Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Together Forever Review and Giveaway

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:
When I was in school, I devoured any books about the orphan train, since I went through a stage where I was a bit into adoption and being an orphan (I'm not sure why) and thought that the concept of the orphan train was interesting. So, I was thrilled to read this book by a favorite author about something I find fascinating.
While I didn't read the first book in the series (somehow I missed it. I will have to go back and read it now!), jumping into this story was just fine. Jody does an excellent job of bringing the story and time period to life. I fell in love with Marianne and Drew as they work together through triumphs and tragedy. I can't wait to read the next book in the series!
I received this book from Celebrate Lit in exchange for my honest review.

Purchase a copy:

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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

Guest post from the author:

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!

For a complete list of blog stops, go here

The grand prize is a $25 gift card to Amazon!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Spirit Led Heart

New from Bestselling Proverbs 31 Author Suzanne Eller!

Without realizing it, we've gotten lost in our own little lives. We've settled for "good enough" and days that run together in an unmemorable blur. We long for something to shake us up, but we're exhausted by the thought of it too.

In her warm, vulnerable style, bestselling Proverbs 31 author Suzanne Eller shows how living and loving without limits has nothing to do with your own efforts--and it has everything to do with God's Holy Spirit. Unpacking the promises and teachings Jesus shared with the disciples about the Holy Spirit, Suzanne shows how you can stop settling and start truly living. When you learn to unwrap the gift of his presence, you'll find the world-changing, foundation-shaking, soul-stirring life of passion and purpose God is waiting to give you.

My thoughts: This is a wonderful book about something I feel like we commonly over look, that of incorporating the Holy Spirit into our lives. I love Suzie's thoughts and testimonies that show how we can infuse the same power that the early church had into our every day lives by being spirit led. This is an excellent book that provided a lot of food for thought. I look forward to picking up some of her other books!
I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.

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Saturday, May 26, 2018

50 Life Lessons for Grads

Fifty young people share the most important lessons and words of wisdom they wish they had when they began life after college
Who better than a recent graduate to help you navigate life after college? With encouragement and advice, fifty young women and men share what they learned the hard way so you can better prepare for the same challenges.
From 'Money Isn't Everything' to 'Real Friendships Take Effort,' these short, but insightful essays address the real struggles, opportunities, and fears that you might face as you finish your education and begin your independent adult life. Following each essay are five bulleted life lessons to encourage and equip you on your chosen path.

My thoughts: I thought that this book was an excellent little gift idea for graduates! I love that it is made up of life lessons that recent graduates have written out. Everything from traveling broadening your outlook on life to the dangers of being a people pleaser. I love that the book is set up to be easy to read a lesson every day, or it's an easy book to read all at once. I highly recommend this book as a gift for the graduate in your life!
I received this book from Worthy in exchange for my honest review.

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Generous Love

Most of us want to make a difference, to live and love generously. But we just don't for a million reasons. Using relatable stories, discussion questions, and careful application of God's Word, here are the inspiration and practical tips and ideas you need to see the opportunities around you, reach out, live generously and bravely, and propel love forward.

My thoughts: I loved this book! It's jam packed with wonderful stories of everyday women who love well. I really enjoyed the encouraging stories from Becky's life, as well as some of her friends lives. I also really appreciated the lists she has scattered through the book on different ways to live well and bless others, both those within and without your family. I highly recommend this book!
I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.

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Thursday, May 24, 2018

Our Newlywed Kitchen

Imagine giving the special bride you know a gorgeous keepsake book. One that includes timeless wisdom for the heart of your home―the kitchen―with space for you and others to insert recipes, prayers, Scripture, and memories. Our Newlywed Kitchen offers Christians a unique wedding gift for brides. It includes practical how-to information for wedding registry, kitchen organization, meal preparations, party planning, grocery shopping, and more. This gift will be immediately treasured by a new bride, who will refer to it for years.

My thoughts: I snapped this book up to pass on to my sister in law, who is getting married this summer. I'm glad I did, since it is a gorgeous gift to pass on to a bride! I love how this book is all about developing your unique style to encourage unity in the kitchen and around the dinner table. I love that there is a wide variety of recipes! (the Thai chicken is a new favorite) This is a wonderful keepsake to help a couple with pre-marital decisions and setting up their newlywed kitchen.
I received this book from Tyndale in exchange for my honest review.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Buried Secrets

Family secrets could get in the way of a second chance at love

After her husband dies, Rose longs to be near her family—especially her twin sister, Lillian—so she packs up her young son and leaves their life in Ohio to move back to Paradise, Pennsylvania.

Luke Miller is ready to settle down in Paradise. He soon forms a partnership with Rose to help farm her land. He finds that he's enjoying the company of the quiet, modest widow and she may be just the woman he's been waiting for. But is Rose hiding a secret beneath her reserved exterior—one that could keep her from having a future with Luke?

And Rose isn't the only one concealing something. Luke has a secret of his own, and it could threaten their partnership—and their chance at love.

My thoughts: This was a wonderful, multi layered Amish story full of lovely characters. I enjoyed getting to know Rose as she navigates moving near family and learning to survive as a widow. I really enjoyed the element of fun that her son adds to the story with his antics. The romance was sweet as it blossomed. I thought that Barbara did a wonderful job with this story!
I received this story from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

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Monday, May 21, 2018

Take ten: favorite book names

If you are interested in learning more about the books, click the image. This post contains affiliate links.
1. Atticus Fitch

I'm sure this one will make it onto a lot of lists this time around, since it is such a unique name. And, he was a great character.

2. Daisy Buchannan

By no means my favorite character. I pretty much just like her name.;)

3. Leopold Bloom

I don't even remember this character (I may not of lasted long with this book though), but I like how the name rolls of the tongue.

4. Albus Dumbledore

Another fun one to say! This one actually is a favorite all around character.

5. Lucy Pevensie

Lucy is just such a cute girl's name, and I love how fun Pevensie is to say.

6. Estella Havisham

The name is fun, the character: not so much. (who else grew up with the Illustrated Classics?)

7. Emma Woodhouse and Mr. Knightley

Again, favorite characters with great names.

8. Scarlett O'Hare

Such an awful character, but she has a pretty name!

9. Bellatrix Lestrange

You can see why my husband wants a say with naming our children. lol.

10. Bathsheba Everdene

Not that there aren't neat names in modern literature, but I really love a lot of the combinations from the classics!

Honorary mentions:
Bilbo Baggins from The Hobbit
Hermoine Granger from Harry Potter
Daniel Deronda
Fairlight Spencer from Christy
I could go on, but I will stop there!

Parents Rising

How to raise godly children in a godless world
Do you feel like you’re fighting a losing battle? Against the culture, against the busyness, sometimes even against your spouse and kids… Often it seems like everything is against you as a parent, and your everyday life can feel far from joy-filled. But it doesn’t need to be that way. Parents Rising will show you eight cultural trends that parents are up against today and what you can do to claim victory.
This book is about growth not guilt. It’s not a pep talk, or a “try harder” speech. This is real help for real problems that every parent faces. It’s a way to focus your efforts so that they’ll be more effective and you’ll be less exhausted.

My thoughts: This book is excellent! I love that Arlene helps empower parents to take a stand for their children. I was very encouraged by the different topics that are covered in this book and love how she goes over the role of electronics in the upcoming generation. This book has so many wonderful topics, the strategies are: Amusement is not the highest priority, Parents call the shots, Rountine and boundries provide security, the Bible and prayer every day, Marriage takes a front seat, good food served on the table (the importance of family meals), Love spells T-I-M-E, and launching adults, not babying children. While I knew the importance of a lot of these topics, I felt like this book does a wonderful job of digging deeper and showing parents why.
This is an excellent book about intentional parenting.
I received this book from Moody for my honest review.

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The Girl's Guide to Conquering Life

There's a lot a girl needs to know as she grows up and makes her way in the world. Having a reference guide of practical how-to life skills and character traits can empower her to become a confident and capable woman. Coauthors Erica and Jonathan Catherman offer this collection of step-by-step instructions on 100 things girls need to succeed, including how to

- introduce yourself
- change a flat tire
- respectfully break up with a guy
- leave a tip
- apply for a job
- ask for a promotion
- behave during a police stop
- create a personal budget
- calculate square footage
- wash your face
- clear a clogged drain
- iron a shirt
- wear a scarf
- shoot a basketball
- sharpen kitchen knives
- and much more

In fact, if it's in here, it's an important skill or character trait practiced by capable and confident women. With great illustrations and sidebars of advice from world-class experts, this all-in-one reference tool for young women in the making is the perfect gift for birthdays, graduations, or any occasion.

My thoughts: This book is an excellent book, especially geared towards tweens and teens, to help take the guess work out of learning some very useful skills. I wish I had a book like this one when I was younger! I love that it has a variety of topics, from dating to living debt free, laundry to health. This would make a great gift for a young lady!
I received this book from Revell in exchange for my honest review.

Buy a copy here:

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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Road to Magnolia Glen

1792, Natchez Trace, MS
Bitter since his eldest brother abandoned their family in Ireland, Quinn O’Shea travels to Natchez, Mississippi, ready to shuck the weight of his duty and set off on an adventure of his own. It’s time Connor, as head of the family, took responsibility for their younger siblings. While aboard ship, a run-in with three Irish sisters lands Quinn in the role of reluctant savior. Though it may delay his plans, he cannot abandon the Young sisters, especially the tenacious yet kind Kiera.

Upon arriving in the colonies, Kiera Young prepares to meet her intended and begin her new life. But she soon discovers the marriage her brother-in-law arranged was never meant to be, and a far more sinister deal was negotiated for her and her sisters.

Quinn offers to escort his charges safely to Breeze Hill Plantation and his brother’s care, fully intending to seek his freedom elsewhere. But the longer he remains, the greater his feelings toward Kiera grow and the more he comes to realize true freedom might be found in sacrifice.

Includes discussion questions.

My thoughts: I loved returning to Natchez Trace with this excellent historical novel and finding out what happened to Connor's family after he settled in America. I didn't know a lot about that area of the United States, so I looked up some pictures, which really helped me visualize the scenes. This series has solid characters with an interesting story set on a plantation in the late 1700's. I really liked that there was more going on than just the main characters, that it has solid secondary characters and more than just one story going on. It's a period in history that I haven't read as much about. The series also takes on some hard topics, like slavery, indentured servants, and the scummy side of seaside towns, but it is handled well. I look forward to reading more of Pam's stories!
I received this book from Tyndale in exchange for my honest review.

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Monday, May 14, 2018

Top ten books I read and hated but am glad I read

I went through a period in high school were I read a ton of classics, most of which I look back and think "But why?". lol.
If you would like to learn more about the book (though I am not sure why, since it's on this list!), click the image of the book. This post contains affiliate links.

1. War and Peace

2. Crime and Punishment

3. Tess of the D'Urbervilles

4. Sylvia's Lovers

While I really enjoyed Elizabeth Gaskell's other books, this one was annoying.

5. Jude the Obscure

Another depressing book. I do like some Thomas Hardy's other stories.

6. The League of the Scarlet Pimpernel

While I didn't hate this one, I was disappointed that many of the sequels didn't live up to the first one.

7. Rupert of Hentzau

I didn't realize there was three in the series, but after the Prisoner of Zenda, this one was just kind of depressing. Not at all what I was hoping for!

8. The Thief

Over all, I enjoyed the story, but I really did not care for the style it was written in.

9. Great Expectations

10. Lord of the Flies