Friday, June 24, 2016

Book review with a giveaway: More than She Dreamt by Sandy Faye Mauck




About the Book



It was more than she dreamt. But as the romance began to bud, she felt the thorns of a heartless beauty rise to tear it apart. Young widow, Katie Jensen, endures patiently under her oppressive uncle in desolate Arizona Territory. She tries to keep her promise to her dead aunt to be a witness and take care of her uncle but when his tirades grow worse, she gathers her two precious little ones and runs. Making their way to an unknown land, they come to the town of White Rock, which is strangely like the place in the dreams Katie has been having. They are welcomed into the cottage of a kindly grandmother who takes in borders. When Danny, the older woman’s grandson, comes home, he finds surprises in store: a crisis, a beautiful young woman, and her adorable children who bring laughter and life into all their weary souls. Katie is filled with hope when an unexpected romance sparks but there is a vindictive raven-haired beauty and an old enemy conspiring to put it out—permanently. Will God give Katie rest as she and the family pray for their enemies? Can she stand strong in her faith when fear overwhelms her?

My Review

More Than She Dreamt was a sweet, uplifting novel.  It was a study of so many contrasts:  Living in fear and oppression versus living in safety and love, dryness versus plenty, and, of course, good versus evil.  Readers will be drawn to Katie's pure heart, Daniel's strength, Gwen's protectiveness, and the children's entertaining quips.  This is a wonderful, lighthearted read for those who love a good romance novel.

I loved that the book was easy to read, and had short chapters to keep the pages turning.

I received an ARC of this book from Celebrate Lit, in exchange for an honest review, which I have given.


About the Author



Sandy Faye Mauck writes Historical Romance in the light of the gospel and with the heart of her Savior. Slip into a comfy chair with a cup of tea, coffee or hot chocolate and travel back to the first years after the turn of the century. Enjoy faithful Christian characters who have come through a spiritual wilderness into a place of hope. Stories of charming romance sprinkled with humor and topped with redemption. And be sure not to put the cup too close to the edge of the table because there are enemies lurking about. Sandy lives in her own happily-ever-after with her Bible doctrine writer husband in the west they love. They have five children and nine grandchildren. She enjoys crocheting (a different kind of yarn) and is also a professional artist.

Guest Post from Sandy Faye Mauck

Hi everyone! Sandy Faye Mauck here! Today I launch my book on Celebrate Lit! They say to write the book that is missing from your bookshelf. So I did. I wrote a story that brought the purity of a Christian romance with a touch of humor and endearing characters who live what they believe, with real enemies and redemptive grace. More Than She Dreamt is set at the time just after the turn of the century. Probably my favorite time travel place if I had to choose because of the interesting changes and the lovely clothing and yet there was indoor plumbing, and lights, LOL! My greatest writing inspiration (other than my Lord), was my favorite author, Grace Livingston Hill. She could tell a story, make you feel you were there in every sense. Grace could bring romance, excitement, and enemies and then touch your heart with a truth of God’s word that would penetrate your heart. I hope to do this as I write my heart and I add humor because that is who I am. I hope you enjoy this Celebrate Lit Blog Tour and the special personal giveaway at the end!

Blog Tour Stops

June 14: cherylbbookblog
June 18: Bigreadersite
June 19: A Greater Yes
June 20: Pause for Tales
June 22: A Holland Reads
June 23: Splashes of Joy
June 26: Bukwurmzzz

Giveaway



 To celebrate her tour, Sandy is giving away a charming keepsake box filled with some Rose Arbor themed prizes. Enter here: https://promosimple.com/ps/9c26

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Book review with a Giveaway: Hold Me Close by Marguerite Martin Gray






About the Book








Louis Lestarjette, a Frenchman, arrives in Charles Town, South Carolina, in 1772 without purpose or plans. He encounters a society on the brink of revolution and is forced to make decisions that include finding meaning and direction in his carefree life. Who can he trust in his endeavors to prosper? Will he be able to stay neutral in a battle for independence? When decisive events confront him, will he stay or leave? Running from God and commitment is a constant option.


Elizabeth Elliott, daughter of a prominent British citizen, believes God will hold her close in uncertain and changing times. Faced with making difficult decisions about her loyalties, she finds comfort in close friends, a devout sister, and her music. When the mysterious Frenchman with no commitment to God or Charles Town enters her life, her role in the political battle is challenged. Can she trust her heart in volatile situations?


Set in pre-revolution Charles Town, Hold Me Close takes the reader into the lives of immigrants, ordinary citizens, and prominent historical figures at a time in which decisions are made that will change the world.


My Review

I love historical fiction, and it was wonderful to read a story based on real people residing in a lesser-known setting, as the Revolutionary War loomed.  With all the uncertainty, Elizabeth must cling to God and His goodness as she lives in a home of divided loyalties, works to educate young women and children of the town, and takes a stand for the rights of the colonists.  Louis goes through quite a transformation as he steps off the boat from France entirely concerned about himself, to a man who desires to do God's will in his life.

I enjoyed the storyline and learning about this piece of history, but I'm glad that there will be more to the story in Book Two of the Revolutionary Faith series, because the story did not end at the conclusion of Hold Me Close.

I thought that some of the dialogue was either strained, or didn't seem appropriate for the time period, but I did gain a new perspective of that time period in a different locale.

I received an ARC of this book from Celebrate Lit in exchange for an honest review, which I have given.

About the Author






Marguerite Martin Gray enjoys the study of history, especially when combined with fiction. An avid traveler and reader, she teaches French and has degrees in French, Spanish, and Journalism from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. Recently, she received a MA in English from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene. She has two grown children and currently lives with her husband and Cleo, her cat, in Abilene, Texas.



Guest Post from Marguerite Gray

I’m very happy to be a part of Celebrate Lit! Thank you for the opportunity to present my book Hold Me Close and to share a little about my journey. It has been a journey of faith, a very exciting one for me. Hold Me Close is Book One in the Revolutionary Faith series. The book’s journey is my journey.

Six years ago I finally put on paper some of the stories forming and rambling in my imagination. My grown children left me some time to let God lead me into a writing career, well part-time. My husband and I decided I could work part-time and write part-time. During this period I wrote six novels. The next part of the trek took me to American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). I joined and have been an active student for six years. I attended three conferences and loved every minute, even the harsh criticism and “helpful” words of encouragement. Also, I became a contributing member of several critique groups within the organization. Needless to say, Hold Me Close went through many changes before it was published. My growth in faith expanded as much as my book. I thank all who had a role in the needed transformation.

I went back to work full-time after a three year sabbatical and pondered over the future of my novels. Where did God want the books to find a home? Or did they remain my little hobby? The journey was not over for Hold Me Close. The book was published by Westbow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson and Zondervan in December 2015.

Quickly, I landed far outside my comfort zone in a world of social media and personal appearances. Even though I am a teacher and stand in front of 120 students every day, there is something intimidating about audiences of professionals and my peers. Rotary Clubs, Book Clubs, Writers’ Guilds, Church Groups! What a journey….and it hasn’t stopped.

My tagline is “Entertain. Educate. Encourage.” I entertain through fiction. I educate through the historical genre. I encourage through faith journeys of my characters. It’s exciting and I hope you will enjoy the journey as much as I have.


Blog Stops

June 20: Proverbial Reads
June 21: Lane Hill House
June 22: Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses
June 23: A Northern Belle
June 23: Cassandra M’s Place
June 24: History, Mystery, and Faith
June 25: Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner
June 26: His Grace is Sufficient
June 27: Big Reader Site
June 27: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations
June 28: Splashes of Joy
June 28: Mary Hake
June 29: Pause for Tales
June 30: Red Headed Book Lady
June 30: Bows and Basketballs
July 1: Just the Write Escape
July 2: Jeanette’s Thoughts



Giveaway





To celebrate her tour, Marguerite is giving away a fun themed prize basket! Click to enter: https://promosimple.com/ps/9cc8

Friday, June 10, 2016

Book review with a Giveaway: The Amish Firefighter by Laura V. Hilton



About the Book:

Purchase your copy of The Amish Firefighter here

A Beautiful Young Woman Banished from Home

Abigail Stutzman thought it was bad enough being dropped at the nearest bus station and sent to live several states away with some relatives she’d never even heard of, much less met. But now, just a week after her arrival in Jamesport, Missouri, she finds herself at the scene of a barn fire. An intentional barn fire. And all fingers are pointed at her. She’s desperate to prove her innocence and protect her reputation, but nobody’s making that easy to do. And God certainly doesn’t seem willing to help.

A Brave Firefighter with an Agenda of His Own


Sam Miller is in the process of turning over a new leaf. Determined to atone for the follies of his past, he is a volunteer firefighter, an EMT, and a doctor-in-training. With suspicious barn fires escalating, and the Miller family being among the victims, no one is more determined to see the perpetrators brought to justice than Sam.

A Kindled Flame Neither One Could Have Anticipated

When their paths first cross at the site of a barn burning, the emotional intensity rivals the warmth of the flames. Soon, they must decide whether this fire is one they should feed or fight. And they’ll discover that the truth can prove more dangerous than a blazing inferno.

My Thoughts:

The author did a great job of inspiring compassion for the main characters:  Abigail, because as she learned more and more about her situation, things seemed to get worse and worse for her, and Sam, because as I learned more and more about his ugly past, his humility and compassion stood out increasingly.  Both characters were forced by circumstances to mature quickly.

The story was fast-paced, with short chapters and divisions that told the story alternately from Sam and Abigail's perspectives.  There was a glossary of Amish terms and phrases at the beginning, and those Amish terms were used throughout the book in place of English words.  This is a modern-day story, where the Amish characters interact with English individuals regularly.  This setting, as well as the pace of the book may be different from what Amish fiction readers are used to, but it is a good book.  It is a close-knit Amish community, but this is not a warm and fuzzy book.  The interactions between Sam and Abigail were hot and prickly.

I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit in exchange for an honest review, which I have given.


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 Birdhouse concluded Laura’s 2015 series, The Amish of Jamesport, includes The Snow Globe, The Postcard and The Birdhouse. Laura is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and a professional book reviewer. Laura and her husband, Steve, have five children, whom Laura homeschools. The family makes their home in Arkansas.

For more about Laura, her latest book, the books she’s written and those she’s reviewed:

Laura Hilton’s Website: www.lauravhilton.blogspot.com.

Guest Post from Laura V. Hilton:

Unlike some authors, I am not a planner. I have a very vague idea of the story, of the series, and as soon as the characters step forward and introduce themselves I dive in and start writing. When I first began writing this series – New Beginnings in Jamesport – I knew Sammy Miller was going to be the hero. Readers started asking for Sammy’s story as soon as they read The Postcard where Sammy was the villain. Ouch. I’d never considered writing a story about a former villain. But just as David in The Postcard was reader requested, Sammy would be.

Sammy is a very strong character and I knew he had to have a strong female lead character, one that wasn’t afraid to stand up to him and keep him under control. He is a leader, an EMT studying to be a paramedic, and a volunteer firefighter. The female lead, Abigail, is thrown into Jamesport without warning. Her step-father takes her to the bus station and sends her away and she doesn’t even know why! When she is met at the bus station by an aunt and uncle she didn’t even know existed, she is thrown into the middle of several mysteries, including barn fires set by arsonists. And she is the main suspect.

The whole New Beginnings in Jamesport series, while considered a continuation of The Amish of Jamesport series due to Sammy being the hero, is set around Amish starting over in Jamesport. The second book, The Amish Wanderer, is about a former resident of Jamesport hitchhiking across the country to get to his Mennonite uncle’s house in Pennsylvania. Silas is desperate to escape from his dysfunctional family for several reasons. But he cannot stay in Jamesport because someone is out to kill him. When he stumbles upon another mystery within hours of his arrival, what choice does he have but to stick around for awhile?

God gave me the verses for all three books in the Amish of Jamesport series The Amish Firefighter, The Amish Wanderer and the yet untitled third book (My books all stand alone) before I started writing them, which is unusual. He usually reveals these things slowly to me, as I need to know. The verse for The Amish Firefighter is Isaiah 43:2-4 and the verse for The Amish Wanderer is Romans 8:38-39. The third book’s verse is 2 Corinthians 4:8. It is tentatively titled The Amish Accountant, but most people think accountants are boring, and his real profession is a clockmaker. But The Amish Clockmaker has already been taken by another author. So we shall see what the wonderful Whitaker House team will come up with. It is about another young Amish woman, Lydia, who needs a “safe haven.” So her parents send her to live with her Mennonite aunt and uncle in Jamesport. It doesn’t exactly work out as planned, as the aunt and uncle leave for a foreign mission trip immediately, leaving Lydia acting manager of a gift shop and living in an all electric apartment. Before her aunt leaves, she tells Lydia’s secrets to her best friend. But did she tell all of them or some of them? And the best friend’s son, Caleb (the clockmaker) is acting as accountant for the gift shop. And what about Caleb’s carefully kept secret? When Lydia’s past catches up with her, will it destroy all she’d begun to imagine as she dreamed of starting over in Jamesport?

Next after that is The Christmas Challenge which is also set in Jamesport.

I don’t have official release dates for The Amish Wanderer or the other books yet. But as soon as I know, I’ll share.

Coming next? Who knows? I have two ideas warring for attention—but which one gets told first, I don’t know! I lean toward one, then the other. They both want to be told.

And now, I must get back to work. Thank you for visiting today and thank you so much for supporting my books. I do hope you’ll enjoy The Amish Firefighter!

Happy Reading!

Because of Him,

~ Laura ~

Blog Stops:

Read what other bloggers have to say about this book.

June 9: Quiet Quilter

June 10: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

June 10: Jeanette’s Thoughts

June 11: Book Bites, Bee Stings, and Butterfly Kisses

June 11: Blogging With Carol

June 12: Cassandra M’s Place

June 12: Splashes of Joy

June 13: Babs Book Bistro

June 13: bigreadersite

June 14: Daysong Reflections

June 14: Rockin’ My Mom Jeans

June 15: Singing Librarian Books

June 15: Blossoms and Blessings

June 16: Reading Is My SuperPower

June 16: The Power of Words

June 17: Two Girls and a Book

June 17: A Greater Yes

June 18: Texas Book -aholic

June 18: Through The Open Window

June 19: For the Love of Books

June 19: Petra’s Hope

June 20: Running Through The Storms

June 20: Simple Harvest Reads

June 21: A Holland Reads

June 21: Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner

June 22: Pause for Tales

June 22: KarensKrayons

June 23: D’S QUILTS & BOOKS

Giveaway:



To celebrate her tour, Laura is giving away a basket that includes a Kindle Fire and a complete set of her books! Enter here: https://promosimple.com/ps/9bed

Book review with a Giveaway: Whispering to Horses




About the book:

To purchase your copy, click here.

An old fence separates a modern community from their Amish neighbors, until a little boy opens the gate and breaks down barriers between them. Main characters, Matt and Eli, find friendship, hope, and a future through a mutual need, which creates an opportunity for them to learn to understand each other. Eli and his little sisters will touch your heart by Whispering to Horses.

My thoughts:

This book opens with a history of two neighbors, one Amish and the other English, and their adjoining property. All the memories of the two families reminded me of the opening scene of the Pixar movie, "Up." The action then moves forward to the modern day, and describes how the English neighbor, Matt, ends up hiring the Amish boy next door to do landscaping for him so he could sell the house. They develop a relationship, and Matt begins to see the value in the Amish lifestyle, and in remaining in his home.

This is a sweet novella, and is easy to read, yet it contains solid character development. I was captivated by the characters and their story, and look forward to reading more about them.

Since the story is told from Matt's perspective it does not fixate on the details of Amish life, so it would be appropriate for Amish fiction fans, and those who enjoy fiction in general. I also think it would appeal to both men and women.

I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit in exchange for an honest review, which I have given.

About the author:


Thomas Nye, author of the Amish Horses Book Series, Lives near an Amish community where he grew to know and respect his Amish neighbors. During grade school Thomas developed an interest in history and loved reading anything he could find about the 1800s. His love of farm, history, and horses all came together in real-life experiences with his Amish friends, who also happen to share his Christian faith. He purchased draft horses from Amish farmers in his neighborhood and set out to learn the art of working with horses in harness. After years of buying, selling, and trading work horses with Amish farmers in his community, Thomas had many wonderful memories of those experiences. His novels based on those adventures. Learn more about Thomas Nye on his website.

Guest post from the author:

Last spring, I visited numerous Amish communities throughout the state of Indiana. My original goal was to bring awareness of my Amish Horses book series to the Amish and tourists in that region. As I traveled down quiet country roads, my heart was overwhelmed by beautiful farm scenes. Conversations with Amish families, and especially Amish children, brought a new awareness and inspiration to me. Springtime and its rich aromas flooded my senses and filled my heart with a story, Whispering to Horses.

Whispering to Horses is a very short novel which spans several generations. It is the story of two families that live side-by-side for years, and yet are strangers to each other. A fence that was installed to keep livestock apart has become a dividing line, separating Amish from their non-Amish neighbors. Years ago, when putting in the fence, an Amishman remembered his grandfather’s advice, almost prophetically, “… a gate opens the way for help in time of need.” Generations later, a gentle Amish boy named Eli, seems to have inherited his great-great-grandfather’s wisdom, as he opens the gate and communication between neighbors.

Kalona, Iowa has been my home for the past 35 years. Living in an Amish/Mennonite community, I have experienced many situations exactly like the one described in this book. It is so easy for us to look over a fence and have a disdain for people we don’t know, or understand. Sometimes, a little child can use their simple wisdom to break through our misconceptions, and soften our crusty opinions. In my hundreds of visits to Amish farms, it has been the children that have surprised me most. Even though English is their second language, Amish children speak with wisdom that has become a treasure to me, and I want to share it with you. I hope the story of Whispering to Horses opens your eyes, and brings back memories of your own childhood, when we all shared that simple wisdom.

Blog stops:

See what other bloggers have to say about this book.

June 7: Quiet Quilter

June 8: ArtisticNobody

June 8: Petra’s Hope

June 9: Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner

June 10: Cindy’s Book Reviews

June 10: Blossoms and Blessings

June 11: Book Bites, Bee Stings, and Butterfly Kisses

June 12: Bigreadersite

June 13: Through The Open Window

June 14: A Greater Yes

June 14: Cassandra M’s Place

June 15: Texas Book-aholic

June 16: D’S QUILTS & BOOKS

June 17: Lighthouse Academy

June 18: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

June 19: Red Headed Book Lady

June 20: Rockin’ My Mom Jeans

June 21: Simple Harvest Reads

The Giveaway:


To celebrate his tour, Thomas is giving away an entire set of his Amish Horses Series! Click here to enter: https://promosimple.com/ps/9b7f

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Book review: Fading Starlight by Kathryn Cushman




Fresh out of design school, a wardrobe malfunction on national TV sinks Lauren's budding career as a dress designer even before it begins. Fortunately, Lauren has contacts who help her get out of Hollywood and start over in Santa Barbara. She is given a rent-free cottage and a low-paying job while she tries to reboot her career. Her new home is in a very private neighborhood, where hermit Charlotte Montgomery rebuffs Lauren's acts of neighborliness. As Lauren tries to establish herself, reporter Kendall Joiner offers to break the story that will clear Lauren's name, in exchange for information about Miss Montgomery, which may implicate her in a decades-old unsolved murder.

Lauren is encouraged by her friends to rely on the Lord during this difficult time, and make decisions that will honor Him. Even though she tries to do what is right, it seems that everything turns out wrong, and she even has to leave her tiny cottage for a smaller, second-story apartment.

I loved Lauren's character. She was young and vibrant, yet was an "old soul" in her love for gardening, classic movies, fine fabrics, and beautiful gowns.

This was the first book I had read by Kathryn Cushman, and I was very pleased with it. It kept my attention throughout the whole story, and the characters' growth was realistic. It was fun to get an inside look into fashion design and the "glory days" of Hollywood that I gleaned from this book.  I recommend this story to those who like fashion, sewing, old movies, contemporary fiction, and women's fiction.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Bethany House, in exchange for an honest review, which I have given.

About the author:


Kathryn Cushman is a graduate of Samford University with a degree in pharmacy. She is the acclaimed author of over a half-dozen novels, including Leaving Yesterday and A Promise to Remember, which were both finalists for the Carol Award in Women's Fiction. Kathryn and her family make their home in Santa Barbara, California.