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.
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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.




20 October 2018

Giveaway - The Cumberland Bride by Shannon McNear

The Cumberland Bride by Shannon McNear

The Cumberland Bride by Shannon McNear
Barbour Publishing (2018)
Book 5 in The Daughters of the Mayflower series

by Carrie Fancett Pagels

I had the privilege and honor of reading the ARC of Shannon McNear's wonderful novel, The Cumberland Bride. This colonial era story is part of The Daughters of the Mayflower series from Barbour Books. Shannon brings her own distinctive voice to the story which is perfect for the setting -- crossing the back country along the Kentucky Wilderness Road in 1794. My own ancestors settled in eastern Kentucky sometime near this era of Early American history. Being a bit of a klutz myself, I enjoyed Kate's struggles. Thomas is a strong hero and definitely needs all his wits about him in this tremendous journey. Fans of Laura Frantz will find this book a great companion to Laura's stories as some are in comparable story worlds.

Shannon McNear was a finalist in the prestigious Rita Awards for her colonial-era novella set in Virginia (I like to say she won for Inspirational Novella for the Rita's since it was the only Inspirational category finalist!). Shannon has been an ongoing blessing over at the Colonial Quills blog. I can't wait to read the next stories she comes up with!

Note, Shannon also has a novella in The Backcountry Brides collection which released from Barbour this past spring which is another great book to read. The cover on this book doesn't match up with the story, as Kate is tromping across the countryside in clothes that wouldn't have looked anything like this. But I think you'd have to agree that this is a gorgeous cover! Even prettier in person!

The book is available in multiple formats including ebook, paperback, and large print hardcover (from Thorndike).
~*~*~*~*~
From the Publisher:
Thomas Bledsoe and Kate Gruener are traveling the Wilderness Road when conflicts between natives and settlers reach a peak that will require each of them to tap into a well of courage.
A brand new series for fans of all things related to history, romance, adventure, faith, and family trees.

Love and Adventure Are Discovered on the Wilderness Road
In 1794, when Kate Gruener’s father is ready to move the family farther west into the wilderness to farm untouched land, Kate is eager to live out her own story of adventure like he did during the War for Independence and to see untamed lands. And she sets her sights on learning more about their scout, Thomas Bledsoe. Thomas’s job is to get settlers safely across the Kentucky Wilderness Road to their destination while keeping an ear open for news of Shawnee unrest. But naïve Kate’s inquisitive nature could put them both in the middle of a rising tide of conflict. Is there more to Thomas’s story than he is willing to tell? Is there an untapped courage in Kate that can thwart a coming disaster?

Join the adventure as the Daughters of the Mayflower series continues with The Cumberland Bride by Shannon McNear.

More in the Daughters of the Mayflower series:
The Mayflower Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1620 Atlantic Ocean (February 2018)
The Pirate Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo – set 1725 New Orleans (April 2018)
The Captured Bride by Michelle Griep – set 1760 during the French and Indian War (June 2018)
The Patriot Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1774 Philadelphia (August 2018)?
The Cumberland Bride by Shannon McNear – set 1794 on the Wilderness Road (October 2018)
The Liberty Bride by MaryLu Tyndall – set 1814 Baltimore (December 2018)


Giveaway: A copy of Shannon's novel The Cumberland Bride, from Barbour Publishing. Leave a comment to enter.

14 October 2018

Prayer Warriors Matter -- Ann Lacy Ellison

Ann Lacy Ellison
I love Prayer Warriors. They're the people you can count on to intervene for you when things get tough.  You feel better simply knowing they are there. You know that even if they are the only person who knows about your situation and is praying, that they are intent upon lifting you and your concerns up to the Lord.
Ann Lacy Ellison had long been one of my readers and was a member of my Pagels Pals reader group. But Ann was best known to me as a true Prayer Warrior. When I was at Community Group, before I'd learned she had quickly gone into Hospice care, we were asked who we thought of when we considered people of prayer. And Ann was the first person I thought of. Soon after, I learned she was in end stages of cancer.

You can read Ann's obituary here. I'm glad the family included that Ann was an active supporter of authors. I can tell you that her Prayer Warrior ministry to writers will be sorely missed. Already is. But we'll get to see her in heaven one day. Ann was a sweetheart and a blessing to so many.

Question: Do you have a prayer ministry yourself? I'm giving away a box of books this week to one of my readers who loves to pray for authors and who loves to read. Leave a comment before to enter.

07 October 2018

AND THE WINNER IS....



Huge Congratulations to our dear Carrie on winning a Maggie Award for her outstanding book; My Heart Belongs On Mackinac Island: Maude’s Mooring! Let's all tell her how very happy we are for this huge blessing!




2018 Published Maggie Awards Winner
Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements (RRSE)


If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading this award winning book you can grab a copy on Amazon, Christian Books, or BAM.


02 October 2018

Victorian Christmas Brides Review by Andrea Stephens

Christmas came a little early for me when I opened this brightly wrapped, autographed book! 
Review of The Victorian Christmas Brides Collection by Andrea Stephens
 I met a couple new to me authors on this journey back to a different time. Nothing is perfect and there are many twists, mysteries, and surprises along the way but each of the 9 novellas has a happy ending. I highly recommend this book for all historical Christian fiction fans especially those that love unique Christmas love stories. This book makes a perfect gift for yourself or your favorite book lover.
Some feelings on each novella. 
~One Golden Ring by C.J. Chase 
Good story! It is clear that Marianna and Tristam belong together. Miss Nowell seemed to know it too. ~Star of Wonder by Susanne Dietze Much mystery involving the stolen diamond necklace. I loved the children being seen and heard, not stuck in a nursery with a nanny. I loved how Bennet and Celeste became more than friends despite their desire not to wed. Love finds a way! 
~The Holly and The Ivy by Rita Gerlach 
A very sweet Christmas love story. Lily and Andrew have been writing each other for a year. In the beginning, was about some old letters but as time went on, things became more personal but she only signed her letters with an L. He comes to lecture at the Smithsonian Institute where Lily faints. He sees that she gets home and after much discussion, he realizes who she is. I loved Lily's parents. The secret is very touching and Lily gets her longtime wish. 
~Love Brick by Brick by Kathleen L. Maher 
Misunderstandings and other confusions keep Rufus and SarahAnn apart. Love, however, does find its way. I can't imagine bringing a house in pieces from England to New York. Rufus will do anything to make sure his ailing mother is happy. SarahAnn goes above and beyond in caring for her too. A very nice story with a bit of mystery regarding the elder Mr. Sedgewick too. 
~A Christmas Promise by Gabrielle Meyer 
Their late mother's agreement forces Christopher and Ashleigh to be in the same place at the same time. Neither one wants to marry. But...The child she disliked most in the world had somehow become the man she adored. A sweet story! 
~The Sugarplum Ladies by Carrie Fancett Pagels 
A wonderful story! I loved how Percy and Eugenie meet then meet again. I loved the work Eugenie does with the war widows. With the help of Eugenie and her Sugarplum Ladies catering, what was going to be a lonely Christmas turned into a wonderful family & friends reunion. The ending was perfect! 
~Paper Snowflake Christmas by Vanessa Riley 
A dare. A kiss. A separation of hearts. Years later will the two hearts find forgiveness and love again? This was a bit heart wrenching to see a mother forced by her late husband's will to give up her son. I enjoyed this story. I loved what the Paper Snowflakes were made of, you will too. 
~Father Christmas by Lorna Seilstad 
I really liked this story. I did not like Fern Kent at all! She was a controlling, shrew of a mother-in-law. Blaming Beatrix for her death the death of her son and more. UGH! I loved little Clara and her father Hugh. He was such a sweet gentle, man. He did so much to help Beatrix. How she helped him pick out a doll for his daughter's Christmas gift was so sweet. Mean old Fern stirs up trouble. Will the truth bring healing and love? I loved the Christmas in this story. 
~A Perfect Christmas by Erica Vetsch 
This truly was a perfect Christmas! I love how the author used Charles Dicken's "A Christmas Carol" in Melisande's window design and in Gray's heart. I was happy with the ending but would love to read more of Melisande and Gray's story as well as see what becomes of Vonetta in the future. 
As you can see, I really do love this collection!
GIVEAWAY: A copy of the paperback of  The Victorian Christmas Brides Collection autographed by Carrie (and maybe even a couple more authors!) Answer this question to enter: What's your favorite thing about Victorian era Christmases that you've read about?

27 September 2018

Debbie Maccomber's Cottage by the Sea Audiobook


I listened to this audiobook of Cottage by the Sea via an audible.com download. I liked that the concept and inspiration was explained right at the beginning of the audiobook. If I remember correctly it may even have been Debbie Maccomber herself reading that section.  The book is narrated by Karissa Vacker who did a great job. Her voice was really perfect for the heroine.

This story has an overabundance of quirky characters. It is a good contender for my personal book of the year for Bibliotherapy book. Although not overtly Christian there is a strong faith element in this novel. A lot of healing happens. The backstory provided by Maccomber and also by the heroine, Annie Marlow, helps the relationships make sense. Honestly, as a former psychologist, I would have objected to the way the relationships unfolded were it not for the heroine's traumatic background and personal history. So Maccomber masterfully ties the whole package together for the reader. It has a bit of a slow element to it, an unfolding of the story. I'll admit I fell asleep while listening to it (I wasn't feeling too well at the time). But it is well worth the listen and I went back to what I missed and listened though the remainder of this Five Star Listen!

Publisher's Summary
A seaside town helps one young woman reclaim the light after darkness in a brand-new novel from number one New York Times best-selling author Debbie Macomber.

Annie Marlow has been through the worst. Rocked by tragedy, she heads to the one place that makes her happy: Oceanside in the Pacific Northwest, the destination of many family vacations when Annie was a teenager.

Once there, Annie begins to restore her broken spirit, thanks, in part, to the folks she meets: a local painter, Keaton, whose large frame is equal to his big heart - and who helps Annie fix up her rental cottage by the sea; Mellie, the reclusive, prickly landlord Annie is determined to befriend; and Britt, a teenager with a terrible secret. But it is Keaton to whom Annie feels most drawn. His quiet, peaceful nature offers her both comfort and reprieve from her grief, and the two begin to grow closer.

Then events threaten to undo the idyll Annie has come to enjoy. And when the opportunity of a lifetime lands in her lap, she is torn between the excitement of a new journey toward success and the safe and secure arms of the haven - and the man - she's come to call home.

In this heartwarming tale, Annie finds that the surest way to fix what is damaged within is to help others rise above their pain and find a way to heal.
©2018 Debbie Macomber (P)2018 Random House Audio
Giveaway: Box of books to one commenter this week from my audiobook review posts! Leave a comment to enter!

25 September 2018

Jen Turano's Caught By Surprise Audiobook


Once again, author Jen Turano delivers the goods -- a wonderfully enjoyable listen! I loved Temperance's character as well as Gilbert's! Such a fun listen. Caught by Surprise on Audible.com is narrated by Lauren Ezzo who did a great job bringing the characters to life! The Audiobook is from Two Words Publishing LLC.

Caught by Surprise is available in multiple formats besides audio: paperback, ebook, and hardcover. So you can enjoy it is the manner you most prefer! Check out the links to purchase on Jen's page for this title. Bethany House is the publisher.

Here's the publisher's summary: Miss Temperance Flowerdew is on her way to work when a stranger suddenly grabs her off the street and sends her on a Chicago-bound train before she can figure out what happened.

When Mr. Gilbert Cavendish is called upon to rescue a missing woman, he follows the trail to Chicago only to discover that the woman is his good friend Temperance. Before they can discover who was behind the abduction, they’re seen alone together by a New York society matron, putting their reputations at risk.

Gilbert is willing to propose marriage–except Temperance will have none of it. She’s finally stepped out of the shadow of her relations and won’t give up her independence. But when it becomes clear the misunderstanding in Chicago has escalated into a threat on her life and followed her to New York, accepting Gilbert’s help in solving the mystery may lead to more than she ever could have dreamed.

Giveaway: I'm giving away a box of Christian fiction books this week to one of the commenters on my review posts. Leave a comment on this and my other review (this coming Thursday, of Debbie Maccomber's audiobook) to enter!




16 September 2018

Deceit & Greed in Victorian Times -- Giveaway


In my latest release, the novella The Sugarplum Ladies, in The Victorian Christmas Brides Collection, my heroine, Eugenie Mott finds herself in a situation where someone is lying about her. Not only does this man claim that she is his fiancé (she never accepted his offer) but he announces it in the newspaper! She's a wealthy Detroit heiress and a "do gooder" working with Civil War widows who are learning catering skills. Set immediately after the Civil War, in Victorian times, my heroine is up against a conniving man who is using deceit to make his greedy dreams come true. 

In those days, an announcement of an engagement could be perceived as a contractual agreement. Lucky for my heroine, she has an American attorney who can help her out. And the handsome Canadian barrister, Percy Gladstone, also lends aid!


Blurb: The Sugarplum Ladies by Carrie Fancett Pagels
1867 Windsor, Ontario, Canada, and Detroit, Michigan
When Canadian barrister Percy Gladstone finds his aristocratic British family unexpectedly descending upon him for Christmas, he turns to American social reformer Eugenie Mott and her fledgling catering crew for help.



Bio – Carrie Fancett Pagels, Ph.D.

Carrie Fancett Pagels, Ph.D., is the award-winning author of sixteen Christian historical romances, including ECPA bestsellers. Twenty-five years as a psychologist didn't "cure" her overactive imagination! A self-professed “history geek,” she resides with her family in the Historic Triangle of Virginia but grew up as a “Yooper,” in Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula. Carrie loves to read, bake, bead, and travel – but not all at the same time! You can connect with her at www.CarrieFancettPagels.com.
  
My Pinterest page for “The Sugarplum Ladies” 




GIVEAWAY: Have you ever had someone lie about you and use deceitful means to do you harm? How did God send help your way?  Answer the question for a chance to win a copy of this beautiful new release! 





19 August 2018

Seasons of Change by Carrie Fancett Pagels & Giveaway!

Mackinac Island Harbor, View from the Fort

Seasons of Change
by Carrie Fancett Pagels

It's that time of year again--Summer's end! Here around the Straits of Mackinac, tourists are still flocking to see the beauty of the area. But there are fewer and fewer families, fewer children. Many, you see, are preparing to go back to school. Some students have even begun their studies, again. Meanwhile, in Virginia, temperatures still hover around 90 degrees. Yikes! We've had an unusually warm (frequent days in the 80's) here in upper Michigan and quite dry, triggering concern throughout the state for this excessive dry spell.

Like the seasons of the year, seasons in our life evolve. For some people, the season of end-of-life brings many things to the forefront, particularly family and possible regrets and also the focus on joys previously experienced. Entering the "Golden Years" of life also brings its many issues -- loss of friends who have died, loss of physical strength yet also the wisdom that comes from having experienced many things in life and also the joy of an expanding family with grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Mackinac Island's beautiful Arch Rock -- from the Road

For first time kindergarteners, first year in middle school, that big freshman year of high school, and entry to college -- all are major stepping stones in life. Very exciting yet also potentially stressful, especially for students with special needs.
Fort Michilimackinac's late summer garden -- Mackinaw City, Michigan

I'm working on my first Women's Fiction in over a decade and I've been focusing on the changes women face in their lives. This has been a summer season of coping with health challenges and trying to get in book signings, author speaking engagements, and find placement for books as well as doing research for this current Work-in-Progress and other stories I've been working on. It's been an exciting time and a very different type of lifestyle than I normally have!
Entrance to Mackinac Bridge, Sunset over Lake Michigan, from Michilimackinac's Park in Mackinaw City, Michigan

I'll be gone from Michigan before the beautiful autumn leaves begin to change, but I'll have enjoyed this gorgeous summer season.  How about you? Have you enjoyed your summer or this particular season of life?

My Christy Lumber Camp Series' covers have gotten an update! Change is everywhere isn't it?




Giveaway: Leave a comment for a chance to win a set of these books (one long novella and two short novels!) set around the Straits of Mackinac in the 1890's -- in Mackinaw City, St. Ignace, Mackinac Island, and Newberry, Michigan!

16 August 2018

My Heart Belongs in Galveston, Texas: Madeline's Search by Kathleen Y'Barbo


Barbour Publishing (2018)

Publisher Summary:
Journey now to Galveston, Texas, of 1880...
Where is Mrs. Smith's granddaughter? Who is the mysterious Mrs. Smith?

Pinkerton agent Jonah Cahill is hired by the mysterious widow to find her lost granddaughter, rumored to be living in Galveston, Texas. Though Jonah prefers to travel alone, Mrs. Smith insists that she and her companion accompany him. Madeline Latour, investigative reporter, has been acting as Mrs. Smith’s assistant for several months, and Madeline will not allow anyone—even a Pinkerton agent—to ruin the story of a lifetime. The pair forges an uneasy truce as the investigation grows dangerous.

Is there a bigger story beyond a missing girl to be revealed?

Andrea Stephens' Review

I don't think I'm spoiling anything if I say, “Yes. There is a bigger story beyond a missing girl!”
What a great story it is too! Kathleen Y'Barbo gives us an adventure-filled tale of a missing granddaughter, possible pirate treasure, mysteries and the reluctant reuniting of a formerly engaged couple. Will they be able to get over past betrayal and find love again? You will have to read the book yourself to find out!

Jonah Cahill grew up in a house built on top of land that famed pirate Jean Lafitte built and burned his house down, leaving behind the legacy of the possibly buried treasure. As a child, Jonah enjoyed digging holes in the basement but never found anything. Now grown, he is a Pinkerton Detective working a private case for Mrs. Smith, searching for her long lost granddaughter.

Madeline Latour, comes from a family of professional secret keepers. She works at a newspaper in New Orleans but is posing, undercover, as a writer working for Madame (Mrs. Smith) putting all her memories on paper, while secretly hoping to find a bigger story.

I liked how Jonah says, “Hello, Madeline.” when he sees her. The banter between the two is very entertaining. The two are not exactly happy about working with each other in the beginning, but do eventually remember that they once “made a good team.”  Once they overcome their past, they realize they still make a good team.

As Jonah and Madeline search for Madam's granddaughter, we meet many interesting characters, some with mysteries of their own that need solving.

It's very hard to write a review for this book without giving spoilers. There are many plot twists and several surprises. I will tell you that I loved it and did not want it to end.
The faith element is lightly sprinkled throughout the book and I really liked how Jonah listened to “that still small voice.”

This is another 5 Star book for me! I highly recommend it. If you are a history buff, Kathleen provides some very interesting author notes, telling us some real history and where she had to bend it a little for this fictional story.

The My Heart Belongs series is taking a summer break and will return in November with
My Heart Belongs in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania: Clarissa's Conflict by Murray Pura. I can't wait to read it!

Purchase: You can view ALL the My Heart Belongs books and find links to purchase at this link: http://www.myheartbelongs.com

Giveaway: A copy of My Heart Belongs in Galveston, Texas: Madeline's Search by Kathleen Y'Barbo. Answer this question: What is your "happy place" for vacation?


29 July 2018

Different Kinds of Beauty


Isn't this cream colored daylily from the Straits of Mackinac lovely? It lacks color in the main part of the petals yet it has a bright purple and yellow center, drawing your eye right there!  I'l admit I'm accustomed to seeing mostly a common orange daylily where I live. Something more like the flower pictured below.

Not only does the cream-colored daylily lack the orange pigmentation but it is much shorter than the orange daylily which looks much like mine in Virginia. I've come to think of this type of daylily as the typical or expected variety. So I've come to compare other daylilies to this type. It's everywhere. So common. And a standard of daylily beauty.
This pretty pale peach daylily has broad smooth petals. It is medium tall. It isn't flashy, but it is a very pretty flower. It catches your eye mainly for its simplicity. With fully open smooth petals it reminds me of an open-hearted and warm person.
This deep red, almost maroon colored daylily has a lot of flare to it, doesn't it? The petals flare back more sharply than the other daylilies. It is showy and certainly not a shy wallflower!

These twin buttery yellow daylilies have a delicate perfection and look rather star-like. It has a clean beauty. A soft almost shy feeling to the flower draws you to it.

God created all these variations in the daylilies. How many more does he create in people? He puts beauty in us all. 

Question: Which flower do you feel your personality most resembles?  


01 July 2018

Interview with Kelly Goshorn's Heroine, Ruth from "A Love Restored"


CFP: I was privileged to receive an advanced copy of "A Love Restored", a new release from Kelly Goshorn of Virginia. And I gave an endorsement to this book!  Kelly is having her heroine, Ruth Ann, visit with us today for an interview!

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

Hello Carrie,
Thank you for inviting me to visit with your readers today. Kelly has asked me to share our painful struggle with weight and self-perception. By way of introduction, my name is Ruth Ann Sutton. I am the heroine in her novel, A Love Restored. She created me to tell her own story. Did you know that? A Love Restored is the retelling of her real-life romance with her husband, Mike. She chose to set the story in the 1870s because she is a . . . what’s the word I’m looking for here? Oh right, she calls herself a “history geek.”

Before we get started, let me tell you a little bit about myself. I am twenty years old and the youngest of two daughters born to my parents, Charles and Hannah Sutton. My father died suddenly when I was thirteen and I miss him terribly. The locket he gave me always adorns my neck. My older sister, Sarah, was married by my age. She is beautiful and petite—just like mama. I’m quite the opposite. With broad shoulders, round hips and a head full of unruly curls, I haven’t had many suitors. Look at me prattling on and I barely know you. If mama were here, she’d remind me that “young ladies should be seen and not heard.”

Would you tell us about the one of the most difficult things in your life you have had to overcome, with God’s help? 
Like Kelly, I have struggled with weight issues my entire life. Suitors have been scarce. Mama has arranged for me to marry James Thornton, the son of a prominent Virginia politician. I find him a bit dull. If you don’t mind me being frank, which I am prone to be, I believe he’s more interested in my familial connections than me, as a woman. Mama says I should be grateful for his attention because in her words, “Gentlemen do not court and marry a woman who is plump and opinionated. They desire a woman who is a reflection of themselves and the image they want to convey to their contemporaries.”

Mama’s “simple truth,” coupled with schoolyard taunts and empty dance cards, created a lasting impression that I was unworthy. Overtime, I allowed my self-worth to be determined by a yardstick that measured my value according to the size of my waist or the flatness of my stomach, always coming up short. I yearned for a love that would look upon my heart and find inestimable worth, despite my physical flaws. Why was it so hard to believe a man might find me attractive? Even love me?

I replayed the unkind words of others in my mind until I became so defined by the negative comments and opinions of those surrounding me, I no longer saw anything to esteem in myself. No matter the exact phrasing, it all boiled down to the same thing in my mind—I was undesirable, therefore unlovable. At my lowest point, I curled my hand around a bottle of laudanum and began chugging the bitter liquid hoping to escape the pain I could no longer bear.

What helped you get through or helped you cope with this difficulty?
While the enemy taunted me that night reminding me how unworthy I was, another voice spoke to my damaged heart reminding me of His great love for me. His voice was so clear and unmistakable that I wonder if I did not hear our Lord’s audible voice telling me that indeed I was not a mistake and that He loved me more than any man ever would. The overwhelming weight of inadequacy that had burdened my spirit since childhood disappeared, replaced by a soothing peace that soaked into my parched soul like water in the dessert.


What passages in the Bible have been most helpful to you in those times?

This is a wonderful question because even though God intervened and prevented me from hurting myself that dreadful night, the process of “taking every thought captive,” as the Bible instructs us to do, had only just begun. Months were spent in tearful prayer and every time the enemy whispered negative thoughts in my ear, I had to replace them with scriptural truth until the pattern was broken. These are some of the verses that spoke to my heart during that dark time.

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 2 Cor 10:5

For the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7b

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. Psalm 139:14

And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten. Joel 2:25a

The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart. Psalm 34:18a

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

What do you hope readers will gain from your story?
A Love Restored is not only a story of love, romance, heartache and restoration, but also a story about the power of words over our lives. It is a story about the struggle each of us faces to take our thoughts captive to the truth of Scripture so we may experience the fullness of God’s unequivocal love for us. As Benjamin and I discover, it is only then that we are truly able to give and receive love, unconditionally.

My prayer for you and your lovely readers is that you will not allow the enemy to steal the joy that is rightfully yours as a child of God. Speak the truth of the gospel over yourself every day and ask God to give you His eyes to see yourself as He does.

"A Love Restored" Book blurb:
She was nothing like the woman he’d envisioned for his bride, but he was everything she’d ever dreamed of—until a promise from his past threatened their future.
With pert opinions and a less-than-perfect figure, Ruth Ann Sutton doesn’t measure up to society’s vision of a perfect lady. When she accepts a position teaching in a Freedman’s School, it threatens the only marriage offer Ruth Ann is likely to receive. She’s forced to choose between life as a lonely spinster or reinventing herself to secure a respectable proposal.

Determined to rise above his meager beginnings, Benjamin Coulter’s reputation as a fast learner and hard worker earn him the opportunity to apprentice with a surveyor for the railroad—a position that will garner the respect of other men. After a chance encounter with Ruth Ann Sutton, Benjamin is smitten with her pretty face, quick wit, and feisty personality.

When others ridicule his choice, will Benjamin listen to his heart or put ambition first?

Question you’d like to ask readers: How do you handle thoughts of inadequacy? What scriptures do you rely on in those times?

BIO:
Kelly weaves her affinity for history and her passion for God into uplifting stories of love, faith and family set in nineteenth century America. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. Kelly has been enjoying her own happily-ever-after with her husband and best friend, Mike, for 28 years. When she is not writing, Kelly enjoys spending time with her young adult children, scrapbooking with friends, board gaming with her husband, and spoiling her Welsh corgi, Levi.

Kelly’s Links:
You can connect with Kelly through her Newsletter, Website, Facebook,Twitter, Pinterestor Instagram.

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