Tuesday, November 6, 2018

History Learned in a Great Story -- The Light Before Day (with a GIVEAWAY)


One of my favorite ways to learn history is in the context of a well-written novel with characters whose lives take me on a captivating journey of days past. That is exactly what I found in Suzanne Woods Fisher's The Light Before Day -- as well as in the first two books in her Nantucket Legacy series.

Some of you may be familiar with Fisher's Amish books -- engaging stories that bring  characters to life in the Plain lifestyle. She has done just as great a job with these stories about a group who is probably even less known than the Amish -- the Quakers -- and their early days in America on Nantucket Island. 

The main story is set in the mid-19th century, with an intriguing thread woven throughout from the 17th and 18th centuries. A family heirloom, Great Mary's journal, is passed down through the generations. Her thoughts and insights from the very earliest days of the Nantucket settlement provide a guiding light for her descendants as they struggle through family challenges and all the hurdles those bring. 

As in the previous books in the series, Fisher includes real, difficult topics that would have been faced in the historical setting. It is obvious she has done her research thoroughly, and she transports readers in fascinating ways to the time and place where her story takes place. Any of the books in this series could be read as a stand-alone, but the story is much more interesting if followed in order, leading up to this conclusion.

Thanks to Celebrate Lit for providing a copy of The Light Before Day. I am pleased to share my own thoughts in this review.

About the Book:



Book: The Light Before Day
Author: Suzanne Woods Fisher
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: October 2, 2018
“Henry, this . . . fortune, this sudden wealth . . . I fear it will change our lives. And I don’t want my life to change.”
After three years on a whaling voyage, Henry Macy returns to Nantucket to news that his grandmother has passed, bequeathing her vast fortune to him and his sister, Hitty. And it was truly vast. But Lillian Coffin was no fool. The inheritance comes with a steep cost, including when each should marry and whom—a Quaker in good standing, of course. But if they relinquish the inheritance, it all goes to Tristram Macy, their father’s thieving business partner.
As Hitty and Henry seek a way to satisfy the will’s conditions, they’ll be faced with obstacles on every side—and it may be that Lillian Coffin will have the last word after all.

Click here to purchase your copy!


About the Author:


Suzanne Woods Fisher is an award-winning, bestselling author of more than two dozen novels, including Phoebe’s Light and Minding the Light, as well as the Amish Beginnings, The Bishop’s Family, and The Inn at Eagle Hill series. She has also written several nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace and The Heart of the Amish. Fisher lives in California. Learn more at www.suzannewoodsfisher.com and follow her on Twitter @suzannewfisher and Facebook @SuzanneWoodsFisherAuthor.



Guest Post from Suzanne:

The Mortgage Button

In each story of the ‘Nantucket Legacy’ series, there’s a reference to a mortgage button in the newel post of a stairway. Phoebe Starbuck, the main character in Phoebe’s Light, made a point to notice it in the captain’s house on Orange Street, the famous residences of sea captains. In Minding the Light, Daphne Coffin touched the mortgage button on the newel post of her horrible mother’s grand house each and every morning. Hitty and Henry Macy were well aware of the absence of their childhood home’s mortgage button—and all that its absence symbolized—in The Light Before Day.
Mortgage buttons meant something to each of those characters. It made a statement to anyone who walked into a house.
Have you ever seen a mortgage button? It’s a very Nantucket-y tradition. In fact, some say the mortgage button originated on Nantucket Island, thirty miles out to sea.
Supposedly, when a house’s mortgage was fully paid and there were no liens against the property, the homeowner drilled a hole in the newel post of the main staircase, rolled up the mortgage document, put it inside, and capped the hole with a decorative plug of scrimshaw.
Scrimshaw is a term for an American folk art developed during the 18th and 19th centuries. Whaling in New England was an industry that lifted Nantucket Island to become the world’s wealthiest port. After a whale’s oil was rendered, the ship’s captain would give his crew the sperm whale’s teeth or bones to carve during long tedious hours at sea. Whaling had its exciting moments, but they were far and few between. As a pastime, sailors carved all kinds of useful gifts to bring home to their loved ones: needles, combs, games, clothespins, busks…and mortgage buttons.
But let’s jump back to the mortgage button. Some legends say that the actual mortgage papers were ceremoniously burned and the ashes stashed inside the drilled hole before sealed with the button. However, as appealing a thought as that might be, it is most likely a myth. There’s never been any evidence of ashes or even hidden mortgages found in salvaged newel posts. Still, mortgage buttons are common among Nantucket homes, and the tradition has spread to other parts of the country. In southern states, for example, they’re called brag buttons. Whether myth or truth, today it’s more a matter of a charming nostalgic custom than a nod to your healthy (or…not so healthy) net worth.


Blog Stops


The Avid Reader, November 4
Texas Book-aholic, November 5
Godly Book Reviews, November 5
Among the Reads, November 8
Blogging With Carol, November 9
Mary Hake, November 10
Carpe Diem, November 11
Simple Harvest Reads, November 12
Janices book reviews, November 13
Captive Dreams, November 14
Bigreadersite, November 14
By The Book, November 15
Pause for Tales, November 16
Book by Book, November 16
Have A Wonderful Day, November 17
Bibliophile Reviews, November 17
Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Suzanne is giving away a grand prize of a $50 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/d773/the-light-before-day-celebration-tour-giveaway



Saturday, October 20, 2018

Beautiful Story of Hope -- Miles from Where We Started (UPDATED WITH GIVEAWAY)


(Be sure to read to the end of this post for an awesome GIVEAWAY!)

Hope! Such a promising word! Something to look forward to, something to keep you going on all those long, discouraging miles. Hope is what you can expect to find in a Cynthia Ruchti novel, and it definitely plays a starring role in Miles from Where We Started!

Take a couple on the verge of divorce just before their first anniversary and an 11-year-old foster child, throw them into a small SUV and a micro-camper on a three-week road trip, and hope is not exactly what you expect to find. Disaster is more like it, and there seems to be a good dose of that along the way. Even in those cramped quarters and challenging events, though, "miles are no challenge for God." 


By the time Mallory, Connor, and Judah get to the end of their journey, they have met lots of interesting characters and learned lots of lessons. And as you read, you will be drawn in on their emotional journey as you are anxious to see how their story ends.


This book is best read when you have a block of time to sit and read it in one sitting -- because you will not want to put it down!


Thanks to Cynthia and her publisher for providing an e-book through NetGalley and to Celebrate Lit for a print copy. I am happy to share my own thoughts in this review.


About the Book:


These no-longer-newlyweds want out of this road trip—and their marriage. Too bad they can’t find the off ramp.
Weeks away from their one-year wedding anniversary, Mallory and Connor Duncan can’t even agree on how to end their marriage. But when a last-minute crisis lands them on a three-thousand-mile road trip together, Mallory wonders if their story may not be over after all.
The trip begins to unravel before the key is even in the ignition, and an at-risk, trouble-seeking missile of an eleven-year-old is unexpectedly launched into their travel plans. Close quarters get even tighter, and the couple believes this whole experience will spell disaster.
Their first year of marriage hasn’t been the arm-in-arm togetherness they expected. How can they find a new beginning when the road ends?
About the Author:
Cynthia Ruchti tells stories of hope through novels, nonfiction, devotionals, and speaking events. She serves as the professional relations liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers and is a frequent speaker at writers’ conferences across the country. She married her grade school sweetheart, and the two live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and five grandchildren.

Guest Post from Cynthia

I have a confession to make. I heart millennials. 

My other novels have had a few millennial characters. Some even played starring roles. But I knew there was more to the heart of millennials than I could gain from listening to the often unfair sighing or comedy routines about that generation. As a person, I wanted to know them better—what are they really like? What challenges do they face with which previous generations saddled them? What strengths to they offer our culture? 

Until now, I hadn’t written a story about a millennial couple whose marriage was in crisis. Like, serious crisis. I-don’t-want-to-be-married-to-you-anymore. That kind of crisis. 

As any good novelist knows, part of what we do to our characters is make the situation worse. So, millennial couple, approaching their one-year anniversary, ready to call it quits because “This marriage thing is really hard. Is it supposed to be so much work?” But what if…? What if they were forced to be together for three weeks…in a micro-camper…on America’s backroads…with an 11-year-old foster boy troublemaker…and both the husband’s AND the wife’s jobs depended on the trip’s success? 

Plot idea in hand, I set off to write Miles from Where We Started, not entirely sure when I began the journey where they would end up or how they’d get there. It was an education for me in so many ways. The impact of the turning point of the story? In the words of my millennial friends, “That’s lit!” 

Side note: I’m a big fan of a young teen musician at our church. The boy has mad skills as a keyboard artist. He approaches life as if it’s an endless game of Ninja Warrior. Why walk when you can vault into the room? Why walk up a flight of stairs when you can hop four at a time? He also sports a perpetual smile and is famous for his kindness, but his eyes give away that a little mischief may be hiding behind that smile. I asked Judah’s permission to use his name (and a little bit of his personality) as the foster child character in Miles from Where We Started. I can’t wait for him to read the part he inspired. 

Can’t wait for you to read it, too. 

Hemmed in Hope,

Cynthia

Blog Stops

The Power of WordsOctober 25
All-of-a-kind MomOctober 26
Lighthouse AcademyOctober 26
Quiet QuilterOctober 27
Christian BookaholicOctober 27
cherylbbookblogOctober 28
Simple Harvest ReadsOctober 28 (Guest Post from Mindy Houng)
RemembrancyOctober 28
Godly Book ReviewsOctober 29
Captive Dreams WindowOctober 29
By The BookOctober 29
Maureen’s MusingsOctober 30
Spoken from the Heart , October 30
SusanLovesBooksOctober 30
D’S QUILTS & BOOKSOctober 31
Mary HakeNovember 1
Book by BookNovember 1
amandainpa , November 1
Pause for TalesNovember 2
Just CommonlyNovember 2
Baker KellaNovember 3
Inklings and NotionsNovember 4
Bibliophile ReviewsNovember 4
Texas Book-aholicNovember 5
Carpe DiemNovember 6
A Diva’s HeartNovember 7
BigreadersiteNovember 7

Giveaway


To celebrate her tour, Cynthia is giving away a grand prize of the Adventure begins” large tote bag, “This way to adventure” travel notebook, “Home is Where We Park It” metal wall hanging, a teardrop camper birdhouse, PLUS a $50 gift Visa gift card…to start your adventure fund!!

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/d4ea/miles-from-where-we-started-celebration-tour-giveaway

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Great Series Conclusion -- A Simple Christmas (with an Excerpt and a GIVEAWAY)



In her Simple Gifts books Charlotte Hubbard has told the sometimes complicated stories of the Riehl sisters, their secretive deacon father, and other residents of the fictional town of Willow Ridge, Missouri. The stories have included love, mystery, deceit, and heartache -- among a number of other elements. A Simple Christmas ties together the loose ends from the previous books, answering questions that were woven into those stories.

This is one of my favorite of Charlotte Hubbard's books. The characters are full of life, and the story moves at the perfect pace to keep things very interesting. Fans of good Amish fiction should enjoy this story, a great way to begin reading your way into the Christmas season.

A Simple Christmas would best be enjoyed following the previous books in the series -- A Simple Vow and A Simple Wish.

Thanks to the author for providing a copy of the book. I am happy to share my own thoughts in this review.

About the Book:

The rustic beauty of a country Christmas fills the Simple Gifts crafts shop, while the Amish residents of Willow Ridge pull together in uncertain times—and in the face of an unexpected homecoming.

Nora Hooley’s shop is abuzz with preparations for the holiday open house, and Rosalyn Riehl is handcrafting wreaths from evergreen boughs, pinecones, and other natural materials. The work is a welcome diversion for the only unmarried daughter of Cornelius Riehl: her gruff dat has been receiving envelopes marked Past Due, leaving dutiful Rosalyn to manage the household’s inexplicably shrinking budget. Then another distraction swaggers into Simple Gifts—blue-jeaned and leather-jacketed, with a reputation that precedes him.

Marcus Hooley hightailed it to Willow Ridge on a wing and a prayer—not that he’s the praying type. He rejected his Amish roots long ago. But behind the bad-boy attitude is a gifted horse trainer who’s counting on some bent-but-not-broken family ties to throw him a lifeline. He can’t erase his past, but a sparking attraction with strong, spirited Rosalyn holds the promise of a second chance . . . and of shedding light on shadowy secrets to build a bright tomorrow.

Excerpt:

As Rosalyn Riehl walked alongside the county highway pulling a cartload of Christmas wreaths, she gazed up at the sky in surprise. When she’d left home a few minutes earlier, the sun was shining but now low, gray clouds were rolling in and the wind picked up—and for a brief moment tiny pellets of hail pelted her.

It’s going to be a tricky winter, she thought. The weather seems as crazy and mixed up as I feel.

Rosalyn adored the holidays—Thanksgiving was only a week away—yet the thought of the approaching winter made her sigh. Her youngest sister Edith lived across the road with her husband, Asa, and their twins, and her younger sister Loretta was sharing the bedroom down the hall with her new husband, Drew, so Rosalyn felt like the odd woman out. All her life she’d longed for a husband and a family, yet at twenty-eight she saw no probability of fulfilling that dream.

Her cheeks tingled when the season’s first snowflakes met her cheeks. It’s a gut thing I have my new job at Simple Gifts to look forward to, Rosalyn thought as she made her way up the hill toward the store housed in a huge red barn. Working for Nora on Wednesdays and Saturdays sure beats dealing with Loretta and Edith’s moony-eyed gazes and happy chatter about being married to the Detweiler twins whenever we’re all together.

It wasn’t that she begrudged her sisters their happiness. She just wanted some of her own.

About the Author:

Charlotte Hubbard is the acclaimed author of Amish romance and fiction that evokes simpler times and draws upon her experiences in Jamesport, the largest Old Order Amish community west of the Mississippi. Faith and family, farming, and food preservation are hallmarks of her lifestyle—and the foundation of all her novels. A deacon, dedicated church musician and choir member, she loves to travel, read, try new recipes, and crochet. A longtime Missourian, Charlotte now lives in St. Paul, Minnesota, with her husband and their border collie, Vera. You can visit Charlotte online at www.CharlotteHubbard.com or www.Facebook.com/Charlotte.Hubbard1.

GIVEAWAY

Charlotte Hubbard will be awarding a $15 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click below to enter the giveaway.  

This review is part of a book tour sponsored by Goddess Fish Promotions. Be sure to visit their other tour stops and increase your chances at the giveaway.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Warm Memoir -- Gathering of Sisters


Darla Weaver lives a Plain life that she enjoys with other members of her Old Order Mennonite family. A tradition that she, her mother, her four sisters, and their children hold dear is Tuesday gatherings where they share both the ordinary and the special times of their lives. In Gathering of Sisters, she takes her readers on a journey through many of the happenings of those weekly get-togethers.

Much of the book is a very simple retelling of the conversations and events that happen on those Tuesdays throughout the year, conversations and events that might not be all that different from what any group of sisters would engage in. But Darla's sharing of them provides an opportunity for readers to slow down and reflect on their own day-to-day happenings and the memorable moments in the ordinary times. Throughout her accounts, she also scatters the little lessons that come to mind as she and her family members go about their daily lives.

Gathering of Sisters moves at a very laid-back, relaxing pace, something to soak in slowly while you curl up in your favorite chair. As you read this book, you might pick up some insight into the Old Order Mennonite life but will mostly have the opportunity to just watch life play out in this close-knit family.

Thanks to Audra Jennings PR for providing a copy of this book. I am happy to share my own thoughts in this review.

About the Book:

Spend a day with sisters.

Once a week Darla Weaver bundles her children into the buggy, hitches up her spirited mare, and drives six miles to the farm where she grew up. There she gathers with her four sisters and their children for a day with their mother. In Gathering of Sisters, Weaver writes about her horse-and-buggy Mennonite family and the weekly women’s gatherings that keep them connected. On warm days, the children play and fish and build houses of hay in the barn. In the winter, everyone stays close to the woodstove, with puzzles and games and crocheting. No matter the weather, the Tuesday get-togethers of this Old Order Mennonite family keep them grounded and centered in their love for God and for each other, even when raising an occasional loving but knowing eyebrow at each other.

The rest of the week is full of laundry, and errands, and work that never ends. But Tuesday is about being sisters, daughters, and mothers.

Hear straight from Amish and Mennonite people themselves as they write about their daily lives and deeply rooted faith in the Plainspoken series from Herald Press. Each book includes “A Day in the Life of the Author” and the author’s answers to FAQs about the Amish and Mennonites.

About the Author:

Darla Weaver is a homemaker, gardener, writer and Old Order Mennonite living in the hills of southern Ohio. She is the author of Water My Soul, Many Lighted Windowsand Gathering of Sisters. Weaver has written for Family Life, Ladies Journal, Young Companion, and other magazines for Amish and Old Order Mennonite groups. Before her three children were born she also taught school. Her hobbies are gardening and writing.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Enjoyable Christmas Novella -- The Christmas Prayer

The Christmas Prayer is an enjoyable Christmas novella by Wanda Brunstetter.

Breaking away from her usual genre of Amish fiction, Wanda has written a story set in the wagon train days of the mid-1800s. The diverse cast of characters keeps the story interesting, and the two young children provide a special touch. Interactions and sometimes misunderstandings provide interesting plot elements as the story moves along.

The pace at which relationships come together at the end of the story is a little rushed, but all in all this is a very engaging story. There is even a little "Christmas miracle" to help turn your thoughts toward the holiday season.

Thanks to Celebrate Lit for providing a copy of this book. I am happy to share my own thoughts for the review.

About the Book:


Beloved, bestselling author of Amish fiction, Wanda E. Brunstetter takes readers on a journey in 1850 along the California Trail. 

Only the brave—or foolhardy—would attempt a cross-country journey late in the season. Three wagons meet up in Independence, Missouri, in April 1850, and their owners decide to keep forging ahead despite many setbacks and delays. December finds them in the Sierra Nevada Mountains when a sudden snowstorm traps them, obscuring the trail. 


Cynthia Cooper is traveling with her mother and the man she has promised to marry. But as Christmas is upon them and they are hunkered down in a small cabin, she is forced to reevaluate her reasons for planning to marry fellow-traveler Walter Prentice. When a widowed father heading to a California ranch and a gold prospector both show an interest in Cynthia, she weighs her dreams for marriage alongside her responsibility to care for her mother. Can love win over her timid heart?


Click here to purchase your copy!

About the Author:

New York Times bestselling and award-winning author Wanda E. Brunstetter is one of the founders of the Amish fiction genre. She has written close to 90 books translated in four languages. With over 10 million copies sold, Wanda’s stories consistently earn spots on the nations most prestigious bestseller lists and have received numerous awards. 

Wanda’s ancestors were part of the Anabaptist faith, and her novels are based on personal research intended to accurately portray the Amish way of life. Her books are well-read and trusted by many Amish, who credit her for giving readers a deeper understanding of the people and their customs. 


When Wanda visits her Amish friends, she finds herself drawn to their peaceful lifestyle, sincerity, and close family ties. Wanda enjoys photography, ventriloquism, gardening, bird-watching, beachcombing, and spending time with her family. She and her husband, Richard, have been blessed with two grown children, six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. 


To learn more about Wanda, visit her website at www.wandabrunstetter.com.


Try this Exclusive Bonus Recipe Found Inside the Book! 


Cynthia’s Fried Apples 


Instructions: Without peeling, quarter as many tart apples as you would like. Lay apples close together, skin side down, in frying pan with salt pork fat or butter. Cover until well steamed then uncover and brown both sides, turning and watching closely to prevent burning.

Blog Stops

Among the Reads, September 18
The Avid Reader, September 18
The Power of Words, September 18
Lighthouse Academy, September 18
Just Commonly, September 19
Carpe Diem, September 19
A Baker’s Perspective, September 19
Blossoms and Blessings, September 20
Britt Reads Fiction, September 20
Random Thoughts From a Bookworm, September 20
Connie’s History Classroom, September 21
Luv’N Lambert Life, September 21
Not Enough Time for Books, September 21
D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, September 22
Lis Loves Reading, September 22
Literary Reflections Book Blog, September 22
Babs Book Bistro, September 23
Jeanette’s Thoughts, September 23
Janices book reviews, September 23
Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, September 24
Mary Hake, September 24
Two Points of Interest, September 24
Inspiration Clothesline, September 25
Inklings and notions, September 25
Ashley’s Bookshelf, September 25
Fiction, Faith, and Fun, September 26
Girls in White Dresses, September 26
Book by Book, September 26
Splashes of Joy, September 27
Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, September 27
The Morning Chapter, September 27
The Mimosa Blossom, September 28
Pause for Tales, September 28
Have A Wonderful Day, September 28
Miss Tina’s Amish Book Reviews, September 29
To Everything A Season, September 29
Cafinated Reads, September 29
Bibliophile Reviews, September 29
Quiet Quilter, September 30
Southern Gal Loves to Read, September 30
proud to be an autism mom, September 30
Texas Book-aholic, October 1
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 1
Bigreadersite October 1

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Wanda is giving away a grand prize of a $25 Amazon Gift Card and a free copy of The Christmas Prayer with an autographed book plate inside!!

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/d297/the-christmas-prayer-celebration-tour-giveaway