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.

CBDB&NAmazon


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 www.jodyhedlund.com.


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


Giveaway




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:

https://promosimple.com/ps/cee5/together-forever-celebration-tour-giveaway

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


Summary

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.

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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.


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GIVEAWAY




BLOG TOUR

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 – MJB Reviewers – REVIEW, AUTHOR 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


Summary

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.

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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 Tonyakappes.com.



BLOG TOUR

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 13 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW
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 18 – FUONLYKNEW – REVIEW
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

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Review: Room on the Porch Swing by Amy Clipston


Room on the Porch Swing
By Amy Clipston
Amish Homestead #2
Zondervan, 2018


Summary

Ever since her best friend died six months ago, Laura Reihl has vowed to make each day count. And that means she should probably break off her relationship with Rudy. They’ve been together for so many years, and his friendship means the world to her. But she knows friendship doesn’t come close to the fireworks of true love, and she’s not really feeling the fireworks.

So when Savilla’s widower, Allen, asks her to help him take care of the baby Savilla left behind, Laura jumps at the chance. Maybe the change of scenery will help her gain perspective on her relationship with Rudy. And she’d do anything to help Allen out—he’s always been a good friend to her, and he’s Rudy’s best friend as well.

When she arrives at Allen’s house, though, she finds a man she barely recognizes. Allen is distraught over his wife’s death, blaming himself for not taking her to the doctor soon enough.

As Laura helps Allen work through his grief, she remembers just how easy he is to talk to. And she discovers an attraction she’s never felt with Rudy. She can’t be falling for Allen, can she? It would be a betrayal to the two people she’s care most about, Savilla and Rudy. But if she denies her feelings, is she betraying herself?


My thoughts

Room on the Porch Swing, book #2 in Amy Clipston’s Amish Homestead series, is a moving, heartwarming story of loss, hope, and renewal. Laura Riehl steps up to help care for a widower’s young child and develops unexpected feelings in the process. The narrative is simply about day-to-day life, a creatively gifted style of writing in which Clipston excels. She always pulls me into her stories, allowing me to know and care about the characters, as well as any author I’ve ever read. I also love the cozy “porch swing” imagery in the title, which evokes many treasured family memories for me.

In a story that begins with heartbreaking tragedy, hope is always before the reader’s eyes. I always find the Amish way of grieving, while accepting God’s will at the same time, to be inspiring. And the various ways in which the community ministered to Allen is something all Christians can relate to, especially those who have found it difficult to converse in the same way as before and find relationships strained or changed as a result.

Allen’s little girl, Mollie, completely stole my heart and it was no surprise to see a close bond developing between Laura and Mollie. Thrown into the mix is Rusty, Laura’s boyfriend for four years. I wasn’t sure whether her boyfriend was going to grow up and win her affections, or if Allen would capture her heart. And at times, I thought Laura was awfully na├»ve not to understand how her relationship with Allen and Mollie might look to the community and how it was hurting Rusty. But just as in life, it all evolves just as God intended.

I’m really enjoying the Riehl siblings in the Amish Homestead series, which started with Jamie in the previous book. I especially like Laura’s intuitive twin, Mark, and am eager for his story that comes next – A Seat at the Hearth. (Please click on the title to see my review of Jamie’s story in book #1, A Place at Our Table.)

Recommended to all who enjoy Amish fiction.

I received an electronic copy of this book through Amy Clipston and NetGalley. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.


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Amy Clipston is the award-winning and bestselling author of the Kauffman Amish Bakery series. Her novels have hit multiple bestseller lists including CBD, CBA, and ECPA. Amy holds a degree in communication from Virginia Wesleyan College and works full-time for the City of Charlotte, NC. Amy lives in North Carolina with her husband, two sons, and three spoiled rotten cats.

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