31 August 2017

Audiobook Review of A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White

Edwardian romance and history gains a twist of suspense. 
Rosemary Gresham has no family beyond the band of former urchins that helped her survive as a girl in the mean streets of London. Grown now, they concentrate on stealing high-value items and have learned how to blend into upper-class society. But when Rosemary must determine whether a certain wealthy gentleman is loyal to Britain or to Germany, she is in for the challenge of a lifetime. How does one steal a family's history, their very name? 
Peter Holstein, given his family's German blood, writes his popular series of adventure novels under a pen name. With European politics boiling and his own neighbors suspicious of him, Peter debates whether it might be best to change his name for good. When Rosemary shows up at his door pretending to be a historian and offering to help him trace his family history, his question might be answered. 
But as the two work together and Rosemary sees his gracious reaction to his neighbors' scornful attacks, she wonders if her assignment is going down the wrong path. Is it too late to help him prove that he's more than his name?

A Name Unknown
(Shadows over England, # 1)
Audiobook Review
Recorded Books 2017
By Roseanna M. White
Narrated By Liz Pierce

Review by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Book One in a New British Series!
This novel was a Romantic Times Book Reviews Top Pick in July, 2017. I listened to a download of the book on The suspenseful romance and mystery is available in multiple formats at Barnes and Noble,  Amazon, Christian Book Distributors, at your local Christian book store (BTW, Lifeway will price match and they also can get you a book that they don't have in the store), and at other online and brick-and-mortar bookstores.

First of all, this is a very unusual Christian fiction story in that the heroine is an anti-hero. Roseanna will be speaking in Maryland, on September 9th, at the Write To Inspire Workshop in Frederick, on "When to Break the Rules" in writing, so I'm assuming that's what she's trying to do for this novel. When I had the opportunity to have dinner with Roseanna and her family in Williamsburg, Virginia, recently, she also talked a little about this idea. Realize, however, it takes a really talented author to do this.  With 200+ reviews on Amazon with a 4.7 average, readers agree that she's done so.

Be prepared for a long listen. This book is over 400 pages long which translates into many hours of audible listen. If you don't have to do the read by audio, you might want to stick with the paperback, ebook, or hardcover edition. Listening to the narrator stutter (yes, the hero is a stutterer, but if you're reading it with your eyes you don't actually hear it) is painful at times. It does hammer through the reality of the characters situation, though. The narrator is good, with a lovely British accent, but she doesn't quite nail the male character's voices like some other narrators can do. 

Because I'm also an author, the concept of this book (the hero is a secret novelist) caused "author intrusion" for me throughout much of the listen. I don't think this would be a problem for the vast majority of listeners, and indeed by the ratings it obviously didn't. And knowing Roseanna made that intrusion even worse. Big sigh. One of those times I wish I was still a reader only, as this is a nice long lovely listen to savor.

Bibiliotherapy aspects are ripe and rich and make this audiobook a top candidate for my Bibliotherapy Book of the Year. With the first hero with a marked speech impairment and a heroine who is not only an orphan but a thief who has grown up with a family of criminals, albeit her loved ones with reasons why they've turned to this life.

Questions: How often do you listen to a new release on audio? What's your favorite way to read and why?

27 August 2017

Jennifer Davids -- Overcoming Miscarriage

Author Jennifer Davids

Jennifer, welcome to Overcoming With God.  We appreciate your willingness to share your testimony of overcoming with our readers.

Would you tell us about the one of the most difficult things in your life you have had to overcome, with God’s help?
15 years ago I suffered a miscarriage. When I first found out I was pregnant I thought: 'Hey a new baby! This is going to be so wonderful!’ Then the spotting came. I wasn't worried - that happens sometimes, right? Then it continued. I soon found myself at my ob/gyn's having blood drawn. Next thing I know I'm sitting on my couch on the phone with the doctor. The tiny life inside me was gone. I was roughly nine weeks along. I suppose by some wouldn't seem like a big deal, but it was – is – to me. As far as I'm concerned I have a child in Heaven - a girl. That's what my mommy gut has always told me. 

The hardest part was not understanding why. Why did God decide to call her home? Had there been something wrong that would have made parting with her later more difficult? Had I done something wrong? Or was God just being cruel? Of course, I know better about that last question. But when something like this happens it crosses your mind. Although He gave me no firm answers, He did make my pain bearable. My blessed church family showered me with prayers and sympathy. One sweet lady asked how God could best comfort me. I told her I wanted to get pregnant again. Not to replace the child I lost, never that. But I knew a baby would help me heal. And just a few months later He granted my prayer. My daughter, Grace, is kind and caring, everything this mother could hope for and a comfort to me in so many different ways. I can’t believe she turns 16 in just a few short months. I’m looking forward to seeing how God will use her in other people’s lives.

What passages in the Bible have been most helpful to you in those times? Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” And later after my daughter was born I Samuel 1:27 “I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him.” 

What helped you get through or helped you cope with this difficulty? Just the fact that even though I didn’t know exactly why I lost my baby, God sent His comfort in ways only He can. 

Disability friendliness: Is this latest release available in audio format or do you have any other works available on audio?  Do your e-books have audio capability? Do you have any in large print?  Sadly, my current book, Brides of Ohio, is not available in any audio capacity or large print.

In this latest work, do you have any topics useful for bibliotherapy, or therapeutic influence through reading about a disorder or situation?  I would like to suggest reading The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel. The second book of Brides deals with a returning Civil War veteran and his crisis of faith and was instrumental in creating that character.

BIO: Jennifer loves a good book. Not only does she read and write them, she gets to take care of them at her part-time job at her local library. She resides in central Ohio with her husband and two children, is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and a graduate of The Ohio State University. She makes room to write in between being a busy wife and mom and despite the fact her cats like to walk on her keyboard.
Jennifer’s Links:  
Book Links: 
Barnes and Noble:

Giveaway: Secret paperback book giveaway of a Barbour novel or collection. Answer this question from Jennifer: In what ways had God sent His comfort to you in troubled times?

17 August 2017

Giveaway: To Wager Her Heart by Tamera Alexander -- Audiobook Review

To Wager Her Heart by Tamera Alexander
To Wager Her Heart (Zondervan, August 2017)
by Tamera Alexander

Audiobook Review
by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Worth the Wait!
Another fantastic novel from Tamera Alexander! I've read all of her books and have never been disappointed. Like most of her other stories, we have a well-fleshed out heroine with a strong backbone but flexibility, too. Alexandra Donelson has to make some big choices when her father tries to force her into an unwanted marriage. She's overcome trauma and loss but isn't about to be married to a man over twice her age and her father's crony. But her father has a secret. Not saying what.

Readers will gain insight into the struggles that African-American students faced, as the author takes us to the struggling Tufts University in Nashville. Not only to we feel their difficulties but also the challenges of those who would instruct the freedmen students.

Entwined in this novel is a beautiful romance between a very unlikely couple. Alexandra has been brought up the privileged daughter of one of Nashville's oldest families, her father an attorney. Silas Rutledge, on the other hand, was first raised by his widowed mother before she remarried -- a man who would be come Sy's psychological father and a role model for him. Sy's railed engineer stepfather, however, has died in a controversial manner. Tamera Alexander includes many great tidbits about railroads and the men who built them as well as the very real dangers faced in railroad travel after the Civil War.

Bibliotherapy Elements: PTSD, loss of a loved one, clearing a loved one's name, trust.

I hope to re-listen to this audiobook again within the year, something I don't often do. This book will definitely be on my Best of 2017 and is a contender in the Bibliotherapy Best category, too.

Blurb: Can a railroad man and a Southern Belle turned teacher find a way to work together to achieve their dreams in the new reality of the post-Civil War South?
Sylas Rutledge, former gambler and new owner of the East Line Railway, invests everything he has into this venture, partly to see if he can do it--but mostly to avenge his father. One man holds the key to the railway's success--General William Giles Harding of Nashville's Belle Meade Plantation. But Harding is champagne and thoroughbreds, and Sylas Rutledge is beer and bullocks. Sy needs someone to help him maneuver in high society, and when he meets Alexandra Donelson, he quickly decides he's found his tutor.
Spurning her family's wishes that she marry, Alexandra Donelson is pursuing her passion for teaching at Fisk University, the first freedmen's university in the United States. But her family does not approve, and ultimately, her father expels her from the family home and cuts her off completely.
Through her friendship with Mary Harding, Alexandra is thrown together with both General Harding and Sylas Rutledge. And she soon finds herself falling in love with a man whose roguish qualities and adventuresome spirit smack more of recklessness than responsibility.
Sylas Rutledge will risk everything to win the hand of the woman he loves. What he doesn't count on is having to wager her heart to do it.
Set at Nashville's historic Belle Meade Plantation, To Wager Her Heart is a sweeping Southern love story about a nation mending after war, the struggle to move a country forward, and the courage of a man and woman to see themselves for who they truly are--and can be--with each other.
Belle Meade (image from Flickr)
Disclaimer: I listened to this book on a (paid by me, via membership) download from (click here for the audiobook download of To Wager Her Heart). Additionally, I received a NetGalley copy, which I didn't read, but I'm grateful that it was available. The publisher sent me a paperback copy of this fantastic novel, which I'm giving away to one of our readers. I am under no compunction to offer a positive review. I've loved all of Tamera's books and have read every one!

Purchase at Barnes & Noble
At Christian Book Distributors
At Amazon
At Your local Christian Bookstore such as Lifeway (call ahead -- if they don't have it, they'll often get it for you!)

Giveaway: A paperback copy to one of our commenters. 

13 August 2017

Within One-half Mile in Mackinaw City by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Mackinaw City Fort Michilimackinac and the Mackinac Bridge -- one half mile from our rental house.

My husband and I have teased for years that if something wasn't within five miles of where we lived then it was too far! Then this summer, staying in Mackinaw City for a month to promote my new book My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island, we found a smaller perimeter! Within one half mile in several directions we could find all manner of wonderful places and people. Above, is Fort Michilimackinac, which is just a half mile west from where we were staying. Instead of a five mile drive, we had a half mile walk and passed several public parks along the Lake Huron shore by the Straits of Mackinac.

The church we attended, Church of the Straits, was only a couple of blocks west of the house. We were so delighted to hear The Calvarymen perform while we were there one Sunday! And we were able to enjoy the lovely picnic the church members had. I don't think we've ever been able to simply walk to church and back as a married couple -- but I did this all the time growing up, because my home church, Bethel Community, was only two blocks from home.

 At the right is my handsome chauffeur at our rental house.  He looks awfully comfortable, doesn't he? After driving almost a thousand miles, our truck loaded down for the month, he deserved a break. Have I mentioned yet that both an amazing bakery and numerous fudge shops were under a half mile walk?
If we were to go North from the house a half mile, we'd be out in the Straits of Mackinac/Lake Huron! Lots of sailboats went by in July, when both the Chicago to Mackinac Island and the Port Huron to Mackinac Island races happened. 
 Northeast of our rental were the ferry docks. And more public parks (often occupied by Canadian geese and gulls!) Several nights a week, musical groups performed in the amphitheater in the park just past the ferry docks. From Rock and Roll to Celtic Music to Band music, all could easily be accessed in less than a half mile walk!

Our son enjoyed the independence of being able to go off to Wawatam Park, across the street, as often as he wished. From this spot, the entire Straits of Mackinac can be viewed, from Lake Michigan and on the "Mitten's" and the "Eagle's" western shores to Mackinac Island in the Straits, to Lake Huron's coast down to Cheboygan. Notice the striation of water colors in the picture at the right.

GIVEAWAY: Box of Christian fiction books by various popular authors and publishers. Leave a comment answering this question -- what can you easily get to from a half a mile of your home? From five miles?

08 August 2017

His Steadfast Love by Julie Lessman - Review by Bonnie Roof

Review by Bonnie Roof

5 STARS *****

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. - Lamentations 3:22-23

Though I've read each one of Julie Lessman's books - her writing never ceases to amaze me! Possessing the innate ability to draw readers into her stories, she makes me feel not only as if I'm a member of those beautiful, warm, cozy families she writes about - but a part of the story and a friend of the characters, as well. 

But warm and cozy though they be, those amazing families struggle with the same pressures of daily life and serious life-changing issues as you, me, and the rest of today's modern world. "His Steadfast Love" is no exception - amidst the joys and triumphs experienced by the characters: present or past issues of being unforgivable, bitterness, date rape, jealousy, sexual abuse, feelings of unworthiness and inadequacy, and adultery are also addressed.

It was easy to fall in love with ex-Navy Seal and pastor Chase Griffin, who has such a heart for people, the situations in which Cat placed herself both angered me and elicited tears of sympathy, Ms. Lilly made me laugh at her "no-nonsense" approach and marvel at her spiritual wisdom. "His Steadfast Love" led me through the gamut of emotions : from tears of joy to tears of sympathy and all those in between.

It's a story filled with humor, copious quantities of romance, angst, unexpected twists, lovable characters, and a realistic plot but the "creme de la creme" is the hope, inspiration, and redemption story from a loving God. Received by it's characters and now it's readers (as evidenced by it's reviews) - a life-changing possibility, for sure!

"His Steadfast Love" is the last in the series of three books and completes the series so beautifully (it's quite possibly Julie Lessman's best work to date), but is also such a delight as a stand-alone readers will be enticed to read the other two books, "Isle of Hope: Unfailing Love" and "Love Everlasting", and the prologue, "A Glimmer of Hope", as well. I'll certainly miss spending time with the charming O'Bryen and Carmichael families!

Love prospers when a heart is forgiven. (Proverbs 17:9)

Disclaimer: I was provided a PDF of "His Steadfast Love" by the author but was not required to write a review. This review is my honest opinion of "His Steadfast Love". 

Also coming from Julie Lessman on Amazon Sept. 1: "Grace Like Rain: A Heart of San Francisco Novella", "The Best Gift of All: An O'Connor Christmas Novella", "The Gift of Grace: A Frontier Christmas Novella", and "A Whisper of Hope: An O'Connor Christmas Novella". $.99 each and pre-order available now.

Blurb for His Steadfast Love by Julie Lessman
She’s bent on fun.
He’s bent on faith.
Till true love bridges the gap.

Cat O’Bryen is the prodigal daughter unhappy with God. First, the father with whom she reconciled dies of cancer and now her twin sister and best friend marries, leaving Cat at home with a newlywed mother, her new husband, and a little brother. But when Cat moves in with a roommate of questionable morals, her family is worried, certain she’s on a path that could damage her faith forever.

Reluctant to get involved with a woman like the one who destroyed his life, ex-Navy SEAL Pastor Chase Griffin steers clear of the attraction he feels for Cat O’Bryen. Until her family begs him to take her under his wing, hoping he can draw her back into the fold. But when the draw she has on him proves too strong to resist, he must rely on the strength of God to offer a friendship as steady and strong as the God whose love is wooing her home.

Giveaway: Julie is offering a giveaway of His Steadfast Love to one of our readers. Winner can choose a paperback of His Steadfast Love, releasing this fall, or ebook copies of all three novels in this series! Leave a prayer below for Bonnie's health for the upcoming author event CFFR to enter, thanks!

06 August 2017

Mackinac Island Kisses & Mackinaw City Lifesavers by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Store Manager and Hostess with the Mostest - Tamara Tomac at The Island Bookstore on Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island Kisses & Mackinaw City Lifesavers
by Carrie Fancett Pagels

As my pastor, Rev. Larry Jones, said this morning to me -- having a book set on Mackinac Island, and being there, and doing signings -- how great is that? Yes, indeed, fellow author Larry fully understands how awesome that experience that was! Coming home to a bad RA flare didn't help transition me well back to reality, either!

Author Carrie Fancett Pagels with Grand Hotel Store Manager Mert Vartanian
I was made to feel so welcome at the book signing venues I visited -- The Island Bookstore (Manager Tamara Tomac and owner Mary Jane Barnwell were recently featured in Publishers Weekly!) on Mackinac Island (I signed on three separate occasions PTL!) and at their location in Mackinaw City (see my friend Pegg Thomas's picture below) and at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island (Mert Vartanian got me settled in with her staff, too! What a dream come true.
Author Pegg Thomas at The Island Bookstore in Mackinaw City
It was fun meeting up with family and with friends, like author Pegg Thomas who recently had a release in The Pony Express collection. Pegg is a member of Colonial Quills blog, also, and will have a novella in our 2018 release from Barbour -- the Backcountry Brides Romance collection from Barbour Publishing with nine colonial stories, including my "Shenandoah Hearts" too which I'm working on this month (prayers appreciated!)

My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island: Maude's Mooring was the only on-location romance released this year, so how cool is that? (I could be wrong though!)
Carrie Fancett Pagels with readers book signing at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island
When I asked what I should bring for swag to my book signings I was advised that "candy is always good!" I found that the ones who most like candy were often teenage boys on the island for Boy Scout activities at the Fort (or with their parents!) I met some super nice people at my book signings, like the lovely ladies above and below who I got to chat with!
The Island Bookstore on Mackinac Island - Guest and Author Carrie Fancett Pagels

I brought more candies than these pictured below, though! I have an upcoming book signing at the College of William and Mary Barnes and Noble book store in Williamsburg, Virginia on Saturday, September 2nd, from 1-3 PM. There will be kisses and lifesavers there, too!

Question: If you could choose, would you want Hershey's kisses, Lifesavers, or a copy of my new RT Book Reviews Top Pick for July -- My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island: Maude's Mooring? And do you think Mackinac Island Kisses and Mackinaw City Lifesavers sound like great titles for a couple of books?

03 August 2017

My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island -- Review by Andrea Stephens

My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island: Maude's Mooring by Carrie Fancett Pagels
My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island: Maude's Mooring 
by Carrie Fancett Pagels
Review by Andrea Stephens

I absolutely loved this book! This is by far my favorite book by author Carrie Fancett Pagels, and I've read them all.
The intrigue of the secret identities, the neighborly, family-like love between the islanders and how they look out for each other, the impish little brother Jack, Maude, and the stranger who has unwittingly captured her heart. All come together to create one of the best books I've read in a long time.
Maude is more upset than heartbroken when she meets her supposed fiance and his new wife on the docks as they return to the island.  Maude literally plows into Ben as she is leaving the wharf in angry tears. Though there is no introduction between the two the compassion showed by Ben was memorable. Maude finds herself thinking about him more than Greyson and Ben thinks of her too.
Without a husband her father won't let Maude run the family inn by herself, she doesn't understand why.  He threatens to sell The Winds of Mackinac Inn that has been in her mother's family for generations, the inn she believed she would inherit. It is her life, her home, her very breath, she cannot leave.  Maude has to prove to him she can do it on her own. She secretly gets a job as a maid at the posh Grand Hotel. Her friend Sadie says “Aren't you pushing this a little too far, Maude? You have no idea what you are in for working as a maid.”

I felt Maude's job at the Grand Hotel was very important to the story, as she learned some valuable lessons about herself and how she relates to other people. Friedrich, aka Ben, finds out the story he was sent to work on has changed, he's not entirely comfortable with the new direction. In the meantime, he can't stop thinking of Maude and searches her out.  Introductions are made and after his act of heroism, the two become closer.  I enjoyed this little romance as it was something unexpected by Maude, an islander and him a temporary visitor.
There is so much I want to say here about the story and other characters but I fear it would spoil it for others so I will not.  It is something you MUST read for yourself. The book is fast paced, filled with mystery and secrets that abound at every turn. The romance is heartwarming and real.
I so very much enjoyed this visit to the “Pristine Beauty” of Mackinac Island in the summer of 1895. I could feel the sights and sounds of life on the island as a visitor and as a resident.

I will finish this review with a quote from the book that was meaningful to me and I hope it will be meaningful to you too: 
 “...sometimes God has to put us in a place where He can mold us and ready us for something new. And sometimes He puts friends around us to help us, doesn't He?”
Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for allowing me to read an advance copy of this book. After, my first reading, I ordered it for my Kindle so I could read this again, wherever I am.
Links to purchase:
Links to purchase My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island: Maude’s Mooring (Barbour Publishing, July 2017)
Giveaway: Leave a comment for a chance to win an autographed (and personalized, if you wish!) copy of My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island: Maude’s Mooring.

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