Saturday, July 14, 2018

Continuing story from Quaker history -- Minding the Light


(Be sure and read through to the end of this post for a chance at a GIVEAWAY!)

Suzanne Woods Fisher's Minding the Light is the second installment in her very interesting Nantucket Legacy series. If you have read the first book -- Phoebe's Light -- you will enjoy the return visit to Nantucket Island. But if you have missed that book, this one can be easily enjoyed on its own.

Suzanne does her usual masterful job of story telling as she mixes real historical characters and events with some of her own imagination. She shares a captivating tale of the challenges and dangers of the sea-faring life of many of the island's inhabitants and their family members left behind. I found the Quaker history to be fascinating, as this is a group that I have known little about. Suzanne throws in some tough topics from centuries past that readers might expect to see more in today's news, such as opium use and cultural and racial concerns. As in the previous story, the "current" timeline (17th century) is intertwined with Great Mary's journal -- the writings of an ancestor who lived during the very earliest days of the island's settlement. 

I highly recommend Minding the Light as a great historical read written by one of my favorite authors.

Thanks to Celebrate Lit for providing me with a copy of this book. I was happy to share my own thoughts in writing this review.

About the Book:

Six long years ago, Captain Reynolds Macy sailed away from his bride, looking forward to the day when he would return to Nantucket Island with a ship’s hold full of whale oil. But when that momentous day finally arrives, Ren soon discovers that everything has changed in his absence. Everything. “Is nothing on this island as it appears to be?” he whispers in despair.
Unlike most islanders, bold and spirited Daphne Coffin doesn’t defer to Ren as an authoritative whalemaster, but sees through his aloofness to the aching heart beneath. She encourages him to return to his Quaker roots and “mind the Light,” finding solace in God and community. As Ren becomes the man she believes him to be–honorable, wise, faithful–she finds herself falling in love with him.
But how can she, when her heart is spoken for? Tristram Macy is Ren’s business partner, cousin, and best friend–and Daphne’s fiancĂ©. Love always comes at a cost, but when is the price too high?

Suzanne Woods Fisher welcomes readers back to the Quaker community on Nantucket Island for this riveting love story, full of unexpected moments.
Guest Post from Suzanne:
8 Curious Facts you Probably Didn’t Know about Nantucket Island
This beautiful island, thirty miles off Cape Cod, is steeped in history. Here are just a few interesting reasons to add a visit to Nantucket to your bucket list.
1) During the first half of the nineteenth century, Nantucket was considered to be the wealthiest port in the world…all because of whale oil.
2) Petticoat Row is a 19th century nickname for a portion of Centre Street between Main Street and Broad Street. Many shops on Nantucket were run by women while the men were off to sea in whaling ships for years at a time. Quakerism, with its emphasis on equality, provided working women with community respect, value and esteem. The next time you’re visiting Nantucket, be sure to stop by the Petticoat Row Bakery for a morning glory muffin.
3) The use of laudanum (opium) was described by a visiting French as prevalent among the women of Nantucket. Loyal Nantucketers vehemently denied his claim. However, in the 1980s, construction workers digging to Nantucket’s sewer lines found heaps of opium bottles buried in the ground.
For centuries, laudanum was considered to be not only harmless but beneficial. Its very name in Latin is landare, which means to praise. Other names for it: Mother’s Helper (to sedate children), Sea Calm (for seasickness). It was used for all kinds of ailments, from sleeplessness to menstrual cramps to treatment of chronic pain, and available without prescription up until the twentieth century, when it was found to be highly addictive.
4) Nantucket Cent Schools were a carryover from England and the cost was exactly what the name implied. In New England they were kept by refined, thrifty women who often taught their own or their neighbors’ children until they were old enough to enter schools of a higher grade. I came across a story of a boy whose mother stuck a penny in his mouth each day so that he would remember to pay the teacher.
5) Moby Dick, written by Herman Melville in 1851, was based on a true-life event that occurred in 1820 to the Nantucket whaleship Essex and her crew. You can find out more about this ill-fated voyage if you visit Nantucket’s awesome whaling museum.
6) Speaking of…the whaling museum on Nantucket Island is called the Peter Foulger Whaling Museum. Peter Foulger was one of the early settlers to the island, and could be considered a Renaissance Man: inventor, surveyor, teacher, missionary to the Wampanoag Indians. And his grandson was none other than Benjamin Franklin.

7) Nantucketers were, for the most part, related to each other in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. The prosperous island was settled by a small group of families, with less than a dozen surnames: Coffin, Macy, Starbuck, Bunker, Hussey, Gardner, Mayhew, Swain, Barnard, Coleman, Worth, Mitchell. Those names are still common on the island.
8) There’s a good reason those surnames sound familiar to you—many of those early settlers had descendants who started business empires. Recognize these? Macy (retailer) and Folger (coffee).

About the Author:
Carol-award winner Suzanne Woods Fisher writes untold stories about inspiring people. With over one million copies of her books sold worldwide, she is the bestselling author of fiction and non-fiction, ranging from Amish Peace: Simple Wisdom for a Complicated 
World to the historical novel Anna’s Crossing.


Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Suzanne is giving away a $10 Starbucks gift card to five winners!!
Be sure to leave a comment on one of the blog stops for 9 extra entries into the giveaway. Click link below to enter.

Check out what other readers think about Minding the Light by visiting the blog stops listed below. 


Carpe Diem, July 3
Livin Lit, July 3
Mary Hake, July 7
Simple Harvest Reads, July 8 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)
Book by Book, July 9
Splashes of Joy, July 10
Vicky Sluiter, July 11
Among the Reads, July 12
Bigreadersite, July 15
Pause for Tales, July 16

Monday, June 18, 2018

Fascinating History -- The Ringmaster's Wife

When I was in school, many years ago, history was one of my least favorite courses. But now it seems I just can't get enough of great historical accounts -- real or fictional. My favorite stories are those that are based on real characters and events, with the author's imagination filling in the rest of the details. That is exactly what Kristy Cambron provides for readers in The Ringmaster's Wife

The story is built around the life of Mable Ringling and her part in the fascinating history of the Ringling Brother's circus. In a time-hop style, separated by only a few decades, Kristy brings Lady Rosamund Easling, a fictional lady of privilege from England, into the captivating world of America's circus. The splendor and struggles of that life provide the backdrop for this captivating tale. 

At times, while Lady Rosamund seems to take center stage, it is easy to forget that Mable Ringling is the lead character of the title. But her influence is evident throughout the story as she shares valuable lessons from her own life with those she comes to care for deeply.

The Ringmaster's Wife is a great read for -- well, almost anyone!

About the Book:


An ounce of courage.
A leap of faith.
Together, they propel two young women to chase a new life—one that’s reimagined from what they might have become.
In turn-of-the-century America, a young girl dreams of a world that stretches beyond the confines of a quiet life on the family farm. With little more than her wit and a cigar box of treasures, Mable steps away from all she knows, seeking the limitless marvels of the Chicago World’s Fair. There, a chance encounter triggers her destiny—a life with a famed showman by the name of John Ringling.
A quarter of a century later, Lady Rosamund Easling boards a ship to America as a last adventure before her arranged marriage. There, the twenties are roaring, and the rich and famous gather at opulent, Gatsby-esque parties. The Jazz Age has arrived, and with it, the golden era of the American circus, whose queen is none other than the enigmatic Mable Ringling.
When Rosamund’s path crosses with Mable’s and the Ringlings’ glittering world, she makes the life-altering decision to leave behind a comfortable future of estates and propriety, choosing instead the nomadic life of a trick rider in the Ringling Brothers’ circus.
A novel that is at once captivating, deeply poignant, and swirling with exquisite historical details of a bygone world, The Ringmaster’s Wife will escort readers into the center ring, with its bright lights, exotic animals, and a dazzling performance that can only be described as the Greatest Show on Earth!
About the Author:

Kristy Cambron is an award-winning author of Christian fiction, including her bestselling debut The Butterfly and the Violin, and an author of Bible studies, including the Verse Mapping series. She is a passionate storyteller who travels to speak at ministry events across the country, encouraging women to experience a deeper life in the Word through verse mapping. Her work has been named in Publishers Weekly Religion & Spirituality TOP 10, Library Journal Reviews’ Best Books, RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards, and received 2015 & 2017 INSPY Award nominations.
Kristy holds a degree in art history/research writing, and has fifteen years of experience in education and leadership development for a Fortune-100 Corporation. She lives in Indiana with her husband and three sons and can probably be bribed with a coconut mocha latte and a good read.
To stay connected, visit www.kristycambron.com.

Intriguing Suspense -- Blind Betrayal

Blind Betrayal is the intriguing third installment in Nancy Mehl's Defenders of Justice series. 

The story is filled with plenty of suspense to keep you engaged from beginning to end. Sorting out the "good guys" from the "bad buys" is a full-time job, as it is almost impossible to decide who to trust. And there is just enough romance in the story to satisfy those of us who enjoy that element as well.

Thanks to Nancy and her publisher (Bethany House) for providing a copy of this book.  I am happy to share my own thoughts in this review.

About the Book:

After two years at the St. Louis U.S. Marshals Office, Casey Sloane is tasked with escorting a reporter to Washington to testify before a grand jury. The reporter's research on an up-and-coming environmentalist who suddenly disappeared is now even more vital than anticipated.

At first, Casey's assignment seems routine. But a dangerous attack on the Marshals Office puts everyone on high alert. When Casey and two other Marshals--one a man from her past--are forced on the run with the reporter, they'll do whatever it takes to protect their witness and make it out alive.

About the Author:

Nancy Mehl (www.nancymehl.com) is the author of more than thirty books, including the Road to Kingdom, Finding Sanctuary, and Defenders of Justice series. She received the ACFW Mystery Book of the Year Award in 2009. She has a background in social work and is a member of ACFW and RWA. She writes from her home in Missouri, where she lives with her husband, Norman, and their Puggle, Watson. She is part of The Suspense Sisters: www.suspensesisters.blogspot.com, along with several other popular suspense authors. She is also very active on Facebook.

Heartbreaking and Inspiring -- A Daring Escape

Tricia Goyer's A Daring Escape is the second in her London Chronicles series about World War II. The story is both heartbreaking and inspiring in its account of a very challenging aspect of the war's history -- the rescue of children from Czechoslovakia to England and other locations as Hitler's forces were overtaking their homeland.

Tricia's passion for World War II history and her in-depth research as she writes her books shine through in this story. While the characters and their stories might be fictional, they are based on and inspired by the courageous actions of real people who were willing to sacrifice for the well-being of so many. Tricia brings her story alive through her well-developed characters and their actions and feelings.

Fans of great historical fiction from the World War II era should be informed and inspired by this fascinating story.

About the Book:

Danger Closes In.
Can the Children be Rescued?
As the threat of World War II looms on the horizon, American Amity Mitchell is living a comfortable life abroad as a tutor in England. Life changes when an urgent telegram arrives from her brother, Andrew, summoning her to Prague. Nazi forces tighten their grip on the country, and Andrew’s efforts to help Jewish children escape Czechoslovakia grow desperate. Children’s lives are at risk. Amity knows she can’t ignore God’s call to join her brother’s cause.
Amity’s boss, Clark, arrives in Prague, urging her to return. Soon, he too finds himself helping prepare kindertransports bound for the safety of England. With the sound of German tanks rumbling over cobblestone streets, Amity and Clark race to save innocent lives. Will their prayers for deliverance be answered?
A Daring Escape is a gripping tale of hope, self-sacrifice, and the power of unrelenting love overcoming unspeakable hate.

About the Author:

Tricia Goyer is a busy mom of ten, grandmother of two, and wife to John. A USA Today bestselling author, Tricia has published over 60 books and has written more than 500 articles. She's well-known for her Big Sky and Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors Amish series. For more information visit Tricia at www.TriciaGoyer.com. Tricia, along with a group of friends, also runs www.NotQuiteAmishLiving.com, sharing ideas about simplifying life.

Love and Second Chances -- Christmas at Carnton

OK, I realize that it is not anywhere near Christmas, but that has no bearing on how much I enjoyed reading Tamera Alexander's Christmas at Carnton. And what makes it even better is knowing that this novella is an introduction to her three-part, full-length Carnton novels series.

Tamera has written several awesome historical fiction stories set in and near Nashville, Tennesse, around the time of the Civil War. She is a pro at taking historical facts and characters and fleshing out their stories with others from her own imagination. And that is exactly what she has done again in this introduction to her new series.

The characters -- Aletta and her son Andrew, Jake, the McGavock family, their cook Tempy, and others -- bring alive the history of the Carnton Plantation and offer a personal glimpse into what life might have been like for many affected by the difficulties of war. But through all the struggles comes a beautiful story of love and second chances.

Don't wait until Christmas to read Christmas at Carnton. It is a fantastic read for any time of year!

About the Book:

Amid war and the fading dream of the Confederacy, a wounded soldier and a destitute widow discover the true meaning of Christmas—and of sacrificial love.

Recently widowed, Aletta Prescott struggles to hold life together for herself and her six-year old son. With the bank threatening to evict, she discovers an advertisement for the Women's Relief Society auction and applies for a position—only to discover it's been filled. Then a chance meeting with a wounded soldier offers another opportunity—and friendship. But can Aletta trust this man?
Captain Jake Winston, a revered Confederate sharpshooter, suffered a head wound at the Battle of Chickamauga. When doctors deliver their diagnosis, Jake fears losing not only his greatest skill but his very identity. As he heals, Jake is ordered to assist with a local Women's Relief Society auction. He respectfully objects. Kowtowing to a bunch of "crinolines" isn't his idea of soldiering. But orders are orders, and he soon discovers this group of ladies—one, in particular—is far more than he bargained for.

Set against the backdrop and history of the Carnton Plantation in Franklin, Tennessee, Christmas at Carnton is a story of hope renewed and faith restored at Christmas.


About the Author:

Tamera Alexander is the USA Today bestselling author of numerous books, including A Lasting ImpressionA Note Yet UnsungTo Whisper Her Name, and To Wager Her Heart
Her richly drawn characters and thought-provoking plots have earned her devoted readers worldwide, as well as multiple industry awards.
These awards include the Christy Award for Excellence in Christian fiction, the RITA Award for Best Inspirational Romance, the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, Bookseller’s Best Award, and being listed among Publishers Weekly and Library Journal’s Top Inspirational Fiction, among others.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Touching Story -- The Road Home


As any fan of Amish fiction knows, there are plenty of books available in that genre -- some great, some so-so, and some maybe not so great. But one of the things you can count on is a very worthwhile read if you pick up a book by one of the authors who started it all -- Beverly Lewis.

Beverly's latest, The Road Home, is a touching story filled with lovable characters. The strong bonds shared by the siblings in Lena Rose's family draw you in and keep you involved from beginning to end. (Little brother Chris was probably my favorite.) Lena's compassion for her own family, as well as family and friends she gets to know in her new setting, is one of the strongest elements in this very enjoyable story. While the story is beautifully told in the setting of an Amish family, the joys and struggles are very relatable for readers of any background.

I highly recommend The Road Home for fans of great Amish fiction or anyone interested in a sweet story of love and family.

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

About the Book:

As the sun began to rise, Lena Rose leaned against the cool pane of the bus window and gazed out at the familiar landscape of her life. I'm leaving my family and everything I know behind. She sighed, trying to keep her composure.

Grieving the death of her Amish parents and the separation from her nine close-knit siblings, Lena Rose Schwartz consoles herself that her new life in Lancaster County won't be forever. Surely someday soon she will return to her beloved Michigan settlement, including her beau. But even as she holds on to hope for a reunion with those she loves most, she discovers that Lancaster holds charms of its own. Will she find the courage to open her heart to other possibilities?

About the Author:

Beverly Lewis, born in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country, has more than 17 million books in print. Her stories have been published in 12 languages and have regularly appeared on numerous bestseller lists, including the New York Times and USA Today. Beverly and her husband, David, live in Colorado, where they enjoy hiking, biking, making music, and spending time with their family. Learn more at www.beverlylewis.com.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Nice Amish Romances -- An Amish Heirloom

An Amish Heirloom is a collection of four novellas from some of the top names in Amish fiction. These collections are fun to read for a number of reasons. They provide a nice break from the longer novels and series I enjoy reading. The stories sometimes connect to characters in other series from the authors. And they sometimes provide a chance to try out authors whose books you have not read before.

All four stories in this collection were nice Amish romances, tied together with the idea of some heirloom important to the main characters. Those heirlooms include rocking chairs, old love letters, a Bible, and an old baby quilt.

Although I enjoyed all the stories, Beth Wiseman's The Cedar Chest and Kathleen Fuller's The Treasured Book were my favorites. Beth's dual timeline story was very intriguing, and the development of a sweet love story and its impact on present-day characters was touching. Kathleen's story of almost-missed love was very engaging, and it was fun to visit characters I "knew" from her Amish Letters series. I believe Amy Clipston's story was related to one of her series, but I have not read those particular books.

I would definitely recommend this enjoyable collection of stories to Amish fiction fans.

About the Book:

A Legacy of Love by Amy Clipston
Local volunteer fire fighter Leon King agrees to repair his ex-girlfriend Susie Bontrager’s grandparents’ antique rocking chairs for her future home with her fiance and is forced to acknowledge that his feelings for her have not quite gone away. As Susie spends time with Leon, she begins to recognize she is marrying the wrong man for all the wrong reasons.

The Cedar Chest by Beth Wiseman
Decades after inheriting her great grandmother’s cedar chest, Emma Fisher decides to pry it open only to discover a beautiful love story in the form of letters between her great grandparents. But as Emma immerses herself in their story, family secrets are revealed, and she must decide whether to share them to preserve family history or honor her great grandparents’ decision to leave them hidden.

The Treasured Book by Kathleen Fuller
For the past two years, Shane Broyles has felt God leading him to join the Amish. He’s staying with his friends Noah and Ivy Schlabach in Birch Creek, OH, where he is reunited with Lucy Fisher, an old friend of Noah’s family. Shane and Lucy have never revealed their feelings for each other, but when they stumble upon an antique Bible at a flea market, they feel drawn to each other and to the mystery of the contents found within.

The Midwife’s Dream by Kelly Irvin
Iris Beachy serves as a midwife in her district where she longs for a family of her own. When her friend’s brother Mahon Kurtz seeks her help in delivering the baby of two young teenagers who have sought refuge in their town, they begin to see each other in a different light. Unprepared for parenthood, the young couple leave their baby girl behind in an antique crib quilt resembling the one destined for Iris when she becomes a mother. Mahon and Iris come together to take care of the baby as they try to find her parents, and they begin to see new possibilities for their future.

About the Authors:

Amy Clipston is the award-winning and bestselling author of the Kauffman Amish Bakery, Hearts of Lancaster Grand Hotel, Amish Heirloom, and Amish Homestead series. Her novels have hit multiple bestseller lists including CBD, CBA, and ECPA. Amy holds a degree in communication from Virginia Wesleyan College and works full-time for the City of Charlotte, NC. Amy lives in North Carolina with her husband, two sons, and three spoiled rotten cats. Visit her online at AmyClipston.com, Facebook: AmyClipstonBooks, Twitter: @AmyClipston.

Beth Wiseman is the award-winning and bestselling author of the Daughters of the Promise, Land of Canaan, and Amish Secrets series, as well as novellas that have been included in many bestselling collections such as An Amish Year and An Amish Garden. Visit her online at BethWiseman.com, Facebook: AuthorBethWiseman, Twitter: @BethWiseman.

Kathleen Fuller is the author of several bestselling novels, including the Hearts of Middlefield novels, the Middlefield Family novels, the Amish of Birch Creek series, and the Amish Letters series as well as a middle-grade Amish series, the Mysteries of Middlefield. Visit her online at KathleenFuller.com, Twitter: @TheKatJam, Facebook: Kathleen Fuller.

Kelly Irvin is the author of the Every Amish Season and Amish of Bee County series. The Beekeeper's Son received a starred review from Publisher's Weekly, who called it “a delicately woven masterpiece.” A former newspaper reporter and retired public relations professional, Kelly lives in Texas with her husband, photographer Tim Irvin. They have two children, two grandchildren, and two cats. In her spare time, she likes to read books by her favorite authors. Visit her online at KellyIrvin.com, Facebook: Kelly.Irvin.Author, Twitter: @Kelly_S_Irvin.