Friday, February 15, 2019
A beautifully crafted story breathes life into the cameo character from the classic novel A Tale of Two Cities.
It is the best of times . . .
On a tranquil farm nestled in the French countryside, two orphaned cousins—Renée and Laurette—have been raised under the caring guardianship of young Émile Gagnon, the last of a once-prosperous family. No longer starving girls, Laurette and Renée now spend days tending Gagnon's sheep, and nights in their cozy loft, whispering secrets and dreams in this time of waning innocence and peace.
It is the worst of times . . .
Paris groans with a restlessness that can no longer be contained within its city streets. Hunger and hatred fuel her people. Violence seeps into the ornate halls of Versailles. Even Gagnon’s table in the quiet village of Mouton Blanc bears witness to the rumbles of rebellion, where Marcel Moreau embodies its voice and heart.
It is the story that has never been told.
In one night, the best and worst of fate collide. A chance encounter with a fashionable woman will bring Renée’s sewing skills to light and secure a place in the court of Queen Marie Antoinette. An act of reckless passion will throw Laurette into the arms of the increasingly militant Marcel. And Gagnon, steadfast in his faith in God and country, can only watch as those he loves march straight into the heart of the revolution.
My thoughts: I was thrilled to read this book, since I love that the book was somewhat inspired by A Tale of Two Cities, my favorite Dickens novel. Allison does a fabulous job of bringing history to life, and giving the reader a good taste of both sides of the revolution. As I have noticed with some of her previous books, she does a good job of making her stories mirror real life, in that nothing comes totally easy, much like how it is in real life. Overall, I thought that this was an great piece of historical fiction.
I received this book from Celebrate Lit. This is my honest review and is in no way influenced by receiving a complimentary copy.
This post contains affiliate links.
About the Author:
Allison Pittman is the author of more than a dozen critically acclaimed novels and a three-time Christy finalist—twice for her Sister Wife series and once for All for a Story from her take on the Roaring Twenties. She lives in San Antonio, Texas, blissfully sharing an empty nest with her husband, Mike. Connect with her on Facebook (Allison Pittman Author), Twitter (@allisonkpittman) or her website, allisonkpittman.com.
Guest Post from Allison:
My dream of being an author began by “finishing” other author’s works, fleshing out the stories of neglected characters. When I read the final books in the Little House series, I was far more interested in Cap Garland than I was in Almonzo Wilder, and I imagined all kinds of stories in which he was the hero.
This, The Seamstress, is one of those stories that came to me in a single burst of thought. I was teaching my sophomore English class, discussing through the final scenes in A Tale of Two Cities, when the little seamstress in those final pages reached out to me. She is a nameless character, seemingly more symbolic than anything. Dickens, however, gives her an entire backstory in a single phrase: I have a cousin who lives in the country. How will she ever know what became of me? I remember pausing right then and there in front of my students and saying, “Now, there’s the story I want to write.”
Now, years later, I have.
While every word of every Charles Dickens novel is a master class in writing, what he gave to me for The Seamstress is the kind of stuff that brings life and breath to fiction. I have to convey the fact that any character on my pages—no matter how much story space he or she is allotted—has a life between them. Every man was once a child; every woman a vulnerable young girl.
So, Dickens gave me the bones of the story. A seamstress. A cousin in the country. A country ripped apart; family torn from family. I did my very best to put flesh on those bones, but no writer can ever bring the life and breath. Only a reader can do that.
A complete list of blog stops can be found here.
Grand prize giveaway of a $25 Amazon gift card, a hardcover copy of The Seamstress, and this copy of A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Go here to enter!
Agnes Zook finds herself on her own in a small Amish community in Mackinac County after a tragedy kills her family. Most of the Amish call her “off in den Kopf” (strange) since she’s starting her own business and forging her own way in the community instead of relying on the bishop to take care of her. Since she’s viewed as non-submissive and too-forward for an Amish woman, she’s not courted by young men in the area.
Isaac Mast is on the verge of leaving the Amish church. He’s become a sought-after auctioneer and has a thriving business, but he feels confined by the strict rules. When his brother is severely injured in a wild fire, Isaac receives a letter from his sister-in-law, begging him to come to Mackinac County to help out while his brother is hospitalized. Isaac agrees but is unsure how to manage their young children when he has weekend auctions he’s expected to attend.
Agnes may be the answer to a prayer. Sparks fly when she and Isaac meet. But could their differences help them form a deeper connection to their faith...and each other?
My thoughts: I enjoyed this book even more than I thought I would! I really liked Agnes and how unconventional she was, both with owning a candy shop and with her humor. She is a fun character to get to know. I enjoyed the setting and seeing how the story of Agnes and Isaac unfolded. This is an enjoyable book for fans of Amish fiction to pick up, or if you are looking for a unique combination. I look forward to reading the next book in the series and trying out some of the yummy looking recipes that were included in the book!
I received this book from Celebrate Lit. This is my honest review.
About the author:
Laura Hilton is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and is a professional book reviewer for the Christian market, with more than a thousand reviews published on the web. Her first series with Whitaker was The Amish of Seymour, comprising Patchwork Dreams, A Harvest of Hearts (2012 Laurel Award winner, first place in the Amish Genre Clash), and Promised to Another; and her second was The Amish of Webster County, comprising Healing Love, Awakened Love, and Surrendered Love. Her next series was The Amish of Jamesport, featuring The Post Card, Snow Globe, and The Birdhouse. Her latest books include The Amish Firefighter, The Amish Wanderer, and Love By the Numbers. Laura and her husband, Steve, live in Arkansas with their five children, whom Laura homeschools.
Guest post from the author:
RECIPE FOR FUDGE À LA AGNES ZOOK
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Fudge
Courtesy of Laura V. Hilton
1 bag (12 ounces) milk chocolate chips
1 bag (10 ounces) peanut butter chips
2 cans sweetened condensed milk, divided
6 tablespoons butter, divided
20 to 30 miniature Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or six regular-size ones broken into four or five pieces each
For the chocolate layer: Line a greased 8-by-11.5-inch baking dish with parchment paper.
In a double boiler or metal bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, combine milk chocolate chips, 1 can sweetened condensed milk, and 4 tablespoons butter. Stir until melted and smooth.
Pour into prepared baking dish and allow to cool to room temperature, then move to the refrigerator while preparing next layer.
For the peanut butter layer: In a double boiler or metal bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, combine peanut butter chips, 1 can sweetened condensed milk, and 2 tablespoons butter. Stir until melted and smooth.
Pour on to the milk chocolate fudge layer and press pieces of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups into the surface. If desired, group candy pieces in a grid-like fashion for easier cutting later.
Allow to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate overnight or until set.
Remove from refrigerator, lift out of the pan by the edges of the parchment paper, and cut into squares, with roughly one miniature peanut butter cup or piece of a cup per square.
Store in the refrigerator.
For a complete list of the blog stops, go here.
Grand prize giveaway of a large and small spatula set and a $10 Starbucks Gift Card. Go here to enter!
Thursday, February 14, 2019
Hang in There, Mama!
For those moments when you think you’ll never live up to the Supermoms around you—when you’re elbow deep in the grind of diapers and laundry and peanut butter sandwiches—you need a good dose of Grit and Grace.
This refreshing collection of 90 daily devotions comes from two moms who’ve found themselves face-to-the-floor in need of encouragement and now offer it to you. Through humor and vulnerability, these short messages of truth remove the filters of perfection clouding your vision and bring clarity to your purpose as a mom. As you read the Scripture and prayer that accompany each day’s message, you’ll discover more fully who you are in Christ and how to raise your children to reflect His love to the world.
In giving yourself grace, you will find you have even more grace to give from the One who is present in your life right now and in every moment.
My thoughts: This is an excellent devotional for mothers! I love that the two authors are in the trenches of motherhood together, but in different stages. The devotionals are thoughtful and thought provoking, encouraging mothers with the incredible responsibility of raising children. I can have a hard time with devotions at times, since I like them to not be too short, but also not a hefty chunk to read in the morning. This devotional balances that perfectly, since they are a god length that allows Suzanne and Gretta to dig deep without it being too hard to get through. I highly recommend this devotional!
I received this book through Read with Audra. This is my honest review and is in no way influenced by receiving a complimentary copy.
Radical Islam has been waging war against our global civilization throughout history—and now, it’s closer than ever to American soil. Dr. Michael Youssef, a Coptic Christian who was born in Egypt and now leads a megachurch in America, knows from firsthand experience that radical Islamists have goals that many American Christians believe are “unthinkable.” In this book, he warns Western Christians that it doesn’t help to ignore what’s going on. There’s a third jihad underway, and its goal is to take over the West.
The Third Jihad is a call for Christians to defend their families, protect their nation, and boldly share the good news of Jesus with their communities—especially their Muslim neighbors.
Packed with surprising insights from history, compelling and dramatic stories, and a practical agenda that one person—or one church—can immediately put into practice to make a difference in the world. Rich in encouraging biblical principles and prophetic insights, The Third Jihad leads the reader to an empowering conclusion in our troubling (and even frightening) times.
Michael Youssef’s insights will inspire Christians to take their faith seriously, share their faith freely, and to truly be salt and light in a world of increasing darkness and decay.
My thoughts: This is an excellent current events book to pick up, since it does a wonderful job of showing a clear and concise time line of how events are leading up to the call for a creation of the Islamic State of North America by 2050. I hadn't heard of the call that a Washington DC Iman put forth for the Islamic State, so I was glad to have picked up this book! It was an informative read that I highly recommend. I think that "Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus" is a good book to read with this one.
I received this book from Tyndale. This is my honest review and is in no way influenced by receiving a complimentary copy.
This post contains affiliate links.
Romance is in the Air
A Celebration of Clean Romance
Wahoo! Romance is in the Air and we are celebrating with a $100 Giveaway!
One lucky winner will receive a $100 Amazon Gift Code or $100 in Paypal Cash.
Today's giveaway is just a prelude for what's to come. During the next few weeks, we will be giving away $500 in prizes so be sure you are following Clean Wholesome Romance so you don't miss your chance to win!
Just look at this AMAZING group of authors we will be showcasing!
$100 in Paypal Cash or a $250 Amazon.com eGift Card
Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use money sent via PayPal or gift codes via Amazon.com. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. This giveaway was organized by Kathy from Clean Wholesome Romance and sponsored by the participating authors. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.
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"The charm and romantic tension oozes off the pages . . ." - Lilac Queen, Romance Blogger ★★★★★
"Honeymoon for One is beautifully written, and the plot is an engaging one that's perfect for the holiday season. Most highly recommended." - Readers Favorite ★★★★★
Is there room for two on this honeymoon for one?
Piper Wyatt's Christmas wish is to get promoted to manager at Blackstock Hotel and Resort. Not only does the promotion mean more money, but it means more time with her son and proof that she's not such a disappointment after all.
Jace Petersen, successful owner of a national chain of sporting goods stores, finds himself alone and miserable on what should have been his honeymoon. That is until he literally falls onto the lovely Piper Wyatt. He's intrigued with this woman who can fix a car in high heels. Too bad for him, he makes a horrible first impression, and Piper's not allowed to mingle with the guests.
While Piper tries her best to steer clear of Jace during his stay, she can't help but notice he's not the man from their first meeting. But is he worth risking her promotion? Jace hopes so, because he'd love nothing more than to kiss Piper atop the Falls on Christmas day to see if the legend is true. Will they both get their Christmas wishes?
Find out in this charming Christmas tale about finding love in the most unexpected place, a honeymoon.
I stood up and made sure his head was clear before I slammed the hood shut. “I’m off to buy one. See you later.”
He stood puzzled. “You’re not going to call a tow truck or a repair shop?”
“No need. I can replace it myself for a lot cheaper.”
His smile said I was putting him on. “You can replace an alternator?”
“Sure.” At least I thought I could. I watched my dad do it once and there were YouTube videos. I walked around him to grab my purse from the car. I needed to hustle if I wanted to make it home before my parents dropped off Finn. I headed back to the hotel to see if any of my coworkers were leaving and could give me a ride. If I had to, I would bribe Ollie, who drove our courtesy van, to take me.
“Are you going to walk to get the alternator?”
“I wasn’t planning on it.”
“Do you have someone you can call for a ride?”
“I’ll figure it out. Enjoy your evening.” As in please leave.
He continued to walk with me but didn’t respond right away. “I can take you. I rented a car yesterday.”
I glanced over at him. “I don’t think that would be appropriate but thank you.”
“Why? Are you too young? Or am I too old?”
“Probably both, but you’re a guest and . . .”
“People might get the wrong impression, and I can’t afford that.”
His lips curled into a devious smile. “And what impression would that be?”
“You know very well.” I stalked off.
“Let me help you.”
He caught me off guard. I stopped again, catching the sincerity in his brown eyes. “Why do you want to?”
“Because I can, and I like you.”
“You don’t know me.”
“True, but what I’ve seen so far is likable. And if it will make you feel better, I’ll let you drive so you don’t have to worry about some old man trying to lure you away.”
He got me to smile.
“Is that a yes?”
“I . . . I . . . My job . . .”
“Don’t worry about your job; I’ll talk to April if I have to.”
I blew out the breath I’d been holding. “Hand over your keys.” I held out my hand.
His eyebrow arched, only making him appear better looking. “You’re serious?”“Very.”
***2018 Readers' Favorite Gold Medal Winner!***
"The chemistry is so swoony and the kisses will curl your toes!" -Katie's Clean Book Collection ★★★★★"Becky Monson has written a fabulous story of friendships rekindled, talents rediscovered and, of course, romance." -Christine J ★★★★★
In one day, London Walsh finds out her ex is going to be her boss and that her parents are getting a divorce—and they want her to referee the situation. So when she’s offered the chance to spend the holidays in her old hometown of Christmas Falls, far away from all the drama, she jumps on it.
But the quaint town doesn’t feel quite like the home it once was. London shed the goth image that defined her in high school long ago, but no one recognizes the woman she's become.
Except for Andy Broll, London’s childhood next door neighbor. He recognizes her immediately, which sends London’s heart fluttering as she starts to see Andy in a whole different light. But when her time in Christmas Falls doesn’t go as planned, will London face it head on? Or will she find a reason to run?
I nearly dropped it again when I saw who the owner of the almonds was. “Andy?”
The lanky boy I once knew now had broad shoulders framing his tall figure. I did a double take, wondering if I was mistaken, but it was definitely him. His same hazel eyes and dark brown hair, the same pair of square-rimmed glasses he always wore perched on his nose. This was Andy Broll, for sure.
He looked at me, and I braced myself for the who-the-heck-are-you response I was surely about to get.
“London?” he asked, pulling his brows together. “London Walsh?”
“Yes,” I said, feeling a sudden desire to jump up and down and squeal like a sorority sister. “You recognize me?”
“Yeah . . . yes, of course,” he said. A full smile took over his face as his eyes moved over me, taking me all in.
“How are you here?” he asked.
“I took a plane,” I said, a teasing grin on my face.
“Come here,” he said, opening his arms wide to give me a hug, and I so needed a hug right then. I basically threw myself into his arms.
It wasn’t graceful in the slightest, but it was exactly what I needed. The hug was tight, warm, and genuine. Andy felt strong and manly. There was some definite muscle action happening there. This was nothing like the skinny kid I used to hang out with.
“I’m so happy you recognized me,” I said as we pulled out of the hug.
“Why wouldn’t I recognize you?” he asked, a confused look on his face.
“No one else has so far,” I said, adding a super pathetic shrug for emphasis.
“Well, I mean, your hair is different,” he said reaching up and gently touching a lock of my brown-highlighted hair.
“Yeah, I got rid of the black,” I said, feeling utterly thrilled to have someone recognize me—and Andy, of all people.
“And the makeup,” he made a circle around his face with his index finger.
“Got rid of all that too,” I said.
“I like,” he said, and I beamed. That was something he always said back in high school. “But you’re still you,” he said. “I still see London.”
He smiled brightly again, and oh, how I’d missed that smile. At that moment, I couldn’t believe I had ever lost touch with him. I couldn’t even remember how it had happened.
Wednesday, February 13, 2019
Do your little ones resist going to sleep? Lull them to sleep with a fun bedtime challenge in Don’t Close Your Eyes!
Children have a lot of fun packed into a day, and they don't always want it to end. Award-winning author Bob Hostetler capitalizes on this by challenging little ones to keep their eyes open, no matter how heavy their eyelids may get. The soft rhymes about animals preparing for sleep will help them settle down until they finally close their eyes and sleep!
With silly and adorable characters whose sleepy faces will make you laugh out loud, Don’t Close Your Eyes is a unique bedtime book that your child will reach for again and again. Get ready for bed and say your prayers, but whatever you do, don't close your eyes!
My thoughts: This book is such a fun bedtime story! All the animals it goes through and the reasons why they shouldn't go to sleep (like "You know that if you close your eyes, You'll never stay awake"), but then has a sweet ending of closing their eyes so that they can dream. My children are enjoying this delightful book! I love that it is silly and sweet. And, the illustrations of different animals are a huge hit!
We received this book from Booklook bloggers. This is my honest review and is in no way influenced by receiving a complimentary copy.
This post contains affiliate links.