Thursday, January 16, 2020

Review of "Diamond in the Rough" by Jen Turano

Image result for diamond in the rough jen turano"Over my winter break, I have been enjoying Diamond in the Rough by Jen Turano. The second book in her American Heiresses series, this book is about a woman named Poppy Garrison, who leaves her farm life in Pennsylvania to go to New York for the social Season. Her grandmother is determined for her to become the diamond of the first water, but with her constant mishaps, that dream her grandmother has for her seems impossible to achieve. Meanwhile, Lord Reginald Blackburn has arrived in the city from London to help his cousin find an American heiress. Due to the proper manners he possesses, Poppy's grandmother pays him to teach said manners to Poppy. But with Poppy always landing herself in trouble, and with his heart also included in that trouble, the task is proven to be more than what either of them bargained for.

Jen Turano certainly did not disappoint in her book. From the very beginning, the readers find Poppy already involved in some sort of trouble. During a Quadrille, Poppy's crown gets stuck in the sleeve of her dance partner. But the events unravel even further from there. The first few chapters are just filled with constant mishaps of Poppy's, showing her lack of knowledge in the social arts. Also in these first few chapters, the readers are introduced to several colorful characters. There is Reginald Blackburn, who is brooding and well...at first seems to be a little bit scary. As time goes on however, the readers can't help but fall in love with him. There is Murray Middleton, who also seems to always find himself in trouble, almost seeming to be the male version of Poppy, although a little bit more clueless. There is Nigel Flaherty, who seems to be chasing after Poppy. He is often associated with Lena Ridgeway, a curious character with a love of dogs and a knack for playing matchmaker, trying to make sure Nigel and Poppy end up together. There is also Lord Charles Lonsdale, Reginald's cousin, who seems to be a little clueless himself. And there is Mrs. Viola Van Rensselaer, Poppy's grandmother, who is quite strict and gets irritated with Poppy easily. And I can't forget to mention all the other young ladies involved in the Season, who cause more trouble, trying to one-up each other and vying for Lord Lonsdale's affections.

All these wonderful characters, and many more, lead to interesting encounters and trouble. Overall, the book is interesting, and is very difficult to put down. Jen Turano is a master at the comedy, and I was smiling and laughing throughout the book. This is my first book of Jen Turano's that I have read, and I really did enjoy it. I hope to read more of her books in the near future, and encounter more intriguing and colorful characters as the ones she presented in Diamond in the Rough. 

Monday, January 6, 2020

Ordinary for the Extraordinary: The Celebrate Lit Blog Tour and Giveaway of Common


About the Book


Book:  Common
Author: Laurie Lucking
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: February 14, 2018

Only one person knows of the plot against the royal family and cares enough to try to stop it—the servant girl they banished.

Leah spends her days scrubbing floors, polishing silver, and meekly curtsying to nobility. Nothing distinguishes her from the other commoners serving at the palace, except her red hair.

And her secret friendship with Rafe, the Crown Prince of Imperia.

But Leah’s safe, ordinary world begins to splinter. Rafe’s parents announce his betrothal to a foreign princess, and she unearths a plot to overthrow the royal family. When she reports it without proof, her life shatters completely when the queen banishes her for treason.

Harbored by an unusual group of nuns, Leah must secure Rafe’s safety before it’s too late. But her quest reveals a villain far more sinister than an ambitious nobleman with his eye on the throne.

Can a common maidservant summon the courage to fight for her dearest friend?  



Click here to get your copy.

Book Review


At first glance, this book might seem like the “common” forbidden love story cliché that has been used in many literary works throughout the centuries. And while it does contain some of those aspects, it is still unique in many ways. It’s a Christian novel, with God known as the “Luminate”. Mystics (nuns who receive messages and visions from the Luminate) are involved, as well as sorcery.

Leah is a kind and self-less heroine, although I didn’t feel like I could connect with her. I still felt for her, though, when she was banished and I commended her for her bravery in her ventures. I did, however, fall in love with Prince Raphael. His friendship with Leah is quite sweet, and the reader can tell how much the two care for each other.

This young adult fantasy, overall, is a cute story that will both make you laugh and make your heart pound in anticipation. It’s not a book filled with a lot of action, but it is wholesome and a good reminder that even the most ordinary people can be used for the most extraordinary purposes.

I had received a copy of this book as part of the Celebrate Lit Blogging Team and was required to give an honest review. 

About the Author


An avid reader practically since birth, Laurie Lucking discovered her passion for writing after leaving her career as an attorney to become a stay-at-home mom. When she gets a break from playing board games and finding lost toys, she writes young adult fantasy with a strong thread of fairy tale romance. Her debut novel, Common, won the Christian Editor Connection’s Excellence in Editing Award, placed third in the Christian Women Reader’s Club Literary Lighthouse Awards, and is a finalist in the ACFW Carol Awards. She has short stories published in Mythical DoorwaysEncircled, and the upcoming Christmas Fiction off the Beaten Path. Laurie is the Secretary of her local ACFW chapter and a co-founder of Lands Uncharted, a blog for fans of clean young adult speculative fiction. A Midwestern girl through and through, she currently lives in Minnesota with her husband and three children. Find out more by visiting www.laurielucking.com.  

More from Laurie

Common started with the simple premise that I wanted to write a friendship-first romance that would be innocent enough for pre-teen readers, but complex enough for teens and adults to enjoy it, too! My love for fairy tales soon kicked in, inspiring a Cinderella-type dynamic of a secret friendship between a maid and a prince. Then came the “what if” questions. What if the king and queen arranged a betrothal between the prince and a foreign princess? What if the maid tried to help the prince find happiness with his new fiancée, but accidentally made things worse? What if she then discovered a plot against the royal family and was the only one who could stop it? Looking back, it’s fascinating to see how my story expanded from a sweet romance to so much more. The romance is still there, prominent enough to satisfy any reader who loves rooting for a fun couple. But there’s also so much personal growth for my main character, who learns though her journey that even a lowly maid is anything but common and that the biggest challenges and disappointments we must overcome are preparing us for something better. I didn’t set out to include a spiritual thread, but my protagonist kept contemplating and reaching out to God until I finally realized her story wouldn’t work without a faith component. And that faith component led to an entire group of characters – spunky, mysterious nuns who now form the backbone of my entire Tales of the Mystics series. The end result is an inspirational, romantic fantasy adventure perfect for fans of Melanie Dickerson, Anne Elisabeth Stengl, and Jody Hedlund’s new Lost Princesses series. Book Two is in progress, and I can’t wait to see how much it will change and develop along the way!

Blog Stops

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Laurie is giving away a themed basket with a signed paperback copy of Common, a beaded velvet bookmark, a handmade book sleeve, and a wooden “Have courage & be kind” sign!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Forgive or Just Forget?: The Celebrate Lit Blog Tour and Giveaway of Forget Me Now


About the Book


Book: Forget Me Now
Author: Alana Terry
Genre: Christian Mystery and Suspense
Release Date: July 19, 2019

She’s forgotten everything … including who it is that wants her dead.

Mia’s trapped in a nightmare inside her own mind. After a brain injury leaves her unable to form new memories, all she knows is that entire months of her life are missing. Those closest to her are dead, and someone’s on their way back soon to finish the job.

Heart-gripping, page-turning Christian suspense from the author whose books are called “intense,” “life-changing,” and “impossible to put down,” Forget Me Now is a psychological thriller with enough twists to keep you reading … and guessing … late into the midnight hours.

Download your copy today for a fast-paced adrenaline rush you’ll never forget.



Click here for your copy.  

Book Review


As someone growing up reading Nancy Drew, mystery has always been one of my favorite genres. The suspense, the intrigue, the twists and turns make me never want to put a mystery novel down. Unfortunately, I had a harder time getting into Alana Terry’s Forget Me Now. I’m not saying that the book wasn’t interesting-the further I got, the better I liked it and more I got into it. The beginning was where I had a hard time.

The climax of the book and the ending, though, I really did enjoy. As with any good mystery, Alana Terry did not reveal everything at once. She kept you on the edge of your seat, wondering what happened and who did it. At this point, I didn’t want to put it down.  

Terry also does a great job at pulling at the reader's emotions and showing that there is still hope in Christ. Her message is clear: everything that happens in our lives, whether good or bad, is for God. It may be hard to see at times, it may be hard to understand, but it’s true. We just have to trust in Him. It’s a good message, and one that we need to be reminded of. Unfortunately, we all face trials. But we have to remember that there is a bigger picture and bigger God who has a perfect will for our lives. 


I had received a copy of this book as part of the Celebrate Lit Blogging Team and was required to give an honest review. 

About the Author


Alana is a pastor’s wife, homeschooling mom, self-diagnosed chicken lady, and Christian suspense author. Her novels have won awards from Women of Faith, Book Club Network, Grace Awards, Readers’ Favorite, and more. Alana’s passion for social justice, human rights, and religious freedom shines through her writing, and her books are known for raising tough questions without preaching. She and her family live in rural Alaska where the northern lights in the winter and midnight sun in the summer make hauling water, surviving the annual mosquito apocalypse, and cleaning goat stalls in negative forty degrees worth every second.  

More from Alana

I love writing Christian fiction suspense. I have multiple series for sale and one of the things my readers have grown to appreciate is how many of their favorite characters show up in more than one series. Another aspect of my books that readers’ enjoy is the mystery, intrigue, and twists and turns involved as they reach the final page. My new novel, Forget Me Now, has all the favorite elements mentioned above, but includes a new psychological thriller element that I hope readers will love as much as I loved bringing it to them. This novel asks the question, “What would you do if you woke up to find three months of your memory entirely gone? Who would you turn to for answers during that confusing time … and how would you react if you began to question the ones you turned to for the truth? Read all about how Mia handles a predicament just like this (except even more dangerous) in Forget Me Now, complete with all the thrills and gripping suspense you’ve grown to love from Alana Terry novels as well as the reminder that God is always in control. If you want, let me know your thoughts after you’ve had a chance to dive into this thriller that is truly unforgettable by emailing me at alana@alanaterry.com..


Blog Stops

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Alana is giving away the grand prize of a $30 Amazon Gift Card!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Update: I Survived Finals

Hey everybody! Sorry for the long wait for a new post. I'm trying to be more consistent but that hasn't worked out. Hopefully, over my winter break from school, I'll have time to read and review another book for you! Finals are finally over, and so I have a little bit more time on my hands. I also hope to be writing some more, since I haven't really gotten the chance due to school.

My life has been quite crazy. I was accepted into Trinity Christian College and am so excited to be attending there Fall of 2020. I have been currently attending Waubonsee Community College here in Illinois. The experience at Waubonsee has been amazing for me, and if it wasn't for my English professor there, I probably wouldn't be majoring in English. I am so ready, though, to transfer over to Trinity. Just one more semester at Waubonsee, and then I am done! I honestly can't wait to see what my experience at Trinity will be like and the friends that I will make.

I have also quite been enjoying being a part of Celebrate Lit. It gives me a chance to read in the busy schedule of mine. Usually, reading isn't a priority for me. But being a part of Celebrate Lit has kind of forced me to be one. And I am so happy it has because I absolutely love to read! I hope everybody is enjoying my reviews from there.

I'm not sure which book I will be reviewing next, but I do have a few ideas in mind. I apologize for my lack of my own personal reviews, but as I said before, reading has not been my top priority lately. Studying for finals has. It's the life of a college student.

I hope that everybody has a merry Christmas! And if you don't celebrate Christmas, that is okay. I hope you have a wonderful December! And to all my fellow college students, I hope that finals are going well!

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Rowing Off Course: The Celebrate Lit Blog Tour and Giveaway of the Lone Falcon


About the Book


Book: Lone Falcon
Author: Merrijoy Wennerlind Buist
Genre: Christian Romance/Coming of Age
Release Date: October 2, 2018

What if you had to choose between your friends and your faith?

It is 1971. Eighteen year-old Carrie Falconer goes to college and joins the rowing team, where she receives praise and popularity for the first time. She also finds her first boyfriend. Not just anyone, but the heart-throb men’s crew captain! As coxswain of the varsity squad, she leads her team to four gold medals, allowing them to qualify for Nationals. However, while pursuing her collegiate dreams, she has left behind most of her traditional religious beliefs. While preparing for the National tournament, she is hit by a life changing consequence and is forced to decide between pleasing her team or letting them down by following what she believes to be the right path. 





Click here to get your copy.

Book Review


When I first started this book, I was honestly unsure of it. But the more I got into it, the more I liked it. As a Christian college student attending a secular school, I was able to relate to some of the social pressures that Carrie felt throughout the book.

Carrie is definitely an interesting character to follow. She starts out as a naïve college student, coming from a strict Christian family, and having no idea what she’s getting herself into. Throwing her life into rowing and an ungodly boy, she abandons her faith.

Dealing with issues such as social pressures, abortion, a strict parent, being overshadowed by an older sibling, and much more (don’t want to reveal too much here), this book is not a light read. At first glance, it might seem to be, but going further into it, you can feel the heaviness of the pressures that Carrie feels. You sympathize with her, root for her, and pray that she doesn’t make the wrong decisions. All you want is for everything to work out for her and that she doesn’t forget her faith.

I would certainly recommend this book. It’s interesting and relatable, not only for college students, but for everybody. Since we all deal with social pressures and sometimes even give in, this book is a good reminder that God is a forgiving Father and will accept His prodigal son when he returns home.

I had received a copy of this book as part of the Celebrate Lit Blogging Team and was required to give an honest review. 

About the Author

The first four chapters of Lone Falcon and the general plot were written when Merrijoy Wennerlind, was a student at the University of Washington. The rest was finished up years later by Merrijoy (MJ.) Buist who worked hard to keep her 24-year-old spirit alive.
MJ. is currently a Diaconal Minister at the Anaheim United Methodist Church. A native of Seattle and a UW graduate, she lives in Santa Ana, California with her husband and two sons. She is currently working on the sequel, Lone Choices, which tells how Carrie lives out her decision. You can reach MJ. at her facebook page: Merrijoy Wennerlind Buist@mjwb
     

More from MJ

How far would you go to research your book? Would you sit on a narrow crew boat with eight other women and learn to row? That’s what I did to get a feel for what my main character, Carrie Falconer, in Lone Falcon experiences as she joins and excels in the college crew team. Why did I choose rowing over another sport? I couldn’t resist the metaphor of steering your own boat, which led me to the sport of rowing and its navigator, the coxswain. I fell in love with the idea of choosing your own path and what happens when one goes off course. You, the reader, will follow Carrie from her strict Christian upbringing to attending a secular college, experiencing her joys and victories as she rises to popularity, and of her first love, the hunky Lenny, men’s team captain. You will struggle along with her as she makes a life decision of whether to turn back to her faith or do what her friends ask. I originally wrote Lone Falcon in response to all the Young Adult (YA) books and T.V. shows of the times which said, “Your parents and their beliefs are all wrong, do what your friends and the times say.” In the wisdom I’ve acquired in my years of mothering, earning my master’s degree, and becoming a Minister, I adjusted my theme to making your own choices, not what others and society may tell you to do. I hope this book will encourage other brave young women to live up to what they believe within and not be influenced by what others without tell them to do.


                                                    Blog Stops

Rebecca Tews , November 23
Blossoms and Blessings, November 24 (Author Interview)
CarpeDiem, November 25
Texas Book-aholic, November 29
janicesbookreviews, November 30
Through the Fire Blogs, December 1 (Author Interview)
A Reader’s Brain, December 3
Godly Book Reviews, December 5

Giveaway



To celebrate her tour, M.J. is giving away the grand prize of a $50 Barnes and Nobles Gift Card, autographed copy of Lone Falcon, and autographed copy of Lone Choices when it comes out!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Spanish Rose, Rubies, and Romance: The Celebrate Lit Blog Tour and Giveaway of Marisol Spanish Rose


About the Book

Book: Marisol Spanish Rose
Author: Elva Cobb Martin
Genre:  Christian Historical Romance
Release Date: November 8, 2019

Escaping to the New World is her only option…Rescuing her will wrap the chains of the Inquisition around his neck.

Marisol Valentin flees Spain after murdering the nobleman who molested her. She ends up for sale on the indentured servants’ block at Charles Town harbor—dirty, angry, and with child. Her hopes are shattered, but she must find a refuge for herself and the child she carries. Can this new land offer her the grace, love, and security she craves? Or must she escape again to her only living relative in Cartagena?

Captain Ethan Becket, once a Charles Town minister, now sails the seas as a privateer, grieving his deceased wife. But when he takes captive a ship full of indentured servants, he’s intrigued by the woman whose manners seem much more refined than the average Spanish serving girl. Perfect to become governess for his young son. But when he sets out on a quest to find his captured sister, said to be in Cartagena, little does he expect his new Spanish governess to stow away on his ship with her six-month-old son. Yet her offer of help to free his sister is too tempting to pass up. And her beauty, both inside and out, is too attractive for his heart to protect itself against—until he learns she is a wanted murderess.

As their paths intertwine on a journey filled with danger, intrigue, and romance, only love and the grace of God can overcome the past and ignite a new beginning for Marisol and Ethan.



Click here to get your copy!  

Book Review

WOW. Just WOW. This book was absolutely amazing. From the first sentence, I was hooked. And the more I got into it, the less I wanted to put it down. Needless to say, I loved this book.

Marisol is definitely an interesting lead character. Her story itself is intriguing and her strength and confidence throughout is admirable. Ethan, the main lead male character, isn’t my favorite but he clearly cares for Marisol and would do anything to help her.

Following these characters is exciting. There is never a dull moment in this book. Just when you think that everything is settling down and is figured out, BAM! All of a sudden, the author throws in another plot twist that will throw you completely off guard and everything is unraveled again.

I would definitely recommend this book. It’s interesting and exciting. And it deals with some heavy stuff. Don’t be surprised if you find me re-reading this book sometime in the near future.


I had received a copy of this book as part of the Celebrate Lit Blogging Team and was required to give an honest review. 


About the Author

Elva Cobb Martin is a wife, mother, and grandmother who lives in South Carolina with her husband and a mini-dachshund. A life-long student of history, her favorite city, Charleston, inspires her stories of romance and adventure. Her love of writing grew out of a desire to share exciting stories of courageous characters and communicate truths of the Christian faith to bring hope and encouragement. Connect with her on her web site at http://www.elvamartin.com.  


More from Elva

A couple of things inspired me to write Marisol ~ Spanish Rose, in addition to my love of historical romance fiction set in the colonial/pirate era of Charles Town and the Spanish Main.

 I ran across a teaching of how people often let the one terrible moment of their lives define them and their future. Know anyone like this?

I envisioned a heroine in the 1700’s who let her “terrible moment”—being molested and accidentally killing the Spanish nobleman who attacks her—define her and her future destiny.

 My premise for this idea and novel is: Love, forgiveness, and determination can overcome the most horrifying experiences and poor choices when we invite God into the equation.

 Loving horses, particularly the white Lipizzaners, I named my heroine Marisol and set the attack on her father’s Andalusian Stud Farm in Cadiz, Spain in 1740. Andalusians are the Spanish horses in the ancestry of the Lipizzaners. And they can be trained to do dancing steps with a dancing maiden called the Flamenco, which my heroine can do well. Click here for a video of a flamenco dancer. https://youtu.be/lSQWQl0u_Ow 

 Marisol’s exciting Flamenco plays a pivotal part in the novel.

 All this story idea needed now was an exciting, handsome Charles Town privateer—sometimes pirate—who will cross paths with my heroine when she flees Spain after killing the Spanish nobleman who molested her.

 Captain Ethan Becket, backslidden former Charles Town minister, has returned to the sea, grieving the loss of his wife and child.


By the time these two get together at the indentured block in Charles Town, Marisol has discovered she is with child.

 Thanks for stopping by! May you have an exciting, romantic adventure on the high seas with Captain Ethan and Marisol.





Blog Stops

Bigreadersite , November 15
Emily Yager, November 15
Connect in Fiction, November 16
Rebecca Tews , November 16
Moments, November 17
For Him and My Family, November 17
Genesis 5020, November 18
Betti Mace, November 20
mpbooks, November 20
Back Porch Reads, November 21
Maureen’s Musings, November 21
Pause for Tales , November 23
Batya’s Bits, November 23
Godly Book Reviews, November 25
janicesbookreviews, November 26
Texas Book-aholic, November 27
A Reader’s Brain, November 28

Giveaway


To celebrate her tour, Elva is giving away a vintage nautical writing journal and a $20 Amazon gift card!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Isaac and Rebekah in WWII: The Celebrate Lit Blog Tour and Giveaway of Love's Allegiance


About the Book


Book: Love’s Allegiance
Author: Linda Shenton Matchett
Genre:  Historical Romance
Release Date: August 15, 2019

With most U.S. boys fighting for Uncle Sam in far off countries, Rochelle Addams has given up hope for a wedding in her future. Then she receives an intriguing offer from a distant relative to consider a marriage of convenience.

Conscientious objector Irwin Terrell is looking forward to his assignment at Shady Hills Mental hospital to minister to the less fortunate in lieu of bearing arms. At the arrival of the potential bride his father has selected for him, Irwin’s well-ordered life is turned upside down. And after being left at the altar two years ago, he has no interest in risking romance again.

Despite his best efforts to remain aloof to Rochelle, Irwin is drawn to the enigmatic and beautiful young woman, but will time run out before his wounded heart can find room for her?

Inspired by the biblical love story of Rebekkah and Isaac, Love’s Allegiance explores the struggles and sacrifices of those whose beliefs were at odds with a world at war.
 


Click here to get your copy!


 Book Review
Love’s Allegiance is a short and sweet book based off of the Biblical story of Rebekah and Isaac. Rochelle leaves her family with the hope of marrying a distant relative that she had never even met. The historical aspect of the book is quite interesting. It focuses on a part of World War II that I didn’t really know about. I was able to learn about CO’s and how they were treated. I was even able to get a glimpse of what mental hospitals were like during this time. The author does a great job of portraying the time period of this story.  The romance aspect of the book, though, seems to fall flat. The author does throw in a few conflicts, but they are minor and are resolved quickly.
   
Love’s Allegiance is a cute story, and if you are looking for something that is a quick read, light-hearted, and a little lovey-dovey, then I would certainly recommend this book. And although it wasn’t my cup of tea, it might be yours.


I had received a copy of this book as part of the Celebrate Lit Blogging Team and was required to give an honest review. 


About the Author


Linda Shenton Matchett is an author, speaker, and history geek. A native of Baltimore, Maryland, she was born a stone’s throw from Fort McHenry and has lived in historic places all her life. Linda is a member of ACFW, RWA, and Sisters in Crime. She is a volunteer docent and archivist for the Wright Museum of WWII and a trustee for her local public library. 


 More from Linda

Love’s Allegiance is the fourth book in the Wartime Brides series that retells biblical stories by setting them during World War II. Each story was challenging to write in some way, and this novella was no different.
While brainstorming ways to twist Rebekkah’s and Isaacs’s love story, I happened to take a phone call from my younger brother who is a pastor. I mentioned my quandary that I wasn’t sure which aspect of the home front to address with their story, and he suggested the topic of conscientious objectors (COs).
After we hung up, I realized I knew very little about COs and that I wasn’t sure how I felt about them. Were they cowards, as many people assumed? Were they right? Wrong? Were their convictions biblically based?
I began my research by reading first person account articles and watched oral history interviews with men who served in the Civilian Public Service, a government organization created to use COs who refused military service as medics and other non-combatant roles. More than 12,000 conscientious objectors chose not to take up arms during the war, and I knew I had to tell their side of the story.

Blog Stops

Batya’s Bits, November 9
Betti Mace, November 11
Rebecca Tews, November 11
Genesis 5020, November 12
mpbooks, November 13
As He Leads is Joy, November 13
Back Porch Reads, November 15
Texas Book-aholic, November 17
For Him and My Family, November 17
janicesbookreviews, November 19
Inspired by fiction, November 19
A Reader’s Brain, November 20

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Linda is giving away all four books in the Wartime Brides series and a $10 Amazon gift card!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.