Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Courier of Caswell Hall


Book Review


The Courier of Caswell Hall by Melanie Dobson is part of The American Tapestry series. The novel is set during the American War for Independence. I have read several books in the historical fiction genre that covers the Revolutionary War. What I enjoyed about this particular story is that it shows the conflicted feelings and the fear that loyalist colonists felt. Dobson writes about a young woman whose parents were loyalists, who became a spy for General Washington. Dobson shows the difficulties that people on both sides had in this well-researched novel. I enjoyed the familiar story of the brave people who fought for our countries independence; but it was particularly interesting to have a picture into the lives of those who remained loyal to England.

The tension in the book escalates as Lydia of Caswell Hall becomes more and more involved with the freedom fighters in the revolution. This is a book that develops into an exciting story. I have visited Colonial Williamsburg and I could picture the village as I read the story. This was a time period in our nation that is rich in events and stories and Dobson makes them come alive. I felt that I really had a sense of the bravery and courage that Lydia had to draw on as she tried to live her life in a way that was God honoring and that followed her personal beliefs.

The Courier of Caswell Hall is a well-written book that shows the human side of a war that is so important to the United States of America. It speaks to the reader to turn inward and examine when to take risks for one’s beliefs. I received this book from the publisher in return for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Book


An unlikely spy discovers freedom and love in the midst of the American Revolution.

As the British and Continental armies wage war in 1781, the daughter of a wealthy Virginia plantation owner feels conflict raging in her own heart. Lydia Caswell comes from a family of staunch Loyalists, but she cares only about peace. Her friend Sarah Hammond, however, longs to join the fight. Both women's families have already been divided by a costly war that sets father against son and neighbor against neighbor; a war that makes it impossible to guess who can be trusted.

One snowy night Lydia discovers a wounded man on the riverbank near Caswell Hall, and her decision to save him will change her life. Nathan introduces her to a secret network of spies, couriers, disguises, and coded messages---a network that may be the Patriots' only hope for winning the war. When British officers take over Caswell Hall and wreak havoc on neighboring plantations, Lydia will have to choose between loyalty and freedom; between her family's protection and her own heart's desires.

As both armies gather near Williamsburg for a pivotal battle, both Lydia and Sarah must decide how high a price they are willing to pay to help the men they love.

Part of the American Tapestries™ series: Each standalone novel in this line sets a heart-stirring love story against the backdrop of an epic moment in American history. This is the fifth book in the series.


About the Author


Melanie Dobson is the author of twelve novels; her writing has received numerous accolades including two Carol Awards. Melanie worked in public relations for fifteen years before she began writing fiction full-time. Born and raised in the Midwest, she now resides with her husband and two daughters in Oregon.

Connect with Melanie at: http://melaniedobson.com

 

 

Giveaway


Melanie Dobson's latest release, The Courier of Caswell Hall, is a riveting story you won't want to miss. The newest offering in the American Tapestries™ series, it follows an unlikely spy who discovers freedom and love in the midst of the American Revolution.

Enter to win 1 of 5 copies of the book!

courier-of-caswell-rafflecopter

  Five winners will receive:
  • The Courier of Caswell Hall by Melanie Dobson
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on October 5th. All winners will be announced October 7th at the Litfuse blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to visit the Litfuse blog on the 7th to see if you won one of the books!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Fired Up


Book Review


Fired Up by Mary Connealy is the second volume in the Trouble in Texas series. It was an enjoyable book that reminded me of watching old movies like The Apple Dumpling Gang with my children. It is a continuation of the story of the four “Regulators,” so named because they restored a semblance of order in the Confederate Andersonville Prison during the Civil War.

The story certainly had its serious moments with several sub-plots. Someone wants to kill Dare Riker, one of the Regulators. The teen-aged son of Dare Riker’s love interest struggles with intense anger because of his past. The sister of Regulator Jonas comes to town and campaigns for the Temperance Movement. This kaleidoscope of activity is all handled with a light touch; and I found many parts of the book to be funny. Connealy is masterful at adding comments that bring the aspect of humor to more serious moments.

I liked the idea of the four men who lived out their faith and fought against evil. They present a breed of men who fought for what was right, took care of women and children and were a model of the best of men. In the first book, the first of the regulators fell in love and got married. The second book also has a love interest involving another of the regulators.

This is an enjoyable book with periods of danger intertwined with just the right amount of humor. I received this book from the publisher in return for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Buy a copy for $8.99


About the Book


Rollicking Wild West Adventure and Romance from Bestselling Author Mary Connealy

Dare Riker is a doctor who saves lives, but someone seems determined to end his. It may have something to do with the traitors he dealt with during the Civil War, or it might be related to the recent incident with Flint Greer and the ranch. Whoever the culprit is, he or she seems really fired up, and Dare can't let his guard down for a moment, which is a challenge, since right now he's trying to win the heart of the recently widowed Glynna.

Glynna Greer came west as a mail-order bride and ended up in a bad situation. Now her husband, Flint, is dead, and she's determined to care for her son and daughter on her own. She wants to believe Dare Riker is as decent as he seems, but she's terrified to lock herself into another marriage. She plans to support her small family by opening a diner---never mind that cooking is not her greatest talent. The men in Broken Wheel, Texas, are so desperate for home cooking that they seem willing to overlook dried-out beef and blackened biscuits.

Glynna can't help but notice that danger follows Dare wherever he goes. There's the avalanche. And then the fire. But things really get out of hand when someone plunges a knife from Glynna's diner into Dare's back. Are Flint's cronies still plotting revenge? Is Glynna's son engaged in a misguided attempt to protect his mother? Is a shadowy outsider still enraged over past injustices? And can Dare survive long enough to convince Glynna to take another chance on love?

About the Author


Meet Mary: Mary Connealy writes fun and lively "romantic comedy with cowboys" for the inspirational market. She is the author of the successful Kincaid Brides, Lassoed in Texas, Montana Marriages, and Sophie's Daughters series, and she has been a finalist for a Rita and Christy Award and a two time winner of the Carol Award. She lives on a ranch in eastern Nebraska with her husband, Ivan, and has four grown daughters.

Connect with Mary: http://maryconnealy.com/



Giveaway


Mary Connealy is back with the second book, Fired Up, in her Trouble in Texas series, and she's celebrating with a Kindle Fire giveaway and a LIVE author chat party on October 8th.

Fired-Up-rafflecopter

  One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HD
  • Swept Away  and Fired Up by Mary Connealy
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on October 8th. Winner will be announced at the "Fired Up" Live Webcast Event on October 8th. Connect with Mary for an evening of book chat, trivia, laughter, and more! Mary will also be taking questions from the audience and giving away books and fun gift certificates throughout the evening.

So grab your copy of Fired Up and join Mary and friends on the evening of October 8th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP today by signing up for a reminder. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 8th!


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Letters


Book Review


To be honest, when I received this book I thought, “Oh, no! Not another book about the Amish! Don’t Christian fiction authors write about anything else?” The thing is, I have to admit right up front, this was an excellent book. The Letters, by Suzanne Woods Fisher, is book one in the series The Inn at Eagle Hill. I look forward to book two.

This very good read, has me thinking about why Amish fiction is so popular right now. The obvious reason is that we have such busy, complicated lives that living simply has a huge appeal. No big energy bills, tasty, fresh, home -grown food – it sounds wonderful. Not having to worry about staying current in fashion trends, having children who play outside and feed animals, and having horses also sound like a nice addition to a lifestyle. However, I believe the close-knit community is also a big part of the charm. Many of us have a longing for something different – something less complicated – a tight, caring community rather than 532 friends on Facebook. Fisher portrays a group of people that have a caring community where people watch out for each other.

Fisher’s skill as a writer comes through with her characterization. With each chapter that goes by, I felt that I was becoming acquainted with each character. The characters are quirky, interesting, and likeable – that is with the possible exception of Mammi Vera. Rose Schrock, the protagonist, is a widow responsible for raising and providing for four children, plus caring for her sickly mother-in-law, Mammi Vera. Think of the worst mother-in-law stories you can and Mammi Vera can top them. Rose handles it all with a graceful presence and exhibits extreme patience. Rose also has interesting children. The characters add a richness to the story.

I highly recommend this book. I think it stands out in the genre of Amish fiction. I received this book from the publisher in return for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Buy a copy for $11.36



About the Book


Rose Schrock is a plain woman with a simple plan. Determined to find a way to support her family and pay off her late husband’s debts, she sets to work to convert the basement of her Amish farmhouse into an inn. While her family, especially her cranky mother-in-law, is unhappy with Rose’s big idea, her friend and neighbor, Galen King, supports the decision and he helps with the conversion. As Rose finalizes preparations for visitors, she prays. She asks God to bless each guest who stays at the Inn at Eagle Hill. As the first guest arrives and settles in, Rose is surprised to discover that her entire family is the one who receives the blessings, in the most unexpected ways. And she’s even more surprised when that guest decides to play matchmaker for Galen King.

With her signature plot twists combined with gentle Amish romance, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher invites readers back to Stoney Ridge for fresh stories of simple pleasures despite the complexity of life. Fisher’s tale of God’s providence and provision will delight her fans and create many new ones. Welcome to the Inn at Eagle Hill.

About the Author


Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of the Inn at Eagle Hill series, Lancaster County Secrets series, and the Stoney Ridge Seasons series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including “Amish Peace.” She is also the coauthor of a new Amish children’s series, The Adventures of Lily Lapp. Her interest in the Anabaptist cultures can be directly traced to her grandfather, who was raised in the Old Order German Baptist Brethren Church in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Suzanne is a Carol Award winner and a Christy Award finalist. She is a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazines. She lives in California. For more information, please visit suzannewoodsfisher.com and connect with her on Twitter @suzannewfisher. Get Amish proverbs delivered right to your mobile device! Download the Free App! http://bit.ly/10Tygyi

Find out more about Suzanne at http://suzannewoodsfisher.com/




Monday, September 2, 2013

Waking Up in Heaven


Book Review


Our culture is inundated with personal narratives with the popularity and surge in  blogging. Every one of them requires an audience. As readers, we are forced to make decisions about which narratives are worth our time. Waking Up in Heaven by Crystal McVea and Alex Tresniowski is a personal narrative of McVea’s experience for the nine minutes when she had no pulse and stopped breathing.

In the last few years there have been several stories published that share people’s near death or death experience. McVea goes beyond her death experience and fills in the background with her traumatic, tumultuous childhood. This gives her narrative validity and could be helpful to women who are victims of sexual assault, child abuse, and demonic backgrounds or have had abortions. She brings a message of healing and presents it in the context of the love God showed her when her breathing stopped.

McVea’s story is interesting; but her husband, Virgil, captivated me. This man is a picture of the popular saying, “What would Jesus do?” Virgil lived his life as Jesus would and his calm, sensitive spirit was truly inspiring. I was also amazed at how well-adjusted McVea’s two oldest children were. In spite of having chaotic lives as young children they seem to be delightful young people – another testimony to the power and love of God.

I would recommend this book especially to anyone who is hurting and feels ashamed because of something that happened in their past. McVea’s clear message is a message of redemption and God taking our unworthiness and making us beloved, cleansed children. I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Book


My name is Crystal McVea and I’m an Oklahoma schoolteacher and mother of four (those are my precious twins Micah and Willow, on the left in the photo above). On December 10, 2009, I was in the hospital being treated for pancreatitis when I stopped breathing. My face turned a dark shade of blue, then black. My mother screamed for help and a nurse tried to revive me… to no avail. Today, I don’t remember what happened in that hospital room during the nine minutes I was unconscious and unable to breathe on my own. I have no memory of the panic and the rushing nurses and the loud cries of “Code Blue.” I simply remember drifting off into a deep sleep.

And I remember waking up in heaven.

For most of my life, I felt utterly broken and beyond the reach of God—if there even was a God. I was a sinner and a skeptic who kept asking God to prove to me He was real. Then came December 10, the day that changed everything. My book, Waking Up in Heaven, tells the story of God’s relentless pursuit of a life that was shattered and seemingly beyond hope. It is a story of love and forgiveness and redemption, and of the healing power of God’s presence.

I hope you will go on this journey with me and take to heart my book’s simple message—that God is real, and heaven is real, and God’s love for us is the realest thing of all.

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ."
Ephesians 2:4-5


About the Author


Crystal McVea is a schoolteacher with a great husband and four great kids and a really nice life in rural Oklahoma. She is an ordinary person who had something miraculous happen to her on December 10, 2009. That’s the day she died and stood with God.

Waking Up In Heaven is the story of that miracle.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

A Big Year For Lily


Book Review


A Big Year for Lily by Mary Ann Kinsinger and Suzanne Woods Fisher is a book written for children 8 to 12.  It is book 3 in the series The Adventures of Lily Lapp.  I do not fit in the age category but I enjoyed the book. I took it along to an all-afternoon doctor appointment and finished reading it. Lily, the young protagonist, is growing up in an Amish community in Pennsylvania. I enjoyed learning some of the traditions in this community. For example, I liked the idea of marking the tenth birthday of a girl from being a little girl to a big girl. It was a special day. Lily’s style of dress changed and the social patterns changed for her too. She got to sit with the bigger girls in church instead of with her mother.

A wonderful part I enjoyed was the author’s ability to get inside a 9-year-old girl’s head. Lily’s sense of justice was strongly developed. When her parents decide to attend a wedding of a relative and leave Lily and her brother home so that they would not miss school, it seemed like a reasonable decision that most adults would agree with. The author’s show the viewpoint of a young girl and why the decision seemed so unfair. Being fair was important to Lily.

I also felt deeply for Lily as she struggled with dealing with her nemesis, Effie Kaufman. Effie was just plain mean; and it brought back memories for me of being a young girl and having to see someone everyday who was a bully. There was no escape. The author’s are skilled in describing what it is like for a child to cope with a bully.

A Big Year for Lily is a delightful book. It is a book that really covers life as a nine-year-old girl with empathy. I believe the book could be shared and enjoyed by both mothers and daughters. I plan on sharing this book with my 8-year-old granddaughter.

I received this book from the publisher in return for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Book


Lily Lapp's family has settled into their new home in Pennsylvania, but life still holds big changes and big steps for Lily. Good changes, like once again living close to her beloved cousin and best friend, Hannah. Bad changes, like a mean girl who plays tricks on her. And no change at all where Lily would most want one--Aaron Yoder sits near her in school and relentlessly teases her. Surprises are in store for Lily as she learns, with Mama and Papa's help, to manage the ups and downs of growing up Amish.

The third of four charming novels that chronicle the gentle way of the Amish through the eyes of a young girl, A Big Year for Lily gives children ages 8-12 a fascinating glimpse into the life of the Amish---and lots of fun and laughter along the way. It combines Mary Ann Kinsinger's real-life stories of growing up Amish and the bestselling writing of Amish fiction and nonfiction author Suzanne Woods Fisher. With charming line drawings in each book, this series captures the hearts of readers young and old.

Purchase a copy for $9.35


About the Author


Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of the Lancaster County Secrets series and the Stoney Ridge Seasons series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace. She is also the coauthor of a new Amish children's series, The Adventures of Lily Lapp. Her interest in the Anabaptist cultures can be directly traced to her grandfather, who was raised in the Old Order German Baptist Brethren Church in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Suzanne is a Carol Award winner and a Christy Award finalist. She is a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazines. She lives in California. For more information, please visit suzannewoodsfisher.com and connect with her on Twitter @suzannewfisher. Get Amish proverbs delivered right to your iPhone or iPad! Download the Free App! http://bit.ly/134r55G


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