30 September 2014

Review of Elizabeth Camden's "With Every Breath" - Will Make Best of 2014 List

With Every Breath By Elizabeth Camden

Bethany House (July, 2014)

Was Holding My Breath Till the End!
By Carrie Fancett Pagels
Kate Livingston and Trevor McDonough are two super competitive people who are meant to be together. High school rivals, his performance on a contest costs Kate a scholarship that she believes would have made her dreams come true. Wealthy Trevor could have afforded to have gone to school without any assistance which only intensifies Kate's dislike of the brooding teenager.  Fast forward about a decade. Widowed Kate is working in a boring clerical position when a medical researcher offers her the chance to engage in meaningful work.

What a surprise to find that her new employer will be Trevor, who is now using another name. He's still a prickly pear and Kate doesn't put up with a lot of his nonsense. He respects her. Their romance is the glue that holds this book together.

Kate's family owns a lovely rooming house for upper scale Washington D.C. tenants, including senators and their families. Wonderful cast of characters added a richness to the plot.

The secondary characters and subplots are all masterfully presented.  Wonderful story about the difficulties in treating tuberculosis in the 19th century. Very sad stuff but handled beautifully. I've grown up reading about t.b. and what it can do to you as it was a scourge even a few decades before I was born.

Highly recommend. Oh, and I loved the dog who adopted Trevor! I think he helped him more than the doctor helped the pet.

This book will make "best of" lists for 2014 I feel sure, including mine which it will definitely be on.  The pacing and the plot are seamless. And wonderful job of HEA ending that makes you want to read her next book. I'd love to read more about the characters in this story and wish it was part of a series.

I received my copy through NetGalley but this book is worth paying full price for. When you are done reading you will sigh in satisfaction over the excellent read!

Giveaway: We're giving away a copy of this book or any of Elizabeth's novels this week, winner's choice.  Leave a comment.

28 September 2014

Love One Another by Elizabeth Camden

Author Elizabeth Camden

Above all, love one another.

Thanks for asking me back, Carrie. I always love the insight I get from your author interviews. Instead of talking about handling a major crisis, I want to celebrate one of the simplest of biblical verses, and one that has brought me great comfort over the past year.

1 Peter 4:8  Above all, love one another deeply.

If I were the type of person to get a tattoo, this is the phrase I would use! It is beautiful in its simplicity, yet so powerful and all-encompassing in its message.

I have two step-daughters who are recent college graduates. I am afraid they have drunk deeply from the well of victim-mentality and the tendency to demonize those from the opposite side of their political viewpoint. This is a sadly common phenomenon on college campuses (I know, I’m a college professor in my day job!) I think this attitude is terribly destructive, and I’ve been urging them to try to extend compassion not only to people they agree with, or deem “worthy” of compassion, but to everyone.  Yes, that includes the jerk who whistles rude catcalls as they walk past a construction site. We don’t know what his story is, what weakness, insecurities, boredom, or poor parenting he came from. Jesus’s command to love one another includes that construction worker.

This phrase was with me as I wrote With Every Breath, which features a number of secondary characters who suffer from tuberculosis, a once fatal and highly contagious disease. In the 19th century it was common to blame TB victims for their plight, as they were often the poor, the prostitutes, and the people living in inner city slums. Yes, the command extends to them as well.

It is difficult to watch the news these days that is filled with so much political turmoil, racial incidents that spiral out of control, wife abuse, etc. Above all, love one another deeply!  This does not mean you must approve of the actions, but anger and demonizing the opposition has not been working to well in solving the incidents I am referring to. Step back, take a breath, and try to understand the other side. They may be wrong. In many cases, they certainly are…but it is hard to truly solve these problems without trying to understand our fellow man. (I hear my step-daughters angrily objecting to that turn of phrase. Fellow man! How sexist! Yes….but I’m a writer and the poetry of language means something to me…. I ask my beautiful, talented, but angry young daughters to understand my need for poetic license.) 

Above all, love one another!  This is the first phrase I think of when I’ve run into frustrations over the past year, be it from a snide insurance adjuster, problems at work, or a student angry at a grade I’ve assigned. Above all, love one another.

Honestly…one of these day, if I ever get that tattoo…..




Mini Bio: Elizabeth Camden is a professor and research librarian at a small college in central Florida. Her novel Against the Tide won the coveted RITA and Christy Award. She has also written four nonfiction history books for the academic market. It was her ongoing fascination with history and love of literature have led her to write inspirational fiction. Elizabeth lives with her husband near Orlando, Florida.

She regularly posts about the joys of the book world at http://elizabethcamden.com/blog

Her books are available at all online stores, as well as Christian bookstores and most brick and mortar major bookstores.



 Giveaway: We're giving away a copy of Elizabeth's latest release or choice of any of her books to one commenter this week. Come back and check the upper right hand corner of the blog to see if you have won (allow up to ten days.)

25 September 2014

Diana Flowers Reviews Love's Fortune By Laura Frantz

Revell, Sept. 9, 2014

Reviewed By Diana Flowers
~5 stars~*****
 
 
 Fabulous Fiction By Frantz!
 
From the wooded, primitive hills of Kentucky to the industrial city of Pittsburgh comes a sweeping saga of the affluent Ballantynes -- and of the beloved Rowena "Wren" Ballantyne, who finds herself caught between both worlds.
 
Wren loves her simple life in Kentucky; crafting fiddles, dulcimers, and violins with her father, Ansel Ballantyne, and roaming the countryside in her mismatched clothing. But when Ansel receives a summons to return home to Pennsylvania because his father is ill, Wren's world is turned upside down. Entering high society means new dances to learn, ball gowns, corsets, and proper etiquette, and poor Wren longs for home. She is befriended by the rugged, James Sackett, a steamship pilot for Ballantyne Shipping, but it is the wealthy and irresistible, Malachi Cameron, who has his heart set on making Wren his bride. Will Wren choose her beloved Kentucky over the forbidden love of two handsome men? -- one of whom harbors a dangerous secret, and the other with a woman from his past waiting in the wings...
 
Laura Frantz has written another masterpiece -- destined to be an award winner! Not simply a story of balls and frippery, Ms. Frantz delves into the covert and dangerous world of aiding fugitive slaves, and seedy characters who will stop at nothing to obtain wealth. The romantic tension was exquisite torment (sigh), and the author's writing skills were unsurpassable. Wren was one of the most genuine "down to earth" young women, and I so fell in love with her character from page one. The only regret I have concerning this magnificent novel is saying "goodbye" to the Ballantynes...who leave behind a legacy of wealth, wisdom, and most of all -- love. 

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 This book may be purchased through Amazon, CBD, and your local bookstore.

TWO BOOK GIVEAWAY -- one from Laura and the other from OWG! A copy of any one of the Ballantyne Legacy books in your choice of format! Leave a comment to enter. 
*Leave your email or check back in winners column either Sunday or Monday to see if you have won!*

 

23 September 2014

Noela Nancarrow reviews Love's Fortune by Laura Frantz

Love's Fortune

Love’s Fortune (The Ballantyne Legacy Book #3)
Revell (September 9, 2014)

Reviewed by Noela Nancarrow
~5 Stars~ *****

A tale you'll never want to leave..

Mesmerizing. Breathtaking. Sublime. Synonymous with all of author Laura Frantz’s novels; ‘Love’s Fortune’ is a story painted with eloquent, luscious prose. The haunting echoes of dulcet tones sweep throughout the pages, enticing the reader to savor every exquisite morsel. With such incomparable writing, and the richly crafted, enthralling characters within, I daresay you may find yourself wishing, like myself, that this book never arrives at the end.

The enchanting and innocent character of Wren Ballantyne infiltrates your heart almost as soon as you meet her. Innocent and devoid of pretentiousness, how will this flower of Cane Run, Kentucky with her southern drawl, calloused hands, and tanned skin, ever make it in the harsh and unforgiving world of the 1850’s Pennsylvania high society? Her wealthy and prominent Ballantyne relatives are mostly accepting, but the harsh appraisal and cold manner of others has Wren longing to flee back to the hills and hollows of Kentucky.

The dashing, perfectly-polished gentleman James Sackett, first meets the beautiful Ballantyne heir, Wren, aboard the steamship he was piloting as he transports her father and Wren to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Stalwart and serious, and committed in his job as the Ballantyne’s most valued river pilot, James’ unyielding veneer is almost undone by the guileless homespun charm of the enchanting Wren. This battle within continues as he is given the responsibility of being Wren’s escort in her coming out in society. He can never allow her to know of his secret affection; his questionable heritage is at odds with the Ballantyne name and the grim danger that pursues him because of his abolitionist dealings is something he won’t submit her to. Can he truly count on her being safe, and how will James’ heart endure watching her being courted by others?

The legacy that the patriarch Silas Ballantyne has established is vast and far-reaching. Though boasting an impressive line of steamships and an industry of ironworks that have made the Ballantyne’s incredibly wealthy and prominent in society, their most enduring legacy would have to be family, love, commitment to God, and their clandestine endeavors of aiding fugitive slaves. In this final installment of The Ballantyne Legacy, we unearth the layers that make up Silas’ granddaughter Wren, including her Nancarrow heritage; we meet the swarthy, rugged, and charismatic Malachi Cameron; and we regrettably close the chapter on one of the most enrapturing ‘book’ families I've ever read about! 


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You can purchase this wonderful book at these places: Amazon, CBD, BAM, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, and your local bookstore.

GIVEAWAY: A copy of any of the Ballantyne Legacy books in your choice of format! Leave a comment to enter. 
Leave your email or check back in winners column either Sunday or Monday to see if you have won!

21 September 2014

Where is Carrie Fancett Pagels This Week?

Author Carrie Fancett Pagels

Besides being here on the OWG blog this week, I'm also visiting on Debbie Lynne Costello's blog Sword and the Spirit on Monday and on Friday I have a guest post at Heroes, Heroines and History (Lumberjack days at HHH blog).  There will be giveaways on both blogs.
The Fruitcake Challenge by Carrie Fancett Pagels, Book 3Christmas Traditions Series

Last week, I guest posted on the ACFW blog and my novella, The Fruitcake Challenge, was reviewed on two blogs: Diana Montgomery's Teatime Reviews and Robin Wilson's Books You Can Feel Good About.



Giveaway: Copy of Carrie's new novella and a set of A Cup of Christmas Cheer (Guidepost Books, 2013) hardcover books (which includes Carrie's short story in book one, Tales of Faith and Family for the Holidays:  "Snowed In: A Northwoods Christmas") will be given away to someone who comments on this post and on the other two posts this week. Answer this question: In Carrie's short story last year in the Guidepost Books' collection, the heroine Eliza (renamed Elsie by the editor) had something in common with Josephine Christy, the heroine in The Fruitcake Challenge.  What was it?

18 September 2014

A Bride in Store by Melissa Jagears -- Reviewed by Carrie Fancett Pagels

A Bride in Store by Melissa Jagears
A Bride In Store
Bethany House Publishers (August, 2014)


5 Stars *****

Sweet Story with Rich Layers!

Eliza Cantrell, the daughter of a Eastern businessman, arrives in Kansas only to be robbed on the train enroute. She has come as a mail-order bride, bringing funds to assist the mercantile owner of what is primarily a men's shop. But her intended isn't even in town when she arrives. Instead Eliza begins helping William Stanton, her husband-to-be's business partner at the store. Except William doesn't seem to know much about business at all. He wants to be a doctor. Not only that but he is generous to a fault, failing to charge for services and goods. Will Eliza marry the man who sent for her? Will William find a way to attend medical school? Their sweet romance affects everything!

Bibliotherapy elements: Robbery and attack with injury so there is some PTSD, abandonment by her family, self concept issues, sexism against a woman being a business owner, honesty in relationships, and more! This novel has lots of lovely layers of meaningfulness. Not a light fluffy mail order bride story!  

Available for purchase at AmazonCBDBarnes & NobleBook DepositoryBAM, etc.

GIVEAWAYWe're giving away a copy of either of Melissa's novels this week, choice of format (international winners, ebook only unless available through the Book Depository. Leave a comment to enter.

*Check back in the Winners column on the top right hand side of the blog after Saturday.

16 September 2014

Noela Nancarrow reviews A BRIDE IN STORE by Melissa Jagears

A Bride In Store
A Bride In Store
Bethany House Publishers (August 26, 2014)

Reviewed by Noela Nancarrow
5 Stars *****

Surprises in Store

An enterprising and engaging historical romance set in 1881; ‘A Bride in Store’ delivers with interest! Author Melissa Jagears pens a story with a generous supply of intrigue and romance guaranteed to satisfy every customer. Betwixt the pages, you’ll encounter appealing, realistically-flawed characters, searching for approval from others as well as themselves and God. Come join these endearing personalities on their journey in discovering truths that will eventually free them to find love, contentment, and God’s will.

The business-savvy Eliza Cantrell leaves Pennsylvania a week early feeling excited and eager to start a whole new life in Kansas as a mail-order bride to a general-store owner. She didn't count on getting viciously robbed on the train trip there, nor finding Axel, her groom-to-be, out of town when she arrived. Keeping herself busy until her fiancĂ© returns, she works on improving the store’s sales alongside Axel's not-so-business-savvy partner, William Stanton. Eliza is frustrated at William, herself, and her treacherous feelings. Yet she stubbornly refuses to give up her dreams, because she knows they don’t include a man like William - whose aspirations differ so vastly from her own.

Any wonder William doesn't run the store at huge profit; he’s way too kind-hearted and generous!  Obviously his passion is not in business, but it IS in doctoring, and William longs to save enough to afford medical school. That’s not working out too good for him though. It doesn't help that he’s finding it increasingly difficult to concentrate and work beside Eliza, but his errant thoughts refuse to stay off the straight-talking, smart, and pretty lady working in his store. Unfortunately Eliza is promised to another, and that fact is driving him crazy!

Life is never straightforward, and this is true for this surprisingly unpredictable story also. How can Eliza’s and William’s paths ever connect when they are going in two completely different directions? ‘A Bride in Store’ is a pilgrimage of seeking God’s will, of self-discovery, and of sacrifice and love. Beautifully penned, it is a heart-warming treat for the romantic soul that enjoys seeing God work all things together to give us new dreams and directions when ours go astray! 

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Available for purchase at Amazon, CBD, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, BAM, etc

GIVEAWAY: We're giving away a copy of either of Melissa's novels this week, choice of format (international winners, ebook only unless available through the Book Depository. Leave a comment to enter!

*Leave your email or check back in the Winners column at the top right hand side.

14 September 2014

Melissa Jagears on Parenting: Introverted Mom Coping with Extroverted Children

Author Melissa Jagears

I always wanted a lot of children, the idea of molding people to be the best they can be was quite the lovely dream. Except I forgot to take into account how much of an extreme introvert I am....do you know how much alone time babies give their introverted mommas? Zippo.

And of course, God gave me what seems to be three extroverts to raise. (I’m still hoping the one year old will suddenly turn shy...but I’m thinking he’s acting too much like the other ones for that to come true.)

So the kids often cause me to struggle with feeling like a bad mom because I’m not meeting all of their extroverted needs for constant entertainment and play dates with PEOPLE! All I have to do is say, “Get dressed” and they say in chorus: “Yay! Where are we going!!!???” (Literally. Every day. They think getting dressed means we’re going to a party.)

So how to cope? First, I don’t let myself be swayed by the people who think parents should be their child’s best friend. To be my children’s best friend, I’d have to be someone I most definitely am not, and when you cause introverts to pretend to be extroverts...they generally turn into not-so-nice people.

I also don’t let my childrens’ disappointments push me to gratify their every need. My daughter has been forced to find something to do alone because Mommy just can’t be engaged all the time. So she’s discovered the love of reading. If I’d kept her busy with play dates and board games, she’d never have had to spend an hour alone and realize that a book was a good way to fill that time.

I’m not the best mommy, as my daughter says, “You’re the best mommy because you’re my only mommy.” Which is true, she’s stuck with me and that’s about as good as she’ll get. Though I will strive to become the best mommy I can be, I will never win the best mommy in the world award. And that’s okay—God made me their mother for a reason, and He wouldn’t want me to ignore who He made me to be to fulfill that role.
A Bride in Store by Melissa Jagears

BIO:

Melissa Jagears is a homeschooling mom who writes Christian Historical Romance after everyone is asleep. She’s the author of the Unexpected Brides Series with Bethany House. The prequel ebook novella, Love by the Letter is free to try. A Bride for Keeps and A Bride in Store should be available wherever books are sold. You can learn more about her, her books, and where she hangs out online at www.melissajagears.com 

Link to her new release, A Bride in Store, on Amazon.

Giveaway: We're giving away a copy of either of Melissa's novels this week, choice of format (international winners, ebook only unless available through the Book Depository.)  Answer the question - Are any of your kids extroverted and you're an introvert, or vice versa?

11 September 2014

Launch Party for Carrie Fancett Pagels' "The Fruitcake Challenge"

The Fruitcake Challenge by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Celebrating the book launch of Carrie Fancett Pagels' new release, a novella in the Christmas Traditions series with eight other authors.  This is the 3rd book in the series.

The Fruitcake Challenge blurb

When new lumberjack, Tom Jeffries, tells the camp cook, Jo Christy, that he’ll marry her if she can make a fruitcake, “as good as better than the one my mother makes,” she rises to the occasion. After all, he’s the handsomest, smartest, and strongest axman her camp-boss father has ever had in his camp—and the cockiest. And she intends to bring this lumberjack down a notch or three by refusing his proposal. The fruitcake wars are on! All the shanty boys and Jo’s cooking helpers chip in with their recipes but Jo finds she’ll have to enlist more help—and begins corresponding with Tom’s mother.


Step back in time to 1890, in beautiful Northern Michigan, near the sapphire straits of Mackinac, when the white pines were “white gold” and lumber camps were a way of life. Jo is ready to find another life outside of the camps and plans that don’t include any shanty boys. But will a lumberjack keep her in the very place she’s sworn to leave?


Here's my first review by one of our OWG angels!
Review by Noela Nancarrow
5 Stars *****

Christmas fun, cake, and romance!

A well-educated and cocky lumberjack, a pretty camp cook who wants to leave, a spicy romance, and a nourishing spiritual message are just a handful of the ingredients making up this mouth-watering and engaging novella. Yum!

In the towering Northwoods of Michigan near Mackinaw city in the year 1890, former teacher Tom Jeffries takes up a position as the new axeman of the logging camp, in an effort to earn more money for his widowed mother. Smitten with the beautiful auburn-haired Jo Christy who is the boss’s daughter and the camp cook, Tom carelessly proposes to marry her if she can bake a fruitcake as good as his mother’s. But the spunky Jo only accepts the handsome lumberjack’s challenge, because she plans to take him down a few pegs by declining his offer when she produces the cake of his memories. During the cake-baking trials, couples left and right of them are becoming engaged, but will this stubborn pair find their way towards a future together when their paths are heading in opposite directions?

Set amongst the imposing and breathtaking evergreen woods of Michigan that echo with the songs of bountiful birds, while aromatic fruitcakes are baking in the camp oven, the descriptive imagery throughout ‘The Fruitcake Challenge’ tantalizes the senses and might I say, gives you a craving for fruit cake! You’ll find the rich historical insights permeating this story, fascinating and well-researched, bringing the yesteryear setting alive. And enriching this cozy Christmas tale that’s full of surprises is a reassuring message that reminds us to never give up, because God has a plan for us all.


Thanks so much, Noela!  What a wonderful review!!! I've really been so blessed by the reviews that have been posted on Amazon so far, too! Big hugs!

The Christmas Traditions Series
We're celebrating the launch and release of my latest publication, The Fruitcake Challenge, which is part of the Christmas Traditions series with eight other authors.



Cynthia Hickey's Handcarved Christmas and Niki Turner's Sadie's Gift have also released and have been reviewed on the OWG blog.
Handcarved Christmas by Cynthia Hickey


Sadie's Gift by Niki Turner

Link to purchase: The Fruitcake Challenge on Kindle.  The paperback copy should be available within two weeks as will the Nook copy.
A Cup of Christmas Cheer 
Giveaways: An ebook copy of The Fruitcake Challenge, an autographed copy of the paperback when it releases OR a copy of Return to Shirley Plantation (if preferred), and a boxed set of the hugely popular hardcover A Cup of Christmas Cheer collection from Guidepost Books that I contributed to with an autograph card. Ebook copies of the first two Christmas Traditions novellas: Cynthia Hickey's Handcarved Christmas and Niki Turner's Sadie's Gift.

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