Friday, May 25, 2018

Review + Tour GIVEAWAY: Together Forever by Jody Hedlund

About the Book

Title: Together Forever, Orphan Train Book 2  
Author: Jody Hedlund  
Genre: Inspirational historical romance  
Release Date: May, 2018

Determined to find her lost younger sister, Marianne Neumann takes a job as a placing agent with the Children’s Aid Society in 1858 New York. She not only hopes to offer children a better life, but prays she’ll be able to discover whether Sophie ended up leaving the city on an orphan train so they can finally be reunited. 

Andrew Brady, her fellow agent on her first placing-out trip, is a former schoolteacher who has an easy way with the children, firm but tender and friendly. Underneath his charm and handsome looks, though, seems to linger a grief that won’t go away–and a secret from his past that he keeps hidden. 

As the two team up, placing orphans in the small railroad towns of Illinois, they find themselves growing ever closer . . . until a shocking tragedy threatens to upend all their work and change one of their lives forever.


My thoughts

Together Forever ranks among my favorite of Jody Hedlund’s books. As with all that she writes, you will find rich historical detail, romance that is palpable, and even a little suspense. Just an enjoyable read in every way.

I’ve not had a chance to read the previous book, With You Always, but understand that Marianne was a secondary character in it and that she made some poor choices. Here, however, she is a dedicated, likeable young lady who works hard to prove her worth as an employee of Children’s Aid Society. Spending time together on the train as placing agents, Marianne and Drew are gradually drawn to each other. There are great scenes where they interacted with the children, playing, singing, and storytelling. Their chemistry can literally be felt and the romance adds a welcome lightness to the otherwise serious story.

With great skill, Hedlund gives heart and soul to this era and its efforts to care for children in need, without shying away from the darker side and problems within the organization. The situation was heartbreaking … Many people who, because of poverty, found themselves in conditions where families were torn apart and thousands of children were abandoned to the streets of New York. The orphan train transports many of these children to an unknown future in the mid-west. Will any family want them? What type of family might take them in? And what expectations would they find? Most important of all, would they be loved and cared for? I liked how the story conveys two perspectives, both the children and the chaperones. I instantly connected with Marianne as she struggled to release the children she had come to care deeply for.

The next book in this series holds much promise. A secondary character who played a key part is Reinhold, a good man whose hard work and determination to save for a land purchase only meet with frustration. Part of Marianne’s drive came from a desire to locate her youngest sister, Sophie. That thread does not conclude here, but leads into Sophie and Reinhold’s story in Searching for You, which releases December 4, 2018. To say I’m a little eager for this one would be an understatement!

Highly recommended.

I received a copy of this book through Celebrate Lit. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

About the Author

Jody Hedlund is the author of over a dozen novels, including Love Unexpected, Captured by Love, Unending Devotion, The Preacher’s Bride, and A Noble Groom, winner of the 2014 Carol Award for historical romance. 

She received a bachelor’s degree from Taylor University and a master’s from the University of Wisconsin, both in social work. 

She lives in Michigan with her husband and five children. She loves hearing from readers on Facebook and on her blog at

Guest Post from Jody Hedlund

30,000 Abandoned Children By Jody Hedlund

Imagine a city where 30,000 abandoned and homeless children live on the streets. 

Sounds like something from a futuristic dystopian novel, doesn’t it? Or something that might happen after a war or apocalypse or major disaster, right? 

This exact thing actually happened in the 1850’s. And the city was New York City. 

It’s hard to believe, but an estimated 30,000 homeless children roamed the dirty city streets and alleys of New York City.  

30,000. Children. Let that sink in for a minute. That’s the size of a town. 

Historians look back on that time and try to make sense what led to such horrific conditions for children. Of course, the influx of immigrants was at an all time high. Jobs and housing were scarce. Diseases were rampant. Hunger and poverty became a norm. (Orphan Train Depot)  

As more and more people became aware of the enormous problem within the crowded slums, courageous heroes rose up and attempted to do their part to make a difference. 

While we may not always agree with the methods that were used to save the thousands of homeless children, we can admire the men and women who could no longer sit idly by. 

The Children’s Aid Society was started by Charles Loring Brace as one such attempt to help the hordes of homeless children. His “Emigration Plan” is better known today by the term “Orphan Trains.”  

My latest series tackles various elements of the orphan train movement. Together Forever, releasing in May, highlights the placing agents, those devoted people who rode the trains with the orphans. The agents spent weeks and months on the road caring for the children, all the while trying to place them in loving homes. 

(If you’d like to try out the series, start with my FREE novella, An Awakened Heart.) 

Like the brave men and women who came before us, may we always strive to do our part to make a difference!

Blog Stops

By The Book, May 22
Genesis 5020, May 23
Radiant Light, May 26
Mary Hake, May 27
Carpe Diem, May 27
Simple Harvest Reads, May 28 (Guest Post from Mindy Houng)
Bigreadersite, May 30
Vicky Sluiter, June 2
Reader’s cozy corner, June 4


To celebrate her tour, Jody is giving away a grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card!!

Click the image above or the link below to enter:

Monday, May 21, 2018

Author Interview + Tour GIVEAWAY: Cheryl St.John in Cowboys of Summer

Title: Cowboys of Summer
Authors: Mary Connealy, Lorna Seilstad, Cheryl St.John, Missy Tippens, Tina Radcliffe & Sherri Shackelford
Publisher: Self
Release Date: May 1, 2018
Genre: Sweet Contemporary Romance / Western
Links*: Goodreads l Amazon

As the summer weather sizzles, relax by the pool with stirring tales of handsome cowboys and the spirited ladies who wrangle them into romance. Six of Christian fiction’s most beloved authors join forces to bring you a collection of humorous, romantic and heartfelt novellas set against the sultry heat of summer.

In Mary Connealy’s, “Dr. Tess and the Cowboy”, sparks fly when Dr. Tessa Rhoades discovers dinosaur bones on Joe Holt’s ranch and decides to excavate—even if that means kicking Joe off his own land.

In “Hometown Girl” by Cheryl St.John, injured rodeo champion Justin Cooper returns to the sleepy Oklahoma town he escaped for fame and fortune--and takes his biggest tumble yet--straight into the arms of Stevie Marshall, his first love who soon has him questioning his life choices.

In Tina Radcliffe’s, “Lake Effect”, cynical cowboy Tucker Jackson knows he’s in trouble when he starts counting the days until the end of summer and praying ‘summer girl’ Jessica Richards will find a home for her heart in Paradise.

In "His Lone Star Heart" by Missy Tippens, rancher Zeb West tries hard not to fall for Beecher Brown, the feisty but off-limits sister of his best friend. As she tries to prove she's capable of running her family's ranch--the one he's trying to buy--he might just find he's met his match...for life.

Will Lorna Seilstad’s characters make “Great Strides” when Dana Etherton, the owner of a horse therapy ranch, must choose between the kids she serves and Adam Malone, the embezzler who’s been assigned to do community service there?

When Paige Monroe agrees to draw the press away from a country star’s wedding by pretending to be the look-alike bride, she wasn’t counting on having very real feeling for her decoy fiancĂ©, Sterling Tanner.  In Sherri Shackelford’s, “The Decoy Bride”, two people feigning love forget they’re acting.

To purchase a copy*:  Amazon


Cowboys of Summer looks like a delightful collection and I’m eager to read it soon. I’m honored to host Cheryl St.John as she tells a little about herself and her novella, Hometown Girl

Cheryl, I understand that you enjoy collecting antiques. What’s one of your favorite finds?
     -- I just love vintage pieces and collectibles. The thrill of the hunt is what inspires me. I just never know what I'll run across. One of my favorite finds was a box of 1940s & 50s Valentines that a gentleman sold me for $10 at a garage sale. The lovely cards, the messages and signatures give me pleasure each time I get them out.

Last movie you enjoyed watching?
     -- I don't think Wonder Woman got enough credit. I thoroughly enjoyed it and it's a movie I'll re-watch.

An all-time favorite movie?
     -- Lonesome Dove is probably my favorite movie of all time, though it's a mini-series. The characters are three-dimensional and move me every time I watch it.

A recent book that you read and would recommend?
     -- I just read Sherri Shackelford's His Substitute Mail-Order Bride. Sherri's stories keep me entertained and amused.

Please tell us a little about the Cowboys of Summer collection in general.
     -- We didn't know anything about each other's stories as we put this collection together, so I looked forward to reading them once it was ready. I was surprised by the diversity of stories and styles. Each story has a unique feel. Put together, these tales will entertain and delight even the most discriminating readers.

How do you think readers will connect with the lead characters, Justin and Stevie, particularly to Justin’s questioning of his life choices?
     -- I hope readers find this reunion story as much fun as I did. I love bringing two people who have loved each other in the past together, and letting them discover this other person is truly the one meant for them. Even though following their separate dreams tore them apart, neither of these characters ever discouraged the others' dream. I think readers will recognize and understand Justin's denial over his inability to continue his career, while at the same time learning that coming home is the best thing he's ever done.

What do you hope readers will take away from Hometown Girl?
     -- Why, that they want to read every book I've ever written and ever intend to write, of course!

What’s on the book horizon for you, Cheryl?
     -- I'm excited about my last book in the Cowboy Creek series, The Rancher Inherits a Family and currently working on a couple of indie projects. My newest release for Writer's Digest Books is Write Smart, Write Happy.

How can readers best connect with you online?

Email Cheryl at:
Like her Facebook author page: CherylStJ
She's a Pinterest junkie! stjohn/
Visit her on the web:


Mary Connealy writes "romantic comedies with cowboys" and is celebrated for her fun, zany, action-packed style. She has more than half a million books in print. She is the author of the popular series Wild at Heart, Kincaid Brides, Trouble in Texas, Lassoed in Texas, Sophie's Daughters, and many other books. Mary lives on a ranch in eastern Nebraska with her very own romantic cowboy hero.

Connect with Mary:  website,  facebook,  twitter,  instagram

You can also find Mary at these sites: Seekerville and Petticoats & Pistols


Lorna Seilstad has called Iowa home her whole life. She received her B.S. in education from Lubbock Christian University. After her first child was born, she stopped teaching and became a professional wiper. “I wiped noses, tears, skinned knees, baby’s bottoms, and countertops every day. But at naptime, I wrote.” Today, she writes historical fiction with a generous dash of humor.

Connect with Lorna:  websitefacebook


Cheryl St. John is the award-winning author of more than fifty Harlequin and Silhouette books, as well as several independently published books. Her book Writing With Emotion, Tension & Conflict by Writer's Digest is a popular seller. Cheryl has always loved the exciting and diverse worlds available between the covers of books. As a child Cheryl wrote stories and drew covers, then stapled them into little books. She cut all the tiny book images from the book club advertisements in the Sunday paper and glued them to bits of cardboard so Barbie® had a full library.

Cheryl believes in paying it forward, and her some of her most rewarding experiences have been sharing in the successes of writers she has coached over the years.

Cheryl loves hearing from readers.  You can email her at StJohn[at]aol[dot]com.

Connect with Cheryl:  website,  facebook,  pinterest


Born and raised in Kentucky, Missy Tippens has lived in Georgia for the last 25+ years. She is a pastor's wife and mom of three. A former microbiologist and teacher, she now focuses on her writing.

After more than ten years of working toward publication, Missy finally made her first sale of a novel in 2007. She feels very blessed to be working at home in her dream job!

Connect with Missy:  website, facebook

You can also find Missy at these sites: Seekerville and Yankee Belle Cafe

Tina March 2018 2

Tina Radcliffe is a two-time RWA Golden Heart finalist, a 2012 ACFW Carol Award finalist, a 2014 ACFW Mentor of the Year finalist, a 2014 Golden Quill finalist and a 2014 ACFW Carol Award winner. She has won first place in over twenty RWA chapter affiliated contests in her career. Tina is also a short story writer and has sold over twenty-five short stories to Woman’s World Magazine. She currently resides in Arizona where she writes fun, heartwarming romance. Find her at where you can sign up for her newsletter so you don’t miss her fun giveaways and bad jokes.

Connect with Tina:  website,  facebooktwitter,  pinterest,  instagram

Sherri Shackelford Bio

Sherri Shackelford is an award-winning author of inspirational, Christian romance novels for Harlequin/HarperCollins Publishers.

A wife and mother of three, Sherri’s hobbies include collecting mismatched socks, discovering new ways to avoid cleaning, and standing in the middle of the room while thinking, “Why did I just come in here?” A reformed pessimist and recent hopeful romantic, Sherri has a passion for writing. Her books are fun and fast-paced, with plenty of heart and soul. Look for her new adventure in Love Inspired Suspense, No Safe Place, in stores January of 2019.

Connect with Sherri:  website,  facebooktwitter


justread_cowboysGiveThe authors of Cowboys of Summer is giving (1) winner:

  • (1) $25 Amazon Gift Card
  • (1) 'I Trust in God's Unfailing' Mug
  • (1) Reading at the Cafe Candle from Frostbeard Studios
Enter via the Rafflecopter giveaway below. 

Giveaway will begin at midnight May 21, 2018 and last through 11:59 PM on May 28, 2018. Winners will be notified within a week of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

ENTER HERE or use the Entry Form below

Be sure to stop at a stop each day for extra entries!


For the full schedule, click on the banner below or head to the 
JustRead launch page or Just Commonly blog.

LAUNCH @ JustRead
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*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Review (+ Tour GIVEAWAY): Picked Off by Linda Lovely

Picked Off
By Linda Lovely
A Brie Hooker Mystery #2
Henery Press, 2018


It’s been seven months since Brie Hooker, a vegan, moved to Udderly Kidding Dairy to live with her feisty Aunt Eva, a confirmed carnivore.

But tonight there’ll be no family feud over dinner entrees.

Udderly’s hosting a campaign fundraiser for Eva’s best friend, who hopes to be South Carolina’s next governor. The candidate’s son, a pro quarterback, is flying home for the wingding. And Brie’s eager to get a close-up view of the cute tush she’s admired on TV, even though she’s reluctantly sworn off even more tempting local beefcake.

The campaign fundraiser promises to be a huge success until a pitchfork attack turns the goat farm into a crime scene—again.

To protect her friends, Brie puts her sleuthing skills to work. Will she live long enough to find out who’s behind a vicious assault, a kidnapping, blackmail, and murder?

My thoughts

With its rural South Carolina setting, a goat farm (400, to be exact), and quirky characters, Picked Off is a fun cozy mystery. Cozies often have a creatively crazy title, but here it’s the Udderly Kidding Dairy and the name Brie Hooker that had me shaking my head. Really cute! There are some references to previous events from the first book, but this story stands alone.

The age-old vices of jealousy, revenge, and greed play a big part in the mystery, including the lure of sports gambling. The strong secondary characters function almost like an ensemble cast, and they added so much to this story – from Brie’s Aunt Eva, to her friend Mollye, and the two friend/boyfriend guys, Paint and Andy. I liked both of the guys and wish Brie wasn’t so indecisive. Hopefully she will choose one or find someone else in the next book.

South Carolina politics also enters into the storyline, beginning with a Halloween costume party that served as a fundraiser for Eva’s friend and governor candidate, Carol Strong. It was a fun evening – until an attack that left a pro football star in a coma. The mystery was well plotted, with enough twists and turns to keep me guessing.

I didn’t care for the mild profanity, even when food terms were used as substitutes, and the romantic, lustful element had too much emphasis for me. Still a good cozy mystery overall.

I received a copy of this book through Great Escapes Tours. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.


Linda Lovely finds writing pure fiction isn’t a huge stretch given the years she’s spent penning PR and ad copy. Linda writes a blend of mystery and humor, chuckling as she plots to “disappear” the types of characters who most annoy her. Quite satisfying, plus there’s no need to pester relatives for bail. Her newest series offers good natured salutes to both her vegan family doctor and her cheese-addicted kin.

She’s an enthusiastic Sisters in Crime member and helps organize the popular Writers’ Police Academy. When not writing or reading, Linda takes long walks with her husband, swims, gardens, and plays tennis.




May 15 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT
May 15 – A Holland Reads – REVIEW
May 16 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW
May 16 – Jane Reads – GUEST POST
May 17 – The Power of Words – REVIEW
May 17 – Readeropolis – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
May 18 – Bibliophile Reviews – REVIEW, GUEST POST  
May 19 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW
May 20 – T’s Stuff – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
May 21 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – CHARACTER GUEST POST
May 21 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW
May 22 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
May 23 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW
May 24 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW
May 25 – Island Confidential – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
May 26 – Brooke Blogs – CHARACTER GUEST POST
May 27 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST
May 28 – A Blue Million Books – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

Friday, May 11, 2018

Review: Dead as a Doornail by Tonya Kappes

Dead as a Doornail
By Tonya Kappes
A Kenni Lowry Mystery #5
Henery Press, 2018


Beauty is skin deep, but ugly goes clear to the bone. And doesn’t our Sheriff Kenni Lowry know that? Well, she knows a lot of things.

Lucy Lowell takes great pride in writing negative reviews in the local newspaper for anything that does not go her way. When Lucy is found dead, it appears to be from natural causes.

But Sheriff Kenni Lowry knows there is more to it because the ghost of her grandfather, the ex-sheriff, is standing over the body.

His presence can only mean one thing: Murder!

Since Kenni’s relationship with Deputy Finn Vincent has heated up, Kenni is having trouble conducting the investigation without Finn questioning her every move.

Can Kenni unravel the mystery on her own or will she have to tell Finn the real reason she knows it was murder—the ghost of her poppa?

It’s blowin’ up a storm and only Kenni knows how it’ll end.

My thoughts

The newest release by Tonya Kappes, Dead as a Doornail, is an entertaining cozy mystery full of southern charm, humor, and a few quirky characters along the way. Law enforcement in the small town of Cottonwood, Kentucky consists of three sheriff’s department employees, two of whom are Sheriff Kenni and Deputy Finn.  And then there’s the ghost of Kenni’s dad, who appears whenever there’s a murder to solve …

Dead as a Doornail has all the elements of a cozy mystery, but with a protagonist who has a logical reason for questioning suspects because she is the sheriff. The story stands alone, but I would have probably gotten to know Kenni and the other characters better if I had read the four previous books.

I don’t usually enjoy supernatural elements, but Kenni’s dad adds a nice touch, reminding me of a TV show I once saw where the murder victim conversed with the detective. There’s some great secondary characters, including a “bridezilla” that Kenni is roped into being a bridesmaid for, Kenni’s mom, and a mayor who doesn’t want the investigation to overshadow his wedding. The murder plot is well crafted and the romance between Finn and Kenni continues to develop.

Dead as a Doornail is a fun, entertaining read and I look forward to more stories to come. Recommended.

I received a copy of this book through Great Escapes Tours. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.


For years, USA Today bestselling author Tonya Kappes has been publishing numerous mystery and romance titles with unprecedented success. She is famous not only for her hilarious plot lines and quirky characters, but her tremendous marketing efforts that have earned her thousands of followers and a devoted street team of fans.

Sign up for her newsletter on her website at


May 9 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW
May 10 – Mysteries with Character – REVIEW
May 10 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – GUEST POST
May 11 – The Power of Words – REVIEW
May 12 – cherylbbookblog – SPOTLIGHT
May 14 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW
May 15 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW
May 15 – Readeropolis – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
May 16 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW
May 16 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW
May 17 – T’s Stuff – SPOTLIGHT
May 17 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT
May 19 – MJB Reviewers – REVIEW
May 20 – Brooke Blogs – CHARACTER GUEST POST
May 21 – My Reading Journeys – CHARACTER GUEST POST
May 21 – Varietats – REVIEW
May 22 – The Book Diva’s Reads – SPOTLIGHT