Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Miriam's Song by Jill Eileen Smith

 


ABOUT THE BOOK

In her eventful lifetime, Miriam was many things to many people: protective older sister, song leader, prophetess, leper. But between the highs and the lows, she was a girl who dreamed of freedom, a woman who longed for love, a leader who made mistakes, and a friend who valued connection.

With her impeccable research and keen eye for detail, bestselling author Jill Eileen Smith offers this epic story to fill in the gaps and imagine how Miriam navigated the challenges of holding on to hope, building a family in the midst of incredible hardship, and serving as a leader of a difficult people, all while living in her brother's shadow. Follow Miriam's journey from childhood to motherhood, obscurity to notoriety, and yearning to fulfillment as she learns that what God promises he provides--in his own perfect timing.


MY REVIEW

This quote is a favorite of mine because it is Moses telling Joshua " You understand much already, Joshua. It is hard to wait on the Lord, for He sees far beyond what we can see. 
Excellent advice my friends! God's timing is not ours. His ways can be hard to understand. "
Yes, God's ways are hard to understand but the way Smith writes this story makes it a lot easier to.
Miriam's point of view from the story of Moses was wonderful! It's like Moses's story has taken on a whole new and fresh look at this beloved story of our Biblical hero.
Moses was wise beyond his years and I liked how he really listened to God in his later years. Sometimes we just have to grow up and grow with God in those years.
I enjoyed Miriam's story because it offers hope through the book and wisdom too.
My favorite thing of this book was learning about Miriam's life and I was tickled pink to learn that she had a family of her own. 
I loved her integrity and I think that we can all relate to Miriam at one time or another. Most especially in her feelings. I loved that she was flawed. 
Lessons as well. It's the lessons I liked the most.
Lessons on the patience of God's love and how far and how much He can taken of our sins.
God is merciful and mighty. His Love is greater. 
God knows when we are ready to listen. He has plans for us that we could never begin to imagine.
Smith did an excellent job with Miriam. I finished the book in one day.
I love Smith's books and this one is my favorite. This book has earned a place on my list for my favorite 2021 reading list.
5 stars for this favorite story! 
I highly recommend!
My thanks for a copy of this book. I was NOT required to write a positive review and all opinions are my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Jill Eileen Smith is the bestselling, award-winning author of the Wives of King David series, the Daughters of the Promised Land, the Wives of the Patriarchs, and The Loves of King Solomon series. Her research has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times.

When she isn’t writing, she loves to spend time with her family and friends, read stories that take her away, ride her bike to the park, snag date nights with her hubby, try out new restaurants, or play with her lovable, “helpful” cat Tiger. Jill lives with her family in southeast Michigan.

Contact Jill through email (jill@jilleileensmith.com), her website (http://www.jilleileensmith.com), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/jilleileensmith), or Twitter (https://twitter.com/JillEileenSmith).





Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Roots of Woods and Stone ( Sedgwick County Chronicles)

 



ABOUT THE BOOK

Abandoned at birth, her family roots a mystery, historical museum curator Sloane Kelley has dedicated her life to making sure others know theirs. When a donor drops off a dusty old satchel, she doesn't expect much from the common artifact . . .until she finds real treasure inside: a nineteenth-century diary. Now she's on the hunt to find out more. 


MY REVIEW

This book was awesome! What a story! 
Ms. Wen has done a wonderful job with a time slip novel that doesn't miss a beat and really I loved Annabelle's story the best. 
How wonderful to have a family history like that! This book got me to thinking. Do I want to try again to find my real family or do I just go with God's plan? I've tried once before and failed so that was why I felt like I was Sloane. 
I really loved these characters and I didn't want this story to end. 
I clapped when good things happened in the story and my heart was sad when the bad things in life got my favorite characters. Things that happened in the 1800's really aren't so different than today. 
But I love how the author reminds us that we can't do things ourselves and that God has a bigger and better plan for us. God's way really is best but sometimes we forget that myself included. 
This book was so awesome and the cover is just beautiful! Made me want to jump in the picture with Annabelle and Jack. 
Yes, land, house and loved ones are precious but there is no love that is greater than God's. He is the one who leaves your heart feeling full and satisfied. Without Him we'd be nothing.
This is why I loved this story so much and this one will also be added to my 2021 list of favorites at the end of the year. This one spoke to my heart. This one is a gentle reminder of those things that we take for granted. Even in today's world we need God. 
I highly recommend this book.
My thanks for a copy of this book. 
I was NOT required to write a positive review and all opinions are my own. 
5 stars!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR



Amanda Wen is an award-winning writer of inspirational romance and split-time women's fiction. She has placed first in multiple contests, including the 2017 Indiana Golden Opportunity Contest, the 2017 Phoenix Rattler Contest, and the 2016 ACFW First Impressions Contest. She was also a 2018 ACFW Genesis Contest finalist. Amanda currently lives in Wichita, Kansas, with her husband and three children. This is her first book.



GUEST POST WITH AMANDA WEN

An Interview with Amanda Wen,

Author of Roots of Wood and Stone

 

For readers who can’t decide if they would like to pick up something historical or contemporary for their next read, debut author Amanda Wen offers them the best of both worlds in her new release. Roots of Wood and Stone (Kregel Publications) is a warm, delightfully written split-time novel that will resonate with readers looking for stories that reveal the beauty of God’s plan for our lives, and how our actions ripple for generations.

 

Q: What drew you to the split-time genre? What unique challenges does writing in two time periods present?

I’ve always loved reading both historical and contemporary books, and I’ve long been a fan of TV shows that hop from era to era. From the ‘80s sci-fi show Quantum Leap and the 2000s crime drama Cold Case to the new hit This Is Us, series like these illustrate in dramatic fashion just how deeply the past impacts the present. Split-time novels do the same thing: characters’ past decisions have ripple effects, both good and bad, for generations to come.

In addition, one of my favorite things about split time is watching the contemporary characters dig into the past. My mother is a genealogist who’s been tracing our family history since before I was born, and her passion for uncovering our family’s stories has been an important backdrop my entire life. Her research has given me an appreciation for those who came before and a desire to pass along this appreciation to my own kids. Given all this, I think the split-time genre is a natural fit for me!

 

However, split time doesn’t come without its challenges. Instead of writing one story, I’m writing two, and they have to weave together in an organic way. If you can lift one story line out of the book without hurting the other one, then it’s not integrated well enough. With two stories come two heroes, two heroines, and two plotlines, all of which must be correctly paced and equally interesting to the reader. But challenges aside,

 

Q: How does the historical story connect with the contemporary story?


Roots of Wood and Stone revolves around an 1890s farmhouse that is the home of contemporary hero Garrett Anderson’s grandmother, Rosie Spencer. In cleaning out the house, he finds an old satchel which he brings to the local historical museum in hopes that they might have some use for it. The curator, Sloane Kelley, is initially unimpressed with the satchel . . . until she opens it and finds a nineteenth-century diary inside. That diary, written by past heroine Annabelle Collins, links the past time line with the present. As Sloane digs into the diary, she wants to find out more, so she ends up going to the farmhouse to help Garrett and his sister, Lauren, declutter.

Subsequent diaries found in the house shine a light on Annabelle’s life as an early settler to Sedgwick County: the love she finds, the losses she suffers, and the God who is faithful to carry her through it all. In addition, these diaries draw Sloane and Garrett together in ways neither could imagine and form the crux of the conflict that arises between the two. Exploring the past has a direct impact on the present for both Sloane and Garrett.

 

Q: Roots of Wood and Stone was inspired by your own family history. Can you tell us a little bit about your family’s story and what parts made their way into your book?

The seed of inspiration for Roots of Wood and Stone is an 1890s farmhouse not far from where I grew up (and where I now live) which belonged to my great-great-grandfather, Francis Thomas Little. He immigrated to the United States from Ireland as a child and became one of the earliest settlers of Maize, Kansas. Grandpa Little, as he’s known in my family, wrote a memoir, A Kansas Farmer, which was an invaluable resource during my research process.

Francis Little married Mattie Stevens, daughter of another early settler, William Fletcher Stevens, who lost his first wife and infant son shortly after arriving in Sedgwick County in 1870. (In fact, my great-great-great-grandfather would go on to bury a second wife and eight of his fourteen children.) I wondered how someone would cope with such a tragic loss and emerge with his faith intact, and it’s this first early loss that forms the crux of the spiritual journey for my past hero, Jack Brennan.

My past heroine, Annabelle Collins, is very loosely based on a paternal ancestor, Antoinette Patrick Peterson, who as a young child was left with an aunt and uncle after the death of her mother. She moved to Kansas with her aunt and uncle, who raised her to adulthood, and I grew curious about the impact of such a decision on a child. The rest of Antoinette’s life was no less interesting and colorful, but I decided to save it for a future book.

 

Q: Sloane was abandoned at birth, so she never had a connection to her biological family or their history. How did she compensate for that in her professional life?


Abandoned at birth and adopted by strangers, Sloane differs from her adoptive parents in every way—appearance, personality, talents, and interests. She struggles with knowing they love her, and they don’t fully understand her. She feels like plan B: someone her birth parents didn’t want, who her adoptive parents settled for after not being able to conceive biologically. This feeling haunts her formative years.

 

As an adult, Sloane discovers historical research, the filling in of gaps in her own knowledge and the sharing of information she uncovers with others. Though incomplete, the satisfaction she receives from helping people connect with and appreciate the history of the Wichita area is enough to propel her forward in her career as a museum curator. “I guess that’s why I’m so passionate about history,” she tells Garrett in one scene. “If I can’t know my own, at least I can help everyone else know theirs.”

 

Q: Tell us about Garrett. Where does his sense of responsibility come from?


A type-A overachiever since childhood, Garrett Anderson has been thrust into a difficult situation with the weight of the world on his shoulders. In recent years, he’s lost his mother to cancer, his father to a hasty remarriage and subsequent new life in Florida, and his grandfather to a sudden heart attack. As a result, the burden of care for his Alzheimer’s-afflicted grandmother, Rosie, has fallen to him and his sister, Lauren. The siblings are close but very different in personality, and they have not been able to reach an agreement as to what’s best for their grandmother.

In caring for Rosie, Garrett has also learned what can happen when people fail to plan. Due to a family whose approach to life has always been “ready-fire-aim,” as he describes it, he now realizes his grandmother is in dire financial straits. This impacts him personally and professionally, since, as a certified financial planner, his career revolves around helping other people avoid the sort of situation his grandmother has found herself in. He believes that all of life’s problems can be avoided, or at the very least mitigated, if one just comes up with—and follows through on—the perfect plan.

 

Q: How about the historical characters—do they carry the missing pieces of their family with them as well?

Like Sloane, Annabelle Collins was raised by people other than her birth parents, although unlike Sloane, Annabelle had a relationship with her birth family. A child of eight when her mother died of a sudden illness, Annabelle is left with a father and two older brothers, all of whom feel called to fight for the Union in the Civil War. Before they enlist, Annabelle’s father leaves her with his sister, Katherine, and her husband, Stephen, who’ve always longed for a child of their own. As Annabelle grows up under her aunt and uncle’s roof, she feels loved, cared for, and wanted, but she also suffers the wounds of her father’s abandonment, particularly when she learns that he has remarried and started a new family: one that has no room for her.

Jack Brennan, meanwhile, is reeling from the tragic loss of his wife and infant son, along with his wife’s sister and her husband, who made the journey to Sedgwick County with Jack. In fact, the only other survivor of the journey is Jack’s young nephew, Oliver, who he’s taken in as his own. Jack’s love for his nephew is one of the first things Annabelle notices, and it’s a key part of their blossoming relationship.

 

Q: What role does faith play in the lives of your characters?

 

All my characters are people of faith, but all of them have run up against some struggles. For Sloane, the wound of her childhood abandonment is the lens through which she sees everything. Feeling unwanted and unloved by her birth parents extends to her relationship with God. Is she plan B to him too? Garrett, meanwhile, has grown up in the church and has a fairly strong faith, but he hasn’t truly grasped the concept of trusting God rather than leaning on his own understanding (Proverbs 3:5–6). A highly intelligent and motivated individual, Garrett believes that life will be infinitely easier if he just comes up with and follows through on the perfect plan. But when his perfect plan runs up against obstacles he can’t overcome, he struggles to let go and allow God to enact the ultimate plan.

Trust is also a theme for Annabelle Collins, the heroine of the past time line. She suffers some losses both early and later in her life, and she struggles with the holes those losses leave in her heart. Can she learn to trust God to provide not necessarily everything she wants but everything she needs? Meanwhile, past hero Jack reels from loss as well, and he struggles to understand why—if he’s being obedient to God’s call on his life, as he thought he was—his life involves so much suffering. Throughout the book, Jack learns that just because life is difficult doesn’t mean he’s on the wrong path. Sometimes, one needs to stay the course.

Q: What did God teach you through the writing of Roots of Wood and Stone? What do you hope your readers take away from the book?

 

Roots of Wood and Stone was my first attempt at split time, and I depended on God for the wisdom to know how to weave the two time lines and stories together. It was an intimidating undertaking, and one possible only through him. Also, trusting God has always been a challenge for me. Like Garrett, I’m a type-A uber planner, one who needs a plan A, plan B, and plan C to feel fully on top of things. While writing this book, I quickly discovered that I could control very little. My characters had their own ideas of how the plot should progress, and the story was frequently better if I let go and trusted them.

 

The publishing journey was no different. Through the very lengthy (and also agonizing) submission process, I had to trust every day that the God who gave me the idea for the story and enabled me to put it on paper would do with it what he chose in the timing that was very best, not only for me but for all who will read the book.

As for those readers, I hope they come away with a renewed and restored faith. Though I would never in a million years have chosen to release my debut novel during a global pandemic, I think the message of the book—that God will take all your loose ends and broken pieces and weave them into something more beautiful than you can imagine—is especially timely for such a difficult period in our world. Many of us have been forced to alter the vast majority of our plans this past year, including plans for things—church, work, school, family get-togethers—that we never thought we’d have to alter. But God is still in control. This pandemic has not changed, nor will it change, his good and perfect plan.

Q: Which character in Roots of Wood and Stone was easiest for you to write and why? Which character presented the biggest challenge?

The most challenging character was probably Sloane. An introvert by nature, and one who’s been dealt some serious wounds, she doesn’t trust easily. In fact, that included me when I was first getting to know her. I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer, so the only way I get to know characters is by writing them, which doesn’t work well when a character isn’t quite ready to talk. We spun our wheels for a bit, but I finally decided to put a little of my own love for music into the book and gave Sloane a musical hobby. That, it seemed, gave us enough common ground for her to feel comfortable opening up to me.

 

By contrast, Jack Brennan was the easiest character for me to write. Inspired by (but not based on) Jack Pearson from This Is Us, Jack sprang into my head fully formed and quickly stole all his scenes in the best possible way. He wears his heart on his sleeve and was thus very easy for me to get to know and love.  

 

Q: How did you start writing? How do you balance writing with being a mom and a professional musician?

 

I’ve been writing stories since I could hold a pencil, but it wasn’t until 2008 that the writing bug bit me and refused to let go. This sounds cheesy, but a story idea came to me in a dream one night, and I couldn’t get it out of my head. I wanted to know what happened next, so I did the only thing I could think to do: write the story so I could read it and find out!

 

Over the next few years—interspersed with the births of my three kids—I dabbled in story writing in a couple different genres. In 2014, after my youngest was a year old, I got serious about writing for publication and shared my work with my best friend, who is a multi-published author in the general market. She took me under her wing and corrected all my newbie writing errors, but she also encouraged me and inspired me to write better and better stories.

 

As for how I balance writing with my other life as a professional cellist (playing a lot of freelance gigs, including weddings and the occasional orchestra concert) and pianist (as a choral accompanist for a local middle school and high school), I’ve learned the fine art of prioritizing. During busy music seasons, my writing usually gets put on the back burner. Similarly, when I’m deep in drafting mode or on deadline with revisions, I don’t take on quite so much on the music side. And sometimes I make an intentional choice to take a week or two off from all professional pursuits and focus on my family.

Both music and writing feed my soul—as well as feed each other—and they’re both wired so deeply into my DNA that I can’t not do them, so I pray for a lot of wisdom in how to manage my schedule and trust that God will give me the time I need to do what he’s called me to do.

 

Q: What’s next from you? Can readers hope for more stories from Sedgwick County?

 

I am working on a sequel to Roots of Wood and Stone that features with two secondary characters from that book: Garrett’s sister, Lauren, and his grandmother, Rosie. After a tailspin in her late teens, Lauren’s life is finally on track. Her food blog is successful, her photography studio bustling, and her battle with bulimia seems to be under control. But an unexpected wrinkle appears in the form of Carter Douglas, the summer fling whose rejection launched her downward spiral. When old feelings reappear with new strength, can Lauren risk her heart to love a man who already broke it once?

TV meteorologist Carter Douglas has a job he never thought he’d take in a city where he never planned to live . . . and comes face-to-face with a woman he never thought he’d see again. He’s determined to make the most of this second chance with Lauren, but when circumstances force the same decision he made as a teenager, will he have the courage to make a different choice?

When Lauren’s elderly grandmother calls out a name from the depths of dementia, the name of a man her family has never heard of, Lauren and her family seek the truth. Who was this man? Who was he to her grandmother? Their journey takes them to the 1950s, when a gently blossoming love attempts to withstand a storm of racial prejudice and separation. As stories are told and secrets revealed, Lauren and Carter embark on a journey of forgiveness and second chances that will change their lives forever.

 



Friday, February 12, 2021

Her Every Move by Kelly Irvin

 




ABOUT THE BOOK

He’s a cop trying to stop a serial bomber. And she’ll stop at nothing to clear her own name. 

When a deadly bomb goes off during a climate change debate, librarian and event coordinator Jackie Santoro becomes the prime suspect. Her motive, according to Detective Avery Wick: to avenge the suicide of her prominent father, who was accused of crimes by a city councilman attending the event. 

Though Avery has doubts about Jackie’s guilt, he can’t exonerate her even after an extremist group takes responsibility for the bombing and continues to attack San Antonio’s treasured public spaces. 

As Jackie tries to hold her shattered family together, she has no choice but to proceed with plans for the Caterina Ball, the library system’s biggest annual fundraiser. But she also fears the event provides the perfect opportunity for the bomber to strike again. 

Despite their mistrust, Jackie and Avery join forces to unmask the truth—before the death toll mounts even higher. 

Bestseller Kelly Irvin is back with a nail-biting romantic suspense where nothing is certain until the very last page. 


MY REVIEW

Loved this fast paced sit on the edge of your seat thriller!
I think in my opinion this is the best one yet!
Irvin has added the right amount of faith elements and I really enjoyed watching God at work here.
I loved that the characters were realistic and flawed. No one isn't perfect. Not even cops but I know that most do their best.
I think that my favorite thing was the guessing as to who dun it. I thought I had guessed correctly but even I was surprised at the end. It wasn't who I thought it was.
Lots of twists and turns that will have Irvin's fans screaming and shouting at Jackie and Wick (and a few others as well)./as they try to find out the reason behind the bombings.
Some of this story will have you sighing in relief too.
I have a few favorite scenes in this book as well but I won't say because I don't want to spoil the book.
Overall, a great book! I finished just a little while ago around 2:30 am. I was sad to see the book end.
I highly recommend!
My thanks to Thomas Nelson publishers for a copy of this book. I was NOT required to write a positive review and all opinions are my own.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR



Kelly's newest Amish romance series, Amish of Sky Country includes Mountains of Grace, followed by The Long Bridge Home, and Peace in the Valley. The series explores Amish communities in northwest Montana and how they are impacted by wildfires.

Closer Than She Knows is Kelly's latest romantic suspense novel. Publisher's Weekly called it a "brisk, smoothly written, thriller."

It follows Over the Line, a fast-moving behind-the-scenes look at how gun smuggling affects every aspect of life on the Texas-Mexico border.
Publishers Weekly said of Tell Her No Lies, "No one is above suspicion in a tale sure to appeal to readers beyond its main Christian market.
Kelly's Every Amish Season series includes Upon A Spring Breeze, Beneath the Summer Sun, Through the Autumn Air, and With Winter's First Frost from Zondervan/HarperCollins Christian Publishing. This follows the Amish of Bee County series, The Saddle Maker's Son, released in June 2016. It is an ECPA bestseller. It follows The Bishop's Son, and the critically acclaimed bestseller, The Beekeeper's Son, which earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly. The reviewer called it "a beautifully woven masterpiece." The Beekeeper's Son was a finalist in the romance category of the 2016 ACFW Carol Awards Contest.

Kelly is also the author of the Bliss Creek Amish series and the New Amish Amish series. The first series includes To Love and To Cherish, A Heart Made New, and Love’s Journey Home, published by Harvest House. The New Hope Amish series includes Love Still Stands, followed by Love Redeemed, which was an ACFW Carol Award finalist, and A Plain Love Song.

Kelly has also penned two other romantic suspense novels, A Deadly Wilderness and No Child of Mine..

The Kansas native is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and ACFW's San Antonio local chapter Alamo City Christian Fiction Writers.

A graduate of the University of Kansas William Allen White School of Journalism, Kelly has been writing nonfiction professionally for thirty years. She studied for three semesters at the University of Costa Rica, learning the Spanish language. As a journalist, she worked six years in the border towns of Laredo and El Paso.

She worked in public relations for the San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department for 22 years before retiring earlier this year. Kelly has been married to photographer Tim Irvin for twenty-eight years. They have two young adult children and have three grandchildren. In her spare time, she likes to write short stories, read books by her favorite authors, and looks forward to visits with her grandchildren. 









The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner

 




ABOUT THE BOOK

April 18, 1906: A massive earthquake rocks San Francisco just before daybreak, igniting a devouring inferno. Lives are lost, lives are shattered, but some rise from the ashes forever changed.

Sophie Whalen is a young Irish immigrant so desperate to get out of a New York tenement that she answers a mail-order bride ad and agrees to marry a man she knows nothing about. San Francisco widower Martin Hocking proves to be as aloof as he is mesmerizingly handsome. Sophie quickly develops deep affection for Kat, Martin's silent five-year-old daughter, but Martin's odd behavior leaves her with the uneasy feeling that something about her newfound situation isn't right.

Then one early-spring evening, a stranger at the door sets in motion a transforming chain of events. Sophie discovers hidden ties to two other women. The first, pretty and pregnant, is standing on her doorstep. The second is hundreds of miles away in the American Southwest, grieving the loss of everything she once loved.

The fates of these three women intertwine on the eve of the devastating earthquake, thrusting them onto a perilous journey that will test their resiliency and resolve and, ultimately, their belief that love can overcome fear.

From the acclaimed author of The Last Year of the War and As Bright as Heaven comes a gripping novel about the bonds of friendship and mother love, and the power of female solidarity.


MY REVIEW

A quote I want to write down before I forget this is so very true!

Deputy Logan was telling Mrs. Mcgough that he believes her and that he believes in justice too, but that he knows that sometimes it is not delivered in the way it should be. Sometimes it is not delivered at all, and the evil man walks free.

My thing is truth will prevail no matter what you do to hide it.
We all will have to answer to the Higher One.
What an awesome story! I simply couldn't put this book down it was full of so many wonderful things!
Mystery, lies, secrets, oh my! A little something for everyone here.
This will be another book to add to my favorite reads from 2021
I was NOT disappointed at all! I wanted to read this book so bad that I got it through my library.
Bless those librarians!
I wasn't disappointed at all!
Meissner is a superb storyteller! The way she described those scenes from the earthquake made me feel like I was in the middle of all the chaos! And what a chaos!
(I actually experienced one in Kentucky once. Not a pleasant feeling. I didn't know that Kentucky had a fault line but I do now! ) It sort of gives you this weird feeling when you start to feel the shaking. Sort of off balance like. Scary if you ask me lol. 
I feel that this book is Meissner's best yet! An awesome story!
I also wanted to comment on the cover of the book that I thought the scene was pretty cool. I think you could tell what's happening even without reading the story but oh! you must! 
I finished this book in one afternoon because I couldn't put it down! I know that my mouth hung open in surprise in some places because I just couldn't fathom how and what was going on. Just wow! This is why I kept turning the pages it was so good! I'm probably repeating myself by now but I'm just..... floored at the awesome writing in this book? Yes Yes!! 
Thank you Ms. Meissner for another wonderful story! Please keep them coming. Your subjects are impressive. I love your research into these events. You left my heart feeling full and satisficed once again. Now, I'm left empty handed because I was so impressed and I cried when the book was finished. I didn't want to say goodbye. Well done! 
Highly recommend!
Thanks to my library for a copy of this amazing story!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR



Susan Meissner is a USA Today bestselling novelist with more than half a million books in print in fifteen languages. Her critically acclaimed works of historical fiction have been named to numerous lists including Publishers Weekly’s annual roster of 100 best books, Library Reads Top Picks, Real Simple annual tally of best books, Goodreads Readers’ Choice awards, Booklist’s Top Ten, and Book of the Month.

She attended Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego and is a former managing editor of a weekly newspaper. Susan’s expertise as a storyteller and her thoroughly researched topics make her a favorite author of book clubs everywhere. Her engaging and warm speaking style appeal to all manner of women’s groups, literary organizations, libraries and learning institutions, and service clubs.

When she is not working on a new novel, she enjoys teaching workshops on writing and dream-following, spending time with her family, music, reading great books, and traveling. 



Wednesday, February 10, 2021

A Perfect Amish Romance by Shelley Shepard Gray

 



ABOUT THE BOOK

Aaron Coblentz has a secret: he’s been studying to take the GED to get promoted at work. But he can’t let his Amish family know, not when his older brother already left the faith just a year after getting baptized, practically crippling the family. When Aaron asks bookmobile librarian Sarah Anne Miller for some additional study guides, she does one better. She arranges for Kayla Kaufman to be his tutor.

Kayla has a secret, too. Her life has been turned upside down in a matter of months—her mother’s death propelled her father into a constant state of depression, and unable to deal with his erratic behavior, her longtime boyfriend has broken things off. But despite losing those she holds most dear, she hasn’t completely given up on love. Only now she seeks to find it in the sweet romance novels she secretly checks out from Sarah Anne’s bookmobile.

As Aaron and Kayla’s study sessions start to feel less like work and more like pleasure, they soon realize that happily ever afters don’t only happen in fiction; sometimes they happen when you least expect it.

From a “skilled storyteller who reminds the reader that faith can help us survive the ups and downs in life” (RT Book Reviews), A Perfect Amish Romance is a moving and deftly told story that paints a heartwarming picture of the magic of true love. 


MY REVIEW

I was so excited to read this after my loooooong pending approval. Oh my! It was so worth the wait!
New characters to love and well it's just Shelley Shepard Gray! Fabulous!
I thought the name Tiny was unusual and cute! Matched her personality just perfectly. I finished this novel late into the night and I have no regrets it was so very good! This book will be on my list of 2021 faves.
I enjoyed the aspect of the bookmobile. I think it's because it can reach people who can't get out or people that don't have any way of going to the library.
Sarah Anne was a wonderful librarian. I liked her immediately! I think real life librarians can learn some lessons from her in hospitality. Sure she was nervous at first because she didn't think that she wasn't the right person for the job. I especially like how Ron built her confidence up so that she might be able to good a job. I thought she was perfect!
The first in a brand new series by Shelley Shepard Gray that will be sure to delight you. It did me but then, I love Amish romance anyway and this one was no exception.
I highly recommend.
My thanks for a copy of this amazing book! I was NOT required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own. 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Shelley Shepard Gray has published over seventy novels. She currently writes Amish romances for Harper Collins, Kensington, and Simon & Schuster and contemporary women’s fiction for Blackstone Publishing.

Her novels have been Holt Medallion winners and Inspirational Readers Choice and Carol finalists. Shelley’s novels have appeared on both the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists.

Her novels have been highlighted in the Philadelphia Enquirer, Washington Post, Time Magazine, and USA Today. She has also been interviewed on NPR as well as numerous regional radio stations.
Before writing romances, Shelley lived in Texas and Colorado, where she taught school and earned both her bachelor’s degree in English literature and elementary education and later obtained her master’s degree in educational administration. She currently lives in Colorado Springs and writes full time. Shelley is married, the mother of two young adults, and always has a dachshund by her side. She is an active member of her church, on Facebook and on Twitter. She also has a website, www.shelleyshepardgray.com.


GUEST POST WITH SHELLEY SHEPARD GRAY

Hi Shelley! 
It's a pleasure to host you on my blog. I love and enjoy your books so very much! 
I'm not sure if you remembered meeting at the book fair in Ky  at the horse park but I remembered meeting you.. You made me smile that day.
I wanted to ask you some questions and I hope you don't mind.


1. How did you get started in writing Amish fiction? What made you want to do it?

I started writing Amish fiction when an editor who had received a proposal for A Texan's Promise asked if I would consider writing an Amish proposal. This was back in 2006 or so and there were only a few Amish authors. 
I was reluctant to give it a try because I was afraid I would mess up some of the research, but soon after I met a lady at my church who grew up Mennonite. She-and her best friend who is Old Order Amish- helped me a lot with my first few books. 

2. What are some of your plans for your upcoming books? 
I'm really enjoying your new series about the bookmobile series. 
How did you come up with that?

I really like to write and I like writing for different publishing houses. This year I have the bookmobile books coming out, a Harlequin Cold Case book, and a romantic suspense women's fiction novel called Edgewater RD.  I also have a few Amish novellas that are published in 'Amish Collection' books, such as Amish Midwives with Amy Clipston and Kelly Long. 

3.  Have you ever eaten at an Amish home before? 

I have, many times. I've also hosted my Amish friend at my house-which was nerve wracking!  LOL, my house has never been so clean. 

What are some of your favorite Amish foods? 

Whenever I'm at the Der Dutchman or Dutch Valley up in Holmes County, I always get the Broasted Chicken, which is kind of a cross between fried and roasted chicken. I'm also extremely partial to pie! 

5. Are you planning on future book signings in the future? If so, when and where? 

Right now, the only 'in person' event I have is scheduled for October in Richardson, TX. It's an event called Buns and Roses, and all the proceeds got to literacy groups in the Dallas, Texas area. I'll be hosting a table! 

6. The Pinecraft series is my very favorite series! I really "enjoyed"  my vacation there. That's on my bucket list.
Have you visited there? What are some of the things you would like to do there?

I have been to Pinecraft three times and I'm actually going back in two weeks! I love to go to Yoders, which is a grouping of shops and restaurants in the center of Pinecraft. I also love to drive out to Siesta Key and sit on the beach! 
It's a really small area in the heart of Sarasota, so I also enjoy just walking around and watching everyone. I love how there are so many Amish from different parts of the country in one spot! 

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Shadows of the White City by Jocelyn Green

 



ABOUT THE BOOK

The one thing Sylvie Townsend wants most is what she feared she was destined never to have--a family of her own. But taking in Polish immigrant Rose Dabrowski to raise and love quells those fears--until seventeen-year-old Rose goes missing at the World's Fair, and Sylvie's world unravels.

Brushed off by the authorities, Sylvie turns to her boarder, Kristof Bartok, for help. He is Rose's violin instructor and the concertmaster for the Columbian Exposition Orchestra, and his language skills are vital to helping Sylvie navigate the immigrant communities where their search leads.

From the glittering architecture of the fair to the dark houses of Chicago's poorest neighborhoods, they're taken on a search that points to Rose's long-lost family. Is Sylvie willing to let the girl go? And as Kristof and Sylvie grow closer, can she reconcile her craving for control with her yearning to belong?


MY REVIEW

Another fabulous read by Ms. Green!
This is the 2nd book in the Windy City Saga Series.
Just wow!
I loved being swept back into 1893 at the fair!
Now, normally I love fairs but this one really took my breath away literally! The scenery oh my! Made me feel like I was there!
The Faris wheel! Just amazing. I think my mouth dropped open from my imagination at seeing for the first time! I'll never look at one again without remembering where it came from or how someone thought of it.
Ms. Green's description of each building and where it was truly remarkable. She's done her research well.
Sylvie and Rosey I was happy to see them again!
I really liked how she added some mystery in this book to keep it interesting. I kept turning the pages to see how it would all end. I wasn't one bit disappointed.
I didn't want to say goodbye because I very much enjoyed myself at the fair and I learned a lot.
Did you know that the fair came back to Chicago in the 1930's?
This story left my heart feeling full and satisfied and I am looking forward to the next book.
I highly recommend.
My thanks for a copy of this book and I was NOT required to write a positive review and all opinions are my own.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR




Jocelyn Green is the award-winning and bestselling author of numerous fiction and nonfiction books, including Veiled in Smoke, The Mark of the KingA Refuge Assured, and Between Two Shores. Her books have garnered starred reviews from Booklist and Publishers Weekly and have been honored with the Christy Award and the Golden Scroll. Jocelyn lives with her family in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Visit her at www.jocelyngreen.com.

The Healing of Natalie Curtis by Jane Kirkpatrick

ABOUT THE BOOK  Classically trained pianist and singer Natalie Curtis isolated herself for five years after a breakdown just before she was ...