Monday, February 3, 2020

Sweet Children's Story with Important Lessons -- Good Night, Fireflies

Good Night, Fireflies by Janet Christensen is a sweet story to help young children learn to trust in God when night-time fears creep into their minds. The story is very engaging and real for young children, and the colorful illustrations should hold the interest of even the very youngest listeners.

"Spookies and creepies" can create very real issues for some youngsters. And often just telling them that there is nothing to be afraid of is not enough to convince them that all is well. I really like the fact that the author deals with those concerns in story form and does so in a way that teaches an even more important lesson about God's nearness whenever we need him. And who can't enjoy a story about something as fun as fireflies! I can't help but wonder how many parents or grandparents will be going on firefly-catching adventures with their kiddos after reading Good Night, Fireflies.

On a personal note, my reason for first noticing this book is the young character's name -- and the fact that I have a 2-year-old grandson also named Landon. While my Landon might be a little young to fully understand all the lessons right now, I think he will enjoy having the story read to him and will surely come to understand the comfort of God's nearness as he continues to grow.

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

You can purchase a copy of Good Night, Fireflies here.

About the Author:

Janet L Christensen is a writer, speaker, puppeteer, and encourager that loves to captivate audiences with inspiring stories. Born and raised in rural South Dakota, she is a pastor's wife, a children's and women's ministry leader, and the proud mother of two teenage sons and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Sully. Whether it is with the stories she writes or through the stories she tells with the help of one of her puppet friends, Janet delivers an entertaining message of hope and love. Good Night, Fireflies is her debut picture book. You can learn more about her at www.janetlchristensen.com.

About the Illustrator:

Francesca Pesci lives and works in Florence, Italy. She graduated with a degree in Fine Arts at the Academy of Florence and she earned a three-year professional specialization in Comics Art at the International School of Comics in Florence. As a freelance illustrator, Francesca has collaborated with a variety of graphic design and advertising studios as well as with Disney Comics and Stories as a digital comics colorist. Her work as a children's book illustrator can be found in numerous titles by publishers in the US and Europe. Francesca is represented by Lemonade Illustration Agency.


Monday, January 27, 2020

Great Inspirational Suspense -- Collateral Damage


Lynette Eason is one of the greats at inspirational suspense, and this may be her best yet. The action and suspense started on the first page, in the first paragraph, and kept growing throughout the story.

It is sometimes easy to get lost or confused when multiple threads are introduced in one story. Early in this story, I got so involved in one thread that I was almost surprised when another came back up. There was just enough evidence, though, to assure me that all the pieces would come together in some way, without spoiling anything that was yet to be discovered.

The characters were complex, exciting individuals who played their parts well, often bringing new elements of mystery and suspense. I look forward to getting to know them better in the next installment in the series.

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

About the Book
They thought they left the fight behind on the battlefield.
But their greatest struggles are just beginning.


Honorably discharged from the Army after an explosion nearly killed her, former military psychiatrist Brooke Adams has set up shop to help others, but her days of helping military personnel are over. She's got her own battles to fight from her time overseas, and she's not equipped to take on more.

Former Army Special Ops Sergeant First Class Asher James could handle anything that war sent his way. The only thing that scares him now is sleep. As the shadows close in, the nightmares begin.

Finally convinced that he needs help, Asher makes an appointment with a counselor. When he arrives at her office, she isn't there--but a dead body is. When it becomes clear that Brooke was the real target of the attack--and that her secrets go even deeper than his own--Asher vows to protect her no matter what.

About the Author
Lynette Eason is the bestselling author of Collateral Damage and Protecting Tanner Hollow, as well as the Blue Justice, Women of Justice, Deadly Reunions, Hidden Identity, and Elite Guardians series. She is the winner of three ACFW Carol Awards, the Selah Award, and the Inspirational Reader's Choice Award, among others. She is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and has a master's degree in education from Converse College. Eason lives in South Carolina with her husband and two children. Learn more at www.lynetteeason.com.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Romance and Mischief -- Abraham


About the Book


Book:  Abraham
Author: Jennifer Beckstrand
Genre: Inspirational Amish Romance
Release Date: November 26, 2019

Things at the Petersheim house are getting too crowded for eight-year-old twins Alfie and Benji. As if things weren’t bad enough with three older brothers hogging all the bacon at breakfast and using more than their fair share of toilet paper, Mammi and Dawdi Petersheim have to move in because of Dawdi’s stroke. If Alfie and Benji have any hope of getting their own bedrooms, they have to get rid of their annoying brothers, and the only way to convince their brothers to move out is to make each of them fall in love. What could be so hard about that?

Abraham Petersheim is known as a man of few words. He’s painfully shy and doesn’t see the need to prattle on like other boys in the community do. That’s why he can’t understand his unexpected attraction to Emma Wengerd. For sure and certain she’s pretty, but she also has five or six boys buzzing around her all the time, and she seems to be constantly annoyed with Abraham and his little brothers. Emma would never be interested in someone as boring as Abraham, and he could never set his sights on someone as wunderbarr as Emma.

Click here to get your copy. 

My Thoughts


When you start a Jennifer Beckstrand book, you may not be able to guess all the details of the story, but there is one thing you can count on -- a great read with fun characters and (if it involves the Petersheim brothers) more than a little mischief! Abraham is the second book in the series, and Abraham is the second "victim" of the matchmaking antics of his younger twin brothers. There are plenty of chances in the story to smile, laugh, shake your head, and even hurt a little bit as words and actions lead to some pretty big misunderstandings.

I highly recommend Abraham to fans of great Amish fiction -- or to anyone who might just be looking for a fun-filled story.

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

About the Author


Jennifer Beckstrand is the two-time RITA-nominated, #1 Amazon bestselling Amish romance author of The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series, The Honeybee Sisters series, and The Petersheim Brothers series for Kensington Books. Huckleberry Summer and Home on Huckleberry Hill were both nominated for the coveted RITA® Award from Romance Writers of America. Jennifer has written twenty-one Amish romances, a historical Western, and the nonfiction book, Big Ideas. She and her husband have been married for thirty-five years, and she has six children and eight adorable grandchildren, whom she spoils rotten.
 

More from Jennifer


Alfie and Benji Petersheim will do just about anything to get their brother Abraham to fall in love with Emma Wengerd, even adopt a stray dog. But to catch that dog, they’re going to need Aunt Bitsy’ help. Alfie and Benji are about to get in a lot of trouble.   I hope you enjoy this excerpt from Abraham.  

Benji pushed his coffee cake around his plate with his finger. “Maybe we could keep that stray dog.” Maybe they could keep the dog. Alfie’s heart started pounding. A dog could find them if they ever got lost in the woods. A dog could fetch sticks and bring Dat his slippers. A dog would eat crumbs off the floor. Mamm would never have to mop again.

Bitsy shrugged. “That’s up to your mamm.”

Alfie’s heart sank to his toes. “Mamm would never let us have a dog. She won’t even let me have a goldfish.”

“I have a pet spider,” Benji said.

Alfie popped a small bite of coffee cake into his mouth. “He’s not your pet. He just lives in the corner of the cellar and kills other spiders.”

“You tried to spray him,” Benji said, “and I saved his life. He’s my pet now.”

Bitsy nodded. “Spiders are gute pets. They feed themselves and don’t poop on the carpet.”

Benji sat very still before wrinkling his forehead like he did when he was upset. “We need to help that dog.”

Alfie wanted a dog as much as anybody, but they had to be sensible. They’d been asking Mamm for a dog ever since they could talk. “Mamm won’t let us.”

Benji started crying. “But he’s going to get gassed.”

Bitsy reached over and patted Benji’s arm. “He might not get gassed. The pound might find a nice family that wants to adopt him. People like chocolate labs. I’m told they’re cute.”

Benji caught his breath and suddenly stopped crying, as if someone had turned off a faucet. “Do girls like chocolate lamps?”

“Chocolate labs?” Bitsy folded her arms. “Well, I’m a girl and I don’t think he’s cute, but most girls love dogs. Do you remember Vernon Schmucker? Poor fellow had a face like a potato, and the girls ignored him. One night he brought a puppy to the gathering, and he was surrounded by girls all night. That’s how he met his wife.”

Benji jumped from his chair and threw his arms around Alfie, making Alfie spill milk down his new shirt. “Hey. Watch it.”

“Alfie, girls like dogs!”

Benji was a good partner, but sometimes he made no sense. “So?”

“If Emma Wengerd saw us walking our chocolate lamp down the street, she’d run out of her house to pet him.”

Alfie’s heart started pounding. Benji was the best bruder in the world. “We could bring Abraham with us.”

Benji got more and more excited with each word. “And they could talk about dogs and chickens and maybe start kissing.”

Alfie set his milk on the table. “We’ve got to catch that dog.”

Blog Stops


Texas Book-aholic, December 28
She Lives to Read, December 29
Older & Smarter?, December 30
Jeanette’s Thoughts, December 31
SPLASHES of Joy, January 1
Book of Ruth Ann, January 2
Mary Hake, January 2
janicesbookreviews, January 3
Vicky Sluiter, January 3
Pause for Tales, January 4
Quiet Quilter, January 5
The Avid Reader, January 6
Batya’s Bits, January 10

Giveaway



To celebrate her tour, Jennifer is giving a $10 Amazon gift card to three winners!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Sweet Christmas Stories -- An Amish Christmas Bakery


About the Book


Book:  An Amish Christmas Bakery
Author: Various Authors
Genre: Amish Fiction, Romance
Release Date: October 2, 2019

From bestselling authors in the Amish genre come four delicious novellas perfect for celebrating love, joy, and the holiday season.

Cookies and Cheer by Amy Clipston

As Christmas draws near, Alyssa Byler dreams of a window display for the bakery where she works. When she decides to design and build a sugar cookie nativity scene, all she needs is the right cookie cutters-and handsome blacksmith Kyle Smoker is the one she asks for help. Using Kyle’s handmade cutters, Alyssa creates a striking display that brings more tourists to the bakery than she can handle. And when shoppers request handmade cookie cutters of their own, Kyle finds himself overwhelmed by the demand. As Christmas approaches, Alyssa realizes she’s been too caught up in work to focus on the true meaning of Christmas-and too distracted to explore the feelings she has for Kyle. Together, they put aside the holiday rush and spend their time celebrating the season that has brought them together.

Loaves of Love by Beth Wiseman

As the only girl in a family of eight, Katie Swartzentruber has been left in charge of her family’s bakery while her mother recuperates from surgery. At first, Katie doesn’t think tending to the bakery alone will be difficult. She’s worked alongside her mother for years. But Christmas is coming, and with the holiday comes a flood of patrons, both regulars and tourists. When Katie becomes overwhelmed with the orders she is receiving, she is tempted to move her Old Order family into the modern world by purchasing propane ovens to help with the workload. She finds help from an unexpected source-childhood friend Henry Hershberger, who has harbored a secret crush on Katie for years. He’s been afraid to tell her how he feels, but he’s sure that this Christmas is his moment. As the demands of the bakery only get more intense, both Katie and Henry have to decide what really matters . . . and find the courage within themselves to go after it.

Melting Hearts by Kathleen Fuller

Mattie Shetler is an expert baker, so when her aunt Carolyn begs for help during the busy Christmas rush, Mattie eagerly packs her bags and heads to Birch Creek. What she doesn’t know is that her uncle has also asked for help with the bakery’s new expansion, and he’s asked none other than Peter Kaufman, Mattie’s sworn enemy. As the two work side by side, though, Mattie discovers not all is as it seems. With Christmas just around the corner, Mattie and Peter open their hearts for the greatest gifts of the season: forgiveness and maybe even love.

Cakes and Kisses by Kelly Irvin

Martha Ropp works hard at her family’s bakery, making cakes and pies in preparation not only for Christmas but the many community weddings, including her sister’s. To help during this busy season, Martha’s mother hires Ambrose Hershberger to make deliveries. Martha remembers Ambrose as a gentle giant from her school days, but soon discovers that still waters run deep. The more they work together, the more they want to spend time together outside of the bakery, but both Martha and Ambrose are too timid to make the first move. That’s when the town matchmakers step in.

Click here to get your copy.


My Thoughts


An Amish Christmas Bakery is a collection of 4 sweet stories, each set in an Amish bakery at Christmas time. As always, this type of collection is a great way to try out new-to-you authors and/or to read a little extra story from a series by one of your favorites.

I haven't read series from three of the authors that might connect with these stories, but I can speak for the fact that Kathleen Fuller's story is a nice extension of her Birch Creek series. And I really enjoyed the gentle characters in Kelly Irvin's Cakes and Kisses. This book is a nice, quick read for the Christmas season or any time of year.

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


Read an Excerpt


Read an excerpt of An Amish Christmas Bakery here.


Blog Stops


The Power of Words, December 7

The Avid Reader, December 7





Quiet Quilter, December 9


Life as Lanhams, December 10

Britt Reads Fiction, December 10

D'S QUILTS &BOOKS, December 10

Emily Yager, December 11


Texas Book-aholic, December 11



Older & Smarter?, December 13


janicesbookreviews, December 13

Bigreadersite, December 14

Batya's Bits, December 14

For Him and My Family, December 14

Splashes of Joy, December 15

Lighthouse Academy, December 15

Jeanette's Thoughts, December 15



EmpowerMoms, December 16



Hallie Reads, December 18


Mary Hake, December 18




A Reader's Brain, December 20


Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Spotlight on a new children's book -- Darling Hedgehog Goes Down a Foxhole


About the Book


Book: Darling Hedgehog Goes Down a Foxhole
Author: Auralee Arkinsly
Genre: Early reader chapter book
Release Date: September 13, 2019

Darling Hedgehog learns about the animal nature of things in high humor and carefree, cute, and winning episodes. This childhood story reads a bit like Aesop’s Fables or a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, for children 4-8 or preschool and kindergarten, as a read-to-me picture book, and first grade and second grade as a chapter book.

Pictures similar to the Mercy Watson series are characterized and painted in full-color, though the pages are set up like a chapter book.

This book helps to train children in natural wisdom, analysis, and discernment. It helps to balance the teachings of acceptance of everyone and friendliness to all. There may be good purposes for everyone to exist under heaven, yet all purposes may not be good for a child. So, beware, be discrete, and flee from crafty foxes especially when they are holding your parents in the pantry.
 
Click here to purchase your copy.
 

About the Author


Auralee Arkinsly writes in good humor about serious subjects because kids of all ages can learn a lot from laughing. She is a strong believer in right and wrong but knows that getting onto the right path can mean falling down a slippery slope. She reckons if she can save some from the bumps and bruises, then she has done her job.


More from Auralee


I’m so excited to launch my children’s book, Darling Hedgehog Goes Down a Foxhole with the Celebrate Lit crew!  You are a river of hope for a new author.

So, here’s the story behind the story.

My friend and fellow author, Kathy Joy, left me a small hedgehog in a tutu as a going away gift on her guest bed after she had been visiting. I put it on the windowsill in my bedroom, and every morning, I would see it when I awoke.

I don’t know if you can relate to this experience, but I often wake up from a good night’s sleep with the gift of a problem being solved.  Sometimes, I wake up with a creative idea.  Well, one day, I awoke to find that I had the beginnings of a child’s story about where the hedgehog found her tutu.
Initially, it was a simple story about Darling Hedgehog finding a foxy friend who helps Darling find her calling.
I wrote out the story and then asked a talented neighborhood girl if she would like to draw the pictures for the tall tale. Having seen a lot of Julia’s sketches as she grew up, I thought that she might like to know what it felt like to earn money from her talents and at the same time, learn about the process of creating a book with an author to propose to a publishing company.

She agreed. Julia was in ninth grade. She was at the age where she was beginning to think about high school jobs and even to make plans for college and a career.

The same day we wrote out our contract, Julia sent me her first image of what she imagined Darling to look like. It clearly was not a mistake to hire this young artist!

When I awoke another morning, I believed God had given me another bit of advice. I needed to do better research on the nature of hedgehogs and foxes, their habitats and characteristics. The outcome caused the story to take a turn towards intrigue.  It became a fable. It became an action-adventure animal story. It became better.

A librarian encouraged us to continue with it no longer as a picture book for very small children but as an early reader chapter book for second graders learning about similes.

I hope that we can teach children to notice facts and objective truth as they are being trained for life. So, I’ve accepted that my child’s fantasy had to grow some legs of gravity and wisdom.  I’ve trusted my editors and beta readers that this is true, but I’m not above being told off.

Blog Stops


A Baker's Perspective, December 11
A Diva's Heart, December 11
For Him and My Family, December 12
Older & Smarter?, December 13
Emily Yager, December 13
Just the Write Escape, December 14
Blogging With Carol, December 14
Bigreadersite, December 15
janicesbookreviews, December 15
Jeanette's Thoughts, December 16
A Reader's Brain, December 17
Aryn The Libraryan , December 18
Remembrancy, December 19
Inklings and notions, December 19
Lighthouse Academy, December 19 (Guest Review from Marilyn Ridgway)
Live.Love.Read., December 20
Sara Jane Jacobs, December 21
Maureen's Musings, December 23
With a Joyful Noise, December 23
Texas Book-aholic, December 24

Giveaway



To celebrate her tour, Auralee is giving away the grand prize of a set of Darling Hedgehog greeting cards!!

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

 

Monday, October 28, 2019

Beautiful tale that spans generations -- The Painted Castle





About the Book

Book: The Painted Castle
Author: Kristy Cambron
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: October 15, 2019

Bestselling author Kristy Cambron concludes the Lost Castle novels with this sweeping tale of art and secrets long buried in England.

It was supposed to be a one-week job: survey an art find, collect a hefty fee, and use that to settle historian Keira Foley’s life back into balance. But from the moment she sets foot in the East Suffolk countryside, the mysteries surrounding the old English manor and the enigmatic art thief who’s employed her stir more questions than answers. Then, Keira finds the existence of a portrait captivating enough to upend all of her expectations. This one could be a twin-a painting so close in composition to a known masterpiece, it may be rendered priceless if it truly captured the likeness of a young Queen named Victoria.

Set in three time periods-the rapid change of Victorian England, the tumultuous skies over England’s eastern shores in WWII, and modern day-The Painted Castle unfolds a legacy of faith, family, and stories that are generations in the making.

Click here to grab your copy.  

My Thoughts


I think I've read every novel Kristy Cambron has written and have been captivated by each one. She has a great skill with words that allows her to draw you in from the very first sentence and keep you engaged to the end.

Simply put -- I loved The Painted Castle! Each of the three stories is fascinating on its own. But the beauty of this tale is the way details from three different time periods all converge into a beautifully crafted whole. Characters from a wide span of time come alive as secrets are revealed and pieces fall into place to complete a complex puzzle. In each setting, it becomes obvious that things -- and people -- are not necessarily what they first appeared to be. Elements of romance and subtle threads of faith round out the compelling story.

The Painted Castle is the third book in a series but can be read as a stand-alone. There are references, though, to events from the previous books which draw the reader to want to go back to pick up those stories as well. I have read the second installment in the series and definitely want to indulge in the first.

Thanks to Celebrate Lit for providing a copy of The Painted Castle. I am happy to share my own thoughts in this review.

About the Author 


KRISTY CAMBRON is an award-winning author of historical fiction, including her bestselling debut The Butterfly and the Violin, and an author of Bible studies, including the Verse Mapping series. She’s a Women’s Ministry Leader at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY, and a passionate storyteller who travels to speak at events across the country, encouraging women to experience a deeper life in the Word through verse mapping. Her work has been named to Publishers Weekly Religion & Spirituality TOP 10Library Journal Reviews’ Best BooksRT Reviewers’ Choice Awards, and received 2015 & 2017 INSPY Award nominations. Kristy holds a degree in Art History/Research Writing, and has 15 years of experience in education and leadership development for a Fortune-100 Corporation, working with such companies as the Disney Institute, IBM/Kenexa, and Gallup. She lives in Indiana with her husband and three sons, and can probably be bribed with a coconut mocha latte and a good read.  

More from Kristy


About The Painted Castle

A war-torn estate holding its secrets close. A lost library bricked off from the world. And a portrait-maker’s unknown masterpiece of a Queen named Victoria… What stories do they long to tell?

It was supposed to be a one-week snatch-and-grab: survey an art find, collect a hefty fee, and use that to settle historian Keira Foley’s life back into balance. But from the moment she sets foot in the East Suffolk countryside, the mystery of an old English manor, a crumbling beekeeper’s cottage, and a library that had long ago been sealed off brick by brick, all stir more questions than answers. What begins as a novice assignment instead peels back layers, lulling Keira into the depths of the estate’s long-forgotten history. Despite questions swirling around the enigmatic, rumored art thief who’s employed her, Keira finds the existence of a portrait captivating enough to upend all of her expectations. This one could be a twin—a painting so close in composition to a known masterpiece, it may be rendered priceless if it truly captured the likeness of a young Queen named Victoria…

1842— In order to salvage what’s left of her family’s shaky circumstances, artist Elizabeth Meade knows her duty must be to marry well. But she hopes looks can be deceiving enough to hide her true motives behind a congenial smile and gain entry into the ballrooms of England’s noble elite. Instead of husband-hunting, Elizabeth searches for the one thing that’s seared to her memory—the eyes of her father’s killer, whom she unwittingly sketched one snowy night in Piccadilly ten years before. She never expects to find answers tucked away in the countryside at Parham Hill, in the form of a portrait-maker who could help her artist dreams come true, if only she could forget the highwayman she’s hunted for the last decade—the estate-owner who unwittingly selects her as his betrothed…

1942—When the 390th Bomb Group arrives at Amelia Woods’ Parham Hill Estate, the American flyboys bring playing cards, B-17 “flying fortresses”, and enough bravado to believe they can triumph over Hitler just by staring him down. Amelia isn’t certain, and she’s unwilling to compromise the safety and security in a carefully-crafted world she’s built for the dozens of London-evacuated children left in her charge. But with Anderson shelters buried in the gardens and an Allied airfield a stone’s throw away, Amelia may have no choice but to wait out the war under blackouts and bombs, and accept help from the captain who offers it—even if it means risking all she has left of her late husband’s memory…

From the streets of Piccadilly and the lavish halls of Buckingham Palace to the countryside surrounding Framlingham Castle, a warn-torn estate, a hidden library, and the lost portrait of a queen come together to write the final chapter in the Lost Castle series. Set in three time periods—the rapid change of Victorian England, the tumultuous skies over England’s eastern shores in WWII, and modern day—The Painted Castle unfolds a legacy of faith and the family we fight for, of risk and reward, and the artful crafting of a story that can be generations in the making… yet still change everything about a single life.



 

  Blog Stops


All-of-a-kind Mom, October 15
The Power of Words, October 15
The Avid Reader, October 16
Betti Mace, October 16
Fiction Aficionado, October 17
AndreaChristenson, October 18
She Lives to Read, October 18
Bloging With Carol, October 18
Back Porch Reads , October 19
KarenSueHadley, October 20
Livin’ Lit, October 20
A Reader's Brain, October 20
Genesis 5020, October 21
Worthy2Read, October 21
Life of Literature, October 21
D'S QUILTS & BOOKS, October 22
janicesbookreviews, October 22
Older & Smarter?, October 23
Mia Reads Blog, October 23
The Becca Files, October 23
Daysong Reflections, October 24
Connect in Fiction, October 24
Texas Book-aholic, October 24
Moments, October 25
Pause for Tales, October 26
Lis Loves Reading, October 26
Hallie Reads, October 26
Remembrancy, October 28
Batya's Bits, October 28
Leona J. Atkinson, October 28