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Monday, April 24, 2017

"Surrendered" by Elaine Manders Book Tour and Giveaway On tour with Celebrate Lit

"Surrendered" by Elaine Manders Book Tour and GiveAway

Click here to purchase your copy.

About the Book

 Book: Surrendered  
Author: Elaine Manders  
Genre: Christian Historical Romance  
Release Date: December 28, 2016  

The fight never ends until someone surrenders.

Having vanquished his political enemies, Rhyan Cason is anxious to get home to his beloved Carianne. Then he receives word an anthrax outbreak threatens his ranch. Even as he ponders how he can afford to take a wife, dark secrets from the distant past shake his beliefs to the core and convince him he’ll never be able to find forgiveness or make Carianne happy.

Carianne Barlow is stunned when Rhyan breaks their secret engagement. She leaves Sollano, the beautiful ranch house she loves almost as much as its owner, and returns home to Westerfield. While waiting for her shattered heart to heal, she shifts her attention to building the library she’s promised the town.

Even though Colt Holliman offers her a new courtship, circumstances keep drawing her back to Sollano and Rhyan. Torn between her affection for Colt and her love for Rhyan, Carianne realizes almost too late Rhyan’s troubles lie deeper than saving the ranch. He fights an evil that threatens more than his love for her—one only God can defeat.

About the Author

Elaine Manders writes wholesome Christian romance and suspense about the bold, capable women of history and the strong, dependable men who love them. She prefers stories that twist and turn and surprise, told by characters who aren’t afraid to show their love for God and each other. She lives in Central Georgia with a happy bichon-poodle mix. Besides writing, she enjoys reading, crafts, and spending time with her friends, daughter, and grandchildren.

Guest Post from Elaine Manders

I was born with the gift of story. The make-believe of childhood never left me, but it wasn’t until my daughter left for college, and I was left with the empty nest, that I decided maybe it was time to start writing the stories crowding my mind. I joined a local writers’ group, took a fiction writing course, developed the craft, went to conventions, and started pitching to editors.

Since I wrote romance, I found the publishing industry pushing me to a place I didn’t want to go. The secular publishers wanted steamier writing, and I complied as much as I could. Then when I was offered a chance for publication, I couldn’t allow my name to go on the book. The Christian publishers had a very narrow marketing concept. Again, I tried to comply until I felt the joy of story being squeezed out of me. I took a twelve year hiatus from writing.

Then in 2012, I was sitting in church listening to the familiar parable of the talents. When my pastor asked the question, “Are you hiding your talent?” I immediately visualized that closet filled with my unpublished manuscripts. I rededicated myself to putting my talent to use, and I asked God to send me a new story, if this was what he wanted me to do.

Later that week, I was on the golf course when I laid down on a little hill waiting for my husband to chase a ball in the woods and stared into the deepest, bluest sky I’ve ever seen. The sun was high in the sky, but the shade of blue was so dark I could actually see, not only the moon, but some of the stars. Looking into that sky, I experienced a strange sensation, as if I’d lost contact with the earth and was moving into infinity. I wondered, as I had many times before, how an atheist could look into the heavens and not believe in the Creator. This led me to an investigation of scientific atheism, Darwinism, and the entire series, Intrigue under Western Skies, was born. My protagonist is a Darwinist of the 1880s. Book 1, Pursued, is his spiritual journey to belief in Christianity, and Book 2, Surrendered, takes him to acceptance. The heroine, of course, helps him on this journey, while dodging all the dangers the old west has to offer. Incidentally, Pursued will be free on Amazon Apr 18-19.


I just love the 1880's time period. It's probably my favorite time periods next to Civil War and Reconstruction. I really enjoyed taking a step back in time and reading this story. This is the first book that I have read from this author and I really enjoyed it. 
This is the second book in a series, and while I have not read the first book (I will be now!) I did not have too many issues following along. 
This book is a great reminder that you need to be completely surrendered to God to understand his will and to be happy. 

I was given a complimentary copy by Celebrate Lit and the author. These opinions are my own.

Blog Stops

April 11: 100 pages per hour
April 11: Karen Sue Hadley
April 14: Bigreadersite 
April 17: cherylbbookblog
April 17: Baker Kella
April 18: I Hope You Dance
April 21: Pause for Tales


To celebrate her tour, Elaine is giving away a $50 Amazon Gift Card! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Mary Bowser - Union Spy

Things have been very crazy in my household  over the last few months - I have been doing a lot of book reviews.
Our small town library does not get a lot of the new releases that I love to read, and now that I am not in grad school I have been on a lot of blog tours and have been able to read a lot of new books.

So, somehow it's been almost 4 months since I have shared more parts of my capstone .

I have been writing a lot. With trying to break into the Christian Historical Fiction realm I have been researching lots of fun things. So, hopefully I will be sharing some of that soon ,..

But until then - here is Mary Bowser --- Union Spy

Mary Bowser
Union Spy

            Mary Bowser was a fearless African American Woman.  She was born in the year of 1839. As with the slaves during the American Revolution they did not record the exact birth of Civil War Era slaves either. She was a slave in the household of Elizabeth Van Lew and her family. There is not much documented of her early life. Once John Van Lew died, Elizabeth and her mother freed some of their slaves. Mary would become a servant in the household until the late 1850’s. At this time, Elizabeth had recognized her intellectual abilities. Mary was sent to the Quaker School for Negros. The school was located in Philadelphia.
            Van Lew was instrumental in creating records to make everything look legit. She knew that African Americans were essential to the operation. They used both free and enslaved blacks. There were two identities that were created for Mary. Van Lew had registered Mary as Mary Jones in the 1860 census. She was registered as the only free black servant in the Van Lew Family. There was also a record that showed up in April of 1861 in St. John’s Church as a wedding of a Van Lew servant. It is unsure if this was a real wedding or if this was one to create records.
            Once she returned she met and married Wilson Bowser. Wilson was a free black man. Interesting thing to note is that she married on April 16, 1861. This was just a few days before the Civil War begun. There was mostly whites that attended this wedding. They settled in Richmond, Virginia. They do not appear to have had any children. She still remained close with Elizabeth Van Lew. With the addition of her intelligence she also had incredible acting skills per Van Lew Records. Mary Bowser became Ellen Bond. “Ellen” would be a slow thinking but stable servant. “Van Lew urged a friend to take Bowser along to help out at functions held by Varina Davis, the wife of the Confederate president, Jefferson Davis. Bowser was eventually hired fulltime, and worked in the Davis household until just before the end of the war.”[1] This would allow her access to the Confederate President’s daily activities.
            Once inside the Davis household, Mary worked as a servant. She would clean and cook meals. “Bowser spied on the South from inside the lion’s den – in the Richmond, Virginia, household of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. During that period, she provided the Union with invaluable information about Southern military forces.”[2] They had no idea that she was literate. She was able to read documents that were laying on tables or that she was able to gain access too. She also was able to understand the conversations that she would overhear. One of the things that was important is that since there was such great racial prejudice during this time. Servants were expected to be invisible. Bowser was able to secure this during her time of service.
            She would pass her information to Richmond’s spymaster, Thomas McNiven. McNiven was a baker. While he would be out making deliveries he could collect information from other Union spies that had infiltrated the Confederacy. Bowser was a valuable asset since she was able to repeat things word from word. When he would make his deliveries to the Confederate home – she would make sure she greeted him and dropped her information.
            After the war, Jefferson Davis’ wife, Varina (who was now a widow) denied that there was ever a spy in their household. “In a 1905 letter to the regent of the Confederate White House Museum, Mrs. Davis wrote that she never “had in her employ an educated negro ‘given or hired’ by Miss Van Lew as a spy” during the War.”[3] However historian and author, William Gilmore Beymer felt that Mary Bowser did indeed work for and in the Jefferson household. It is also noted that her actual name was: Mary Ann Richards.   
After the war – the Federal Government sought to destroy discriminating evidence to protect identities of those involved. “When the fighting was over, War Department records on Union spies were destroyed to protect those who’d worked for the North from Southern retaliation.”[4] While we may never know the full effect the information that Bowser and Van Lew extracted and passed – we do know that they had a significant place in history.

[1] "Bowser, Mary Elizabeth (1839? - ?), Union Spy during the Civil War..." Hutchins Center. Accessed July 1, 2016.

[2] Martin, Paul D. Secret Heroes: Everyday Americans Who Shaped Our World. New York: William Morrow, 2012. Pg. 39

[3] Winkler, H. Donald. Stealing Secrets: How a Few Daring Women Deceived Generals, Impacted Battles, and Altered the Course of the Civil War. Naperville, IL: Cumberland House, 2010. Pg. 79-80

[4] Ibid. Pg. 43

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Book Review! Buried Secrets by Rachel J. Good

Buried Secrets

About the Book

Book: Buried Secrets
Author: Rachel J. Good
Genre: Amish Romance
Release Date: March 7, 2017
Overcome the past and any other obstacles that stand in the way of the future God
 has planned for you.
Three years after the accident that almost claimed her life, Emma Esh has recovered physically
 but has no memory of the year before the accident. When she moves to a new community to 
help her sister Lydia and brother-in-law, Caleb, prepare for the birth of twins, she falls
 for their neighbor Samuel.
But the twins’ premature birth, a visit from the Englischer Emma once dated, and the sudden
 return of her memory threaten Emma’s romance. After the secrets of her past are revealed, 
will love be able to overcome all obstacles?
 I absolutely loved Buried Secrets! From the first page I could not read fast enough! 
Rachel J Good has crafted an amazing story that will leave your heart pounding and trying to
 read quickly to continue the story! I cannot imagine losing my memories or trying to rebuild
 my life as it once was. I had not read any of the other books in the series and I did not have
 any problems following along 
I received an advance copy of the book in exchange for my opinion - all opinions are my own


About the Author

Inspirational author Rachel J. Good writes life-changing, heart-tugging novels of faith, hope, and forgiveness. She is the author of several Amish series in print or forthcoming – Sisters & Friends series, Love & Promises series, and two books in the Hearts of Amish Country series – as well as the Amish Quilts Coloring Books and the contemporary novella, Angels Unaware, part of the Hope Chapelseries. Rachel also juggles freelance editing and illustration careers. She loves reading (of course!), traveling, and spending time with her five children and three grandchildren. Visit her at her websiteFacebookauthor pageTwitterPinterest, and Goodreads. You also can sign up for her quarterly newsletter here.

Guest Post from Rachel J. Good

Readers who have read Change of Heart, the first book in the Sisters & Friends series, will remember Emma as the wild teen who defied her family. Her older sister, Lydia, tried to prevent Emma from making mistakes during Rumschpringe, the Amish running-around time. Throughout most of the story, Lydia and Emma were at odds with each other, but in the end, the family needed to forgive Emma and show her God’s love.
In Book 2, Buried Secrets, Emma has no memory of her rebellion, so she’s devastated when she finally does remember. Then she must confront her past, learn to forgive herself, and also ask for and accept God’s forgiveness. Sometimes when we’ve done things we’re ashamed of, we struggle to believe that God can forgive what we’ve done. But God’s mercy has no limits. Emma needs to open her heart to that truth. As she does, she discovers an important lesson: Some mistakes in the past can never be undone, but God can forgive anything.Authors often write about themes that are close to their hearts, and I’m no exception. Many times, after I write a novel, I look back and see how God directed me to tell a story containing lessons I needed to learn. In Change of Heart, Lydia discovers that judging other people or suggesting ways they can improve their lives can be a form of self-righteousness. God used my young daughter to point that out to me, but it’s a lesson that bears repeating. And as I finished the novel, I clearly saw it as a reminder not only to Lydia, but also to me.

Emma’s story also blessed me by reminding me how deep and wide God’s love is for each of us. No matter how we’ve failed, He never stops loving us, and His forgiveness is only a prayer away.
I also hope to remind readers that “all things work together for good for those that love God.” So often we expect hardship when we do God’s will, but He has promised to give us the desires of our hearts. Lydia learned in Change of Heart that God’s will was so much better than anything she could have planned, and Emma, too, comes to realize that, by trusting God to direct her life, she is blessed many times over.
Has God ever given you a desire of your heart? To enter the giveaway, share one of God’s blessings in your life. And let’s rejoice together at the many wonderful things He has done for each of us.
Book Excerpt
 Emma concentrated on the plants beside her. Gardening soothed her, made her feel whole again. The spring sunshine warmed the ground and sent comforting rays through her cloak as she bent over the soft, moist earth. She lifted a seedling from its pot and inhaled the savory tomato-y aroma. Then she pinched off the lower leaves, set it in the hole, and gently bent the stem before covering it with soil.
Whoosh. A heavy weight slammed her backwards, smashing her head against the ground. Gasping, desperate to suck some air into her crushed lungs, Emma opened her eyes to find a furry face inches from her own. A huge mouth opened, revealing pointy white teeth. Then a wet pink tongue scraped across her cheek.
“Bolt,” a deep male voice commanded. “Off.”
A handsome stranger, black bangs hanging in front of his eyes, bent over her, his hand outstretched. “Ach, I’m so sorry. She slipped out the door again.” He clamped his other hand on the Irish setter’s collar and pulled the dog off Emma, leaving muddy paw prints across her skirt.
Still dazed, Emma lay where she’d fallen, gazing up at him, unsure whether the rapid pattering of her pulse was from her recent fright or from looking into the greenest eyes she’d ever seen.
“Are you all right?” Worry crinkled his brow.
“I–I’ll be fine.” Ignoring the hand he’d extended, she tried to sit.
The stranger dropped to one knee beside her. “Don’t get up if you’re hurt. Is there someone I can fetch?”
“I don’t need help.” Heat flooded Emma’s cheeks when her words came out sharply. “I’m sorry,” she whispered. “Please forgive me.” Then pinching her lips together, she steeled herself to sit without assistance.
“There’s nothing to forgive. I’m the one who let my dog escape.” The words were barely out of his mouth when the Irish setter twisted free and bounded off, crushing the rows of seedlings Emma had just planted.
“Oh, no!” The stranger dashed off after the dog, swerving to avoid the tomato plants the setter had crushed. Gasping for air, he made a desperate tackle, landing a few feet beyond the garden, the dog wriggling under him. With a firm grip on the Irish setter’s collar, he stood, the front of his shirt, galluses, and black pants splattered with dog hair and dirt.
Emma suppressed the urge to giggle at his sheepish expression, the clod of mud clinging to his forehead, and the panting dog struggling to jerk free of his hold.
He pinched his lips together as he studied the mess. “I’m so sorry. Let me put Bolt in the house. Then I’ll help clean up.”
“Bolt?” Had he called the dog that earlier? Emma had been too distracted to pay attention. Now she couldn’t hold in her mirth.
Rather than taking offense, the stranger glanced down with a rueful expression, then joined in her laughter. “Jah,” he said between hearty chuckles. “Short for Lightning Bolt. She zigs and zags so fast I can’t catch her sometimes.” He waved a hand toward the disaster in the garden. “Like she did here. And now look at me.”
 Emma did, and her laughter ended in a sharp intake of breath. And then his eyes met hers, and she stopped breathing altogether.
I hope you’ll enjoy reading Buried Secrets as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Blog Stops

March 9: autism mom
March 13: Bigreadersite
March 15: Carpe Diem
March 16: Splashes of Joy
March 20: A Greater Yes
March 22: Rhonda’s Doings
March 22: Karen Sue Hadley

To celebrate her tour, Rachel is giving away a full box of Whoopie Pies freshly baked for you from a bakery in Amish country, along with copies of Angels Unaware, the brand new Amish Words and Proverbs Coloring Book and Amish Quilts Coloring Book #1 (Large Print Edition), an autographed copy of Change of Heart, and an Amish cookbook!! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Book Review! The Art of Vanishing by Cynthia Kuhn

Rate This

The Art of Vanishing
by Cynthia Kuhn

Cynthia didn’t disappoint with this fabulous second book…her books are smooth like a really good cup of tea, not bitter, not sweet, just right.
~Bibliophile Reviews
I was on the edge of my seat in this fast-paced read. The author keeps you captivated until the last page.
~Shelley’s Book Case
The author has a talent for creating a story that is serious yet have an undertone of light and fun to allow the reader to enjoy the story.
~Rainy Day Reviews
The Art of Vanishing (A Lila Maclean Academic Mystery)
Publisher: Henery Press (February 28, 2017)
Paperback: 262 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1635111699
Kindle – ASIN: B01NBHR7Y6


When Professor Lila Maclean is sent to interview celebrated author and notorious cad Damon Von Tussel, he disappears before her very eyes. The English department is thrown into chaos by the news, as Damon is supposed to headline Stonedale University’s upcoming Arts Week.
The chancellor makes it clear that he expects Lila to locate the writer and set events back on track immediately. But someone appears to have a different plan: strange warnings are received, valuable items go missing, and a series of dangerous incidents threaten the lives of Stonedale’s guests. After her beloved mother, who happens to be Damon’s ex, rushes onto campus and into harm’s way, Lila has even more reason to bring the culprit to light before anything—or anyone—else vanishes.



Cynthia Kuhn writes the Lila Maclean academic mystery series. Her work has appeared in McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, Literary Mama, Copper Nickel, Prick of the Spindle, Mama PhD and other publications. She teaches English at Metropolitan State University of Denver and serves as president of Sisters in Crime-Colorado. Visit her at or @cynthiakuhn.
Author Links
Twitter: @cynthiakuhn

 Purchase Links
Amazon – B&N  – 
iTunes – Kobo

This was the first book that I had read by this author. It is the second in the series. I was able to fully understand what was going on. The characters are well written. One of the things that I loved was that I had to think about the different clues and how things fit together. I love how books make me think. Lila's character is interesting. There was some small hints of romance - but I liked this book a lot. 
I was provided an advanced copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion. 
4 stars. 


Great Escape Tour Stops

March 1 – T’s Stuff – INTERVIEW, SPOTLIGHT
March 1 – Bibliophile Reviews – REVIEW
March 2 – Queen of All She Reads – SPOTLIGHT
March 2 – Sleuth Cafe – SPOTLIGHT
March 3 – Books Direct – INTERVIEW
March 3 – Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers – SPOTLIGHT
March 4 – Mystery Playground – INTERVIEW
March 5 – The Editing Pen – INTERVIEW
March 6 – Maureen’s Musings – REVIEW
March 6 – View from the Birdhouse – SPOTLIGHT
March 7 – My Journey Back – REVIEW, INTERVIEWAdding interview
March 7 – Shelley’s Book Case – REVIEW
March 8 – Pulp and Mystery Shelf – INTERVIEW, SPOTLIGHT
March 9 – Girl with Book Lungs – CHARACTER INTERVIEW, SPOTLIGHT
March 9 – Island Confidential – CHARACTER INTERVIEW, SPOTLIGHT
March 10 – Rainy Day Reviews – REVIEW, INTERVIEW
March 11 – Connie’s History Classroom – REVIEW  
March 11 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT
March 12 – Varietats – REVIEW
March 13 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
March 14 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW
March 14 – A Blue Million Books – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
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