Monday, December 11, 2017

Review ~ The Christmas Admirer by Laura V Hilton



Benaiah Troyer has loved Susanna King for as long as he can remember, but when his parents died in an accident a year ago, he broke up with her—for her own good. After all, he was now the sole caregiver for his three younger sisters. What woman would want to put up with that? Still, against his better judgment, he can’t help leaving her a gift now and then, anonymously addressing her name in big block print, just to catch a smile. Roses one month, maple syrup candy another; and maybe this time, something special for Christmas.

Susanna has never gotten over losing Benaiah, but now the clock is ticking. Her father is selling his glass-blowing business, remarrying in January, and moving to Iowa with his bossy wife-to-be. Angry and frustrated, Susanna realizes she’s left with three options: one, go with Daed to his new home with a new mom; two, stay in Jamesport, Missouri, as an old maid; or, three, the best yet, flush out her mysterious secret admirer. But how could she be with anyone else when her heart is still with Benaiah?

Purchase
CBD
 
: : :

My Review
4 STARS!!!

Poor Susannah! Her one true love seems lost to her and now her father announces he is marrying a woman who obviously has no room for a step daughter. Her future is quite the dilemma.
Benaiah loves Susannah with a full heart and desires to marry her but has little by way of provision. How will he figure it all out? Will he be able to come up with a viable plan before he loses Susannah forever?

Hilton knows how to write about young love full of angst and trial. Her knowledge of the Amish community is clear and vast but the best part is the Cinderella-esque nature of the story.
Fans of Amish fiction with twists and turns will enjoy this yuletide tale. I was provided a copy from the author and publisher with no expectation of a review. No compensation has been received.

Have you read any book/s recently that reminded you of a fairy-tale? 


Friday, December 8, 2017

2018 Book Club Reading List



Conundrum of a Book Club Leader; So Many Books, Only So Many Months in a Year!
By: Rebecca Maney

What a privilege it has been to facilitate one of my church’s book clubs over the past several years. Like any other group, our club has developed a personality all its own, thus recommending titles distinctive to our members’ reading tastes and preferences is a challenge that I usually welcome.

This year however, I struggled a bit, unsure of  exactly how to choose among myriads of good books, until I read a post by author Sondra Kraak, titled “Reading Fiction in Him” featured on the blog “Reading is my Superpower”, hosted by Carrie Booth Schmidt. Sondra concludes by saying, “You can glean spiritual truth from any story, because the communicator of truth is not the story itself but the Holy Spirit, and He speaks through stories of all kinds . . . . . the key is to read with an openness and expectancy that God wants to speak to you. “

From that point on, the choices became much clearer. We are reading books that God, the Holy Spirit, used to speak to my own heart, which you can see, are very different in topic and style!

Join us, as we read with expectancy in 2018! 


January – Centralia – Mike Dellosso

February – The Lady and the Lionheart – Joann Bischof

March – Cup of Dust – Susie Finkbeiner

April – Time to Stand – Robert Whitlow

May – For Such a Time – Kate Breslin


Summer Author- Sarah Loudin Thomas


September – The Conspiracy of Silence – Ronie Kendig

October – The Space Between Words – Michele Phoenix

November – The Mark of the King – Jocelyn Green

December – Restoring Christmas – Cynthia Ruchti



Rebecca is a graduate of Bryan College with a degree in Christian Education, and is currently serving at the First Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Gastonia, North Carolina as the Director of Children's Ministry. With nearly 28 years of experience in her field, she has had many opportunities to use her love of reading and writing in creative ways across the generations. A wife, mother of four "nearly" grown children, and grandmother to four beautiful grandchildren, Rebecca has been able to return to her love of reading and more recently reviewing, with a renewed passion for the "beauty of story".
________________________________________________________________________


Wow! Sounds like 2018 is going to be a great year for Rebecca's book club.

Do you belong to a book club? If so, what books will you be reading? Or what books would you like to read? Please share in the comments below. We love talking books! 

~Happy Reading~

Thursday, December 7, 2017

WINNER!!!!


You won Colors of Christmas by Olivia Newport!

Thanks again to all who took time to leave a comment. I loved hearing about your favorite decorations! 



Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Review ~ Out of the Ordinary by Jen Turano


When shipping magnate Harrison Sinclair's mother catches Gertrude Cadwalader, paid companion to the light-fingered Mrs. Davenport, returning a pilfered item, she comes to the wrong conclusion. However, Harrison is eager to mend fences once he realizes the error. After a real thief starts preying on society, can Gertrude and Harrison catch the culprit?


About the Author

Jen Turano is a graduate of the University of Akron with a degree in Clothing and Textiles. She pursued a career in management for nine years before switching to full-time motherhood after the birth of her son. When she's not writing, Jen can be found watching her teenage son participate in various activities, taking long walks with her husband and dog, socializing with friends, or delving into a good book. She lives in suburban Denver, Colorado. Learn more at www.jenturano.com.

My Review
5 STARS!!!

I have long been a fan of Turano’s books and Out of the Ordinary is definitely one of the best yet! Gertrude and Harrison settled down deep in my heart. They are dear friends and have this quiet yet obvious attraction between them. Watching their ambrosial friendship develop into something more was pure delight.

Out of the Ordinary has an astonishing cast of supporting characters. Agent McParland and Edwina are two of my favorites. Surely they need a novella at the very least. J It’s hard to read one of Turano’s stories without smiling often and letting out a few hardy chuckles. I was wholeheartedly captured by the witticism and nutty antics but you know there has to be more than just good humor to round out the plot and make it complete. It has to go deeper.  And it does in several ways but the character arc that touched me the most was Mrs. Davenport, Gertrude’s employer. She is a might unconventional with a slightly shifty side but there is more to her story. I was utterly caught off guard by the turn it took near the end and thought it was one of the best moments when Mrs. Davenport is found in the church. I know that is cryptic but I don’t want to give anything away. I definitely recommend this book to fans of Inspirational historical fiction.

Bethany House Publishers provided a complimentary copy of the book. I was not required to write a review. All opinions are my own. No compensation has been received.

~Happy Reading~

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Christmas Angel, and a Book Giveaway

I decorated our tree already. Usually I like to wait until around the 10th of December but my husband and son talked me into it early this year. I kept things rather simple and uncluttered, mostly because I don't have the gift of decorating. :-)



And it's a sad time of year for me. I miss my daughter Amy, and my mom whose birthday was Christmas Eve. Momma loved to craft and just about every ornament I unwrapped reminded me of her in some way. I treasure the memories but anyone who has lost someone will admit the holidays are difficult. Most of the time we just don't say anything. 

 The first Christmas without our daughter, I took our Angel topper out of the box and plugged her in but she didn't light up. New bulbs did not fix her. I searched every store in our area for a new one but no one carried the same kind anymore. She had been purchased the year our daughter was born so she was 28 years old. I was heart broken. 

So, that first Christmas after Amy's death, we didn't have a topper. Frankly, I didn't want another one but my family asked me to put something on top of the tree the next year so I bought a pretty dark haired angel that reminded me of Amy. 


This past summer I was at an estate sale and saw an angel topper with two lights. She was almost identical to the one we had before! I picked her up and asked the owner, an elderly lady, if I could plug the angel in to see if she worked and she did! I know it sounds ridiculous but I started to cry. The lady said, "Obviously there is a memory attached to an angel in your past." I shared with her the story I just told y'all and she started crying, enveloped me in a big hug and told me to take the angel. It was her gift to me. 




Isn't she lovely? I suppose I'm a sentimental old fool. I know it doesn't really matter which angel is on top of the tree or even if it is a bow, but every time I see this lighted Angel, I smile. And I think about the blessing that lady's gift continues to be which in turn causes me to think of the real gift of Christmas, Christ Jesus. ;-)

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:6-7)

Do you have any ornaments or decorations that you're 'attached' to?
A special memory you would like to share?
If so, I would love to chat with you in the comments.


I'm giving away my copy of Colors of Christmas by Olivia Newport .
My gift to you for taking time to visit me here at Stuff & Nonsense. :-)
Be sure and leave an email address in a non-spam format so I can contact you if you win.
I have to limit the giveaway to US participants only, due to postage costs.

~Blessings, my Friends~

U.S. Air Force Band - 2017 Holiday Flash Mob

I love watching the flash mob videos each year and always think how awesome it would be to witness one in person, especially a military band.

Go USAF!!!




~Enjoy~

Friday, December 1, 2017

WINNER!!!

Melissa Oldaker 
won the e-copy of Charming the Troublemaker by Pepper Basham!

Thanks to each of you who stopped by to read the interview and enter the giveaway. 
 
And we especially appreciate Pepper Basham taking time to chat with us and offer a book to one of our readers!!!

~Happy Reading, Y'all~

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Short Review ~ Charming the Troublemaker by Pepper Basham




About the Book

When Dr. Alex Murdock is demoted to a university in rural Virginia, the last thing he expects to find is a future. But country charm never looked as good as it did on Rainey Mitchell.


Rainey Mitchell does not need a high-class flirt in her wounded world, but trouble and temptation wafts off the new professor as strong as his sandalwood-scented cologne. When circumstances thrust them together to save her tutoring clinic, can the troublemaker find the hero inside and encourage the reticent Rainey to open her heart again?



My Review
5 STARS!!!

What can I say?! I love, Love, LOVE this story!!! It was such fun to read. Pepper always writes stories with a deep thread of faith woven into the plot but it's her absolutely solid and over-the-top characters that hold my attention. She is a master in the drama department and CTT has no shortage to keep a reader glued to the pages. I can't wait until the next book in 2018! The author gave me an e-copy of this book but did not require a review. No compensation has been received.

Enter to win an e-book of Charming the Troublemaker here.

~Happy Thanksgiving~


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Interview with Pepper Basham + Giveaway ~ Charming the Troublemaker (e-book)

Hey Y’all! I am delighted to share my most recent interview with Pepper Basham, author of ‘Britallachian romance peppered with grace and humor.’ Pepper has a new book out, Charming the Troublemaker. It’s another sigh worthy winner with a swoony hero! AND….if you read to the end and leave a comment, you might win an e-book!
Welcome back to Stuff & Nonsense, Pepper!
Anne, as always, it’s such a pleasure to spend time with you today. Thank you for the opportunity to share about stories and favorites and all those sorts of things.
Tell us a little about yourself and your writing journey.
Well, I’ve been writing ever since I learned how. In fact, I still have my first ‘chapter book’ I wrote (and POORLY illustrated) when I was 10 years old and my first mystery book I wrote when I was 12. Words, writing, and storytelling have been a constant part of my life, as present as faith and family. I suppose that’s why they always seem to go together in my story-creating process 😊
After YEARS of pursing publication, my first novel was published with Vinspire Publishing in May 2015. From that point on, I’ve had opportunity to publish 5 more full-length novels and one novella. It’s been a VERY busy journey!!
Wow!!! That’s a lot of books in just two years. I’m so glad you’re on a roll! And here is Pepper's youngest holding a story Pepper wrote when she was a youngster. 


What do you think makes a good story?
Oh goodness! There are various ways to make a good story, but I think the BEST is through memorable characters. I know there’s this fun writing dialogue going on about which is more important, plot or characters, in creating good stories, and though they are BOTH powerful tools for storytelling, I think characters are USUALLY the best option for story-strength. If you can have BOTH, then that’s even better.
I have to agree on that one. I recently read a story that had a good plot but the characters…dull and boring. :(
Do you have a favorite book? What about it makes it stand out from others?
Actually, I DO have a favorite (but I’m also editing another one that might become a favorite too), but the hero in my just-released novel, Charming the Troublemaker, might be one of my favorite heroes I’ve ever written!! As far as STORY, my contemporary romcom, Just the Way You Are, is one I love to go back and reread. I love the humor, the romance, the setting, the mystery…yep! Everything I enjoy best in a book I tossed into that one! British hero, clumsy American single-mom, Scooby-Doo references, 500-year old towers, a sweet and crazy family, adorable kids…yep!! FAV!!
Oh yes!!!  Just the Way You Are is de-lish! As my momma used to say. :-)
What’s the one food item you can’t live without?
ACK! Only one??? That’s like asking me who my favorite child is!?! 😉 Chicken! I love chicken. And chocolate (not together, btw).
Two of my favorites! Especially chocolate. :)
Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night and just have to get up and write down a thought? If so, do you keep a tablet on your bedside table or go to the computer?
I keep a tablet by the bed but RARELY (read really NEVER) use it in the middle of the night. Sleep is WAAAYYYY too important to me 😉
Haha! I like sleep but at my age, I do wake up a lot in the middle of the night.
Do you talk to your characters? Keep story boards? Pictures? 
I definitely talk to them and have pictures of the characters, setting, buildings. I don’t really keep a storyboard but I do map out my towns. I do a whole lot of daydreaming.
Um. Your stories cause all of us to do a whole lot of daydreaming. 😉
Can you give us a glimpse into your next book or story idea?
Let me tease you with two!
I have an upcoming historical and an upcoming contemporary.
The historical romance set in WW1 Appalachia. It has a Christy spin but is actually based on some of my own personal family history. City boy teacher comes to Appalachia and lives change 😊
I plan to have the second Pleasant Gap novel arrive in 2018 too. It’s about two introverts, which is a new thing for me, but there’s humor, heart, family, and a historical mystery thread like its predecessor.
I also have two novellas coming out in 2018 as part of compilations – one historical and one contemporary, so you can keep your eyes open for those too 😊
2018 is looking better already!
Have you traveled to locations that your books are set in? Where is the one place you would love to set a book but know you cannot possibly go there? Would you write it anyway?
I have been to England – where my Penned in Time series and Just the Way You Are are partially set. I’d gladly go back ANY time. LOVE Britain. I’m not really sure of a place I wouldn’t write about just because I haven’t visited there. I have a few fantasy book ideas and the only way to get there is in my mind 😉
Point taken!
Since you write swoon-worthy romance, what is the most romantic thing your husband has done for you? Only if you can share ;)
Hee hee, well, on a little scale…I’m a BIG fan of hugs. He’s not a hugger, but he works REALLY hard to give me hugs on a regular basis because he knows I’m super-affectionate (and love hugs…kisses too). As far as grander things, sacrificing time and money to take me on my first trip to England 10 years ago was pretty romantic (as in REALLY romantic).
That is so sweet! Sounds like you found a keeper. 
Where can you be found on the internet?
I LOVE interacting with my readers!! You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and on my website.
Thanks again, Pepper, for indulging my curiosity about the writer life.

GIVEAWAY INFO - Pay attention!!! :-)
You’ll need to be a GFC follower in order to be entered for the giveaway because I am ditching the email sign up through Feedburner. Technical difficulties with the backend of the program are causing hundreds of spammy email followers. Until I find another way to have email sign ups, PLEASE follow thru GFC. I've announced this a couple of times. If you want to continue to get updates about giveaways etc, you'll have to switch. Sorry! 
Pepper is offering an e-book copy of Charming the Troublemaker to one of my followers. Since Pepper writes both contemporary and historical, leave a comment letting us know which genre you enjoy best, along with your email address in a non-spam format like this -- jane(at)doe(dot)net -- in order to be entered. Giveaway ends Nov 27th

Friday, November 17, 2017

Review ~ Colors of Christmas by Olivia Newport



Celebrate the joyful hope of the Christmas season as characters find healing in the midst of heartbreak.
New from Olivia Newport!

Christmas in Blue
In the wake of a personal loss deeper than anyone realizes, Angela plans to bypass as much of the season as possible and get through her duties as the church organist by going on autopilot. Instead, she finds herself in charge of the town’s celebration. After a mysterious young man arrives, townspeople suspect he is the reason that one set of plans after another disintegrate until little is left of their traditions. Yet Angela warms to Gabe because she suspects they share a secret—his real reason for coming to town. Even when all they have to work with is a garish supply of blue Christmas decorations, Gabe helps Angela discover the hidden beauty of hope.

Christmas in Gold
After eighty years, change is nothing new for Astrid. By the time she was twenty, she survived the destructive Nazi regime, caring for her family under brutal circumstances, moving to America, and losing her husband. At forty she was widowed again and left to build a new life with her children. Now, when she faces a move into an assisted living community and meets a young woman on the brink of despair, she resolves to stir up hope through tragedy one more time.

My Review
3.5 Stars


In Colors of Christmas, you get two novellas that, while considered heartwarming, are not your typical feel good Christmas stories. I enjoyed the first novella, Christmas in Gold, and was enthralled with Astrid’s wartime flashbacks. Her life has taken a huge turn and now she must learn to ‘be happy’ in her present situation. She drew much sympathy from me in the missing ornament debacle and I could easily feel her pain at the loss. Some of us need that small tangible reminder of a time past and it was sweet how it turned out. The relationship she carefully cultivated with her physical therapist was another aspect I truly enjoyed; probably because it was a bit mysterious. Hope and redemption were woven beautifully throughout this story.

Christmas in Blue, I struggled through this one. I did not connect with the Angela. I felt the pacing was too slow but I am glad I finished the story. The redeeming part was near the end. The power has gone out in the church during the town’s annual A Christmas to Remember service and the pastor says “This darkness is not what we expected,” Martin said. “Many of you hold candles that we planned to light for a fleeting few moments of our service tonight. Instead darkness fell around us.”…”While I am not always successful,” Martin said, “the lesson I learn over and over is to receive even what disappoints as a gift that can enrich me in some way. In these minutes that tick toward midnight, and as we sit in darkness before we light our candles, what is enriching you? Let me challenge you to set your phones down and let the lights turn off. Don’t be afraid of a few minutes of darkness and quiet, for there you may find God’s surprising presence.”

Now that I can relate to! Life is full of disappointments and I am learning not to be afraid of the changes they bring about. To look for the enrichment God is bringing into my life. I’m putting down the electronics, sitting in the quiet darkness and soaking in the presence of God.

I encourage you that if you delight in reading wholesome, endearing stories go ahead and get a copy of this book. We all have our own opinions and mine is just one of many. I pray you are encouraged and uplifted by the theme of hope and redemption that only Christ brings to a lost world that is presented in these two stories.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

~Happy Reading, Y’all~

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

WINNER!!!

PAULA
won the Kindle gift certificate for A Noble Masquerade by Kristi Ann Hunter!!!

Thanks to all who left a comment about their favorite Thanksgiving dish.
I hope y'all have a blessed holiday!!!

Enjoy!


Saturday, November 11, 2017

Review ~ The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright

Coming Soon!!!

Expected publication: November 21st 2017 by Bethany House Publishers
Kaine Prescott is no stranger to death. When her husband died two years ago, her pleas for further investigation into his suspicious death fell on deaf ears. In desperate need of a fresh start, Kaine purchases an old house sight unseen in her grandfather's Wisconsin hometown. But one look at the eerie, abandoned house immediately leaves her questioning her rash decision. And when the house's dark history comes back with a vengeance, Kaine is forced to face the terrifying realization she has nowhere left to hide. 
A century earlier, the house on Foster Hill holds nothing but painful memories for Ivy Thorpe. When an unidentified woman is found dead on the property, Ivy is compelled to discover her identity. Ivy's search leads her into dangerous waters and, even as she works together with a man from her past, can she unravel the mystery before any other lives--including her own--are lost?

About the Author
Professional coffee drinker & ECPA/Publisher's Weekly best-selling author, Jaime Jo Wright resides in the hills of Wisconsin writing spirited turn-of-the-century romance stained with suspense. Coffee fuels her snarky personality. She lives in Neverland with her Cap’n Hook who stole her heart and will not give it back, their little fairy TinkerBell, and a very mischievous Peter Pan. The foursome embark on scores of adventure that only make her fall more wildly in love with romance and intrigue.

Jaime lives in dreamland, exists in reality, and invites you to join her adventures at jaimejowright.com!


My Review
5 STARS!!! 

The House on Foster Hill is Ms Wright’s debut novel and I can say that I am a die-hard fan already! This is a dual timeline story and what a thriller it is! I was mesmerized by the suspense element in this story. It was creepy without gore and kept me on the edge of my seat. A few times I actually looked up from the book to make sure no one was skulking about.

Kaine, the contemporary heroine, and Ivy, the heroine from a century earlier, are both strong, tenacious women. They are each determined to solve the mysteries in their lives, no matter what anyone thinks about them. They are interconnected through the house on Foster Hill and it was fascinating to watch the story of their shared history unfold. Foster House possesses a dark secret that needs to be revealed. Will Kaine and Ivy, each in their own era, triumph over the menace that lies within?

If you enjoy stories that make you think twice before turning off the lights, then you will like this book.

I was provided a copy from the publisher through Netgalley for review purposes. No compensation has been received.

~Happy Reading, Y'all~


Friday, November 10, 2017

GIVEAWAY ~ A Noble Masquerade (Hawthorne House Book #1) (Kindle Edition) by Kristi Ann Hunter


Hey Y'all!!!

I've been enjoying a few stories set in my go-to era, Regency. If you like this period in history and are looking for good fiction to curl up with in the coming months, I highly recommend Kristi Ann Hunter's books.

I recently finished her Hawthorne House series and it was outstanding! You've seen a few reviews on here, I'm sure! :-) The first story, which is A Lady of Esteem: A Hawthorne House Novella, is FREE on Kindle. Click here to go to Amazon to grab your copy.

Double check the price before you buy! 



That brings me to the first full-length book in the series, A Noble Masquerade



Lady Miranda Hawthorne acts every inch the lady, but inside she longs to be bold and carefree. Entering her fourth Season and approaching spinsterhood in the eyes of society, she pours her innermost feelings out not in a diary but in letters to her brother's old school friend, a duke--with no intention of ever sending these private thoughts to a man she's heard stories about but never met. Meanwhile, she also finds herself intrigued by Marlow, her brother's new valet, and although she may wish to break free of the strictures that bind her, falling in love with a servant is more of a rebellion than she planned.

When Marlow accidentally discovers and mails one of the letters to her unwitting confidant, Miranda is beyond mortified. And even more shocked when the duke returns her note with one of his own that initiates a courtship-by-mail. Insecurity about her lack of suitors shifts into confusion at her growing feelings for two men--one she's never met but whose words deeply resonate with her heart, and one she has come to depend on but whose behavior is more and more suspicious. When it becomes apparent state secrets are at risk and Marlow is right in the thick of the conflict, one thing is certain: Miranda's heart is far from all that's at risk for the Hawthorne’s and those they love.

GIVEAWAY: I have a gift certificate for a Kindle copy for one of my readers.

Just leave a comment in a non-spam format (jane[at]doe[dot]com) telling me your favorite dish to prepare for Thanksgiving and you will be entered in the drawing.

Following the blog is not required but it is greatly appreciated! 

Since it's an e-book, as long as you know can retrieve it, it's open internationally!

I'll draw a winner on Nov 14.

Just click below and it will take you to Kristi's website where you can read all about this fabulous Christian Historical Fiction series! Plus, there is an excerpt for each book. :-)







Review ~ A Charm of Goldfinches and Other Wild Gatherings: Quirky Collective Nouns of the Animal Kingdom by Matt Sewell


Published September 5th 2017 by Ten Speed Press

About the Book

A charm of goldfinches, an ascension of larks, a bask of crocodiles, a cloud of bats, a wake of vultures--all of these colorful collective nouns and more are showcased in this enchanting illustrated book by beloved artist Matt Sewell.
Accompanying each illustration is a playful description of each group of animals' personality, quirks, and habits. Sewell's uniquely witty take on the subject and delicately vivid illustrations make for a lovely new addition to his series of collectible books including Owls and Penguins and Other Seabirds. Playing on the theme of collective nouns for animals and illustrated with Matt Sewell's inimitable watercolors, this book makes a great gift for nature and art lovers everywhere.




My Review
5 STARS!!!

A Charm of Goldfinches and Other Wild Gatherings is filled with entertaining depictions of animals and lovely watercolors. I found myself chuckling at the morsels of humor the author incorporates in each rendering but also learned a few things I did not know. Anyone who loves nature or is an artist at heart will enjoy this collection of illustrations. It is truly one of the most charming little books I have had the pleasure of reading. It would make a wonderful gift to share with others and more than likely bring some extra smiles and joy to their life. 

I was given a copy of the book from the publisher through the Blogging for Books program. No compensation has been received. 

~Happy Reading, Y'all~