Friday, July 19, 2019

Review ~ Yours Truly, Thomas by Rachel Fordham + GIVEAWAY


Paperback320 pages
Published July 2nd 2019 by Fleming H. Revell Company 

For three years, Penny Ercanbeck has been opening other people's mail. Dead ends are a reality for clerks at the Dead Letter Office. Still she dreams of something more--a bit of intrigue, a taste of romance, or at least a touch less loneliness. When a letter from a brokenhearted man to his one true love falls into her hands, Penny seizes this chance to do something heroic. It becomes her mission to place this lost letter into the hands of its intended recipient.

Thomas left his former life with no intention of ending up in Azure Springs, Iowa. He certainly didn't expect a happy ending after what he had done. All he wanted to do was run and never look back. In a moment of desperation, he began to write, never 
really expecting a reply.

When Penny's undertaking leads her to the intriguing man who touched her soul with his words, everything grows more complicated. She wants to find the rightful owner of the letter and yet she finds herself caring--perhaps too much--for the one who wrote it.




My Review
3 STARS

The Dead Letter Office of the USPS seemed an intriguing premise since I am a fan of a similar TV show. While the earlier letters Thomas wrote to Clara were definitely moving and made my heart squeeze, I didn’t feel any spark between Thomas and Penny which reduced my enjoyment of the story. I’m in the minority in feeling this way so don’t take my word for it. If you enjoy historical fiction, I encourage you to give this book a try.

I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.



I'm passing along my paperback copy to one commenter.

Giveaway Instructions

1) You must follow the blog through GFC in the right sidebar >>>

2) You must leave an email address in a non-spammy format
(jane at here dot com) so you can be contacted if you win.

No email. No entry.  (Unless I know you really well!!) I won't chase you down. :-)

US Only (48 contiguous states) because postage is a bear!

Winner will be drawn on July 24th.


Thursday, July 18, 2019

Review ~ Until the Mountains Fall (Cities of Refuge #3) by Connilyn Cossette

Paperback352 pages
Published July 2nd 2019 by Bethany House Publishers

Recently widowed, Rivkah refuses to submit to the Torah law compelling her to marry her husband's brother and instead flees Kedesh, hoping to use her talents as a scribe to support herself. Without the protections of her father, Kedesh's head priest, and the safety of the city of refuge, Rivkah soon discovers that the cost of recklessness is her own freedom.

Malakhi has secretly loved Rivkah for years, but he never imagined his older brother's death would mean wedding her himself. After her disappearance, he throws himself into the ongoing fight against the Canaanites instead of dwelling on all he has lost. But with impending war looming over Israel, Rivkah's father comes to Malakhi with an impossible request.

As the enemies that Rivkah and Malakhi face from without and within Israel grow more threatening each day, is it too late for the restoration their wounded souls seek?

Purchase link:
CBD 
I am not affiliated with any vendors. Purchase links are a courtesy only.


My Review
5 STARS!!!

"Every day I stand here on the roof before I pray and just watch the road, imagining she will appear..."

Connilyn Cossette has written a powerful re-telling of The Prodigal Son. Until the Mountains Fall powerfully balances tension and humor in such an eloquent way; completed by its cast of fallible, relatable characters. As I read along, I fell deeper and deeper emotionally and spiritually in to the story, feeling apprehensive when Rivkah was in rebellion and grieving the choices she had made. That same grief was only compounded when Rivkah assumed that she could never return home, especially to her betrothed.

This story brought to mind how much I love my own children and how many times I have told them there is nothing they could ever do that would sever my love or close my arms to them. Poor Rivkah was cut to the core with self-incriminations that literally robbed five years of her life, causing deep rivulets of pain to her father and family. Remarkably, he never gave up hoping and trusting that one day they would be reunited. If you have a prodigal, I encourage you to maintain that same level of hope. God can fully restore them to their faith and bring them home!

I didn’t think Cossette could top the second book in this series, Shelter of the Most High, but in my opinion, she did. The steady adventure and rich story line evoked complex emotions; so much so that I came away more affected than before.

Until the Mountains Fall, never stop praying!

I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Review ~ Cameo Courtships: 4 Stories of Women Whose Lives Are Touched by a Legendary Gift


ABOUT THE BOOK

 Cameo Courtships: 4 Stories of Women Whose Lives Are Touched by a Legendary Gift
Author: Susanne Dietze, Debra E. Marvin, Jennifer Uhlarik, Kathleen Y’Barbo
Publisher: Barbour Books
Genre: Inspirational Historical Romance
Release Date: June 1, 2019

A Family Heirloom Inspires Romance
In 1851, a special cameo is gifted by Queen Victoria to Letitia Newton, who though considered an old maid, meets the perfect gentleman minutes after donning. Told by the Queen the cameo is to be shared, Letitia gifts the "Victoria Cameo" to a woman in her family, hoping adventure and romance will follow each of its subsequent wearers. 
 
PINNED ABOVE HER HEART by Susanne Dietze
1851 – Pittsburgh, PA
After receiving the Victoria Cameo, aspiring journalist Clara Newton works to expose a smuggler, but reporter Byron Breaux must break the story first or lose his job. Working together is out of the question until they learn secrets that threaten Clara’s father. . .and her heart.
 
TAMING PETRA by Jennifer Uhlarik
1875 – Colorado Territory
Trouser-wearing frontierswoman Petra Jayne Hollingsworth has no intention of donning the heirloom cameo, but when a crooked brothel owner steals the treasure, securing its return becomes Petra’s highest priority. Assisting her, Reverend Dustin Owens is appalled to learn the price of its ransom is that Petra must work in the brothel. He may save the woman’s virtue, but can he help Petra regain her cameo and rediscover her faith?
 
MEET ME AT THE FAIR by Kathleen Y’Barbo
Spring 1885 – New Orleans during the 1884 World’s Fair and Cotton Exposition
It takes a Pinkerton to find a Pinkerton, and Ethan Butler has been charged with finding Elizabeth Newton. Just when he locates her, the cameo he is to deliver is stolen. It appears his previous case has discovered his presence in New Orleans, but he can’t return to that case until the cameo is found. With Miss Newton as a reluctant partner in crime fighting, can Ethan Butler locate the cameo and its thieves without losing his heart?
 
LENDING MY HEART by Debra E. Marvin
1895 – Pittsburgh, PA
The arrival of a handsome Scottish administrator ruins Miss Bertie Hart’s dream to oversee the new Carnegie Library children’s department. Yet bristly Mr. Russell Smart’s working-class determination and his love of books make him the perfect partner to better the lives of Pittsburgh’s poor. As for a partner in life? Not even her Victoria Cameo can narrow the social chasm he and her father keep between them.

PURCHASE LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Christian Book



My Review
4 STARS

Compilations like Cameo Courtships are fun to read and a great way to pass a couple of relaxing hours in the summer. Passing down an heirloom cameo makes for a wonderful premise for these four historical romances.

All of the stories are enjoyable and show each author’s unique gifts but Pinned Above Her Heart stood out to me the most. It showcases Dietze’s sweet way of writing that always draws me deep into the story. The characters, plot, and setting are so interesting. I loved the faith elements too. This was my favorite in the collection.

I received a digital copy of this from NetGalley in conjunction with Just Read Publicity Tours. All opinions in this review are my own.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Review ~ The Number of Love (The Codebreakers 1) by Roseanna White

Paperback368 pages
Published June 4th 2019 by Bethany House Publishers


Three years into the Great War, England’s greatest asset is their intelligence network—field agents risking their lives to gather information, and codebreakers able to crack every German telegram. Margot De Wilde thrives in the environment of the secretive Room 40, where she spends her days deciphering intercepted messages. But when her world is turned upside down by an unexpected loss, for the first time in her life numbers aren’t enough.

Drake Elton returns wounded from the field, followed by an enemy that just won’t give up. He’s smitten quickly by the too-intelligent Margot, but how to convince a girl who lives entirely in her mind that sometimes life’s answers lie in the heart?

Amidst biological warfare, encrypted letters, and a German spy who wants to destroy not just them, but others they love, Margot and Drake will have to work together to save them all from the very secrets that brought them together. 



My Review
4 STARS!!!

“Don’t be absurd. One is never greater than twelve.”
“It is when you love the one.”

There is much to like in this first offering of the new The Codebreakers series set in WWI England. The Number of Love is filled with interesting characters, some I liked more than others. Drake Elton is one I very much like. He is a protector by nature with a determined personality, a sharp wit and is not afraid to take risks. I loved how he cared for Dot’s wellbeing and was sensitive to her anxiety issues, always showing kindness and patience. Some may think he was being overprotective but who knows you better than a sibling, right? Only in this case, it took someone who doesn’t relate to others well, thinks in numbers, and shows very little emotion to enlighten him to the strength that was within his sister.

Margot De Wilde is like no young woman Drake has ever met. A friend of Dot’s, she has the ability to look at people and circumstances unencumbered by emotions. Margot was definitely a character I had a hard time connecting with but people are worth getting to know. It takes time and patience. Not everyone has the ability to verbalize their feelings. It’s much harder for some but it doesn’t mean they don’t feel. You have to put aside self and enter into their world, looking for ways to connect with them because in the end you will find a person who very much feels things deeply and has incredible insights on life.

White is adept at drawing detailed word pictures and always has me believing I have been transported back in time and place. I enjoyed the book and recommend it to fans of historical fiction and especially those who want to know more about The Codebreakers in Room 40. I especially enjoyed the author notes at the end of the book clarifying what was actual history. I want to know more about this time in England’s past.J

I wouldn’t normally do this but I emailed the author to ask her why she chose to make her characters Catholic and she graciously answered me saying that in Belgium during this time, something like 98% of the people practiced Roman Catholicism. Margot is from Belgium and it was easier to make the Elton’s RC as well, in order to avoid the whole “Can we get married, belonging to different churches?” question.

I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.


Monday, July 8, 2019

Morning Visitors

Genesis 1:20-23
Then God said, "Let the waters swarm with fish and other life. 
Let the skies be filled with birds of every kind."

My morning view is slightly obscured because of the screen but there is no getting by without it in the marsh! I know. You don't see Marshes in the photo but directly behind the homes across the street is dense Marshland and it's also right behind ours. The mosquitoes and yellow flies love to dine here so for our own comfort,
we must have screen! :-)


We've slowly been finishing our porch and landscaping our yard. As I'm not a big gardener, I don't want too much stuff to tend but I am loving our Black Crepe Myrtle. We have one on each side of the brick walkway and they are gorgeous. The morning is overcast after tremendous storms yesterday. Not the best for photos but I'm offering some anyway. :-)


We have many lovely birds but one of my favorites are the Mourning Doves who come by all day long. They love perching on top of the staff that holds our cage feeder and a thrifted wrought iron chandelier that has no votives. 


I have small peat pots, with big globs of hot glue on the edges so they don't fall through the holes but still drain well, placed in the votive spots and fill them with Safflower seed. The friendly birds aka 'songbirds' love them. The mean birds aka Cowbirds and Starlings, do not. 

Psalm 136:25
He gives food to every creature.
His love endures forever.


We keep the cage feeder filled with Wild Bird seed and the tiny birds just throw out what they don't want so the Doves, Blackbirds, and Ducks have plenty to eat. I usually fill the feeders every other day. We have a lot of  House Sparrows here. Some even live in the eaves of neighboring homes. But not ours. We made sure all entry points were repaired.

This morning was a great morning for bird watching. We saw a Ruby-Throated Hummingbird!!! I didn't have my camera handy when he came by the first time so we just sat super still and watched him feed from the Hummingbird feeder I JUST hung up on Friday. He then flitted over and landed on a tree branch not far off the porch. He stared and stared at us for the longest time. After he flew away I went immediately to get my camera. I am so glad I did!!!



What I failed to take into account was the fact it is 73* inside and about 80* outside and really humid. My lens immediately fogged up but he was back!! I had to snap the photo quickly or risk missing him. After getting the first one, I quickly wiped off the lens and got a second one.


Hazy but still beautiful!!!
As I was admiring Mr Hummer in one tree, a big Red-winged Blackbird landed in another.


Foggy lens and screen don't deter me though. I still enjoy capturing God's creation especially when the next one is the first I have EVER seen of this bird. I'm not completely sure what kind it is. I'm thinking either a Blue Bunting or a Blue Grosbeak. 


He looked over right at me. Wasn't that nice of him??
If you're a birder, what kind do you think he is?


That's my exciting morning bird watching from my screened in front porch.
Now it's time for food and devotions...one feeds the body and one feeds the soul.

Matthew 4:4
Jesus answered, "It is written: Man shall not live on bread alone,
 but on every word that comes from the mouth of God."

Have a blessed day in the Lord!

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Review ~ STORM RISING (Book of the Wars, #1) by Ronie Kendig

HAPPY RELEASE DAY!!!! 


Once lost to history, the Book of the Wars has resurfaced, and its pages hold ancient secrets and dangers. Former Navy SEAL Leif Metcalfe has been tasked with capturing the ancient text, but a Bulgarian operative snatches it, determined to secure her freedom. When a series of strange storms erupt, they must form an alliance to thwart impending disaster.

Purchase:

I am NOT affiliated with any vendors. Links are for your convenience only. 


My Review
4.5 STARS!!!

Paperback400 pages
 July 2nd 2019 by Bethany House Publishers 
Every time I pick up a Kendig book, my life goes on hold. Seriously. STORM RISING is pretty much non-stop action with catchy dialogue, which I love!!! My fixation with military TV shows (especially SEAL TEAM) helped me visualize this elite group of operatives and the mission they are involved in.


I will say that at first, I wasn’t a fan of Iskra as Leif’s nemesis at all. I felt kind of protective of him and didn’t want him paired with someone unworthy. I feel the same way about Clay and Stella on Seal Team ;-) BUT…I came to understand why the author chose Iskra; her particular strengths and vulnerabilities pair well with Leif, creating some intense moments as well as tender ones.

I feel like if I say I can’t wait for book two I’ll be wishing away a year of my life but, Y’all, I can’t wait for book two to come out!!! Needless to say, I liked the story. A lot. It’s filled with bold and valorous characters as well as the ones you’re going to be rooting for this team of amazing operators to take down.

I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.


Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Author Interview -- Angela Ruth Strong + Giveaway -- A Cuppa Trouble, A CafFUNated Mystery Giveaway

 

Welcome to the Blog + Review Tour & Giveaway for A Cuppa Trouble by Angela Ruth Strong, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!


Hey Angela!!! I am so excited to host you today and share about you and your books.  Tell us a little about yourself and your newest book.

A Cuppa Trouble is a murder mystery set at Valentine’s, so not only are my characters in danger, but so are their love lives. I had fun with this, bringing Tandy’s ex back to town and putting her in a love triangle when Marissa is the one used to getting all the male attention. To make matters worse, Tandy’s ex is a suspect, and she doesn’t know if he really cares for her or is simply trying to distract her from her sleuthing. And all this happens at the same time they are supposed to be holding a grand opening for their new coffee shop/tea house.

As my editor put it, I stepped on the gas 1/3 of the way into the book and don’t let off until the end. It’s one wild ride.

It’s the age of super heroes, right?! What is your writing Kryptonite?

I’m a procrastinator. If I didn’t have deadlines, I would get nothing done. When I get close to a deadline, I warn my family, “I have to finish my book this month, so I’m not going to make any sense when I talk.” They actually really enjoy this. Especially when I randomly say things like, “I’m adopted,” which I’m not, or, “Let the horses in” when I meant the dogs.

I have to say your FB page is one of the most fun sites on social media! You and your husband crack me up when y’all sing Karaoke. He seems like a great sport and totally behind your writing gig. Do you base any of your heroes on him? 

All of them! Not only can the man sing, he went to school for art, he rides a motorcycle, he plays sports, he works in IT, he trained to be a firefighter, he’s been a surfer, and he grew up on a ranch. He’s every hero out there all rolled into one.
And he’s definitely supportive of my writing, though, to be honest, writers do not make the best heroines. Especially when I’m not making any sense when I talk. So that’s his most heroic quality—putting up with me. (We won’t mention my karaoke skills.)

I’ve heard a few authors say they don’t have much time to read because they’re so busy writing. If you have time to read, what do enjoy the most? Historical or contemporary? And who might a must-read author be for you?

I prefer contemporary, though split timelines are intriguing. If I read historical, it’s usually Deeanne Gist, since she’s got both heart and humor as well as unique storylines. I try lots of new authors, so my must-reads are savored like dessert. I don’t read them right when they come out. I wait for special occasions. Becky Wade and Denise Hunter are the first that come to mind. Terri Blackstock is my new favorite. My hubby and I listened to Catching Christmas together during Christmas vacation, and he got into it too.

Summer is almost here so what’s something fun for tourists to do in your neck of the woods? 

We live in Idaho, which has some great whitewater rafting. My husband’s coworkers own rafts and go every Wednesday after work, so we join them sometimes. My debut novel, Love Finds You in Sun Valley, involved a rafting guide and came out when Jim and I were dating, so he read it and gave me pointers. Sun Valley is probably more well known for their snow skiing. They had the very first chairlift, and people come from all over the world to ski there.

How was your trip to London? Is there one thing you wish you would have had time to do that you didn’t get to?

There’s no possible way to do everything London and Paris have to offer. We had an amazing time, despite disappointments.

1. There was no changing of the guard because Trump was in town and they’d ramped up security.
      2. Big Ben was under construction, so we didn’t see it in all its glory.
      3.  We didn’t get to see the Mona Lisa because the room it’s displayed in was restricted for renovation.  
      4. It was too windy to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower, so we only climbed to the second floor.
      
      I guess that just means I’ll have to go back! Also, I’m planning a writing retreat for Scotland next year if anyone is interested. Join my newsletter or facebook to keep updated on that info.

Last but not least, share with us where readers can connect with you.

You can sign up for my weekly newsletter at www.angelaruthstong.com. As mentioned before, I have a lot of fun on facebook, so you can just come hang out or help me plot novels and give feedback at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1557213161269220/.
There’s also twitter https://twitter.com/AngelaRStrong and instagram https://www.instagram.com/ang_strong/ though they just get the leftover scraps from facebook.

Thanks again for being on Stuff & Nonsense today, Angela! Your stories are always a breath of fresh air in my reading world. J

Thanks for having me! I feel like I fit right in with stuff and nonsense. 😉


ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: A Cuppa Trouble 
Series: The CafFUNated Mysteries #2 
Author: Angela Ruth Strong  
Publisher: Mountain Brook Ink 
Release Date: July 1, 2019  
Genre: Inspirational Cozy Mystery

Can a couple of baristas chase down a car thief without spilling a drop of their favorite drinks?

Plans for a Valentine's Day grand opening of a small town coffee shop go awry when the first customer is killed. Evidence points toward the victim being mixed up in a car theft ring, but shop owners Tandy and Marissa have reason to believe he was framed.

An assortment of suspects--from a pink-haired heir to Tandy's charming ex--all seem to know a little too much about grand theft auto.

Without approval from either their boyfriends or the gum-chewing FBI agent in charge, the shop owners go on stakeouts, plan stings, and pursue justice in a high-speed car chase. If they don't find the killer soon, it might be more than their love lives in trouble.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Angela Ruth Strong sold her first Christian romance novel in 2009 then quit writing romance when her husband left her. Ten years later, God has shown her the true meaning of love, and there's nothing else she'd rather write about. Her books have since earned TOP PICK in Romantic Times, been optioned for film, won the Cascade Award, and been Amazon best-sellers. She also writes non-fiction for SpiritLed Woman. To help aspiring authors, she started IDAhope Writers where she lives in Idaho, and she teaches as an expert online at WRITE THAT BOOK.  

CONNECT WITH ANGELA: Website | Facebook | Twitter

TOUR GIVEAWAY

(1) winner will receive a "Coffee is like Sherlock Holmes" mug, "Drink Coffee & Do Good" sign (painted with coffee by author's cover designer), $25 Starbucks Gift Card & "Drink Coffee, and Read Books & Be Happy" tote.


Full tour schedule shown below. Giveaway will begin at midnight June 24, 2019 and last through 11:59 PM EST on July 1, 2019. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US only.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.


 
Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!
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*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

WINNER!!!

~ALISON BOSS~

You won the paperback copy of A Song Unheard by Roseanna White!!!

I sent you an email on June 18 and have not heard from you yet. Please respond within the next 24 hours or another winner will be chosen.



Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Review ~ More Than Words Can Say (Patchwork Family #2) by Karen Witemeyer

Paperback384 pages
Published June 4th 2019 by Bethany House Publishers 

After fulfilling a pledge to a dying friend, Zacharias Hamilton is finally free. No family entanglements. No disappointing those around him. Just the quiet bachelor existence he's always craved. Until fate snatches his freedom away when the baker of his favorite breakfast bun is railroaded by the city council. Despite not wanting to get involved, he can't turn a blind eye to her predicament . . . or her adorable dimples.

Abigail Kemp needs a man's name on her bakery's deed. A marriage of convenience seems the best solution . . . if it involves a man she can control. That person definitely isn't the stoic lumberman who oozes silent confidence whenever he enters her shop. Control Zacharias Hamilton? She can't even control her pulse when she's around him.
When vows are spoken, Abigail's troubles should be over. Yet threats to the bakery worsen, and darker dangers hound her sister. Can she put ever more trust in Zach without losing her dreams of independence?

More about the author here.

READ an excerpt here.

Purchase Link:
Amazon
CBD 
I am NOT affiliated with any vendors. Links are for your convenience only. 


My Review
5 STARS!!!

‘He wanted to throw open the cellar door and let all his secrets escape so her light could shine into his dark places. Yet at the same time, he wanted to padlock that door shut and never risk her disappointment.’



Zach's past and his struggle in the present really touched me. I cried through one particular scene. Witemeyer really makes the characters come alive on the page. More Than Words Can Say might be one of the most descriptive books I’ve read so far this year. I mean listen to this:

‘This wasn’t how the evening was supposed to go. He and Abby were supposed to be sitting on a blanket by the creek, eating fancy hotel food, and sharing kisses. Not standing in the middle of an emotional briar patch, confessing secrets that held the power to destroy everything they’d built.
Yet in the midst of that poisonous bramble, a gentle hand alit on his arm, and his barbed surroundings retracted some of their thorns.’

Wow. An emotional briar patch. Can’t you just see it? All those ‘thorns’ (lies from the enemy) poking and prodding and drawing blood? How many of us can relate to this?? I’m telling you, Witemeyer has outdone herself with this story. And the scene doesn’t stop there. It gets even better because once the truth comes out then Abby has a choice of how to respond, either with condemnation or gentleness, just like we have that same choice when someone shares deep pain with us.

I highly recommend reading both books so you get the full measure of Zach and his beautiful patchwork family! More Than Words Can Say is a fantastic story filled with drama, wit, and love. Fans of historical fiction with a strong redemptive theme will enjoy this book. 


I received a copy of the book from the publisher. I was under no obligation to write a positive review. No compensation has been received.