Monday, September 25, 2017

Book Review: All That Makes Life Bright


Josi Kilpack has written a fictionalized version of Harriet Beecher Stowe's life as a newly married woman in her new book, All That Makes Life Bright. Though the book begins in the early 1800s, some of the issues Harriet faces regarding her writing, her call to the social issues of her day, and juggling that with being a wife and mother are so poignant and pertinent to modern-day women.

The story opens with Harriet preparing for her wedding to Calvin Stowe. He's been widowed and Harriet felt like she wouldn't have the opportunity to marry, but when they connect, she feels strongly that she should marry him. Her sister, Catharine, voices her concern that Harriet will lose herself and all the good she can do with her God-given talents, if she marries and becomes a mother. Harriet assures her that Calvin supports her writing and she will be able to continue developing herself and rearing a family.

From there on, that conversation rings in the reader's head as Harriet struggles in her marriage, and she tries to to put that assertion to the test. Calvin still misses his first wife, he's away when Harriet first discovers she's pregnant, and their expectations of the other don't seem to align in very many ways. And that's just the beginning! Everything is compounded when her views on slavery and social issues start to become more pointed. Because the author did such a wonderful job of making Harriet so relatable, readers will care about her and her marriage and wonder how she will ever make this work. The setting and time period is very well done and though I had read a biography of Harriet years ago, this book really makes her come alive and what led her to write, Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Compared to the other books in the Proper Romance line, this isn't a romance of first love, or even second chance love in a familiar sense, this is more of finding a way to keep the romance alive in marriage while facing unexpected and hard realities in life. It was real and sometimes raw and absolutely riveting.


Here's the back copy:

When Harriet Beecher marries Calvin Stowe on January 6, 1836, she is sure her future will be filled romance, eventually a family, and continued opportunities to develop as a writer. Her husband Calvin is completely supportive and said she must be a literary woman. Harriet’s sister, Catharine, worries she will lose her identity in marriage, but she is determined to preserve her independent spirit. Deeply religious, she strongly believes God has called her to fulfill the roles of wife and writer and will help her accomplish everything she was born to do.

Two months after her wedding Harriet discovers she is pregnant just as Calvin prepares to leave for a European business trip. Alone, Harriet is overwhelmed—being a wife has been harder than she thought and being an expectant mother feels like living another woman’s life. Knowing that part of Calvin still cherishes the memory of his first wife, Harriet begins to question her place in her husband’s heart and yearns for his return; his letters are no substitute for having him home. When Calvin returns, however, nothing seems to have turned out as planned.

Struggling to balance the demands of motherhood with her passion for writing and her desire to be a part of the social change in Ohio, Harriet works to build a life with her beloved Calvin despite differing temperaments and expectations.

Can their love endure, especially after “I do”? Can she recapture the first blush of new love and find the true beauty in her marriage?

You can download your copy here

Friday, September 22, 2017

Freebie Friday



Today's Freebie Friday is a YA Paranormal by Sherry D. Ficklin called Queen of Someday. I haven't read this one, but it has a lot of great reviews and sounds riveting!

You can download your copy here

Here's the back copy:

Before she can become the greatest empress in history, fifteen-year-old Sophie will have to survive her social-climbing mother's quest to put her on the throne of Russia--at any cost.

Imperial Court holds dangers like nothing Sophie has ever faced before. In the heart of St. Petersburg, surviving means navigating the political, romantic, and religious demands of the bitter Empress
Elizabeth and her handsome, but sadistic nephew, Peter. Determined to save her impoverished family--and herself--Sophie vows to do whatever is necessary to thrive in her new surroundings. But an attempt on her life and an unexpected attraction threatens to derail her plans.

Alone in a new and dangerous world, learning who to trust and who to charm may mean the difference between becoming queen and being sent home in shame to marry her lecherous uncle. With traitors and murderers lurking around every corner, her very life hangs in the balance. Betrothed to one man but falling in love with another, Sophie will need to decide how much she's willing to sacrifice in order to become the empress she is destined to be.

In a battle for the soul of a nation, will love or destiny reign supreme?


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Book Review--Even This by Emily Belle Freeman



In the Non-Fiction Corner
by Lauren B.

First things first, Emily Freeman knows how to throw quite the party! To release her book, she invited quite a few bloggers over to her home where she provided desserts, live music from Mercy River, and she had a Q&A where she was able to tell more about her idea for the book. I was even more excited to read it after learning more about the background and meeting the author! I knew I was going to love the book.

And Freeman did not disappoint. Her writing style is absolutely on point. The book is fast paced, the stories are never dragged out and she makes you want to keep reading. She has a great way of telling stories, you can hear her voice and you feel like she is talking to you. Her stories about her family and her life are told in such a way that you feel like you were there. You feel like you’re sitting right there in the hospital room when her husband is having surgery on his tumors, when she is chatting with God through her hard pregnancies, and even around her family dinner table as they have a good laugh about a hole-poking washer. Her experiences are so relevant to the point she is trying to get across in the book, its like the Lord is in control and prepared her for it or something. ;)

The message of the book is phenomenal. It talks about the idea that we put limitations on God, but He is exactly what we need him to be. He is kind, loving, abundant, all knowing and a miracle worker. He is everything for everyone because we are all His children, and He can succor us perfectly. This book made me really ponder on the fact that even our trials are perfect for us. The Lord knows what we can handle. He knows what he needs us to be not only in the next life, but in this one as well and our experiences will prepare us to become. But that doesn’t mean we are left alone! He is there every step of the way. He won’t leave us comfortless. Freeman picked well-known, meaningful scriptures, but also stories that I had never pondered before. We have all heard the story of Moses, but thinking about the faith it took to step out of the ordinary and the familiar into something difficult but better was an eye-opener for me. I loved this book. I can’t wait to use the journal, to evaluate who God is to me, and to trust him with anything.

You can purchase your copy here

Here's the back copy:

In Even This, Emily Belle Freeman shares her own deeply personal experiences of feeling forgotten by God—from the fear of abandonment in a dark hospital room to the desperation that followed months of unanswered prayers. In a moment of honesty, she found herself asking the question she had been afraid to consider: “Where is God in this?”

Through biblical insight, genuine realness, and beautiful prose, Emily will help you discover how to:
  • Diminish the power of doubt by coming to understand why the place of deepest asking is where the believing begins.
  • Stop letting fear dictate the depth of your belief through simple daily reflections that will restore your confidence in God.
  • Let go of your need to control by discovering what is holding you back from being completely vulnerable in your relationship with God.

Trust that God may have something different in mind than you–something better.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Sweet Historical Romance Review And A Giveaway!


I'm so excited to be part of the blog tour for Rachael Anderson's new book, The Pursuit of Lady Harriet. We return to Tanglewood for the final book in this series so Lady Harriett can have her story told. And what a story it is!

Harriett has completed her first season and though it was a success, she didn't find anyone who captured her heart. She is visiting Tanglewood as she awaits the start of her second season, when Jonathon Ludlow's friend, Lieutenant Christopher Jamison arrives. He angers her, charms her, and generally confuses her. But can this man who loves a good joke ever be serious enough to capture Harriett's heart?

I enjoyed going back to Tanglewood again and glimpsing previous couples and how their lives were turning out. Harriett has appeared in the other books and I was glad to hear this was to be her story. She is such an interesting heroine who gets herself in a lot of funny situations as she tries to put the lieutenant in his place, yet he refuses to fit into her expectations. Some of those instances painted her in a petulant and immature light at first, but what will draw readers to her character is that she has a believable growth arc throughout the book that really redeemed her. I thought it was relatable that she had self-esteem issues and of course, couldn't read our hero's intentions very well which led to several misunderstandings between them. All of those misunderstandings heightened the angst of the story and made it so readers will be turning pages long into the night to see if Christopher and Harriett get their happy ending!

This was a fun, romantic, afternoon read, especially if you love Tanglewood and the world Ms. Anderson has created through this series. (Although this book can stand alone, you'll definitely want to read the other two if you haven't already!)

Don't forget to scroll down and enter the giveaway!

You can download your copy of The Pursuit of Lady Harriett here

Here's the back copy:

When wills clash and hearts collide, who will reign victorious?

 Termed an Incomparable during her first London season, Lady Harriett Cavendish is beautiful, spirited, and confident, capturing the attention of a great many suitors. Unfortunately, they all failed to capture her attention, and she concluded the season as unattached as she’d begun it. Only weeks prior to her second season, Harriett encounters Lieutenant Christopher Jamison while visiting Tanglewood Manor. Recently returned from war, the lieutenant is everything that Harriett's previous suitors were not. He’s arrogant, ungentlemanly, irritating, and challenges her at every opportunity. When he goes too far, Harriett decides that it’s time to turn the tables on him. But as she sets out to put the lieutenant in his place once and for all, she discovers there is more to him than meets the eye, and when it comes to matters of the heart, she has no control whatsoever.

EXCERPT 

Harriett looked at what remained of the cake. Apparently, he didn’t intend to finish it off after all, so she collected their forks and stood. “Forgive me for saying so, but you look quite done in, Chris. If you do not go up to bed now, you will probably fall asleep here. Only imagine what Mrs. Caddy might say if she discovers you here with the mostly-eaten cake. For your own sake, you ought to retire. I will do my best to tidy things up.”

Before she could move away from him, he grabbed her hand and guided her to sit back down, keeping hold of her fingers. “Not so fast, my lady. I meant it when I said that I’m in desperate need of the distraction that only you can provide. Thus far, all I have done is burden you with my troubles.”

“I do not feel at all burdened, sir.” Indeed, Harriett suddenly felt breathless and somewhat giddy. The effect this man had on her was something of a wonder.

“Sir?” he asked. “I thought we were beyond that.”

“I thought so as well, but you only just called me ‘my lady.’”

He frowned and blinked as though he hadn’t realized he had. “Forgive me, Harry. I fear my exhaustion has muddled my thinking.”

This time, she did not let the name slide. She snatched her hand free and frowned at him. “Obviously it has.”

He laughed—not a tired attempt at a laugh, but a real one filled with the richness that warmed her straight through. Only this time, it did not bother her at all. In fact, it felt wonderful, almost like a compliment. “I knew you’d come through for me,” he said, leaning close enough to touch shoulders with her. “You have no idea how much I needed to laugh or how good that felt. I could honestly kiss you right now.”

Harriett tried her best not to blush or appear astonished by the suggestion—he had obviously made the comment in jest—but when his smile widened into a devilish grin, she knew she’d failed. He leaned in closer, and his gaze wandered briefly to her mouth before returning to her eyes. She could smell vanilla and lemon and a hint of something else—leather perhaps? A delightful pulse whipped down her arm, and she was hard-pressed not to shiver.

“Admit it,” he said. “You have missed me.”

 

 

   Rachael

Author Rachael Anderson A USA Today bestselling author, Rachael Anderson is the mother of four and is pretty good at breaking up fights, or at least sending guilty parties to their rooms. She can’t sing, doesn’t dance, and despises tragedies. But she recently figured out how yeast works and can now make homemade bread, which she is really good at eating.




$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway Ends 10/1/17 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Movie Premiere for Joseph Smith, American Prophet


I just got back from the movie premiere for the new PBS documentary of Joseph Smith, American Prophet. One was done back in 1999 and now there's a new one out. It was a beautiful production that added so much to the narrative with reenactments and interviews including experts both within and without the LDS church. They did keep the late Gregory Peck's voice-overs and I was glad. He has an amazing voice!

I took my family to the show and it was interesting to see their reactions. There were details presented that one of my children hadn't known before and it led to a wonderful discussion on the way home. We got to meet (and sit by) some of the actors, as well as listen to the men who pitched the show as well as produced and directed it---Lee Groberg and Mark Goodman.  From their speeches, it sounds like there were several miracles that took place from the idea to the actual realization of the movie.

It will be out on video next month, but you can request it from your local PBS station right now. It is definitely well worth your time if you ever wanted a fair and balanced peek into the history of the LDS church and more specifically, Joseph Smith himself.

Here's the teaser:

Millions of people around the world know of him. Yet this American frontier prophet of the early 1800's found little honor and eventual martyrdom at the hands of an angry mob in his own country. Who was this Joseph Smith and what was it about his remarkable life story, which inspired such impassioned rancor or unflinching loyalty and even reverence?

Using all new interviews, new footage and new historical reinactments, and infused with the classic narration of the late Gregory Peck, Lee Groberg has created a wholly new and engaging film about the life of Joseph Smith.


Monday, September 18, 2017

First Date Disasters In This Book Review & Giveaway!


Today's book review is Wish Me Love by Michele Ashman Bell. There are so many laugh out loud moments in this one, you won't want to put it down!

Charlotte Wells is trying to get through the day---what would have been her second wedding anniversary---if her best friend hadn't married her ex-fiance. Luckily, her co-worker Jack looks out for her and encourages her to put herself out there again. They strike a bargain over a wishing bracelet---Charlotte will go on fifty first dates, if Jack will wear a wishing bracelet. He agrees and I love how that wishing bracelet figures in the story for both of them. Charlotte gives out her phone number to friends and goes on so many disastrous first dates that were funny and groan-worthy at the same time.

I really enjoyed the banter and connection Charlotte has with Jack, as they're starting a business together, and trying to help each other. They are such close friends and he's so sweet, always looking out for what's best for Charlotte. Loved him. (And how respectful they were of Jack's engagement.)

When Charlotte goes to her cousin's wedding in Brazil, things start to change for her on the romance front and the author has made Charlotte so relatable and realistic that you will definitely be hoping she gets the happy ending she deserves. I loved the Brazilian setting and how the author really makes it feel like you're there, experiencing it all with Charlotte. This was such a cute romance! A fun afternoon read.

Don't forget to scroll down and enter the giveaway!


Here's the back copy:

Charlotte Wells does not date. After surviving a broken engagement, she’s taken a leave of absence from the social scene. So when her best friend and coworker, Jack, challenges her to get back in the game, she’s not so sure she’s ready to play. But ultimately, curiosity gets the best of her, and Charlotte accepts the daunting challenge: she will attempt to have fifty first dates in her effort to find “the one.” Unfortunately, she quickly realizes that the dating pool mostly holds clown fish as she goes on one lousy outing after another. Without a good man in sight as summer ends, Charlotte cuts her losses and sets her sights on a fun-filled trip to her cousin’s destination wedding in Brazil.

Brazil is a land of beautiful sights and delicious offerings—including Max, the charming brother of her cousin’s new husband. Max has all the makings of a Prince Charming in soccer cleats, and Charlotte’s happily ever after seems to be within reach. But love is a funny thing, and soon Charlotte finds herself wondering: could it be that her true love has been right in front of her all along?



Tour schedule:

Friday, September 15, 2017

Freebie Friday For Romance Fans!



It's a rainy, drizzly day here which means I want to curl up in a soft blanket with a good book. Sigh. Maybe even have some chocolate chip cookies and a roaring fire in the fireplace? Too much?

Well, I can at least have the blanket and book part. I've read Lucy McConnell books before and enjoyed them, and she is offering her sweet romance of A Reclusive Billionaire for free today! 

If you need a new book to read, too, you can get your free copy here (and I'll give you bonus points if you can spot the typo on the back copy that made me smile just because of the context of it.)

Here's the back copy:

Lucas Scott, a world-renowned microbiologist, is desperate to find a cure for the butterfly flu before it spreads. Hounded by the media, he escapes to his houseboat in Santa Barbara where he meets a vivacious veterinarian with a penchant for taking in strays. While he searches for the key to unlocking the butterfly flu, Becca somehow unlocks his analytical heart.

Becca Lee isn't impressed with her new neighbor. His clothes are constantly wrinkled and he's grumpier than a cat with digestive problems. However, Luke isn't easy to brush off. He's always around, has a magnificent mind, and is full of surprises. But, what she can't figure out is why her instincts tell her to trust this rouge billionaire. It doesn't take long to realize he is the only one alive who can save the world and Becca has to make a choice--open her heart or watch Luke sail off into the sunset.

This is the first book in the Destination Billionaire Romance series. Included is a sneak peek at the next two books in the series, Almost Everything, by Taylor Hart, and The Lucky Billionaire, by Jeanette Lewis.