Thursday, May 24, 2018

Together Forever

About the Book

Title: Together Forever, Orphan Train Book 2
Author: Jody Hedlund
Genre: Inspirational historical romance
Release Date: May, 2018
Determined to find her lost younger sister, Marianne Neumann takes a job as a placing agent with the Children’s Aid Society in 1858 New York. She not only hopes to offer children a better life, but prays she’ll be able to discover whether Sophie ended up leaving the city on an orphan train so they can finally be reunited.
Andrew Brady, her fellow agent on her first placing-out trip, is a former schoolteacher who has an easy way with the children, firm but tender and friendly. Underneath his charm and handsome looks, though, seems to linger a grief that won’t go away–and a secret from his past that he keeps hidden.
As the two team up, placing orphans in the small railroad towns of Illinois, they find themselves growing ever closer . . . until a shocking tragedy threatens to upend all their work and change one of their lives forever.
My Thoughts: I have to admit, I enjoyed the book more than I thought I would. I have read several of Ms. Hedlund's books and I've enjoyed everyone but this one is special.  I love how she broached the sensitive subject of orphans and how they fared in the times. I loved how in the book Marianne couldn't help but love the children, when others would usually turn their noses up in disgust. Despite her best efforts she couldn't remain detached. It made her job harder but her love for the children is what made her so good at her job. 
Despite the heavy subject this book has humor. It seems to be Andrew Brady's job to help Marianne lighten up and not take anything too seriously. I love how he too bonded with the kids. He was kind of like a big brother figure for them I think. He was also the only one to reach out and try to help the older rougher orphans. You have to admire him for that, he knew it would be hard to find the older ones home, especially those who were more rough around the edges, but he couldn't help but take a chance on them. 
I truly enjoyed this book and I believe you will too. If you do read Together Forever, don't forget to come back here and let me know what you think. 
*I was provided a free copy of this book. All opinions expressed above are my own.

About the Author

Jody Hedlund is the author of over a dozen novels, including Love Unexpected, Captured by Love, Unending Devotion, The Preacher’s Bride, and A Noble Groom, winner of the 2014 Carol Award for historical romance. She received a bachelor’s degree from Taylor University and a master’s from the University of Wisconsin, both in social work. She lives in Michigan with her husband and five children. She loves hearing from readers on Facebook and on her blog at www.jodyhedlund.com.




Guest Post from Jody Hedlund

30,000 Abandoned Children
By Jody Hedlund
Imagine a city where 30,000 abandoned and homeless children live on the streets.
Sounds like something from a futuristic dystopian novel, doesn’t it? Or something that might happen after a war or apocalypse or major disaster, right?
This exact thing actually happened in the 1850’s. And the city was New York City.
It’s hard to believe, but an estimated 30,000 homeless children roamed the dirty city streets and alleys of New York City.
30,000. Children. Let that sink in for a minute. That’s the size of a town.
Historians look back on that time and try to make sense what led to such horrific conditions for children. Of course, the influx of immigrants was at an all time high. Jobs and housing were scarce. Diseases were rampant. Hunger and poverty became a norm. (Orphan Train Depot)






As more and more people became aware of the enormous problem within the crowded slums, courageous heroes rose up and attempted to do their part to make a difference.
While we may not always agree with the methods that were used to save the thousands of homeless children, we can admire the men and women who could no longer sit idly by.
The Children’s Aid Society was started by Charles Loring Brace as one such attempt to help the hordes of homeless children. His “Emigration Plan” is better known today by the term “Orphan Trains.”


My latest series tackles various elements of the orphan train movement. Together Forever, releasing in May, highlights the placing agents, those devoted people who rode the trains with the orphans. The agents spent weeks and months on the road caring for the children, all the while trying to place them in loving homes.
(If you’d like to try out the series, start with my FREE novella, An Awakened Heart.)
Like the brave men and women who came before us, may we always strive to do our part to make a difference!

Blog Stops

By The Book, May 22
Genesis 5020, May 23
Radiant Light, May 26
Mary Hake, May 27
Carpe Diem, May 27
Simple Harvest Reads, May 28 (Guest Post from Mindy Houng)
Bigreadersite, May 30
Vicky Sluiter, June 2

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Jody is giving away a grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card!!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The Heart Between Us



I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up The Heart Between Us. I like general fiction, even general romantic fiction but sometimes it can be too over the top. It seems like the girl always finds herself in impossible situations and a guy just happens to come along who has all the answers. He says the right things and fits her mental list of what she's looking for in a man and they fall madly in love. If you're like me and you're tired of the same old same old then you're in luck! The Heart Between Us is fresh, original, and a story you're sure to love!

Megan Jacobs got a second chance at life. Born with a failing heart Megan spent most of her childhood and teen years in and out of hospitals, it's there she meets and befriends Caleb. Like Megan, Caleb was born with a failing heart and they quickly become the best of friends, spending countless hours watching the travel channel planning their future. Megan would write the stories and Caleb would photograph their adventures throughout the world. It was a great plan born of boredom and suffering, but when the unexpected happens and Caleb and Megan both receive heart transplants their dreams can become a reality.

Unfortunately, Megan gets cold feet and pushes aside the one person who believed she could do anything. She won't do anything to risk her new heart. She neurotically checks her heart rate and pulse and meticulously watches what she eats. She's been given a new lease on life and she refuses to do anything to put that in jeopardy.

After a chance meeting with Caleb, years after their falling out, Megan decides she needs to meet the family of the girl who gave her her new heart. Little did Megan know, this was the first step that would start the greatest adventure of her life!

I was pleasantly surprised with The Heart Between Us. It wasn't over dramatic but it did have points of conflict. Real conflict, like friends fighting, mom's being over protective, and a twin sister who was like a stranger. It was also beautifully written, Lindsay Harrel has a way of writing a story that wraps its way inside of you. You forget that you don't really know Caleb and Megan and you find yourself rooting for your friend to find her wings and fly.

There is romance but it's chaste. Hand-holding and kisses only. It truly is a beautiful story that I think everyone will love. Join Megan on the adventure of a life time and find out if the heart makes the  person or if the person makes the heart.

You can grab a copy here:The Heart Between Us
*I was provided a free copy of this book and was under no obligation to post a review. All opinions expressed above are my own.

Monday, April 30, 2018

The English Son


The English Son is the first of six books in The Amish Millionaire Series by Wanda & Jean Brunstetter. All six books are currently available and you can buy them individually or in a complete volume. I bought mine one at a time, as they were released and had the excitement of waiting and finding each new volume in the stores.

Joel Byler has big dreams, he has a beautiful fiancee, Kristi Palmer, and even though he hasn't given her a ring yet they are looking forward to a happy future together. He works as a contractor and loves to buy and restore old cars. When Joel makes a costly purchase at a car auction he puts all his big dreams in jeopardy. He has to find a way to pay his sub contractors, hid the car, and stay a float until the next big job comes in.

Kristi loves Joel  with all her heart. She isn't even worried that he hasn't bought her a ring yet, he proposed and she said yes, case closed. They're planning a great future together and each have put money into a joint account saving up for their life together. Kristi's mom isn't fond of Joel. For one thing, he isn't a man of faith and he seems to always put his needs before Kristi. They say love is blind and for Kristi that's true.

Joel strikes me as a very selfish person. He bought a car using money he didn't have and hides it from Kristi so she won't know he used funds set aside for something else to get what he really wanted. He has determination and drive, unfortunately he sometimes uses it on selfish things. He's very guarded for a man supposedly in love. He won't tell Kristi anything about his family except she wouldn't like them. She has no clue who Joel really is or what he really wants.

Kristi is like most people in love. Willing to see the best and forget all the rest. She listens to her mother's concerns, but I'm not sure she takes them to heart. She loves Joel, but she wishes he would open up to her more. She thinks given a little time these hiccups will work themselves out, but will they? I wonder if she would feel that way if she knew all of Joel's secrets.

I know it's only book one but I am hooked on the series! Each book is relatively short making for a quick read. They're each like a mini series and once you start reading you will not want to put them down. I feel sorry for Kristi because she has pinned all her hopes and dreams on one man without really knowing anything about him. I'm hoping Joel can overcome his selfish ways and open up to Kristi about who he is and where he comes from. I'm excited to see how this story ends and can't wait to read the next book of the series.

You can grab a copy here:The English Son
Or the complete series here:The Amish Millionaire Series

Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Innkeeper's Daughter



The Innkeeper's Daughter isn't a book I would typically read. I do like historical fiction, but I'm not always a fan of espionage. When I read the back cover; the story seemed promising so I decided to give it a chance. Let me just say, best decision I ever made! Little did I know how much I was going to love The Innkeeper's Daughter.

Johanna Langley is determined to keep her family Inn, The Blue Hedge Inn, at all cost. It's all her family has left. Her gambling father died and left them in such a financial bind they've had to borrow money from some very unsavory characters. Still, Johanna shoulders more than her fair share of the burden determined to take care of her aging mother and ailing brother along with doing most of the work at the inn. Johanna doesn't mind she just wishes sometimes her life was easier. She believes her luck may be turning around when Alexander Morton shows up along with Mr. Quail and his band. Things aren't always what they seem however and Johanna will have to learn quickly who to trust and who means more harm than good.

Thomas wants to make his sister, Johanna, proud. She's had a rough go of it since their dad died but it seems no matter what Thomas does Johanna finds fault with it. It gets on his nerves and he often accuses her of not knowing how to have fun. When he runs into Mr. Quail and his band mates he takes it upon himself to convince the men they need to stay at The Blue Hedge Inn rather than the nicer inn in town. Then when he meets Mr. Morton who not only agrees to pay him for carrying his bag but also helps him get back money he lost playing a rigged game Thomas just knows Jo will be proud of him this time.

Alexander is one of the best at what he does. His only allegiance is to the crown and Magistrate Ford, the man who rescued him from a life of crime and who knows what. The Magistrate Ford set him on the path of a law man. When Ford sends him on an assignment to figure out who means to betray the crown, Alex has no doubt that he will bring the traitor to justice. He's not thrilled about staying at the Blue Hedge Inn but he's willing to do whatever it takes. With the Inn filling up quickly and the pretty Johanna to serve as a distraction Alex may have taken on more than even he can handle. For the first time in his life he's considering a life outside of law enforcement, but thoughts like that can get a man in serious trouble when he should be focusing on finding the traitor before it's too late.

The Inn Keeper's Daughter is one of the best books I have had the pleasure of reading in a long time. The plot is so well written it will keep you guessing until the very end. It's not so drawn out it gets boring and it's no so intricate you can't follow. The characters have so much depth that I truly forgot they weren't real! Out of all the characters I would have to say Lucius Nutbrown was my favorite. He didn't necessarily have a major role in the story but he was definitely the comedic relief! I wondered if  Ms. Griep's named him Nutbrown because he really was a nut! What grown man walks around with a puppet talking to it like it's a real person and expecting others to do the same?! I love how you weren't able to figure out who the traitor was until the end. I had changed my mind several times thinking "okay I finally have it figured out" only to change my mind when someone else did something shady.

I don't want to give too much away because the book is really that good! I do want to encourage you to grab a copy and give The Innkeeper's Daughter a try. Even if it isn't something you would typically read I truly believe you will enjoy it and love it as much as I do!

You can grab a copy here:The Innkeeper's Daughter

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

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

A Loyal Heart


About the Book


Title: A Loyal Heart
Author: Jody Hedlund
Genre: Adult medieval romance
Release Date: March 6, 2018
He’s taken her as his prisoner. But she’s holding his heart captive. In gaining their freedom, will they lose what matters most?
When Lady Olivia’s castle is besieged, she and her sister are taken captive and held for ransom by her father’s enemy, Lord Pitt. Loyalty to family means everything to Olivia. She’ll save her sister at any cost and do whatever her father asks—even if that means obeying his order to steal a sacred relic from her captor.
As Lord Pitt’s commander, Sir Aldric is in charge of the beautiful but feisty new prisoner. He has his hands full attempting to keep Lady Olivia out of trouble. When Lord Pitt throws her in the dungeon and threatens to hang her for stealing, Aldric conceives a plot to save Olivia’s life—betrothal to him
Can Olivia give up the prestigious match her father has arranged with a wealthy marquess in order to marry a lowly knight like Aldric? And can Aldric move beyond his past mistakes to embrace love again? When loyalties are tested, they’re thrust into danger that could cost them their love and their lives.
My Thoughts: I absolutely love Jody Hedlund books! She has a unique ability to make scenes come alive in your minds eye.  The characters come to life and you feel like you're a part of the book instead of merely reading it. I highly recommend A Loyal Heart to anyone who's looking for the next great read!
*I was provided a free copy of this book.  All opinions expressed above are my own. 

About the Author


Jody Hedlund is the author of over twenty historicals for both adults and teens and is the
winner of numerous awards including the Christy, Carol, and Christian Book Award.
Jody lives in central Michigan with her husband, five busy children, and five spoiled cats. Although Jody prefers to experience daring and dangerous adventures through her characters rather than in real life, she’s learned that a calm existence is simply not meant to be (at least in this phase of her life!).
When she’s not penning another of her page-turning stories, she loves to spend her time reading, especially when it also involves consuming coffee and chocolate.

Guest Post from Jody Hedlund


The Growing Need for Sweet Young Adult Romances
By Jody Hedlund
This past year my youngest daughter turned twelve and entered seventh grade. And she decided that she wanted to read my books.
Of course I was thrilled that she was taking an interest in my writing. But since my adult historical romances are more intense and contain some mature themes, I handed her the young adult series I’ve written.
As she started the first book, I peeked in her room a time or two to ask her how she liked it.
“It’s the best book you’ve ever read, right?” I teased.
“It’s okay,” she replied, teasing me right back.
The true test for how much she liked the series came when she couldn’t put the book down. She hid away in her room and read all day. Then she read the second book the next day and the third book the day after that.
She never did gush over the series. But she didn’t need to. Her serious reading marathon told me all I needed to know! Then when I was writing the fourth book in the series, she asked me if she could read it early before it was published which was another testament to how much she enjoyed the series.
“As long as you promise to say that I’m your favorite author,” I said, teasing her again.
I’m happy to say that she finished A Loyal Heart just as quickly as the others. Although I’m not sure that I’m her favorite author, I’m satisfied that she loved the series.
Even more, I’m thrilled that I could hand her sweet romances full of chivalrous qualities—like courage, sacrifice, honor, and loyalty. As she’s being entertained, she’s learning lessons about character traits that are important in relationships.
My daughter, like other young teens I’ve talked to, really enjoys medieval settings and stories. In some ways, those kinds of stories connect them to the princess fairy tales they used to love when they were little. Let’s face it, even adult readers still love stories about knights and castles and daring damsels!
In a book market for teens that has grown increasingly dark, jaded, and sexual, I only wish I had more to offer my daughter and other young women. It’s my passion to continue providing wholesome, clean romances for teens, books I know will encourage and uplift as well as entertain.
How about YOU? Is there a teen reader you know who needs an alternative to what’s available in the market? I encourage you to gift them with A Loyal Heart. And make sure to enter the giveaway for a chance to win the entire series that you can read, pass along, or even gift to your library.
Jody Hedlund is the best-selling author of over twenty historicals for both adults and teens and is the winner of numerous awards including the Christy, Carol, and Christian Book Award. She lives in central Michigan with her husband, five busy children, and five spoiled cats. Although Jody prefers to experience daring and dangerous adventures through her characters rather than in real life, she’s learned that a calm existence is simply not meant to be (at least in this phase of her life!). When she’s not penning another of her page-turning stories, she loves to spend her time reading, especially when it also involves consuming coffee and chocolate.

Blog Stops


Among the Reads, March 27
books n baubles, March 28
By The Book, March 29
Genesis 5020, March 29
Book by Book, March 31
Mary Hake, April 1
Novels Corner, April 2
Remembrancy, April 3
Carpe Diem, April 5
Simple Harvest Reads, April 7 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)
Pursuing Stacie, April 8
Bigreadersite, April 8
margaret kazmierczak, April 8 (interview)
Henry Happens, April 9
Joy of Reading, April 9

Giveaway



To celebrate her tour, Jody is giving away a grand prize of An Uncertain Choice, A Daring Sacrifice, For Love & Honor, and A Loyal Heart!!
Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! 

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

High Cotton



High Cotton is Debby Mayne's first installment in her Bucklin Family Series and it's a hoot! If you loved Steel Magnolias or Fried Green Tomatoes you are sure to love this book. Even if you haven't seen either of those movies, I know you will enjoy this book.

Shay Henke loves her family although she could do without the dreaded family reunions. It's hard to be a self sufficient single woman in a family who are all married. You know you're going to be the talk of the reunion if you show up without a date, you will also be the subject of gossip if you don't show up at all. What's a girl to do? You bring your favorite dish and put your best foot forward. Shay loves her job, well she used to, now it's just one boring task after another. She used to feel fulfilled, but now? Now she's wondering where her zest for life has gone. Could she be ready for a change or is it the upcoming reunion that's stirring up all these emotions?

Puddin' Henke has everything a girl could wish for. A husband who works hard so she doesn't have to. Coming from a very humble beginning Puddin' is so proud of her home, her children, and her husband. Never wanting to feel poor again, Puddin'  takes on a secret part time job at a local boutique, La Chic, helping with the books. She has to keep it quiet because Digger is set in his old fashioned ways and doesn't want his wife to work. She really is a lucky woman. She really wishes her sister in law Shay could find her someone so she could be just as happy as she and Digger are.

Missy Wright Montague has been married to the same man, Foster, for most of her life. She loves him and knows that he loves her, but, it seems the spark has died. She doesn't think about it often just when she's lonely. Like when her chili takes first prize and there's no one to share it with because Foster is out on a fishing trip. She tries to tell him about it when he comes home but it's like he doesn't even hear her and goes on and on about his buddies and his trip. Oh well, what can you do? At least she knows what dish she's bringing to this years reunion, her blue ribbon chili.

Sally and Sara Wright are identical twins. In fact, most of their family can't tell them apart and just refer to them as "the twins". They run a successful hair bow business out of their home. You'd think it would be difficult to be around your twin all the time but for them it's second nature. They can complete each other's sentences and know exactly what the other is thinking with just a look. There is the occasional squabble, but it's quickly settled and they go on about their day. When Sara elopes and marries Justin, a guy she has been dating for mere weeks, the twins bond is tested. Can they survive this? They've always been "the twins" and did everything together, what's Sally supposed to do now?

Never in my life have I laughed so hard while reading a book! It has the perfect blend of humor, romance and southern charm. I loved how Ms. Mayne's was able to capture the southern spirit without making it too hokey. Who doesn't love and dread a family reunion at the same time? She was able to take a southern staple and make you feel as though you had a front row seat to the family's/ shenanigans! I really enjoyed High Cotton and cannot wait for the next book in the Bucklin family series!

You can grab a copy here: High Cotton
*I was provided a free copy of this book. All opinions expressed above are my own,


Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Starting from Scratch



Starting from Scratch is Katie Lloyd's newest installment in her Lancaster Discoveries series. If you haven't read the other one, A Letter from Lancaster County, no worries! You can start with this one and read the other one later.

Eva Lapp is a beautiful hard working girl. She spent most of her life pining after Jake Miller who ran off to join the English world when they were younger. She spent years hoping Jake would come back and declare his love for her, when he didn't she spent the rest of her life comparing every man to him. She knows it isn't fair, but he was her first love and no one could ever measure up. Now at 29, she considers herself to be an old maid. She's not of course, but she has grown content to live at home with her mom and dad. When her dad retires, leaving the farm to her older brother, she's forced to move out and figure out life on her own.

Her new job at the local nursery seems to be the best way to start from scratch. She's always loved gardening and digging in the dirt over the domestic duties most girls seem to prefer. This job not only fulfills her life-long passion, it also comes with a cabin for her to live in. Upon arrival though Eva quickly figures out things might not be as perfect as she thinks. First of all, it's not the nursery she will be working in, but rather she will be running the cafe, replacing her cousin, Olivia, who has recently gotten married. She's not the best cook in the world, but, she's determined to give it her all because she doesn't want to admit she's a failure and she has no where else to go.

With the help of a few friends she meets along the way, Eva starts to believe in herself and embrace her new life. There's Stephen Troyer, the manager of the grounds while the owner is gone. He's a nice handsome Mennonite man who believes in Eva and goes out of his way to help her. There are definitely sparks there but she isn't sure she wants to peruse him because of their different faiths. Despite her protests however it seem fate has a different idea.. Eva and Stephen seem to find themselves crossing each others path more than necessary and neither can find a reason to complain.

Then there is Beatrice, she looks after the house whether the owners are home or not. She's at loose ends with the owners being gone and offers to help Eva with the cooking for the restaurant. Beatrice knows of Eva's past with Jake Miller, but when she notices the sparks between her and Stephen, she can't help but try a little matchmaking to get them together. Anything is better than Jake Miller, at least in Beatrice's opinion.

When Jake Miller unexpectedly shows up and declares his love for Eva it throws her heart into confusion. When she sees him with a pregnant English lady she feels betrayed. What will Eva do? Do you start over and take Jake at his word? Or do you choose Stephen, and the budding romance?

I have to admit, I found myself getting a little annoyed with Eva. She seemed to fluctuate between being self sufficient and totally dependent on others. I really thought once she moved out on her own and starting running the restaurant that she would have more confidence in herself. She'd more than proven herself capable, but for some reason she wouldn't believe in herself. Then there's the matter of Jake Miller. I won't ruin the book for you but I will say out of her two love interest I preferred Stephen. Maybe it's because he hadn't hurt her in the past, or because he would truly be her fresh start, either way I was and am team Stephen.

Despite my slight annoyance with Eva, I truly enjoyed this book. It has drama, intrigue and even romance, what more could you ask for? I also love the redemptive theme throughout the story. It's written in a way that's not preachy but you know it's there. I enjoyed the role friendship played as well. Sometimes we find help in the most unlikely of places and when we accept that help we end up making friends who become family.

Starting from Scratch is a wonderful story of love, redemption and second chances. It will grip you from the beginning and won't let you go until the very last word. So grab a copy and get ready to meet Eva, Jake and Stephen. Be sure you come back and let me know if you're team Jake or team Stephen!

You can grab a copy here:Starting from Scratch

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