Monday, May 26, 2014

Heartwarming Amish Story -- Thankful

Thankful is a heartwarming addition to Shelley Shepard Gray's Return to Sugarcreek series. 

Christina, Aden, as well as some of the other characters, have problems of the heart to deal with.  But they each have their own hurts, questions and struggles from the past to work through before they are ready to find the love right in front of them.  

Although the book has an Amish setting, Shelley has written a story with issues that any reader can identify with in their own life choices.  And one of the biggest choices of all is to find a place of being thankful instead of fearful so moving forward into love becomes possible.

Including Judith's and Ben's story of deciding whether to foster a baby provides a different twist to an Amish story.  Jana's story -- although not Amish -- also fits in nicely with the theme of thankfulness.

Thanks to Litfuse Publicity Group for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

See what other readers have to say about Thankful here.

About the book: 

Thankful, Book Two in the Return to Sugarcreek series
New York Times bestselling author Shelley Shepard Gray captures the beauty, devotion, and warmth of Amish life in this engaging tale of family, commitment, trust, and love set in the beloved community of Sugarcreek. 
Christina Kempf has always known that God chose Aden Reese to be her husband. As children, he was there to save her when she fell through the ice, and he's been by her side ever since. After his parents died in a car accident ten years ago, the Kempfs raised Aden as one of their own, and everyone sees Aden and Christina as brother and sister. But Christina has never given up hope that Aden will one day ask her to be his wife.
Aden always planned to court Christina. But losing his mother and father changed everything---except his love for her. Her parents generously welcomed him into their home and treated him like a son. He can't betray their kindness by admitting his feelings for the girl who is like a sister . . . yet so much more.

Pressured by her parents to court, Christina begins to accept the attentions of Sugarcreek's young men, and now, Aden must make a choice. Will he stand by and watch the love of his life slip away? Or will he risk losing the love and trust of the family he holds dear to tell Christina how he truly feels? 
Thankful includes a P.S. section with additional insights from the author, background material, suggestions for further reading, and more.

Purchase a copy: 

About the author: 
Shelley Shepard Gray is a two-time New York Times bestseller, a two-time USA Today bestseller, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time Holt Medallion winner. She lives in Southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town's bike trail.

Connect with Shelley: websiteFacebook

And yet another Alaskan adventure (with author Q&A) -- Silenced

Silenced is the fantastic fourth installment in Dani Pettrey's Alaskan Courage series.  As in each of the previous books, this story includes  an exciting cast of characters but focuses particularly on one of the McKenna siblings  This time the spotlight is on Kayden.

Having read to this point in the Alaskan Courage series, the McKennas and other characters seem like old friends.  Dani writes with such clarity and detail that all the people come alive off the pages.  And the adventures they take part in keep a realistic and exciting level of suspense working throughout each book.  Silenced is certainly no exception.

Dani will finish the series with Reef's story in Sabatoged, coming in the spring of 2015.  I can't wait to read that one as well!

Thanks to Bethany House for providing a copy of Silenced in exchange for my honest review.

About the Book

A relaxing day of rock climbing takes a disturbing turn when Kayden McKenna’s route leads her to a face-to-face encounter with a dead climber. Is it a terrible accident or something sinister? When the case is handed to the overburdened sheriff, he turns to Jake Westin. With Jake’s past now revealed, he’s ready to use his talent for investigation again-–but he could never prepare for where the case will take him.

Kayden and Jake soon realize that the death was no accident. And worse, it seems the killer is on to them. When strange things begin happening in Yancey, Jake is terrified that once again his world may put someone he loves in danger.

But the truth is far worse than either of them imagine.

You can read an excerpt from Silenced here.

Thanks to Dani Pettrey and Amanda Dykes of PulsePoint Design for allowing me to participate in a special blog tour for SilencedAs a part of that tour, I had the opportunity to do a Q&A session with Dani.  Here is a chance for me to share with you what Dani shared with me.

1.  How did your writing career begin? 

I have always loved daydreaming and making up stories. I dabbled with creative writing growing up, but set it aside. It wasn’t until after the birth of my youngest daughter and a bout with a serious illness, that I really felt God stirring me to start writing again. When I first began, I spent a lot of time simply reading novels, seeing how they worked, analyzing why I fell in love with certain characters and not others. I attended writing conferences, joined a writer’s group and devoted regular time to writing.

I was also blessed with an amazing mentor who really shepherded me in the craft and writing life. I wrote for a number of years, entered contests and applied the feedback I received. Several years ago, I attended the ACFW conference. I approached my editor after his Spotlight Session and he was gracious enough to ask to see the first three chapters. A few weeks later, I got a request for the full. A few weeks after that he told me they were going to present it for contract. The day I got ‘the call' was amazing. I had received my share of rejections, so getting the ‘go ahead’ on a story I loved so dearly was pure joy. Fast-forward four years and my fourth book just released this month. 

2.  What was your inspiration for the setting of this Alaskan Courage series? 

I wanted a setting that worked well for a wide range of adventures—mountains, sea, and everything in between. Alaska is an amazing state, full of nearly endless possibilities. I also love how rugged and untamed the Alaskan wilderness is. There is an inherent risk of danger if you aren’t properly prepared and that works really well with suspense. 

3.  What kind of research did you do for this series?  Were you already familiar with Alaska, or did you start from scratch?  (By the way, your stories just increase my bucket list wish for an Alaskan cruise!) 

I started from scratch. I spent a lot of time researching Alaska before I ever began writing. I read a lot of books (both fiction and non-fiction), local blogs and travel blogs, watched documentaries and movies filmed on location there, and spent a great deal of time looking at photographs. I tried to immerse myself in the gorgeous state. I can’t wait until I’m able to finally take a trip there. I, too, have a very long bucket wish list for Alaska. 

4.  Did you begin the series with the intent of writing the stories of each of the McKenna siblings, or did that develop as the series progressed? 

I did start with the hope of writing the entire series—a book for each sibling. When I initially sold the series, it was for the first three books. After seeing how well readers responded to the McKenna family, we were able to increase the series to my original ideal of five books. I feel very blessed and am extremely grateful to my super supportive readers for the opportunity to tell each McKenna sibling’s story. 

5.  I have read from some authors that their characters evolve and change from where they (the authors) first imagined, that they seem to take on a life of their own and begin to almost write their own stories.  Does that happen to you, or do you pretty much know where you're going from the beginning? 

I generally have a rough idea of my character (age, occupation, etc.) and a story premise (what if…) and then I sit down and start writing. I love the freedom of seeing the characters come to life and learning about them as the story flows. For example, Piper McKenna’s book was originally supposed to be the last book (book 5) but she and Landon really came to life in Submerged as secondary characters so I knew the next book had to be theirs. 

6.  You do an awesome job of incorporating Christian values and messages into your stories.  Is there a particular goal or purpose you feel as you put these words into the hands of your readers? 

Thank you so much. I don’t view it so much as a goal. I like to view the faith element as a natural part of my stories. Just as my love of adventure permeates the stories I write, so does my faith. My relationship with Jesus is part of every facet of my life; it’s only natural to be part of the stories I tell. 

7.  What's next?  Do you already have something else in the works for after you tell Reef's story? 

Reef’s story will be out in February. It was a really strange experience finishing up the first draft of his story, knowing it would be the last McKenna story I’d be telling—at least for a while (never say never).

At the same time, it’s been five years and I’m excited to move on to a new project and group of characters. I will be working on a new four book series, with the debut title in that series releasing in the Fall of 2015. 

About the Author
Dani Pettrey is a wife, home-schooling mom, and the acclaimed author of the romantic suspense series Alaskan Courage, which includes her bestselling novels Submerged, Shattered, Stranded, and her latest release, Silenced. She feels blessed to write inspirational romantic suspense because it incorporates so many things she loves–the thrill of adventure, nail biting suspense, the deepening of her characters’ faith, and plenty of romance. She and her husband reside in Maryland, where they enjoy time with their daughters, son-in-law, and super adorable grandson.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Rugged Romance Sweepstakes! Hurry -- sweepstakes ends May 21!

Enter the RUGGED ROMANCE Sweepstakes from Author Dani Pettrey

I'll soon be posting a review of Silenced, book 4 of Dani Pettrey's Alaskan Courage series -- and it's a great book, by the way!

Meanwhile, check out this fantastic sweepstakes in celebration of the book!

In SILENCED, Book 4 of author Dani Pettrey’s award-winning Alaskan Courage series, a relaxing day of rock climbing takes a dark turn when Kayden McKenna’s route brings her face-to-face with a dead climber. Was the climber’s death a terrible accident or something more sinister?

When the case is handed to Yancey’s overburdened sheriff, he turns to Jake Westin for help. With the truth of Jake’s past now revealed, Jake agrees to use his investigation skills for this one case–but nothing could prepare him for where the case will take him.

As Kayden and Jake work together to uncover the truth, will they also find a refuge in each other?  Or will the deadly plans of a killer destroy their chance at love?

To celebrate the novel, Dani and Bethany House Publishers are pleased to present the RUGGED ROMANCE SWEEPSTAKES, and your chance to win one of three marvelous prizes, all closely connected to the story.

Timeframe & Notifications:
This giveaway starts May 1, 2014 and ends May 21, 2014 @ 11:59 pm (PST).
Entry is open to US residents only, age 18 and over. Winners will be selected Friday, May 23, 2014, and announced at

About the Prizes

Rugged Romance Sweepstakes Grand PrizeGRAND PRIZE:
In SILENCED, Kayden’s adventurous nature and skills as a pilot come in handy as she and Jake race to uncover the truth. If you’ve always dreamed of hopping on a plane to chase your own adventures, but don’t have a well-trained pilot and a Cessna at your disposal, we’ve got the perfect prize for you.
Our Grand Prize winner will receive: a $250 gift certificate to Alaskan Airlines, good toward travel to multiple destinations across the Continental US, Alaska, and Hawaii

Rugged Romance Sweepstakes Second PrizeSECOND PRIZE:
As Jake and Kayden crisscross the Alaskan wilderness looking for answers, they also see some of the most glorious scenery on earth:  soaring mountains, crystal clear lakes, and incomparable wildlife.  Could there be any better setting for a glowing romance? Now you can share in the romantic scenery, even if you don’t live in Alaska.
Our Second Prize winner will receive: The Kiss at Wonder Lake 31″ x 23″ Framed Art Print

Rugged Romance Sweepstakes Third PrizeTHIRD PRIZE:
Kayden has always been practical, no-nonsense, and slow to trust. She’s definitely not a romantic-at-heart who longs for a handsome man to whisk her away for a picnic in the mountains.  Right? ; )
If you, like Kayden, have secretly dreamed of a romantic mountain-top picnic, this is the prize for you.
Our Third Prize winner will receive: The ultimate picnic pack for a romantic afternoon. This insulated backpack includes silverware, plates, napkins, plastic long-stemmed glasses and a wide selection of gourmet picnic snacks

How to Enter:
Go to and complete the entry box, anytime between May 1 and May 21.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

A touching, bittersweet story -- A Promise in Pieces

A Promise in Pieces is the fifth book I've read in the Quilts of Love series, and I think it's my favorite.  The mingling of modern-day events with Clara's gentle telling of the bittersweet story of her life makes for a touching story.

This is the first book I've read by Emily Wierenga.  I am impressed with her ability to create characters who come alive and seem to be sitting right across the room talking to you.  It was as though Clara was a long-time friend sharing her life's story of loneliness, guilt, love and purpose -- all pieced together by God's "Amazing Grace."

I highly recommend A Promise in Pieces for a quick, sweet read that moves at a relaxing pace.

Thanks to Litfuse Publicity Group for providing a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. 

See what other readers have to say about this book here. 

About the book: 

A baby quilt touches many hearts as it travels from family-to-family and through generations.

After the end of World War II, Clara Kirkpatrick returns from the Women's Army Corp to deliver a dying soldier's last wishes: convey his love to his young widow, Mattie, with apologies for the missed life they had planned to share.

Struggling with her own post-war trauma, Clara thinks she's not prepared to handle the grief of this broken family. Yet upon meeting Mattie, and receiving a baby quilt that will never cuddle the soldier's baby, Clara vows to honor the sacrifices that family made.

Now a labor and delivery nurse in her rural hometown, Clara wraps each new babe in the gifted quilt and later stitches the child's name into the cloth. As each new child is welcomed by the quilt, Clara begins to wonder whatever happened to Mattie---and if her own life would ever experience the love of a newborn. Little does she know that she will have the opportunity to re-gift the special quilt---years later and carrying even greater significance than when it was first bestowed.

Learn more about this book and the series at the Quilts of Love website. 

About the Author: 
Emily Wierenga is a former editor, ghostwriter, freelance writer and staff journalist, a monthly columnist for The Christian Courier, and the author of Save My Children (Castle Quay Books, 2008), Chasing Silhouettes (Ampelon Publishing, 2012) and Mom in the Mirror (Rowman & Littlefield, 2013). Emily resides in Alberta, Canada. This is her first novel.

Learn more about Emily at:

The latest Quilts of Love release, A Promise in Pieces by Emily Wierenga is receiving glowing reviews. 

Emily is celebrating the release of her debut novel with a "Women Helping Women" shopping spree giveaway.

  One winner will receive:
  • $200 to spend at Emily's favorite shops, Noonday Collection & Vibella (Click through to learn more about how these companies exist to make a difference in the lives of women!)
  • A Promise in Pieces by Emily Wierenga
  • A Stitch and a Prayer by Eva Gibson
  • Rival Hearts by Tara Randel
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on May 10th. Winner will be announced on the Quilts of Love blog on May 12th. Then be sure to stop by the Quilts of Love Facebook page on May 29th for the "Quilting Bee" Facebook party with Emily and other Quilts of Love authors. RSVP for an evening of book chat, quilting tips & tricks, prizes, and more!

Spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A touching story of unexpected love -- One Perfect Spring

Have you ever found yourself in this situation?  You read some really good books by a particular author, get hooked on her style, and then find out that she is also writing in a completely different genre.  Then a question comes to mind:  Can she possibly do as good a job with such a different type of story?  Well, I'm happy to tell you that for Irene Hannon, the answer to that question is a resounding, "Yes!"

Just a few years ago, I discovered Irene Hannon through her suspenseful crime dramas.  I was hooked on the very first book and have enjoyed every one since.  When I saw some contemporary romance titles by her, I wasn't sure what to expect but decided to give them a try.  And I'm so glad I did.

One Perfect Spring is a wonderful story of unexpected romance.  The characters are people I would love to meet, but some you might never think to match up in the love department.  A young girl makes a heart-felt request for a friend.  That request brings together people who are each dealing with their own hurts and struggles . . . and the rest is a beautiful story of springtime after a hard winter season in life.  The characters seem so real, and the twists and turns in the story are compelling.  You are likely to smile, laugh and even shed a few tears as you follow their stories.  And even though I sometimes expected it from Irene Hannon, there were no dangerous characters or situations lurking in the background!

I highly recommend One Perfect Spring to anyone who wants to enjoy a touching story of unexpected love.

Thanks to Revell Publishers for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

About the Book (from the publisher):

Independent single mom Claire Summers is doing her best to make lemonade out of the lemons life has handed her. Workaholic Keith Watson is interested only in the bottom line--until a letter from Claire's eleven-year-old daughter reaches his desk and changes everything.

As the executive assistant to a philanthropic businessman, Keith is used to fielding requests for donations. But the girl isn't asking for money. She wants help finding the long-lost son of a neighbor. As Keith reluctantly digs into this assignment in his usual results-oriented style, he has no idea how involved he and Claire will become--nor how unusual the results will actually be. Who could have guessed that a child's kindhearted request would bring love and hope to so many lives . . . including his own?

Through compelling characters and surprising plot twists, fan favorite Irene Hannon offers this tenderhearted story that demonstrates how life is like lilacs--the biggest blooms come only after the harshest winters.

 About the Author
Irene Hannon is the bestselling author of over forty-five books, including That Certain Summer. Her romance and suspense fiction has won many awards, including two coveted RITAs, a Carol, two HOLT Medallions, a National Readers' Choice, a Daphne du Maurier, a Retailers Choice, and two Reviewers' Choice Awards from RT Book Reviews magazine. In addition, she is a Christy Award finalist, and Booklist included one of her novels in its "Top 10 Inspirational Fiction" list for 2011. She lives in Missouri. Learn more at