Thursday, December 30, 2021

Great Prequel to Huckleberry Hill series -- First Christmas on Huckleberry Hill

First Christmas on Huckleberry Hill by Jennifer Beckstrand was exactly what I hoped for -- a really great prequel to her awesome Huckleberry Hill series.

If you have read any of the series, you have learned what a delightful couple Felty and Anna are as you have followed their schemes to play matchmaker for several of their grandchildren. I thoroughly enjoyed learning how they became the perfect match themselves all those years ago, even in spite of some pretty big obstacles. And it was fun to learn some of the background of the Helmuths' story, such as how/why Felty has enjoyed Anna's unusual dishes throughout time, early days of Felty's playing his favorite game, and how Huckleberry Hill got its name.

I highly recommend First Christmas On Huckleberry Hill to readers of any of the Huckleberry Hill books or anyone who enjoys a fun Amish story.


About the Book

Before irrepressible eighty-somethings Anna and Felty Helmuth became Huckleberry Hill, Wisconsin’s most-beloved matchmakers, they were mismatched young lovers facing seemingly impossible obstacles…
 
She can’t cook, sew, sing, or clean. And no matter how hard young Anna Yoder tries, she’d much rather help people in trouble than be a well-behaved pretty face and properly perfect Amish maidel. So she instantly reaches out to her old schoolmate, Felty Helmuth, when their Amish town ostracizes him for his Korean War army service. He's still the only one who's ever understood Anna—and liked everything from her green Jello carrot salads to her love of books. And this holiday season, she can't help hoping that somehow she and Felty can find a way to be the perfect match… 
 
Felty sensed he was called by Gotte to serve his country, though it went against his community’s peaceful ways. Troubled by his wartime experiences, he is resigned to being an outsider avoided by most eligible Amish girls. But lively, intelligent Anna has grown into a warm-hearted generous woman who accepts Felty for who he is. And in the face of family and community opposition, he and Anna will take a leap of faith to prove they are made for each other—and a lifetime of happiness.


About the Author

Jennifer Beckstrand is the RITA-nominated and award-winning author of The Amish Quiltmakers Series, the Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill, The Honeybee Sisters series, The Petersheim Brothers series, as well as a number of other novels and novellas. Novels in her Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series have been RITA® Award and RT Book Reviews Reviewer's Choice Award finalists. Huckleberry Hill won the 2014 LIME Award for inspirational fiction and Huckleberry Hearts was named a Booklist Top 10 Inspirational Fiction Book of the Year. Jennifer has always been drawn to the strong faith and the enduring family ties of the Plain people. She and her husband have been married for thirty-six years, and she has four daughters, two sons, and seven adorable grandchildren, whom she spoils rotten. Please visit her online at JenniferBeckstrand.com.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Rich Southern Story Telling -- Dust

Dust is another good example of thought-provoking and rich southern story telling by Eva Marie Everson. 

Allison (like many of the other characters in the story) is just an ordinary person, working through the easy and the hard of life the best she knows how. She deals with plenty of flaws and mistakes in her own life and those of others, but also draws from lots of determination and enduring love that pay off in the end. She seems to not always be too sure of her own value and contributions but eventually is able to look back and find satisfaction in the things that have really mattered in her life and legacy.

There is some warning that I feel I should give about this book. There is more emphasis on sexual encounters than is found in most Christian fiction that I read. The descriptions are not crude or terribly overt, but this topic does make several appearances in the story. And I found very little faith element making any kind of obvious showing. The story is touching and in general is well told, but it may be uncomfortable for some readers.


About the Book

In 1977, when nineteen-year-old Allison Middleton receives a proposal of marriage from Westley Houser, she eagerly accepts, having no idea the secret Westley carries—a secret that will change Allison’s life forever. But Allison rises to the challenge of raising Westley’s toddling daughter as though she were her own.

Over the course of their lifetime together, Allison, Westley, and Michelle form the strong bond of family. As Allison struggles with infertility and finding her way during a time of great change for women, others—some she knows and others whom she never meets—brush and weave against the fabric of her life, leaving her with more questions than answers.

From teen bride to grandmother, Allison’s life chronicles the ups and downs of an ordinary woman’s life to examine the value of what we all leave behind.

About the Author

Eva Marie is a CBA best-selling and multiple award-winning author and speaker, including a Christy finalist, a Silver Medallion winner, a Carol, several Maggie and Golden Scroll awards, and an Inspirational Retailers Choice Award. She is one of the original five Word Weavers members, which began in 1997. She served first as the original president (2000-2007) and is now president of Word Weavers International, Inc., which serves writers primarily as a national and international group of critique and educational chapters. 

Eva Marie served as a mentor for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild for several years and has taught at a number of writers conferences nationwide. During the 2010-2011 school year, Eva Marie served as an adjunct professor at Taylor University in Upland, Indiana. She describes it as one of the best times she ever had while working. Eva Marie also serves as director of Florida Christian Writers Conference and the contest director for the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. She also enjoys working as a private writing coach and editor.

She is a graduate of Andersonville Theological Seminary and The Tzemach Institute. Her theological focus has always been the tie between the Testaments with a greater understanding of Christianity’s Jewish roots. Born and reared in Georgia, Eva Marie and her husband make their home in Central Florida where they are owned by one very spoiled cat and two hearts full of grandchildren.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Great New-to-Me Author -- Saving Mrs. Roosevelt



About the Book

Book: Saving Mrs. Roosevelt

Author: Candice Sue Patterson

Genre: Christian Fiction/Historical/Adventure

Release date: December, 2021

Shirley Davenport is as much a patriot as her four brothers. She, too, wants to aid her country in the war efforts, but opportunities for women are limited. When her best friend Joan informs her that the Coast Guard has opened a new branch for single women, they both enlist in the SPARs, ready to help protect the home front.

Training is rigorous, and Shirley is disappointed that she and Joan are sent to separate training camps. At the end of basic training, Captain Webber commends her efforts and commissions her home to Maine under the ruse of a dishonorable discharge to help uncover a plot against the First Lady.

Shirley soon discovers nothing is as it seems. Who can she trust? Why do the people she loves want to harm the First Lady? With the help of Captain Webber, it’s a race against time to save Mrs. Roosevelt and remain alive.

Click here to get your copy!


My Thoughts

Finding a great new-to-me author -- one of the benefits of starting a multiple-author series because I see one of the authors is someone I have already enjoyed. Saving Mrs. Roosevelt provided exactly that opportunity. I had never run across Candice Sue Patterson before but am very glad I found her here.

This story has just the right balance of so many things -- great characters, a healthy dose of "who-dun-it" mystery, a nice thread of romance, all in a mostly fictional tale mixed with a little bit of historical fact. The intensity level and pace were excellent, drawing me in from the beginning and keeping me actively engaged until the end. Although most of the plot came from the author's imagination, it is obvious that she had done her homework on all the details that bring her story to life. 

I look forward to the possibility of reading more stories by Candice Sue Patterson, as well as future installments in the Heroines of WWII series. I highly recommend Saving Mrs. Roosevelt to anyone who enjoys well-written historical fiction. 

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

Candice Sue Patterson studied at the Institute of Children’s Literature and is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives in Indiana with her husband and three sons in a restored farmhouse overtaken by books. When she’s not tending to her chickens, splitting wood, or decorating cakes, she’s working on a new story. Candice writes Modern Vintage Romance—where the past and present collide with faith. Her debut novel How to Charm a Beekeeper’s Heart was a 2012 ACFW First Impressions finalist and made INSPYs Longlist for 2016.

 

More from Candice

The idea for Saving Mrs. Roosevelt literally came overnight. I had just finished writing a contemporary romance set in Maine, centered around a harbor town where lobstering is prevalent. My agent called me and told me about the Heroines of WWII series and asked if I’d be interested in writing a WWII novel. If so, I needed to come up with a story and proposal fast because spots were limited and filling quickly. My mind was so consumed with research of the lobster industry that I felt I couldn’t clear my brain fast enough to come up with another story on such short notice. That’s when I started wondering how I could take the knowledge I already had and make it work for a WWII novel. I googled Maine during WWII, came across an article that mentioned the SPARs, and the idea for Saving Mrs. Roosevelt was born.

I don’t want to give too much away, but the Nancy Drew deep inside me figured out a unique way to merge lobstering with espionage.

Though the plot is purely fiction, there are some characters and events that are historically accurate that were fun to include as well. I love Maine, but I’m Hoosier born and raised, and in my SPAR research, I discovered that Dorothy C. Stratton–the woman the Coast Guard asked to direct the SPARs–was the Dean of Women at Purdue University in Indiana. She was a woman of true character, grace, and strength. I knew right away she needed a cameo in my story.

Within twenty-four hours of receiving my agent’s call, I had plotted the entire story and sent a proposal. Weeks went by, and as fall ushered in its beautiful colors, my husband surprised me with a trip to Monhegan Island, Maine. We walked the trails, ate amazing seafood, and took in the gorgeous view. While on the island, my agent called again, this time to let me know that Barbour had contracted Saving Mrs. Roosevelt. What a special moment it was to be standing on the very shoreline where the book is set when I received the good news.

Since the book is set in Maine where the heroine works on a lobster boat with her father, I wanted to share my favorite recipe for Maine blueberry pie.

Maine Blueberry Pie

Ingredients:

2 Pie crusts

1 quart of fresh Maine blueberries

1 ½ tbsp lemon juice

Freshly grated nutmeg

¼ c light brown sugar

¼ c white sugar

¼ c flour

2 tbsp tapioca for thickening (if the berries are juicy)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place the berries into a large bowl, add lemon juice, and toss. Add the remaining ingredients and toss until the berries are well coated with the flour and sugars mixture. Line the pie plate with one crust. Put the berries into the pie plate and top with a solid or lattice-top crust. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the berries are bubbly and the crust is golden brown.


Blog Stops

Where Faith and Books Meet, December 15

Girls in White Dresses, December 15

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, December 15

Remembrancy, December 16

Bigreadersite, December 16

Genesis 5020, December 16

                                 Lighthouse Academy, December 17                                                               (Guest Review from Marilyn Ridgway)

lakesidelivingsite, December 17

The Sacred Line, December 17

Betti Mace, December 18

Boondock Ramblings, December 18

Inklings and notions, December 18

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 19

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, December 19

Older & Smarter?, December 20

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, December 20

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, December 20 (Spotlight)

Texas Book-aholic, December 21

Blossoms and Blessings, December 21

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 22

Through the Fire Blogs, December 22

Mary Hake, December 22

For Him and My Family, December 23

Spoken from the Heart, December 23

Labor Not in Vain, December 23

She Lives To Read, December 24

Elly Gilbert, December 24

Splashes of Joy, December 25

Pause for Tales, December 25

deb’s Book Review, December 26

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 26

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, December 26

Connie’s History Classroom, December 27

To Everything There Is A Season, December 27

The Author Reads, December 27

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, December 28

Southern Gal Loves to Read, December 28

Lights in a Dark World, December 28


Giveaway




To celebrate her tour, Candace is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

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/14f18/saving-mrs-roosevelt-celebration-tour-giveaway

Friday, December 10, 2021

Kid- and Nana-Approved -- 'Twas the Night Before Jesus



About the Book

Book: ‘Twas the Night Before Jesus

Author: Donna Wyland

Genre: Picture Book

Release date: Fall 2021

‘Twas the Night Before Jesus is a beautifully illustrated picture book that introduces children to the life of Jesus and God’s promise of an eternal home in heaven. As the melodic rhyme carries children through Jesus’s birth, death and resurrection, they come to understand the true meaning of Christmas.

Click here to get your copy.


My Thoughts

My review of 'Twas the Night Before Jesus is a little different from my usual posts. I enlisted the help of three "professionals" in composing the review.


I was told that the book was cool. They liked the rhyming. And some of the pictures were funny. I consider it definitely approved by this team of readers aged 10, 4, and 9!

My Nana review is also a positive one. The story has the very comfortable meter and feel of the familiar 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. But this book tells the real story of Christmas and beyond in a fun, kid-friendly way with vibrant and fun illustrations. It begins with the nativity story of Christ's birth and continues through His death and resurrection, giving a beautiful look at the meaning of His birth that includes so much more than just the Baby in the manger. If you have children from littles on up, I highly recommend adding 'Twas the Night Before Jesus to your annual Christmas reading list.

Thanks to Celebrate Lit for providing a copy of this book. I was happy to share my own thoughts (and those of my grandchildren) in this review.


About the Author

Donna Wyland is an Award-winning author, editor, and coach who believes in writing books that entertain, encourage, and inspire. Her bestselling children’s book, Your Home in Heaven, sold thousands of copies and was gifted to more than 4,000 children around the world through churches, schools, and various ministry organizations in the U.S. and abroad. Reprinted in 2020 by Elk Lake Publishing, Inc., Your Home in Heaven has become a classic story that shares the love of God and the hope of heaven with an increasing number of children. If I Could Ask Jesus, Donna’s premier Christian bedtime story is bringing young hearts closer to God, too.

Donna lives in Ohio with her husband and a couple of bunnies that hide under the bushes outside. She loves to read, ski, jump on the trampoline with her grandson, and cross items off of her personal Bucket List.


More from Donna

Donna Wyland’s love for God and for Christmas inspired her to write ‘Twas the Night Before Jesus. Only recently did she discover how many websites offer Happy Birthday Jesus items to help families, Sunday schools, and more to celebrate the real reason for the season. Children of all ages have read and reviewed ‘Twas the Night Before Jesus. It received a rousing 5 stars! Glory to God! You can find some fun resources here!

 

Blog Stops

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 3

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 4

Blogging With Carol, December 4

Texas Book-aholic, December 5

Author Adventure, December 5

Inklings and notions, December 6

Simple Harvest Reads, December 6 
(Guest Review from Donna Cline)

For Him and My Family, December 7

Cats in the Cradle Blog, December 7

deb’s Book Review, December 8

Splashes of Joy, December 8

A Reader’s Brain, December 9

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, December 9

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, December 10

Southern Gal Loves to Read, December 10

Older & Smarter?, December 11

An Author’s Take, December 11

Because I said so—and other adventures in Parenting
December 12

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, December 13

Mary Hake, December 13

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, December 14

Spoken from the Heart, December 14

The Adventures of a Travelers Wife, December 15

Labor Not in Vain, December 15

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, December 16 (Spotlight)

Lights in a Dark World, December 16

Giveaway



To celebrate her tour, Donna is giving away the grand prize package of a hardcover copy of the book and an online $50 Magnolia Market gift card!!

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

Friday, November 5, 2021

Plenty of Suspects -- Labyrinth of Lies

In Labyrinth of Lies, Irene Hannon has once again given us readers a great story of romantic suspense. When you have a private girls' school with two separate undercover operations involving murder, drug dealings, and plenty of possible suspects, you have a book that is almost impossible to put down and keeps you up and reading way too far into the night.

The story is driven by a wide range of characters, several of whom I came to know and care a great deal about as things progressed. There is a strong element of suspense which carries through pretty much to the unexpected end of the story. Romance -- past and present -- plays an important role as well, but does not overshadow the suspense.

If you have read the first book in the Triple Threat series, you will likely recognize Cate as one of three sisters introduced there, with one sister "starring" in each installment. Labyrinth of Lies could well be read as a stand alone, even though it is part of the series, but I recommend the first as a great story as well.

I highly recommend this book to fans of great inspirational romantic suspense. 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

Danger awaits on a covert mission where few are who they seem to be

When the daughter of a high-profile businessman disappears from an exclusive girls' boarding school, police detective Cate Reilly is tapped for an undercover assignment. It doesn't take her long to realize that beneath its veneer of polish and wealth, Ivy Hill Academy harbors dark--and deadly--secrets. But the biggest shock of all? The only man she ever loved is also working at the school.

Zeke Sloan has never forgotten Cate, but now isn't the best time for their paths to cross again. When their two seemingly disparate agendas begin to intertwine--and startling connections emerge among the players--the danger escalates significantly.

But who is the mastermind behind the elaborate ruse? And how far will they go to protect their house of cards?


About the Author

Irene Hannon is the bestselling and award-winning author of more than sixty contemporary romance and romantic suspense novels. In addition to her many other honors, she is a three-time winner of the prestigious RITA Award from Romance Writers of America. She is also a member of RWA's elite Hall of Fame and has received a Career Achievement Award from RT Book Reviews for her entire body of work. Learn more at www.irenehannon.com.



Thursday, November 4, 2021

Intriguing WWII Story -- A Picture of Hope

About the Book

Book: A Picture of Hope

Author: Liz Tolsma

Genre: Christian Historical Fiction

Release date: October, 2021

A Photojournalist Risks Her Life to Save Children

Full of intrigue, adventure, and romance, this new series celebrates the unsung heroes—the heroines of WWII.

Journalist Nellie Wilkerson has spent the bulk of the war in London, photographing pilots taking off and landing—and she’s bored. She jumps at the chance to go to France, where the Allied forces recently landed. She enlists Jean-Paul Breslau of the French underground to take her to the frontlines. On the journey, they come upon an orphanage where nuns shelter children with disabilities. Can they help save them before the Nazis come to liquidate it?

Click here to get your copy!


My Thoughts

Liz Tolsma's A Picture of Hope is an intriguing story that highlights some of the more obscure background elements of WWII. The main characters are an American female journalist driven to find her way to the front lines of battle and a member of the French underground. The missions that both of them engage in put them into dangerous -- often life-and-death -- situations for themselves and for others they find themselves in a position to help. 

The author has done her usual research, and it shows in the way she pulls together actual history and her own creative imagination in the characters, locations, and events of the story. The characters come to life on the page, and their stories move at a pace that make this book a difficult one to put down. As the story progresses there are elements of very tragic war-related events, as well as examples of sacrificial compassion. And a well-written faith thread is an important part of the story. 

I highly recommend A Picture of Hope to fans of great historical fiction. 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

Liz Tolsma is the author of several WWII novels, romantic suspense novels, prairie romance novellas, and an Amish romance. She is a popular speaker and an editor and resides next to a Wisconsin farm field with her husband and their youngest daughter. Her son is a US Marine, and her oldest daughter is a college student. Liz enjoys reading, walking, working in her large perennial garden, kayaking, and camping. Please visit her website at www.liztolsma.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter (@LizTolsma), Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest. She is also the host of the Christian Historical Fiction Talk podcast.

 

More from Liz


Why Another WWII Novel Set in France

You may well read the back cover of my latest release, A Picture of Hope, and wonder why on earth we need another WWII novel set in France. After all, Kristy Cambron just had one. Melanie Dobson and Sarah Sundin will be coming out with theirs in 2022. So why did I feel the need to write my novel with the same setting?

First of all, I’m a Francophile. I love all things French. It started when I took French in high school. Everyone else was learning Spanish, but I wasn’t into being part of the crowd. There were only a few of us in the class, and it was great fun. We had a wonderful teacher. Being able to pull out some of that French, refine it a bit, and use it in the book was a blast. But I also love French food (who doesn’t?) and everything else.

Secondly, I hadn’t written about France before. When I wrote this proposal at least five or six years ago, I didn’t know France would be so hot. God did, and the book came about in His perfect timing. I’d explored the Netherlands, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and the Philippines. Such a shame that I was leaving out France, so I set about to write a novel located in that country.

Thirdly, there was so much good material to pull from. The French resistance, while small, did good work and sacrificed a great deal to get Jews out of the country and into Switzerland or Spain. The books that Kristy, Melanie, Sarah, and I write are all so different. Only the setting is the same. And when I found out that the famous mime Marcel Marceau was part of the resistance, I couldn’t help but giving him a cameo. Be on the lookout!

Along the way, I discovered some truly heartrending incidents that took place in France. They also compelled me to write this book. I long for the world to remember what happened so that we will never forget. And so that the atrocities committed there will never be repeated.

Fourthly, this was originally the third book in a series. Don’t worry – it’s a stand-alone. Maybe someday I’ll get to publish the other two. The women in the series are all American journalists in Europe. One is a reporter, the other is a broadcaster, and so I decided to make Nellie, the heroine in A Picture of Hope, a photojournalist. And where better to take pictures than on Omaha Beach soon after D-day. How she gets there is based on a very interesting true story, so be sure to read to the end for that one.

There are so many stories about WWII to be told and so many countries that participated in the conflict in one way or the other. The ground is so rich that we aren’t plowing the same parcel. You’ll find all of these books to be very different from each other, each with its own message, its own voice, and its own plot.

The focus in my book is on children with Down syndrome. I have a background in special education, and my husband and I adopted a child from the Philippines with an intellectual disability, so I’ve always had a heart for people with special needs. My daughter brings us so much joy that I wanted to share a glimpse into what these remarkable people are truly capable of.

So that is why I wrote a WWII novel set in France. Make yourself a cup of cafĂ© au lait, butter up a croissant, and enjoy A Picture of Hope!


Blog Stops

A Baker’s Perspective, October 28

Life of Literature, October 28

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, October 28

Genesis 5020, October 28

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 29

The Book Chic Blog, October 29

Blogging With Carol, October 29

Texas Book-aholic, October 30

Sodbuster Living, October 30

Spoken from the Heart, October 30

Elly Gilbert, October 30

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, October 31

Inklings and notions, October 31

Labor Not in Vain, October 31

CarpeDiem, October 31

Splashes of Joy, November 1

Reviewingbooksplusmore, November 1

Life, love, writing, November 1

For Him and My Family, November 1

deb’s Book Review, November 2

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, November 2

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, November 2

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, November 3

Betti Mace, November 3

Worthy2Read, November 3

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, November 3

Daysong Reflections, November 4

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 4

Vicky Sluiter, November 4

Southern Gal Loves to Read, November 4

Older & Smarter?, November 5

By the Book, November 5

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, November 5

Connie’s History Classroom, November 6

For the Love of Literature, November 6

Bigreadersite, November 6

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, November 6

Rebecca Tews, November 7

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, November 7

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, November 7

She Lives To Read, November 8

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, November 8

Where Faith and Books Meet, November 8

Pause for Tales, November 9

Christian Bookaholic, November 9

Through the Fire Blogs, November 9

To Everything There Is A Season , November 9

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, November 10

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, November 10

Mary Hake, November 10


Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Liz is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and copy of A Picture of Hope!!

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/12b83/a-picture-of-hope-celebration-tour-giveaway