Friday, January 30, 2015

New Romance from Kathryn Springer and Kindle Fire Giveaway


NOTE:  I am currently reading this book and it is wonderful!


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Get ready for Valentine's Day with a new story of romance and falling in love in Kathryn Springer's The Dandelion FieldThe handsome firefighter makes a living “coming to the rescue,” but Gin is used to fighting her own battles. Can a woman who doesn't believe in happy endings take a chance on a new beginning? 

Celebrate a second chance at love and family with Kathryn by entering her Kindle Fire giveaway!


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One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • The Dandelion Field

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 15th. Winner will be announced February 16th on the Litfuse blog.


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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Review: Second Chance Reunion


Second Chance Reunion
By Merrillee Whren
Village of Hope #1
Love Inspired, 2015


Summary

Annie Payton's lost everything she once held dear. The Village of Hope is her last chance to rebuild the life she's frittered away so needlessly. But as she works to regain custody of her children, she never imagines an unlikely advocate in her corner, ex-husband Ian Montgomery.

Ian's always willing to help those down on their luck, but his ex-wife's a different story. Her past betrayal is still a painful memory. As the Village's lawyer, he'll represent her, but that's as far as he'll allow his feelings to go.

Can Annie show Ian that she's changed in every way but one, the love she still has for him?


My thoughts

Love Inspired romances are sweet, upbeat reads, often just what I'm looking for in the midst of busy times. And although Second Chance Reunion is sweet and inspiring, Merrillee involves her characters in some pretty serious situations. I enjoyed the depth of storyline and Merrillee's writing.

In years past, both Annie and Ian's behavior had been destructive to themselves and their marriage. "As a preacher's kid, he should've been someone who led her away from the devastating behavior, but instead, he had joined her - both of them trying to escape the unhappiness with their family situations." Now they are on a journey - Annie to restore her family, and Ian to learn how to forgive.

Life is messy, the effects of sin are devastating, and it's only through the grace of God that forgiveness and second chances come. But Merrillee did a great job in showing how difficult forgiveness can be on a human level, for I could identify with Annie's frustration over the wall of unforgiveness she encountered with Ian and her parents, and his own struggle to forgive personal hurts.

The Village of Hope is an incredible facility and ministry that encompasses every age and need of life - from children to senior adults. Although fictional, it really resonated with me because of a similar ministry in the Atlanta area in which I have been involved over the years. The young and the elderly have so much to offer each other, and that was one of my favorite parts of the story. I'm very glad The Village of Hope will appear in more books.

Second Chance Reunion helps visualize the words of James 1:27, which Merrillee quotes at the end:  "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." I loved how this story reminds us that God is in the business of forgiveness and redemption - and while sin's effects still have to be dealt with, God brings good back into our lives. I'd like to end with Merrillee's thoughts about Second Chance Reunion:

"This story of two flawed people reminds us that God makes everything new when we accept His grace. We can also know that God uses imperfect people to accomplish His tasks here on earth."

This is a book that fans of sweet inspirational romance will enjoy, especially anyone dealing with bad decisions in their life. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to review Second Chance Reunion, Merrillee.


Merrillee Whren

        Merrillee Whren is the winner of the 2003 Golden Heart for Best Inspirational Unpublished Manuscript given by Romance Writers of America. She has also won the 2006 Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best Love Inspired of 2006 and the Georgia Romance Writers’ Maggie Award for Excellence for her novel, An Unexpected Blessing.
        Merrillee’s writing journey has had as many stops along the way as her life’s journey. She wrote her first novel while she was in high school and shared it with her friends. However, many years passed before she considered writing anything for publication. Finally in 2004, after writing and revising eight manuscripts, she made her first sale. The Heart's Homecoming was an August 2005 release.
        Because she loves stories with happy endings, she is thrilled to be writing inspirational romance for Harlequin Love Inspired where the stories have emotional and spiritual happy endings.
        She is married to her own personal hero, her husband of thirty-plus years, and has two grown daughters. She has lived in South Dakota, Montana, Spokane, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Chicago and Amelia Island, but now makes her home in the Arizona desert. When she’s not writing or working for her husband’s recruiting firm, she spends her free time playing tennis, bridge or walking while she plots her novels.

Meet Merrillee online at merrilleewhren.com, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Thank you to Merrillee Whren for providing a digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

New from Elizabeth Camden | ‘Beyond All Dreams’ Kindle Fire Giveaway and Author Chat Party

Travel back in time to the U.S. Capitol and the Library of Congress in Elizabeth Camden's newest release, Beyond All Dreams. From the gilded halls of the Capitol where powerful men shape the future of the nation, to the scholarly archives of the nation's finest library, Anna and Luke are soon embroiled in secrets much bigger and more perilous than they ever imagined. Is bringing the truth to light worth risking all they've ever dreamed for their futures?

Elizabeth is celebrating the release of Beyond All Dreams with a Kindle giveaway and Facebook party on February 17.



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One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • One copy of Beyond All Dreams
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on 2/17. Winner will be announced at Elizabeth's 2/17 Beyond All Dreams Facebook author chat party. RSVP for a chance to connect with Elizabeth and historical fiction fans, as well as for a chance to win some great prizes!


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RSVP today and spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK, TWITTER, or PINTEREST and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 17th!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

New from Quilts of Love | A Stitch in Crime Kindle Fire Giveaway!

Don’t miss the newest Quilts of Love book, A Stitch in Crime by Cathy Elliott. Thea's first quilt show begins to fall apart at the seams. Will she be able to piece the mystery together and save the town’s investment in the quilt show before another attack happens . . . with far worse results.

Enter to win a Kindle HDX!



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One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle HDX
  • A Stitch in Crime by Cathy Elliott
  • Masterpiece Marriage by Gina Welborn
  • Swept Away by Laura V. Hilton and Cindy Loven

Enter today by clicking the button below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 8th. Winner will be announced on the Quilts of Love blog February 9th.

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{NOT ON FACEBOOK? ENTER HERE.}

Enter today and spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Review: A Brush with Love


A Brush with Love
By Rachel Hauck
A Year of Weddings Novella
Zondervan, 2014


Summary

Ginger Winters is a gifted hairstylist with scars no one can see. The last thing she expects from the New Year is a new chance at love.

Overcoming a childhood tragedy, Ginger emerges from the pain and trauma with a gift for bringing out the beauty in others. From the top big city salons to traveling the world as personal stylist to a country music sensation, success was almost enough to make Ginger forget her she would never be one of the beautiful people.

Almost. Now that she's back home in Rosebud, Alabama and running her own salon, the truth remains: Ginger is still that girl, forever on the outside looking in. But she needs her confidence this weekend. She's the acclaimed "beauty-maker" for the Alabama society wedding of the decade.

When high-school crush Tom Wells Jr. also returns to town and shows up at her shop looking for a haircut, Ginger's thinly veiled insecurities threaten to keep her locked away from love, Despite Tom's best efforts, Ginger can't forget how he disappeared on her twelve years ago and broke her heart. Can she ever trust him again?

When Tom challenges her to see her own beauty, Ginger must decide if she will remained chained to the past or move freely into a new, exciting future.


My thoughts

A Brush with Love by Rachel Hauck is a novella of an estimated 114 pages in length, part of the Year of Weddings 2 series, and only available electronically. Rachel excels at contemporary romance and I enjoyed this story overall. It is a beautiful example of how fiction can touch lives, how God uses flawed people, and gives the reader opportunity for reflection.

In A Brush with Love, we see sharp contrasts between the hypocrisy of would-be Christians and those who reflect the love and tenderness of Christ; and the conflicting inner view of a woman who makes others beautiful, yet is held in the ugly grip of her tragic past. I loved the prophetic nature of these opening words:

"The crazy January day it snowed in Rosebud, Alabama, Ginger Winters sensed a shift in her soul."

It was so easy to connect with Gin from the very first page - a young woman tragically wounded at the age of twelve, but who had become a survivor and found her purpose, that of making women beautiful. "But the truth remained, even among her success. Ginger was that girl, ugly and scarred, forever on the outside looking in." And Tom, following God's call to start a church in Rosebud, is a flawed character that I admired from the beginning. I think it's because he remembers his past and is thankful for redemption that he is able to see others as Christ sees them - and works to convey that to Gin.

My only criticism is that this should have been a novel - and rather than a criticism, that's really a compliment to Rachel's writing. Publishers seem to be pushing novellas a lot these days, and that's exactly what I'm often in the mood for. But whether it's a novella or full-length novel, what I look for is character depth. Rachel did a very good job with the space she was allowed, but there just wasn't time for the Tom's attraction to Gin to feel real after a twelve-year separation. And when Gin began to change in the last chapter, I wanted to see more of that development. Then there's an epilogue that takes place eight months later, and it is wonderful. But I longed to read more of the gradual spiritual transformation and romance that took place during those months. Again, this is a tribute to Rachel's storytelling that left me yearning for more.

"True love causes even the most closed heart to fling wide."

This story has an important message that needs to be heard, that will touch many readers, and I don't hesitate to recommend it.


Rachel Hauck

        Rachel Hauck is an award-winning, best-selling author of critically acclaimed novels such as The Wedding Dress, Love Starts with Elle, and Once Upon A Prince. She also penned the Songbird Novels with multi-platinum recording artist, Sara Evans. Booklist named their novel, Softly and Tenderly, one of 2011 Top Ten Inspirationals.
        A graduate of Ohio State University with a degree in Journalism, Rachel worked in the corporate software world before planting her backside in an uncomfortable chair to write full-time in 2004. She serves on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers and leads worship at their annual conference. She is a mentor and book therapist at My Book Therapy, and conference speaker.
        Rachel lives in central Florida with her husband and pets, and writes from her two-story tower in an exceedingly more comfy chair. She is a huge Buckeyes football fan.

Connect with Rachel online at rachelhauck.com, Facebook, and Twitter.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

2014 "Best of the Best" - Part 2




Out of the 115 books I read last year, several stood out to me for various reasons - their character depth, emotional impact, or simply how good they made me feel. There wasn't room to list all of these on one post, hence a "Part 2"! All are excellent reads that I highly recommend - and they deserve a special highlighting of their own. Some of these authors will also be featured in giveaways soon, so stay tuned!

These are listed in alphabetical order by the author's last name, and you can click on the covers or titles to see my reviews. Have you read any from this list?


Humor, quirky characters, and a small-town New Mexico setting combine to make my first read by Cathleen Armstrong memorable.



First book in a delightful Amish romance about an elderly couple who decide to meddle in their grandchildren's lives in order to help them find suitable mates. Jennifer brings humor to the Amish genre and I can't get enough of her writing.



Loved by me and numerous others for her Amish fiction, Vannetta ventures into the romantic suspense area with this incredible debut novel.



One of my favorite genres is southern fiction, and Judy does it extremely well. Big oil companies, small-town Louisiana setting, and a group of community of artists combine for a highly entertaining read.



I loved everything about this story set during the months after WWII ends - the setting, richness of characterization, spiritual inspiration, and the emotional struggle to adapt and find one's place when you're not the same as before.



I'm not particularly fond of time travel or ancient Rome settings, but this book is highly entertaining, relevant, and challenging for us today - and downright hard to put down!



With its expressive narrative, rich characterization, rugged setting, and spellbinding romance, Jody continues to excel at historical romance. These characters are still in my mind.



Julie writes the kind of Regency romances that I want to read slowly so as to savor every word and minute spent in its pages. With its theme of music and dance, this was a favorite.



This is an unusual Amish story, with plot and characterization so strong that its appeal should reach beyond Amish fiction fans. I'm so glad to have discovered Ruth's writing!



This is an unusual historical romance, nothing predictable about it. Strong in characterization and spiritual message, with one of the most satisfying conclusions I've ever read.



This is an excellent relationship drama that pulls at the heartstrings, a story of three people who simply need each other.



Dan takes us on a journey where the characters rediscover the things that matter most in life - love, truth, and family. This was my first Dan Walsh read, and what an impact it made!



By Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller, Tricia Goyer, Vannetta Chapman
Amish stories by four wonderful authors, with unusual depth and characterization for a novella collection. One of the best I've read, left me wanting more.

Monday, January 26, 2015

A "Jewel" of a GIVEAWAY!!




The Buckley and Bogey Cat Detective series by Cindy Vincent is a delight! Although written for young readers in the 8- to 12-year range, I enjoyed every minute spent with these delightful felines and their humans. The Case of the Jewel Covered Cat Statues (click on title to see my review) is not only well written, funny, and heartwarming, but Christian values are cleverly woven throughout. Highly recommended to young readers and cat lovers alike.

Now I invite you to join Cindy, Buckley, and Bogey in celebrating with a “jewel” of a giveaway!





Cindy:  Speaking of jewels . . . we've got a few to giveaway ourselves as part of our blog tour! Here's what three lucky winners will get when they enter the blog tour giveaway.


One winner will receive this stunning Sentiments bracelet from Premier Designs. The beads are copper, brass and silver-plated, and inscribed with the words faith, hope or love, with a sparkling crystal in the center of each. One size fits all. Perfect for day to evening wear. Not suitable for young children.



A second winner will receive this fun and trendy Bella Perlina bracelet with a couple of cute sterling-plated cat charms, along with several other beads and charms as shown. More beads can be added later. One size fits all. Not suitable for young children.



A third winner will receive a complete set of the Buckley and Bogey Cat Detective Capers! Starting with the first episode, The Case of the Cat Show Princes; to the second episode, The Case of the Crafty Christmas Crooks; and now the third and latest release, The Case of the Jewel Covered Cat Statues. Very suitable for young children, as well as cat lovers of any age! Holy Catnip!


Enter today by clicking on either of these links:

www.buckleyandbogey.com

or

Litfuse Blog Tour

Giveaway ends on February 8. Winner will be announced here.