About Me I am a retired librarian and I now support books and authors through my reviews.

I have always loved to read and I was able to share that love through my work as a public librarian for 22 1/2 years. I now enjoy reading to my granddaughter and supporting authors through my reviews!

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Across the Great Divide by Michael L. Ross: Review & Giveaway







Across the Great Divide by Michael L. Ross
Publication Date: May 14, 2019
Elm Hill
eBook, Paperback, Hardcover
Series: The Clouds of War, Book One
Genre: Historical/Christian/Military

 Goodreads


Lexington, Kentucky, 1859. After saving John Hunt Morgan from a puma attack, fifteen-year-old farm boy Will Crump joins Hunt’s militia, the Lexington Rifles. Morgan mentors Will and enrolls him in the local university, where he hopes to study law. As tensions rise between the North and South, Will is torn between his loyalty to Morgan and his love for his family. Will’s father, sisters, and sweetheart follow the Union, while Morgan and Will commit to the South. As part of Morgan’s band, Will participates in ambushes and unconventional warfare until his first real battle at Shiloh. He fights bravely, but increasingly questions what the war is accomplishing, and whether his devotion to honor has led him astray. And where is God in all this killing? Will’s sister Albinia, friend of the Clay family, becomes increasingly aware of the plight of the slaves. When she finds Luther, a slave she knows, trying to escape, she must decide between her conscience, and her friends. She becomes involved in the Underground Railroad, helping slaves to freedom – but will it cost her love and her freedom? Will’s other sister, Julia, is approaching spinster status and despairs of ever meeting a man who can give her more than life on a farm until she meets Hiram Johannsen, a son of immigrants who owns a steamship company. They marry and she makes a new life in the North. When Hiram answers the call to fight for the North, Julia runs the steamboat company in her husband’s absence and uses her boats to help Albinia ferry escaped slaves to freedom. Her business relations put her in the perfect position to spy for the North. When the Confederates capture her, will she survive? Luther is one of the first slaves Albinia helps flee the South after his master cruelly abuses his mother and sister. He escapes with his family, and when war breaks out, he fights for the North as an auxiliary of the Third Ohio Cavalry, alongside Julia’s husband, Hiram, and against Morgan and Will. Luther has to confront the demons of his past, an abusive master, and a slave catcher that kills his little sister. Will the desire for revenge destroy him? Throughout the war, Will is forced to examine and question everything he believes in—his faith in God, his love for his family, his loyalty to Morgan, and his worth as a human being. Will and his family must somehow mend the torn fabric of relationships to find peace, and reach Across the Great Divide.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound




MY THOUGHTS..... 

Across the Great Divide is a history lover's dream! Michael L. Ross has written a story that is based on true people and actual events and he has successfully paired fact and fiction to give us an exceptional story. I am a native Kentuckian so I know about the Clay family in Lexington, John Parker and the Underground Railroad, John Hunt Morgan and his raids, and the horrible truth that Kentucky was definitely a divided state. Kentuckians were either strongly in favor of freeing the slaves or they were determined to keep them in bondage and just like Will Crump and his father, Kentucky fathers and sons really did fight on opposite sides.

This story covers six years in the life of Will Crump and we watch him change from a fifteen year old boy who was eager to learn and get an education to a twenty-one year old man who had already faced death and endured prison. The eager young man who had looked forward to his future had become a man needing to reconcile his past. There are also many other intriguing characters, some real and some fictitious, who are caught up in this war that divided families, Kentucky, and our nation; Ross has succeeded in capturing the emotions and actions of all involved.

This is the debut novel of Michael L. Ross and I look forward to reading his next book in The Clouds of War series. Across the Great Divide is excellent historical fiction!

I received a copy of this book from the author and Historical Fiction Virtual Tours. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



"Ross’s gripping story follows a Kentucky family of modest means and the enslaved people they helped toward freedom. The depictions of slavery ring true, and the use of both historical and fictional characters fills out the probable feelings of people attaining liberty in the bloodiest of all our wars." -Daniel C. Snell, Ph.D., emeritus professor, University of Oklahoma, and scholar of the history of slavery
"Like a great roller coaster, Michael Ross’ debut novel goes up and down with personal crises and national conflict, but it also twists about unexpectedly from character to memorable character in a sprawling story of the Civil War. Will, an earnest young man whose faith and honor sometimes put him at odds with those he loves, is caught up in the struggles of a country grappling with its own destiny. The issues that compel and separate people in ‘neutral’ Kentucky as the war breaks out echo our own era. We, too, are caught in a great divide. If you love a good story pulled from history, and if you are person of faith, you will find it hard to put down “The Great Divide” until the last page." -Daniel A. Brown, PhD, Author of “Embracing Grace,” Pastor, International Speaker


About the Author

Michael Ross is a lover of history and great stories. He's a retired software engineer turned author, with three children and five grandchildren, living in Newton, Kansas with his wife of thirty-eight years. He was born in Lubbock, Texas, and still loves Texas. The main character of "Across the Great Divide", William Dorsey Crump, is one of the founders of Lubbock and Shallowater, Texas. Michael knew Will's granddaughter when he was a child. He has written a scholarly article on Will Crump for the Texas Historical Society, published in the Handbook of Texas Online, and has sold short stories in the past. This is his first novel and the first in the Across the Great Divide series. Michael attended Rice University as an undergraduate, and Portland State University for his graduate degree. He has degrees in computer science, software engineering, and German. In his spare time, Michael loves to go fishing, riding horses, and play with his grandchildren, who are currently all under six years old. He sees many parallels between the time of the Civil War and our divided nation of today. Sanctuary cities, immigration, arguments around the holiday table, threats of secession - all are nothing new. Sometimes, to understand the present, you have to look at the past- and reach Across the Great Divide.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule


Monday, October 7 Review at Historical Fiction Reviews 
Tuesday, October 8 Excerpt at Maiden of the Pages 
  Thursday, October 10 Feature at I'm All About Books 
  Friday, October 11 Review at Red Headed Book Lady 
  Saturday, October 12 Review at Reading is My Remedy 
  Monday, October 14 Review at Al-Alhambra 
  Wednesday, October 16 Review at Stories Can Make Us Fly 
  Friday, October 18 Excerpt at 
  Sunday, October 20 Review at Locks, Hooks, and Books 
  Wednesday, October 23 Feature at The Caffeinated Bibliophile 
  Friday, October 25 Guest Post at Passages to the Past 
  Monday, October 28 Review at Passages to the Past 
  Tuesday, October 29 Feature at CelticLady's Reviews 
  Thursday, October 31 Review at Older & Smarter? 
  Friday, November 1 Interview at Passages to the Past 
  Monday, November 4 Excerpt at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots 
  Wednesday, November 6 Review at Just Another Reader 
  Thursday, November 7 Feature at Coffee and Ink

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a paperback copy of Across the Great Divide! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on November 7th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is open internationally.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

ENTER HERE  Across the Great Divide


View all my reviews

Mission Hollywood: A Red Carpet Romance by Michelle Keener: Review & Giveaway


About the Book



Book: Mission Hollywood
Author: Michelle Keener
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: July 16, 2019

What could possibly go wrong?

Movie star Ben Prescott arrives back in Hollywood after causing a scandal with his ex-girlfriend in Rome. Chased through the airport by paparazzi, he jumps into a limo hoping for a quick getaway. Instead he finds Lily Shaw, a pastor’s daughter and preschool teacher. When the paparazzi capture a photo of the two of them together, Ben’s agent demands that he do whatever it takes to keep the story from hitting the gossip pages . . . even volunteer to work at Lily’s church.
Sparks fly as the movie star and the pastor’s daughter work side by side. When Lily accompanies Ben to the premiere of his latest movie, Hollywood takes notice. Under intense media scrutiny and pressure from the movie industry, Ben must risk his career to follow his heart, but Lily wants the one thing he doesn’t have, faith.
Mission Hollywood is an inspirational story about love, faith, and second chances.  



Click here to get your copy!
 

MY THOUGHTS.....

Mission Hollywood is a story about love and faith. Deep faith, faltering faith, and faith when its convenient. And even though one of the main characters is a movie star and Hollywood is part of the title, the film industry plays a very small part of this story. This is actually a story about serving and loving God by serving and loving His children.

Yes, there is romance. Lily Shaw and Ben Prescott are a great couple and there are some emotional scenes between them but the true love story is between Lily, Ben, and God. Lily is openly in love with God and she shows it in actions and words; Ben has known God but past circumstances have left him feeling bitter toward Christianity. And then, a tragedy occurs and changes occur: Lily's Christian witness begins to fade and Ben's faith blossoms and blooms!

Lily and Ben are likable and realistic characters and author Michelle Keener has created some great supporting characters. In a moment of hurt, Lily tells her friend Kate "Even God has forgotten about me" and Kate's answer is a reminder for us all. "Oh, Lily. God loves you. He hasn't forgotten you....God is still God even when everything falls apart." (p. 271)

This is a story that will keep you reading to try to find answers. Is there a future for a movie star and a minister's daughter? Can a believer convince a doubter, or will the doubter change the believer? Can light be found during times of darkness?

Mission Hollywood reminds us that forgiveness and redemption are always available. If you enjoy contemporary romance and Christian fiction, you will certainly want to read this book!

I received a complimentary copy from the author and Celebrate Lit. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

About the Author



Michelle Keener is a wife, mom, and the author of three books. She lives in Southern California with her retired Marine husband, their two children, and one spoiled dog. When she isn’t writing, she is busy homeschooling, teaching creative writing workshops, or baking something involving chocolate.
Michelle loves to hear from readers and you can usually find her on Twitter @MKeenerWrites or at her website www.MichelleKeener.com 

More from Michelle

Why Hollywood? That’s a great question! Of all the places I could have set a Christian romance novel, why pick Hollywood? It isn’t exactly the first place that pops into your mind when you think Christian romance, right? The truth is I spent four years of my life trying to become an actress. I was a theatre major in the Los Angeles area and I spent a lot of time in Hollywood. I’ve been down Hollywood Boulevard, visited casting offices, and gone to open-call auditions. In those years, I saw the good and the bad of the movie industry. I saw dreams shattered and hearts broken under the glamourous lights of the Sunset Strip. Years later, when I started thinking about writing a Christian romance, I knew Hollywood was the perfect setting to tell the story of God’s unchanging, never-ending love for us. Mission Hollywood isn’t just one love story, it’s two. The romance between Ben and Lily is definitely swoon-worthy, but there is also the story of how much God loves us. I hope you enjoy Mission Hollywood…it’s only the beginning of the story for the Shaw Family. Book two is coming in February!

Blog Stops

Among the Reads, October 24
Sara Jane Jacobs, October 24
Maureen’s Musings, October 25
Moments, October 27
Pause for Tales, October 29
She Lives To Read, October 29
Older & Smarter?, October 30
Blessed & Bookish, October 30
Godly Book Reviews, November 1
Back Porch Reads, November 2
Texas Book-aholic, November 3
Quiet Quilter, November 4
janicesbookreviews, November 5
A Reader’s Brain, November 6

Giveaway




To celebrate her tour, Michelle is giving away a Red Carpet Collection, which includes a signed paperback copy of Mission Hollywood, a custom Pura Vida bracelet in red carpet colors, a signed and numbered print of the original painting “Redemption” by artist Charlotte Lauder, a vintage-Hollywood style postcard, a bookmark, and a magnet!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

May It Be So: Forty Days with the Lord's Prayer by Justin McRoberts & Scott Erickson

May It Be So: Forty Days with the Lord's PrayerABOUT THE BOOK

May It Be So: Forty Days with the Lord's Prayer by Justin McRoberts

Combining prayers in two languages--words and images--this contemporary prayer guide will help you spend time in conversation with God.

As people of faith, we all struggle at times to sustain a flourishing prayer life--a loss felt all the more keenly in these times of confusion, political turbulence, and global calamity. This unique book offers a timeless solution for the spiritual and skeptical alike.

Combining story-driven reflections with visual and written prayers, this simple 40-day prayer guide will help you reconnect with God as you rediscover your own ongoing conversation with Him. Using the familiar refrains in the Lord's Prayer as a guide, this groundbreaking resource invites you to reconnect with God creatively and organically.
 

MY THOUGHTS..... 

May I soberly remember that people will someday tell stories about the life I lived. And may that change the way I live between then and now. (Prayer 6)

This is just one of many short prayers that can be found in a new book by Justin McRoberts and Scott Erickson. May It Be So: Forty Days with the Lord's Prayer is their unique look at the beloved prayer found in Matthew 6:9-13 and they combine text and illustrations to give readers a new perspective.

The Lord's Prayer is referred to as the model prayer and most of us learned it at an early age. This book breaks it down, line by line, through using One-line Prayers, Imagery (black and white illustrations) , Meditations, and Suggested Practices to offer us a new way of seeing, hearing, and understanding His words. This is a small book but its 128 pages are overflowing with inspiration and motivation. I especially liked the suggested prayers and two of them especially resonated with me.

May I offer help far more readily than I offer criticism. (Prayer 1)

May I have room for guilt to convict me without letting shame define me. (Prayer 33)

Reading this book has given me a whole new understanding of The Lord's Prayer. May It Be So is a book to be treasured and I highly recommend it.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Waterbrook. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Justin McRoberts is an author, speaker, retreat leader and songwriter from the San Francisco Bay area. McRoberts began his career writing and releasing two albums with 5 Minute Walk before the label disbanded in 2001. Since then He has released eleven studio projects, several EPs, and three books.
For more information, visit 

Scott Erickson is a touring painter, performance artist, and creative storyteller who mixes autobiography, biblical narrative, and aesthetics to create art that speaks to our deepest experiences. Scott lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and three children. For more information, visit www.scottericksonart.com.



View all my reviews

Pray Big Things: The Surprising Life God Has for You When You're Bold Enough to Ask by Julia Jeffress Sadler

Pray Big Things: The Surprising Life God Has for You When You're Bold Enough to AskABOUT THE BOOK

In Pray Big ThingsJulia Jeffress Sadler dares you to start praying big. Sharing her own story of God's life-changing answers to bold prayers--a miraculous journey through infertility, miscarriages, and giving birth to triplets--Julia challenges you to take God at His Word and see Him move like never before. Humorous, practical, and filled with biblical insights, this book will give you the courage to pray big things and watch expectantly for God's even bigger answers.




MY THOUGHTS.....


Julia Jeffress Sadler relates her own personal pain and suffering and combines them with the story of Joseph from the Old Testament to support her theory that we should Pray Big Things. As she tells her story of infertility, miscarriage, and a high-risk pregnancy that resulted in the birth of triplets, we learn how she and her husband decided that they would not just pray---they would pray BIG! Sadler uses God' s Word to encourage us to pray and along with this abundant use of scripture, she also leaves 'nuggets of inspiration' that are worthy of posting to our bathroom mirrors or our refrigerator doors.

Everything that is allowed into our lives has the purpose of making us more like Christ.


When we want what He wants for ourselves and the world, then God honors our desires.


God will give you everything you want when everything you want is Him.


Pray Big Things offers hope, faith, and inspiration and I recommend it to all who want to deepen their relationship with God.

I received this book from Baker Books Bloggers Program but a positive review was not required. These are my own thoughts.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Julia Jeffress Sadler is a reality star from TLC’s Rattled, pastor's daughter, minister, professional counselor, triplet mama, and wife to her junior-high sweetheart, Ryan who has seen God do immeasurably more than anything she could hope or imagine! After suffering three miscarriages in one year, God blessed her and her husband, Ryan, with triplets! Their story of faith, prayer, and evangelism in the midst of heartache has encouraged thousands around the world!

Julia is a regular conference speaker, radio show guest, host of The Julia Sadler Show, and author of Pray Big Things published by Baker publishing in September 2019! 


To learn more, please follow her on social media.

Website     Facebook     Twitter     Instagram



View all my reviews

M.O.M.--Master Organizer of Mayhem: Simple Solutions to Organize Chaos and Bring More Joy Into Your Home by Kristi Clover

M.O.M.--Master Organizer of Mayhem: Simple Solutions to Organize Chaos and Bring More Joy Into Your HomeABOUT THE BOOK

Getting--and staying--organized is a challenge in and of itself. Add motherhood to the mix, and you've got a whole new dimension of difficulty. So how does a busy mom stay on top of the daily chaos that children inevitably bring along with them?

No matter what your situation is, Kristi Clover's home organization systems will work for you. Her foundational rules are highly adaptable and will help you make your home more efficient no matter where you live or how many kids you have (and how messy they are). She helps you prioritize, break down big jobs, declutter, develop age-appropriate chores for your kids, tackle the endless piles of laundry, and so much more. If you long to have a functional and fabulous home for your family and you're tired of feeling overwhelmed by all the work, this life-changing book is for you!

MY THOUGHTS.....

This book is chock full of wonderful tips to help Moms (and the rest of us) organize our homes and our lives. Author Kristi Clover offers so much inspiration in M.O.M--Master Organizer of Mayhem and she breaks it down into useful categories. She helps us create The Foundation, set up The Framework, and add The Finishing Touches and she does it in a fun way. Readers will feel like she is there with them sharing her organizational skills with Toolbox Tips scattered throughout the book and there is also a space at the end of the book to write your own notes.

I loved this quote from page 9. "Cleaning with kids in the San Diego, California home I am a down-to-earth writer and an energetic speaker.is like brushing your teeth while eating Oreos," There are many great books currently available to help you organize but M.O.M helps you recover some of your joy! And Kristi Clover offers encouragement by reminding us that we need to allow ourselves Grace!

I received a complimentary copy from Baker Books and I am voluntarily sharing this review. These are my honest opinions.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kristi Clover and her husband have been married for 22 years and she is a homeschooling mom of five children ranging in age from 6 – 17 years old. Currently living in San Diego, California, Clover is a writer, speaker, and home organization/efficiency expert. To learn more, please check her Website      Facebook     Instagram     Pinterest


View all my reviews

Monday, October 28, 2019

Aiming for Love (Brides of Hope Mountain, #1) by Mary Connealy: Review & Giveaway


About the Book



Book: Aiming for Love
Author: Mary Connealy
Genre: Christian Historical Romance
Release Date: October 2, 2019

Josephine Nordegren is one of three sisters who grew up nearly wild in southwestern Colorado. She has the archery skills of Robin Hood and the curiosity of the Little Mermaid, fascinated by but locked away from the forbidden outside world–a world she’s been raised to believe killed her parents. When David Warden, a rancher, brings in a herd much too close to the girls’ secret home, her older sister is especially frightened, but Jo is too interested to stay away.


 David’s parents follow soon on his heels, escaping bandits at their ranch. But his father is wounded and needs shelter. Josephine and her sisters have the only cabin on the mountain. Do they risk stepping into the world to help those in need? Or do they remain separated but safe in the peaks of Hope Mountain?


Click here to get your copy!  

MY THOUGHTS.....

Mary Connealy has created another winner! Aiming for Love has all of the ingredients that we've come to love in her books: laugh-out-loud fun, clean romance that will increase your heart rate, and a good dose of faith and inspiration. In this book she introduces us to three sisters who are unusual, to say the least. The Nordegren sisters have grown up high on a mountain in southwestern Colorado and have been isolated from society for the last ten years. Their parents died when they were young and their grandparents convinced their granddaughters that the outside world had caused their deaths. Josephine, Ilsa, and Ursula are now young women who excel in wilderness skills and in living off the land but know nothing about living with other people. And then, the outside world comes to them and Jo realizes that people in that 'other world' might not be so bad! And it's obvious that rancher David Warden is intrigued by this young woman who 'had eyes so light blue it was like looking into the stars shining in the night sky. Her hair white as moonlight.' Could romance be coming to Hope Mountain?

This is such an entertaining story and I was especially impressed with Connealy's ability to describe the Nordegren sister's confusion about some of the phrases that Dave and his ranch hands use. Words and phrases that are so common to us seem so foreign to Jo and her sisters and their ability to combine Bible stories with fairy tales makes for some fun reading as Dave struggles with understanding just what Bible scripture Jo is talking about.

Aiming for Love has adventure, hope, inspiration, and the reminder that we all need each other. If you enjoy romantic comedy and Christian fiction, you will certainly enjoy this first book in the Brides of Hope Mountain. I am already wondering which Nordegren sister will be the next bride!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Mary Connealy and I am voluntarily sharing my thought in this review. These are my honest opinions.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

View all my reviews


About the Author



Mary Connealy writes “romantic comedies with cowboys” and is celebrated for her fun, zany, action-packed style. She has more than half a million books in print. She is the author of the popular series Wild at Heart, Kincaid Brides, Trouble in Texas, Lassoed in Texas, Sophie’s Daughters, and many other books. Mary lives on a ranch in eastern Nebraska with her very own romantic cowboy hero. Learn more at www.maryconnealy.com.
 

More from Mary

What it would do to someone to run wild from nearly their earliest memory? What if three young girls had the basic skills to survive a rugged life but no adults to guide them? Would they grow up to be a completely odd and untamed version of themselves, or the truest, in some ways most honest version? I wanted to explore that idea: wild children, tough young women, afraid of the invading world, but lonely, too. So I created the plot for my Brides of Hope Mountain series by mixing the three little girls who’d grown up wild on the top of a mountain with some fairy tale ideas. Book one, Aiming for Love, is Josephine Nordegren’s story. I had this vision of Ariel the mermaid seeing a man for the first time when strangers invade the high valley she lives in with only her two sisters. Curiosity is her besetting sin, or so she’s always been told. She has wilderness skills, mainly in the form of owning a bow and arrow and understanding wild animals, but for the first time, she is drawn to a man. Jo needs to be tamed, or Dave, the man she can’t stop watching from in the woods, needs to learn the ways of the wild, because they’re out of place in each other’s worlds.

Blog Stops

Among the Reads, October 25
Moments With Mercy, October 25
Bigreadersite , October 25
Emily Yager, October  25
Quiet Workings, October 26
Stories By Gina, October 27
Older & Smarter?, October 28
Betti Mace, October 28
Wishful Endings, October 28
The Becca Files, October 29
Mary Hake, October 29
Mamma Loves Books, October 29
Britt Reads Fiction, October 30
Hallie Reads, October 31
Connect in Fiction, October 31
Daysong Reflections, November 1
Splashes of Joy, November 1
Moments, November 2
Batya’s Bits, November 2
She Lives To Read, November 2
EmpowerMoms, November 3
Remembrancy, November 3
Blessed & Bookish, November 4
Pause for Tales , November 5
Texas Book-aholic, November 6
janicesbookreviews, November 6
A Reader’s Brain, November 7
Leona J. Atkinson, November 7
Lukewarm Tea, November 7

Giveaway



To celebrate her tour, Mary is giving away a grand prize package of a $20 Amazon gift card, a copy of Aiming for Love, and a copy of Fairy Tales from Around the World!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.