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Saturday, September 14, 2019

Book Review and Giveaway: Beautiful In His Sight Author: April W. Gardner On Tour with Celebrate Lit

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About the Book

Beautiful in His Sight

Book: Beautiful In His Sight
Author: April W. Gardner
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: May 11, 2019
It’s 1917, and Halifax is at war. Silas Quinn, street sweeper and army reject, remains on the home front, shunning God and society as religiously as they shun him. But the night he stumbles across a half-frozen prostitute, his eyes blink open, and his greater purpose is born: preserve and protect.
There’d been a day when shop girl Helen Fraser was desperate enough to believe a few nights in a brothel would cure her troubles. By some miracle, Major Jack Gordon deemed her worth saving, but Helen knows her meticulously recreated identity cannot last. What she doesn’t expect is for its destruction to come about, not by an old john or one of the madam’s goons, but by a force great enough to flatten a city and bury her alive.
Set against the backdrop of the Halifax Explosion, Beautiful in His Sight is a Christian historical romance that explores unequivocal grace and identity in Christ.

Click here to purchase your copy.

About the Author

April headshot
APRIL W GARDNER writes history with a Christian perspective and a little imagination. She is a copyeditor, military wife, and homeschooling mother of two who lives in Texas. She writes Christian historical romance with a focus on our Southeastern Native Tribes. In no particular order, April dreams of owning a horse, learning a third language, and visiting all the national parks.
April loves to hear from her readers at: aprilgardnerwrites@gmail.com

More from April

The Story Behind the Story
My novels are never purely fiction. They are stories constructed around truth, around some segment of the past that’s both stunning and stunningly forgotten. My latest novel, Beautiful in His Sight, is set during the Halifax Explosion, a WW1 event little known in most of the world. For those in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in December of 1917, it literally shattered their world.
That’s the setting we find my characters Silas and Helen struggling to survive, but—as in every good romance—love (and God’s grace!) brings them through.

The Story Behind the Setting
By December 1917, Halifax had passed tens of thousands of soldiers and sailors through its railyard and onto the naval vessels in its harbor. With the military came the prostitutes who migrated in droves to the slums. It’s reported that some days, the only passengers disembarking from the trains were women in short skirts. Slumdom’s seams overflowed with carnality, public drunkenness, and solicitations. Prostitution wasn’t the only job to be had for women. With so many men wearing army green, ladies of the proper class and training stepped behind registers and bookkeeping desks and kept Halifax running.
This is the world in which we find our female lead, Helen Fraser, a reformed prostitute desperately trying to start over as a salesclerk.

The Story Behind the Explosion
As Silas, the story’s male lead, puts it, the explosion was “a tragic accident, a miscommunication between passing ships.” In short, it was a dozen small decisions that accumulated to one very horrific event. The collision and blast released the equivalent energy of 2.9 kilotons of TNT and instantly obliterated everything within a half-mile radius. The munitions vessel that exploded, the Mont Blanc, rained iron shrapnel all over Halifax. Its 1,160-ton anchor landed 2.5 miles away where it can still be found today.
The numbers: Over 2,000 deaths. Over 1,000 injuries. Almost 300 blinded.

The Story Behind the Name
The name Helen Fraser (female lead) is an honoring nod to Helen Clark, a courageous young woman who survived the explosion. This is her story.
Helen Clark, age eight, was beginning her school day at St. Joseph’s when she felt something disturbing. “Like thunder was taking place alongside of you,” she later said, “instead of up in the sky.” She looked to the window and gaped at the glass bowing inward. She flung her arms over her face and ducked an instant before it blew in. Then, in her words, “The ceiling above gave way at one corner and down two sides of the room, hanging like the flap of a great envelope and spilling out children from the room above.”
A nun grabbed her arm and said, “My heavenly God, the Germans have arrived! Get down on your knees girls.” In lieu of prayer, Helen wrenched away and jumped out the second-story window, narrowly missing the debris that, in the next moment, struck and killed the nun. A snow mound broke Helen’s fall. Suddenly very tired, she laid down right there, feeling no cold or pain, and went to sleep.
Eventually, two men approached to see if she was dead. Though she couldn’t speak, she managed to get to her feet. They straightened the bow on the top of her head and told her to go home if she had one to go to. The blood crusted over her eyes limited her vision, but she shambled along best she could, recognizing nothing. She knew her street only by the change to cobblestones under her feet, and her grandmother recognized her only by the bow in her hair.
Quick-thinking and bold, little Helen avoided both death and blindness, and I’m honored to name my heroine after her.

My Thoughts


One of the things that I love about historical fiction books is that you learn something as you read. I had not heard of the Halifax explosion. I actually went and researched it myself. It was a piece of history that seems to have been forgotten. This is the first book that I have read by this author. It will not be the last. This story is so powerfully packed with God's word and love for us that it will remind you that we ARE beautiful in HIS site. We are beautiful because we are made in his image. The author has done a great job at creating real feeling characters. Ones that have had a hard time getting over their pasts and hurts. Characters that we can relate to. She has written a wonderful story that you will want to read again. Silas is charged with caring for Helen. He wants to do it correctly. He will hit many twists and turns as they go along. Helen. She has tried to change her identity from who she once was. When her caretaker dies, what will happen? I do suggest this book for your enjoyment. Blogger note: This book also deals with prejudice treason and physical abuse. However it is done tastefully and respectfully. 

I received a copy of this book through the Celebrate Lit Blogging program. All thoughts are my own. 

Blog Stops

Simple Harvest Reads, September 9
Emily Yager, September 10
Betti Mace, September 10
Avid Reader Nurse, September 11
JosephineAnneWrites, September 14
For Him and My Family, September 15
A Reader’s Brain, September 17
Inklings and notions, September 18
CarpeDiem, September 19
Through the Fire Blogs, September 20
Bigreadersite , September 20
Inspired by fiction, September 21
Texas Book-aholic, September 21
janicesbookreviews, September 22

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, April is giving away a grand prize package of a $25 Starbucks gift card and a signed copy of her book!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Book Review and Giveaway: Surf Smugglers by Melody Carlson on Tour with Celebrate Lit

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About the Book


Book: Surf Smugglers
Author: Melody Carlson
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: August 15, 2019
Surf Smugglers Cover
In the summer of 1917, US troops join the allied forces in the Great War. Back in Sunset Cove, Oregon, other battles wage. Anna McDowell continues to fight old fashioned stereotypes as she runs a newspaper committed to truth. Despite opposition, she’s determined to expose ongoing rum-running and prohibition lawlessness.
Adding to Anna’s frustrations, her good friend Dr. Daniel seems to run hot and cold. He loves Oregon, and maybe Anna too, but he’s pulled by his East Coast family responsibilities. Even the lure of a new modern Sunset Cove hospital doesn’t seem enough to keep him in Sunset Cove.
Meanwhile, Anna’s strong-willed daughter Katy continues to develop her dress shop by inviting family friend Sarah Rose to help out. But the woman’s presence tests the small town’s tolerance. And Anna’s concern that her daughter is growing up too fast is confirmed when Katy’s romantic life takes an unexpected turn, which Anna fears is influenced by the pressure of a devastating war that is not only changing the entire world but Sunset Cove as well.

Click here to grab your copy.

About the Author

Melody Carlson
Melody Carlson has written more than 200 books (with sales around 6.5 million) for teens, women, and children. That’s a lot of books, but mostly she considers herself a “storyteller.” Her young adult novels (Diary of a Teenage Girl, True Colors etc.) appeal to teenage girls around the world. Her annual Christmas novellas become more popular each year. She’s won a number of awards (including RT’s Career Achievement Award, the Rita, and the Gold medallion) and some of her books have been optioned for film/TV. Carlson has two grown sons and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and yellow Lab dog.

More from Melody

My favorite way to learn history is through historical fiction—both by reading and by writing it. And I’ve discovered that World War 1 (previously known as the Great War, since WW2 had yet to happen) is quite fascinating. As well as incredibly sad. But I’m amazed at how science and technology evolved so quickly in this era. Whether it was advancement in automotive, communication, medicine . . . the culture was rapidly changing. And the war pushed it along at an even faster pace.
Another factor that makes this era interesting is prohibition. Oregon, my home state and where I set my series, was one of the earliest states to adopt prohibition of alcohol—in 1914. As a result, Oregon became ripe territory for bootlegging and rum-running along the coastline. And because my series involves a small town coastal newspaper that’s run (gasp!) by a woman, it gets even more interesting—and exciting!
Speaking of women, the suffrage movement was approved in Oregon in 1912—also well ahead of the rest of the nation (and the main reason that prohibition passed). My theory on why this happened is that the brave women who’d made the arduous journey West (via perilous wagon train or long hard voyages on clipper ships) were strong and opinionated and tough. And many of them were sick and tired of drunken slacker husbands. Also, thanks to Oregon’s amazing land donation act of 1850, many of these women were equal landowners to their husbands—and land equaled power.
Of course, what these suffragette-prohibition supporters didn’t realize is that banning alcohol would make matters worse because bootlegging and rum-running suddenly became a very lucrative business. The crime rate soared and the booze continued to flow freely. But all this makes for good newspaper stories, keeping our female editor in chief rather busy. In the first two books of the series, Anna McDowell has her hands full with trying to run her ailing father’s newspaper, restoring family relationships, and staying ahead of the growing crime element in Sunset Cove.
By book three, Surf Smugglers, Anna has her feet under her and doing a good job of standing up to the criminal element in their region. But by now the Great War is really heating up and the United States must get involved. Of course, this means that many young men, as well as Anna’s very good friend Dr. Daniel Hollister, are being shipped overseas to serve. Meanwhile, there is plenty of trouble at home. And the rum-runners, who despise the newspaper’s support of prohibition, target Anna’s good friend Sarah Rose because she’s a woman of color who’s sought refuge from the big city . . . and naturally things get dicey.
I’m currently finishing up the fourth and final book of the Legacy if Sunset Cove series, and I’m sad to think my ‘history lesson’ in this interesting era is drawing to an end. Not only have I learned a lot, I’ve really come to love the McDowell family . . . and I’m getting worried that not all the men from Sunset Cove will survive the brutal war. Of course, this is fiction . . . but the war was very real and the losses were great. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the war to end all wars like they’d hoped, but I appreciate the sentiment . . . and continue to pray for world peace.

My Thoughts

I am so sad that there will be only one more book in the series! I have read the other two and I feel like these characters have become friends. I would read each book that has previously been published so that you get the full effect. In this book, It's 1917 and America is no longer neutral in the Great War. The selective service act has been passed - how will it affect the  Sunset Cove residents? Jobs that have been previously filled by men - are now open and women start stepping into some of the roles. I love how the author has captured the world that these characters lived in. I feel that there is not a lot of books that are written for this time period - and it's such an important one. As always the author delivers with well written characters, intriguing storyline and entertaining the whole way through, 

I received a copy of this book through the Celebrate Lit blogging program, all thoughts are my own

Blog Stops

The Avid Reader, August 31
Connect in Fiction, August 31
Among the Reads, September 1
She Lives To Read, September 1
For Him and My Family, September 2
Just the Write Escape, September 3
Patiently Waiting, September 3
Blogging With Carol , September 3
CarpeDiem, September 4
Betti Mace, September 4
Wishful Endings, September 5
Remembrancy, September 5
Maureen’s Musings, September 6
Bigreadersite , September 7
Hallie Reads, September 8
Moments, September 9
Simple Harvest Reads, September 9
Locks, Hooks and Books, September 10
Pause for Tales, September 10
To Everything A Season, September 10
Retrospective Spines, September 11
Texas Book-aholic, September 11
Older & Smarter?, September 12
janicesbookreviews, September 13
A Reader’s Brain, September 13
Inklings and notions , September 13

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Melody is giving away the grand prize of three of her books: Harbor Secrets, Riptide Rumors, and Surf Smugglers!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Book Review and Giveaway: Rose's Redemption By Donna L.H. Smith on tour with Celebrate Lit

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About the Book 


Book: Rose’s Redemption
Author: Donna L. H. Smith
Genre: Christian Western
Release Date: November, 2018
Roses Redemption coverA Former Dance Hall Girl. A Handsome Young Doctor. Can Rose overcome her past? That’s Rose’s Redemption
Rose Rhodes changed not only her name after the tornado; she changed her outward appearance. No more was she Rosalie O’Roarke, former dance hall girl. She loves her new work as a nurse-in-training to handsome Doctor Scott Allison. As Scott and Rose’s relationship begins to change from professional to personal, they must deal with figures from Rose’s past who make life anything but easy. Rose is concerned that the town will discover her dance hall girl past, especially when Jake Thomas, the man who viciously beat her, asks all over town where Rosalie O’Roarke went. But both Rose and Scott are in for surprise encounters with Christ that will change their lives forever and help them see His plan for them. In fact, they will see God at work all over New Boston.
Rose’s Redemption won second place in the 2017 Golden Leaf Award at the Advance Novelist Retreat and was a finalist in the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Phoenix Rattler Contest.

Click here to grab your copy.

About the Author

Donna Smith
Donna L.H. Smith is a Kansas prairie girl transplanted to Lancaster County, PA. She is a graduate of Christian Writer’s Guild Craftsman program and holds two college degrees, both B.S. and M.A. in Mass Communication. She’s been married to a wonderful man named Kirby for thirty years. Her debut novel, Meghan’s Choice, made the finals of both the Selah and Will Rogers Medallion Awards. Rose’s Redemption, the sequel, also made the Selah Award finals in 2019. She blogs, speaks at workshops and holds inner healing retreats. Although she is at an age where many begin slowing down, she wouldn’t think of it. She served as Managing Editor of www.almostanauthor.com, an award-winning website for writers. She continues to serve as ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) Mid-Atlantic Zone Director. She is also a member of AWSA’s Protégé program (Advanced Writers & Speaker’s Association).

More from Donna

Rose’s Redemption is the second book in the Known by Heart series. There were interesting challenges to this book.
First, how to change a rascal of an antagonist from Meghan’s Choice, to the romantic hero of Rose’s Redemption.
Second, I serve a supernatural God, so I wanted to include a little something different. It’s not spec-fic, but I hope people will enjoy Rafe. Answer the question for yourself whether or not he is an angel.
Third, I included in Rose’s history a bombshell from her mother. That was personal to me, only I didn’t discover it until two years ago.
The point of Rose’s Redemption is that our faith or our change cannot just be external, as Rose tried to do by changing her name, her appearance, and her profession—but an internal change of heart, too.
God is in the business of change

My Thoughts

Oh. My Gosh. I LOVE this author. One of the coolest things about being a book blogger is discovering new authors I may not have found otherwise. I love the way she writes. Her characters! Flaws and all. Her storylines are so well crafted. In this story - we meet Rose. a former dance hall girl. She so desperately wants to leave her old life behind. After a tornado hits her town, she recreates herself. I found myself reminded on how I have wanted to leave my past behind  and be the woman God created me to be. These characters have such Godly lessons and redemption written all into them. I have read Meghan's choice by this author which does give a backstory to Rose and the others in the town - but it is not a neccessity to read this book. This is such a beautifully written story. 

I received a copy of this book through the Celebrate Lit blogging program -- all thoughts are my own, 

Blog Stops

Carla Loves To Read, September 5
CarpeDiem, September 6
For Him and My Family, September 9
Texas Book-aholic, September 13
janicesbookreviews, September 14
A Reader’s Brain, September 15
Inklings and notions , September 16
Library Lady’s Kid Lit, September 17 (Author Interview)
Blossoms and Blessings, September 18 (Author Interview)

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Donna is giving away the grand prize of a signed copy of her book!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Book Review: Diamond in the Rough (American Heiresses book 2) By: Jen Turano

Diamond in the Rough (American Heiresses Book #2) cover

ABOUT THE BOOK:

To save her family from financial ruin, Miss Poppy Garrison accepts an unusual proposition to participate in the New York social season in exchange for her grandmother settling a family loan that has unexpectedly come due. Ill-equipped to handle the intricacies of mingling within the New York Four Hundred, Poppy becomes embroiled in one hilarious fiasco after another, doomed to suffer a grand societal failure instead of being deemed the diamond of the first water her grandmother longs for her to become. 

Reginald Blackburn, second son of a duke, has been forced to travel to America to help his cousin, Charles Wynn, Earl of Lonsdale, find an American heiress to wed in order to shore up his family estate that is in desperate need of funds. Reginald himself has no interest in finding an heiress to marry, but when Poppy’s grandmother asks him to give etiquette lessons to Poppy, he swiftly discovers he may be in for much more than he bargained for.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

jen-turano.jpg

Named One of the Funniest Voices in Inspirational Romance by Booklist, Jen Turano is a USA Today Best-Selling Author, known for penning quirky historical romances set in the Gilded Age. Her books have earned Publisher Weekly and Booklist starred reviews, top picks from Romantic Times, and praise from Library Journal. She’s been a finalist twice for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards and had two of her books listed in the top 100 romances of the past decade from Booklist. When she’s not writing, she spends her time outside of Denver, CO.

MY THOUGHTS

This is book 2 in the American Heiresses series - You do not need to have read book one (Flights of Fancy) to know what is going on. Poppy has got to be one of my most favorite characters that the author has created. She had me laughing from the beginning. My heart went out to her. I am a klutz and through no fault of my own - end up making a fool of myself pretty reguarly. When Poppy falls into financial difficulties - her grandmother agrees to help her out - but she must be presented into the New York society. Which proves to be disasterous. (Comical but disaserous) Her grandma enlists the help of Reginald Blackburn. He is enlisted to teach her proper etiquette. He is second son to a duke - and is visiting the United States. They get off to a rough start - but they become in tune and comical. I always love the setting that the author writes in - she is so knowledgable of it. If you enjoye humor, sweet romance and a light read - this book is for you. 

I received a copy of the book through the author - all thoughts are my own. 

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Book Review and Giveaway: The Yellow Lantern by Angie Dicken --- On tour with Celebrate Lit

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About the Book


Book: The Yellow Lantern
Author: Angie Dicken
Genre: Christian Historical/Suspense
Release Date: August, 2019
The Yellow Lattern Cover
Josephine Is Forced to Spy for Grave Robbers
Step into True Colors—a new series of Historical Stories of Romance and American Crime
In Massachusetts in 1824, Josephine Clayton awakes on the table of the doctor she’s assisted all these months. She was presumed dead by all and has become the doctor’s next corpse for his medical research. Frightened, the doctor tries to kill her, but Josephine begs to be spared. A deal is struck—Josie will leave her village and work at a distant cotton mill. All the while, she’ll await her true mission—posing as a mourner to help his body snatcher procure her replacement. At the mill though, Josie is praised for her medical remedies among the mill girls, gaining attention from the handsome factory manager Braham Taylor. Yet, when Braham’s own loved one becomes the prey for the next grave robbing, Josie must make a choice that could put her dark past behind her or steal away the promise of any future at all.
What price will Josie pay for love when her secrets begin to unravel?

Click here to grab your copy.

About the Author

AngieDicken
Angie Dicken credits her love of story to reading British literature during life as a military kid in England. Now living in the U.S. heartland, she’s a member of ACFW, sharing about author life with her fellow Alley Cats on The Writer’s Alley blog and Facebook page. Besides writing, she is a busy mom of four and works in Adult Ministry. Angie enjoys eclectic new restaurants, authentic conversation with friends, and date nights with her Texas Aggie husband. Connect with her online at www.angiedicken.com.

More from Angie

Barbour’s True Colors Crime concept intrigued me from the very beginning. Being the daughter of a doctor and discovering the ties of grave robbing to the early medical profession, I was excited to dive deep into 19th century Massachusetts. Grave robbing around Boston and New York was often employed by doctors desperate for medical advancement. Men and women were both involved in the procuring of bodies for doctors. Finding these accounts led me to take took a look at the current medical remedies of the time—tinctures, elixirs, and herbal concoctions. My heroine was created in the tension of a desire to heal and the desperation of medical pursuits.
Amidst these medical ties to the historical moment of 1824, something was also shifting among women in rural areas of New England. Many women were employed by newly built cotton mills (Lowell Mill was my inspiration for the fictional Gloughton Mill in The Yellow Lantern). These working opportunities for women offered an escape from their home-bound lives and the rare chance for independence. Of course, with such industrial environments, injuries, and sometimes death, would occur. Noting the accounts of these kind of fatalities in historical articles, my research came full circle.
I found three strong threads to weave into my grave-robbing story—desperate doctors in need of research, a doctor’s assistant needing an escape from her village, and a mill, not only offering that escape, but the chance at bodies for the desperate medical community.
My heroine, Josie Clay, found life in the tangle of these threads of mills, medicine, and grave robbing—all playing out within the pages of The Yellow Lantern.

My Thoughts

I am a huge fan of this author and her work. She always does careful research to ensure that her stories are as accurate as possible. I have read about mill girls in the past but this put a whole new spin on it. I have never read about grave robbers. However, I was intrugied when I read the story summary. Josephine Clay, has been a doctor's assistant for a long time - so she was surprised to awake on the table - about to become medical research. She is able to strike a deal, and she ultimately becomes the look out for grave robbers. This book is so well researched. I felt like I learned so much while I was reading. The author has written amazing characters that feel like they are out of a page of a history textbook. Her storyline is a page turner. You will want to keep on reading. If you like based on true history stories, this book is for you. 

I received a copy of this book through the Celebrate Lit blogging program. All thoughts are my own. 

Blog Stops

Genesis 5020, August 15
All-of-a-kind Mom, August 15
Bigreadersite, August 16
Emily Yager, August 16
Kathleen Denly, August 19
Simple Harvest Reads, August 21 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)
Godly Book Reviews, August 21
A Reader’s Brain, August 21
Betti Mace, August 22
Hallie Reads, August 23
Mary Hake, August 23
Pause for Tales, August 25
amandainpa, August 26
Texas Book-aholic, August 27
janicesbookreviews, August 27
Back Porch Reads, August 28

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Angie is giving away a grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a paperback copy of each of the books in the series!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.