For the Love of Literature

For the Love of Literature

As a bibliophile, my passion for books coalesces with a love of writing, and writing book reviews allows me to share literature with the world.

Review
5 Stars
The Pinions and Plumage of Love

 

Allow me to preface this by saying that if you enjoy historical fiction and have not read any of Kate Breslin’s books, you are truly missing out. Her stories shine in this genre for their factual historical accuracy and their heart. The redemptive thread woven throughout each novel whispers hope and encouragement to the reader. Not only will you learn something along the way, but you’ll also connect with her characters on an emotional and perhaps spiritual level. That is the mark of exceptional historical fiction. Achieving that delicate balance of plot, history, and character requires skill, and Breslin always executes it brilliantly.

 



“Far Side of the Sea” exceeds all of Breslin’s previous books for its excitement and complexities. Although it can serve as a standalone, readers will benefit from reading “Not By Sight” first, as “Far Side of the Sea” is a sequel of sorts and will spoil who ends up with whom. Picking up “Far Side of the Sea” is like stepping into 1918 England in the midst of World War I. The story takes place apart from the actual conflict, yet the battle exists as a haunting echo throughout the narrative. War hero Colin Mabry answers the beckoning of Jewel, the girl he left behind a year ago, only to find that the woman who contacted him is her sister, Johanna, who believes that Jewel is being held against her will by a German agent. In spite of his suspicions, he heeds the call of his conscience, and in so doing falls down the rabbit hole of espionage and tenuous alliances on a cross-country mission.

 



Aside from having read “Not By Sight” when it released, I went into “Far Side of the Sea” knowing only that it was Colin’s story. I purposely did not read the summary beforehand because I did not want to ruin any surprises. And were there ever surprises! You know that the author is doing a fantastic job with her characters when you do not know whom to trust and when they continually turn your perceptions upside down. The plot is impressively intricate, with layer upon layer of intrigue right up to the last. Yet within all of the espionage is a tender love story and a budding faith, heartwarming moments amidst the realities of war. Also, some thought-provoking historical tidbits pepper the narrative. It never occurred to me that carrier pigeons only fly one way, and I did not know that a facsimile of Paris was constructed to divert German Gotha bombers. Colin’s struggle with the aftereffects of shell shock, now known as PTSD, and the role that this plays in the story is both heartwrenching and captivating and is handled gracefully. Much of what makes “Far Side of the Sea” so compelling is that it opens the door to the world a century ago and shows us that it is not so very removed from our world today. We still grapple with our own personal fears, but when we find and strengthen our faith in the One who made us and loves us, we realize that nothing can separate us from Him, not even if we find ourselves on the far side of the sea.

 

About the Book

 

 

In spring 1918, Lieutenant Colin Mabry, a British soldier working with MI8 after suffering injuries on the front, receives a message by carrier pigeon. It is from Jewel Reyer, the woman he once loved and who saved his life--a woman he believed to be dead. Traveling to France to answer her urgent summons, he desperately hopes this mission will ease his guilt and restore the courage he lost on the battlefield. 

Colin is stunned, however, to discover the message came from Jewel's half sister, Johanna. Johanna, who works at a dovecote for French Army Intelligence, found Jewel's diary and believes her sister is alive in the custody of a German agent. With spies everywhere, Colin is skeptical of Johanna, but as they travel across France and Spain, a tentative trust begins to grow between them.

When their pursuit leads them straight into the midst of a treacherous plot, danger and deception turn their search for answers into a battle for their lives.

 

Purchase your copy HERE.

 

About the Author

 

 

Former bookseller-turned-author Kate Breslin enjoys life in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and family. A writer of travel articles and award-winning poetry, Kate received Christian Retailing's 2015 Best Award for First Time Author and her debut novel, For Such A Time, was shortlisted for both the Christy and RITA awards and received the American Christian Fiction Writer's 2015 Carol Award for Debut Novel. Kate's third novel, High As The Heavens, released June, 2017. When she's not writing inspirational fiction, Kate enjoys reading or taking long walks in Washington's beautiful woodlands. She also likes traveling to new places, both within the U.S. and abroad, having toured Greece, Rome, and much of Western Europe. New destinations make for fresh story ideas. Please visit her at www.katebreslin.com.

Review
5 Stars
The White City Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book



Book: The White City

Author: Grace Hitchcock
 
Genre: Christian Historical/Suspense
 
Release Date: March 2019  

Mysterious Disappearances Taint the Chicago World’s Fair
 
Step into True Colors—a new series of Historical Stories of Romance and American Crime
 
While attending the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, Winnifred Wylde believes she witnessed a woman being kidnapped. She tries to convince her father, an inspector with the Chicago police, to look into reports of mysterious disappearances around the White City. Inspector Wylde tries to dismiss her claims as exaggeration of an overactive imagination, but he eventually concedes to letting her go undercover as secretary to the man in question—if she takes her pistol for protection and Jude Thorpe, a policeman, for bodyguard.
 
Will she be able to expose H. H. Holmes’s illicit activity, or will Winnifred become his next victim?


Click here to order your copy.
 
 

About the Author

 


Grace Hitchcock is the author of three novellas in The Second Chance Brides, The Southern Belle Brides, and the Thimbles and Threads collections with Barbour Publishing. The White City is her debut novel and releases March 2019 with Barbour Publishing. She holds a Masters in Creative Writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in History. Grace lives in southern Louisiana with her husband, Dakota, and son. Visit Grace online at GraceHitchcockBooks.com.
 

Guest Post from Grace

 

True Colors—Fiction Based on Strange, But True, American Crime Stories
 
True, riveting stories of American criminal activity are explored through 6 unique stories of historical romantic suspense in the exciting new True Colors series.
 
In book one, The White City, Winnifred Wylde believes she witnessed a woman being kidnapped while attending the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. She tries to convince her father, an inspector with the Chicago police, to look into reports of mysterious disappearances around the White City. Inspector Wylde tries to dismiss her claims as exaggeration of an overactive imagination, but he eventually concedes to letting her go undercover as secretary to the man in question—if she takes her pistol for protection and Jude Thorpe, a detective, for bodyguard.
 
Will she be able to expose H. H. Holmes’s illicit activity, or will Winnifred become his next victim?
 
The Real Criminal Behind the Story
 
While Winnifred Wylde is a fictional character, Doctor H. H. Holmes was very real and became infamously known as America’s first serial killer. Learn more about him HERE.  
 

My Review

 
Combining fact with fiction in an engaging historical context, Grace Hitchcock kicks off the True Colors trilogy in style with “The White City”. Scads of books and documentaries exist about Henry Howard Holmes, the man given the notorious distinction of being America’s first serial killer, yet in this novel Hitchcock presents a new, albeit fictional, perspective on his case. Introducing Winnifred Wylde, a young woman who loves nothing more than reading the latest romantic adventure novel by her favorite author, Hitchcock takes the reader along on a thrilling quest of discovery. The action begins when Winnifred believes that she witnesses a kidnapping while at the Chicago World’s Fair, an incident that eventually leads her to the employ of H.H. Holmes as she seeks to pursue her suspicions. However, as the investigation proceeds, both her wellbeing and her heart are in danger.

“The White City” proficiently blends genres to create an absorbing narrative. Each chapter opens with an epigraph from classic literature, hinting at its contents, and all of the characters were 3-dimensional and had emotional depth. Their reactions to events and the lingering effects of trauma made them seem true to life. From Aunt Lillian’s matchmaking to Percy Covington’s romantic idealism to Auntie Ann’s outwardly gruff demeanor, each contributed to the flow of the story. Hitchcock captures H.H. Holmes’ charisma as well as sparks of the violence lurking beneath his façade. Along with catching glimpses of the World’s Fair, recognizing the societal and familial expectations of both women and men during the late nineteenth century further set the scene and linked the historical with the fictional side of the tale. As somewhat of a true crime aficionada, this series held special appeal for me as soon as I heard about it, and I am happy to report that the first book exceeded my expectations for a fictional take on the case. What truly made it a five-star read was its Christian foundation and the way that the main characters relied on the Lord throughout their trials and testing.       

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

Blog Stops

 

Just the Write Escape, March 14

A Baker’s Perspective, March 14

The Lit Addict, March 14

janicesbookreviews, March 14

The Power of Words, March 15

Multifarious, March 15

Back Porch Reads, March 15

Livin’ Lit, March 16

Lis Loves Reading, March 16

Just Your Average reviews, March 16

Rev. Rebecca Writes, March 17

For the Love of Literature, March 17

Bibliophile Reviews, March 17

Reflections From My Bookshelves, March 18

Through the Fire Blogs, March 18

By The Book, March 18

A Reader’s Brain, March 18

Girls in White Dresses, March 19

Stories By Gina , March 19

EmpowerMoms, March 19

Inklings and notionsMarch 19

All-of-a-kind Mom, March 20

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, March 20

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, March 20

Bigreadersite, March 21

Genesis 5020, March 21

Blossoms and Blessings, March 21

The Becca Files, March 21

Emily Yager, March 22

Where Crisis & Christ Collide, March 22

Pause for Tales, March 22

Inspired by fiction, March 23

Mary Hake, March 23

Book by Book, March 23

Real World Bible Study, March 23

Blogging With Carol, March 24

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, March 24

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, March 24

Maureen’s Musings, March 25

amandainpa, March 25

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, March 25

Older & Smarter?, March 26

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, March 26

Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner , March 26

Godly Book Reviews, March 27

For Him and my Family, March 27

Texas Book-aholic, March 27

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Grace is giving away a grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of The White City!!
 
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/dd7d/the-white-city-celebration-tour-giveaway
Review
4 Stars
Meet Me at the River
Convergence - Ginny L. Yttrup

What a ride! This book is as twisting and emotionally charged as a trip down the Kaweah whitewater rapids! With nail-biting suspense, the unyielding pace of the narrative never relents, and although this is not a horror novel, the creep factor was real enough and the scenario so plausible on a certain level that I would not want to read this while home alone. There was enough tension to keep the pages turning at a rapid pace, and the author set up a chilling degree of apprehension. I thought that the ordeal of PTSD and the psychological aspect of trauma enhanced the story, particularly given that Denilyn Rossi was herself a psychologist. This is as much a psychological thriller as it is a suspense novel. The Christian element is mostly subtle but does become more prevalent toward the end.

My bone of contention with “Convergence” is its execution. Initially I attributed my confusion to the fact that I went into this book blind because I prefer not to read the summary, especially for this genre, but even afterward, when I did explore the synopsis, I realized that it would not have put me any farther ahead. Overall, I thought that this was a great story, but it was bogged down by too many complexities, which only multiplied as the story progressed. The shifting dual first-person narrative viewpoints and two different time settings made it difficult to stay abreast of what was happening to whom and when. Without giving any spoilers, this issue becomes even more complicated toward the novel’s denouement. Speaking of which, I had to step back and rethink the book from the beginning when the puzzle pieces began falling into place. Still, things did not quite fit for me with regard to Denilyn and Adelia. One of the main objects of psychological thrillers is to shock the reader, but in this case everything felt too contrived and bewildering, vacillating from one side to the other until the story became a Gordian knot of sorts. Nevertheless, I truly did enjoy this story and would recommend it to those who don’t mind a wild ride full of intricacies and revelations.

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

Review
5 Stars
Storm Proof Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book: Storm Proof
 
Author: Carol McLeod
 
Genre: Religion/Christian life/Woman’s issues
 
Release Date: March 5, 2019  

Go “storm chasing” through the pages of the greatest Book ever written!
 
What storm has blown into your circumstances? Are you—or someone you love—suffering from the trauma of plans that have been washed away, relationships that have been uprooted, or security that has been devastated? Many believers have been known to ask, “God, where are You in this storm?” or, “Lord, did You send this storm into my life?” Just what does a believer do during a stormy season? StormProof: Weathering Life’s Tough Times tackles these and other tumultuous questions.
 
Author Carol McLeod is a storm survivor—more than that, a victor—over infertility, depression, and cancer. She understands the spiritual, emotional, and physical challenges of the trials we face in our lives. A gifted Bible teacher, she provides “life preservers” of hope and faith through the eternal, practical wisdom found only in God’s Word.
 
By examining key storms in the Bible, and the lives of those affected by them, Carol guides you to uncommon comfort for your own storms, offering the shelter of hope, joy, and faith. In StormProof, you will step out of the boat to walk the waves with Peter, knowing that Jesus always comes to be with you in the midst of your storms; you will be rocked aboard a wind-driven ship with the apostle Paul, in danger of being smashed against the rocks, but be preserved by God’s power; you will watch the gathering storm clouds with Noah, holding on to faith in God’s purposes. You will also experience Jonah’s self-inflicted tempest while affirming God’s unconditional love, sit in silence with Job and ponder his questions about the greatest storm of testing, and huddle with the disciples as their boat is swamped by surging waves—only to hear Jesus’s eternal words, “Peace, be still.” You will also hear about storms of harsh circumstances that others from recent history have encountered and overcome.
 
Storms are common in every season of life. Yet, for a believer in Christ, the damage such storms cause can be contained, depending on how we navigate their tumultuous waves. There is a way—a triumphant way—to encounter the fierce gales of life and then exit the tempests with strength and resilience. There is a definitive way to walk through the most devastating of circumstantial tornadoes and emerge with grace, empowered for the future. There is a way to be StormProof.  
 
Click here to purchase your copy.
 

About the Author

 

Carol McLeod is a popular speaker at women’s conferences and retreats through Carol McLeod Ministries. She is the author of ten books, including Guide Your Mind, Guard Your Heart, Grace Your Tongue (Whitaker House, 2018), Joy for All Seasons (Bridge-Logos, 2016), Holy Estrogen (Harrison House, 2012), and Defiant Joy (Thomas Nelson, 2006). Carol hosts a daily podcast, A Jolt of Joy! on the Charisma Podcast Network, and a weekly podcast, The Joy of Motherhood, which is listened to by thousands of moms around the world. Her blog, Joy for the Journey (formerly A Cup of Tea with Carol), has been named in the Top 50 Faith Blogs for Women. After her 2013 devotional 21 Days to Beat Depression had nearly 100,000 downloads in the first month, YouVersion picked it up, where it has been read over 500,000 times in five years. She also has ten other devotionals on YouVersion, including Guide Your Mind, Guard Your Heart, Grace Your Tongue. Carol writes a weekly column for Ministry Today and often writes for Charisma magazine. She is also a frequent guest on and has cohosted 100 Huntley Street. Her teaching DVD The Rooms of a Woman’s Heart won a Telly Award in 2005 for excellence in religious programming. The first Women’s Chaplain at Oral Roberts University, she currently serves on the university’s Alumni Board of Directors. Carol has been married to her college sweetheart, Craig, for nearly forty years and is the mother of five children in heaven and five children on earth. Carol and Craig are now enjoying their new titles as “Marmee and Pa” to seven delicious grandchildren! She and her husband will soon be moving to Oklahoma, where Craig serves as the North American Director for Global Partners, a missions organization that plants churches in remote areas of the world.
 

More from Carol

 

I wrote this book and dedicated it to a lifetime friend and a woman who has survived the worst of life’s storms.
 
”You have danced in the sunshine…
 
been drenched by circumstantial downpours…
 
been threatened by windy situations…
 
and been attacked by the blinding blizzard of events.
 
But through it all, you have been faithful.
 
You have been a warrior.
 
You have been a worshipper.
 
You have kept your eyes on Jesus.
 
You have been StormProof.
 
You haven’t just weathered the tough times in life…you have rejoiced through them!
 
There is no one I would rather share an umbrella with than you, my friend.”
 

My Review

 

God’s timing is always perfect. When I signed up to review “Storm Proof” a few months ago, I was intrigued by the title and figured that it would be an interesting work of nonfiction. What I didn’t realize was how appropriate it would be for this season of my life. All of us travel along rocky paths once in a while, but sometimes there are periods when it seems as though we are in the middle of a gale with a vicious onslaught that seems unrelenting. We love the mountaintop experiences we have with God, and although we do not often choose to also walk through the valleys, it is during those low treks that we learn the most. As we come to cling closer to the Lord, we come to know His lovingkindness and provision more deeply.   

Indeed, “[t]he compass that will lead you out of the storm is your ability to recount the miracles God has done for you and others in the past. The miraculous God of the land who provides for us in abundance is also the God of the seas who preserves our lives in times of peril.” The truth is, we are jaded. We have become desensitized and far too often can’t see the forest for the trees. There are so many miracles all around us each day that we don’t even acknowledge, let alone the miracles of healing and protection that the Lord grants. God has always been in the miracle business, and He still is! This is one of the points that struck me early on in this book; McLeod posits that when Jesus appeared to His disciples on the Sea of Galilee during a terrible storm, Peter asked if it was Jesus because he knew that if it was, then something even more miraculous was about to happen. We are safe in the Savior’s arms!

In keeping with the nautical theme, McLeod shares that her anchors for the storms of life are the Word of God, worship, prayer, and the Holy Spirit. With this combination, there is no storm that can defeat us. God protected Noah and his family during the flood, after which He made a covenant promise to never again destroy all living beings while the earth remains. Noah’s story brought up two tidbits that snagged my attention: God wept over the flood, and he had given the people of the earth 120 years while Noah was building the ark to turn to Him, but they did not and so they perished. We have the same option today, and while we may not be facing a worldwide flood, what is at stake is our eternity.  

Likewise, McLeod’s section on Job’s story is enlightening. Job teaches us to worship while grieving and while waiting. Worship should always be our response, no matter what our circumstances. If Job, who lived before the redeeming power of Jesus set us free, could worship through his devastation, how much more should we! One of my favorite quotations from this book is that “Satan is still roaming the earth, but he no longer has the same power depicted in the book of Job because Calvary changed everything, for all of eternity. And you, my friend, have been given the authority and power of heaven to defeat him!” I am sorry to say that at times I give the adversary more power than is due him when I should be focusing on the unlimited and all-surpassing power of the Lord of heaven and earth, power that we have access to 24/7!

“Storm Proof” is a thought-provoking, engaging read that packs plenty of punch and insight into its 256 pages. If this book had a soundtrack, it would be “Praise You In This Storm” by Casting Crowns. The Biblical stories and characters may be familiar, but McLeod offers a fresh perspective on their experiences and on how and what we can learn from them. Also interspersed throughout are some of her own personal recollections, which indicate that she has first-hand knowledge of life’s storms. Don’t we all? So let us be not hearers only of the Word, but doers as well, in the calm and in the storm.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own. 

 

Blog Stops

 

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Carol is giving away
 
Grand prize of a $20 Starbucks Card and a Woman of God Umbrella
 
1st Place prize of a copy of Guide Your Mind, Guard Your Heart, Grace Your Tongue, and Whitaker House/Anchor adult coloring 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/de82/storm-proof-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

Review
5 Stars
Bring Me Near Review and GIVEAWAY!

 

 

About the Book



Title: Bring Me Near
 
Author: Marguerite Martin Gray
 
Genre: Christian Historical Romance
 
Release date: February, 2019
 
Publisher: Celebrate Lit Publishing

Louis Lestarjette enters a world of secrets and questionable actions for the Patriot cause.
 
Charles Town, South Carolina, 1775—Louis Lestarjette ventures beyond the confines of family life as patriotic duty compels him to enter the world of secrecy and clandestine maneuvers. When he leaves Charles Town for Philadelphia, he experiences first-hand the drastic demands of time and finances, and possibly his life. He must keep Elizabeth and his daughter safe while remaining faithful to this cause of liberty. One wrong decision might cost him all he has worked for over the last three years.
 
A new generation of children in Elizabeth Lestarjette’s life demands the successful and safe fulfillment of her role as a Patriot. She wonders if her husband understands her desire to do her part as an active Daughter of Liberty. Although Louis is willing to move the family to the country, the decision falls to Elizabeth regarding whether to remain in Charles Town or escape its borders.  
 
Click here to purchase your copy.
 

About the Author 


Marguerite Martin Gray is the author of Hold Me Close, Surround Me, and Bring Me Near– Revolutionary Faith Books One, Two and Three. She enjoys studying history and writing fiction. An avid traveler and reader, she teaches high school Spanish and has degrees in French, Spanish, and Journalism from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, and a MA in English from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas. Marguerite is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Abilene Writers Guild, Daughters of the American Revolution, South Carolina Historical Society, and Preservation Society of Charleston. She currently lives in North Louisiana with her husband.
 

More from Marguerite

 

I am very excited about the release of Bring Me Near. Thank you for joining me in its debut.
 
My writing journey began with reading as a child in elementary school. I lived in England for a few years where I bought and read loads of books on horses, history, and mystery. While in that unique environment, my parents took us to explore castles, old houses, churches, and cemeteries. The love of history sprouted and grew (I blame it all on my father)!
 
My love of reading never diminished, but it continued to expand my world. I still devour books (much to my husband’s and my bookcases’ chagrin), mostly historical Christian fiction, though I have some favorite contemporary novels and authors.
 
In my Revolutionary Faith Series, I combine my love of travel, research, history, and writing. I researched my family history originating in Charleston, South Carolina and walked in the footsteps of my 1770s ancestors (I even found my ancestors’ house for sale!) I asked questions about what they would have done during the American Revolution? What did they eat and wear? Were they fearful? Faithful? Courageous? Where did they worship?
 
My motto in writing is Entertain. Educate. Encourage. I entertain through the elements of fiction by making the characters in my imagination come alive on the page. I educate by presenting an historical period and event after countless hours of research. I encourage by giving a Christian world view where the characters grow and develop through their challenges.
 
Please join me on this journey by following me at www.margueritemartingray.blog.
 
Blessings,
 
Marguerite
 

My Review

 

"Now, more than ever, she had to find courage to support her words and beliefs.”

 Book three in the Revolutionary Faith series, Marguerite Martin Gray’s “Bring Me Near” proves to be even more captivating than its predecessors. The amount of research done by the author clearly bears fruit throughout the narrative as readers find themselves immediately submerged in the Colonial era and able to see the various conflicts from multiple perspectives. Despite being historical fiction, the novel has a strong factual background and is appropriate for teens and up who are looking to increase their knowledge of the time period. Through Louis’ vantage point, we evidence the growing discontent among the partisans and the emergence of revolutionary leaders in Charles Town, including how everyday townspeople have to put their lives on the line as rebels against the Crown. The process culminating in outright war develops by degrees, as attempts at reconciliation are dismissed, and the impact on the citizens of Charles Town follows a similar pattern.

Elizabeth’s experiences drive home the conflict’s effect on ordinary families. The fears and uncertainties of the immediate future resonate strongly today, too, and I wonder how many of us would be as willing as the Lestarjettes to sacrifice for their country. The women suddenly must learn how to defend themselves as the war draws closer and calls away their husbands and sons. Faith in God was essential for the colonists as they faced seemingly overwhelming odds, and that same faith is just as necessary today. I find myself wondering if I would have the strength and courage that Elizabeth demonstrates if I endured so many trials. I also appreciated that the Loyalists’ dilemma is given some thought: losing possessions and respected positions and sometimes causing schisms among families, not to mention neighbors. Although obvious antagonists, George and Victoria nonetheless evoke sympathy because of their misguided actions, and my heart aches for them both. I eagerly look forward to continuing Louis and Elizabeth’s journey and hope that more books will follow in this absorbing series!

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

 

Blog Stops

 

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Marguerite is giving away
 
Grand prize of a $50 Amazon Gift Card 1st place winner will receive eBooks of the entire series
 
and
 
2nd – 4th place winners will receive an eBook copy of Bring Me Near!!
 
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/de7c/bring-me-near-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

Review
5 Stars
The Prowling Devil
The White City (True Colors) - Grace Hitchcock

Combining fact with fiction in an engaging historical context, Grace Hitchcock kicks off the True Colors trilogy in style with “The White City”. Scads of books and documentaries exist about Henry Howard Holmes, the man given the notorious distinction of being America’s first serial killer, yet in this novel Hitchcock presents a new, albeit fictional, perspective on his case. Introducing Winnifred Wylde, a young woman who loves nothing more than reading the latest romantic adventure novel by her favorite author, Hitchcock takes the reader along on a thrilling quest of discovery. The action begins when Winnifred believes that she witnesses a kidnapping while at the Chicago World’s Fair, an incident that eventually leads her to the employ of H.H. Holmes as she seeks to pursue her suspicions. However, as the investigation proceeds, both her wellbeing and her heart are in danger.

“The White City” proficiently blends genres to create an absorbing narrative. Each chapter opens with an epigraph from classic literature, hinting at its contents, and all of the characters were 3-dimensional and had emotional depth. Their reactions to events and the lingering effects of trauma made them seem true to life. From Aunt Lillian’s matchmaking to Percy Covington’s romantic idealism to Auntie Ann’s outwardly gruff demeanor, each contributed to the flow of the story. Hitchcock captures H.H. Holmes’ charisma as well as sparks of the violence lurking beneath his façade. Along with catching glimpses of the World’s Fair, recognizing the societal and familial expectations of both women and men during the late nineteenth century further set the scene and linked the historical with the fictional side of the tale. As somewhat of a true crime aficionada, this series held special appeal for me as soon as I heard about it, and I am happy to report that the first book exceeded my expectations for a fictional take on the case. What truly made it a five-star read was its Christian foundation and the way that the main characters relied on the Lord throughout their trials and testing.       

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

Review
5 Stars
Ladies of Intrigue Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Title: Ladies of Intrigue
 
Author: Michelle Griep
 
Genre: Christian Historical 

Release date: February 2019
 
Publisher: Barbour  

3 Page-Turners Under One Cover from Reader Favorite Michelle Griep! Can truth and love prevail when no one is as they appear?
 
The Gentleman Smuggler’s Lady Cornish Coast, 1815 When a prim and proper governess returns to England from abroad, she expects to comfort her dying father—not fall in love with a smuggler. Will Helen Fletcher keep Isaac Seaton’s unusual secret?
 
The Doctor’s Woman (A Carol Award Winner!) Dakota Territory, 1862 Emmy Nelson, daughter of a missionary doctor, and Dr. James Clark, city doctor aspiring to teach, find themselves working side by side at Fort Snelling during the Dakota Uprising. That is when the real clash of ideals begins.
 
A House of Secrets St. Paul, Minnesota, 1890 Ladies Aide Chairman, Amanda Carston resolves to clean up St. Paul’s ramshackle housing, starting with the worst of the worst: a “haunted” house that’s secretly owned by her beau—a home that’s his only means of helping brothel girls escape from the hands of the city’s most infamous madam.

Click here to purchase your copy!

About the Author

  

 
Michelle Griep has been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She seeks to glorify God in all that she writes—except for that graffiti phase she went through as a teenager. She resides in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, where she teaches history and writing classes for a local high school co-op. An Anglophile at heart, she runs away to England every chance she gets, under the guise of research. Really, though, she’s eating excessive amounts of scones while rambling around a castle. Michelle is a member of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and MCWG (Minnesota Christian Writers Guild). Keep up with her adventures at her blog “Writer off the Leash” or visit michellegriep.com.
 

Guest post from Michelle

 

 

3 Reasons to Read Historical Fiction
 
Guest post by Michelle Griep
 
Believe it or not, some readers snub historical fiction, preferring instead to stick to contemporary reads. Several have good reason to, simply preferring one genre over another. But others have never given historical fiction a try. If you fall into that camp, here are some reasons you should consider reading a tale from the past.
 
1. Historical fiction books are not as boring as your high school history class.
 
Does the thought of endless names and dates make you break out into hives? Good news! Historical fiction is a painless way to glean some historic facts without mindless memorization. You can experience a different era and culture vicariously through heroes and heroines that live on the pages of yesteryear.
 
2. Makes for great conversation.
 
In a world that prides itself on keeping up with the Kardashians, dare to add a little cultural zest to your next dinner conversation. Reading historical fiction arms you with interesting tidbits of things that’ve happened in years gone by.
 
3. Because truth is timeless.
 
Some people yearn to go back to a simpler time. The truth is, though, that the grass isn’t necessarily greener on the historic side of the fence. People have had tough issues to deal with no matter the era. . .but therein lies a great reason to read historical fiction: truth is timeless. Be it ancient, biblical, medieval, Victorian, or anything in between, truth never changes. 
 
In my new release, Ladies of Intrigue, you’ll experience all these things and more. Find out about the smuggling trade in Cornwall in The Gentleman Smuggler’s Lady. Learn about the rough and dangerous life on a military fort during the 1860’s in The Doctor’s Woman. Find out why the gilded age wasn’t as glittery as we often think in A House of Secrets.
 
Don’t be doomed to repeat history. Grab a cup of tea and master it with a great read!
 

My Review

 
As soon as I heard about Michelle Griep’s “Ladies of Intrigue”, I was drawn in, and I jumped at the chance to review it. Three stories from the nineteenth century, tinged with mystery? Sign me up! Despite the brevity of the stories, each one had a twisting denouement and a swift but satisfying conclusion. They could all have easily been novel-length, but as it was, the rapid pace assured that there was no lagging to the plot. “The Gentleman Smuggler’s Lady”, set on the Cornish coast in 1815, reminded me of Abigail Wilson’s “In the Shadow of Croft Towers”, so readers of this short story may enjoy that novel and vice versa. From there Griep takes us to 1862 Minnesota in “The Doctor’s Lady”, which was the least mysterious of the three but full of other conflict, including that between the Indians and the United States during the Sioux Uprising and the dangers of being a single woman during that time. My favorite, however, was “A House of Secrets”, which differed from the previous two stories in both title format and writing style. This last tale was written more poetically and featured characters from the upper class in Minnesota in 1890, and it held the most secrets. Each narrative focused on the characters’ need to trust and rely on God and His provision. It was interesting to trace how women’s roles and societal expectations changed over the decades through the timeline arc of this collection. Historical fiction and romance fans will enjoy these stories, which combine love, the conventions of the past, and the necessity of faith—both then and now.

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

Blog Stops

 

The Avid Reader, February 23

The Power of Words, February 23

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, February 23

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, February 23

Blogging With Carol, February 24

Reflections From My Bookshelves, February 24

Jeanette’s Thoughts, February 24

Mary Hake, February 24

Kathleen Denly, February 25

Genesis 5020, February 25

Splashes of Joy, February 25

For the Love of Literature, February 25

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, February 26

Faery Tales Are Real, February 26

Through the Fire Blogs, February 26

Blossoms and Blessings, February 26

Inspired by fiction, February 27

All-of-a-kind Mom, February 27

Back Porch ReadsFebruary 27

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, February 27

A Baker’s Perspective, February 28

Andy Carmichael, February 28

Stories By Gina, February 28

Emily Yager, March 1

Multifarious, March 1

A Reader’s Brain , March 1

Baker kella, March 1

Bibliophile Reviews, March 2

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, March 2

Remembrancy, March 2

Just the Write Escape, March 3

BigreadersiteMarch 3

Inspiration Clothesline, March 3

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, March 4

Vicky Sluiter, March 4

Ashley’s Bookshelf, March 4

Book by Book, March 4

Kat’s Corner Books, March 5

Inklings and notionsMarch 5

Living Life Free in Christ, March 5

The Morning Chapter, March 5

Tell Tale Book Reviews, March 6

Pause for Tales, March 6

Simple Harvest Reads, March 6 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Daysong Reflections, March 6

Texas Book-aholic, March 7

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, March 7

Janices book reviews, March 7

A Humble Cup of Lukewarm Tea, March 8

Christian Chick’s Thoughts, March 8

Christian Author, J.E. Grace, March 8

Carpe Diem, March 8

 
 

Giveaway

 

 

 
 
To celebrate her tour, Michelle is giving away a grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card and a free copy of Ladies of Intrigue!!
 
Be sure to comment on blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/da8c/ladies-of-intrigue-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

Review
5 Stars
The Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides Collection Review and GIVEAWAY!

 

About the Book

 



Title: The Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides
 
Author: Kathy Rouser  

Genre: Christian Historical Romance
 
Release date: November 1, 2018  

Publisher: Barbour  

Lighthouses have long been the symbol of salvation, warning sailors away from dangerous rocks and shallow waters.
 
Along the Great Lakes, America’s inland seas, lighthouses played a vital role in the growth of the nation. They shepherded settlers traveling by water to places that had no roads. These beacons of light required constant tending even in remote and often dangerous places. Brave men and women battled the elements and loneliness to keep the lights shining. Their sacrifice kept goods and immigrants moving. Seven romances set between 1883 and 1911 bring hope to these lonely keepers and love to weary hearts.
 
The Last Memory by Kathleen Rouser 1899—Mackinac Point Lighthouse Natalie Brooks loses her past to amnesia, and Cal Waterson, the lighthouse keeper who rescues her, didn’t bargain on risking his heart—when her past might change everything.

Click here to purchase your copy.
 

About the Author

 


Kathleen Rouser is the multi-published author of the 2017 Bookvana Award winner, Rumors and Promises, her first novel about the people of fictional Stone Creek, Michigan, and its sequel, Secrets and Wishes. She is a longtime member in good standing of American Christian Fiction Writers. She longs to create characters who resonate with readers who realize their need for the touch God’s grace and hope in their everyday lives. A former homeschool instructor, mild-mannered dental assistant, and current Community Bible Study kids’ teacher, she lives in Michigan with her hero and husband of thirty-some years, and the sassy tail-less cat who found a home in their empty nest. Connect with Kathleen on her website at kathleenrouser.com, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/kathleenerouser/, and on Twitter @KathleenRouser.
 

Guest Post from Kathy

 

 
When author Pegg Thomas approached me about writing a novella for The Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides book proposal I couldn’t refuse the chance. After all, I am a lifelong resident of Michigan, which is the Great Lakes State! Plus, I had a favorite lighthouse in mind, though I briefly considered others.
 
For over 20 years we have ventured “up north” for a week-long summer vacation on Lake Michigan, most of them spent in the same cottage. Since the cottage is almost 20 miles west of Mackinaw City, I’ve made the annual pilgrimage to the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse since they reopened with exhibits in 2004. Part of the first floor has since been restored to the middle-class furnishings of 1910 when George Marshall and his family resided there. Two generations of Marshalls manned the lighthouse and George Marshall’s brother, Charles, was at one time the assistant lighthouse keeper.
 
There is also an area of the lighthouse where they display maps, photographs and other information, chronicling the history of the lighthouse built on the Straits of Mackinac in 1892. Fresnel lenses, like those used in the tower, and interactive displays are also included. Did you know for several years, the fourth-order Fresnel lens flashed a red light? I’d always pictured a yellow light! A tour guide, dressed in period clothing, such as a U.S. Lighthouse Service uniform, will take you up the tall, winding metal staircase to enjoy the view.
 
My many visits, whether they’ve included the long climb to the tower or not, have intrigued me. I’d often thought that someday I would like to write a fictional story about this lighthouse. Built with Cream City brick, in a Norman architectural style, the building reminds me of a castle. Perhaps that’s why I chose to have the lighthouse keeper hero, Cal Waterson, rescue Natalie Brooks, a lone shipwreck survivor. She is the proverbial damsel in distress. Yet, despite her amnesia she finds a new strength in her faith to face an unknown future and in a sense rescues Cal and his daughter.
 
Returning to the lighthouse last year, I did climb to the tower to examine the view my characters might have had. Of course, I had to imagine what it would have been like without the Mackinac Bridge, which has joined our upper and lower peninsulas since 1957. It’s a spectacular view, where you can also see Mackinac Island, home of the famous Grand Hotel, which was already there in 1899, when my story takes place.
 
Not only do lighthouses spark so many ideas of history and romance, they are so symbolic— as guiding lights—and beacons of hope to lead through treacherous waters, much like our Savior, Jesus Christ, is the true Light who leads us to the Father. Indeed, Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse played a strategic part in guiding ships through the dangers of the straits. I look forward to visiting this beautiful historic landmark again and hope my readers will be drawn into an intriguing visit to the lighthouse through my story, The Last Memory.
 
 

My Review

 

 
Lighthouses have always fascinated me. I love everything about them, from their lifesaving purpose to their solitude, which has a special appeal for an introvert’s heart. Symbolic of the Christian’s duty, they shine through the darkness and guide others toward the light, illuminating the way around obstacles. As such, “The Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides Collection” is very apropos in combining seven historical romances spanning the years 1883 to 1911 and set on various lighthouse stations throughout the area. Each features an inspiring missive of hope that speaks to the inner, secret longings of the heart and to the larger message of salvation.

Although some are as seemingly bereft as the islands that they inhabit, the heroines are the mainstay of this anthology. As romantic as the idea of living in a lighthouse sounds, the reality proves it to be a difficult life, especially for women. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, upkeep involved much more than simply lighting the lamp; maintaining the lighthouse and its environs required constant physical labor as well as tending to any shipwrecks that might occur. The women in these tales are duly stalwart in spirit, yet they are all the more endearing for their vulnerabilities. In one way or another, each young lady struggles with her identity. Some want to prove their merit as light keepers, while others seek to find their individual station in life, trials that continue today.

Throughout the seven tales related in this book, the Lord becomes the bastion to which the characters cling, and He is still the One we should seek. Fans of Hazel Gaynor’s “The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter” will cherish this collection, as will any historical romance readers. In the featured story, Kathleen Rouser’s “The Last Memory”, an increasing sense of suspense pervades the tale as Natalie (“Mallory”) experiences amnesia and finds herself at the Mackinac Point Lighthouse with keeper Cal Waterson, trying to discover her past and not realizing how much it will affect them both. Two of my other favorite stories were Candice Sue Patterson’s “Beneath a Michigan Moon” and “The Disappearing Ship” by Lena Nelson Dooley. “Beneath a Michigan Moon” struck a chord with me because of Ava’s illness and her battle with physical limitations and isolation, along with her release of self-sufficiency. “The Disappearing Ship” recalled one of my favorite fictional characters, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, as Norma contended with her gender standing in the way of practicing medicine and also with a missing treasure. Each tale offers an uplifting narrative that speaks to our heart’s desire to love and to be loved, to find our true identity in Christ.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.
 

Blog Stops

 

 

Among the Reads, February 21

The Power of Words, February 21

Godly Book ReviewsFebruary 22

Simple Harvest Reads, February 22 (Guest Post from Mindy Houng)

Bibliophile Reviews, February 23

For the Love of Literature, February 23

Just the Write Escape, February 24

Carla Loves To Read, February 24

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, February 25

Book by Book, February 25

Jennifer Sienes: Where Crisis and Christ Collide, February 26

EmpowerMoms, February 26

Back Porch Reads, February 27

Through the Fire Blogs, February 27

Blossoms and Blessings, February 28

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 28

Mary Hake, February 28

Christian Author, J.E. Grace, March 1

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, March 1

Connie’s History ClassroomMarch 2

Blogging With Carol, March 2

Texas Book-aholic, March 3

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, March 3

KarenSueHadleyMarch 4

Janices book reviewsMarch 4

Carpe Diem, March 5

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, March 5

A Baker’s Perspective, March 6

BigreadersiteMarch 6

 

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Kathy is giving away a grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card, a signed copy of The Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides Collection, a sterling silver charm of the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse, and a souvenir pictorial book of some of the Great Lakes lighthouse!!
 
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/db9a/the-great-lakes-lighthouse-brides-collection-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

Review
5 Stars
Secrets Abound
Ladies of Intrigue - Michelle Griep

As soon as I heard about Michelle Griep’s “Ladies of Intrigue”, I was drawn in, and I jumped at the chance to review it. Three stories from the nineteenth century, tinged with mystery? Sign me up! Despite the brevity of the stories, each one had a twisting denouement and a swift but satisfying conclusion. They could all have easily been novel-length, but as it was, the rapid pace assured that there was no lagging to the plot. “The Gentleman Smuggler’s Lady”, set on the Cornish coast in 1815, reminded me of Abigail Wilson’s “In the Shadow of Croft Towers”, so readers of this short story may enjoy that novel and vice versa. From there Griep takes us to 1862 Minnesota in “The Doctor’s Lady”, which was the least mysterious of the three but full of other conflict, including that between the Indians and the United States during the Sioux Uprising and the dangers of being a single woman during that time. My favorite, however, was “A House of Secrets”, which differed from the previous two stories in both title format and writing style. This last tale was written more poetically and featured characters from the upper class in Minnesota in 1890, and it held the most secrets. Each narrative focused on the characters’ need to trust and rely on God and His provision. It was interesting to trace how women’s roles and societal expectations changed over the decades through the timeline arc of this collection. Historical fiction and romance fans will enjoy these stories, which combine love, the conventions of the past, and the necessity of faith—both then and now.

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

Review
5 Stars
Remember the Alamo!
The Alamo Bride - Kathleen Y'Barbo

Since Kathleen Y’Barbo wrote “The Pirate Bride”, book 2 in The Daughters of the Mayflower series, it is also fitting that she penned “The Alamo Bride”, as there are direct connections between some of the characters. Although I mention this in most of my reviews for this series, it is worth echoing; each book in this series contains a solid plotline that allows it to stand on its own, yet with some mention of previous characters, and the series never feels formulaic. Each contains a romance, but there is a fresh diversity with each new time period and couple. Part of this is no doubt due to having different authors, and the challenge of maintaining the overarching theme of faith and adventure is always met. Readers can start with any book in the series, but for the best experience, I would recommend reading them in order. Doing so also offers a nice chronological timeline of America’s pivotal historical events. Prior to reading this novel, I must admit that I had little knowledge about the Texas Revolution and the Alamo. Nor have I read many books about the Southwest. Thus “The Alamo Bride” was both enlightening and entertaining. The New Orleans Greys were new to me as well, and it was interesting to learn about their involvement in the conflict. Clay Gentry’s role in the novel surprised me, and Ellis Valmont always brought a smile to my face with her feistiness and devotion to her family and the cause. Jean Paul Valmont provided an appealing character because of the difficult decisions he had to make as a patriarch and businessman. The danger of everyday life during this time period was startling, but Y’Barbo does a nice job of presenting the humanity of both the Texian and Mexican sides. As a crucial element of the plot, the head injury was a fascinating and unique touch, adding an extra layer of intrigue. This novel delivers faith, conflict, humor, and love while exploring an often-overlooked piece of our nation’s history. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

Review
5 Stars
From Elk to Mermaids!
Camp Club Girls: Bailey - Linda Carlblom

Linda Carlblom’s “Camp Club Girls: Bailey” 4-in-1 collection includes “Bailey’s Estes Park Excitement”, “Bailey’s Peoria Problem”’, “Bailey and the Sante Fe Secret”, and “Bailey and the Florida Mermaid Park Mystery” with Kate, Alex, Elizabeth, and Sydney each partnering with Bailey, respectively. These mysteries provide just the right amount of danger and suspense to keep girls engaged without being frightening and fall between the Boxcar Children and Nancy Drew as far as reading level and intensity are concerned. The Camp Club Girls series has a nice diversity of characters from different racial backgrounds, united by their faith in God and their knack for solving capers. Although each story focuses on an adventure with two of the girls, the rest of the club is always kept up-to-date on the mystery and offers support through research and prayer. Scripture is quoted frequently and woven neatly into each story, and the girls are given a chance to reach out to others and evangelize as they work on each case. However, they do make mistakes, and they have vulnerabilities, which also teaches an important lesson: none of us are perfect.

These stories included several interesting scenarios and settings. From elk stampeding through town to sheep bearing strange messages, from a Native American pottery shop in the desert to Mermaid Park in Florida, there is no shortage of mysteries for Bailey and her friends to solve! They make new friends along the way and help those in need, all while having fun and strengthening their faith. I would highly recommend this series to girls ages 8 and up!

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

Review
5 Stars
Redemption and Healing
The Forgiving Jar - Wanda E. Brunstetter

Sometimes sequels struggle to continue the storyline and keep the reader interested, but that is not the case with Wanda Brunstetter’s “The Forgiving Jar”. Picking up where “The Hope Jar” left off, book two in The Prayer Jars series focuses mainly on Sara Murray, although Michelle’s story continues to unfold as well. The two young women clash when they both begin living with Sara’s grandparents because of Michelle’s former deceit. Sara’s character was not very genial for a large portion of the book, and while I did not like her attitude, the author does a good job of explaining it, and the feelings that Sara experiences are ones that everyone can relate to in some form or another. This is contrasted with Michelle, who has become a Christian and is turning her life around. It did not seem as though there would be a resolution by the end of the novel, but thankfully things came together near the end.

“The Forgiving Jar” is a thought-provoking novel that truly engages the reader. Being given the advantage of viewing situations from both Sara’s and Michelle’s point of view adds depth to the reading experience and challenges how readers themselves respond to each scenario. Brunstetter adroitly incorporates Pennsylvania Dutch words into the dialogue while also defining them so that there is no confusion. Learning about how contemporary Amish folks have incorporated some aspects of modern living into their lifestyles while still remaining separate from the modern world is fascinating. Likewise, Sara’s and Michelle’s characters illustrate two different responses to the simple life, both coming from a place of past hurt. This is an excellent novel for those who have read book one and who enjoy a wholesome story full of redemption and healing from the past.

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

Review
5 Stars
Surround Me Book Review

 

Blurb

 

Battles rage in Elizabeth Elliot’s heart as the threat of war invades her hometown.

 

Charles Town, South Carolina, 1773—The dark curtain of the rumors of revolution threatens to descend as Louis Lestarjette makes a permanent break from his homeland and pursues his relations with Elizabeth. Somehow, he must find a way to manage all aspects of his life amid the political and financial difficulties this turbulent time throws at him. Never has his heart been at the center of his life decisions, challenging what he really wants, if he cannot have it all.

 

Elizabeth Elliott must find unwavering courage, choosing to allow God’s love to surround her with strength. A marriage during a time of confusion seems impossible as a Patriot from a Loyalist family who loves a Frenchman. She wonders how a faithful daughter can marry without her father’s permission. After a summer apart from Louis, she begins to fear that the uncertain times might delay their life together.

 

 

Bio:

 

 

Marguerite Martin Gray is the author of Hold Me Close, Surround Me, and Bring Me Near--Revolutionary Faith Books One, Two and Three. She enjoys studying history and writing fiction. An avid traveler and reader, she teaches high school Spanish and has degrees in French, Spanish, and Journalism from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, and a MA in English from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas. Marguerite is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Abilene Writers Guild, Daughters of the American Revolution, South Carolina Historical Society, and Preservation Society of Charleston. She currently lives in North Louisiana with her husband. 

 

 

My Review:

 

The sequel to “Hold Me Close”, “Surround Me” plunges readers immediately back into the world of pre-Revolutionary Charles Town, South Carolina. Louis and Elizabeth’s story continues alongside that of the burgeoning nation, two plot lines that dovetail and reveal the intricacies of colonial life. In many ways, America is facing similar situations today, and this makes the narrative more apropos and relevant. Under oppression and unfair rule by the British, the colonies must decide where they stand and settle on a course of action. From the vantage point of history, it is easy to forget about all of the less-well-known events and just focus on the big picture, but “Surround Me” highlights the formation and strengthening of the Sons of Liberty and the political stirrings that fomented rebellion.

 

 

As a work of fiction, this novel adheres to historical fact while adding in a vital human element. Through the lives of Louis and Elizabeth, readers have a vested interest in the happenings of the town and the country at large. Reading about the couple’s trip to Boston was interesting, particularly in how closely it resembles a modern honeymoon. As partisans, both characters lead lives that put them at the forefront of the revolutionary movement, and readers are given the opportunity to see the roles a woman and a successful businessman would each play in the demonstrations and meetings leading up to war. Several famous historical figures appear, including Samuel Adams and John and Abigail Adams, the latter of whom is credited with the idea of creating pockets in petticoats to conceal items. The most inspiring component of the story is Louis and Elizabeth’s unwavering faith in God in the face of growing turbulence and unrest. Their allegiance is to God first, then each other, then their homeland, a delineation that serves well today, too.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and Goodreads and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

 

Review
5 Stars
A Love to Behold Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book


Title: A Love to Behold
 
Author: Sharlene MacLaren
 
Genre: Christian romance, historical
 
Release date: January 8, 2019
 
Publisher: Whitaker House

Two years after the Civil War, Lydia Albright, 27, is an established teacher in Boston when she senses God’s call to leave the comfort and security of her job and go south. She accepts a position to teach in a school for former slaves in Charleston, South Carolina. A church there that’s affiliated with the American Missionary Association offers support, along with room and board at the parsonage.
 
The Ku Klux men are hell-bent on seeing that the new school fails. Lydia’s life is threatened, and the parsonage, church, and school are vandalized.
 
But they haven’t contended with a strong, determined woman like Lydia before. It also helps that she has a couple potential suitors on her side.
 
A Love to Behold is a tale of people who grow strong in the face of adversity and a church that learns love, compassion, and acceptance, even in the face of cruelty and hatred. Click here to purchase your copy!

About the Author



Born and raised in west Michigan, Sharlene MacLaren attended Spring Arbor University. Upon graduating in 1971 with an education degree, she taught second grade for two years, then accepted an invitation to travel internationally with a singing ensemble for one year. In 1975, she came home, returned to her teaching job, and married her childhood sweetheart. Together, they raised two lovely daughters, both of whom are now happily married and enjoying families of their own. Retired in 2003 after thirty-one years of teaching, “Shar” loves to read, sing, travel, and spend time with her family—in particular, her adorable grandchildren!
 
A Christian for over fifty years, and a lover of the English language, Shar always enjoyed dabbling in writing. She remembers well the short stories she wrote in high school, and watching them circulate from girl to girl during government and civics classes. “Psst,” someone would whisper from two rows over, always when the teacher’s back was turned, “pass me the next page.”
 
In the early 2000s, Shar felt God’s call upon her heart to take her writing pleasures a step further, and in 2006, she signed a contract for her first faith-based novel, Through Every Storm, thereby launching her writing career. With eighteen published novels now gracing store shelves and being sold online, she daily gives God all the glory. She dedicated her last novel, Their Daring Hearts, to Jesus.
 
Shar has done numerous countrywide book signings and made several television appearances and radio interviews. She loves speaking for community organizations, libraries, church groups, and women’s conferences. In her church, she is active in women’s ministries, regularly facilitating Bible studies and other events. She and her husband, Cecil, live in Spring Lake, Michigan, with their beautiful white collie, Peyton, and their ragdoll cat, Blue.
 
Shar loves hearing from her readers. If you wish to contact her as a potential speaker for a church function or would simply like to chat with her, please feel free to send her an e-mail at sharlenemaclaren@yahoo.com. She will do her best to answer in a timely manner. You may also find her on Facebook.
 
 

Guest Post from Sharlene

 

 

My dear readers,
 
It has indeed been my great privilege and pleasure to write this series set in Civil War times. What a thought-provoking, amazing, and heart-wrenching era in American history.
 
If you read all three books in the “Forever Freedom” series—Summer on Sunset Ridge, Their Daring Hearts, and A Love to Behold—you will have gotten some history lessons regarding the Religious Society of Friends, also known as Quakers; Abolition; the Underground Railroad, which the Quakers were instrumental in launching; life as a Union soldier in the Civil War; the Freedmen’s Bureau; and Reconstruction, that period following the war when the south had fallen into great dis-repair. Also prevalent in this third book is a bit of history regarding the origin of the Ku Klux Klan, a hate group that formed during the Reconstruction period.
 
Although I did not appreciate history as a young girl, as an older adult, I’m quite fascinated by it. History itself is a great teacher. Learning about it can be everything from exhilarating to depressing, challenging and yet exciting. It is my prayer that as you read my books, you’ll not only find them entertaining, but also inspiring and uplifting. I aim to encourage, not discourage. Much of history—if we dwell on it—can be disheartening, but focusing our hearts and minds on Christ gives us courage and confidence. Let us learn from history, but let us look to the future with hope in our hearts.
 
With love and a prayer for God’s best blessings,
 
Shar
 
 

My Review

 

Somehow this is the first book that I have read by Sharlene MacLaren, and I definitely feel as though I have been missing out! Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres because I believe that we can and should learn from the past and use it to not only inform the present but also to help us move forward in faith. Granted, some events from the past are ones that we would rather forget, but to do so would be to stop learning from them and thus risk repeating them. American slavery comes to mind. We recall its horrors and its official end but sometimes tend to forget about the ensuing period, which ultimately culminated in the Civil Rights movement a century later. Reconstruction in the South was a time of immense change and challenges, something that Sharlene MacLaren masterfully addresses in “A Love to Behold”, book 3 in the Forever Freedom series.

Lydia Albright arrives in Charleston, South Carolina in August 1867 to fulfill God’s calling to serve as a teacher at a newly-constructed school for black children. The school is sponsored by a local church, and the way in which the community is divided over the school provides the main conflict. What surprised me the most was that so many citizens were in favor of or at least reconciled to the existence of the school in what I think of as a bastion city of the South. MacLaren adeptly portrayed how some people accepted that the Civil War was over and that times were changing, whereas the more intransigent members of society continued to rebel. The Ku Klux Klan plays an important role in this novel, and it was both frightening and informative to read about their perspective. What I most appreciated was the inclusion of characters such as Lewis, who forms a bridge between the diehard and progressive mentality, and Luetta, whose intelligence battles against years of abuse and neglect. In many ways, this is a novel of finding balance, and clearly the best way to do so is to follow the Lord’s leading in spite of the obstacles that stand in our way—a timely message for all of us.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.


Blog Stops

 

Reading Is My SuperPower, January 22

Maureen’s Musings, January 22

Jeanette’s Thoughts, January 23

Genesis 5020, January 23

Jennifer Sienes: Where Crisis and Christ Collide, January 24

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, January 24

Splashes of JoyJanuary 25

Blossoms and Blessings, January 25

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, January 26

Mary Hake, January 26

Godly Book Reviews, January 27

Daysong ReflectionsJanuary 27

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 28

Robin is Bookish, January 28

My Devotional Thoughts, January 29

Locks, Hooks and Books, January 29

The Becca Files, January 30

For the Love of LiteratureJanuary 30

Texas Book-aholic, January 31

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 31

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, February 1

Janices book reviews, February 1

A Baker’s Perspective, February 2

Bibliophile Reviews, February 3

Carpe Diem, February 4

Bigreadersite, February 4

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Sharlene is giving away a grand prize of a $20 Starbucks gift card!!
 
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/d8d2/a-love-to-behold-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

Review
5 Stars
Camp Club Girls on the Case!
Camp Club Girls: Elizabeth - Green,  Renae Brumbaugh

This four-book collection includes “Camp Club Girls and the Mystery at Discovery Lake”, “Elizabeth’s Armadillo Adventure”, “Elizabeth’s San Antonio Sleuthing”, and “Elizabeth and the Music City Mayhem.” As someone who grew up reading Nancy Drew and Lois Gladys Leppard’s “Mandie” series, I was eager to see what the genre is offering twenty-first century girls. Despite having a modern setting and making use of current technology, these stories had an old-fashioned, reassuring feel to them. There is a strong Christian thread throughout each of the stories, but it is not over-the-top. The girls are very respectful toward their elders, addressing them as sir or ma’am, and this was not only refreshing but also sets a good example for readers. The girls are well-mannered and courteous but not saccharine-sweet, nor are they perfect, and they do make mistakes; as such, they are definitely relatable while also being good role models. The inclusion of all the Camp Club Girls in each story, even if the main focus was only on a couple of them, was fun and added different perspectives to each situation. I loved that Alex (Alexis) always made references to classic detectives and TV shows, and Kate’s affinity for gadgets provided an interesting angle. The two stories in which Biscuit the dog was featured were my favorites. I thoroughly enjoyed this collection, and although it is recommended for ages 10-12, I think that older girls (and even adults!) will find it appealing.

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

Review
0 Stars
Hold Me Close Book Review

 

Blurb

 

The leisurely life Louis has intended does not include revolution.

 

Charles Town, South Carolina, 1772—Louis Lestarjette arrives from France without purpose or plans beyond reconnecting with family and making a profit. Finding the town questioning its alliances, Louis must make decisions about the direction in his life, even as he tries to avoid all political conflict. He wonders if he will be able to stay neutral in a battle for independence. When decisive events confront him, Louis finds himself torn between staying with the woman he loves or escaping the coming conflicts.

 

Elizabeth Elliott trusts that God will hold her close in uncertain and changing times. Faced with difficult decisions about her loyalties, she finds comfort in close friends, a devout sister, and her music. When the mysterious Frenchman with no commitment to God or Charles Town enters her life, he challenges her role in the political battle. She must decide what actions she can take for the cause, if any at all.

 

 

Bio:

 

 

Marguerite Martin Gray is the author of Hold Me CloseSurround Me, and Bring Me Near--Revolutionary Faith Books One, Two and Three. She enjoys studying history and writing fiction. An avid traveler and reader, she teaches high school Spanish and has degrees in French, Spanish, and Journalism from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, and a MA in English from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas. Marguerite is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Abilene Writers Guild, Daughters of the American Revolution, South Carolina Historical Society, and Preservation Society of Charleston. She currently lives in North Louisiana with her husband.

 

 

My Review: 

 

The Colonial era is one of my favorites in the historical fiction (and nonfiction) genre, so I was immediately eager to read “Hold Me Close”. However, as the story began, I started to have my doubts as to whether or not I would enjoy it because I was not enamored with one of the main characters. Introduced on page one, with much of the narrative being told from his point of view, Frenchman Louis Lestarjette did not seem like a particularly interesting character. I was put off by what I perceived as arrogance and his singular pursuit of wealth as well as his stubborn neutrality. To my delight, I saw him develop a dynamic personality as he settled into his new life in Charles Town, South Carolina. This was what I appreciated most about his character, that he represented those who wanted to maintain their neutrality and just conduct their business as usual. As an outsider, his perspective was valuable in viewing the positions of both the Loyalists and the Sons of Liberty. How his faith journey intertwined with his political enlightenment enhanced my enjoyment of the story.

 

 

 

As the other main character, Elizabeth Elliott proved affable from the beginning, a devoted Christian and woman of high standing, and yet she was not without her own struggles. Living with an unabashedly British father and a submissive mother, neither of her parents understood her passion or her political stance. With that being said, something that pleasantly surprised me was that Elizabeth enjoyed an amount of freedom that I would not have expected for women during this time period. She not only taught part-time, and at a college no less, but she also seemed to be able to come and go as she pleased. Undoubtedly, she faced certain restrictions of gender, but belonging to the upper class afforded her (and Louis) the autonomy to become politically involved. Both were able to use their positions in society to benefit their cause. This added intrigue to the story and demonstrated how citizens prepared for inevitable conflict during the pre-revolutionary years. I look forward to following Louis and Elizabeth’s journey as tensions in the colonies rise!

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

 

 

Social Media:

 

http://margueritemartingray.blog

 

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14836211.Marguerite_Martin_Gray

 

https://www.amazon.com/Marguerite-Martin-Gray/e/B01ASA16RC

 

https://www.pinterest.com/gray8864/historical-christian-fiction-hold-me-close/