quirky, as well as intelligent, that I knew I would have to write a pig in at least one of my stories. This current series does not have as many animals because I do want to keep my stories fresh. But, having said that, my next series finds my heroine visiting a farm, and well, I don’t know many farms that don’t have animals, especially adorable cows by the name of Buttercup that may or may not have the odd tendency of moseying into the house to eat pie whenever the urge strikes.

Last question – Have any of the crazy antics in your books been inspired by real-life events???

I seem to be a magnet for weird things happening, so…yes, quite a few of those antics were inspired by real life events. I’ll share just one since I do need to get back to that first draft. I live near Denver, and when my son was little, we used to visit the Denver Zoo. That zoo just happens to have a very large flock of peacocks – peacocks that took one look at me one day – and I must add that I wasn’t doing anything except pulling my son in a wagon, and the next thing I knew, I was being chased through the zoo by what seemed to me to be the entire flock of peacocks – all seemingly intent on trying to murder me. Funny how fast a mom can run while pulling a wagon when in fear for her life. My son thought it was fabulous fun, and bless those members of the staff who came to my rescue. They were almost successful in not laughing, and…I received a free lunch after the dastardly peacocks were chased away. That event is what inspired me to write a mad flock of peacocks in “In Good Company.”

Thank you so much for visiting me today. Hope I answered a few questions you may have about me!

All the best,

~ Jen ~

Blog Stops


Vicky sluiter, November 11
Bookworm Mama, November 11
cherylbbookblog, November 11
Book by Book, November 11
Lane Hill House, November 12
Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, November 12
C Jane Read, November 12
The Power of Words, November 12
Smiling Book Reviews, November 13
Moments Dipped in Ink, November 13
Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, November 13
Locks, Hooks and Books, November 14
Faithfully Bookish, November 14
Bigreadersite, November 14
Mommynificent, November 14
All 4 and About Books, November 14
Just the Write Escape, November 15
allofakindmom, November 15
Reflections From My Bookshelves, November 15
Pause for Tales, November 16
D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, November 16
A Baker’s Perspective, November 16
To Everything A Season, November 16
Neverending Stories, November 17
Have A Wonderful Day, November 17
Christian Bookaholic, November 17
A Reader’s Brain, November 18
Karen Sue Hadley, November 18
The April Journal, November 18
Cafinated Reads, November 18
Bibliophile Reviews, November 19
Blogging With Carol, November 19
Mary Hake, November 19
Southern Gal Loves to Read, November 19
Baker Kella, November 20
Rachel’s Back Talk, November 20
Texas Book-aholic, November 20
Joy of Reading, November 21
Blossoms and Blessings, November 21
Remembrancy, November 21
The Fizzy Pop Collection, November 22
Splashes of Joy, November 22
The Important Things in Life: God, Books, & Chocolate, November 22
amandainpa, November 22
Inspiration Clothesline, November 23
Stories Where Hope and Quirky Meet, November 23
A Greater Yes, November 23
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 23
Radiant Light, November 24
Fiction, Faith, and Fun, November 24
Raining Butterfy Kisses, November 24

Giveaway


To celebrate the tour, Bethany House is giving away a grand prize of Two Jen Turano Novels and a $20 Starbucks Gift Card!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/4664b04914/