Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Book Review: Knight in Shining Apron by Carole Brown

About the Book

Starli Cameron gave up her career plans to be a concert pianist to marry the man of her dreams. He turned out to be a nightmare. When he dies in a car accident, Starli takes the insurance money and builds a successful and upscale restaurant: Apple Blossoms in rural West Virginia. Threats from someone determined to ruin her life and the suspicious romantic advances from her new chef force Starli to search her heart and finally turn to God for real healing. Sir Joel Peterman-Blair, top notch chef from England, is roped by his uncle into filling in as head Chef at Apple Blossoms. Joel, with his sanguine-personality, has always laughed and flirted his way through life. But now, confronted with and attracted to the most beautiful woman he’s ever met, Joel has to prove his sincerity and depth of character to his icy-cold employer. Can his love for God and for this woman reach out far enough to rescue her from her own mistrust and bitterness? Will he learn that life is not all play? And can they both work together to find the source of threats that seem to be coming from Starli’s past?

You can purchase this book here.
My Review

I've read other books from this series previously, and it was nice to visit this community again.  I felt welcome among this tight-knit group of friends.  Since I read this book out of order in the series, I can attest that it definitely stands alone. 

Starli's character was very well-written.  The abuse that occurred years ago in her marriage still haunted her perception of herself and how she related to people.  Joel was a charming lot of fun; so jovial, and patient with her.  I liked that their relationship developed very slowly, given the issues Starli was dealing with.

Not only was the story about Starli and Joel's developing relationship, but there were mysteries to be solved.  The full cast of characters and plenty of action, plus some angst, made this a satisfying read.

Readers who enjoy clean romance and cozy mysteries will certainly want to pick up this book.

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

About the Author

Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, Carole Brown enjoys mentoring beginning writers. An author of ten books, she loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?

Social Media

Connect with Carole online:

Monday, July 29, 2019

Book Review: Until the Mountains Fall by Connilyn Cossette

About the Book:  

Recently widowed, Rivkah refuses to submit to the Torah law compelling her to marry her husband's brother and instead flees Kedesh, hoping to use her talents as a scribe to support herself. Without the protections of her father, Kedesh's head priest, and the safety of the city of refuge, Rivkah soon discovers that the cost of recklessness is her own freedom.

Malakhi has secretly loved Rivkah for years, but he never imagined his older brother's death would mean wedding her himself. After her disappearance, he throws himself into the ongoing fight against the Canaanites instead of dwelling on all he has lost. But with impending war looming over Israel, Rivkah's father comes to Malakhi with an impossible request.

As the enemies that Rivkah and Malakhi face from without and within Israel grow more threatening each day, is it too late for the restoration their wounded souls seek?

You can purchase this book here. 

My Review:  

How does she do that?  Author Connilyn Cossette amazes me with her ability to put me in the story and make me feel the emotions that the characters are experiencing:  Rivkah's rebellion, loss, and love, her sister's angst, Malachi's abiding love, the unrest because of what their enemies might be planning.

There was much to love about this book.  I loved being seeing how Biblical traditions were put into practice.  I loved how the elders were a source of wisdom, and how Malakhi respected and obeyed them.  

It was difficult to read about the consequences of pridefully straying from God and ignoring His precepts.  The consequences for individuals and leaders of the people were severe, but there was a strong lesson to be learned from their actions.

This was the third installment of the Cities of Refuge series, but I think it stands alone well.  Those who enjoy Biblical and historical fiction will certainly enjoy this book.

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:

Connilyn Cossette is the CBA-Bestselling, Christy Nominated author of the Out from Egypt Series and the Cities of Refuge Series. When she’s not engulfed in the happy chaos of homeschooling two teenagers, devouring books whole, or avoiding housework, she can be found digging into the rich ancient world of the Bible. She delights in discovering new gems of grace that point to Jesus and weaving them into an immersive fiction experience. Although she and her husband have lived all over the country in the last twenty-plus years, they currently call North Carolina home.

Book review: Sing a New Song by Candee Fick

About the Book:

The pampered diva is about to meet her match.

Songbird Gloria Houghton has always wanted to be the center of attention, but the spotlight has shifted. Seeking fame and a fresh start, she finds a new stage in Branson, Missouri…only to risk being replaced by a manipulative rival. If Gloria can’t be the star, who is she?

Jack-of-all-trades Nick Sherwood is just one leaf on a vast family tree that includes restaurant chefs, hotel owners, and even the headline act at a family-owned theater. He’s seen how fame can blind a person with jealousy and is more-than-content to stay in the background, thank you very much. If only he wasn’t so fascinated—and irritated—by the newest addition to the staff.

After a disaster of a first impression and financial difficulties land Gloria in the humblest of jobs—with Nick as her boss—it might be time for her to learn to sing a new song.

If you like strong families, country music, and redeemed villains, then you’ll love this next chapter in The Wardrobe series by Candee Fick. Pick up Sing a New Song and step into the spotlight for yourself.

You can purchase your copy here.

My Review:

I met Gloria in the first book of The Wardrobe series, and I did not like her.  Not.  One.  Bit.  I didn't like her in Book Two, either.  So now she gets her own book?  What's up with that?

What's up with that is that when Gloria made the move from Colorado to Branson, Missouri, she got a look in the mirror at her behavior, in the form of a new ensemble member, Brittany.  Brittany did everything against Gloria that Gloria had done to her previous co-stars.

What's up with that is that Gloria had to deal with some struggles in her new locale.  In a new theater, she didn't have a history to solidify her place.  She had financial struggles that forced her to work hard to provide for herself.  And the disappointing relationship that she had with her family turned her heart to people who would be caring and supportive of her.

What's up with that is that those struggles brought her to a relationship with God.  Gloria experienced His forgiveness, His love, and His provision for her.  The change that took place in Gloria was quick.

This was a great book, and I recommend it for romance fans.  Anyone can pick this up and thoroughly enjoy it as a stand-alone.  However, as part of the series, I think Gloria got off easy.  She was written as a very likable character.

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.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Book Review With a Giveaway: Blessing Bentley by Chautona Havig

About the Book

Book: Blessing Bentley
Author: Chautona Havig
Genre: Fiction / Christian / Romantic Women’s Fiction
Release date: June 13, 2019

Bentley Girard’s about to propose… to a guy she doesn’t even love.

Not THAT way anyway.

After studying everything the Bible has to say about marriage, she’s decided she wants in. Now. So who’s going to take her up on that offer?

And just why did no one reminded her that those vows include that little word, “love.”


With her Bible in her hip pocket, and a shiny new ring on her finger, Bentley navigates this new world of marriage with grace and… oh, who is she kidding? She flounders until she gets a sure footing and hangs on tight.

Get your copy here!

My Review

Even in a more light-hearted novel from Chautona Havig, it's not fluffy.  There is a take-you-by-surprise premise, plenty of laughs, and endearing character development, but there is much for the reader to learn as Bentley and Gary search the Scriptures and apply The Word to their lives.  In this book, how God can be glorified in a Christian marriage is the topic, and it gives the reader something to think about.

I loved getting to know Bentley.  She was organized and efficient, competent in her work, and motivated to spend the time and effort to dig into God's Word.  She was very brave to take a leap of faith in obedience to what she learned. Gary was hardworking and thoughtful, and serious about living his life in a way that honored the Lord by loving others.  That he sought wise counsel when presented with something bigger than him showed his wisdom, as well.

It is always a privilege to visit the community that Havig has created, to encounter old friends and meet new ones.

This is not a typical romance novel, but anyone who enjoys Christian women's fiction will certainly want to read this book.  Fans of Havig's work will definitely appreciate this new offering.

I received an e-ARC 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.

More from Chautona

If You Need to Save Time, Don’t Ask for Help

Not from my friend anyway. It all started with a conversation about Bentley…

She pops up now and then—the most ubiquitous (and yet not) of my unpublished characters, you might say. Who is this unsung Bentley, and why should we care about her? For that matter, why has her story been languishing in my “to be edited” pile for over a decade?”

It’s worse than that. Bentley isn’t the only book that’s been sitting there, unedited, waiting for a chance at daylight. There’s also Tait’s story. Andi’s story. Ami’s story… all the unpublished stories. Those don’t even include the partially done ones.

It’s an illness, I tell ya.

Some people may not know this about me, but I plot out my books while I’m driving. I get in the car, turn on my voice recorder, and talk to myself. You can’t know how grateful I am for cellphones. I don’t own or use one, but man I’m glad they exist. Know why? Because people don’t give you weird looks when you talk to yourself in the car now. When I was a kid, that wasn’t true. Not that I know from personal experience or anything. *whistles*

So one trip down south (it’s an hour and a half to go anywhere from my house, and most of my trips are at least three hours one way), I realized that Tait and Bentley’s stories could be merged. It would be awesome. Two books. One stone. If I did that to a bunch of my languishing manuscripts, I could clear out that unfinished file in no time! (Okay, let me dream here. Eternal optimist, remember?)

And that brings us back to Blessing Bentley

I was at my friend Sandy’s house (if you know Celebrate Lit, yes, that Sandy), and I told her I needed a new title. Why? Because now it included Tait and his story.

We talked. We schemed and plotted. Sandy wanted something to happen that just can’t. I’d seriously have to rewrite the entire series. Oh, and then there would be issues with already published books. Ahem.

Then it happened. She said the words. “It needs to be two books.”

I could have put an ice cube down her shirt. Do you remember how excited I was to have two combined into one??? Now we’re back to two books. Still, they were written as two. I just don’t have a satisfactory ending for Tait’s.

That’s when things got fun. Sandy tossed out one idea. I tossed it back. She remolded it and flipped it in the air. I caught it, made a few changes, and voila! We had a BOOK. And it would be adorable.

Then she swore at me.

Okay, so she actually just said, “You really need a third book, friend.”

Anyone who has ever heard her talk, can hear her voice there. I know you can. Still, as sweet and kind as she might have meant to sound, I heard swearing.

Another book. You’ve got to be kidding me! I went from having two books morphed into one being split back in two, and now you want to add one? I’m trying to reduce the to-do pile!

But then I remembered another story that’s been percolating since I wrote 31 Kisses. Carson’s brother is newly single. And well…

Yep. Enter trilogy.

Marriage of Conviction—that was supposed to be the title of Blessing Bentley. Who knew that when I started writing that book fifteen years ago—who knew it would end up being the title of a series instead. Marriages of Conviction. Blessing Bentley, Tempting Tait, and Charming Chloe.

Welcome to a new look on marriage and a wild ride with these characters!

And remember… if you think I have too many series… Well, this one’s Sandy’s fault.

Blog Stops

To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away a Blessing Bentley grand prize package that includes a paperback copy of the book, a book cozy, a Blessing Bentley Candle, and a $25 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/e550/blessing-bentley-celebration-tour-giveaway

Monday, July 8, 2019

Book review with a giveaway: Hadassah by Diana Wallis Taylor

About the Book

Book: Hadassah
Author: Diana Wallis Taylor
Genre: Christian Historical Fiction
Release date: July 2, 2019

One of the great heroines of the Old Testament, Hadassah was a beautiful, graceful young woman who put her faith in God and her guardian, her cousin Mordecai.

She dreams of marrying Shamir, a tall, handsome, studious young man who is the rabbi’s son. Her heart beats faster when she hears the sound of his deep voice as he reads the Torah. And she hopes that he will visit Mordecai soon to present a betrothal request.

Then, an upheaval in King Xerxes’s palace changes everything. Queen Vashti has been banished and an edict goes out for all qualified young virgins throughout the empire to be taken to the palace as he searches for a new queen.

Fear strikes in the hearts of many, including Mordecai, as he realizes Hadassah will be taken. To hide her identity as a Jew, he tells her to go by the name of Esther. Since he works as a record-keeper at the king’s gates, he can keep tabs on how she is doing.

Hadassah: Queen Esther of Persia imagines what life was like for the woman who saved her people—and perhaps found love in the process.

Click here to grab your copy!

My Review

Another book about Queen Esther?  Yes!

Author Diana Wallis Taylor did a wonderful job of conveying the spirit of the times in ancient Persia.  I felt the unrest and uneasiness in Susa, the joy of childhood, and the chill of distrust in the palace.

What I loved about Taylor's portrayal of Esther was that her trust in Adonai did not wane, which translated into kindness toward those around her.  That kindness led to a lifetime of loyalty from Esther's servants.  Esther dealt with heartbreak, as well, but again, her unwavering faith brought her through it.  I also loved the wisdom of Mordecai, a constant throughout the book.  

It was hard to read about the harsh realities of palace life.  Yes, opulence.  But not knowing whom to trust, and being fearful for the lives of your loved ones during political unrest, among other things, was difficult.  Again, Taylor conveyed it well.

Fans of biblical fiction and of Esther will want to read this book.

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

About the Author

Diana Wallis Taylor was first published at the age of twelve, when she sold a poem to a church newsletter. After receiving her B.A. in Elementary Education at San Diego State University, she was an elementary school teacher for twenty-two years. Diana has also sold real estate, opened two coffeehouse/used book stores, and was a conference director for a private Christian college.

She has an extensive portfolio of published works, including a collection of poetry; an Easter cantata, written with a musical collaborator; contributions to various magazines and compilations; and several books, including Lydia, Woman of Philippi; Mary, Chosen of God; Ruth, Mother of Kings; and Halloween: Harmless Fun or Risky Business?

Learn more at www.dianawallistaylor.com.

Read Excerpts

Besides the usual vendors, there were strange, sweaty men with beady eyes who were looking to get rich from the additional population.

In the wee hours of the morning, while Mordecai sat with his head in his hands, silently praying, Jerusha stopped breathing, slipping away so quietly that Hadassah thought she was still sleeping.

One day, to the people’s relief, the news was spread that the unwelcome banquet guests had been ordered back to their provinces—to prepare for war.

Instead of bowing, Hadassah smiled unabashedly and gazed directly at the king, who at that moment had turned his head.

“Do not give your name as Hadassah, but tell them it is Esther, which is a Persian name. I would have you hide your Jewish heritage for now.”

She felt their eyes silently appraising her; some with open interest, some with sympathy, and others with calculating shrewdness.

Esther asked each maid gentle, innocuous questions about her homeland, favorite foods, culture, and the like, listening attentively to their answers and making sure to speak to them by name both to let them know they were important to her and also to help her remember who was who.

“If you maidens help me to be my very best when I am called to the king’s chambers, if he honors me by selecting me as his queen, I will not forget you, who helped to put the crown on my head.”

Esther had seen some of the women pass her quarters so laden with jewelry they could hardly walk. She wanted to laugh out loud, but suppressed even a smile.

Recognition came. “Ah, the maiden in the crowd. I thought about you many times.” He moved closer. “I remember your hair, like a cloud around your face.”

Blog Stops

Back Porch Reads, July 4
Retrospective Spines, July 4
Hallie Reads, July 4
My Devotional Thoughts, July 5
Through the Lens of Scripture, July 5
For The Love of Books, July 5
Fiction Aficionado, July 6
The Becca Files, July 6
For Him and My Family, July 6
EmpowerMoms, July 7
Madeline Hope, July 7
Locks, Hooks and Books, July 7
A Baker’s Perspective, July 8
Godly Book Reviews, July 8
Moments, July 8
Stephanie’s Life of Determination, July 9
Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, July 9
Emily Yager, July 9
Aryn the Libraryan, July 10
Purposeful Learning, July 10
Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, July 10
Through the Fire Blogs, July 10
Lights in a Dark World, July 11
Mary Hake, July 11
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, July 11
Splashes of Joy, July 12
Simple Harvest Reads, July 12 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 12
Bigreadersite, July 13
Pause for Tales, July 13


To celebrate her tour, Diana is giving away a grand prize of a $20 Starbucks card and a surprise book!!

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


Thursday, July 4, 2019

Book Review With a Giveaway: Married to a Stranger by Laura V. Hilton

About the Book

Book: Married to a Stranger
Author: Laura V. Hilton
Genre: Christian Amish Romance Fiction
Release date: July 2, 2019

He marries her out of need. She marries him to escape. What does love have to do with it?

When her father falsely accuses a stranger of dishonoring her, Bethel Eicher finds herself promised in marriage to a man she’s never met. Not exactly a dream come true, but since she has spent several years caring for her handicapped mother, she’s already considered an old maid at twenty-five—and she longs to escape her lonely life as permanent caregiver.

When newly-called Amish preacher Gideon Kaiser learns he’s been accused of a dishonorable act, he’s horrified. But his wife died in childbirth and his baby needs a mother, so he figures marrying a woman he’s never met could be beneficial.

How can Bethel and Gideon possibly make their marriage work—especially when the truth behind the accusations is revealed?

Click here to purchase your copy.

My Review

I chose to read this book because I've read other stories by this author and have enjoyed them.  The title seemed plausible, being that it was Amish fiction, but the circumstances surrounding this hastily arranged marriage caught me by surprise.

I loved getting a glimpse of this Amish community again, after having shared their history previously.  The characters in the book had to grow to trust God in their circumstances, and there are more stories yet to be explored in this Amish community.

While the novel read quickly, the pacing of such emotional events happened in such a short period of time, that it seemed "angst-y" to me.  Also, I would like to have had more resolve to the trafficking story line.  Hopefully, that is in the next book.

Fans of Amish fiction, and especially Hilton's works, will want to pick up this book.  

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

About the Author

A member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, Laura V. Hilton is a professional book reviewer for the Christian market, with more than a thousand reviews published on the Internet.

Laura’s first series with Whitaker House, The Amish of Seymour, includes Patchwork Dreams, A Harvest of Hearts, and Promised to Another. In 2012, A Harvest of Hearts received a Laurel Award, placing first in the Amish Genre Clash. Her second series, The Amish of Webster County, consists of Healing Love, Surrendered Love, and Awakened Love, followed by a stand-alone title, A White Christmas in Webster County. Laura’s last series, The Amish of Jamesport, includes The Snow Globe, The Postcard, and The Birdhouse. Prior to Married to a Stranger, Laura published Firestorm, Love by the Numbers, The Amish Firefighter, and The Amish Wanderer.

Previously, Laura published two novels with Treble Heart Books, Hot Chocolate and Shadows of the Past, as well as several devotionals.

A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Laura earned a business degree from Ozarka Technical College. She and her husband, Steve, have five children and make their home in Arkansas. To learn more about Laura, read her reviews, and find out about her upcoming releases, readers may visit her blog at http://lighthouse-academy.blogspot.com/.

Read an Excerpt

He marries her out of need. She marries him to escape. What does love have to do with it?

He’s falsely accused of dishonoring her. She longs to escape her father’s household. Can they make their forced, arranged marriage work?

“Gideon, choose love. Not loss.” Lizzie gave a quiet sigh and then her eyes rolled back in her head.

“It’s a lie.” Bethel straightened. “Whoever he described has never touched me. Nobody has.”

Either he marry the woman who’d accused him of sexually assaulting her—a woman he had nein recollection of ever meeting, not to mention the fact that he had never touched any woman besides his beloved frau—or his name would be dragged through the mud for a sin he hadn’t committed, a sin for which he’d be forced to kneel and confess.

It wouldn’t do any gut to ask der Herr for this stranger—what was his name, anyway?—to be nice to her, because it seemed apparent Gott hadn’t heard one word of her endless prayers over the last few days. Either that, or He callously chose to disregard her requests.

It was probably the only wedding nacht in history during which the groom had hidden in the basement and raged, huddled upon and beneath a pile of blankets for warmth—warmth that never seemed to reach his core—before he cried himself into a fitful sleep.

At least, with this situation being handled directly between Gideon and both their fathers, with nein preacher or bishop involvement, none of the potentially damaging dirty laundry was hung out to dry.

The condemning stares from Gideon’s family members seemed to bore into Bethel’s back the entire time she prepared their breakfast and then washed the dishes.

She should’ve packed her bags and run away instead of going through with the wedding. Which was probably what her sister had done, kum to think of it.

He could see the hurt and bewilderment lingering in her eyes, as if she still didn’t fully realize how she’d gotten here, or why her father had chosen to believe an old widower over his own dochter.

Bethel’s first time changing Elam’s diaper didn’t go as badly as she’d feared. Lying on the changing table in his bedroom, the boppli waved his feet in the air and blew bubbles at her, completely winning her heart.

Blog Stops

The Avid Reader, July 2
Through the Lens of Scripture, July 2
Maureen’s Musings, July 3
Among the Reads, July 3
Emily Yager, July 3
Random Thoughts From a Bookworm, July 4
For The Love of Books, July 4
EmpowerMoms, July 5
Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, July 5
Bigreadersite, July 6
Through the Fire Blogs, July 6
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 6
Happily Managing a Household of Boys, July 7
Life of a travelers Wife, July 7
Texas Book-aholic, July 7
Daysong Reflections, July 8
Stephanie’s Life of Determination, July 8
Mary Hake, July 8
Blossoms and Blessings, July 9
Britt Reads Fiction, July 9
janicesbookreviews, July 9
Carla Loves To Read, July 10
Reading Is My SuperPower, July 10
Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, July 10
For Him and my Family, July 11
Moments, July 11
A Reader’s Brain, July 11
She Lives to Read, July 12
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, July 12
Older & Smarter?, July 13
Inspiration Clothesline, July 13
Locks, Hooks and Books, July 14
Pause for Tales, July 14
Library Lady’s Kid Lit, July 15
Little Homeschool on the Prairie, July 15
Inklings and notions , July 15


To celebrate her tour, Laura is giving away a grand prize of a $20 Starbucks Card and a surprise book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/e594/married-to-a-stranger-celebration-tour-giveaway