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

Author Interview: Leading Ladies: Discover Your God-Grown Strategy for Success



About the Book


Book: Leading Ladies: Discover Your God-Grown Strategy for Success

Authors: Amber Weigand-Buckley & Lisa Burris Burns

Genre: Christian Leadership and Religious Leadership

Release Date: May 25, 2023

SISTERS, IT’S TIME TO GET DOWN TO BUSINESS!

Find out how to step up to God’s calling as these daring women redefine what leadership looks like. Authentic and heartfelt stories of world-changing women leaders of every hue, background, and job description, teach us by example how to battle to find our passion, connect with our gifts, and maintain forward-focused momentum in every season of life.

Join authors Amber Weigand-Buckley and Lisa Burris Burns — along with Babbie Mason, Candace Payne, Jacquelyn Marushka, Martha Bolton, Katy Nichole, Kymberlie Joye, and so many more powerhouse women–as they explore leadership purpose, and living a life that counts.

Click here to get your copy!


About the Authors


Meet Amber

Amber Weigand-Buckley is an author, speaker, multi-award-winning magazine editor, and art director, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (awsa.com) marketing director, Bold Vision Books’ creative director, and owner of #barefacedcreativemedia (barefacedcreativemedia.com). The Springfield, Missouri native navigates bipolar and anxiety disorder while embracing her best life. At its peak, her mental illness almost caused her to take her own life. Amber is a mental health advocate who knows that a diagnosis does not disqualify you from God’s leadership call.Amber, whose vision birthed Leading Ladies: Discover Your God-Grown Strategy for Success, is energized by helping world-changing women of all hues, backgrounds, and walks of life to find their wings, hone their skills, and take their God-call to the next level.

She has two grown daughters, Saffron, Imogen, and one teen Penelope, with Philip, her British hubby of 28 years, two Great Pyrenees pups—Stanley and Stuart, and a zoo of exotic pets.


Meet Lisa

The diagnosis of an autoimmune disorder initially shattered LISA BURRIS BURNS’ ministry dreams as a vocalist and worship leader. Despite this, God opened opportunities for her journey and abilities to expand beyond what she ever anticipated for herself — to acting, stage performance, set design, and writing. As a vocal and performance coach with K.C. Superstar, a Kansas City-based competition likened to “American Idol,” she is passionate about fine-tuning artists’ creative expressions. Lisa thrives on the artistic process, especially everything yarn and crafty.

This avid Kansas City Chiefs fan lives with her husband, Randy, in Blue Springs, Missouri. The Burns have served in marriage and family ministry since 1988. They have six fantastic children, two amazing son-in-loves, and five adorable granddaughters.


More from Amber and Lisa

Are you ready to discover your God-given gifts and move in forward in all that He’s called you to be? Leading Ladies: Discover Your God-Grown Strategy for Success will help you identify your unique leadership abilities.

For a limited time, get the inspirational song “Lead Me On” recorded by Michaelah Weaver for FREE when your register as a Leading Ladies VIP at leadingladies.life.

Let “Lead Me On” be your empowering anthem as you read Leading Ladies and learn to boldly walk in your purpose. Download the song and book excerpt now at leadingladies.life!


Interview with the Authors


Q: Please give us a little introduction to your book. (Perhaps more information regarding what the book is about beyond the back-cover blurb? Or just explain what the book is about in your own words.)

Lisa: Our Leading Ladies book is a compilation of stories, thought provoking questions and notes of encouragement. Some of those stories are difficult to read about, while others are lighthearted and such a breath of fresh air. It was designed intentionally to inspire and encourage readers, with insights from voices they can relate to. We wanted to introduce you to women that when we see them we say “That! What she has. That’s a successful woman!” It was life changing to meet them, interview them, and now share them with our readers. They may come from entirely different backgrounds, cultures and life experiences, but their faith in, and reliance upon Jesus, is something we wanted to share. Life happens, and in the process we can all get off track and forget that we are here for a reason. We struggle with doubt, fear and feel like we don’t have anything to offer, when in reality we all have the ability to lead, influence and inspire right where we are right now. God has a plan and a purpose and our prayer is that what you read within these pages will help you reconnect with that vision.

Amber: Originally designed for women grappling with questions of purpose, feelings of loss, and self-worth tied to achievements, the book has transformed into a guide for self-discovery and empowerment. Its aim is to inspire women to recognize their intrinsic value and unique contributions, emphasizing that success should be measured by personal fulfillment rather than societal standards.


Q: What was the most surprising thing you discovered while researching and writing this book?

A: The most unexpected revelation came when the lady I invited to share her story, Tracy Glass, which appears after mine in the book inspired me to be more candid about my struggles. This newfound boldness allowed me to break free from feelings of shame and the fear of putting some things on paper that I never thought I would ever want to admit to those I loved, let alone for public knowledge.


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

Lisa: Fall 2021 to Early Spring 2023, so roughly a year and a half.


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

Lisa: My desire is that they recognize themselves in the stories of our amazing chapter contributors. You know, life tends to come at all of us (both the good stuff and the downright hard) and we get caught up in the whirlwind. Many of us start to put our God given dreams and aspirations on hold. We forget that we’re here with purpose, or we place those dreams up on the top shelf, way back in a corner. My greatest prayer for readers is that the book inspires them to rediscover their purpose and do whatever it takes with God’s help to step out, start over, keep going! Philippians 3:12-14


Q: Are you working on another book now?

Lisa: Yes we are! We are currently finishing up a companion workbook/journal to the Leading Ladies book. It should be released in March. It gives space to contemplate, journal and dream as you read Leading Ladies. We’ve added a few fun things like some


Q: Would you share something about yourself that most readers wouldn’t know?

Lisa: I absolutely love to watch those wilderness survival shows…you know, you’re allowed to take a few items with you and you’re dropped off in some remote place to build shelter and find food. I wouldn’t last a day out there on my own, but I sure like to think I could! Lol!

Amber: In addition to being a writer, my family is actively involved in herpetological education, caring for about 10 snakes and 2 lizards. We participate in community events to educate people about reptiles.


Q: In what setting do you enjoy writing the most? (Inside of outside? In silence or with music? Etc...)

Lisa: I like a cozy chair in a quiet corner, where I can put my feet up. Light my favorite candle and hand me a coffee with heavy cream and it's the perfect setting.


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

Lisa: I enjoy time with my family, travel, and anything yarn crafty. My favorite is loom knitting.

Amber: Outside of writing, I find joy in spending time with my family and cruising around town with my two Great Pyrenees pups, Stanley and Stuart, who accompany me everywhere, leaving a trail of white dog hair in my wake.


Q: What do you wish you’d known when you were younger?
 
Lisa: That everything is going to be okay even if I don’t have all the answers right now.


Q: What are you reading now?

Lisa: I just started the new Jackie Hill Perry devotional Upon Waking, and Ann Voskamp’s Waymaker.


Q: Who is an author you would recommend to anyone and everyone?

Lisa:
I appreciate fiction, mostly historical fiction. Harper Lee/To Kill A Mockingbird.


Q: Where can readers find out more about you and your book?

Amber: For more information, readers can visit leadingLadies.Life. Additionally, my co-author Lisa Burris Burns and I host a podcast called "Coffee Chat with Amber and Lisa: Real Life. Real Influence. No Makeup Required." It explores the messy aspects of leading ladies' everyday lives, providing insights and support for women striving to fulfill their purpose. The podcast is available on all major platforms.


Blog Stops


Godly Book Reviews, February 16

Artistic Nobody, February 17 (Author Interview)

Fiction Book Lover, February 18 (Author Interview)

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 18

Simple Harvest Reads, February 19 (Author Interview)

She Lives to Read, February 20

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, February 21 (Author Interview)

Texas Book-aholic, February 22

Beauty in the Binding, February 23 (Author Interview)

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, February 24

For the Love of Literature, February 25 (Author Interview)

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 26

Tell Tale Book Reviews, February 27 (Author Interview)

Cover Lover Book Review, February 27

Locks, Hooks and Books, February 28

A Reader’s Brain, February 29 (Author Interview)


Giveaway



To celebrate their tour, Amber and Lisa are giving away the grand prize package of a copy of the book and 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.

Link for giveaway: https://promosimple.com/ps/2a0cf/leading-ladies-celebration-tour-giveaway

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Book Spotlight: The Rhythm of Fractured Grace by Amanda Wen

The Rhythm of Fractured Grace JustRead Takeover Blitz

Welcome to the Takeover + Review Blitz for The Rhythm of Fractured Grace by Amanda Wen hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

About the Book


The Rhythm of Fractured Grace Title: The Rhythm of Fractured Grace 
Series: Sedgwick County Chronicles #3 
Author: Amanda Wen 
Publisher: Kregel Publications 
Release Date: February 20, 2024 
Genre: Christian Split Time Romantic Women's Fiction

Is Siobhan too far gone to respond to the song of a God who's calling her back to him?

When a new customer brings a badly damaged violin into Siobhan Walsh's shop, it is exactly the sort of challenge she craves. The man who brought it in is not. He's too close to the painful past that left her heart and her faith in shambles. 

Matt Buchanan has had a rough start as the new worship pastor. A car accident on his way into town left him with a nearly totaled truck, and an heirloom violin in pieces. When he takes it to a repair shop, he's fascinated with the restoration process--and with the edgy, closed-off woman doing the work. As their friendship deepens and turns into more, they both discover secrets that force them to face past wounds. And the history of the violin reveals more about their current problems than they could have ever expected. 

On the nineteenth-century frontier, a gruesome tomahawk attack wiped out most of Deborah Caldwell's family. Her greatest solace after the tragedy is the music from her father's prized violin. Given her horrendous scars, she'd resigned herself to a spinster's life. But Levi Martinson's gentle love starts to chip away at her hardened heart, until devastating details about the attack are revealed, putting their love--and Deborah's shaky faith--to the ultimate test. 

Full of forgiveness and the message that no one is too damaged for God's healing touch, the final book in the split-time Sedgwick County Chronicles will thrill fans of Rachel Hauck, Lisa Wingate, and Kristy Cambron. 

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

More Books in Series

Roots of Wood and Stone The Songs That Could Have Been


Excerpt


Hot. Rich. Creamy. Sweetly spiced. And just enough rocket fuel to get her through the rest of the day.

Such was the perfect chai latte, Siobhan’s weekly indulgence at Frontier Coffee. Okay, more than weekly. But the only time she came in and sat down was during coffee dates with Sloane Kelley-Anderson. Siobhan marveled at the dark-haired woman across the table from her who shared half her DNA. Yet Sloane was someone she’d never even known about until four years ago. Her mother—their mother—Kimberly, had had another daughter. A daughter five years older, born from an affair and left on a city bus in Seattle, only to be randomly reunited in Wichita three decades later.

Well, Mom wouldn’t say it was random. Neither would Sloane. Both were quick to credit God.

Siobhan would have too, once upon a time.

And now these occasional coffee dates had a third party, the tiny bundle sacked out on Sloane’s shoulder. Domenica Rose Anderson came with her father’s deep-blue eyes, her mother’s dark-brown hair, and the fortunate ability to sleep through just about anything. So far, anyway.

(pg 27)

About the Author

Amanda Wen

Amanda Wen is a Selah Award–winning, Parable best-selling author of inspirational romance and split-time women’s fiction, including Roots of Wood and Stone and The Songs That Could Have Been, and a professional musician. Wen currently lives in Wichita, Kansas, with her husband and three children.

Connect with Amanda by visiting amandawen.com to follow her on social media or subscribe to email newsletter updates.


Tour Giveaway

(1) winner will receive a signed copy of the book, a mug, chai mix, and a kitsugi heart necklace!

The Rhythm of Fractured Grace JustRead Giveaway

Be sure to check out each stop on the tour for more chances to win. Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway began at midnight February 21, 2024 and lasts through 11:59 PM EST on February 28, 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 the policies found here.

Enter Giveaway


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

JustRead Publicity Tours

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Book Review: Ladies of the Lake by Cathy Gohlke

About the Book:



After the deep bond of friendship between two young women is torn apart, what will it take to bring them together again? In Ladies of the Lake, the beloved author of Saving Amelie and Night Bird Calling returns with a transformative new historical novel about the wonder and complexities of friendship, love, and belonging.


When she is forced to leave her beloved Prince Edward Island to attend Lakeside Ladies Academy after the death of her parents, the last thing Adelaide Rose MacNeill expects to find is three kindred spirits. The “Ladies of the Lake,” as the four girls call themselves, quickly bond like sisters, vowing that wherever life takes them, they will always be there for each other. But that is before: Before love and jealousy come between Adelaide and Dorothy, the closest of the friends. Before the dawn of World War I upends their world and casts baseless suspicion onto the German American man they both love. Before a terrible explosion in Halifax Harbor rips the sisterhood irrevocably apart.

Seventeen years later, Rosaline Murray receives an unsuspecting telephone call from Dorothy, now headmistress of Lakeside, inviting her to attend the graduation of a new generation of girls, including Rosaline’s beloved daughter. With that call, Rosaline is drawn into a past she’d determined to put behind her. To memories of a man she once loved . . . of a sisterhood she abandoned . . . and of the day she stopped being Adelaide MacNeill.


My Thoughts:

Ladies of the Lake by Cathy Gohlke landed as my first five-star read of 2024. This story gripped my attention from the start and the question of what happened between Dorothy and Adelaide urged me on. Gohlke’s smooth writing made the transitions between time periods easy to grasp. The expert plot pacing and clever prose kept me blind to an unanticipated plot twist. I actually reread sections trying to decipher how I was so hoodwinked!

The female friendships in Ladies of the Lake reminded me of the importance of connecting with others on a regular basis to maintain relationships. I loved how the characters’ friendships were presented in youth and adulthood, showing the way relationships can grow (or wither) over time. While the story emphasizes the power of friendship, quieter points about physical trauma, emotional brokenness, living with regrets, and speaking truth support the character journeys of Addie and Dot.

Ladies of the Lake by Cathy Gohlke has a permanent spot in my bookcase. I read this amazing novel with my church book club, and we had plenty of material to discuss plus a delightful chat with the author. Five stars for Ladies of the Lake!



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.


Epic Book Launch: What Color is God’s Love? by Xochitl Dixon

About the Book




Book Title: What Color is God’s Love?
Author Name: Xochitl Dixon
Genre:
Children’s Picture Book
Release Date: March 19, 2024


All the colors displayed in this world that God made—
every glorious, fabulous, beautiful shade—
show how good God is and will always be.
But what is the color of love? Come and see!



In What Color is God’s Love?, a little girl and her service dog join their diverse friends through a whirlwind of adventures. As they celebrate the spectacular spectrum of colors God designed, each color invites readers to explore their God-given emotions and becomes a reminder of God’s unchanging character.

While encouraging children to acknowledge God’s constant presence with every turn of the age, What Color is God’s Love? also empowers children, with and without disabilities, to play, work, and serve God together, by simply letting the colors of His love shine through them.

With each turn of the page, the focus shifts to a specific color—orange, yellow, blue, green, pink, black, white, gray, brown, red, purple. Each lyrical rhyme invites readers to engage with God through empowering and faith-building truth-statements that incite worship and encourage a lifestyle of loving God and neighbors.

What Color is God’s Love? is now available for pre-ordering wherever books are sold.


Q&A with the Author

Q: Your logo and the cover of What Color is God’s Love? share an interesting flower. What is the name of that flower and what is its significance?

Xochitl: The flower on my logo and on the top corners of What Color is God’s Love? is called a Passion Flower. Darshika Varma surprised me and added the Passion Flower on the cover and in the book on the purple page. I mentioned it when we were in our first conversation. I didn’t ask her to add the flower. She added my heart to the illustrations, by listening to me and caring about what was important to me. You can feel her love and my love in this book.

I chose the Passion Flower as a part of my logo to symbolize a passion for Christ. You can find out why it’s my favorite flower, how God used and uses it to deepen my faith, and how the Passion Flower got its name, if you visit my website at www.xedixon.com and look under “The Passion Flower” page. It’s all about Jesus!


Q: What do you want kids to take away from your book?

Xochitl: For parents: I want kids to feel safe processing emotions in the constant presence of God, while using colors to remember biblical truth that affirms His unchanging character and His unconditional love flowing for them and through them.

For kids: God understands us and is always with us, using all the colors He made to remind us who He is, as He fills us with love so we can love others . . . together.


All Interviews

Q&A 1: https://www.artistwriterandstudentohmy.com/posts/what-color-is-gods-love-author-qa/

Q&A 6: https://www.amoderndayfairytale.net/2024/02/what-color-is-gods-love-epic-book-launch.html

About the Author





Xochitl (So-Cheel) Dixon, contributing writer for Our Daily Bread and God Hears Her, is the author of Waiting for God: Trusting Daily in God’s Plan and Pace. She loves Jesus and people, as she crosses cultural, generational, and international lines with encouraging and sound biblical teaching. Celebrating diversity and inclusion, she advocates for disability awareness with her beautifully diverse family and her service dog, Callie. Her first children’s picture book, Different Like Me, now available in Spanish, is a 2021 ECPA Christian Book Award Children’s Book Finalist. In March 2024, Xochitl’s second picture book, What Color is God’s Love?, is releasing with WaterBrook. She connects with readers at www.xedixon.com.


Friday, February 16, 2024

Author Interview: Refuge of Grace by Tracy L. Smoak



About the Book


Book: Refuge of Grace: Finding Your Safe Place

Author: Tracy L. Smoak

Genre: Non-Fiction

Release Date: September, 2023

”This book is a life-saving manual meant for any soul who has bottomed out and can only look up for help.” – George Firehammer

Need a stronger connection with God? A safe place?

Anyone hoping for straight talk to bring Jesus close will find refreshment in Refuge of Grace. Learn from a fresh look at 22 little-told Bible passages via Tracy L. Smoak’s engaging storytelling and vivid imagery.

These scriptures offer true comfort in your everyday struggles. From hearing Gomer’s perspective about shame to imagining Jesus arriving in a Rolls Royce for the family reunion, you will know God’s working on your behalf-right now.

Click here to get your copy!


About the Author


A native Floridian, Tracy L. Smoak grew up riding horses and climbing citrus trees. Her passion is to encourage others in their faith journey. Smoak writes for Guideposts. Ambassador International released her debut novel, Who Brought the Dog to Church?. Bold Vision published her Bible study about encouragement titled Refuge of Grace: Finding Your Safe Place.

She loves photography and authored two hardcover devotionals with her original nature art (Living Water to Refresh Your Soul – tranquil lake scenes; and Arranged with Love- floral landscapes).

Smoak holds a master’s in Education and a bachelor’s in Communication. At her church home, she leads small-group Bible studies. She is an active member of Word Weavers International.


Author Interview with Tracy


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

Tracy: If you feel discouraged and are facing hard times, this book offers encouragement. There are 22 little-told Bible stories about ordinary men and women who persevered with God’s help. Each chapter features a promise of God’s that they held onto, and that we also can draw strength from to overcome.


Q: What was the most surprising thing you discovered while researching and writing this book?

Tracy: God speaks in an amazing variety of ways. Sometimes, he used a picture, like of medieval armor, to spark ideas about battle. Other times, He drew my attention to nature, like when I saw sandhill cranes literally dancing in an open field at dawn. Each time I slowed enough to listen, God spoke with such tenderness to teach.


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

Tracy: Bad stuff happens and we want to fall apart. Sorrow, disappointment, anger, and failure lurk around many corners. But these obstacles don’t have to destroy our faith. The hardships refine us into hardy soldiers who can go into the fray to help others in the trenches. Our best ministry isn’t from being “perfect.” Our ability to truly comfort others comes from being able to say we also survived the hardship they are going through.


Q: Are you working on another book now?

Tracy: Yes, I am researching scriptures about wisdom and where God would have us invest our time. To go along with this theme, I have taken photographs of foreign coins to pair with Bible verses about how to store up heavenly riches. This devotional is under contract, and I hope will be released in 2024.


Q: What do you wish you’d known when you were younger?

Tracy: After achieving each milestone, there will be another mountain to climb. Life is about stretching and growing. Complacency robs us of the next blessing. I’d tell my younger self not to fear failure. That each attempt to move forward gains new skills.

Q: Any thing else you would like to share:?

Tracy: If you like devotions and birds, this one-minute reel features my nature art photography with a Bible verse at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZyGwqfrBIxs.

My website for details: tracysmoak.com.


More from Tracy

When life knocks you down, where do you go for hope?

We all want to be brave, but sometimes circumstances overwhelm us. Health declines, bank accounts empty, and friends disappear. No matter the disappointments, one absolute certainty we can count on is God. He will stand with us through every adversity.

Ideas for Refuge of Grace: Finding Your Safe Place began at 3 a.m. on a January workday in 2021. I tossed and turned in bed, wondering how I could continue teaching in a public school under all the pandemic constraints. We wore masks, developed lesson plans for both in-class instruction and online modules, and juggled a revolving door of student quarantines with absences.

Fear surrounded us on all sides.

Others also struggled. My older son managed an emergency department in a large city and had to find ways to supply unprecedented needs. My younger son worked in the financial industry and watched markets reel. Neighbors lost jobs and income.

How could we model resilience and move forward?

I turned to the Bible for inspiration and studied stories about how believers overcame hardship. Six months and 22 chapters later—all the while teaching full time—this collection renewed hope and kept me going.

My prayer is that reading these Bible promises of God’s faithfulness also will empower you.


Blog Stops


Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, February 9

Artistic Nobody, February 10 (Author Interview)

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 11

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 12

Fiction Book Lover, February 13 (Author Interview)

Girls in White Dresses, February 14

Its Mama Safe, February 15

Beauty in the Binding, February 16 (Author Interview)

By The Book, February 17 (Author Interview)

Mary Hake, February 17

Cover Lover Book Review, February 18

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, February 19 (Author Interview)

Texas Book-aholic, February 20

Simple Harvest Reads, February 21 (Author Interview)

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, February 21

Locks, Hooks and Books, February 22


Giveaway


To celebrate her tour, Tracy is giving away the grand prize package of a paperback copy each of Who Brought the Dog to Church? and Refuge of Grace: Finding Your Safe Place!!

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/29c57/refuge-of-grace-celebration-tour-giveaway

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Author Interview: Nellie by Amy Walsh

Nellie Blog Tour

Welcome to the Blog Tour for Nellie by Amy Walsh, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

About the Book

Nellie

Title: Nellie
Series:
Apron Strings #2
Author:
Amy Walsh
Publisher:
Walsh Mountain Publishing
Release Date:
February 15, 2024
Genre: Historical Romance

Finances are tight for the O’Dwyer family who live on a mountain outside of Scranton, Pennsylvania in 1931. Life gets even harder when their beloved Dada√≠ must cease work as a coal miner to become a patient at the West Mountain Sanitarium. 

Nellie is her preferred name, but family and friends have heard Mam shout “Fenella Aileen O’Dwyer!” all too often with the countless predicaments she got herself into throughout childhood. So, it’s not altogether surprising when Nellie impulsively accepts a job as an assistant cook at the Clarinda House in a case of mistaken identity -- though she’s the last person her family would ask to prepare a meal.

Fortunately, along with determination, a talent for acting, and the gift of blarney, Nellie has Mrs. Campbell’s Cookery Book, a treasure she discovered at a Red Cross drought relief sale. 

As her reluctant admiration for her employer grows, Nellie wishes she could be the sort of truthful woman of faith that Mr. Mason Peale esteems. If she confesses all, will she lose her job along with the friendships she’s formed at Clarinda House?  

PURCHASE LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon


Excerpt


Through the small window, she caught glimpses of Mason conversing with Mam, as on the straight stretches he turned his head to smile at Mam and even laughed a couple of times.

How she wished she could hear what Mam was saying. Was she telling him stories about her antics over the years? Nellie cringed, thinking of a few tales her father often told when company came. One of Daid√≠’s favorite memories took place when she was Johny’s age, and she replaced Father Doyle’s prayerbook with her cousin’s volume of Grimm’s Tales within the pulpit. With its cover being a similar shade of brown, the priest hadn’t noticed before he started his homily. Father must have been quite distracted that day, for he began reading the page where Nellie had marked her favorite tale with his bookmark. He read all the way down to the part of “Sleeping Beauty” where the frog appeared to the queen while she was bathing and promised her a babe would be born within the year before he slammed down the volume and shouted, “What heresy is this?” Later a fearful Nellie confessed she had just been trying to help him make his sermons more interesting.

About the Author

Amy Walsh

Amy Walsh writes historical and contemporary romance, mysteries, speculative fiction, and women’s fiction. She is a 5th-grade writing teacher in an urban public school. Amy and her husband, Patrick, have three children. Amy considers herself greatly blessed in the roles God has given her as an earthling, including aspiring wordsmith, teacher of youngsters, nature appreciator, tea aficionado, avid dessert fan, book fanatic, lover of family and friends, and Christ-follower.

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

Author Interview with Amy


Q: What was the inspiration behind Nellie

Amy: Sometimes stories just pop into my head, inspired by a Bible verse, a house we drive by, song lyrics – you name it. But in the case of Nellie, since this was a multi-author project, I was assigned a decade, and there were series requirements. For example, I needed a character to show spiritual growth, and she had to live in a small town or outside of a city. She had to be in need of a cookbook. I also had my own bucket list of things to try. I’d wanted to experiment with twins and mistaken identities – and with the age gap trope. I thought how fun it would be to have a character who would have been labeled with ADHD if she was in a 2024 classroom. Additionally, I wanted to include real life characters I had fallen in love with while writing my last book, Voices in the Sanitorium, and I wanted an Irish heroine. To all these variables, I also added nuggets I found in old newspapers and in files at the Lackawanna County Historical Society. The last piece of the puzzle was when I saw the cover model. She looked like she would be mischievous and a tad dramatic. That’s when I knew I wanted Nellie to be an aspiring actress, and all of the variables settled into a storyline in my mind.


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

Amy: It probably took me about a month to write the rough draft of Nellie last summer. As a schoolteacher I have the summers off. A few of those days I was probably typing twelve to fourteen hours straight. It takes me much longer to write during the school year.


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

Amy: I do! I think it’s extra special because it stemmed from a “God sighting” during a moment when I needed to be reminded that God must delight in variety. I was beating myself up a little, wishing I could be more detail-oriented, more serious. I probably had lost a piece of mail or something–I can’t remember. But I looked up the hill from our house and for the first time I noticed that a poplar tree looked like it was whirling with activity even though it wasn’t the least bit windy. The surrounding trees appeared very somber, still, and stately. That inspired this passage:

She rolled onto her back again and rested her hands under her head. Why had God decided to create poplars just as He had? With leaves that bristled and danced in the faintest wind even when other trees stood solemn and immovable. Was there a message from the Creator in these heart-shaped leaves with silver underbellies? In how from a distance, these trees looked like a swarm of joyful fairies celebrating sunlight?


Q: In the story, Nellie uses Mrs. Campbell’s Cookery Book. Can you share a favorite recipe of your own?

Amy: I do have a favorite recipe of my own. I wanted to invent a recipe to go with my novel Elsie Whitmore about a schoolteacher whose YouTube video goes viral and captures the attention of Graham Thurston, a former teen superstar now producer. In his attempts to woo her, Graham Googles ‘world’s most loved dessert’ and has his housekeeper make it (Sticky Toffee Pudding). I wanted to make a Pennsylvania version of the dessert that included apples. This is what I came up with, “Mrs. Whitmore’s Upside-Down Apple Sticky Toffee Cupcakes”: https://walshmountainpublishing.com/2021/10/31/a-recipe-inspired-by-elsie-whitmore/


Q: What do you hope readers take away from Nellie?

Amy: I’ve already alluded to one takeaway with my poplar tree quote – to appreciate the variety of personalities God created, and to stop comparing oneself with others. Piggybacking on that is that message that God can use us as we are, both our gifts and our deficits, to bring Him glory, and to help others. The hero of the story has his own lessons to learn. In the midst of the Great Depression, Mason sees acting as a frivolous aspiration. He thinks differently after the Actor’s Guild of Scranton donates the proceeds of an entire weekend of performances to the Drought Relief Fund. (Which actually happened!)


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

Amy: Something random. I am allergic to newsprint. How inconvenient! I have to take a Zyrtec to read a newspaper. And if it’s an old and dusty book, I have had to take Benadryl on occasion. To follow up with the allergy theme–I adore cats. My husband is severely allergic to them so for several years of married life I was catless. However, we discovered there were “hypoallergenic” cats when my youngest was a toddler. We’ve had cats ever since!


Q: How long ago did you start writing? 

Amy: I started writing poems, songs and short stories by the end of first grade. I wrote a short YA novel in high school but never showed it to anyone but my writing teacher. I wrote my second novel, A Misplaced Beauty, while I was on maternity leave for my youngest child. (She just turned eighteen, so that was quite some time ago.) This time I shared it with friends and family. Once I went back to teaching, I needed to focus on my home kids and my school kids, so I went back to writing songs, poems, and short stories. It wasn’t until Election Night of 2020 that I began another novel. I had been teaching online for months due to COVID, all my children’s activities, and my ladies ministry activities had been curtailed, and there I was crawling out of my own skin with stress over what would be the outcome of the election. I remember thinking, ‘I need a break from reality. Time to take on a big writing project.’ I stayed up most of that night, and by early morning I had almost ten thousand words written of Elsie Whitmore. It’s been one writing project after another ever since!


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

Amy: I have many favorite things, but one is that just like writing has been a break from reality for me, I like giving readers the same respite. I’ll never forget the reaction of a dear older woman from my church after reading A Misplaced Beauty. She wasn’t in the habit of reading novels, but she gave the book a try to support me. After reading it, she was just about glowing as she talked about the characters as if they were real people, and was just so excited to talk about some of the happenings in the novel. I realized that I had given her the gift of forgetting her health issues and her grief over having lost her husband while she was living within the pages of the novel.


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

Amy: Ooo! Hard question. I love physical copies of books by my favorite authors. I collect antique books, especially children’s books. I also will pick up just about any used hardcover book that is a shade of blue/green since my first floor has a beachy aesthetic. However, most of my reading is done on the Kindle app of my phone – out of convenience.


Q: How many bookcases are in your home? 

Amy: Eleven. And sadly, I have boxes of books in the attic. And piles in random corners. I’m a bookaholic.


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

Amy: Read. Ha ha! Even when I am doing chores, driving my car, or exercising, I am listening to audiobooks. I love to walk outdoors. I love racquet sports – ping pong, tennis, and pickleball. I enjoy playing card games and board games with family and friends. Singing – I love practicing with my church’s praise team, and when we have karaoke time. I love entertaining. Oh – and social media. I love interacting with others in my groups on Facebook. I hope you’ll stop by the Apron Strings Book Series group or Wisdom, Whimsy, and Wordsmithing and chat sometime!


Tour Giveaway

(1) winner will win a $50 Amazon gift card, print copies of Nellie and Voices in the Sanitorium, and some historical memorabilia from the West Mountain Sanitarium!

Nellie JustRead Tours giveaway

Full tour schedule linked below. The giveaway begins at midnight February 12, 2024 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on February 19, 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 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

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Author Interview: Biblical Finances by Lisa D. Pedriel



About the Book


Book: Biblical Finances Jesus Christ: The Financial Advisor

Author: Lisa D. Pedriel

Genre: Christian, Christian living, Finance, Wealth Management

Release Date: May 3, 2023

The objective of this book is to help readers manage their finances using biblical standards and principles. The main benefit of doing this is that our finances will be built on a sure foundation (Isaiah 33:6), which is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and His Word. Jesus is concerned about every aspect of our lives, and the management of our finances is no exception. Throughout His Word, He gives us advice on how to get and manage the wealth He has made available to us. Therefore, it is imperative that we study the scriptures and apply them to our lives and finances. In summary, this book looks at wealth and finances from a biblical perspective.

Click here to get your copy!


About the Author



Lisa Pedriel is a child of the King, who serves as an intercessor in the body of Jesus Christ. She gave her life to Him on March 25, 2017, while walking on Lily Drive in St. James, Barbados. She started off her writing journey by penning poems and love notes to the Lord. Lisa is a qualified accountant and an auditor by profession. She currently resides on her native island Saint Lucia and lives a quiet and private life.


Author Interview


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

Lisa: As believers we are wealthy, prosperous, successful and limitless in Jesus Christ. Jesus is abundance and opulence. Therefore, in Him there is no lack, no poverty and no want. Although, some of us may not have the earthly riches, we have One Who is greater. My encouragement to everyone who reads this book is to set your heart and eyes on the spiritual riches that are in Jesus Christ. This is what truly matters!


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

Lisa: Sound financial principles are important, and the bible speaks about them however Jesus Christ is the true treasure. The bible says in Matthew 6:33 (NKJV) but seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. We are spiritually rich in Jesus Christ.


Q: Are you working on another book now?

Lisa: Yes. I am currently working on a new book called Biblical Leadership- Jesus Christ: The True Leader. This book will look at leadership from a biblical perspective.


Q:  In what setting do you enjoy writing the most? 

Lisa: I prefer to write inside in peace and quiet.


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

Lisa: I love to bake, travel and sleep.


Blog Stops


Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, February 1

Vicky Sluiter, February 2 (Author Interview)

Locks, Hooks and Books, February 3

By The Book, February 4 (Author Interview)

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, February 5 (Author Interview)

Texas Book-aholic, February 5

Simple Harvest Reads, February 6 (Author Interview)

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 7

For the Love of Literature, February 8 (Author Interview)

Because I said so – Adventures in parenting, February 9

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, February 10 (Author Interview)

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, February 11

Fiction Book Lover, February 12 (Author Interview)

Beauty in the Binding, February 13 (Author Interview)

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 13

Guild Master, February 14 (Author Interview)