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 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 na├»ve 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


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?

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