Cover Reveal and Giveaway!: The Thorn Keeper by Pepper Basham

Dear reader friends,

Today is a day I am especially excited to be here with you sharing the wonder of books. It is a day long awaited because my joy that comes with sharing the elements of this book’s creation is doubled in knowing we are also celebrating this day with a good author friend of mine. Pepper D. Basham, author, speech language pathologist, pastor’s wife, and mother of five children is simply a wonderful person. With an Appalachian accent and strong faith in God’s goodness, Pepper’s talent for crafting stories of redemption shines through beautiful writing infused with wit, humor, history, and romance.

http://www.pepperdbasham.com

Pepper’s debut novel, The Thorn Bearer, debuted in May 2015 from Vinspire Publishing. I love this book–so much that it is one of my favorites of 2015–but rather than re-tell you my praises for this novel for this 5-star novel, I’ll just point you to my review.

Now you can see why I am thrilled to share with you the cover and back-cover-blurb of Pepper’s second Penned in Time series novel, The Thorn Keeper, set to debut from Vinspire Publishing in February 2016.

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Isn’t this cover just gorgeous?! So much about the story of The Thorn Keeper is conveyed in this cover, and yet mystery remains–who is the heroine? How does the war impact the characters? How will God change their lives?

I want to delve into The Thorn Keeper after viewing this cover, but since we have to wait until February 2016 for the book to be released, I’ll share with you the back-cover-blurb. Keep reading to learn more about   the novel and find a chance to win a digital ARC of The Thorn Keeper!

About The Thorn Keeper:

With her past in shambles, how can she fashion a future of hope?

Catherine Dougall’s past of manipulation has left her future in threads. With a new faith, she longs to take the remnants of her life and make something beautiful, but shame, societies’ judgments, and the natural consequences of an unplanned pregnancy test her newfound hope. Dr. David Ross doesn’t help either. His kindness, sacrifice, and tenderness tempt her to impossible dreams. A fallen woman doesn’t merit a fairytale.

David Ross has made every effort to keep his life above reproach. His passion for the sick pump fresh purpose through his choices, but without financial support to maintain his war hospital, all is lost. When his notorious aunt offers an easy solution, David is tempted to give in to her demands, but his growing affection for the reformed flirt, Catherine Dougall, unwinds the careful wall around his heart and offers an unexpected choice.

When the worst of war tears them apart, can love renew the memory of what was lost or will tragedy steal away their hope forever.

From the beautiful Derbyshire countryside to the trenches of World War One, Catherine and David must learn to trust in a God who designs a masterpiece out of brokenness and fashions hope in the most unlikely places.

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Giveaway:

Leave a comment (answer the question below) for your chance to win a digital advanced review copy of The Thorn Keeper, which will be sent to the winners near the end of November. Giveaway will close Saturday 10/24 after 9 PM.

What’s one thing you like about this cover? Or, if you read The Thorn Bearer, what was one thing you enjoyed about Pepper’s debut?

After you’ve commented here, head over to Pepper’s website to find more chances to win! There are eight of us participating in this cover launch, so your chances to win are high.

I hope you’ll come to love the Penned in Time series as much as I have. Be sure to add The Thorn Keeper to your to-read list,  follow Pepper on Goodreads, Twitter, and Facebook.

 

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Giveaway! A Refuge at Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky

Dear reader friends,

Ahh, Wednesday, the day when we can officially begin counting down to the weekend. Isn’t that a lovely thought? Those mornings when don’t have to wake up to an alarm clock; those afternoons we can lazily while away the hours reading a good book or watching a movie? Well, I don’t have any movie suggestions for you at the moment, but I do a books–lots and lots of books, including one of my favorites of 2015 that I am so excited to share with you!

A Refuge at Highland Hall

A Refuge at Highland HallIn this third and final book in the Edwardian Brides Series, you’ll be swept away to England and France in 1915 as the Ramsey family and their staff and friends face the dramatic challenges and losses of World War One, yet they also experience the hope and triumph that comes as they put their trust in God to carry them through. Penny Ramsey helps the family welcome a group of orphaned children to Highland Hall, but she soon discovers caring for them is more difficult than she’d expected. She writes to Alex Goodwin, a daring British pilot, who chases German zeppelins across the sky over the Front Line in France, and longs for the day she will see him again. You’ll be delighted by two pure and heartwarming romances: Penny and Alex, and Lydia Chambers and Marius Ritter, a lady’s maid and a prisoner of war. But most of all I hope you’ll be inspired by the characters’ examples of trusting God through the trials they face.

Fans of “Downton Abbey” will find many of the same elements in this series: A wealthy, aristocratic family living on a large English country estate with romance, conflicts, and family drama; and loyal servants with troubles and heartaches of their own.

A Refuge at Highland Hall is one of my top-rated books of the year, with an average rating of 5 stars on Goodreads. Read my review to find out why this third novel in the Edwardian Brides series is one of my favorites of 2015.

Giveaway:

WaterBrook Multnomah has graciously given me two copies of Carrie Turansky’s A Refuge at Highland Hall, and I want share them with you. For the purpose of this giveaway, please tell me why you enjoy historical fiction, especially stories set in Edwardian England. If you’ve never read historical fiction set during this time, tell me why you would like to read A Refuge at Highland Hall. Be sure to leave your name and email address so I can get in touch with you. This giveaway will run until Monday, October 19th, on which day I will email the winners. Good luck!

Cover Reveal: The Sound of Emeralds by Rachelle Rea

Dear readers,

Don’t you just love when you finish a book and eagerly await for the next in the series? Well, I do, and I’m sure most of you feel the same way. After all, who doesn’t enjoy finishing a book knowing there’s more to come in a favorite story?

The Steadfast Love series by Rachelle Rea is one of those series whose books I have had a difficult time putting down. The writing! The romance! The faith! Rachelle Rea just knows intuitively how to make a story come alive in the most beautiful of ways.

And speaking of beauty… are you ready to see the cover for the third book in The Steadfast Love series? If I haven’t convinced you yet to start reading this series, surely this gorgeous cover will do so. This cover delivers, readers, and after seeing it and reading the back cover copy I’m about certain The Sound of Emeralds could be my favorite book in the series.


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The Sound of Emeralds by Rachelle Rea (WhiteFire Publishing, 2016)

What once was blazing hatred has turned to lasting love, but could the union of a wild heart with that of a lady ever result in more than heartache?

With the help of an old friend with uncertain loyalties, Dirk inches ever closer to clearing his name. Gwyneth throws her faith into good tidings and the promise of a future as a family. But an old evil comes to call, just as tragedy rips apart a fledgling truce. Enemies from the past and grief for the future threaten to tear asunder what God had brought together…

As the date of Dirk’s trial approaches, his fate and his family hang in the balance. Will he be proven innocent of Gwyneth’s parents’ murders—or separated from her forever? How much pain does it take to erode a love steadfast?


There you have it, the cover of Rachelle’s The Sound of Emeralds, coming from WhiteFire Publishing in 2016. If this cover has peaked your interest, be sure to head on over to Goodreads and add The Sound of Emeralds to your to-read list. You can also read my reviews oThe Sound of Diamonds and The Sound of Silver.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Rachelle ReaTimes gone by snatch Rachelle close, so she reads and writes about years long ago–her passions include the Reformation, Revolutions, and romance. In the space of a summer between sophomore and junior year, Rachelle wrote a novel set in 1566. Two years later she had finished two more novels and signed a three-book deal with her dream publisher. Her debut novel, The Sound of Diamonds, released in June 2015. The next two books in the Steadfast Love Series will swiftly follow. Find out more about Rachelle, like that she’s a homeschool grad and Oreo addict, at http://rachellerea.com.

Find all of Rachelle’s social media links on her contact page.

 

Novel Review: A Refuge at Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky

A Refuge at Highland Hall

A Refuge at Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky (Edwardian Brides #3, WaterBrook Multnomah, October 2015)

The Great War shakes the world of a spirited young woman and the brave British pilot she loves, taking her from London to her family’s magnificent country estate, and sending him into the war-torn skies over France.

Penny Ramsey has always considered Highland Hall her home, but when Britain becomes involved in World War One she travels to London to assist her sister Kate with the eight orphan children she and her husband Jon have taken into their home. Doing her part for the war effort takes priority over Penny’s dreams of romance until she meets Alex Goodwin, a Royal Naval Air Service pilot in training.

Alex is determined to prove his worth and do his part to defend his country. Knowing he is heading off for the dangerous assignment of  chasing Zeppelins across the front line in France, he feels it’s unwise to form any romantic attachments. But he can’t help admiring the pretty, warmhearted Penny and wondering what it would be like to find her waiting when he returns home from the war.

As Penny writes to Alex, their friendship blossoms, and she becomes his tie to home and normalcy as he faces the hardships war. But being an RNAS pilot means confronting the enemy, and the fallout form those experiences push Alex beyond Penny’s reach. Can God mend the brokenness left by the losses of war? Will faith and forgiveness bring them together again?


REVIEW:

I love stories set during times of war; for the last thirteen years, any novel or movie set during World War Two immediately caught my attention. While the 1940’s remain my favorite time period for stories set in war time, in 2015 a second time period has gradually won my heart. Christian fiction authors have penned quite a few novels set during the Edwardian Era, and their talent for bringing this turbulent time to life captures the hardships, challenges, romance, and elegant changes of Great Britain in the early 1900s. A Refuge at Highland Hall, written by historical-fiction fan-favorite author Carrie Turansky, is a gem of a book filled with endearing characters; dual settings of gorgeous Edwardian England and wartime France; and faith-filled lessons of redemption, love, and hope. Readers of historical fiction, especially those who yearn for historical romance, will want to pick up this book because it’s a perfect blend of the challenges of war, romance fraught with the pangs and beauty of new love, and family drama.

The storylines in A Refuge at Highland Hall, book three in the Edwardian Brides series, pick up right where Turansky’s sophomore novel left readers last year—and oh, how I am happy she wrote her newest release in this manner. Much to its compared counterpart, the Edwardian Brides series is beloved for the same reasons Downton Abbey resonates with readers: family drama and romance mixed with the changes of Edwardian England. Turansky is a master at intermingling numerous storylines in a way that combines the history of this time period into the personal lives of her characters. I loved this aspect of A Refuge of Highland Hall because I came to care about all of the characters in this saga, all while learning about the nuances of class distinctions and wartime England in the Edwardian Era.

Turansky has created a world that instantly transports readers back into early 1900’s Great Britain in A Refuge at Highland Hall. The combination of superb historical research and endearing, realistic characters drew me deep into this story—so much so that I truly felt as if I walked through Highland Hall with the Ramseys and Fosters, and flew through the skies above France and Germany with hero Alex Goodwin. The theme of family plays a central role in A Refuge at Highland Hall, which was one of my favorite aspects of this novel. No one—not one single character—is left untouched in Turansky’s story, earning my devotion to this fictional family that I wish existed in real life. With her setting built upon the details of the time period, the themes of family and faith are able to be explored in a manner that clearly demonstrates how families in Edwardian England lived lives so differently, and yet with the same fears and joys we experience today.

A Refuge at Highland Hall is a wonderful book for many reasons all of its own, but Turansky’s skill at writing prose that is both beautiful and approachable language contributes to the book’s appeal. I will be surprised if numerous lines in the novel are not found floating their way in graphics on social media, or conversely, will not be surprised if many of Turansky’s fans have memorized her words. I myself have already done the latter—and even found myself squeezing my eyes shut during a certain heart-stopping scene involving the hero’s wartime battle. This novel has largely influenced my conversion from being ambivalent to the World War One setting to being excited about future novels being set during this time. Two months in advance I already know that A Refuge at Highland Hall will be on my 2015 favorite books list. I whole-heartedly recommend this novel to anyone who likes to read historical fiction.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Purchase A Refuge at Highland Hall on the following sites: Amazon, Christian Book Distributors, Lifeway, and Barnes & Noble.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Carrie TuranskyBestselling Inspirational Romance Author Carrie Turansky has written more than a dozen historical and contemporary novels. She has won the ACFW Carol Award, the Crystal Globe Award, and the International Digital Award; and been a finalist for the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award, Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, and the ACFW Genesis Award. Visit her blog and sign up for her email newsletter on her website. Follow Carrie on Facebook and Amazon and check out her Pinterest Boards.

 

Novel Review: Luther and Katharina by Jody Hedlund + Giveaway

Luther and KatharinaLuther and Katharina by Jody Hedlund (Waterbrook Multnomah, October 2015)

Katharina von Bora has seen nothing but the inside of cloister walls since she was five. In a daring escape, Katharina finds refuge with Martin Luther and seeks his help to pair her with the noble, wealthy husband she desires.

As class tensions and religious conflicts escalate toward the brink of war, Martin Luther believes that each day could be his last and determines he will never take a wife.

As the horrors of the bloody Peasant War break out around them, the proud Katharina and headstrong Martin Luther fight their own battle for true love, in one of the greatest love stories of history.

REVIEW: 

Jody Hedlund’s Luther and Katharina: A Novel of Love and Rebellion is one of those books that sheds light on the differences between the Catholic and Protestant faiths–always a plus for me since I love to learn about the Christian faith. I found Hedlund’s first historical a compelling and intriguing read because the author, who well known for her talent in infusing historical research into her novels, blended so many elements into her prose that I fell seamlessly into the story. From the emotionally driven Martin Luther and Katharina von Bora, to the tension and pain of the German people, to the politically charged reasoning of the princes and peasants, Hedlund covered every aspect of the story to make it come alive.

Each time I read one of Hedlund’s novels I am more impressed with her talent at the craft of writing; with Luther and Katharina my admiration grew tenfold because this period of Protestant Reformation in Germany was dark, dangerous, and filled with perilous situations ended in death or destruction. The sixteenth century at times is not easy to read about, and I’m sure it is not always easy for authors to fictionally create, as well. Hedlund covers these aspects of Luther and Katharina with grace. Physical and emotional pain are not glossed over, but the subjects are not glorified either. There is a realism to this novel that brought me into the story because Hedlund was honest in her portrayal of Luther and Katharina’s situations.

Martin Luther and Katharina von Bora are challenging and engaging characters in Hedlund’s novel. Both are stubborn, proud, tenacious, and determined. These traits in one person around enough to frustrate another; blend them into two people, and it is no wonder Luther and Katharina’s love story is one for the books. Despite the historical significance of their relationship to the Protestant Reformation, I never warmed to either character, which accounted for my average (compared to my usual quick) reading time of this book.

I admit that Luther had his share of unfortunate situations in life, and in no way am I delineating his physical and emotional burdens in leading the Reformation. However, the burdens he carried, in my opinion, never accounted for his behavior towards Katharina, so I just could not justify his actions at any time in the book. As for his nun-turned-wife, I felt slightly better about her point of views towards Luther, especially as the story moved farther along. Katharina dealt with quite a lot throughout her life; while I never really liked her as a character, I saw a growth and maturation in her mindset and her behavior that made it easier to empathize and sympathize with her.

Please note when considering my rating and review of this book that my opinions of the characters have very little to do with the author’s ability to create compelling characters. Since Hedlund based both Luther and Katharina on their real-life counterparts, she had little room to maneuver their likability.

Jody Hedlund’s Luther and Katharina is an inspired first historical. While this novel is not my favorite of hers (that remains Hearts Made Whole), I am definitely glad to have read Luther and Katharina for a lesson in Protestant Reformation history. This author truly has a gift for crafting well-written historical fiction. I am looking forward to her future historicals that will undoubtedly continue to bring women in history to life.

RATING: 3.5 stars


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jody HedlundJody Hedlund is an award-winning and bestselling author of inspirational historical romances for both adults and teens.

As a busy mama-writer, she has the wonderful privilege of teaching her crew of 5 children at home. In between grading math papers and giving spelling tests, she occasionally does a load of laundry and washes dishes. When she’s not busy being a mama, you can find her in front of her laptop working on another of her page-turning stories.

She loves reading almost as much as she loves writing, especially when it also involves chocolate and coffee.

 

GIVEAWAY!

WaterBrook Mulnomah is graciously giving away two copies of Luther and Katharina to visitors of my blog. Tell me why you’d like to read this book and why you think you’ll enjoy Luther and Katharina. The winner will be chosen on Monday, October 12th, 10:00AM EST. Please leave your name and email address, along with your answer, in a comment below. I will email you if you have been chosen as a winner. Good luck!

Novel Review: The Sound of Silver by Rachelle Rea

The Sound of Silver

The Sound of Silver by Rachelle Rea (The Steadfast Love Series, WhiteFire Publishing, October 2015)

The stalwart saint and the redeemed rebel. One is fighting for faith, the other for honor…

After Dirk rescues Gwyneth from the Iconoclastic Fury, she discovers that faith is sometimes fragile—and hope is not as easy as it may seem. Gwyneth continues her quest to learn more about the love of God preached by Protestants she once distrusted.

Meanwhile, Dirk’s quest is to prevent his sullied name from staining hers. Will his choice to protect her prove the undoing of her first faltering steps toward a Father God? Once separated, will Dirk and Gwyneth’s searching hearts ever sing the same song?


REVIEW:

There are many reasons as readers that we are drawn certain books, certain authors, certain settings or time periods. We are called to the stories that resonate deep in our hearts, whose themes stir our emotions into swirls of thoughts and considerations we would not necessarily have come to on our own. Rachelle Rea’s Steadfast Love series called to me before I even knew the subject of the books, and the farther along I get into the series the more I understand why I feel a kinship with this author and her firstborn set of novels.

The Sound of Silver, much like its predecessor The Sound of Diamonds, explores themes of faith, forgiveness, redemption, and a personal relationship with Jesus that Christians—and, dare I say, all of us?—yearn for. Rea’s proficiency in beautiful writing delves deep into these themes as she creates characters and a world just long enough back in history to teach readers about the past and about themselves.

In just the few months between the release of The Sound of Diamonds and The Sound of Silver I could tell upon the first pages of her sophomore novel that Rea’s skill with the written word truly is a gift—she holds a knack for the craft that easily transcends the pages of her novels. Whereas The Sound of Diamonds encapsulates readers with the terror of escaping the Iconoclastic Fury, The Sound of Silver relies less upon action and much more upon emotion and personal growth. I found The Sound of Silver a compelling read because I enjoy delving into a character’s motivations, inspirations, and faith. In this second novel of the series, I felt connected to the main characters as I travelled along with through their individual journeys towards love and happiness. As Gwyn and Dirk struggled to make peace with their places in life, I experienced their joys, frustrations, and struggles. Rea’s ability to completely immerse me into The Sound of Silver world makes her novel shine all the brighter.

I recommend The Sound of Silver for those readers who love to travel back in time for lessons in history that don’t ever make you feel like you’ve returned to the classroom. This novel is for those who enjoy romance filled with faith.

If you haven’t yet read Rea’s debut novel, read my review of The Sound of Diamonds here to find out why this author and her books have captured my historical-fiction-loving heart.


BUY THE BOOK: Find The Sound of Silver with any of the following links: 

Barnes & Noble: coming Oct. 15

Amazon Paperback: http://is.gd/oGcgO2

Kindle: http://is.gd/iX9wR2

Books a Million: coming Oct. 15

Goodreads: http://is.gd/DsRsHC

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

RACHELLETimes gone by snatch Rachelle close, so she reads and writes about years long ago–her passions include the Reformation, Revolutions, and romance. In the space of a summer between sophomore and junior year, Rachelle wrote a novel set in 1566. Two years later she had finished two more novels and signed a three-book deal with her dream publisher. Her debut novel, The Sound of Diamonds, released in June 2015. The next two books in the Steadfast Love Series will swiftly follow. Find out more about Rachelle, like that she’s a homeschool grad and Oreo addict, on her website.

Rachelle’s other links:

Blog                   Twitter         Amazon Author Page

Facebook         Pintrest        Goodreads

 Instagram: @RachelleDianeRea

 

 

 

 

 

Novella Review: Love in the Details by Becky Wade

love in the detailsLove in the Details: A November Wedding Story by Becky Wade (Zondervan, October 2015)

She left him to save his future, but they’ve never gotten over each other.

When Josh returns to his hometown of Martinsburg, Texas, to help his best friend get married, he didn’t intend to run into church wedding coordinator—and ex-girlfriend—Holly. He can’t help but pine after the girl he never got over.

Holly broke up with Josh years ago in an attempt to ensure his future success. But she loved him then and still loves him now. As she helps him plan his best friend’s wedding, she can’t help but feel horrible for the pain she caused him. And even though she longs to be with Josh, she doesn’t feel worthy of his big-time lifestyle when she is more comfortable in her small town world. Will Josh and Holly be able to keep things as they are when their true feelings threaten to surface at every turn?

REVIEW:

Becky Wade is one such writer who is taking Christian contemporary romance from slightly known to recognizable.  I was so excited to see that Wade had a novella coming out this year because I always want to read more of her work. Even though I had not yet read any other novellas in the second Year of Weddings collections, I knew I would enjoy one if Becky Wade wrote the story.

Love in the Details is a short, sweet read destined to make those who love romances fall in love with its main characters, Josh and Holly. Wade’s charming writing style and voice deliver two characters that are relatable to her core audience—women who long for romance that is just slightly out of reach but still hopelessly realistic enough to make the story believable. I enjoyed wandering the small town of Martinsburg, Texas through Holly and Josh’s eyes because these two characters are ones I can see myself interacting with—one as a friend and one as something more…because Wade is so good at creating romantic heroes. As I watched Holly and Josh’s love story re-unfold, I wanted to sit at Holly’s window overlooking Martinsburg’s Main Street; grab a bite to eat with Holly and Sam as they discuss their love lives; and rediscover the joy of weddings. Wade’s ability to give everyday life just a bit of extra spice elevates her novels from novels to true fiction—or life as we all would imagine it to be.

With the title of this novella acting a metaphor for Holly and Josh’s romance, the details our lives take on a special meaning in this story. Holly and Josh both learn that details are much more than the fragments that make up life. As the main characters explore those details and lean more on God than themselves, readers begin to understand the significance of God’s plans for each of our lives, including those details that can seem inconsequential but are actually stepping stones for growth. I wished while reading Love in the Details that this novella was actually a novel because the shorter length did not allow readers to go deeper into Holly and Josh’s motivations and emotions. Their romance, while sweet and enjoyable, felt rushed; I would have preferred more time for the two of them to re-explore their feelings for each other. I also felt short-changed on Josh’s side of the story, both in personal growth and in romance; while I liked witnessing Holly’s maturation, I personally found Josh a more interesting character and wished he had more page time.

Novellas are becoming increasingly popular in the CBA, and I am looking forward to seeing where else this trend grows in the coming years. Love in the Details is one enjoyable read, and if Becky Wade writes more novellas I will certainly read them without hesitation.

Rating: 3 stars


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Becky WadeBecky’s a California native who attended Baylor University, met and married a Texan, and settled in Dallas.  She published historical romances for the general market before putting her career on hold for several years to care for her three children.  When God called her back to writing, Becky knew He meant for her to turn her attention to Christian fiction.  She loves writing funny, modern, and inspirational contemporary romance!  She’s the Carol Award, INSPY Award, and Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award winning author of My Stubborn HeartUndeniably YoursMeant to Be Mine, and A Love Like Ours.

 

 

Connect with Becky online: 

website           Twitter                Pinterest 

Facebook       Goodreads         Instagram