Friday, October 16, 2020

Book Review: The Plans We Made by Kathryn Cushman and Lauren Beccue

 About the Book

When past secrets hold the only key to hope for the future…

Caroline Chapman is reeling from a broken engagement. Determined to start again, she moves cross-country for her dream job of planning events in the historical mansions of Newport, Rhode Island. Just as her life is getting back on track, she gets an email that shakes her very foundations.

Linda Riley’s life looks picture perfect - a wonderful husband, two great kids, involved in church and the community. Then comes the diagnosis that shatters the facade. In order to save her son’s life, she must reveal secrets that can rip everything apart.

Connected by more than painful circumstances, these two women discover a sacred bond. In this beautiful story of love, loss, and the fight for life, Caroline and Linda experience the reality that life doesn’t always go according to The Plans We Made.

You can purchase your copy here.

My Review

Nobody asks for relationships to go south, or for cancer to take over their family.  But the characters in this book had to deal with that, and more, and they did so in a way that was very real and relatable - so much so that I wanted to pray for them and ask others to pray, also!

I found Caroline to be fun and quirky, yet competent and well-spoken.  I could relate to her being in a new place all by herself, for I've been there more than once.

What was great about this book was all the relationships between characters, whether established or new.  I also loved the theme of doing what is right, even when it is difficult or inconvenient.

I highly recommend this book to readers of Women's fiction and contemporary Christian fiction.  I enjoyed it immensely.

I received a copy of the book from the authors, through Audra Jennings PR, for review purposes.  The thoughts expressed here are my own.

About the Authors

Kathryn Cushman graduated with a degree in pharmacy from Samford University. After hanging up her lab coat, she shifted her focus toward writing. Her previous works have received multiple nominations for both the Carol Award and the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award. The Plans We Made is her tenth published novel.

Learn more at Follow Kathryn on Facebook (@authorkathryncushman) and Instagram (katiecushman1).

Lauren Beccue graduated from Holy Cross with a BA in English and now lives with her family in Santa Barbara. She writes about faith and family, with an emphasis on agricultural passages of the Bible. This is her first novel.

Learn more at Follow Lauren on Facebook (@beccue.lauren) and Instagram (@lauren_beccue).

Author Giveaway

Now, go buy your copy of The Plans We Made online or at a local bookstore, then be sure to head to Lauren’s website to claim your bonus freebie!

Make Your Plans in Pencil
The Plans We Made
Proverbs 19:21
Just contact Lauren with your name, address, and where you purchased the book, and she’ll send you a set. That's it! (US only and get 'em while they last.)


Here's the link for the giveaway:

Book Trailer

You'll want to watch this!

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Book Review with a Giveaway: Phoebe's Secret by Sydney Tooman Betts


About the Book

Book: Phoebe’s Secret

Author: Sydney Tooman Betts

Genre: Christian Fiction, Historical Mystery

Release Date: June 20, 2020

In April of 1843, Phoebe’s family hears about a murder while they are traveling to their new home in the Shenandoah Valley. They arrive to learn the victim attended the church her father has agreed to pastor and the crime took place on a leading church member’s plantation.

Eager to make new friends, Phoebe forms a unique relationship that propels her into the middle of the mystery, and she begins to question several acquaintances’ motives. Will she uncover their secrets before the plantation owner’s charming son discovers hers?

Click here to get your copy today!

My Review

This story hooked me from the very beginning, because I live in the area where it takes place.  But as the story progressed, my attention was held by all the things Phoebe had to deal with at one time-moving to a new area, caring for her family in her mother's absence, the strange sounds in her new home, meeting new people, and so much more!  Phoebe, becoming a young woman, was not only pretty and accomplished, but she was also bright and well-spoken.

She and her family were immediately pulled into a murder investigation and multiple conversations about slavery.  There were many lessons to be learned from Phoebe's father, Reverend Farrell, as he guided his family with wisdom.

The mystery was solved, and the story ended well, but there is more to come, so I am looking forward to reading more about Phoebe and her family.  Fans of historical fiction and mystery will be sure to enjoy this story.

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

About the Author

Sydney Tooman Betts resides with her husband near the extensive cavern system that inspired the setting for several chapters in her series The People of the Book.

While single, Ms. Betts (B.S. Bible/Missiology, M.Ed) took part in a variety of cross-cultural adventures in North and Central America. After marrying, she and her husband lived in Europe and the Middle East where he served in various mission-support capacities. Her teaching experiences span preschool to guest lecturing at the graduate level.

Before penning her first novel, A River too Deep, she ghost-wrote several stories for an adult literacy program.

More from Sydney

Proverbs 25:11 says, “Words spoken fitly are like apples of gold in settings of silver.” I was not a great reader as a child, but I loved stories. We remember stories, whether told through movies, good sermon illustrations, parables, or simple  novels.

Think of something you’ve read in the Bible. Did an instructional verse, a narrative, or a parable leap to mind? Stories have power because we can relate to them. We see ourselves in the shoes of the main character and ask what we might do in the situation. Mysteries, a new genre for me to write, are a little different. You are in the puzzle with the main character, working out the solution as you both come across the clues. I hope you will enjoy joining Phoebe in her first mystery as much as I enjoyed writing it.


Sally Lunn Bread

1 cup water
1 cup milk
¼ pound unsalted butter
8 cups of high-gluten or bread flour
⅔ cup sugar
2 tablespoons salt
¼ cup yeast
6 eggs

In a saucepan, combine water, milk and butter. Heat until the butter is very soft.

In a mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients with half the flour. Add the warm liquid, and mix well to form a smooth batter.

Add 3 eggs, one at a time, and mix well. Add another cup of the flour, and mix well. Add the second 3 eggs, one at a time. Add the remaining flour, and mix until the flour has been incorporated and the batter has formed a smooth ball. The dough should be less firm than bread and more firm than a batter.

Put the dough in a clear bowl with a little oil and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Proof until double in volume. Divide the dough between two bundt pans or two loaf pans, or one of each. Proof again until risen and doubled in volume.  Bake at 350° for about 20 minutes. Makes 20 servings.

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, September 29
deb’s Book Review, September 30
Inklings and notions, October 1
For the Love of Literature, October 2
Blogging With Carol, October 2
For Him and My Family, October 3
Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, October 4
Mary Hake, October 4
Locks, Hooks and Books, October 5
Artistic Nobody, October 6 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)
Pause for Tales, October 6
Ashley’s Bookshelf, October 7
Connie’s History Classroom, October 8
Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, October 8
Sara Jane Jacobs, October 9
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 9
Splashes of Joy, October 10
Lighthouse Academy Blog, October 10 (Guest Review from Marilyn Ridgway)
Betti Mace, October 11
Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, October 11
Happily Managing a Household of Boys, October 12
Maureen’s Musings, October 12


To celebrate her tour, Sydney is giving away the grand prize package of $25 Amazon gift card and a softback copy of Phoebe’s Secret!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

Cover Reveal: The Nature of a Lady by Roseanna M. White

About the Book

1906 – Lady Elizabeth "Libby" Sinclair, with her love of microscopes and nature, isn’t exactly a hit in society. She flees to the beautiful Isles of Scilly for the summer...and stumbles into the dangerous secrets left behind by her holiday cottage’s former occupant, also called Elizabeth, who mysteriously vanished.
Oliver Tremayne—gentleman and clergyman—is determined to discover what happened to his sister, and he’s happy to accept the help of the girl now living in what should have been Beth’s summer cottage…especially when he realizes it’s the curious young lady he met briefly two years ago, who shares his love of botany and biology. But the hunt for his sister involves far more than nature walks, and he can’t quite believe all the secrets Beth had been keeping from him.
As the two work together, along with Libby’s maid—his cousin—they find ancient legends, pirate wrecks, betrayal, and the most mysterious phenomenon of all: love.

@roseannamwhite #thenatureofalady #thesecretsoftheisles

The Cover

I love the colors!  


Monday, October 5, 2020

Book Review with a Giveaway: Wish Upon a Star by Tabitha Bouldin


About the Book

Book:  Wish Upon A Star
Author: Tabitha Bouldin
Genre:  Holiday Fiction
Release Date: December 1, 2018

Bryce Masters had everything he needed…or so he thought. His six-year-old daughter, Anna, would disagree. They were going home, moving back to Jingle Junction where Bryce would take over the local bookstore just in time for Christmas. Losing his wife, Molly, during the birth of their daughter six years ago was tragic, but Bryce has no idea just how much it weighs on young Anna’s heart until she confesses her deepest wish. What Anna wants for Christmas is a mother, but Bryce’s heart is not ready to love again. Only God can give Bryce the desire to make Anna’s wish come true. Only He can heal the hurt and open Bryce’s heart to the power of love. But Bryce will have to be willing to listen. And when the perfect woman reveals a secret that could devastate them all, will Bryce be able to look beyond what was and accept what might be?

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

Wish Upon a Star is a light, encouraging Christmas story.  The main character of this romance novella was single-father and widower Bryce Masters.  His six-year-old daughter, Anna, is now old enough to see what she is missing by not having a mother, so she makes that her Christmas wish.  I loved reading about Bryce's strength as a father:  He prayed about the matter and was open to God's leading.

I could feel the excitement of their new adventure, the contentment of moving back home, and the good will of living in a small town.  A few who-not-to marry scenes added levity.  

The one thing I felt was lacking was that I didn't feel like I knew Rachel very well.  Looking in from the outside, however, the connection she and Anna had spoke volumes, so I was pleased with the conclusion.

For those who love a Christmas romance in a winter wonderland, you'll enjoy the Christmas decorating, skating, and sledding.

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

About the Author

Tabitha Bouldin has a Bachelor’s in creative writing from Southern New Hampshire University, where she graduated with honors. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and has been published with Chicken Soup for the Soul. When she’s not homeschooling her kids, you’ll find her curled up with a book. Tabitha’s genre of choice is Contemporary Christian Romance which she describes as: Adventure with heart.


More from Tabitha

Wish Upon a Star owes its existence to Hallmark’s Christmas movies. I could, and often do, watch their Christmas movies all through the year. Doesn’t matter how cheesy the story line, I love them all. While I wanted to bring that sense of fun and feel-good romance, I needed a little oomph. So, I took some inspiration from “The Christmas Shoes” by NewSong. For the record, I love Hallmark and NewSong equally, so putting the two together was a natural fit.

The intention wasn’t to make a sad Christmas story, but there’s some pain Bryce has to manage while learning to love again. The best things come from overcoming that thing you never thought you could do. When you press on, with God’s guidance and with His approval, anything is possible. Bryce needs this reminder that even in the darkest nights, God is there.

Wish is part of the funky town I created and dubbed Jingle Junction, a place where it’s all Christmas all the time. Jingle Junction has only a few rules. First off, you can have any business you want, as long as the business name is an alliteration. Second, community is the name of the game. When someone’s in need, everyone pitches in to help.

For this story, I wanted to highlight homecoming. To do that, I needed Bryce to have a reason to come back to Jingle Junction. That’s where the song came in. If you don’t know the song, it’s about a little boy who wants only one thing for Christmas, and that’s a pair of shoes for his dying mother. I listen to “The Christmas Shoes” at least a dozen times a year. It’s heartbreaking but wonderful. It has that bit of hope I needed for Wish. For my story, Bryce’s daughter, Anna, lost her mother when she was born. The only thing she wants is the one thing she’s never had: a mother. It’s also the one thing Bryce cannot give.

The plan had always been to return to Jingle Junction. Bryce wants to raise Anna in the hometown where he was born, and he’s finally gotten the opportunity to make good on the plans he and his wife made when they first learned of her pregnancy. It took him six years to make good on his promise, and he’s not sure he’s made the right decision.

Wish Upon a Star is one of those books where I wanted to challenge myself by writing only from the male point of view. Although I always write alternating point of view in my romances, Wish has always been Bryce’s story. A story of coming home.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, September 23
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 24
deb’s Book Review, September 24
Texas Book-aholic, September 25
Inklings and notions, September 26
21st Century Keeper at Home, September 26
For Him and My Family, September 27
CarpeDiem, September 27
Locks, Hooks and Books, September 28
Older & Smarter?, September 29
lakesidelivingsite, September 29
Artistic Nobody, September 30 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)
Batya’s Bits, September 30
Ashley’s Bookshelf, October 1
Emily Yager, October 1
She Lives To Read, October 2
Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, October 3
Pause for Tales, October 3
Sara Jane Jacobs, October 4
Connect in Fiction, October 4
Spoken from the Heart, October 5
Just Your Average reviews, October 5
Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, October 6
Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, October 6


To celebrate her tour, Tabitha is giving away the grand prize package a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Book Review: The Lost Heir by Candee Fick

The Lost Heir

In Regency England, news travels slowly. Especially in Yorkshire.

Overnight, Kathleen Harris, a foundling raised by a vicar and his wife, becomes the ward of the Earl of Wiltshire and is set on a direct path to a London season. Now miles from home, will her heart outgrow her small Yorkshire village and the love of her childhood friend?

Reuben Cooke, a quality weaver in a region where the woolen industry thrives, supports his widowed mother and hopes to marry soon. However, after the local vicar dies, his dreams of a quiet life with Kathleen at his side quickly unravel as they are ripped apart by societal conventions.

Can true love survive the distance when the road back to happily-ever-after is littered with secrets, a scandal, and a shocking revelation?

If you like faith-based fiction, sweet romance, and satisfying emotional reunions, then you’ll love this Regency era tale from the Within the Castle Gates series by Candee Fick. Get The Lost Heir and be spun into another world.

My Review

The Lost Heir, Book Three in the Within the Castle Gates series, is a sweet Regency romance that you won't want to miss.  It is definitely a stand alone novel.

Reuben and Kathleen both are of humble means, but are full of love for each other and their families.  They are looking forward to their upcoming marriage when circumstances change for both of them.  They remain true to themselves and their love.  Kathleen's intelligence, loyalty, and plain-spokenness influences even more people.  Reuben's hard work and vision come to fruition as his ingenuity helps many in his village and the surrounding area to better themselves.

It was such a blessing to read this story and see how everything worked out for the good - not just for Reuben and Kathleen, but for those close to them, as well.

Readers of Christian fiction and Regency romance will certainly enjoy this book.

I received an e-ARC of this book from the author for review purposes.  The thoughts expressed here are my own.

About the Author

Candee Fick is a multi-published award-winning author. She is also the wife of a high school football coach and the mother of three children, including a daughter with a rare genetic syndrome. When not busy writing, editing, or coaching other authors, she can be found cheering on the home team at sporting events, exploring the great Colorado outdoors, indulging in dark chocolate, and savoring happily-ever-after endings through a good book.

In addition to writing clean faith-based romance novels and inspirational non-fiction, Candee coaches other authors with their marketing plans and offers content editing to aspiring novelists. She is a member of both American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the Christian Proofreaders and Editors Network. Her fiction has semi-finaled, finaled, and won the ACFW Genesis Contest and Selah Awards.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Book Review: Byrd's Eye View by Chautona Havig

 About the Book

Book: Bird’s Eye View
Author: Chautona Havig
Genre: Fiction / Christian / Historical / Mystery
Release Date: April 15, 2020

If everything looks so perfect, how does she know it’s all wrong?

Madeline just wanted to learn to develop her own pictures. It seemed an innocent enough pastime until she sees something in the developer’s tray that piques her meddlesome curiosity.

Now she’s on the hunt for clues to spare a man’s life, and she might just land her father in hot political waters while she’s at it.

The fifth book in the Meddlin’ Madeline Series, Byrd’s Eye View sees Madeline back at home in Rockland and determined to stay out of trouble, although that’s not likely to happen, is it?

Click here to order your copy!

My Review

It was so good to read about Madeline again, just like connecting with an old friend.  This book picks up where the last one left off, so there was a lot of extra tension between the characters.  When Maddie and Russell finally talked about what had happened, I felt the tension ease.  But in having their friendship back, another type of tension developed, which left me crying out for another book in the series!

This novel had a different type of plot than the ones previously.  A wonderful something in this book was that the other characters seem to have finally realized that Maddie's sleuthing abilities were a gift, not a whim, and they were necessary to solve a mystery and protect innocent people that they cared about.

Please note that Havig writes this novel in a way that someone new to the series could pick it up and enjoy it, so readers of historical fiction and mysteries will be sure to appreciate it.

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

About the Author

Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her on the web and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Book Review: Beholden by Jody Hedlund

 About the Book

In a land where being the fairest maiden is a curse . . .

A beautiful noblewoman with a terrible secret, and a prince subjected to slavery.

Upon the death of her wealthy father, Lady Gabriella is condemned to work in Warwick’s gem mine. As she struggles to survive the dangerous conditions, her kindness and beauty shine as brightly as the jewels the slaves excavate. While laboring, Gabriella plots how to avenge her father’s death and stop Queen Margery’s cruelty.

Prince Vilmar of Scania enslaves himself in Warwick’s gem mine as part of a royal test to prove himself the most worthy of three brothers to become the king’s successor. Amidst the hardships, he doesn’t anticipate his growing compassion for the other slaves, especially tenderhearted Gabriella.

As the annual summer ball looms nearer, Gabriella sets into motion her plan to end Queen Margery’s evil. When Vilmar learns of Gabriella’s intentions, he resolves to come to her aid and fight against Warwick’s queen. But doing so may require him to give up his chance of becoming Scania’s next king, perhaps even cost him his life.

My Review

Author Jody Hedlund's medieval Young Adult series have been fantastic, and this new series is taking off with a great start.

Amid the fallout from her father's death, Gabriella has gone from a life of leisure to a slave in the depths of the gem mines, where she endures danger and hard work each day.  But she shines among the other workers for her great kindness.

Vilmar expects to become king after his six months of testing are over, and takes the work in stride.  As the story unfolds, he learns to appreciate other people for their skills and loyalty, and he turns from the pride that has propelled his decisions.

I loved how in the midst of the desperate slavery situation, the people had formed a supportive community, and were helpful to each other.

I also really appreciated that in this clean YA romance, characters from two neighboring countries had been taught Scriptural principals by which to guide their decisions.

The story is told in a dual narrator fashion, and there is enough perspective from Vilmar, and enough action and adventure that the story may appeal to boys as well as girls.  I recommend it to all those who enjoy historical romance, especially in a medieval time period.

I received an e-ARC of this book from the author for review purposes.  The thoughts expressed here are my own.

About the Author

JODY HEDLUND is a bestselling and award-winning author who loves fairy tales and happily-ever-afters. She makes her home in Midland, MI, with her husband and five children. When she's not writing another of her page-turning stories, you can usually find her sipping coffee, eating chocolate, and reading.