Monday, March 4, 2024

Book Review: A Lady's Guide to Marvels and Misadventure by Angela Bell

 About the Book:



Miss Clara Marie Stanton's family may be eccentric, but they certainly aren't insane.

London, England, 1860

When Clara's ex-fiancé begins to spread rumors that her family suffers from hereditary insanity, it's all she can do to protect them from his desperate schemes, society's prejudice, and a lifetime in an asylum. Then Clara's Grandfather Drosselmeyer brings on an apprentice with a mechanical leg, and all pretense of normalcy takes wing.

Theodore Kingsley, a shame-chased vagabond haunted by the war, wants a fresh start far from Kingsley Court and the disappointed father who declared him dead. Upon returning to England, Theodore meets clockmaker Drosselmeyer, who hires him as an apprentice, much to Clara's dismay. When Drosselmeyer spontaneously disappears in his secret flying owl machine, he leaves behind a note for Clara, beseeching her to make her dreams of adventure a reality by joining him on a merry scavenger hunt across Europe. Together, Clara and Theodore set off to follow Drosselmeyer's trail of clues, but they will have to stay one step ahead of a villain who wants the flying machine for himself--at any cost.


My Thoughts:

I enjoyed every minute of A Lady’s Guide to Marvels and Misadventure by Angela Bell. The novel held my attention from start to end and was hard to put down. I know so little of Victorian steampunk literature (and did not see it marketed as such) that I missed the clues on the cover and in the book synopsis. The story incorporated futuristic technology not present during the 1860s, which required imagination and acceptance of tweaked historical details, but this didn’t detract from the story for me.

A Lady’s Guide to Marvels and Misadventure held the type of humor I find funny (typically I’m unimpressed with romcoms). Some of Clara and Arthur’s verbal exchanges had me giggling, but Clara’s mother provided the true comic relief. I laughed out loud so many times! The story felt light and joyful even as it dealt with betrayal and heartbreak.

A prominent issue in A Lady’s Guide to Marvels and Misadventure was Clara’s desire to protect her family members in her own strength and her own way. Clara’s distrust and overactive sense of responsibility seemed very in-line with the thoughts and feelings that arise when God doesn’t protect from hard situations. Clara’s character growth took time, and I appreciated that changing her mindset was not a quick flip. The relationship between her and Arthur/Theodore spurred both of them toward personal healing and it was fun to watch their enemies-to-lovers romance unfold.

A Lady’s Guide to Marvels and Misadventure by Angela Bell also held many quotable lines, travels around Europe, and a beautiful grandfather-granddaughter relationship. This novel is a keeper for my bookshelf, and I look forward to more books from this author. 4.5 Stars!

 


Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a copy of this book by the author or publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.





Author Interview: Ephesians (Real World Bible Study) by Joy Suzanne Hunt



About the Book


Book: Ephesians (Real World Bible Study)

Author: Joy Suzanne Hunt

Genre: Bible Study Guide

Release Date: December 15, 2023

God’s Word + YOUR Real Life

If you’ve ever had trouble building a Bible study habit or understanding God’s Word for yourself, you’re not alone. But God’s Word was actually written about real life, for real life! It’s meant for the real world!

Connect with God’s Word in 15 min a Day

Whether you’re a Bible Study veteran, or you’re brand new and don’t know where to start, this study guide is for you. In this study, you’ll learn the steps to understand Scripture for yourself and connect it to your life and community. Each week, you’ll complete 5 days of study on your own (in manageable chunks that allow you go to deeper if desired), followed by a group session to explore the text with friends or family, because we interpret Scripture with the help of the Holy Spirit and community.

Click here to get your copy!


About the Author



Joy Suzanne Hunt is the Pastor of Adult Education for CityWide Mosaic Church in Temecula, CA and a professor with SoCal School of Ministry.  Her mission is to equip men and women to take ownership of their lives, faith, and finances. When she’s not teaching, writing, or coaching, you can find her walking her Temecula neighborhood, trying out crockpot recipes, or playing board games with friends.


Author Interview with Joy


Q: Please give us a little introduction to your book.

Joy: I’m a Bible college professor, and the one thing my students most often take away from our classes is the “three steps to interpret a Bible passage.” I follow these same three steps when I study a passage before preaching or writing about it, but they are steps any person can learn to follow:
  • What did it mean “back then when it was written?” We want to understand what the passage meant to the original hearers, so we need to know the historical and literary context as much as possible.
  • What does it mean in light of the rest of Scripture? We can use Scripture to interpret Scripture!
  • What does it mean in my life and community? This is the application step.
When we follow these steps, we avoid some common interpretation errors, but it’s more than that - Scripture comes alive for us in a new way when we understand the original meaning and then build a bridge from that original audience to our world. I hope my readers can experience this for themselves as they study the book of Ephesians!


Q: How long did it take you to write this book?

Joy: It took about a month; I originally wrote it for my church’s summer small group series!


Q: What do you hope readers take away from your book?

Joy: I hope readers walk away feeling excited about God’s Word and more confident in their ability to interpret it correctly. I hope that new students of the Bible will develop a healthy Bible study habit that they can build upon and share with others.


Q: What do you like to do when you aren't writing?

Joy: I’m a financial coach which is a lot of fun! I love to read and enjoy playing French Horn and going on bike rides with my mom.


Q: What are you reading now?

Joy: I’m currently listening to Michael Hyatt’s No Fail Habits. And I received a copy of God’s Smuggler for Christmas which I’m looking forward to starting soon!


More from Joy

As a Bible college professor, I’m always looking for books written “by the seminary guys but for normal people,” meaning that I want the best scholarship and teaching out there, written in a way that everyone can understand. (Let’s face it: even if you’ve been to grad school, chances are reading someone’s PhD dissertation isn’t actually fun for you.)

And as a pastor, I choose study guides for our small groups that help teach members how to study the Bible and give them a framework to build Bible study into daily life. My favorite study guides pull in great background information and teach hands-on study skills, and are structured in a way that helps readers to spend time in God’s Word every day (whether they spend 5 minutes or 30). This study was born from our church calendar: all of my favorite study guide series’ are 13-week studies, and I needed to plan for a small group series that would last 7-8 weeks. What do you do when you can’t find the book you want? You write it, of course!

This study guide is built around the “3 Steps to Interpret a Bible Passage” that I’ve been teaching to my School of Ministry students for years. If you’ve never looked into the historical context of a passage on your own and made the connection to our lives today, you’re in for a treat. Getting into the context really makes God’s Word come alive for us and it helps guide how we handle difficult topics. I hope this study leaves you hungry for more – and armed with the tools to encounter and interpret God’s Word for yourself every day.


Blog Stops


Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, February 23

Lighthouse Academy Blog, February 24 (Guest Review from Marilyn Ridgway)

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 25

Texas Book-aholic, February 26

Locks, Hooks and Books, February 27

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 28

Godly Book Reviews, February 29

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, March 1

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, March 2

Batya’s Bits, March 3

Beauty in the Binding, March 4 (Author Interview)

Artistic Nobody, March 4

Cover Lover Book Review, March 5

Aryn The Libraryan, March 6

Blossoms and Blessings, March 7 (Author Interview)

Mary Hake, March 7


Giveaway


To celebrate her tour, Joy is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon Gift Card, copy of the book, and NLT Filament Bible Journal: Ephesians (Softcover)!!

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

Link for giveaway: https://promosimple.com/ps/2a258/ephesians-celebration-tour-giveaway

Friday, March 1, 2024

Author Interview: When the Flames Ravaged by Rhonda Dragomir


Welcome to the Blog Tour for When the Flames Ravaged by Rhonda Dragomir, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

About the Book

Title: When the Flames Ravaged
Series:
A Day to Remember
Author:
Rhonda Dragomir
Publisher:
Barbour Publishing
Release Date:
March 1, 2024
Genre:
Christian Historical Fiction

Will Faith Perish in the Big Top’s Flames?  

Introducing a new series of 6 exciting novels featuring historic disasters that transformed landscapes and multiple lives. Whether by nature or by man, these disasters changed history and were a day to be remembered. 

Evelyn Benson’s husband perished in the Bataan Death March but not her faith. The World War II Gold Star widow is taken in by her brother and soothed by the love of his wife and children. Evelyn refuses to cower to grief. She may not understand God’s mysterious ways, but she has never questioned Him—until the circus fire. 

The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus train chugs into Hartford, Connecticut, on a sweltering day one month after the Allies invaded Normandy. Among the roustabouts is a reluctant clown, Hank Webb. He may hide from his murky past behind grease paint as Fraidy Freddie, but God wants to offer Hank a chance to be found. Though first, what little Hank believes about God will endure a fiery trial. 

On Thursday, July 6, 1944, a devasting blaze of unknown origins consumes the circus tent along with Evelyn’s hopes and Hank’s anonymity.  

PURCHASE LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | ChristianBook | Bookshop | BookBub


Excerpt


The pointed collar of Evelyn’s white blouse sported a round lapel pin with a gold star against a purple background. Not mere jewelry. Hank’s waitress was a war widow. He should be ashamed for thinking it was good news. More than ever, he wished he could use words, but it was against the clown code of conduct. Pointing to the pin, Hank mimed a trail of tears down his cheeks with both index fingers.

The other clowns stilled.

Evelyn’s lower lip trembled.

Hank wrapped himself in a hug and rocked side to side, slowly shaking his head. Then he shrugged and extended upraised hands to her while arching his eyebrows.

“George. My husband. He died in the Bataan Death March.”

The fact pierced Hank’s chest like a bayonet. What an awful way for a man to die, and what a horror for the survivors. Hank might have been in Bataan, if only. . . Nope. Spilled milk. No crying.

About the Author

Rhonda Dragomir

Rhonda Dragomir is a multimedia creative who treasures her fairy tale life in Central Kentucky, insisting her home is her castle, even if her prince refuses to dig a moat. She is an award-winning author with published works in several anthologies and periodicals, and she co-wrote numerous Bible studies used weekly by more than 20,000 women worldwide. 

Barbour Books will release her debut novel, a historical romance, March 1, 2024. She is often invited to speak at writers' conferences on topics related to technology and graphics. 

Connect with Rhonda by visiting rhondadragomir.com to follow her on social media and sign up for email updates.


Author Interview with Rhonda


Q: What was the inspiration behind When the Flames Ravaged?

Rhonda: I received notice from my agent that Barbour Books sought proposals for stories written during a time of disaster. They included a list of more than thirty natural and man-made disasters, and the circus fire in 1944 caught my interest. I read several nonfiction books that inspired the composite characters I created in When the Flames Ravaged.


Q: How long did it take you to write this story?

Rhonda: From writing the synopsis to the final version, I researched and wrote for nine months. Editing with the publisher took another month.


Q: Do you have a favorite quote from this book?

Rhonda: Mrs. Riegel, a sympathetic supporting character is named for my grandmother. My heroine’s interaction with her contains some of my favorite quotes, including this one, when Evelyn asks how God chooses whom to rescue during a crisis:

“Bernice shook her head. ‘That, my dear, is a question I plan to ask when I see Him.’”


Q: What do you hope readers take away from When the Flames Ravaged?

Rhonda: I hope readers identify with Evelyn’s journey and find the courage to turn to God rather than away from Him during a time of crisis.


Q: Would you share something about yourself that most readers would not know?

Rhonda: Many of the ideas and comments about grief and loss are culled from my own experience after my brother was killed in an accident while I was on my honeymoon. My characters ask the same questions I did, and they come to the same conclusions.


Q: How long ago did you start writing?

Rhonda: My first essay in 6th grade won a competition. I wrote about how I knew my mother loved me – she let me have the last hot dog at dinner when she’d only had one. On her death bed in 2018, she told me she wanted me to use my inheritance to quit my job and write full-time. I did, and I often wish she’d lived to enjoy this moment with me.


Q: What is your favorite thing about being a writer?

Rhonda: I’m a history and research nerd. I love scouring the internet and books about historical events to help me describe life in another time and setting. One time I began researching medieval herbs for medicine, and I ended up reading about FDR and the Great Society. Such is the life of a writer.


Q: Do you prefer to read ebooks or physical copies?

Rhonda: My bookshelf is already too full, and I’m begging people to take my precious book babies off my hands. These days, I read exclusively on my phone or tablet.


Q: How many bookcases are in your home?

Rhonda: Will you really make me tell? (Insert coy, shamed emoji here.) I have six, but my pastor-husband has five more in his office at church.


Q: What do you like to do when you are not writing?

Rhonda: I had the extreme joy last year of building a home on my only child’s property in rural Kentucky. When I’m not writing, it’s Mama and Mimi time. And…when I’m not writing, I’m reading.


Tour Giveaway

(2) winners will each win a signed, print copy of When the Flames Ravaged by Rhonda Dragomir and a print copy of The Hartford Circus Fire: Tragedy Under the Big Top by Michael Skidgell!

When the Flames Ravaged JustRead Tours giveaway

Full tour schedule linked below. The giveaway begins at midnight February 26, 2024 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on March 4, 2024. Winners will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US/CAN only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to JustRead Publicity Tours Giveaway Policies.

Enter Giveaway


Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

JustRead Publicity Tours

Monday, February 26, 2024

Book Review: While the City Sleeps by Elizabeth Camden

QUICK FACTS
  • Title: While the City Sleeps
  • Series: The Women of Midtown (Book 1)
  • Author: Elizabeth Camden
  • Genre: Historical Mystery, Historical Romance, Gilded Age Fiction
  • Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (February 13, 2024)
  • Length: (352) pages
  • Format: Hardcover, Trade Paperback, eBook, & Audiobook
  • ISBN: ‎978-0764241710
  • Tour Dates: February 12 – 26, 2024

BOOK DESCRIPTION


Amid the hushed city, two hearts must navigate danger and deception, bound by a love that outshines the stars.

Katherine Schneider's life as a dentist in 1913 New York is upended when a patient reveals details of a deadly plot while under the influence of laughing gas. As she is plunged into danger, she seeks help from the dashing Lieutenant Jonathan Birch, a police officer she has long admired from afar.

Jonathan has harbored powerful feelings toward Katherine for years but never acted on them, knowing his dark history is something she could never abide. Now, with her safety on the line, he works alongside her through the nights as they unravel the criminal conspiracy that threatens her . . . even as he keeps his deepest secrets hidden at all costs.

Join award-winning author Elizabeth Camden for a sweeping and romantic adventure of dangerous secrets and wounded hearts, fighting to overcome the darkness while the rest of the city sleeps.

PRAISE FOR WHILE THE CITY SLEEPS

"History, mystery, and romance set against the backdrop of New York City at night--a must-read!" — Gabrielle Meyer, bestselling author of When the Day Comes, and In This Moment

"Elizabeth Camden brings the bustling metropolis to living color like no one else. . . A novel that will keep readers up late into the night." — Jocelyn Green, Christy Award-winning author of The Metropolitan Affair

“I loved the historical details that make the story feel authentic.” — Kim Prudhoe, All the Lovely Pages


MY THOUGHTS

While the City Sleeps by Elizabeth Camden made me want to eat yummy Italian desserts while flipping the pages. There was mystery, crime, romance, and danger to hold my attention, but also tidbits of scrumptious food, Italian family life, and Catholic faith, all of which added variety. The historical setting combined with these details to create a lively story with characters that felt authentic.

Katherine, the lead female character in While the City Sleeps, held a unique occupation - a female dentist working the night shift in New York City. Though I couldn’t identify with Katherine’s night owl tendency, Lieutenant Jonathan Birch of the NYPD certainly did. Katherine and Jonathan matched well in certain aspects and not-so-well in other areas. Both characters had embedded flaws which offered opportunities for personal and relational growth. Though I sometimes wanted them to learn their lessons more quickly, I enjoyed the growth of their relationship and the romance.

While the City Sleeps by Elizabeth Camden commences the Women of Midtown series and I look forward to reading the rest of the novels in this series. Four stars!




Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a copy of this book by the author or publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.


PURCHASE LINKS



AUTHOR BIO




Elizabeth Camden is best known for her historical novels set in gilded age America featuring clever heroines and richly layered storylines. Before she was a writer, she was an academic librarian at some of the largest and smallest libraries in America, but her favorite is the continually growing library in her own home. Her novels have won the RITA and Christy Award, and she lives in Florida with her husband who graciously tolerates her intimidating stockpile of books.




Saturday, February 24, 2024

Epic Book Launch: The Last Disciple: Exile in Ephesus

About the Book



Book Title: The Last Disciple: Exile in Ephesus
Author Name: Kurt Brouwer
Genre: Christian Historical Fiction
Release Date: March 15, 2024

He awoke jailed in squalor…
Would he complete his final mission?
Or would he fail to record the story only he could tell?

The epic saga of the Last Disciple continues in this captivating Christian historical novel from Kurt Brouwer.


After surviving imprisonment, John faces his greatest challenge–exile in the distant city of Ephesus. Struggling with grief and despair over the destruction of Jerusalem, John doubts his ability to complete the mission entrusted to him by Mary—to write the true gospel account of Christ’s life.

But in Ephesus, John finds unexpected allies—Timothy, Priscilla, and Tychicus, who share his passion for spreading the message of God’s love.

As John shares the good news of Jesus, he makes dangerous enemies, including the influential high priest, Alexander Cosmo, who will stop at nothing to suppress the growing Christian faith. Amid opposition from without and internal divisions from within the early church, John must contend with those pressuring believers to adopt Jewish law and compromise the radical teachings of Christ.

When tragedy strikes those close to him, can John’s fragile hope be rekindled? Will he finally show the world all the signs, miracles, and events he witnessed on his journey with Jesus?

Don’t miss this page-turning story of faith, courage, and love.


Book Excerpt

He remembered his shock and anger when the emperor’s son arrested him. He growled as he saw yet again that smirking, leering face mocking him. Remembered being bound in chains and marched off.

John suspected he’d been beaten at some point, for every rasping breath hurt, but he remembered little. Only disjointed images and mostly questions, nothing but unanswered questions. What happened to Bartholomew and Emmaus? Why had the emperor’s son arrested him? Why had General Titus and Queen Berenice left without him?

With those fruitless thoughts running through his mind, he slipped into a dull, restless slumber. After a time, he started out of a feverish sleep at the loud clanging of metal doors, followed by a sharp, inhuman scream. All sound around John ceased. He heard one more whimpering cry and, after that, nothing other than the breathing of many men and the gibbering of hungry rats.

John lay there, knowing nothing would come of fighting the cold iron chains. His head hurt and he could not seem to think, at least not in any sequence or order. He remembered the man who’d spoken earlier. He raised his head. “Eh, my friend. Dozed off. Any water here?”


All Excerpts

Excerpt One: https://blossomsandblessings.blogspot.com/2024/02/the-last-disciple-exile-in-ephesus-by.html

About the Author




Kurt is a Christian and a member of a vibrant Christian church on the Big Island of Hawaii. He also loves to write. In addition to all the usual temptations writers face, Kurt has to fight off the lure of beautiful beaches, pounding surf, great weather, and lush golf courses. Can you imagine? Despite those temptations, he writes The Last Disciple series of Christian historical novels and he regularly writes blog posts at KurtBrouwer.com.

A few years ago Kurt did a study for his church on the Apostle John. That little project got him hooked on the man who started out life as a fisherman and then became the last disciple of Christ. The more Kurt learned about John, the more he wanted to know.

If you’ve ever been obsessed by anything, you’ll understand that he couldn’t stop researching the life of John and all those around him. And the result of all that research is:

The Last Disciple Series

The Last Disciple is a series of Christian novels based on the Bible and Christian history. The first in the series: The Last Disciple: Crisis in Jerusalem, begins in the year 62 AD. In it, you walk with John through the streets of Jerusalem. See how he faces multiple crises and comes to understand what it is to stand alone and lean only on the Lord. This book, The Last Disciple: Exile in Ephesus is the third in the series, with two more books planned. Kurt is now writing the fourth book, The Last Disciple: Gospel of John.

Friday, February 23, 2024

Book Spotlight: Relying on the Enemy by Danielle Grandinetti

Relying on the Enemy JustRead Blog + Review Tour

Welcome to the Blog + Review Tour for Relying on the Enemy by Danielle Grandinetti, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

About the Book

Relying on the Enemy

Title: Relying on the Enemy
Series: Harbored in Crow's Nest #4
Author:
Danielle Grandinetti
Publisher:
Hearth Spot Press
Release Date:
February 20, 2024
Genre:
Historical Romance, with suspense

She’s protecting her children. He’s redeeming his past.  But there’s nothing convenient about saving their patchwork family.  

Wisconsin, 1931—All widowed mother Marian Ward wants is to provide for her girls. However, she faces the dead of winter with no income and dwindling resources. Then she overhears a nefarious conversation, putting her life and that of her children in immediate danger. 

Aiming to make amends to the Wards, Gilbert steps in when the threat to Marian escalates. It costs him dearly. Either lose his career or marry her, and be tied to his past until death do them part. 

He leaves the decision to Marian, who will do anything to protect her girls, even marry the son of the man who ruined her family. How will their fledgling trust prove strong enough to fulfill their vows as winter tightens its grip and desperation stalks at the door? 

Welcome to Crow’s Nest, where danger and romance meet at the water’s edge.

PURCHASE LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookBub


More Books in This Series

Confessions to a Stranger   


Excerpt


Marian Ward battled the wind and her disgust as she pushed out of the door to the Lightning Bug, where the less reputable fishermen drank the winter away regardless of Prohibition. Never would she have considered asking for a job—and still not get one—at such a place, but she was desperate. If she couldn’t find a job, couldn’t heat their home, her little girls … she shuddered, and not because of the icy wind that ripped across a sluggish Lake Michigan only to slam into her threadbare coat.

Where else could she look for work? The Lightning Bug was the last place in Crow’s Nest for her to try, and without money to buy gas for the old truck, how could she drive to Hawk’s River to look for a job? Were there any open positions left? Just one, at a place willing to hire a woman instead of a man. A woman with children, even if she was a widow. As times became leaner, those types of jobs became even more scarce. And how she needed one.

Tears pricked her eyes as she turned her back to the deserted lake and ducked into the alley beside the Lightning Bug. Walking home along Main Street would provide a better buffer to the wind. It hadn’t snowed since the new year, making January bleak and gray. What little sunlight peeked through the overcast sky vanished in the narrow space between the buildings. However, she refused to give in to despair. Her girls, and her ill mother-in-law, depended on her. She would do anything for them.

About the Author

Danielle Grandinetti

Danielle Grandinetti is an inspirational romance author fueled by tea and books, and the occasional nature walk. A 2023 Finalist in the FHLCW Reader’s Choice Award, she has also won the UNW Distinguished Faith in Writing Award and the CROW National Excellence in Story Telling Award. Originally from the Chicagoland area, she now lives along Lake Michigan’s Wisconsin shoreline with her husband and their two young sons.

Connect with Danielle by visiting daniellegrandinetti.com to follow her on social media and sign up for email updates.


Tour Giveaway

(2) winners will win signed paperback copies of Refuge for the Archaeologist & Relying on the Enemy; a Crow's Nest Canvas Tote & a Crow's Nest paperback notebook!

Relying on the Enemy JustRead Tours giveaway

Full tour schedule linked below. The giveaway begins at midnight February 19, 2024 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on February  26, 2024. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to JustRead Publicity Tours Giveaway Policies.

Enter Giveaway


Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

JustRead Publicity Tours