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!

Saturday, February 29, 2020

An Uncommon Woman by Laura Frantz

An Uncommon WomanABOUT THE BOOK

Unflinching and plainspoken, Tessa Swan is not your typical 18th-century woman. Born and bred on the western Virginia frontier along with her five brothers, she is a force to be reckoned with.

Quiet and courageous, Clay Tygart is not your typical 18th-century man. Raised by Lenape Indians, he returns a hero from the French and Indian War to the fort that bears his name, bringing with him Tessa's long-lost friend, Keturah, a redeemed Indian captive like himself.

Determined to avoid any romantic entanglements as fort commander, Clay remains aloof whenever he encounters the lovely Tessa. But when she is taken captive by the tribe Clay left, his hand--and heart--are forced, leading to one very private and one very public reckoning.

Intense, evocative, and laced with intricate historical details that bring the past to life, An Uncommon Woman will transport you to the picturesque and dangerous western Virginia mountains of 1770.

MY THOUGHTS.....

This is a story that I will remember and it is a book that I will read again! Author Laura Frantz swept me away with Clay and Tessa's adventure and as I read it, I kept thinking "Movie, movie, this needs to be movie." I grew up watching TV westerns and An Uncommon Woman has it all: a hero who was kidnapped by Indians, returned to civilization, and is now the commander of Fort Tygart; a brave but very stubborn young girl who has turned into a true frontier woman; and the hardships of frontier life in 1770. Clay Tygart is very hesitant but he soon experiences a strong attraction to Tessa Swan and she also feels their connection but their relationship faces many obstacles. Frantz's ability to paint with words illustrates the differences in courtship then and now and she also paints a vivid description of 18th century Virginia and the dangers that were always present. Best of all, however, she offers us a view of the faith and determination that was needed to survive during those perilous times.

If you enjoy Christian historical fiction filled with danger, adventure, and romance, you will certainly want to read An Uncommon Woman by Laura Frantz. It is indeed a keeper!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. There was no obligation to post a review and I am voluntarily sharing my own thoughts.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Laura Frantz is passionate about all things historical, particularly the 18th-century, and writes her manuscripts in longhand first. Her stories often incorporate Scottish themes that reflect her family heritage. She is a direct descendant of George Hume, Wedderburn Castle, Berwickshire, Scotland, who was exiled to the American colonies for his role in the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715, settled in Virginia, and is credited with teaching George Washington surveying in the years 1748-1750. Frantz lives and writes in a log cabin in the heart of Kentucky.According to Publishers Weekly, "Frantz has done her historical homework." With her signature attention to historical detail and emotional depth, she is represented by Janet Kobobel Grant, Literary Agent & Founder, Books & Such Literary Agency of Santa Rosa, California.Readers can find Laura Frantz at www.laurafrantz.net.


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Friday, February 28, 2020

The Road to Happenstance by Janice L. Dick

ABOUT THE BOOK

One man running from his past, two women he’s attracted to, and a peculiar town that won’t let him go.

Matthew Sadler rides his ’77 Harley into Happenstance, intent on passing through, but people and events conspire to prevent his leaving.
The elderly Barlow sisters consider Matt their knight on a motorcycle. Matt is entranced by Roni, the other lodger at the Happenstance Hotel who bears an uncanny resemblance to Matt’s beloved, deceased wife. The young doctor in town, Paula Percy, adores Matt’s motorcycle. However, she is suspicious of the woman from the hotel.
As the days pass, the quaint little town, with its unique residents, begins to show its sinister side. When evidence of multiple thefts leads to Matt’s door, he must deal with a mystery and yet more false accusations.
Do the old diaries of Amanda Rutherford Barlow hold the answers Matt so desperately seeks? Will Happenstance finally let him go, or does he have a reason to stay?
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MY THOUGHTS.....

I live in a small Kentucky county that still has three standing covered bridges and the cover of this book immediately drew my attention but, as I read the story, it was the similarity of Happenstance to my small community that really drew me in. A place where people care about each other but they also know a lot about each other and this can sometimes be a double-edged sword. Matt Sadler finds the small town of Happenstance by accident (or was it?) and he soon finds himself caught up in the lives of the residents. He also discovers that his plan to stay a few days isn't going to happen and he eventually realizes that he doesn't want it to!

"Something happened to me as I crossed the bridge into Happenstance. I can't explain it, except to say that for some reason, I think I was meant to be here."

These are the words found in a journal written in September, 1922, and they prove to be words that may mirror Matt Sadler's feelings in 2020. He had a strong reason for leaving his teaching job and it is kept from us for much of the story. What we do see is a man, still grieving for his deceased wife, who experiences a revival of romantic feelings when he meets a young woman who looks very much like his Ginny. He soon encounters a mystery that involves this look-alike, the two elderly sisters that he has grown fond of, and a centuries-old residence with a secret of its own. Through it all, readers are reminded of the joys of living in a community of decent people who are willing to offer forgiveness and second chances.

This is the first time I've read any of Janice Dick's writing and I thoroughly enjoyed The Road to Happenstance. If you enjoy Christian fiction with a touch of suspense and a possibility of romance, you will want to read The Road to Happenstance.

I received an e-copy of this book but there was no obligation to post a positive review. These are my own thoughts.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Janice L. Dick was born and raised in southern Alberta, Canada, into an ethnic Mennonite farm family. She has always loved stories of family heritage and the emigration of her people from Russia. Her aim is not only to share the faith journeys of her forebears, but also to showcase God’s sovereignty in the midst of that milieu. Besides historical fiction, Janice writes contemporary novels and short stories, blogs, articles and book reviews. Janice is the winner of the 2016 Janette Oke Award.
    
Learn more about Janice L. Dick by visiting her Website        Facebook     Twitter     Pinterest     

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Shoes by Yvette Cragun: Blog Tour


Paperback32 pages
Published  Pink Umbrella Books LLC, January 20th 2020

About the Book:
Flip-flops for the beach, sassy flats for shopping or black heels for a night out on the town—Mom’s closet has the perfect pair of shoes for any occasion. Playing dress-up for a while can be fun, but at the end of the day, one little girl learns that she doesn’t need to be in a hurry to fill her mom’s shoes.


MY THOUGHTS.....

Ballet shoes. Tennis Shoes. Fancy high heels. When I first saw the different kinds of shoes that are shown in this book, I was taken back to the times that I wore my mother and grandmother's shoes and I also remembered when my daughter wore mine. Shoes that were much too big for our little feet but never too large for our dreams and our imagination!

This is a 32 page, softcover book and the bright, colorful illustrations and rhyming text make it fun to see and fun to read. Shoes is the perfect book for a little girl and it is an enjoyable book for "big girls" also. I am excited to share it with my six year-old granddaughter!

I was given a copy of this book but there was no obligation for a positive review. I am voluntarily sharing my own thoughts.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


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About the Author:

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Yvette Cragun is the third of nine children. Growing up in a big family meant life was always an adventure. Yvette started devouring books at a young age and still truly enjoys getting lost in fictitious worlds. She started writing stories in 2011 with encouragement from her husband, big sister and mother-in-law. Her six children are her inspiration and her greatest blessing.
About the Illustrator:

MyraHeadShot

Myra Romano grew up reading all the books, drawing all the time, driving tractors, racing snowmobiles and drag racing her 1985 Chevy Citation. Her love and passion for art grew as she went on to the Columbus College of Art and Design and received her BFA in advertising and illustration. After graduating, she worked at a number of different dot-com companies including americangreetings.com. Working in the industry for 10 years, she received many acknowledgments and awards until making the decision to start a family. With her boys now almost grown, she has the opportunity to come back to her passions and has started a new chapter in her life,  illustrating and writing children’s books and licensing her artwork.


Pink Umbrella Books

Thursday, February 27, 2020

From Sky to Sky by Amanda G. Stevens: Review & Giveaway


About the Book



Book:  From Sky to Sky
Author: Amanda G. Stevens
Genre:  Christian Suspense/ Fantasy
Release Date: February, 2020

Zac Wilson can’t die.

Daredevil Zac Wilson isn’t the first celebrity to keep a secret from the world, but his might be the most marvelous in history: Zac doesn’t age and injuries can’t kill him. What’s more, he’s part of a close-knit group of others just like him.

Holed up in Harbor Vale, Michigan, Zac meets two more of his kind who claim others in their circle have died. Are their lifetimes finally ending naturally, or is someone targeting them—a predator who knows what they are?

The answers Zac unearths present impossible dilemmas: whom to protect, how to seek justice, how to bring peace to turmoil. His next action could fracture forever the family he longs to unite. Now might be the time to ask for help. . .from God Himself. But Zac’s greatest fear is facing the God he has run from for more than a century.

Click here to get your copy.

MY THOUGHTS.....

From Sky to Sky is a fascinating mix of fantasy and Christian fiction and once again, I find myself feeling sorry for those who live far beyond their years and have seen their own children and grandchildren die before them. When you live a long time you are bound to experience a lot of joy and happiness but also a lot of pain and grief. Just imagine how these emotions would be multiplied if you were to live 165 years? What if you were born in 1855, stopped aging in 1887, and were still alive in the year 2020? Can you begin to contemplate what you would have seen and felt? This is the story of such a man.

Yes, Zac Wilson is a longevite, a person who cannot die, and author Amanda G. Stevens explores his life and the lives of others like him. She first introduced us to longevites in No Less Days and I was fascinated with David Galloway and his feelings of isolation until he discovered that he wasn't alone. There were others who couldn't die and one of them was Zac Wilson. Now, in From Sky to Sky, we learn more about Zac, his relationship with another longevite Moira, and his efforts to resist God. Until, he realizes that "Father, I can't keep carrying all of their pain. Please take it." (p. 262). And, in a deeply touching scene, he begins to read a Bible and remembers that "He hadn't touched God's Word in 100 years."

This is a book that will make you think and prompt you to question 'What if?', but also remind you of God's ultimate plan and His promise of grace, redemption, and eternal life, after our physical lives are over. Amanda G. Stevens has written another great Christian speculative book and I highly recommend it.

I received a copy of this book from the author and Celebrate Lit. A positive review was not required and these are my own thoughts.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


About the Author



As a child, Amanda G. Stevens disparaged Mary Poppins and Stuart Little because they could never happen. Now she writes speculative fiction. She is the author of the Haven Seekers series, and her debut Seek and Hide was a 2015 INSPY Award finalist. She lives in Michigan and loves trade paperbacks, folk music, the Golden Era of Hollywood, and white cheddar popcorn.

More from Amanda


For years, the theme of immortality has intrigued me. I love the Elves of Middle-Earth, the “happiest and saddest” of the peoples Tolkien created as they watch the ages pass. I love the exploration of aged sorrow in Tuck Everlasting. I’ve stuck with TV shows which shall remain nameless (but, ahem, a few feature vampires) because I’m always wondering how did this writer tackle immortality? Anything new? Are the characters convincingly old and young at the same time?

The thing is, while some of these fiction works satisfy me more than others, I’m always left with a tug of incompletion. Eventually I figured out this tug was a story in my own head and heart wanting to come out, a contemporary story that included the gospel. What might God’s plan be for those whose earthly days seem unnumbered? How would their age affect their interactions with humanity and with faith? These questions were the springboard for the No Less Days series, and of course the answers vary with the individual. Ultimately this is why I write: to explore people, their inner selves, their relationships. My goal is always to create characters that breathe from the page.

In From Sky to Sky, we get a look into the head and heart of Zac Wilson, who has been on the run from God longer than any of us could imagine: a full century playing the prodigal. I always try to be honest about how much life can hurt, “even” for the Christian; if we had triple the number of years to accumulate hurt in this broken world, we’d have a lot of it. That’s true of all my ageless characters, including Zac. To scratch the surface, this man fought in two world wars and has outlived all his children.

But the sum of Zac is much more than his collected wounds. He is a deep-feeling, fun-loving, generous guy. He enjoys music and physical activity. He has an insatiable sweet tooth and a need for open spaces. He’s not afraid to laugh at his own expense, and he has a boundless love for people and the stories of their lives.

My hope is that readers will grow to love this young old guy as they journey with him through some dark times toward redemption and light.

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, February 22
Inklings and notions, February 23
Inside the Wong Mind, February 23
deb’s Book Review, February 25
For Him and My Family, February 26
Mary Hake, February 26
Older & Smarter?, February 27
Blogging With Carol, February 28
Life love writing, February 28
Hallie Reads, March 3
Simple Harvest Reads, March 4 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)
Pause for Tales, March 5
Remembrancy, March 6
Bigreadersite, March 6


Giveaway



To celebrate her tour, Amanda is giving away the grand prize package of a a $25 Amazon gift card and a free copy of From Sky to Sky!!

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

Women of Courage: Sojourner Truth: All Men (and Women) Are Created Equal by Barbour Staff

Women of Courage: Sojourner Truth: All Men (and Women) Are Created EqualABOUT THE BOOK

They're bold. They're fearless. They're adventurous. They have a faith that can move mountains. They're women of courage.

This series of easy-read biographies celebrates the lives of women who lived lives committed to changing the world for better. What set them apart? The willingness to live courageously for Christ, even in the midst of impossible situations.

In Sojourner Truth, you will meet the tall, powerful former slave and abolitionist whose biblically-based call for equality—for both African Americans and women—secured her a place in American history.

Wherever she appeared, the wise words and electrifying presence of Sojourner Truth brought audiences to their feet. The lengthy shadow cast by her near-six-foot frame and the challenge to injustice issued by her stinging speeches have secured her a place in American history—a place as a woman of courage.

Get inspired by her story, celebrate her legacy, and learn that God can use each of us for mighty things. . .if we have courage.

MY THOUGHTS.....

Sojouner Truth truly was a woman of courage and this book shares her story in a way that is appealing to both children and adults. I have always known her name but this book shows me just how little I truly knew of her life. Given the name of Isabella at birth, she was called Belle by her master and went by this name until she was a middle-aged woman and traveling as an evangelist. She chose Sojourner as her first name because of her journeys and the last name of Truth because of her love for the Bible verse, John 8:32, that states "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." That was her mantra as she worked to preach God's Word, to share His truth to all people, and to encourage equality for all.

Her determination and her courage gained her respect from the three Presidents that she met and her Christian beliefs helped her spread God's Word throughout her evangelistic career. This woman of color, who was born a slave and was unable to read or write, became a beacon for justice and freedom. Sojourner Truth is truly an important part of our nation's history and this book is an inspiring testament to her life.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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She Believed: 12 Stories of Courageous Women of Faith Who Changed the World by Jean Fischer

She Believed: 12 Stories of Courageous Women of Faith Who Changed the WorldABOUT THE BOOK

Girls are world-changers! . . . And this delightful storybook proves it!

Just for the girls in your life, ages 5 and up, this collection of twelve extraordinary stories of women of faith will empower girls to know and understand how women have made a difference in the world and how much smaller our faith would be without them. Colorful illustrations complement the true stories of these twelve amazing women:Gladys Aylward, missionary to China

Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross

Catherine Booth, cofounder of The Salvation Army

Amy Carmichael, missionary to India

Fanny Crosby, blind hymn-writer

Florence Nightingale, founder of modern nursing

Edith Schaeffer, cofounder of L’Abri ministry in Switzerland

Mary Slessor, missionary to Africa

Corrie ten Boom, Dutch watchmaker who helped many Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust of WWII

Mother Teresa, Catholic nun and missionary

Sojourner Truth, Civil Rights leader

Harriet Tubman, leader of the Underground Railroad

The stories of these courageous women will encourage and inspire young girls to become the world-changers God created them to be!

MY THOUGHTS.....

She Believed is the perfect way to impress upon little girls their ability to change the world. This book offers the stories of twelve brave women who, through their courage and faith, helped make our world a better place. Two pages are devoted to each person and they include an one-page biography with an appropriate Bible verse and a fun, illustrated portrait. Many of the names are familiar, such as Harriet Tubman, Mother Teresa, and Florence Nightingale, but there are several that are not as well-known, but certainly just as important.

This is a beautiful hardcover book with easy-to-read text that targets young girls ages 5-8 and colorful illustrations that they will love.She Believed is the perfect way to share God's Word with these girls and to also encourage them to be brave and faithful!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jean Fischer is a professional writer with a solid background in publishing. She writes Christian literature for adults as well as children's picture books, board books, nonfiction books and K-6 Language Arts workbooks and textbooks. She also creates promotional material for a leading fast-food restaurant. Her recent books include four preteen novels in the Camp Club Girls series published by Barbour Books and A Charles Dickens Devotional by Thomas Nelson.

Jean holds degrees in elementary education and library science and an advanced certificate in technical communication.


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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The Land Beneath Us (Sunrise at Normandy #3) by Sarah Sundin

The Land Beneath Us (Sunrise at Normandy, #3)ABOUT THE BOOK

In 1943, Private Clay Paxton trains hard with the U.S. Army Rangers at Camp Forrest, Tennessee, determined to do his best in the upcoming Allied invasion of France. With his future stolen by his brothers' betrayal, Clay has only one thing to live for—fulfilling the recurring dream of his death.

Leah Jones works as a librarian at Camp Forrest, longing to rise above her orphanage upbringing and belong to the community, even as she uses her spare time to search for her real family—the baby sisters she was separated from so long ago.

After Clay saves Leah's life from a brutal attack, he saves her virtue with a marriage of convenience. When he ships out to train in England for D-Day, their letters bind them together over the distance. But can a love strong enough to overcome death grow between them before Clay's recurring dream comes true?
 

MY THOUGHTS.....

This book emphasizes the sacrifices of all who were involved in World War II, both male and female, and it also justifies why these brave people were called The Greatest Generation. Sarah Sundin completely captures the fears, determination, and deep patriotism and vividly describes the horrors of war. Clay Paxton is the focus of this third book of the Sunrise at Normandy series and he is the man that most parents would choose for their daughter. He proves this by marrying a young woman, in an effort to save her virtue, after she has been brutally attacked. Leah Jones is the young woman that he marries and I was especially drawn to this young woman who longs to be a librarian and yearns to find her twin sisters; the young orphan who has never eaten in a restaurant until her marriage. Being separated by war soon becomes a reality and it is through their letters to each other that Clay and Leah get to know each other and realize that perhaps their marriage could be so much more than just a marriage of convenience---if Clay can survive the war.

Sundin has written a beautiful story of faith, family, and forgiveness, and she reminds us of the amazing power of love. I highly recommend The Land Beneath Us to all who enjoy historical Christian fiction.

This book was provided courtesy of Baker Publishing/Revell, through Interviews & Reviews. A positive review wasn't required and all opinions are my own.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sarah Sundin enjoys writing about the drama and romance of the World War II era. She is the bestselling author of The Land Beneath Us (February 2020), The Sky Above Us (2019) and The Sea Before Us (2018), as well as the Waves of Freedom, Wings of the Nightingale series, and Wings of Glory series. Her novel The Sea Before Us received the 2019 Reader's Choice Award from Faith, Hope, and Love, Through Waters Deep and When Tides Turn were named to Booklist's "101 Best Romance Novels of the Last 10 Years," and Through Waters Deep won the 2016 INSPY Award and was a Carol Award finalist.

A mother of three, Sundin lives in northern California and teaches Sunday school and women's Bible studies. She enjoys speaking to community, church, and writers' groups. Sarah serves as the Program Director for West Coast Christian Writers Conference.
 

Learn more about Sarah and her books by visiting her website.

SUNRISE AT NORMANDY SERIES

The Sea Before Us
The Sky Above Us
The Land Beneath Us


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Monday, February 24, 2020

Hearts Set Free by Jess Lederman: Review & Giveaway


About the Book



Book:  Hearts Set Free
Author: Jess Lederman
Genre:  Christian Literary Fiction
Release Date: March 12th, 2019

Join me on a journey from the darkness of doubt to triumphant faith and from the ache of loneliness to everlasting love…

“Bold and forthright writing that would set any heart on fire.”–Christian blogger Miranda A. Uyeh
“Readers of inspirational fiction will love this moving story that affirms the power of God’s mercy.”
–Publisher’s Weekly

In 1930, the rag-tag riffraff of a railway stop called Las Vegas need a fighting man to shepherd their tiny church after their pastor is murdered. Might David Gold, a washed-up boxer and Bible-school dropout who fights as the Pummelin’ Preacher, be the answer to their prayers?

At the same time, Luke, a native Alaskan boy, is on a quest to find his father, who has abandoned his family for a beautiful woman his warrior mother vows to kill. The journey of mother and son will lead them to the Nevada desert, and to truths–and terrors–of which they’d never dreamed.

In 2011, Science Cable T.V. producer Tim Faber is determined to prove that mankind has no need of God, while his lover, Joan Reed, strives to regain the faith of her youth. They’re bound for Las Vegas to meet with a 99-year-old man who holds the key to a mystery they must solve–and answers that will forever change their lives.

Their stories will come together at a little house of worship known as the Church of the Heart Set Free.

“I was mesmerized by the characters and how everything unfolded and linked together…”
–Just One More Paragraph (Musings of a Christian Wife)

Click here to get your copy!

MY THOUGHTS.....

What right did he have to expect the Lord to answer his questions? What cross had he ever lifted up to follow Him? Despair and self-loathing engulfed David Gold.

These thoughts of David Gold certainly aren't unusual and this is the story of both David and several other people who have experienced doubts but eventually find their way to God and love. In Hearts Set Free author Jess Lederman shares a tale that follows different seekers on their journey to faith and acceptance. He mentions several familiar names, including Jack Johnson, Bugsy Siegal, Amelia Earhart, and Albert Einstein, and he also has characters patterned after him and his late wife.

I have mixed emotions about Hearts Set Free. Some of the language isn't typical for Christian fiction but I realize that Lederman is showing a realistic depiction of non-believers. I sometimes felt lost because the storyline often jumps between the early twentieth and twenty-first centuries. I did, however, appreciate that Bible scripture is featured throughout the book and that forgiveness and redemption are the central themes. One of the characters is an atheist and it is very moving to see him accepting the reality of a loving Heavenly Father.

Lederman offers readers an intriguing story and I'm sure that many will enjoy Hearts Set Free.

I received a copy of this book from the author and Celebrate Lit. There was no obligation to write a positive review. These are my own thoughts.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


About the Author



After I graduated with a degree in music from Columbia University, a lust for expensive pianos drew me into an unexpected career in finance. It turned out that I had a knack for business; I gained much that the world had to offer and became a hedonist, a gambler who haunted the poker rooms of Las Vegas, and an arrogant atheist. I’ve written fiction for most of my life, and at one point I quit work to devote myself to writing a novel. During that time, my late first wife, Teri, and I lived in Paris, down the street from where Hemingway once lived, and later in the mountains of Idaho. But the novel was never published, for I was a man whose soul had not yet awakened, who did not yet have anything important to say. So I went back to the business world.

One day, when we were living in Dallas, Teri heard a radio interview with Francis Collins, an eminent scientist who wrote The Language of God, which tells the story of his journey from atheism to becoming a disciple of Christ. Collins’ book led us to the writings of C.S. Lewis and George MacDonald*, who became the midwives of our rebirth from above.

There’s no hiding from the Hound of Heaven, once He’s on your trail!

Several years later, Teri was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and we left Dallas and the business world behind and moved to a small town in Alaska. There we looked out on the glory of God’s creation and read to our heart’s content during the last two years of her life. Faced with tragedy, we learned to trust utterly in Him, and He blessed us with the peace that surpasses all understanding.

It was after Teri’s death, while I was still living in the far north, that the idea for Hearts Set Free—which opens in the Alaska Territory in 1925was born. People who know that the novel contains autobiographical elements (and several historical characters) sometimes ask me, “How much of the story is true?’ And I answer, “Perhaps twenty percent—and the rest is even more true!” What drives my writing is the desire to convey truths that transform lives. Truths of the heart.

In 2013, I met a wonderful woman—my current wife, Ling—and soon we began talking about having children. “Impossible!” said our doctors. “According to your test results, there’s no chance at all, even using the latest techniques.” Of course, within two months of that pronouncement, Ling was pregnant with little David, who just turned three, and we subsequently adopted Daniel, who’s now twelve.

After David’s birth, we moved to southwest Washington. I’m currently at work on a novel set in Las Vegas in 1955, and, when I’m not writing or chasing my sons around, can usually be found at the piano playing Chopin nocturnes for Ling.


More from Jess


I first conceived of Hearts Set Free in the far frozen north, not long after my first wife, Teri, passed away. She had been diagnosed with ALS, an invariably fatal disease, when we were living in Dallas, and within a month we decided that I’d quit my job so we could move to a small town in Alaska. We bought a small house based on the view out of the living room windows; there we’d be able to spend the time she had left in peace, and gaze out at the glory of God’s creation.

Teri—a woman who untiringly searched for truth—was the inspiration for Joan Reed, one of the main characters in the book, and Alaska—the Last Frontier!—entered into the story as well. We were living not far from the headquarters of the Iditarod, the iconic thousand-mile dog sled race that takes place each year. The Iditarod was modeled after an amazing race against time which occurred in the icy darkness of an Alaskan winter in 1925, when dogsled was the only way to get diphtheria serum to the remote town of Nome and save ten thousand lives. Hearts Set Free begins with that dramatic event.

I put a lot of myself—the bad along with the good!—into other characters in Hearts Set Free. Up until I became a Christian, I had all of the arrogant narcissism of atheist Tim Faber, a T.V. producer intent on proving that mankind has no need of God. I also have the questioning spirit of David Gold, a Bible-school dropout turned boxer who is led by the Lord to become a heroic pastor, and of young Luke Noongwook, a native Alaskan who goes on a quest to find his missing father. Their need to understand difficult aspects of Scripture are based on a passionate desire to love God with all their heart and strength and soul and mind. As is mine!

As a young man, I’d been greatly impressed by E.L. Doctorow’s novel Ragtime, which blended fictional and historical characters, and I decided to use the same approach in Hearts Set Free. Parts of the novel are set in the early and mid-1900s (especially the 1930s), and Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight champion of the world, and Georges Lemaitre, who was both a physicist and a priest—a man who corrected Albert Einstein, and is probably the greatest scientist of whom most people have never heard!—play important roles.

Finally, the novel is tribute to the beauty of Scripture and features many quotes from the Psalms. If you love compelling tales that combine mystery, adventure, and romance, and enjoy thinking deeply about your faith, I think you’ll find it’s just the book for you!

Blog Stops

Artistic Nobody, February 22 (Author Interview)
Texas Book-aholic, February 23
Older & Smarter?, February 24
Inklings and notions, February 25
A Baker’s Perspective, February 26 (Author Interview)
For Him and My Family, February 27
deb’s Book Review, February 28
Christian Bookshelf Reviews, February 29 (Author Interview)
Through the Fire Blogs, March 3 (Author Interview)

Giveaway



To celebrate his tour, Jess is giving away the grand prize package of an autographed copy of Hearts Set Free plus a $50 Amazon gift card!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

One Christmas He Never Expected by Lynne Marshall

One Christmas He Never Expected (Santa Barbara Sunsets book #3)ABOUT THE BOOK

Phil Hansen has a reputation as a playboy. One look at the new OB doc, and he wants to find the nearest mistletoe. What could be better than kicking off the holiday season with a fling? Except he sees heartbreak in her eyes.Stephanie Bennett may be dazzled by laid-back Phil’s charm, and though she is long overdue for romance, she’s not ready to put her heart on the line again. Soon swayed by his “love is the best medicine” attitude, she gives in and comes alive in his arms.Can the magic of the Christmas season help two reluctant hearts fall in love? 



MY THOUGHTS.....

An adult man who sleeps with his little four year old half-brother because he's afraid; a successful doctor who dresses as a Surfer Dude Santa, complete with a belly pad beneath a reindeer-patterned Hawaiian shirt and red velvet pants with suspenders. Maybe, just maybe, Phil Hanson is more than the playboy doctor that so many believe him to be. And maybe, just maybe, he will want to change his playboy status after working with the new gynecologist who has joined the clinic where he works.

Dr. Hanson is very handsome and charming but he soon discovers that Dr. Stephanie Bennett isn't as easily swayed as most of his female acquaintances. As he contemplates more than a casual flirtation, he realizes that Stephanie has some issues that may prevent this from happening.

One Christmas He Never Expected is the third book in Lynne Marshall's Santa Barbara Sunsets Trilogy and readers can once again experience romance as only she can write. I enjoyed that some of the characters from the other two books are mentioned and I admire Marshall's ability to show honest emotions and realistic situations. I also appreciate that even though there are references to pre-marital sex, they are tastefully done and not offensive. This is a wonderful way to wrap up a series and people who yearn for "happily ever after" will want to read this book!

I received a copy of this book from the author but was under no obligation to post a positive review. These are my own thoughts.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Santa Barbara Sunsets

His Second Chance at Forever
More Then He Bargained For
One Christmas He Never Expected

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

USA Today Bestselling author, Lynne Marshall, used to worry she had a serious problem with daydreaming. Then she discovered she was supposed to write the stories in her head. A late bloomer, Lynne came to fiction writing after her children were nearly grown. Now she battles the empty nest by writing stories which always include a romance, sometimes medicine, a dose of mirth, or both, but always stories from her heart. She is a Southern California native, married to a New Englander for a long, long time, has two adult children she loves dearly, and three amazing grandchildren she adores. She is also a dog lover, a cat admirer, a meandering walker, and an optimistic traveler on this wild journey called life!

To learn more please visit Lynne's website     Facebook    Instagram



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