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!

Monday, August 3, 2020

Irish Encounter by Hope Toler Dougherty: Review & Giveaway with Celebrate Lit

About the Book

Book:  Irish Encounter
Author: Hope Toler Dougherty
Genre:  Sweet, inspirational romance
Release Date: May 7, 2015

After almost three years of living under a fog of grief, Ellen Shepherd is ready for the next chapter in her life, perhaps an adventure during a visit to Galway. Her idea of excitement consists of exploring Ireland for yarn to feature in her shop back home, but the adventure awaiting her includes an edgy stranger who disrupts her tea time, challenges her belief system, and stirs up feelings she thought she’d buried with her husband.

After years of ignoring God, nursing anger, and stifling his grief, Payne Anderson isn’t ready for the feelings a chance encounter with an enchanting stranger evokes. Though avoiding women and small talk has been his pattern, something about Ellen makes him want to seek her—and God again.

Can Ellen accept a new life different than the one she planned? Can Payne release his guilt and accept the peace he’s longed for? Can they surrender their past pain and embrace healing together or will fear and doubt ruin this second chance at happiness?

Click here to get your copy!


When they first meet, Ellen Shepherd tells a stranger that she believes in both prayer and divine appointments and remarks that "Maybe you're one for me today." Little does she know just how true this may turn out to be! Irish Encounter tells the story of two people who have known grief and disappointment but have chosen totally different paths to handle their situations. Ellen has turned to God and relied on Him and prayer to help during the three years since her husband's death and she is now returning to a place they had once visited together. Payne Anderson has chosen to nurse his anger and ignore his grief by turning away from God. It's apparent that they are drawn to each and their chemistry is very strong but is it possible for this attraction to be stronger than their differing beliefs?

Hope Toler Dougherty has chosen the wonderful setting of Galway for this sweet and inspiring romance that focuses on hope, forgiveness, and second chances. Reading this book made me feel like I was sharing Ellen's vacation with her. I was seeing the Irish countryside, visiting the yarn shops, and eating at some of the small pubs, but all vacations must end and many questions and doubts follow Ellen as she returns to the United States. Was her chance meeting with Payne truly 'God ordained'? Can her strong Christian witness be a positive influence in Payne's return to faith? Is it possible for Ellen and Payne to find a second chance at happiness, together?

Dougherty has written a lovely story and I am looking forward to reading more of her books. I recommend Irish Encounter to all readers who enjoy contemporary Christian romance.

I received a copy of this book from the author via Celebrate Lit. A positive review was never required. These are my own thoughts and opinions.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

About the Author

Hope holds a Master’s degree in English and taught at East Carolina University and York Technical College. Forever Music is her fourth novel. Residing in North Carolina, she and her husband enjoy visits with their daughters and twin sons.

More from Hope

Inspiration Behind Irish Encounter

A few years ago, I was staring at the first day of the rest of my life. My oldest daughter was set to graduate high school in less than a month. Two years later, her sister would march right behind her, followed in two years by their twin brothers.

Life as I’d known it for the preceding eighteen years was about to change enormously.

Throughout my tenure as a stay-with-my-children mom, I’d written for publications—sporadically—but I had a portfolio of articles with my byline in print.

That May afternoon, I decided to write something for Guideposts, a magazine filled with inspirational, faith-filled stories. I’d just completed “The Life of Moses” with Bible Study Fellowship, and I envisioned sharing wisdom and insight gleaned from thirty two weeks of study.

I penned What I learned from Moses on the top line of a yellow legal pad. As soon as I wrote this fascinating title, I immediately began daydreaming—about Ireland, not Moses.

In my daydream, a woman in an Irish cafĂ© scribbled in a journal. A little old man in a tweed vest approached her, introduced himself, and began talking about his late wife.  I saw the wooden buttons on his vest and the Irish cap clutched in his hands.  Suddenly another man, dressed in dusty safari clothes, appeared to the woman’s left, lounging at his table and eavesdropping on their conversation.

This scene interested me infinitely more than the Moses idea. I turned the page to a fresh sheet and wrote everything I saw and heard in that Irish coffee shop.

Irish Encounter began that day. I didn’t know it yet, but God did. I just hurried back every morning to my desk to see what happened next. Before writing, I’d recite Bible verses from the Moses study, like Exodus 3:12 “And God said, ‘I will be with you’” and Exodus 4:12 “Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” (NIV)

I’d pray for guidance and help, and then I’d travel to Galway.

God led me onto this writing journey with a lot of prodding and pulling and nudges toward those interesting characters. I’m thankful every day He did, and I hope readers will enjoy the trip to Ireland with Ellen and Payne, too!

Blog Stops

Batya’s Bits, July 28
Genesis 5020, July 30
Older & Smarter?, August 3
Betti Mace, August 6
Pause for Tales, August 8
Emily Yager, August 10


To celebrate her tour Hope is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card & a copy of the book!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

A Strand of Hope (Librarians of Willow Hollow) by Amanda Tero

A Strand of Hope (Librarians of Willow Hollow)ABOUT THE BOOK

Lena Davis is the daughter her mom never wanted.

But she survived. Through stories. Because books didn’t judge. Books weren’t angry she was alive. Books never expected her to be anything but who she was.

As she grows up, her beloved library becomes her true home.

So when the library is designated part of President Roosevelt’s Packhorse Library Project, Lena is determined to get the job of bringing books to highlanders, believing she’ll finally be free of her mom forever.

But earning the trust of highlanders is harder than she imagined, and her passion for books might not be enough to free her from her chains.


I was especially eager to read this story because I am a retired librarian, I once drove our library bookmobile, and Packhorse Librarians are a part of the history of my home state of Kentucky. A Strand of Hope relates the fictional story of Lena Rose Davis, a young girl who takes a job, in 1936, to deliver books to the mountain areas of Kentucky. Her love of books, a precarious home life, and her extreme poverty certainly factor in her decision to take the job for $28 a month but Lena gains so much more with her choice to become a Packhorse Librarian, a "book lady on horseback". As she strives to earn the trust of these mountain people, Lena becomes friends with a special couple, Homer and Nora Reed, and witnesses what true love is. She finally learns that even if she isn't valued by her mother, she is precious to others and especially loved by God. Lena is able to move beyond the tears, the hurts, and the scars of her childhood and finally, she is able to truly forgive!

This is the first book that I've read by author Amanda Tero and I am very impressed with her writing style. Her memorable characters, the vivid portrayal of life in rural Kentucky during the Great Depression, and her wonderful faith message that is woven throughout this story make A Strand of Hope a great choice for anyone who enjoys historical Christian fiction. I truly enjoyed this book and I look forward to the other books in the Librarians of Willow Hollow.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. There was no obligation for a favorable review and these are my own thoughts.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Amanda Tero grew up attending a one room school with her eleven siblings—and loved it! She also fell in love with reading to the point her mom withheld her books to get her to do her chores. That love of reading turned into a love of writing YA fiction.

Amanda is a music teacher by day and a literary guide by night, creating stories that whisk readers off to new eras and introduce them to heroic but flawed characters that live out their faith in astonishing ways.

Learn more at her Website     Facebook     Twitter     Instagram

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