Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Bringing Maggie Home



Bringing Maggie Home is Kim Vogel Sawyer's latest novel and my favorite by far. It follows three generations of women Hazel Mae, Diane, and Meghan during their journey to find healing, but most of all find themselves.

Hazel Mae still remembers the day that changed her life forever. The day her younger sister, Maggie, went missing. She was ten years old and turned her back for a moment, when she turned back around Maggie was gone! She begged and pleaded with God to just bring Maggie back and fix her family, but that never happened. That was over seventy years ago and Hazel hasn't given up hope that someday, somehow she will be reunited with her sister.

Diane resents her mother who was always so overprotective and smothering. Diane couldn't even go to a high school dance without her mother wanting to be a chaperone. Her mother was out to ruin her life. Even though she is grown with a grown daughter of her own, Diane still clings to the resentment. That's why she took a vacation and followed her daughter, Meghan, to Las Vegas, Nevada. She couldn't allow Meghan and mother to spend the whole six weeks alone together. Mother will sink her claws deeper into Meghan and turn her against her for good. Besides, mother is in her 80's, if Diane can prove she's incompetent she can have her put in a nursing home and be rid of her for good.

Meghan was badly injured in a car wreck and forced to take a leave of absence from work. She misses her grandmother and longs to spend her recovery time getting to know her better. She's shocked and a little miffed when her mother shows up unannounced in Las Vegas. Mom and grandma can't stand each other. This is definitely going to be a long six weeks! Determined to make the best of it Meghan puts a smile on her face and plays mediator. She does everything she can to bring mom and grandma closer together, but she's not God. She's not even sure God exists, and, if he does why can't he make her family get along?

Bringing Maggie home is a a beautiful story that will pull on your heartstrings. Some parts are so sad that you will need to have you tissues ready. Others will have you laughing so hard that you will have tears of joy streaming down your face. I loved the story and how imperfect and believable the characters were. I'm sure you have someone in your family who is a Hazel Mae, Diane or Meghan.

Meghan was the one I felt sorry for. She loves both her mom and grandmother dearly! It seems no matter what she does her mother finds fault with it. She agreed with her grandma too much, or she hugged grandma to long or whatever. Meghan seemed to be the most level headed out of all three of them. On more than one occasion she had to play mediator between her mom and grandmother to keep peace in the house. She never understood what the issue was  that made her mother resent her grandmother so, but she longed for peace between the two women.

My heart broke for Hazel Mae. She carried guilt over losing her sister, it seemed to color everything she did. That's why she was so overprotective of Diane. She loved her so much, she didn't want the same thing to happen to her that happened to Maggie. Of course Hazel never spoke of Maggie. Her parents forbid it when she was younger and perhaps she was afraid if she spoke about it her granddaughter would hate her. Whatever the case Hazel is a dear sweet woman who loves with all her heart and just wants to make right all the wrongs.

Diane reminded me of a spoiled brat. It's harsh but it's true. I could understand her resenting her mom when she was younger because that's what teenagers do. They always think they have the worst parents on the planet and believe the worst of them even when it isn't the case. I figured her attitude would change when she had a daughter of her own but that wasn't the case. She seemed to go in the severe opposite direction. Instead of coddling Meghan and loving her, she gave her way too much freedom. Meghan wasn't a wild child but she was fiercely independent and Diane felt pride in that. I'm not sure she ever stopped to consider her mother's point of view on anything. When she showed up to Vegas to stop Meghan from bonding with her grandmother I wanted to smack her. Diane was pretty self centered and never stopped to think how her actions might hurt someone else.

I so enjoyed Bringing Maggie Home. It has all the elements of a great story and a great movie for that matter! I love a book that will pull on your heart strings and won't let go until the very end. You will laugh, you'll cry, you may even find yourself wanting to smack a character or two!  Either way I know you will love it and I hope you will grab a copy and take a trip to Vegas with the DeFord women.

*I was provided a free copy of this book and a review was not required. All opinions express are my own.

Read what others are saying: Bringing Maggie Home

A Semi-Sweet Summer

About the Book:

Name of book: 
Semi-Sweet Summer
Author: Jan Elder
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: August 18, 2017
Cassidy Cooper never wanted to set foot in Crystal Falls again. Ten years earlier, she’d given her heart to a boy who’d, in turn, humiliated her deeply. Now, back in town as the sole beneficiary of her sister’s estate, she’s determined to make her sister’s dream of an upscale chocolate truffle shop, come true.
Hunter Gray is very intrigued by his new neighbor. His escape artist cow, Marigold, engineers an introduction…but it’s not quite the first impression he was hoping for. Baffled by the nagging suspicion he’s seen this woman before, he plots to win Cassidy’s heart at every opportunity.
With the object of her unrequited love living within shouting distance, Cassidy prays for strength to forgive and forget. And Hunter? He just wants to get back to his own dream to grow his farm and get to know the pretty girl next door. If she’ll let him.
My Thoughts: I really enjoyed A Semi-Sweet Summer. It hooked my attention from the first page and I couldn't put it down until I finished. I felt a kinship with Cassidy. She has trust issues but no mater what she never lost her faith in God. She may not be as close to him as she once was but she knew where to turn when her life was falling apart. I admired her for her confidence, it seemed not matter what life threw at her she knew she could handle it. There is a small mystery type element in A Semi-Sweet Summer. I had figured it out before it was revealed in the story but that didn't take away from the book. If you are looking for a fun sweet read I hope you give A Semi-Sweet Summer a try. 
*I was provided a free copy of this book. All opinions expressed above are my own 

About the Author

JAN ELDER is an inspirational romance writer with a passion for telling stories otherwomen can relate to on a deep level. She strives to write the kind of book that will strengthen the reader’s faith, introducing the reader to a loving and forgiving Lord who walks beside us in our daily lives, while also providing an entertaining and engrossing love story.
Happily married for fourteen years to loving (and supportive) husband, Steve, the two live in central Maryland along with Jamie (a chubby black and white tuxedo cat), and Shu-Shu (a willowy tortoiseshell cat). On the weekends, Jan and Steve comb the nearby countryside in search of the perfect ice cream flavor.

Guest Post from Jan Elder

How did you come up with your premise? Is there a story behind your book? How did the story evolve?
When I first parked myself in front of my laptop, preparing to write A Semi-Sweet Summer, I was waxing nostalgic. Shortly before that, I joined a Facebook group, people from a church I had attended when I was a teenager. Memories flooded through me and a myriad of feelings, some quite strong, rose up to assault me. There were a great many pleasant remembrances, but what I recall the most about being in those “stuck in the middle” years was that there was a great deal of anxiety, the sensation of being so very different—certainly not part of the “in” crowd.
A large part of this book harkens back to my teenage years, my thoughts swinging to a boy I had the biggest crush on in high school. He was three and a half years older (I still remember his birthday) and he was definitely in the “elite” segment of our church youth group—the cool kids I so longed to be a part of. Sorry to say, I followed him around like a puppy, learned all of his favorite foods, chosen hobbies, etc. I try not to think I actually stalked him, but I was very aware of his presence, and searched for ways to be near him.
In A Semi-Sweet Summer, I tried to transfer some of that raging angst into fodder for Cassidy’s discomfort in finding her unrequited love living right next door. Cassidy never really fit in, hardly that enviable cheerleader, not a person that anyone would notice. Rather, she sees herself as sort of an ugly duckling. Now she’s back ten years later and it’s a tough situation. By this time, my characters have grown and changed from the people they were in high school. They are well on their way to the path God has set before them. And by the end, they are very different—kinder, gentler folks who have learned a bit more of what it means to truly love.
I like to think that God can use our experiences to help others through similar situations. Maybe this novel will provide some hope or closure for those who have been in the same boat, and spur them on to get past the pain. And hey, who doesn’t love a good story about baked goods, happy cows, and chocolate truffles?
As for me? The funny thing is, my husband has the same first name as my first love. He even has the same color hair, the same easy grin as that other guy. I guess one could say I am attracted to a certain type. But oh, my sweetheart is so much better. My guy is the man God had waiting for me. The other was only a pale imitation, just practice for the real thing.

Blog Stops

ASC Book Reviews, October 12
Remembrancy, October 16
A Greater YesOctober 19
Carpe Diem, October 19
autism momOctober 20
Quiet Quilter, October 23
Karen Sue HadleyOctober 24
Reading Is My SuperPower, October 25 (Interview)

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Jan is giving away a 12 piece box of Godiva Chocolates and a Kindle Fire HD Tablet with Alexa (Valued at over $100)!!
Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/c1fd

Sunday, October 8, 2017

A Place At Our Table Interview with Amy Clipston



Ever wondered what it would be like to have your favorite author over for dinner? What questions would you ask him/her? In honor of her upcoming release A Place At Our Table, Amy Clipston has graciously sat down and answered some of our most pressing questions. So, grab a snack and imagine yourself at dinner with Amy.

*What was your favorite comfort food as a child?
~ I think it's always been popcorn!

*What would your husband say is your best and worst cooking attempts?
~ Joe would say my best was Parmesan chicken. He says I once tried to make a roast when we were living in our first house, and it turned out as a disaster. I don't remember this but he insists we laughed about it, 

* Would you rather follow a recipe to make dinner or make up your own recipe?
~ Since my schedule is crazy I'd rather follow a recipe. I'm not very courageous or experienced when it comes to cooking. 

* Would you rather cook or bake?
~ Honestly, with my crazy schedule, I don't have time for either. I suppose I'd rather cook since it doesn't take as much time. 

I hope you have enjoyed getting to know Amy a little better, I know I have! I would like to thank Amy for taking time out of her busy schedule to chat with us, also Amy is also hosting an exclusive giveaway so please enter below! Thanks Amy and good luck everyone!!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

An Amish Christmas Love



If you love holiday stories I recommend picking up a copy of An Amish Christmas Love. It is a collection of four novellas and each will get you into the Christmas spirit and warm your heart. Each story has it's own unique set of characters and it is hard for me to choose a favorite!

Winter Kisses by Beth Wiseman

Naomi is 25 and lives at home with her mom and grandmother. They rent a daadi haus to help make ends meet. Naomi's grandmother, Ruth, is the talk of the town. Ever since her husband passed away she has made it her mission to find a husband and remarry, much to Naomi and her mother's embarrassment. Naomi has witnessed her mom and grandmother lose spouses and seen what pain and heartache comes with that. She refuses to even consider a suitor because she doesn't want the heartache that might eventually come with love. Will these three women ever find love and mend their broken hearts? They will if Ruth has anything to say about it!

This story literally had me laughing out loud! The grandmother, Ruth, reminded me a lot of my daughter. She was sassy, yet she had a grace and wisdom about her. She didn't always follow the rules but she wasn't a "wild child" either so to speak. She had lived a long life and essentially knew what was important and what was not. She wasn't afraid to speak her mind and that sometimes got her in to trouble!! I loved how she coaxed Naomi and her mother Barbara to see beyond their pain and live life to the fullest.

The Christmas Cat by Amy Clipston

It's Emma Bontranger's first Christmas since losing her husband of 45 years, Henry. They were never blessed with children so Emma is especially lonely with no one to share her life with. When an orange cat unexpectedly shows up and makes himself at home, Emma decides to let him stay rather than spending Christmas alone. She's never had a pet in the house but she finds herself warming up to the cat and sharing her memories of Henry with him. When a snow storm keeps her from accepting a Christmas dinner invitation, she receives even more unexpected guests when the teens of the family come to check up on her.

I loved how the cat seemed to embody Henry. He seemed to know what Emma needed even before she did! It was funny how he claimed Henry's chair and seemed to communicate just like a human. The cat instinctively knew when Emma was sad and needed a boost but he also knew when she needed some space. He was just what she needed to make it through her first Christmas as a widow. He, along with the teens, helped her count her blessings and see how much she still had to offer her community.

Home for Christmas by Beth Wiseman

Ellie Whetstone is used to traveling the circuit doing dog shows with her poodle, Lulu. When she receives news that she has inherited her aunt's house in Amish country, she decides that her and Lulu could use a break. Her plan is to get the house ready to sell before she and Lulu head back to the circuit. What she doesn't expect is GPS to send her to the neighbor's house and him find her and Lulu making themselves at home. She also doesn't expect Allison, the neighbor's daughter to fall in love with Lulu and vice versa. In a hilarious yet heart warming story full of unexpected's, Home for Christmas is sure to put you in the holiday spirit.

This one really tugged on my heart strings and made me cry. Allison immediately takes to Lulu and vice versa but nobody can figure out why. They seem inseparable. When Ezra Mast, Allison's dad, declared Lulu to be the cause of Allison's health problems they all have broken hearts. Nobody wants to deny Allison the joy of loving on Lulu but a parent has to do what they think is best.

Lulu reminded me of Lucille Ball from I love Lucy. She wanted to be with Allison no matter what. Even though she was a well trained dog she ignored Ellie's commands and pulled some shenanigans to get to see Allison. She knew what she wanted and what Allison needed and didn't seem to care what trouble she caused! She was definitely named correctly!

Snow Angels by Kelly Irvin

David Byler and Molly Shrock have been an item for a while now. Molly is sure David is the one and is already making plans to be Mrs. David Byler. When they are at the local horse auction David gets the shock of his live, the English girl who was his first love, Bobbie McGregor, is back and has her heart set on David. Now David has the decision of a lifetime to make; will he choose his faith and Molly or will he go with the girl who once shredded his heart and leave his faith for Bobbie.

I'm reminded of the song "You Can't Always Get What You Want" but David has no clue what he wants! He did until Bobbie came along and now he's at a loss.  I couldn't understand the pull Bobbie had on David. I know she was his first love and first loves can be powerful but he moved on and fell in love with Molly. Maybe it's just me, but if someone hurt me that badly I don't think I would be willing to throw everything away, my faith and my family, just because they had a change of heart and decided they loved me now.

Even though I couldn't understand the whole David and Bobbie thing I truly enjoyed the story as a whole.

I truly enjoyed each story in An Amish Christmas love and I believe you will too. I hope you will give it a try and if you do leave a comment letting me know what you think!

*I was provided a free copy of this book. All opinions expressed above are my own.

You can grab a copy here: An Amish Christmas Love


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Pretender





Noah and Tillie seem fated to be together even though they are from entirely different backgrounds. Noah lost his parents at an early age and was raised by his older brother and wife. At first Noah was a good kid getting into minor trouble, but as he grew older he turned to drinking and drugs to help him deal with his loss, along with his time spent in the war. Noah has no plans to cleanup his act despite numerous attempts by his brother and sister in law to convince him to do just that. Then in walks Tillie.....

Tillie is the youngest of the Caselli family and the only girl. She is the light of her family and her brothers have nicknamed her, Angel. She doesn't mind, in fact she signs all of her artwork as Angel. She has the honor of being a part of the Junior Artist of America with her school and getting to compete in competitions. Tillie is a good girl and has never broken a rule in her life, so when a couple of her friends decide to try the bar across the street she stays behind. Tillie and her friend, Ginger, quickly become worried when their friends haven't come back after several hours. They decide they should go rescue them before they all end up in trouble. It's on this night that Tillie Caselli meets Noah Hansen and their lives are changed forever.

Although I enjoyed the pretender very much it was a bit of a long read for me. It wasn't boring by any means, but I felt like sometimes the story had gottn bogged down. I loved the concept of love at first sight and how sometimes you have to hold onto hope when the future looks bleak. I loved how the author included all of the family and not just one or two characters. You feel like you really know the Casellis, as if they could be your neighbor down the street.

I felt for Noah, like most vets, he has trouble talking about the war and deals with it in the only way he knows how. I admired him for sticking to his guns even when everybody else thought he was crazy. I hate that he had to suffer so much heartache, but I am glad he was able to finally turn it into something positive.

If you are looking for an engaging read I hope you will give The Pretender a try. Don't forget to enter the giveaway below!

* I was provided a free copy of this book. All opinions expressed above are my own.

Here's what others are saying: http://litfusegroup.com/author/THanscom

                                                              The Pretender Giveaway


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Journey Into Grace

I have to admit, I'm extremely picky when it comes to choosing a devotional to use. When the opportunity arose to review this devotion I jumped at the chance and I have to say it's one of my favorites!

I love that there are no dates across the pages. You can start whenever you want and if you fall behind there is no guilt. Which is a big deal to me, because although I try to be consistent, I always seem to miss a day here and there and I fell guilty. You can also pick and choose how you do the devotions. You don't have to go in order because there are no dates. Although, if you're like me you will probably just work cover to cover.

The devotion is divided into sections, for example, messages just for me, hope for the journey, and walk it out to name a few. If a section doesn't appeal to you, or fit you where you are in your journey right now, you can always skip it and come back to it later. I like that you have this option because it's not a one size fits all option. We all have different things we have to face and the authors took this into consideration.

There are 150 short devotions total. They start with a scripture, then the author's thoughts, followed up with a reflection question for you to ponder and put what you've learned into action. They end the devotions with a prayer starter to help you with your quiet time.

I truly enjoyed the Journey Into Grace devotional and I believe you will too!

You can grab a copy here: Journey Into Grace

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Sweetbriar Cottage


Sweetbriar Cottage gives us an introduction into Denise Hunter's Copper Creek Series. Although it's not your typical romance novel, it has some rough parts. I believe it is a great introduction to the series and will have you hooked from the start.

Josephine had a traumatic childhood to say the least. Raised by her alcoholic stepfather and basically ostracized by the kids in school, Josephine becomes a chameleon of sorts. She learns to be whatever people want her to be in the moment, to play the part. She has walls that she built up years ago and they serve her well, that is until Noah. Noah is able to break down her walls and see straight into her soul. She doesn't know why or how she falls for him so fast, but she does, he makes her feel safe. But, when people feel safe sometimes they do stupid things.

I like Josephine, it took me a little bit to understand why she was the way she was. I've heard that people with traumatic experiences find it hard to relate to others. It's like they assume everyone is out to get them, and I get it. What threw me for a loop though was the dialogue. Sometimes when Josephine spoke her phrases were dated, meaning they reminded me of something my grandmother would say. So in my head, I had her pictured older than what she was. It was really distracting for me at times, I had to keep reminding myself that she really isn't much older than me.

I admired Josephine because she was able to overcome so much. I don't want to spoil it for you, but let's just say what Josephine endured would break most people. Yet, she was able to make a life for herself and start her own salon in a new town. That takes gumption. Most towns aren't welcoming of new people especially those with a checkered past, yet they genuinely seem to like her and want her to succeed.

Noah is everything I expected him to be. He's a little rough around the edges, but he has a good heart. He was willing to give Josephine a chance and even love her when others warned him that she was bad news. When he loves, he does so with his whole heart and that's why it hurt so when he is betrayed. He wants nothing more than to stay on his mountain. He doesn't even want the memories that sometimes haunt him. When a routine trip to town leads to the revelation that he had not thought of, Noah is livid.  He is determined to end the marriage and move on with his life but what if God has other plans?

I truly enjoyed this book. I don't want you to get the impression it's dark and gloomy because it's not. It's just not all roses and sunshine, and life is like that. We have to take the good with the bad. This story is about redemption and hope. That when you truly love someone you love all of them, not just the easy parts. It's about learning that God is in control and not mater what your plans are He has final say. As long as we hope and trust in Him and His leading we will find our happily ever after and we will know what it is to be loved and loved unconditionally.

*I was provided a free copy of this book. All opinions expressed above are my own.

You can grab a copy here: Sweetbriar Cottage