Thursday, August 27, 2015

Book Spotlight and eBook Sale: Goodbye, Magnolia

About the Book

Wedding photography is Maggie’s passion. The art of capturing a moment forever in time is magical to her, and she’s worked hard to become the best of the best. Week after week, she works with couples as they plan their happily ever afters, but she hasn’t been so lucky in love.

Behind the camera, it’s easy to hide from the pain and rejection of her past. The life she has made for herself is safe and predictable, until the owner of a rival photography studio sets up shop in her small town and comes to her with an unexpected proposal. Suddenly, everything she has worked so hard to build is threatened and her simple, controlled life is thrown into chaos.

As she travels the state of Michigan photographing weddings, she struggles to keep her business afloat and the wall around her heart intact. But along the way, she learns more about loyalty and love than she ever imagined.

Buy Kindle | Nook | iBook ($.99 ebook sale through August 28th!)

Book Trailer

About the Author

Krista Noorman is the author of the young adult novel, The Truth About Drew, and the contemporary romance, Goodbye, Magnolia. Most of her life has been spent scribbling away in journals, honing her writing skills, while documenting her every day life. But it wasn’t until she took part in National Novel Writing Month in 2008, that she found her true calling and turned her pen (or rather her computer keyboard) to fiction.

Krista studied music education at Cornerstone University. After college, she turned to her love of photography and spent nearly a decade running her own wedding photography business. She is constantly inspired by books and movies, enjoys beautiful instagram feeds, and loves a great cup of coffee. Krista makes her home in a small town in western Michigan with her husband, Jacob, and their two children.

She writes about life, family, faith and whatever else comes to mind at You can also connect with her on Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Whatever Is Lovely

Here's a bit of color and inspiration from a lovely rose garden my mom, sister, and I recently visited to brighten your Monday. :) Hope you have a wonderful start to the week!

And look at this beautiful, exciting discovery!

Morning glories - the same color as the ones on the cover of Morning Glory (work-in-progress). Be still my happy heart!

These two ought to be nicknamed Myghal and Felicity, dontcha think?
A morning glory and a heart - it's just too perfect!

And here's the happy author! ;)

*Pictures taken at Owen Rose Garden in Eugene, Oregon.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Litfuse Publicity Tour: Through Waters Deep

About the Book

War is coming. Can love carry them through the rough waters that lie ahead?

It is 1941 and America teeters on the brink of war. Handsome and outgoing naval officer Ensign Jim Avery escorts British convoys across the North Atlantic in a brand-new destroyer, the USS Atwood. On shore, Jim encounters Mary Stirling, a childhood friend who is now an astute and beautiful Boston Navy Yard secretary.

When evidence of sabotage on the Atwood is discovered, Jim and Mary must work together to uncover the culprit. A bewildering maze of suspects emerges, and Mary is dismayed to find that even someone close to her is under suspicion. With the increasing pressure, Jim and Mary find that many new challenges - and dangers - await them.

Sarah Sundin takes readers to the tense months before the US entered WWII. Readers will encounter German U-boats and torpedoes, along with the explosive power of true love, in this hopeful and romantic story.

My Rating


My Review

Sarah Sundin is the name to know when it comes to sweet WWII romance! Through Waters Deep is a wonderful start to her Waves of Freedom series, and I love that she's keeping her books fresh by tackling new angles (like setting her story in the months leading up to the war) and experimenting with new plot elements (in this case, a mystery that adds some intrigue and tension to life onshore).

Can I just say that Jim and Mary are an adorable couple? They're both so thoughtful and lighthearted, while also sharing an interesting combination of selflessness and self-consciousness. Their interactions are very "aww"-inducing! And their respective journeys to freedom and a deeper understanding of both humility and boldness are very well-crafted.

Perhaps this is a bit paradoxical, but one of the things I'd change about this book and other Sundin novels is one of the things that I respect most about her stories. I'd love to have even more time with the hero and heroine together - to have them working side by side more often and experiencing more of each other's tragedies and triumphs. But Sundin's characters feel true to their era and to the themes of each story, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Even if I might have enjoyed having Jim on land for certain parts of Mary's story - and just more often in general - the story would have lost face with me if it waded into the realms of the overly romantic and unrealistic.

And really, their times apart increased the drama, the characters' strength of character, and the sweetness of the ending!

As for the mystery, Mary takes on more of an "observer" role rather than an active role due to her job. Again, I might have been more "on the edge of my seat" if the action and danger had been ratcheted up earlier in the story, but I admire the realism of the scenario. And the danger certainly does kick in, in due time!

I'm not sure how I'd rank this among the Sarah Sundin books I've read, as each one is so well-written and unique in themes and characterization. But I really liked the hero and heroine of Through Waters Deep, and the ending is a perfect blend of satisfaction on the romance level and cliffhanger on the overall series level. Book 2, Anchor in the Storm, sounds like an exciting follow-up to anticipate!

*With thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion, to be shared during the Litfuse Publicity blog tour.*

You can also check out my reviews of some of Sarah's other awesome WWII stories!
A Memory Between Us | Blue Skies Tomorrow |
With Every Letter (possibly my favorite!) | On Distant Shores

Behind the Cover

About the Author

Sarah Sundin is the author of With Every Letter, On Distant Shores, In Perfect Time, and the Wings of Glory series. In 2014, On Distant Shores was a finalist for the Golden Scroll Awards from both AWSA and the Christian Authors Network. In 2011, Sarah received the Writer of the Year Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. A graduate of UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy, she works on call as a hospital pharmacist. During WWII, her grandfather served as a pharmacist’s mate (medic) in the Navy and her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force in England. Sarah lives in California with her husband and three children.

Find out more about Sarah at

To Learn More and Find Links to Buy the Book: click HERE

Blog Tour: Check out reviews from other blog tour participants HERE.


Join Sarah in celebrating the release of Through Waters Deep by entering to win an Anchors Aweigh prize pack!

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A copy of Through Waters Deep
  • A nautical tote bag
  • A set of compass rose notecards
  • A "Hope Anchors the Soul" journal
  • A Boston Tea Party earl grey tea set
  • Through Waters Deep apron
  • A set of nautical tea towels

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on August 24th. The winner will be announced August 25th on Sarah's blog.


Saturday, August 15, 2015

My Review of Hand Me Down Husband

About the Book (from Abingdon Fiction)

Suzanne said she’d never marry a widower. Mitch promised he’d never marry again. But that was before they met each other.

High school teacher Suzanne Bloomer has buried herself in her job at New Vision Christian School in Farmersburg, Ohio. But she’s none too pleased when widower Mitch Sanderson leaves his fields mid-harvest to fill a teacher/principal position at the school. She knows better than to trust a Sanderson, and she’s determined not to be tricked by one again.

When Mitch’s persistent kindness starts to confuse Suzanne’s feelings for him, she remembers that she is even less interested in a hand-me-down husband than she is in wearing secondhand clothing. Neither has Mitch forgotten his late wife’s plea that he never remarry. His children certainly haven’t. Will their faith in God and trust in each other be enough to overcome the odds and build a life together?

My Rating


My Review

Hand Me Down Husband exceeded my expectations! The premise sounded interesting, but perhaps not my favorite sort of romance story. And I didn't quite catch the actual age range of the characters from the cover, so it threw me off a bit when I realized Mitch was a grandfather.

It didn't take long, though, for me to fall in love with the unfolding love story. In fact, the characters' ages were one of the unique highlights of the reading experience! There are several couples in my family with significant age gaps between them, and I really enjoyed reading an inspirational novel that addressed this not-so-uncommon phenomenon.

Another reason this story personally resonated with me? I attended a private Christian school for my elementary and middle-school years, and so I could relate to the school culture in which Suzanne and Mitch work. It takes so much heart and dedication to keep those small, faith-based schools going, and I loved reading about Suzanne's passion for her job and the children she teaches. (But, to be honest, this story didn't really convince me to become a teacher... I have the utmost respect for people who take on such challenging jobs with hours that extend far beyond time spent in the classroom. I could get weary just reading about it!)

So Suzanne works crazy hours trying to meet the needs of her high-school students (and help some less passionate teachers complete their work). Mitch tackles his new role as teacher/principal with renewed enthusiasm for this task that's quite a bit different from the world of farming. And you know when two people so caring and determined to meet the same goal come together, well, sparks are inevitable!

This story has a lovely rhythm to it - and while there are some instances where paragraphs shift scenes rather quickly, which is a tad bit jarring, the pace is enjoyable. Some of the characters are definitely frustrating, and there are some aggravating decisions and situations along the way, but what's a good romance (or any story, really) without some tension and conflict? There's plenty of that between some selfish secondary characters, tight finances, and a tangled knot of emotions that create a snag on the road to second chances.

Hand Me Down Husband simply made me happy. There's something absolutely charming about the way it shows love growing day by day in everyday life. It's real, but with enough emotional drama and excitement to hold the reader's attention. Delightful!

*With thanks to Abingdon Press for providing me with a PDF copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.*

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

My Review of Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor

About the Book (from the author's website)

Years ago, the body of Oliver Croft, heir of Lord Croft of Ladenbrooke Manor, was found drowned in the River Coln. Authorities searched for answers, but no one was ever held responsible for Oliver's death…

Libby Doyle, a free spirit who spends much of her time dancing with the butterflies in Ladenbrooke’s gardens, has captivated Oliver Croft’s heart. But after Oliver drowns, Libby also vanishes, and her parents, Walter and Maggie Doyle, are left to wonder what really happened between their daughter and the boy who lived next door.

Forty-five years later, after her father Walter’s death, Heather Toulson returns to her family’s cottage in the English countryside, in the shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor, to sort through her parent’s things. What she uncovers is a string of shocking secrets that lead her to wonder if anything Walter and Maggie told her about her childhood was true.

As Heather sorts through the belongings left behind in the cottage, trying to separate truth from deceit, she has an uncomfortable reunion with her first love. Together, they unravel a mystery that will change everything she thought she knew about herself and her family.

Award-winning author Melanie Dobson seamlessly weaves the past and present together, fluidly unraveling the decades-old mystery to reveal how the Doyle and Croft families are entwined. 

Set in a charming world of thatched cottages, lush English gardens, and lovely summer evenings, this romantic historical mystery brings light to the secrets and heartaches that have divided two families for generations.

Check out my review of Dobson's Chateau of Secrets!

My Rating


My Review

The shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor are long-reaching, hiding mysteries and family secrets that span three generations. They cover the awful truth of a tragic death and embrace the girl who wants nothing more than to spend her days with the butterflies in the manor's gardens.

Once again, Melanie Dobson has choreographed an intricate dance between the past and present. And once again, as with Chateau of Secrets, I found myself intrigued by both the historical narratives and the contemporary story line. With my first attempt to start reading the book, I found it fairly easy to set it aside for a time...but when I brought the book for an afternoon at the lake with a friend (a fellow reader with a different book to enjoy!), I found myself completely absorbed by the steady unraveling of decades of heartache and oft-misguided but unfailing love. Dobson's descriptions are lovely and poignant.

While some elements felt a tad bit contrived, the various plots do come together to show how the past can have far-reaching consequences, especially if we allow it to hold sway over how we perceive each new circumstance. And yet the story also shows that beauty can rise from the shadows if we are willing to look up and beyond what has come before.

Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor is a complex story of one woman's second chance to fight for herself and her family, one woman's chance to discover the truth of the past and forge a new future, and another woman's chance to survive and, perhaps, embrace the unique person she was always meant to be. It's also the story of the people who love these three women through their difficult journeys.

This is a book to approach gently, studying the colors of each character and then watching them take flight. It's an emotionally delicate but ultimately beautiful dance to behold.

*With thanks to the author and Howard Books for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.*

Extras from the Author's Website

Monday, August 10, 2015

Book Spotlight: Where Shadows Lie

About the Book

His dark past haunts him. His new life taunts him.

After twenty years in the gangs and a hefty prison sentence, an early release gives Shawn the opportunity to turn his life around.

But that isn’t so easy when gangs are involved.

Only a year into his fresh start, the gang catches on and makes Shawn’s life miserable. After all, once a gang member, always a gang member. His very blood belongs to them.

Threats become promises. Whispers become actions. Words become bullets. He must fight – not only for his life, but to save his honor, prove his integrity, and protect the woman he loves.

An ember of hope glows in the darkness, strengthening his resolve. Will her support and his determination be enough to dispel the shadows of his past?

A story of discovery and faith, love and perseverance.

Book Trailer

About the Author

Tialla Rising is a Christian young woman living with her family in the mountains of Arizona. She loves to write and will passionately spend hours long into the night developing her stories. Like most writers, Tialla fills her spare time with reading from her favorite fantasy and mystery genres. A good book, a stormy day, and an iced coffee comprise her favorite moments.

Connect with Tialla on her website, Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.


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Sunday, August 9, 2015

My Review of Hutterite Diaries

About the Book (from Herald Press)

"What would it be like to share all your possessions and live in Christian community? In Hutterite Diaries, Linda Maendel offers a rare glimpse into the daily routines and communal faith of her people, the Hutterian Brethren. From stories of working together to bring in the fall potato harvest to laugh-out-loud tales of sisterly love laced with revenge, Maendel invites readers into her Bruderhof, or colony, nestled on the prairie of western Canada. Here children and adults work, play, eat, and worship together, crafting a community of goods and living out an alternative to the individualism and consumerism of mainstream society.

Few outsiders know anything about the Hutterites, a Plain Christian group related to the Amish and Mennonites. Maendel's story invites readers into deeper understanding of this community of faith, calling us to take seriously the example of Jesus and the early church in our daily living.

Hear straight from plain Christians as they write about their daily lives and deeply rooted faith in the Plainspoken series from Herald Press. Each book in the series includes 'A Day in the Life of the Author' and the author's answers to FAQs."

My Review

It's a privilege, indeed, to be given such a personal and touching glimpse into another's culture and lifestyle. I became online friends with the author a while back through our mutual love of blogging (Linda Maendel blogs at Hutt-Write Voice). She has such a kind and supportive personality, and I enjoyed getting a further sample of her warm writing style and personal history through Hutterite Diaries.

This book, in essence, is a collection of vignettes about the author's experiences living in a Hutterite colony. Through the fun, sweet, and inspiring stories, the reader learns about why those of the Hutterite faith live together as a group but separate (in some ways, but not all) from the "world." The reader also becomes privy to the livelihoods, relationships, and community events (both daily, like sharing meals, and more large-scale, like holidays and harvest) of the Hutterites, young and old.

The book is divided into four sections ("Fellowship," "Celebrations," "Values," and "Heritage"), with stories collected under each, in addition to "A Day in the Life of the Author" section at the beginning and an FAQs section at the end. The four main sections really kind of flow together (although the last focuses more on the history of the Hutterites in general), and while the stories aren't always obviously connected, they share common themes. Some of them are simple and more clever in nature, and some are deeper as they reflect on difficult seasons, the bond of love, and the blessings of being able to reach out to one another and share what we've been given, be it tangible or intangible.

While not every story resonated in a profound way for me, the overall collection offers a lovely atmosphere of sweetness and simplicity, as well as a reminder to not lose sight of what matters most: faith, family, and the love that binds. I will say that I especially enjoyed "A Day in the Life of the Author"; it's so neat to be able to hear what a typical day looks like in this very different - and yet not so foreign - way of life.

*With thanks to NetGalley and Herald Press for providing me with an e-copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*