Monday, May 29, 2017

Book review: Treasured Grace by Tracie Peterson

About the Book

Tracie Peterson Begins Compelling New Series Set on the 1840s Frontier

Grace Martindale has known more than her share of hardship. After her parents died, raising her two younger sisters became her responsibility. A hasty marriage to a minister who is heading to the untamed West seemed like an opportunity for a fresh start, but a cholera outbreak along the wagon trail has left Grace a widow in a very precarious position.

Having learned natural remedies and midwifery from her mother, Grace seeks an opportunity to use her skills for the benefit of others. So when she and her sisters arrive at the Whitman mission in "Oregon Country," she decides to stay rather than push on.

With the help of Alex Armistead, a French-American fur trapper, Grace begins to provide care for her neighbors, including some of the native populace. But not everyone welcomes her skills--or her presence--and soon Grace finds herself and those she loves in more danger than she imagined possible.

My Review

This is why I always enjoy what I call "prairie fiction."  The daily struggle of travel and survival is met head on by a strong female character.  Grace has skills, is hardworking and compassionate, and will do what is necessary to keep her family intact.  This is the first fictional account I have read of the Whitman Mission massacre.  Author Tracie Peterson handled it well.  The horrible things that happened were mentioned, but not described in too much detail.  What Peterson excelled at in this book, though, was fostering compassion for the victims of the massacre and the far-reaching effect it had on their lives.  I thought the ending was a little predictable, but the book as a whole was worth the read.  I am already anticipating the next book in the series.

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

About the Author

Tracie Peterson is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than one hundred books. Tracie also teaches writing workshops at a variety of conferences on subjects such as inspirational romance and historical research. She and her family live in Montana.

Visit Tracie's web site at:

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Book review: Life After by Katie Ganshert

About the Book

It could have been me.

Snow whirls around an elevated train platform in Chicago. A distracted woman boards the train, takes her seat, and moments later a fiery explosion rips through the frigid air, tearing the car apart in a horrific attack on the city’s transit system. One life is spared. Twenty-two are lost.

A year later, Autumn Manning can’t remember the day of the bombing and she is tormented by grief—by guilt. Twelve months of the question constantly echoing. Why? Why? Why? Searching for answers, she haunts the lives of the victims, unable to rest.

Paul Elliott lost his wife in the train bombing and wants to let the dead rest in peace, undisturbed and unable to cause more pain for his loved ones. He wants normalcy for his twelve-year-old daughter and young son, to see them move beyond the heartbreak. But when the Elliotts and Autumn are unexpectedly forced together, he fears she’ll bring more wreckage in her wake.

In Life After, Katie Ganshert’s most complex and unforgettable novel yet, the stirring prose and authentic characters pose questions of truth, goodness, and ultimate purpose in this emotionally resonant tale.

My Review

It was real.  

The chaos of family get-togethers.

A parent's terror of having a missing child.

The heartache of betrayal.

The recurring nightmares.

The butterflies of a new attraction.

The joy of playing outside in the rain.

Katie Ganshert did an excellent job of crafting this novel, and especially of getting inside the heads of the main characters.   As I got to know Autumn, I found out how messed up she was, yet I liked her and had compassion for her, which made the joy even greater as she was able to heal and grow throughout the course of this book.

This is a book to pick up when you really want to dig in to a good book, and I highly recommend it for men and women who enjoy contemporary fiction.

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher for review purposes.  The opinions expressed here are my own.

About the Author

Katie Ganshert was born and raised in the exciting state of Iowa, where she currently resides with her family. She likes to write things and consume large quantities of coffee and chocolate while she writes all the things. She's won some awards. For the writing, not the consuming. Although the latter would be fun. You can learn more about Katie and these things she writes at her website

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Book review with a giveaway: The Beloved Hope Chest by Amy Clipston

Click here to purchase your copy.

About the Book

Book: The Beloved Hope Chest
Author: Amy Clipston
Genre: Amish
Release Date: May 9, 2017

In the final installment of the Amish Heirloom series, the Fisher sisters learn the mystery behind their parents’ marriage—and about the sibling who has never been spoken of.

Mattie Fisher’s three daughters know that she’s been keeping a secret from them. With each item pulled from the beloved family hope chest, they’ve discovered a new clue about their mother’s past.

But there’s a reason Mattie has been keeping her history hidden, and she’s not sure she’s ready to reopen old wounds. Will dredging up the past change the way her children view her? Or her marriage to their father? And can she handle the pain of revisiting the memories that preceded the last few happy decades?

Mattie’s story is one of grief and learning to love again. But like the best things preserved in a hope chest, it’s a story of love and redemption born out of heartache—and it’s past time to share it.

My Review

I was caught up in this book right away, and the story kept my interest until the final page turn.  The characters were well-drawn, and the plot moved along well, but the outstanding thing about this book was the emotion.  I was so very caught up in the emotions of the characters, be it grief, uncertainty, fear, and so much more.  I think the thing that hurt the most, though, was that because of the circumstances they were in, Mattie and Leroy lost the camaraderie that they had enjoyed for years.

The fact that this book was the last of the Amish Heirloom series did not interfere with my enjoyment of the book at all.  It stands entirely on its own.  I wholeheartedly recommend this book to fans of Amish fiction. 
I received an ARC of this book from the author/publisher, through Celebrate Lit, for review purposes.  The thoughts expressed here are my own.

About the Author

AMY CLIPSTON is the award-winning and bestselling author of the Kauffman Amish Bakery series. She has sold more than 1 million books, and her novels have hit multiple bestseller lists including CBD, CBA, and ECPA. Amy holds a degree in communication from Virginia Wesleyan College and works full-time for the City of Charlotte, NC. Amy lives in North Carolina with her husband, two sons, and three spoiled rotten cats.
Visit her online at
Facebook: AmyClipstonBooks and
Twitter: @AmyClipston

Guest post from Amy Clipston

I am thrilled to share the The Beloved Hope Chest, which is the final installment of my Amish Home series.

In The Beloved Hope Chest, the Fisher sisters learn the mystery behind their parents’ marriage—and about the sibling who has never been spoken of. Mattie Fisher’s three daughters know that she’s been keeping a secret from them. With each item pulled from the beloved family hope chest, they’ve discovered a new clue about their mother’s past. But there’s a reason Mattie has been keeping her history hidden, and she’s not sure she’s ready to reopen old wounds. Will dredging up the past change the way her children view her? Or her marriage to their father? And can she handle the pain of revisiting the memories that preceded the last few happy decades? Mattie’s story is one of grief and learning to love again. But like the best things preserved in a hope chest, it’s a story of love and redemption born out of heartache—and it’s past time to share it.

This book is very close to my heart since it is the last in my Amish Heirloom series. I’ve grown to love the Fisher family, and writing Mattie and Leroy’s story was bittersweet. This is a very emotional story, and I poured my heart and soul into it. I hope you enjoy this book since it reveals all of the mysteries that have been placed throughout the series.

Blog Stops

May 9: A Reader’s Brain
May 9: Buy, Borrow, Skip
May 9: Lighthouse Academy
May 10: Captive Dreams Window
May 10: Eat, Read, Teach, Blog
May 10: A Simple Life, really?!
May 11: Donna’s BookShelf
May 11: Bibliophile Reviews
May 12: Reading Is My SuperPower
May 12: Have A Wonderful Day
May 13: Just Commonly
May 13: Karen Sue Hadley
May 14: A Baker’s Perspective
May 14: The Power of Words
May 15: Christian Bookaholic
May 15: Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses
May 16: A Simply Enchanted Life
May 16: A Greater Yes
May 17: Faithful Acres Body Soul Spirit
May 17: Quiet Quilter
May 18: Blossoms and Blessings
May 18: Splashes of Joy
May 19: Pause for Tales
May 19: Book by Book
May 20: Moments Dipped in Ink
May 20: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations
May 21: Inklings and notions
May 21: Bigreadersite
May 22: 2014 and Beyond!
May 22: Reader’s Cozy Corner


To celebrate her tour, Amy is giving away a copy of An Amish Home and an handpicked Amish goodie chosen by Amy to two winners! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Book review with a giveaway: For Love and Honor by Jody Hedlund

I reviewed this book back in March, but now I'm on tour with Celebrate Lit!  Read on and you'll find new information about this wonderful book and a thought-provoking guest post from the author!

To purchase your copy, click here.

About the Book

Book: For Love & Honor
Author: Jody Hedlund

Genre: Young Adult Historical
Release Date: March 7, 2017

Lady Sabine is harboring a skin blemish, one, that if revealed, could cause her to be branded as a witch, put her life in danger, and damage her chances of making a good marriage. After all, what nobleman would want to marry a woman so flawed?

Sir Bennet is returning home to protect his family from an imminent attack by neighboring lords who seek repayment of debts. Without fortune or means to pay those debts, Sir Bennet realizes his only option is to make a marriage match with a wealthy noblewoman. As a man of honor, he loathes the idea of courting a woman for her money, but with time running out for his family’s safety, what other choice does he have?

As Lady Sabine and Sir Bennet are thrust together under dangerous circumstances, will they both be able to learn to trust each other enough to share their deepest secrets? Or will those secrets ultimately lead to their demise?

My Review

Jody Hedlund has skillfully transported readers back in time once again, this time to experience the story of Sir Bennett and Lady Sabine.  The title rings true in Bennett's character.  He was honorable and responsible, and did what was needed to protect his family's interests and provide for them.  Sabine was fun to get to know.  Quick-thinking and witty, she definitely went through a period of growth throughout the course of the book.  Sabine and Bennett didn't know the true purposes of their meeting.  But as they spent time together, how precious it was for them to discover that they shared so many common interests.

This is the third book about the knights we met in An Uncertain Choice, but it is a great stand-alone novel.  Young adult readers (and adults) who enjoy their romances set in a medieval setting will certainly enjoy this book.

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

About the Author

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

Guest Post from Jody Hedlund

Is Chivalry on the Brink of Extinction?

By Jody Hedlund

With the release of Fifty Shades of Grey movie and its popularity, I can’t help but wonder about the long-term consequences that such ideology will have on how people view relationships.

Already, too many couples struggle to maintain happy, healthy relationships. In fact, it’s become almost a weekly occurrence to get news of another friend or acquaintance who is dealing with a spouse cheating or leaving.

Mutual respect, loyalty, honor, and self-sacrifice have become out-dated, forgotten, or tossed aside in place of short-term pleasure that often leaves people feeling hollow and empty.

I honestly can’t help wondering where chivalry has gone, and not just the man-doting-on-the-woman chivalry. But mutual chivalry, the kind where each person in the relationship puts the other in high esteem, uplifts them, and makes a concerted effort to protect and cherish (both emotionally and physically).

Has chivalry become antiquated in our modern society? And even if it has, should it be outdated and on the brink of extinction? Should we be making more of an effort to reclaim mutual respect in relationships?

The kind of respect that does things for someone with no thought of getting anything in return.

The kind of respect that is graciously honest about problems instead of sneaking around and being unfaithful.

The kind of respect that is willing to sacrifice and see the needs of others instead of demanding our way and our own needs be met first.

As my teenage children enter into dating relationships, I worry about the influence of movies like Fifty Shades of Grey. I worry that they’ll see dysfunction as the norm. I worry that they’ll settle for a lot less than they should in their relationships. I worry that they won’t even know the meaning of chivalry.

Of course, we’re having candid conversations about all of these issues. Of course, my husband and I attempt to model mutual respect. And of course, I’m praying my teens work on growing their own character so that they can be strong and ready for whatever they might face.

But one of the things I’ve done over the past couple of years is write a young adult (YA) series that is aimed at some of these very issues The third book, FOR LOVE & HONOR, just released this spring (and can be read as a stand-alone). Since the story is set in medieval times amidst castles, knights, and ladies, chivalry is already a huge part of that era.

More than giving readers a glimpse of chivalry, however, I hope the book sparks some discussion about what it means to have healthy, respectful relationships. The book contains reader questions at the end that youth groups, moms and daughters, or friends can use together.

It’s not just another dating book. Instead it’s a fun and entertaining story that can hopefully facilitate discussion regarding what it means to truly demonstrate chivalry in our relationships.

So what do YOU think? Is chivalry on the brink of extinction? What are some ways we can make sure that we don’t lose it?

Blog Stops
May 2: Lighthouse Academy
May 2: Inklings and Notions
May 2: Bibliophile Reviews
May 3: God’s Little Bookworm
May 3: Ashley’s Bookshelf
May 3: Blogging With Carol
May 4: Faithfully Bookish
May 4: Smiling Book Reviews
May 4: A Greater Yes
May 5: The Fizzy Pop Collection
May 5: Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner
May 5: Just the Write Escape
May 6: The Scribbler
May 6: Moments Dipped in Ink
May 6: Zerina Blossom’s Books
May 7: cherylbbookblog
May 7: Back Porch Reads
May 7: Jeanette’s Thoughts
May 8: The Artist Librarian
May 8: A Baker’s Perspective
May 8: Book by Book
May 9: A Path of Joy
May 9: Cafinated Reads
May 9: I Hope You Dance
May 10: Kristin’s Book Reviews
May 10: Black ‘n’ Gold Girl’s Book Spot
May 10: Neverending Stories
May 11: Radiant Light
May 11: Karen Sue Hadley
May 12: Pause for Tales
May 12: Just Commonly
May 12: Have A Wonderful Day
May 13: Bigreadersite
May 13: Daysong Reflections
May 13: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations
May 14: Book Bites, Bee Sting, & Butterfly Kisses
May 14: The Important Things in Life: God, Books, & Chocolate
May 14: God1meover

To celebrate her tour, Jody is giving away all three books in the Noble Knights Series!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Children's book review: A Patch on the Peak of Ararat by Gary Bower

About the Book

The Faith that God Built
series by Gary Bower uses the same whimsical style of storytelling as The House that Jack Built, using rhyme to introduce preschoolers through second graders to favorite Bible stories. Gary has a well-developed talent for creating engaging narratives that also teach biblical truth through rhyme.

In A Patch on the Peak of Ararat, Noah follows God’s plan, resulting in his rescue from destruction.

My Review

This book gives the account of Noah and the Flood from the Bible in a fun way that children will enjoy.  All the elements of the narrative are there:  Noah, sons with wives, the ark, animals, and the rainbow.  The full color pictures are cute and interesting.

There are two things that I especially love about this book.  As a story for 4-7 year old children, it will definitely add vocabulary to childrens' repertoire:  Words such as peak, carpentry, proceed, and virtuous are repeated throughout.  The other thing I love is that in the midst of the repetition, the animals named are varied each time.

My children, who are above the target age for this book, thought that little kids would like it.

I recommend this story for families, churches, child care centers, libraries, and schools.  

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

About the Author

Gary Bower is an award-winning author, speaker, and ordained minister. His many years of experience pastoring small children, tweens, teens, and adults have helped him develop a rare ability to touch hearts of a wide age range simultaneously. He is author of 16 books, including Perfect Christmas.

His books have received high praise from Gary Smalley, Randy Alcorn, Chuck Bentley of Crown Financial Ministries, and the Duggar family. Gary speaks all over the Eastern United States at homeschool conventions, churches, and MOPS groups. He loves to read to his children and grandchildren.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Book review with a giveaway: Behind the Scenes by Jen Turano

To order your copy, click here.

About the Book

Book: Behind the Scenes
Author: Jen Turano
Genre: Inspirational Historical Romance
Release Date: April, 2017

Miss Permilia Griswold may have been given the opportunity of a debut into New York high society, but no one warned her she wasn’t guaranteed to “take.” After spending the last six years banished to the wallflower section of the ballroom, she’s finally putting her status on the fringes of society to good use by penning anonymous society gossip columns under the pseudonym “Miss Quill.”

Mr. Asher Rutherford has managed to maintain his status as a reputable gentleman of society despite opening his own department store. While pretending it’s simply a lark to fill his time, he has quite legitimate reasons for needing to make his store the most successful in the country.

When Permilia overhears a threat against the estimable Mr. Rutherford, she’s determined to find and warn the man. Disgruntled at a first meeting that goes quite poorly and results in Asher not believing her, she decides to take matters into her own hands, never realizing she’ll end up at risk as well.

As Asher and Permilia are forced to work together and spend time away from the spotlight of society, perhaps there’s more going on behind the scenes than they ever could have anticipated. . . .

My Review

In the first book of the new Apart from the Crowd series, Jen Turano has again delighted this reader with unforgettable characters placed in harrowing, yet comedic scenes.  Turano could have given us a mystery/romance with a quirky heroine and left it at that.  But she gave us a much deeper story than that.  Permilia was dismissed by her father as one not apt to take over his business.  She was dismissed by her stepmother as unteachable in the ways of decorum.  She was dismissed by society for having hair the wrong color and being too peculiar.  However, independent Permilia amazingly has the self-esteem to seek out opportunities to be productive and to be a blessing to others.  Courageously seeking out God's path for her, she is led to a place where her skills, interests, and love are beautifully shared to uplift others and give her accomplishment.  Descriptions of 1880s New York City society are vivid, making this another winning story that you'll want to pick up.

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

Interview With Jen Turano

What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you personally?

Amusing things happen to me all the time, but I think my favorite was back in college when I was a lifeguard. You see, there’s a lifeguard code – You will be cool at all times, especially when you’re sitting in a lifeguard chair, twirling your whistle exactly so, and, you know…looking cool. So, there I was, in my black lifeguard bathing suit – swinging my whistle. It was an unusually hot day, so I’d angled my umbrella exactly right as I watched the diving-board section. Now, I know this might come as a surprise, but being a lifeguard at the neighborhood pool isn’t exactly thrilling. It’s rare that anything exciting happens, and that particular day was no exception…until a large gust of wind came out of nowhere and the umbrella took it upon itself to close – right over me. And because it was now really gusty, the umbrella then lifted up, taking me with it right off the chair and into the depths of the deep end of the pool. From all accounts, it was quite the sight. First, there I was, swinging my whistle and looking groovy. Then all you could see were my legs flailing about as the umbrella covered the rest of me, and then…I was plummeting toward the pool, hit the water with the umbrella over me, and promptly sank. Obviously I managed to get out of the umbrella, but in the process, part of my bathing suit came off, and…well, that’s a story for another day.

What is your favorite book from your childhood?

“Andrew Henry’s Meadow.” It was actually my little brother’s book, gotten from one of those book of the month clubs, but I loved it. I recently found a copy on an e-site and ordered it, and it’s just as delightful today as it was back in my childhood.

Who does the cooking and cleaning in your house when you are on a deadline?

I don’t actually cook much even when I’m not on deadline, so that’s not really an issue. Al and I do a lot of salads or throw some chicken on the grill. We also have a lot of grocery stores that have wonderful deli and gourmet foods, so we get a lot of things there. As for cleaning, I’m one of those neurotic people who can’t work without everything being in place, so I do a lot of tidying up before I go to bed. And, because I do some of my best thinking when I clean, I’ve been known to abandon my writing when I get stuck and pick up a mop or cleaning rag, which means my house is rarely a disaster since I need to get unstuck a lot.

Where is your favorite place to write?

I do the majority of my writing in my office, although I will occasionally take a pad of paper and a pen outside to hand write when I get bored of my office or it’s a really nice day and I don’t feel like being trapped inside. It’s not that my office is my favorite place to write, it’s more that my writing is my job and I’m more focused on that writing when I approach it as such.

What is your favorite part of the writing process?

I really like when characters and new story ideas begin to fester. That normally happens when I’m in the midst of another series. By the time I’m done with whatever series I’m working on, the next series is pretty firmly set in my mind, which means I can jump right in as I wait for edits on recently completed work. My absolute favorite part of writing, though, is when I turn in the very final edit on a book and don’t see it again until it comes out in print. Although, I must admit, I’ve never, not once, read one of my books after it has gone to print. Seems rather pointless since I do always know how the book is going to end.

Why did you choose the time frame or setting this book is written in?

I’ve been wanting to set a book during Alva Vanderbilt’s famous costume ball of March, 1883, for years. Since I decided to slowly travel through the Gilded Age, I just reached 1883 on my plot timeline, so knew I was finally going to get to throw some characters into the very midst of Alva’s ball. It was a blast to write, loved going back to all my books on this particular ball and seeing the pictures, and only wish the Vanderbilt house at 660 Fifth Avenue was still standing so I could visit it in person to visualize the splendors located inside a little more clearly.

What inspires you?

I think like most writers, I simply get inspired by the world around me. I love to people watch, and I love to imagine all sorts of outlandish scenarios as I do that watching. I also get inspired by reading the headlines of the daily papers, and by the research books I read. I also love to look through old photographs of the Gilded Age, and became intrigued with Alva Vanderbilt’s ball when I saw a picture of a young lady, Miss Kate Strong, with a stuffed cat on her head and wearing a choker necklace with the name Puss engraved on it. That was all it took for me to investigate the Vanderbilt ball further, delighted to discover it truly was a ball that only comes along every blue moon.

Blog Stops

April 27: Reading Is My SuperPower
April 27: The Scribbler
April 27: Genesis 5020
April 27: These Splendid Sentences
April 28: Back Porch Reads
April 28: Smiling Book Reviews
April 28: Fiction, Faith, and Fun
April 28: Just the Write Escape
April 29: Bookworm Mama
April 29: Book Reviews From an Avid Reader
April 29: Books. Books. AND More Books.
April 29: Karen Sue Hadley
April 30: Lighthouse Academy
April 30: Radiant Light
April 30: Bigreadersite
April 30: Lane Hill House
May 1: Faithfully Bookish
May 1: Counting Pinecones
May 1: Blogging With Carol
May 1: Moments Dipped in Ink
May 2: inklings and notions
May 2: Blossoms and Blessings
May 2: Book Bites, Bee Stings, and Butterfly Kisses
May 2: Neverending Stories
May 3: For The Love of Books
May 3: Singing Librarian Books
May 3: Book by Book
May 3: Pause for Tales
May 4: A Baker’s Perspective
May 4: Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner
May 4: cherylbbookblog
May 4: Rachel Scott McDaniel
May 5: With a Joyful Noise
May 5: Baker Kella
May 5: A Reader’s Brain
May 5: Southern Gal Loves to Read
May 6: A Greater Yes
May 6: Christian Bookaholic
May 6: Connie’s History Classroom
May 6: Splashes of Joy
May 6: Just Commonly
May 7: A Simple Life, really?!
May 7: Daysong Reflections
May 7: The Power of Words
May 8: Ashley’s Bookshelf
May 8: Eat, Read,Teach, Blog
May 8: Giveaway Lady
May 8: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations
May 9: Bibliophile Reviews
May 9: History, Mystery & Faith
May 9: I Hope You Dance
May 9: Simpleharvestreads
May 10: His Grace is Sufficient
May 10: History, Hope, Laughter & Happily-ever-after
May 10: Raining Butterfly Kisses
May 10: Reader’s Cozy Corner


To celebrate her tour, Jen is giving away a $25 Barnes and Noble Gift Card and the four books: After a Fashion, In Good Company, Playing the Part, Behind the Scenes!! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!