17 August 2017

Giveaway: To Wager Her Heart by Tamera Alexander -- Audiobook Review

To Wager Her Heart by Tamera Alexander
To Wager Her Heart (Zondervan, August 2017)
by Tamera Alexander

Audiobook Review
by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Worth the Wait!
Another fantastic novel from Tamera Alexander! I've read all of her books and have never been disappointed. Like most of her other stories, we have a well-fleshed out heroine with a strong backbone but flexibility, too. Alexandra Donelson has to make some big choices when her father tries to force her into an unwanted marriage. She's overcome trauma and loss but isn't about to be married to a man over twice her age and her father's crony. But her father has a secret. Not saying what.

Readers will gain insight into the struggles that African-American students faced, as the author takes us to the struggling Tufts University in Nashville. Not only to we feel their difficulties but also the challenges of those who would instruct the freedmen students.

Entwined in this novel is a beautiful romance between a very unlikely couple. Alexandra has been brought up the privileged daughter of one of Nashville's oldest families, her father an attorney. Silas Rutledge, on the other hand, was first raised by his widowed mother before she remarried -- a man who would be come Sy's psychological father and a role model for him. Sy's railed engineer stepfather, however, has died in a controversial manner. Tamera Alexander includes many great tidbits about railroads and the men who built them as well as the very real dangers faced in railroad travel after the Civil War.

Bibliotherapy Elements: PTSD, loss of a loved one, clearing a loved one's name, trust.

I hope to re-listen to this audiobook again within the year, something I don't often do. This book will definitely be on my Best of 2017 and is a contender in the Bibliotherapy Best category, too.

Blurb: Can a railroad man and a Southern Belle turned teacher find a way to work together to achieve their dreams in the new reality of the post-Civil War South?
Sylas Rutledge, former gambler and new owner of the East Line Railway, invests everything he has into this venture, partly to see if he can do it--but mostly to avenge his father. One man holds the key to the railway's success--General William Giles Harding of Nashville's Belle Meade Plantation. But Harding is champagne and thoroughbreds, and Sylas Rutledge is beer and bullocks. Sy needs someone to help him maneuver in high society, and when he meets Alexandra Donelson, he quickly decides he's found his tutor.
Spurning her family's wishes that she marry, Alexandra Donelson is pursuing her passion for teaching at Fisk University, the first freedmen's university in the United States. But her family does not approve, and ultimately, her father expels her from the family home and cuts her off completely.
Through her friendship with Mary Harding, Alexandra is thrown together with both General Harding and Sylas Rutledge. And she soon finds herself falling in love with a man whose roguish qualities and adventuresome spirit smack more of recklessness than responsibility.
Sylas Rutledge will risk everything to win the hand of the woman he loves. What he doesn't count on is having to wager her heart to do it.
Set at Nashville's historic Belle Meade Plantation, To Wager Her Heart is a sweeping Southern love story about a nation mending after war, the struggle to move a country forward, and the courage of a man and woman to see themselves for who they truly are--and can be--with each other.
Belle Meade (image from Flickr)
Disclaimer: I listened to this book on a (paid by me, via membership) download from Audible.com (click here for the audiobook download of To Wager Her Heart). Additionally, I received a NetGalley copy, which I didn't read, but I'm grateful that it was available. The publisher sent me a paperback copy of this fantastic novel, which I'm giving away to one of our readers. I am under no compunction to offer a positive review. I've loved all of Tamera's books and have read every one!

Purchase at Barnes & Noble
At Christian Book Distributors
At Amazon
At Your local Christian Bookstore such as Lifeway (call ahead -- if they don't have it, they'll often get it for you!)

Giveaway: A paperback copy to one of our commenters. 

13 August 2017

Within One-half Mile in Mackinaw City by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Mackinaw City Fort Michilimackinac and the Mackinac Bridge -- one half mile from our rental house.

My husband and I have teased for years that if something wasn't within five miles of where we lived then it was too far! Then this summer, staying in Mackinaw City for a month to promote my new book My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island, we found a smaller perimeter! Within one half mile in several directions we could find all manner of wonderful places and people. Above, is Fort Michilimackinac, which is just a half mile west from where we were staying. Instead of a five mile drive, we had a half mile walk and passed several public parks along the Lake Huron shore by the Straits of Mackinac.

The church we attended, Church of the Straits, was only a couple of blocks west of the house. We were so delighted to hear The Calvarymen perform while we were there one Sunday! And we were able to enjoy the lovely picnic the church members had. I don't think we've ever been able to simply walk to church and back as a married couple -- but I did this all the time growing up, because my home church, Bethel Community, was only two blocks from home.

 At the right is my handsome chauffeur at our rental house.  He looks awfully comfortable, doesn't he? After driving almost a thousand miles, our truck loaded down for the month, he deserved a break. Have I mentioned yet that both an amazing bakery and numerous fudge shops were under a half mile walk?
If we were to go North from the house a half mile, we'd be out in the Straits of Mackinac/Lake Huron! Lots of sailboats went by in July, when both the Chicago to Mackinac Island and the Port Huron to Mackinac Island races happened. 
 Northeast of our rental were the ferry docks. And more public parks (often occupied by Canadian geese and gulls!) Several nights a week, musical groups performed in the amphitheater in the park just past the ferry docks. From Rock and Roll to Celtic Music to Band music, all could easily be accessed in less than a half mile walk!

Our son enjoyed the independence of being able to go off to Wawatam Park, across the street, as often as he wished. From this spot, the entire Straits of Mackinac can be viewed, from Lake Michigan and on the "Mitten's" and the "Eagle's" western shores to Mackinac Island in the Straits, to Lake Huron's coast down to Cheboygan. Notice the striation of water colors in the picture at the right.

GIVEAWAY: Box of Christian fiction books by various popular authors and publishers. Leave a comment answering this question -- what can you easily get to from a half a mile of your home? From five miles?

08 August 2017

His Steadfast Love by Julie Lessman - Review by Bonnie Roof

Review by Bonnie Roof

5 STARS *****

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. - Lamentations 3:22-23

Though I've read each one of Julie Lessman's books - her writing never ceases to amaze me! Possessing the innate ability to draw readers into her stories, she makes me feel not only as if I'm a member of those beautiful, warm, cozy families she writes about - but a part of the story and a friend of the characters, as well. 

But warm and cozy though they be, those amazing families struggle with the same pressures of daily life and serious life-changing issues as you, me, and the rest of today's modern world. "His Steadfast Love" is no exception - amidst the joys and triumphs experienced by the characters: present or past issues of being unforgivable, bitterness, date rape, jealousy, sexual abuse, feelings of unworthiness and inadequacy, and adultery are also addressed.

It was easy to fall in love with ex-Navy Seal and pastor Chase Griffin, who has such a heart for people, the situations in which Cat placed herself both angered me and elicited tears of sympathy, Ms. Lilly made me laugh at her "no-nonsense" approach and marvel at her spiritual wisdom. "His Steadfast Love" led me through the gamut of emotions : from tears of joy to tears of sympathy and all those in between.

It's a story filled with humor, copious quantities of romance, angst, unexpected twists, lovable characters, and a realistic plot but the "creme de la creme" is the hope, inspiration, and redemption story from a loving God. Received by it's characters and now it's readers (as evidenced by it's reviews) - a life-changing possibility, for sure!

"His Steadfast Love" is the last in the series of three books and completes the series so beautifully (it's quite possibly Julie Lessman's best work to date), but is also such a delight as a stand-alone readers will be enticed to read the other two books, "Isle of Hope: Unfailing Love" and "Love Everlasting", and the prologue, "A Glimmer of Hope", as well. I'll certainly miss spending time with the charming O'Bryen and Carmichael families!

Love prospers when a heart is forgiven. (Proverbs 17:9)

Disclaimer: I was provided a PDF of "His Steadfast Love" by the author but was not required to write a review. This review is my honest opinion of "His Steadfast Love". 

Also coming from Julie Lessman on Amazon Sept. 1: "Grace Like Rain: A Heart of San Francisco Novella", "The Best Gift of All: An O'Connor Christmas Novella", "The Gift of Grace: A Frontier Christmas Novella", and "A Whisper of Hope: An O'Connor Christmas Novella". $.99 each and pre-order available now.

Blurb for His Steadfast Love by Julie Lessman
She’s bent on fun.
He’s bent on faith.
Till true love bridges the gap.

Cat O’Bryen is the prodigal daughter unhappy with God. First, the father with whom she reconciled dies of cancer and now her twin sister and best friend marries, leaving Cat at home with a newlywed mother, her new husband, and a little brother. But when Cat moves in with a roommate of questionable morals, her family is worried, certain she’s on a path that could damage her faith forever.

Reluctant to get involved with a woman like the one who destroyed his life, ex-Navy SEAL Pastor Chase Griffin steers clear of the attraction he feels for Cat O’Bryen. Until her family begs him to take her under his wing, hoping he can draw her back into the fold. But when the draw she has on him proves too strong to resist, he must rely on the strength of God to offer a friendship as steady and strong as the God whose love is wooing her home.

Giveaway: Julie is offering a giveaway of His Steadfast Love to one of our readers. Winner can choose a paperback of His Steadfast Love, releasing this fall, or ebook copies of all three novels in this series! Leave a prayer below for Bonnie's health for the upcoming author event CFFR to enter, thanks!

06 August 2017

Mackinac Island Kisses & Mackinaw City Lifesavers by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Store Manager and Hostess with the Mostest - Tamara Tomac at The Island Bookstore on Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island Kisses & Mackinaw City Lifesavers
by Carrie Fancett Pagels

As my pastor, Rev. Larry Jones, said this morning to me -- having a book set on Mackinac Island, and being there, and doing signings -- how great is that? Yes, indeed, fellow author Larry fully understands how awesome that experience that was! Coming home to a bad RA flare didn't help transition me well back to reality, either!

Author Carrie Fancett Pagels with Grand Hotel Store Manager Mert Vartanian
I was made to feel so welcome at the book signing venues I visited -- The Island Bookstore (Manager Tamara Tomac and owner Mary Jane Barnwell were recently featured in Publishers Weekly!) on Mackinac Island (I signed on three separate occasions PTL!) and at their location in Mackinaw City (see my friend Pegg Thomas's picture below) and at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island (Mert Vartanian got me settled in with her staff, too! What a dream come true.
Author Pegg Thomas at The Island Bookstore in Mackinaw City
It was fun meeting up with family and with friends, like author Pegg Thomas who recently had a release in The Pony Express collection. Pegg is a member of Colonial Quills blog, also, and will have a novella in our 2018 release from Barbour -- the Backcountry Brides Romance collection from Barbour Publishing with nine colonial stories, including my "Shenandoah Hearts" too which I'm working on this month (prayers appreciated!)

My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island: Maude's Mooring was the only on-location romance released this year, so how cool is that? (I could be wrong though!)
Carrie Fancett Pagels with readers book signing at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island
When I asked what I should bring for swag to my book signings I was advised that "candy is always good!" I found that the ones who most like candy were often teenage boys on the island for Boy Scout activities at the Fort (or with their parents!) I met some super nice people at my book signings, like the lovely ladies above and below who I got to chat with!
The Island Bookstore on Mackinac Island - Guest and Author Carrie Fancett Pagels

I brought more candies than these pictured below, though! I have an upcoming book signing at the College of William and Mary Barnes and Noble book store in Williamsburg, Virginia on Saturday, September 2nd, from 1-3 PM. There will be kisses and lifesavers there, too!

Question: If you could choose, would you want Hershey's kisses, Lifesavers, or a copy of my new RT Book Reviews Top Pick for July -- My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island: Maude's Mooring? And do you think Mackinac Island Kisses and Mackinaw City Lifesavers sound like great titles for a couple of books?

03 August 2017

My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island -- Review by Andrea Stephens

My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island: Maude's Mooring by Carrie Fancett Pagels
My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island: Maude's Mooring 
by Carrie Fancett Pagels
Review by Andrea Stephens

I absolutely loved this book! This is by far my favorite book by author Carrie Fancett Pagels, and I've read them all.
The intrigue of the secret identities, the neighborly, family-like love between the islanders and how they look out for each other, the impish little brother Jack, Maude, and the stranger who has unwittingly captured her heart. All come together to create one of the best books I've read in a long time.
Maude is more upset than heartbroken when she meets her supposed fiance and his new wife on the docks as they return to the island.  Maude literally plows into Ben as she is leaving the wharf in angry tears. Though there is no introduction between the two the compassion showed by Ben was memorable. Maude finds herself thinking about him more than Greyson and Ben thinks of her too.
Without a husband her father won't let Maude run the family inn by herself, she doesn't understand why.  He threatens to sell The Winds of Mackinac Inn that has been in her mother's family for generations, the inn she believed she would inherit. It is her life, her home, her very breath, she cannot leave.  Maude has to prove to him she can do it on her own. She secretly gets a job as a maid at the posh Grand Hotel. Her friend Sadie says “Aren't you pushing this a little too far, Maude? You have no idea what you are in for working as a maid.”

I felt Maude's job at the Grand Hotel was very important to the story, as she learned some valuable lessons about herself and how she relates to other people. Friedrich, aka Ben, finds out the story he was sent to work on has changed, he's not entirely comfortable with the new direction. In the meantime, he can't stop thinking of Maude and searches her out.  Introductions are made and after his act of heroism, the two become closer.  I enjoyed this little romance as it was something unexpected by Maude, an islander and him a temporary visitor.
There is so much I want to say here about the story and other characters but I fear it would spoil it for others so I will not.  It is something you MUST read for yourself. The book is fast paced, filled with mystery and secrets that abound at every turn. The romance is heartwarming and real.
I so very much enjoyed this visit to the “Pristine Beauty” of Mackinac Island in the summer of 1895. I could feel the sights and sounds of life on the island as a visitor and as a resident.

I will finish this review with a quote from the book that was meaningful to me and I hope it will be meaningful to you too: 
 “...sometimes God has to put us in a place where He can mold us and ready us for something new. And sometimes He puts friends around us to help us, doesn't He?”
Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for allowing me to read an advance copy of this book. After, my first reading, I ordered it for my Kindle so I could read this again, wherever I am.
Links to purchase:
Links to purchase My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island: Maude’s Mooring (Barbour Publishing, July 2017)
Giveaway: Leave a comment for a chance to win an autographed (and personalized, if you wish!) copy of My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island: Maude’s Mooring.

30 July 2017

Jaime Jo Wright -- Overcoming Multiple Miscarriages with God's Help

Author Jaime Jo Wright

Jaime, welcome to Overcoming With God.  We appreciate your willingness to share your testimony of overcoming with our readers. 

Would you tell us about the one of the most difficult things in your life you have had to overcome, with God’s help? 
Losing 3 children through miscarriage. I call it the “silent grief”. Miscarriage is something that seems to be overlooked on the tragedy scale. Because they are relatively “common” people move past very quickly. There is no funeral or memorial (usually) to mark the grieving process, so often, the parents tend to grieve in silence. Definitely, it was the most difficult thing I’ve had to walk through.

CFP: I am so sorry you went through this, Jaime. I agree with the way you characterize this. 

What passages in the Bible have been most helpful to you in those times?
Really not one specific. I drew comfort in the promises of eternity, in the Scriptures where we’re promised a home, perfection, no more grief. It was comforting to know my babies had skirted a world of sin and entered ultimate perfection and unity with Christ.

What helped you get through or helped you cope with this difficulty?
Definitely my husband. He was very strong, when I wasn’t. His faith boosted my own and made forging ahead without our three children possible.

Disability friendliness: Is this latest release available in audio format or do you have any other works available on audio?  Do your e-books have audio capability? Do you have any in large print? 
This current release is available in Kindle. The Kindle does have an option to be read-aloud. My upcoming release, The House On Foster Hill (December, 2017) will also have an audiobook edition along with an e-book option. I’ve not heard yet whether large print will be offered.

CFP: Congrats Jaime!!! Looking forward to your first full-length novel! Will be watching for the audiobook.

In this latest work, do you have any topics useful for bibliotherapy, or therapeutic influence through reading about a disorder or situation?  
I do not.
CFP: Actually, you do -- you have issues of trust, of aging, and of overcoming differences in social status. Very enjoyable novella! We reviewed this on OWG blog two weeks ago.

Question you’d like to ask readers:
What bolsters you in times of challenge?

ECPA/Publisher's Weekly best-selling author Jaime Jo Wright, pens spirited romantic suspense stained with the shadows of history. Coffee drinker by day and coffee drinker by night. Www.jaimejowright.com

Jaime’s Links:

Book Links:
Book blurb:

"Of Rags and Riches" Romance Collection (Barbour, July 2017) 
Love Flourishes during America’s Gilded Age

Journey along in nine historical romances with those who lives are transformed by the opulence, growth, and great changes taking place in America’s Gilded Age. Nine couples meet during these exhilarating times and work to build a future together through fighting for social reform, celebrating new opportunities for leisure activities, taking advantage of economic growth and new inventions, and more. Watch as these romances develop and legacies of faith and love are formed.

The Fisherman’s Nymph by Jaime Jo Wright - Flambeau River, Wisconsin, 1890
The reclusive daughter of a fly-fisherman guide must read the waters for a wealthy gentleman’s sport and send him back where he belongs before he hooks her heart and takes her away from the river she was born to love.

27 July 2017

Of Rags and Riches -- Susanne Dietze's Novella "The Right Pitch" Reviewed

I have been reading this wonderful collection via a download from NetGalley via Barbour Publishing. I have been reading the novellas voluntarily and my opinions are my own. There are nine novellas in Of Rags to Riches and I've been reading and reviewing them this summer and we've had some of the authors do guests posts, which is a blessing. So check previous recent posts from June and July for more!

The Right Pitch by Susanne DietzePhiladelphia, Pennsylvania, 1876
Guarded industrialist Beck Emerson agrees to sponsor his sister’s all-female baseball team. But when pretty pitcher Winnie Myles throws a curveball that makes him team manager, it challenges his plan to play it safe in life and love.

Susanne Dietze's ladies baseball story was adorable! I'm a Susie Dietze fangirl and I don't like to miss any of her stories! This was such a fun read. I love Susie Dietze's "voice" and that's something that can't be taught -- the way she sees things, the words she chooses, the way she writes a scene -- I just love it all!!!

In this novella, Winnie was quite the spitfire! Beck was a compelling hero with a few issues he needed to deal with. Don't we all? I enjoyed the secondary romance between Beck's young sister and her boyfriend, too, that enriched the story! Loved the cool historical details about how women's baseball was conducted back in the day! Susie includes that information in Author's notes. There's some tension and a fear that this couple just might not make it. You'll have to read to find out if they can overcome the obstacles they face!

Giveaway: Winner's choice -- Of Rags and Riches in paperback or kindle copy.  Answer this question: Have you ever seen a vintage baseball game? If we don't know your email address please leave it but format it to avoid spammers (e.g., me (at) greenmail dot com).  

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