Sunday, July 14, 2019

Where Dandelions Bloom by Tara Johnson

Book Description

Cassie Kendrick is on the run. Her abusive father arranged her marriage to a despicable man, but she's discovered an escape. Disguised as a man, Cassie enlists in the Union army, taking the name Thomas Turner. On the battlefields of the Civil War, keeping her identity a secret is only the beginning of her problems, especially after she meets Gabriel Avery, a handsome young photographer.

Anxious to make his mark on the world and to erase the darkness and guilt lurking from his past, Gabriel works with renowned photographer Matthew Brady to capture images from the front lines of the war. As Gabriel forges friendships with many of the men he encounters, he wonders what the courageous, unpredictable Thomas Turner is hiding.

Battling betrayal, their own personal demons, and a country torn apart by war, can Cassie and Gabriel learn to forgive themselves and trust their futures to the God who births hope and healing in the darkest places?

My thoughts:

Tara Johnson has written one the best Civil War novels that I have read and I have read several because historical fiction is one of my favorite genres.  Ms. Johnson is a new to me author but after reading Where Dandelions Bloom, I can easily see her becoming one of my must read authors.

With limited choices on how to escape her abusive father who has arranged her marriage to an equally wretched man, Cassie Kendrick enlists in the Union Army disguised as a man. Thomas Turner is the name she has taken and let's just say that Thomas goes through a lot to keep her identity a secret on the battlefield.  Gabriel Avery is the handsome photographer who is sent to capture images on the front lines of the war.  He is carrying baggage from his past but desperately wants to escape his demons, too.  I liked how Cassie and Gabriel both took action to remove themselves from situations they didn't welcome in their lives. Though their home lives were vastly different from each other, they still were determined to have better futures.

The secondary characters left a lasting impression on me as much as Cassie and Gabe did.  Cassie's grandmother was one of my absolute favorites, she is so kind and caring which left me wanting to meet her.  Kudos to the author for creating characters who seemed so real to me.  Where Dandelions Bloom is a beautifully crafted and memorable novel and one of my favorites of 2019. I look forward to reading more of Ms. Johnson's work.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley and was under no obligation to write a review.  All opinions are my own.

The Express Bride (Daughters of the Mayflower #9) by Kimberley Woodhouse

The Wilderness Is a Great Place to Hide

Jacqueline Rivers manages a Pony Express station in 1860 Utah territory after her father’s death. There are daily stresses placed on her in this unconventional role—and now a government official is asking her to sniff out counterfeiters. 

When Elijah Johnson passes through on the stage while on an exhausting quest to find his boss’s heir, he doesn’t want to leave the beguiling station manager. In fact, he may never leave when caught in the crossfire of the territory’s criminal activities. 

Jackie can’t decide if Elijah is friend or foe. Can she remain strong when secrets of the past and present are finally unearthed?

Join the adventure as the Daughters of the Mayflower series continues with The Express Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse.

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)
The Alamo Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo – set 1836 Texas (February 2019)
The Golden Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1849 San Francisco (April 2019)
The Express Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1860 Utah territory (July 2019)

My thoughts:

I am a huge fan of the Daughters of the Mayflower series, the books penned by Ms. Woodhouse have been my favorite so far but The Express Bride exceeded my expectations.   I have always found The Pony Express fascinating and the author certainly added to my her latest novel.
Jack (Jacqueline) Rivers, with spunk and determination manages the Pony Express station in the Utah territory after her father's death.  I loved her courage, strong convictions, and the connections she had with the riders who stay there and became like family to her.  Elijah Johnson passes through in search of his boss's heir but after meeting Jack, he is no hurry to leave the station which is a good thing since another passenger staying there is trying to find forged bonds and asks him and Jack for their help.

I was fully engaged in this well written novel.  If anyone is looking for a novel with suspense, action, faith,  forgiveness ,wonderful characters and one that is clearly researched, then The Express Bride is a book I highly recommend. Although this is the 9th book in the series, all of the books can be read as a standalone but the entire series has been fantastic so you may want to each book. 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley and was under no obligation to write a review.  All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Abe & Ann: A Novel by Gary Moore (HistFic Virtual Book Tours)

Book Description

Before Abraham Lincoln was a bearded wise man saving democracy, he was young, timid, and hopelessly in love.

ABE & ANN is a novel based on the little-known story of Abraham Lincoln's passionate romance in his twenties. Auburn-haired Ann Rutledge, feisty and fed-up with propriety, is frontier royalty, the 18-year-old daughter of the founder of the rough little frontier village where the 22-year-old Abe Lincoln comes looking for work. She is lively and literate and funny, and Abe is straight off his daddy's farm with jug ears and one change of clothes.

Homely and poor, but full of high ambition, the young Lincoln courts the dazzling red-haired woman who comes into his life like a revelation. In the spell of their feelings, the lovers question the limits in their lives and boldly dream a better future. But she is engaged to another man.
Readers who enjoyed Doris Kearns Goodwin's bestselling Lincoln book Team of Rivals, Steven Spielberg's blockbuster film Lincoln, and George Saunders' Lincoln in the Bardo will marvel again at this very different and compelling tale of Lincoln as a young man.
Not a grand historical treatment but a lyrical telling of a deeply personal tale, ABE & ANN dares to give readers an earnest but untutored Lincoln whose humanity every reader can share, who was weak before he was strong, frightened before he was bold, and deeply in love with a woman who despite their passionate encounters would never be his... or would she?

Author Gary Moore is a playwright and poet who has been making creative use of Abraham Lincoln in drama, poetry, and performance art for more than thirty years. Gary's bilingual musical in Shanghai, The Great Emancipator Meets The Monkey King, introduced rap-music to the People's Republic of China six months before Tiananmen. His play based on that experience, Burning in China, sold out at the 2010 New York International Fringe Festival after being featured in the New York Times and recommended by the New Yorker. ABE & ANN, to be published by Komatik Press in May, 2019, is his first novel.

Praise for ABE & ANN
"I love this book about the young, poverty-stricken, backwoods Abraham Lincoln courting his first love Ann Rutledge with nothing but grammar, the poetry of Byron, and hope. To me, ABE & ANN is quintessential historical fiction because it beautifully and eloquently upends our revered assumptions about a beloved historical figure. Too often, reputation preserves the famous in a fossilized amber that makes us forget the simple truth that people have to grow into those beloved reputations. But here, in ABE & ANN, in glorious, lilting prose, is Lincoln before he became the famous president we revere and thought we knew, in all his uncertain, love-struck, ambitious, underprivileged youth, wrapped in desire and struggling to find his way in the world."
Robin Oliveira, New York Times bestselling author of My Name is Mary Sutter and winner of the Michael Shaara Prize in Civil War Fiction in 2010. 

My thoughts:

The cover caught my eye immediately but it is the subject matter that really made me want to read this novel.  Gary Moore is a new to me author so I liked that, too because I never know when I will find an author who will become a new favorite of mine.

I was unfamiliar with the story of Abe and Ann and truthfully, I knew very little about Ann Rutledge and their time together.  I commend the author on the research that went into writing their story.  It was interesting getting to know a younger, unsure of himself, Abe Lincoln.  I have to admit to liking Ann much more than I expected I would because I thought Abe would be my favorite. It's safe to say that I liked them separately and together.  This is a short and interesting read where I met about a young woman who became very important to a man who would become President on day.

I received a complimentary copy of this book  and was under no obligation to write a favorable review.  Opinions are my own.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Overcoming Fear by Dawna De Silva

Book Description

Fear, anxiety, and stress motivate us more than we realize. Our need to control situations can leave us feeling overwhelmed. But God has given us a biblical strategy to battle anxiety, stress, and panic. With practical and activating steps, Dawna De Silva, founder and coleader of the International Bethel Sozo Ministry, shows you how to
- identify the fears, patterns, and lies that harm your connection with God
- resist fear by taking ownership over its influence
- find healing and liberation through the Word and the Spirit

When you master power, love, and self-discipline, you will elevate yourself above the enemy's attacks and be released from fear into abundant, healthy living. You will experience the true healing that can come only from God. 

My thoughts:

I don't read too many non fictions books but this one caught my eye. The author is new to me, the cover is lovely but the subject matter was the most appealing to me.

The book is divided into five sections:
Self Discipline
Each of the topics are discussed which I liked and then putting them into practice was easy enough once I set my mind to it.  Now, I have to admit that I tend to worry and want to be more in control of things but I also needed a reminder that no matter what, there are several things that are not in my power and I needed that reminder.

So combined with reading my bible and this book, I will find inspiration and break free of fear.
I recieved a copy of this book from the publisher.  All opinions are my own.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Rouge Blog Tour

Rouge by Richard Kirschenbaum
Publication date :  June 25th, 2019

Book Synopsis

Like Swans of Fifth Avenue and Truman Capote’s Answered Prayers, Richard Kirshenbaum's Rouge gives readers a rare front row seat into the world of high society and business through the rivalry of two beauty industry icons (think Helena Rubenstein and Elizabeth Arden), by the master marketer and chronicler of the over-moneyed.

Rouge is a sexy, glamorous journey into the rivalry of the pioneers of powder, mascara and rouge.

This fast-paced novel examines the lives, loves, and sacrifices of the visionaries who invented the modern cosmetics industry: Josiah Herzenstein, born in a Polish Jewish Shtlel, the entrepreneur who transforms herself into a global style icon and the richest woman in the world, Josephine Herz; Constance Gardiner, her rival, the ultimate society woman who invents the door-to-door business and its female workforce but whose deepest secret threatens everything; CeeCee Lopez, the bi-racial beauty and founder of the first African American woman’s hair relaxer business, who overcomes prejudice and heartbreak to become her community’s first female millionaire. The cast of characters is rounded out by Mickey Heron, a dashing, sexy ladies' man whose cosmetics business is founded in a Hollywood brothel. All are bound in a struggle to be number one, doing anything to get there…including murder.

My thoughts:

I was in the mood for a different kind of read when I signed up for this blog tour and I hadn't heard of this author so I'd give this book a chance.  It did sound interesting with the pioneers of the makeup industry.

There were certain aspects that I enjoyed such as how hard Josephine and Constance worked to make better lives for themselves and the author describes in great detail about their lives before they became known for their brand. Once they became well known he goes into great detail about the process of making the product even down to the packaging they used.  Which is all good and well but unfortunately I just didn't connect to any of the characters because I found them to be so ruthless.  I understood the rivalry, it was the hatefulness  and underhandedness that bothered me.

Having said that, I cant say that this book is all bad because some of it was to my liking and I enjoyed getting to see the opulent lifestyle they lived and their travels.  I also liked seeing how each person rose from their humble beginnings to their ultimate goal of reaching the top even if I disagreed with their means of getting there.

I received a copy from the publisher trough Netgalley and was under no obligation to write a favorable review.  All opinions are my own. 

About the Author

RICHARD KIRSHENBAUM is CEO of NSG/SWAT, a high-profile boutique branding agency.
He has lectured at Harvard Business School, appeared on 20/20, was named to Crain’s New York
Business’s “40 under 40” list, and has been inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame.

He is the author of Under the Radar, Closing the Deal, Madboy and Isn't that Rich? and the New York Observer, "Isn't that Rich?' column.  He lives in New York City with his wife and three children.

Andrew (The Petersheim Brothers #1) by Jennifer Beckstrand

Book Description

Andrew, Abraham, and Austin Petersheim's family business has earned them the nickname The Peanut Butter Brothers. But if their matchmaking younger siblings have their way, all three may soon bear another title: husband . . .
Handsome, hardworking, and godly, Andrew Petersheim has always been sure of his place in his Wisconsin Amish community. He'll be a welcome catch for the local girl who finally captures his heart. Mary Coblenz certainly isn't that girl. 

Two years after "jumping the fence" for the Englischer world, she's returned, unmarried and pregnant. Yet instead of hiding in shame as others in the community expect, she's working at the Honeybee Farm, ignoring the gossips--and winning over Andrew's eight-year-old twin brothers . . .
For all Andrew's certainty about right and wrong, it seems he has a lot to learn from Mary's courage, grace, and resilience. She's changing his notions about forgiveness and love, but will she in turn accept the challenge of starting over and choose to stay--with him?

My thoughts:

Returning to the Honeybee Farm is always delightful especially when the first person who greets you is Bitsy Weaver.  We met the unconventional, sassy but sweet Bitsy in the Honeybee Sisters series and I absolutely adored her and I still do. However, there are two new equally adorable characters who stole my heart in this book, Alfie and Benji, 8 year old twin boys who had me laughing at their antics throughout.
They are extremely busy little boys, they help as much as they can in the family peanut butter business, they are devising a plan to get their room back after having to sleep in the cellar to make room for their grandparents which leads them to try their hand at matchmaking so they can get their room back.  Because cellars are apparently quite frightening with the darkness and spiders, so obviously they cannot possibly stay down there for very long.

So, they decide to set up their older brother, Andrew with Mary who happens to be staying with Bitsy, what could possibly go wrong?  Pretty much everything including but not limited to encounters with Bitsy,her cats, confusion as to why Mary isn't welcomed with open arms by some members in their community and their desire for everything to be secret, when things really aren't such a secret.  They are such comical little boys with pure hearts.  Mary is a wonderful young lady who made a mistake by leaving her community for the English world but when she comes back (as an unwed expectant mother) she is treated poorly by several people.  There are a few times when Andrew came to her defense that made me love him but then there were times when I wanted to shake him and tell him to stop being so judgmental.

As much as I loved the humor in this book, I loved the message of family, faith and forgiveness even more. I am looking forward to the next book in the series  because I have a feeling if the twins are successful at marrying off their older brothers, they will each have their own rooms and can sleep soundly far away from the cellar.

Overall,  this highly entertaining and well crafted novel is one that I absolutely loved.  The characters are well developed, the pace is perfect and this is what I consider quality Amish reading. I suggest settling in your comfiest seat with a cold beverage and a snack because once you start reading this book you wont want to stop. You will laugh, you will get a little teary but you will be glad you chose to spend time with The Petersheim Brothers and their friends. 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley and was under no obligation to write a review.  All opinions are my own.


Thursday, July 4, 2019

The Storyteller's Secret by Sejal Badani

Book Blurb

Nothing prepares Jaya, a New York journalist, for the heartbreak of her third miscarriage and the slow unraveling of her marriage in its wake. Desperate to assuage her deep anguish, she decides to go to India to uncover answers to her family’s past. Intoxicated by the sights, smells, and sounds she experiences, Jaya becomes an eager student of the culture. But it is Ravi—her grandmother’s former servant and trusted confidant—who reveals the resilience, struggles, secret love, and tragic fall of Jaya’s pioneering grandmother during the British occupation.

Through her courageous grandmother’s arrestingly romantic and heart-wrenching story, Jaya discovers the legacy bequeathed to her and a strength that, until now, she never knew was possible.

Publisher:  Lake Union
Release date:  September 2018

My thoughts:

I was intrigued by the cover and description of this book plus this is a new to me author so I decided to read it.  I thought it was an enjoyable read even though it took me awhile to get interested in the storyline.  

I sympathized with Jaya although I have never been in her situation so I cannot say how I would feel given her heartache over having three miscarriages but I thought the author wrote that part of  the story quite well.  I love time-slip novels so I was excited when Jaya went to India to learn more about family.  As much as I thought Jaya would be my favorite character, unfortunately she wasn't.  Ravi became my favorite almost immediately, maybe because he shared the story of her grandmother, Amisha with her which is the time the storyline became interesting to me.

I knew a little about India such as the food, and some of the customs from friends and coworkers, but the author truly brought so much more in her descriptive writing.  
I received a copy of this book form the publisher and was under no obligation to write a favorable review.  All opinions are my own.

Meet the author

A former attorney, Sejal Badani left the law to pursue writing full time.

She is a USA Today, Washington Post & Amazon Charts bestselling author, Goodreads Fiction Award Finalist and ABC/DISNEY Writing Fellowship Finalist.

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