20 November 2018

My Heart Belongs in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania: Clarissa's Conflict by Murray Pura

Reviewed by Andrea Stephens

Publisher's Description
 Journey into Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, of 1863 where Clarissa Avery Ross lives a full life. By day she is the daughter of a respectable shoemaker being courted by seminary student Kyle Forrester. But by night she is a conductor on the Underground Railroad, working with a mysterious man called Liberty. She would like to share her work with Kyle, but he refuses to enlist when the war breaks out. How can she remain true to a man being labeled a coward? When the war comes to her back door in an epic battle, the greatest challenges to her faith and love are yet to come.

This novel is part of the My Heart Belongs series from Barbour. Click here to see all the books in the series! Andrea has reviewed most of the books here on OWG blog! Thank you Andrea!

Andrea's thoughts:
 This story opens on the Underground Railroad, December 1863. Clarissa, disguised as Joshua, is conducting passengers north of Gettysburg when she is pulled off the trail and ordered into the woods. Unsure if her captor is friend or foe, the “little scrap” of a thing is kicking and fighting until the secret code is spoken. Slave catchers are after them. After the immediate danger has passed, Liberty reveals himself to her. He is a well-known, famous even, operator on the Underground Railroad. Clarissa is not impressed. Her temper up, she snarls at him. “Don't call me an itty-bitty scrap of nothing ever again...” There's more but I won't spoil it for you.  I can tell you this is the first of many missions the two work together. They must overcome many obstacles to find trust and become friends. I found their squabbles to be very entertaining despite the dangerous situations they were in.

In Clarissa's everyday life, she is a strong-willed, fiery red-head, a little bit spoiled by her loving parents and extremely smart. She talks to herself a lot too. I love her garret bedroom! She spends time with Kyle Forrester, a seminary student. She is a bit forward in walking alone with him, unchaperoned. But he does not agree with her views on slavery or the Underground Railroad, he thinks the law and judges should handle it. Can they overcome their differences to have the courtship he desires?

Clarissa is grounded by her town, Gettysburg. She knows all its nooks and crannies, all the side streets and surrounding farms, fields and trees. She loves the people in it. Only her parents and the Reverend know her secret. She is safe in Gettysburg.

I cannot tell you more of Clarissa's conflict without spoilers.  I will say a deep love develops (but I won't say with who) and when war comes to Gettysburg, that love is battle tested.
There is a very moving passage near the end where Clarissa is asked what she is looking at. She says, “my Gettysburg...”  You must read the rest for yourselves, it would not be fair if I repeated the rest.
I do recommend this book. Especially if you are a fan of Civil War era stories. President Lincoln makes a brief appearance too. 

This book definitely has more grit and drama than other books in series. In the end, though, it is clear that Gettysburg is truly where Clarissa's heart belongs.

GIVEAWAY: A paperback copy of My Heart Belongs in Gettysburg. Leave a comment to enter.

18 November 2018

Rafflecopter for Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides Collection

Here's an image of some of the prizes for the BIG Giveaway for The Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides Collection from Barbour. This new release includes my novella, "Love's Beacon", set on Round Island and Mackinac Island, Michigan! Also six other stories from some wonderful authors: Lena Nelson Dooley who posted me on her blog this past week (click here), Pegg Thomas, Candice Sue Patterson, Rebecca Jepson, Kathleen Rouse, and Marilyn Turk!

In addition to the gifts picture there are more items such as:
--a handmade beaded necklace,
--an Amazon $10 gift card,
--a three slice box of fudge from Joann's Fudge Shop on Mackinac Island
--Mackinac Island themed earrings set!

I will be doing a book signing at the College of William & Mary Barnes & Noble, Duke of Gloucester Street, in Williamsburg, Virginia, this afternoon (Sunday, November 19th, 2018) from 2-6 PM with fellow Author C.J. Chase for our Victorian Christmas Brides collection.

14 November 2018

On Love's Gentle Shore - By Liz Johnson, Audiobook Review

On Love's Gentle Shore
Prince Edward Island Dreams Series, Book 3
By: Liz Johnson
Narrated by: Amy Melissa Bentley
Series: Prince Edward Island Dreams, Book 3
Length: 8 hrs and 48 mins
Publisher: Tantor Audio

5 Stars *****
Audiobook Review by Carrie Fancett Pagels
Somehow I had a big gap between listening to the wonderful first two books in this series and this third one which released a year ago. I highly recommend the entire series! I think I had a lot of life stuff going on and major health issues that got in the way. Then I was off to Mackinac Island for the summer and got the chance to regroup. So I've been catching up on my audiobook listens! 

The narrator, Amy Bentley, really enhances the story! I give her 5 Stars for her narration! Hit it perfectly! A narrator can help your story or spoil it and Ms. Bentley was wonderful.

I loved this story as I did the other two in this series. Liz Johnson has this great author's voice. Having met her in person and been in a collection with her (A Cup of Christmas Cheer, Guideposts Books, now out of print) I wasn't surprised I'd love her voice as she's such a sweet lady. Her characters are so relatable and down-to-earth. And I enjoyed the three very different stories. That really showed her talent in having same story world but completely different story plots. 

In the novel, Natalie has been basically pressured into returning to Prince Edward Island, by her fiancé Russell a wealthy and prominent music producer. Little did he know!!! This isn't where she wants to be. At all!  But Natalie has some healing that can come from this return. Ms. Johnson does a great job of developing the characters and especially with arcs for both the hero and Justin and Natalie's fiancé. I loved that she didn't resort to using some typical things with Russell but had a deft hand in showing us his nature.

I used an Audible.com download for my listen as I have a membership. Delightful romance! Grab all three listens!

Publisher's Summary
Fifteen years after she left Prince Edward Island, Natalie O'Ryan had no plans to return. But when her fiancé, music producer Russell Jacobs, books their wedding in her hometown and schedules a summer at Rose's Red Door Inn, she sets out to put the finishing touches on the perfect wedding. But she can't possibly prepare for a run-in with Justin Kane - the best friend she left behind all those years ago after promising to stay.

Justin's never forgotten Natalie or the music career he always dreamed of pursuing. He'd been prepared to follow her off the island until his dad died and he was left to run the family dairy farm. He's done the best he can with the life that was thrust upon him - but with Natalie back in the picture, he begins to realize just how much joy he's been missing.

After Natalie's reception venue falls through, she must scramble to find an alternative, and the only option seems to be a barn on Justin's property. As they work together to get the dilapidated building ready for the party, Natalie and Justin discover the groundwork for forgiveness - and that there may be more than an old friendship between them.

Giveaway: Box of Christian fiction books to one commenter.

11 November 2018

Bonnie Roof -- Retired From OWG to Heaven

Long-time Overcoming With God follower, Bonnie Roof, who also joined us as a reviewer on the blog, has "retired" to heaven. When I first "met" Bonnie online here at the blog I was struck by how sweet and open she was. She shared her life and concerns and always encouraged others. We (Diana Flowers, Teresa Mathews, Marian Bay, myself, and Noela Nancarrow) always worked to create the feeling of coming into someone's living room to hear about new Christian fiction and especially those with something special to offer. And Bonnie soon felt like an old friend. Later, when some of the reviewers needed to stop blogging, Bonnie stepped in and joined us in reviewing our favorite books. She also did some guest posts on another of my blogs, Colonial Quills. Engaging and thoughtful, Bonnie pulled readers in to her posts.
Bonnie Roof in Virginia Beach, Virginia

Bonnie had her dream come true when she worked with Annie "JC" and Carrie Booth Schmidt to create a Christian Fiction Readers Retreat Conference which is about to celebrate its third year. She'd always wanted to have a conference where her favorite Christian authors could meet in person with readers. This event has grown yearly. I had the privilege of speaking at the first one, in a panel, and got to see Bonnie for a second time in person (she'd stopped by in Virginia right after my emergency gall bladder surgery as I was recovering.) Bonnie was right in her element at the conference and beaming from ear-to-ear! It was wonderful to see her so happy and surrounded by her favorite authors!
Bonnie Roof, center, at first CFRR

Bonnie loved to share about her beloved Kentucky and especially where she grew up. We loved to hear about the history of her family's farm! Bonnie will be greatly missed and she was greatly loved.
Bonnie Roof and Carrie Booth Schmidt at CFRR
Bonnie was a great listener, too, and interested in what other had to express in their writing or in life. We wish her family our deepest condolences from the Overcoming With God blog and our readers.

04 November 2018

Release Week -- Regina May Fujitani

Darren and Regina Fujitani at his birthday dinner

Release week (for Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides) took on new meeting this week as my friend and Virtual Assistant, Regina Fujitani, became gravely ill. She took flight to heaven on release day, November 1st, at 2:00 pm Eastern time. Her faithful husband of ten years, Darren, was at her side. That morning near the end of a private Facebook group party our friend, Anne Payne, sent me a message from the hospital that Regina looked to be near the end. Earlier that day, Darren had sent word that a new antibiotic was being attempted and we were hopeful it would help. I'd planned to celebrate that morning, which Regina would have encouraged, and then be with her in the afternoon. And I did get to be there in the afternoon, but not as I'd planned for this ended up being her last hours. I contacted our church and Pastor Larry Lamb arrived. Later, Senior Pastor Larry Jones joined us. So Regina had two pastors in her room when she crossed over to glory! And PTL I could be there with Anne Payne and Darren.

November 1st also ended up being Regina and my five year anniversary on Facebook. And it was Author's Day, too. Regina had been my Virtual Assistant and Beta reader for several years. She helped get my newsletters out to my readers. Then a year and a half ago she moved to Virginia and we got to be friends in person -- such a blessing.

Regina was an avid Christian Fiction reader and reviewer. Even when multiple health issues this past year, on top of her Muscular Dystrophy, were taking a toll, Regina would try to keep reading and posting reviews. She was a promotion team member for many Christian fiction authors including myself and my friends Debbie Lynne Costello and Susanne Dietze and others. She was a friend to many people online in the Christian fiction community and will be sadly missed.
Darren and Regina Fujitani

In person, Regina was just as sweet as she comes across online. She was an incredibly nonjudgmental person who accepted others as they are. She extended grace and mercy easily. Regina had a beautiful laugh that I will miss so much. She had a lot of insight, particularly about people and situations and she was a good listener as well as willing to confide in others.

The pictures above are from a recent (only weeks ago) dinner to celebrate Darren's birthday. This was something Regina really wanted to do for her hubs. And Jeff, and Clark, and I were happy to celebrate with them at one of all of our favorite restaurants, Plaza Azteca.

On two of our last long talks, Regina and I discussed a book I was writing in which one of the characters "may" die from a serious disease. We talked openly and honestly about our thoughts of heaven, about freedom from pain, about knowing where we were going and our trust in the Lord. Although Regina was having some setbacks, I surely didn't imagine that in a few short weeks she'd be face-to-face with Jesus. I'm going to miss my friend. But I do know where she's at. And her release to the streets of gold where she is dancing and singing and praising God has to be a glorious homecoming.

30 October 2018

At Home in Wishing Bridge by Ruth Logan Herne - Audiobook Review

At Home in Wishing Bridge
By: Ruth Logan Herne
Narrated by: Erin Bennett
Series: Wishing Bridge, Book 2
Length: 10 hrs and 1 min
Unabridged Audiobook
Release date: 10-02-18
Language: English
Publisher: Brilliance Audio

Five Stars Plus! *****
Review by Carrie Fancett Pagels

I absolutely loved this book. I loved the first novel, too, in this series. I listened to the story as an Audible.com download. The narrator was wonderful and perfect for the story. On Amazon the novel has ranked at #1 on Christian Women's Fiction but there's a lot of romance in the novels, too, and the story is listed under Clean Romance. 

The book is available in multiple formats and published by Waterfall Press, Amazon's imprint. They specially pick authors to publish for them. Ruth Logan Herne does a fantastic job with her stories so it is not wonder they invited her. 

We got to know Nurse Practitioner Thea in book one. She's got some dark secrets and deep hurts. Thea also has a sky-wide big heart. I love all the children who populate the book. As a former psychologist I was delighted how Ruth nailed all the possible reactions kids can have to difficult situations. Dr. Ethan Brandenburg is an interesting and well-developed character. He's not perfect. He has some big flaws. And he has a big spiritual arc that I loved. You'll need to listen to or read the story to find out what happens with these two. 

I can't wait for the next book in this series!!! Highly recommend!!! 

Publisher's Summary

Ruth Logan Herne, the bestselling author of Welcome to Wishing Bridge, invites readers back to the small town where big dreams come true.

After surviving the streets of South Philly, Thea Anastas never thought she’d wind up working in rural New York. But a call from a friend in need convinced the nurse practitioner to make the trip. Now her temporary position is making a difference in Wishing Bridge—though Thea can’t afford to make a difference, to fill a gaping hole in the sweet, small town. After all, the current medical practice is being dissolved in three months, and bigger opportunities are luring her away…

Her partner, Dr. Ethan Brandenburg, has his own struggles: caring for his orphaned niece and nephew and holding firm to his decision to leave Wishing Bridge for a prestigious job in Chicago. Though Thea’s no-nonsense advice in the office has been good for business, her compassion in Ethan’s personal life has been good for his heart. But how can he offer a commitment to a woman when they’re both about to say goodbye?

Wishing Bridge may be surrounded by forests and farms, but Thea is starting to realize that friendships and family form its heart—and that what she wants in life and love may be right in front of her eyes.

GIVEAWAY: Giving away winner's choice of a paperback copy or a Kindle copy. Leave a comment to enter. 

25 October 2018

Murder at the Flamingo by Rachel McMillan Audiobook Review

Murder at the Flamingo
by Rachel McMillan

From Thomas Nelson, audiobook narration by Kristin James

This is my first book that I've read by Canadian author, Rachel McMillan. I was drawn into the story and really enjoyed the settings and the characters. Having visiting Boston during a college exploration trip for our daughter, it was fun to go back in time to 1930s era in Boston. I did get a couple of the characters mixed up and I reached out to Rachel to help clarify for me. Obviously if I'd been reading the book rather than listening this wouldn't have been an issue.

I was delighted to read where the hero has an Anxiety Disorder. Frankly, we don't get to read many stories that feature a flawed hero like Hamish. I was looking forward to hearing how God helped Hamish overcome. Was thinking this could even be a good bibliotherapy book. See my next comments.

The story reminded me very much of a clean reads novel from another author. I kept listening for the Christian fiction component, the spiritual arc. And I kept listening. It was an engaging story, the characterization was good, and I enjoyed Rachel's author voice. But I never did find the Christian fiction component or the spiritual arc. So at the end I felt rather flummoxed. This was a Thomas Nelson story and it read like a clean read story not a Christian fiction. I was disappointed. I do think the market is going in this direction and we're going to find this more often. So I'll be checking in future to make sure the time I invest time in a listen is for a CF story -- I do want that clear spiritual arc.

Here's what Rachel McMillan had to say about the Christian element. She has given me permission to quote her: "It's more thematic. It's infused in the mentions of Hunchback of Notre Dame. In the grace distributed by Nate to the North End community. In the loyalty and unconditional love of Hamish to Luca. My books don’t have overt Christian elements or frames. It is more implied in message and symbol."

Publisher's Summary
“Maybe it was time to land straight in the middle of the adventure....”

Hamish DeLuca has spent most of his life trying to hide the anxiety that appears at the most inopportune times - including during his first real court case as a new lawyer. Determined to rise above his father’s expectations, Hamish runs away to Boston where his cousin, Luca Valari, is opening a fashionable nightclub in Scollay Square. When he meets his cousin's “right hand man” Reggie, Hamish wonders if his dreams for a more normal life might be at hand.

Regina “Reggie” Van Buren, heir to a New Haven fortune, has fled fine china, small talk, and the man her parents expect her to marry. Determined to make a life as the self-sufficient city girl she’s seen in her favorite Jean Arthur and Katharine Hepburn pictures, Reggie runs away to Boston, where she finds an easy secretarial job with the suave Luca Valari. But as she and Hamish work together in Luca’s glittering world, they discover a darker side to the smashing Flamingo nightclub.

When a corpse is discovered at the Flamingo, Reggie and Hamish quickly learn there is a vast chasm between the haves and the have-nots in 1937 Boston - and that there’s an underworld that feeds on them both. As Hamish is forced to choose between his conscience and loyalty to his beloved cousin, the unlikely sleuthing duo work to expose a murder before the darkness destroys everything they’ve worked to build.

Giveaway: Box of books. Leave a comment to enter.

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