Friday, February 28, 2014

Review Copy Cleanup Conclusion and 2014 Goals Update

Review Copy Cleanup Conclusion

So... *cough cough* I think my goals for this challenge were a little unrealistic, LOL. What with book projects and life and for-fun books that I just couldn't wait to read, I only managed to finish 3 review books out of the 11 on my list (Fly Away Home, The Thief, and Circle of Spies - all fabulous reads!). Not to mention that I've since added several more review books to my piles... Oh, well!

I've decided I need to take this thing in more manageable chunks. Maybe in March I'll try to finish 4 print books for review and 3 e-books... Or maybe we'll just see how it goes. ;) Either way, you can pretty much count on the fact that I'll be reading something!

2014 Goals Update

You can find my goals post from the beginning of the year HERE.

  • Still nothing new to report on the job front. With being an author, freelance editor/publicist, occasional assistant to my dad, blogger/reviewer, and family girl, I haven't really been bored! I've still got to find a way to manage my time better, though.
  • Here's the breakdown in the book department:
    • Bought 3 Kindle e-books - didn't surpass my limit there! Of course, one was a collection of 7 books, but it was only $.99... And of course this isn't counting the freebies. However, I did also purchase 1 paperback yesterday, but I'm counting that toward my March purchases - I just got a little antsy. ;)
    • Requested 4 books for review: 1 e-ARC, 2 e-books from the authors (one has  yet to be sent, though), and 1 paperback that actually came as a surprise, but I'm not complaining! OK, technically there was another request in there that I haven't heard back on, so I'm not really counting on it at this point. So yeah, I guess I ended up failing a bit in this department, LOL.
  • The reviews are coming along well! I like having the snack-size option so that not all of my reviews have to be super in-depth. Again, I have a few exceptions for reviews, but otherwise, I'm trying to review almost every book I read.
  • Ah, exercise... Yeah, I kind of fell behind on that. The nice thing is, though, that I got outside a *bit* more and varied my activities due to having a guest staying with us, attending a Western-themed dinner dance, etc. 
  • I didn't end up sending a letter that last week of January, but I've been keeping up with the letter-writing since then. Can I just say I love adding wax seals to them? Kudos to the creative Jessica Dotta for getting me hooked on that. ;) My mom found the wax and seals at Michaels.
February was a rather fun month, overall. With the FMN blog tour, Valentine's Day (visiting my grandpa at the care home and watching Sleepless in Seattle with the fam), that Western dinner/dance, having a family friend visit, eating out quite a bit, another game night with friends - yep, good times! A cold caught me at the end of the month, but nothing some chicken noodle soup couldn't soothe, right?

How was February for you? What are you looking forward to in March?

Thursday, February 27, 2014

My Review of Circle of Spies

Here's a description of the book from Harvest House:

"1865—Marietta Hughes never wanted to be a spy, but the family legacy of espionage is thrust upon her as the War Between the States rolls on. Unknown to her, the Knights of the Golden Circle—a Confederate secret society bent on destroying the Union her brother died for—has been meeting in a hidden lair beneath her home. Faced with the secrets of her late husband and his brother, whom she thought she could trust with anything, Marietta’s world tilts out of control. Can she right it by protecting a Union agent infiltrating the KGC?

Slade Osborne, an undercover Pinkerton agent, is determined to do whatever is necessary to end the conflict between the North and the South. When he infiltrates this secret cell, it isn’t just their inner workings that baffle him—it’s the beautiful woman who seems to be a puppet for the new leader and yet…so much more.

Do they dare trust each other in this circle of intrigue? Will their shared faith sustain them? And can Mari and Slade stymie the enemy long enough to see their beloved country reunited?"

My Rating


My Review

This could very well be my favorite of the "Culper Ring" series, although I thoroughly enjoyed each installment. Circle of Spies starts out with some introductions that left me skeptical. Marietta's relationships and attitudes are rather convoluted at first, and Slade is so detached and sullen. It took reading through about the first quarter of the book before I officially got hooked - but once I was, there was no turning back!

One of my main qualms with Book 2 (Whispers from the Shadows) was that the beginning impressed me, but I was hoping for a little more from the latter part of the book. It was the other way around for Book 3. Not that the beginning isn't interesting - not at all! But I'm a romantic, so I was a little overeager for things to turn around for the hero and heroine. Yet the somewhat "slower" beginning blossomed into some remarkable character growth and changes that left me happy and definitely invested in their stories.

With several subplots all intertwining, there's a lot to keep track of, but I was still a bit surprised that some revelations took so long in coming for some of the characters. Yet there's enough suspense and danger to keep tension high regardless of the more obvious connections that go unnoticed for a time. The plot is overall intricate and intriguing, and I loved the balanced weaving of romance, conflict, and secondary characters into the mix.

Circle of Spies offers a stunning portrayal of repentance and regeneration, as well as a touching look at love and hope surviving the darkest of times. It's an exciting albeit bittersweet conclusion to the "Culper Ring" series, and one not to be missed by fans of historical romance.

*With thanks to Harvest House and NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*

Reviews for the Rest of the Series
Note: Circle of Spies releases April 1, 2014.

Monday, February 24, 2014

A Golden Cover Reveal!

It's time for another cover reveal for talented author friend Anne Elisabeth Stengl! This is for Book 7 in the "Tales of Goldstone Wood" series, Golden Daughter, releasing later this year. The cover illustration was done by Julia Popova. Take a look...

My Thoughts

Such a lovely blend of colors - red and blue and purple hues! I adore the sky, the stars at the top not only adding sparkle, but a sense of destiny. Kind of reminds me of Lisa Frank, appealing to childhood fantasies and beautiful imaginings. The circle in the middle continues the theme of previous covers in the series, while lending a sense of adventure through the portal. As for the clouds, one has to wonder - is it night or day on the other side of that portal? "Red skies at night, sailors delight. Red skies in morning, sailors take warning" - that sort of thing. The model displays a wonderful blend of delicate beauty and hidden strength. And the ocean scene makes me think of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis, certainly hinting at something epic to come. The font and title/name colors are the same as the ones used for The Goddess Tithe (the series' first novella), which is nice! The only thing I'm a bit skeptical of is the cat. He looks a bit too domesticated for a fantasy novel, at least in my mind. Nonetheless, he certainly provides an interesting contrast to all the wild elements around him, and overall, I think the cover is a fabulous addition to the series.


Which cover is your favorite of the series? I think Shadow Hand is still mine, but I also love Starflower, Heartless, and Golden Daughter... They're all grand, aren't they?

About the Book


Masayi Sairu was raised to be dainty, delicate, demure . . . and deadly. She is one of the emperor’s Golden Daughters, as much a legend as she is a commodity. One day, Sairu will be contracted in marriage to a patron, whom she will secretly guard for the rest of her life. 

But when she learns that a sacred Dream Walker of the temple seeks the protection of a Golden Daughter, Sairu forgoes marriage in favor of this role. Her skills are stretched to the limit, for assassins hunt in the shadows, and phantoms haunt in dreams. With only a mysterious Faerie cat and a handsome slave—possessed of his own strange abilities—to help her, can Sairu shield her new mistress from evils she can neither see nor touch? 

For the Dragon is building an army of fire. And soon the heavens will burn.

About the Author

Anne Elisabeth Stengl is the author of the award-winning Tales of Goldstone Wood series, adventure fantasies told in the classic Fairy Tale style. Her books include Christy Award-winning Heartless and Veiled Rose, and Clive Staples Award-winning Starflower. She makes her home in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, Rohan, a passel of cats, and one long-suffering dog. When she's not writing, she enjoys Shakespeare, opera, and tea, and practices piano, painting, and pastry baking. She studied illustration and English literature at Grace College and Campbell University.

You can connect with her on her blog, Tales of Goldstone Wood (she's featuring an interview with her cover designer today!), as well as on Facebook.
 Click the button above to visit the book's web page!


Anne Elisabeth is giving away two books - winner's choice of any two of the first six books in the "Tales of Goldstone Wood" series! Enter via the Rafflecopter form below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, February 21, 2014

"Season"-ed Snack Size Review: Cress

Today I want to share with you the latest in a line of addictive treats (the "Lunar Chronicles" series)! Here are my snack size reviews of Books 1 and 2, if you missed them before: Cinder and Scarlet. And now, for Book 3...

Cress by Marissa Meyer

Rating: Spring/Summer

Cress is everything I could have hoped it to be: another sweet and romantic fairy-tale twist, another danger-filled adventure along the way to saving Earth (note that it includes some violence), and another opportunity to fall more in love with this series' cast of characters. Cress and Thorne's relationship is adorable; Cinder and Kai's relationship is still mysterious, awkward, and tender; and Scarlet and Wolf's relationship is wreaking havoc with my heart. Plus, Iko really endeared herself to me in this book (too, too cute!), and I'm getting excited for the next couple's story in Winter. The imagery in Cress is enchanting, and the emphasis on how life is invaluable is both thought-provoking and wonderful. The "Lunar Chronicles" series has completely impressed me, and I'm sure I'll be half-giddy, half-devastated when the 4th and final installment finally releases.

Note: "Seasoned" or "unseasoned" is in reference to my book rating system. Thanks to Juju of Tales of Whimsy for the inspiration regarding mini reviews!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Snack Size Reviews for Bite Size Books

Sometimes it's really nice to just read something short, especially when you feel like you haven't been getting much reading done and the blog is looking bare. Since I have Book 3 in the "Culper Ring" series on my Kindle (thanks to NetGalley and Harvest House!), I thought it would be nice to finally read the two free companion stories that come before it...

Fairchild's Lady (#1.5) by Roseanna M. White

Rating: Spring

For a sweet historical morsel with a helping of suspense, look no further than Fairchild's Lady! The Versailles setting is intriguing, the attraction adorable, and the danger quite compelling for a novella. While the romance gets a bit flowery and the events and transitions are rather quick, I still quite enjoyed reading more about Isaac Fairchild and meeting Lady Julienne. This was just the right length and level of engagement for an afternoon read.

A Hero's Promise (#2.5) by Roseanna M. White

Rating: Fall/Spring

Showcasing an interesting historical event with an imaginative flair, A Hero's Promise is a nice, quick read. While I did like the hero and heroine's history together and the imagery in Chapter 1, I confess this short story didn't intrigue me as much as Fairchild's Lady, and I would have liked Jack and Lenna to have more time together, especially given the shorter length of the story. But this is still an enjoyable companion to the "Culper Ring" series, paving the way for a more in-depth addition with Circle of Spies (Book 3).

Both of these stories are available for FREE! You can find the links on the author's website.

Here are my reviews of Books 1 and 2: Ring of Secrets and Whispers from the Shadows. Both are great reads! And be looking for my review of Book 3, coming soon!

Note: "Seasoned" or "unseasoned" is in reference to my book rating system. Thanks to Juju of Tales of Whimsy for the inspiration regarding mini reviews!

Friday, February 14, 2014

My Review of Fly Away Home

Happy Valentine's Day, dear readers! I have the great pleasure of sharing about a romantic new release with you today: Fly Away Home - a debut by blogger extraordinaire (The Inkpen Authoress) and fellow self-pubbing friend Rachel Heffington. You can purchase signed copies from the author (learn more HERE), or you can buy the book on Amazon in either e-book or paperback formats! Read on to see what the book's about and to hear my thoughts...

Here's a description of the book:

"1952 New York City: Callie Harper is a woman set to make it big in the world of journalism. Liberated from all but her buried and troubled past, Callie craves glamour and the satisfaction she knows it will bring. When one of America's most celebrated journalists, Wade Barnett, calls on Callie to help him with a revolutionary project, Callie finds herself co-pilot to a Christian man whose life and ideas of true greatness run noisily counter to hers on every point. But when the secrets of Callie's past are hung over her head as a threat, there is space for only one love, one answer: betray Wade Barnett to save her reputation, or sacrifice everything for the sake of the man she loved and the God she fled. The consequences of either decision will define the rest of her life.

Self-preservation has never looked more tempting."

My Rating


My Review

The book begins with lots of sass, an intriguing setting, and a voice that both echoes the classics and injects both humor and wisdom in a fresh way. It's an interesting blend, and one that took me a bit to get comfortable with, but ultimately charmed me as the story progressed with lovely wording and great plot construction.

The heroine, Callie, frustrated me throughout a good deal of the book, and yet there was enough earnestness in her, enough hidden hurt visible through the holes in her mask, and enough hope for her character that she endeared herself to me and made me not mind being in her first-person POV. Plus, she loves her cat, chocolates, and writing - there's no way we couldn't be friends on at least some level!

And the hero... *happy sigh* He really is quite wonderful, despite his sometimes patronizing and occasionally foolish ways. Getting glimpses into his thoughts and heart through letters really added a touch of class and made the story that much sweeter and interesting.

There really is a lot to love - a trip back to the 1950s, the back-and-forth clash and banter between two journalists, a fascinating array of settings and situations, a dash of suspense, a lesson in true love, and some absolutely fabulous lines worthy of highlighting or underlining (either for their wittiness or their lyrical beauty). While there are a couple of borderline preachy scenes, this really is a unique and clever take on inspirational fiction, with one part of the storyline being a bit reminiscent of the movie Miss Potter. Heffington's voice shines like the New York skyline, and Fly Away Home is a brilliant debut.

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

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Bookish Update and Snack Size Review

Today's topic: books. Surprise! ;)

Kindle Purchases

One of my goals for 2014 was to purchase only 3 Kindle (or other format) books a month. (I've already reached my limit for February...) So I thought I'd share with you the purchases I've made so far, because I've found some really great reads!

For January:
I got the first for $3.99, the second for $1.99 (Kindle Daily Deal), and the third for $.99. I've already read all of them, surprisingly, and they were all great reads! My favorite was This is What Happy Looks Like - it could possibly make my list of 2014 favorites. So good!

For February:
I got the first for $.99, the second for $6.15, and the third for $2.99. Can I just say what a steal of a deal the first is?? (It's still only $.99, by the way, as part of a limited-time offer!) I already owned two of the seven e-books (The Reluctant Bachelorette and My Own Mr. Darcy), but the set includes a couple I had eyed before and others that sounded quite good. My understanding - based on the authors and what I've heard - is that these are all generally clean romances. And really, the list is phenomenal!

As for the other two, I *think* the first came to my attention when I found another book by the author on NetGalley. (Not sure if I'll be accepted to review it, but honestly, it's not like I need any more books to read right now, LOL.) I started looking around on Goodreads, and I came across Sean Griswold's Head. When I read the blurb, saw Kara's review, and looked at the new cover on Amazon, I couldn't resist. And Under Zenith? Well, I think I found out about that because of the blog tour, and as soon as I read the description and saw the cover, I knew it had to be my final purchase of the month! I started stalking Amazon until it's release, LOL. ;) And I wasn't disappointed! You can find my review at the end of this post.

Other Finds

I haven't read this book yet, but I'm very eager to - it's Making Faces by Amy Harmon. Now, if you've seen the cover either on Goodreads, in the sidebar here, or on Amazon, I know it doesn't quite fit with most of the other books I pick up. It looks very much like a mainstream romance, and I'm told it does include some language. But this post over on Fiction Hero Features not only brought the book to my attention - it provided me a chance to read a copy (thank you, Nancy!) and it made me really, really intrigued. (Be sure to check the post out - along with the comments section!) I just love finding "diamonds in the rough" - discovering gems outside of my normal reading scope. And it's fun being able to then share about it with others! There's something exciting about the thrill of the hunt and the victory of a good discovery. ;) Anyway, I can't personally recommend it yet until I've read it, but I'm confident it's going to be good!

Also, I received two books in the mail yesterday - one was a review book that I'm very excited about (The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn by Lori Benton, which makes me think of Courting Morrow Little by Laura Frantz and has a very gorgeous cover to boot!) and the other was this little (or should I say big? there are a lot of pages!) beauty I pre-ordered around Christmastime:

I cannot tell you how excited I am to read Cress!!


As you can well imagine, I'm not making a ton of progress with the Review Copy Cleanup. However, I am in the middle of The Thief by Stephanie Landsem, which I'll be reviewing either later this month or beginning of next month for the Litfuse Publicity blog tour - and it is so good! I also plan on reading Fly Away Home by Rachel Heffington in the next few days, so be looking for my review on Valentine's Day (when the book releases)!

...and Editing (etc.)

While I do hope to get more reviews up, I know I'm going to have to step back a bit from the blogosphere and world of social media. I confess I've been caught up with chasing ideas for my books (like The Audiobook Question), along with all the bookish stuff mentioned above. But while I hope to work on Morning Glory in the coming weeks, I need to let the rest go for a time. (I'll still plan on posting occasionally on the series blog and all that, but I need to focus on other things besides non-stop marketing!) This isn't a good-bye or anything like that... It's more an attempt to tell myself to stop getting so ridiculously distracted online! LOL. Yeah, we'll see how that goes. ;)

Anyway, one of the main reasons I need to get offline this week is that I have an editing project for a client I'm currently working on. Fun stuff, and I look forward to sharing more with you soon! And March (and possibly April?) is going to be swamped with blog-tour stuff, just as an FYI. I've got several blog tours coming up, each of which is unique and should be great fun! Looking forward to sharing more about these projects with you all.

A "Season"-ed Snack Size Review

And now for my snack size review of Under Zenith!

Under Zenith by Shannen Crane Camp

Rating: Spring/Summer

Under Zenith is an intriguing, wild, and super creative read! For most of the book, events are rather bizarre, and yet the overall mystery and constant "what will happen next?" feeling kept me engaged in the strange story world. While one aspect of the ending seemed obvious the closer I got to the finish, I was still surprised by other twists - and admittedly giddy at how things turned out (even though a certain character came across as inconsistent, and I'm not quite sure I bought the reason why). I loved the way family was ultimately portrayed in this story, and I'm really impressed with the imagery and cleverness of it all. An addictive and fascinating NA (New Adult) read!

Note: "Seasoned" or "unseasoned" is in reference to my book rating system. Thanks to Juju of Tales of Whimsy for the inspiration regarding mini reviews!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Conclusion of the Forget Me Not Blog Tour!

This has been a fun week (and sort of a crazy month)! I'm always so blessed by those who are willing to help me spread the word about my writing. It was wonderful being able to share behind-the-scenes info on my writing and publishing journey, talk about some great shows/movies (like Bonanza and The Journey of Natty Gann), and read all the thoughtful reviews for Forget Me Not. But before I get to the acknowledgements, I've got a winner announcement and an update!

(I'm including some quote pics from Forget Me Not throughout the post. The pics are ones I took in Virginia City, Nevada and edited via PicMonkey. If you've read Forget Me Not, do feel free to share a favorite quote in the comments section, if you have one! I'd love to hear what lines stood out to you.)


I was very excited when I decided on the giveaway prizes for this tour. Besides a signed paperback copy of Forget Me Not once it's available, I ordered a DVD copy of The Journey of Natty Gann and "Barton Hollow" by The Civil Wars on CD. The movie is near and dear to my heart, as it includes one of my fictional crushes, and it very much made an impression on my teenage self. I'm in love with "journeys"! Plus, the music is gorgeous, the ending is really touching, and there are trains. Can't go wrong there! As for the CD, a couple of the songs from there are included on the Forget Me Not "soundtrack" (I mean, you can't get a more fitting song than one titled "Forget Me Not"!). Plus, I realized that there are actually a few more songs on this CD version than the MP3 album I have - sweet!

All that to say, even if you weren't the winner, I do hope you'll check out The Journey of Natty Gann (keeping in mind that there is some language and violence) and "Barton Hollow," as I love both! And, of course, I'd love it if you picked up a copy of Forget Me Not, too. ;)

And the winner is...


Congratulations, Amber! (Sounds like I'm congratulating myself, LOL.) Be on the lookout for my e-mail. I hope you enjoy your "unforgettable journey" prize package!


You might have already seen this yesterday, but I signed up for DOOM - a NaNoWriMo-ish challenge to write 50,000 words in two months. My goal is to have the first draft of Morning Glory completed by May. I've already started researching, brainstorming, and working on some pieces to include in the story, but I think I better start getting some actual writing done. ;) You can track my progress via the StoryToolz widget in the sidebar!

What else? Well, I'll hopefully be sharing another companion short story this spring - Fairy Slippers, which is about Zachary Taylor after Bleeding Heart. So I'll be busy the next few months writing and editing and all that jazz! Hoping I can find a good balance between working on this series and keeping up with my freelance business, reading/reviewing, working for my dad, and other aspects of my life. And then after I wrap up this series (at least for the time being), I hope to share with you about another project in a different genre that I want to pursue...

Want to stay in the loop about all of my writing and publishing adventures? I'd love to have you follow "The Heart's Spring" series blog and sign up for my author newsletter! I'm sure you'll still hear the basics here, but you'll get all the sneak peeks, extras, and compiled news via those two outlets. Hope to see you there!


Special thanks to Melanie, Miranda, Lydia, Brooke, Meagan, Molly, Kara, Rissi, Alyssa, Rachel, Jamie, Grace, Rachelle, Tammy, Jillian, Faye, Abbi, Audrey, Amber, Grace, Julie, Sherida, Carissa, and Anne Elisabeth. There would've been no blog tour without you - but more than that, there would be little or no buzz or excitement or support for my books in the blogosphere without you. I'm so grateful for each of you! Thank you for all you do to encourage me and share my books with others. ♥

(If you want to revisit any of the interviews, guest posts, or reviews, you can find links archived on the Forget Me Not site.)

The fun is far from over! Beyond my writing projects, I also have several publicity projects for clients coming soon. You can check out the blog tour pages for two of them (upper right, below header). And of course there should be reviews, life updates, and more headed your way... So stay tuned, old followers and new! A new season is upon us.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Two Months of DOOM

The sweet Amanda of The Ramblings of a Wayward Author is hosting her own NaNoWriMo-ish writing challenge in the months of March and April, simply known as DOOM...

DOOM stands for "Definitely O-normous O-uthor Months" or whatever you want it to be. ;) Some of my suggestions were: "Determination Overcomes Our Muddling," "Dedication Overcomes Our Mess," "Determined O-thers in Our Midst," "Determination On Our Minds," "Determination Overcomes Obstacles Mightily." Figuring out the acronym is rather fun! LOL. I'm kind of partial to the first one, so I think I'll treat it as "Determination Overcomes Our Muddling." I'll try to see the challenge as getting words on the paper, even if I'm just muddling through. 

Anyway, here are the rules of the challenge:
  • Who: Hosted by The Ramblings of a Wayward Author
  • What: A challenge to write 50,000 words in 2 months
  • When: March - April 2014
  • Where: There's a Facebook group, but since I'm not on Facebook, I'm going to mostly be tweeting and blogging. I think I'll use the hashtag #MonthsofDOOM - and of course I hope to meet up with other writers for #1k1hrs!
  • Why: To get words on paper and complete a novel!
The challenge rules aren't strict - the point is just to motivate yourself to write. I was considering joining Speedbo (over at Seekerville) again this year, which is what helped me to finish Bleeding Heart. (This time last year I still wasn't done writing the first draft of BH! That's so strange...) And I totally recommend that challenge to anyone looking to finish whatever project they're working on in March! But when I discovered that Amanda was hosting a 2-month challenge starting in March, it seemed like a perfect fit. I think this would be much more doable over two months, especially since I've got editing & publicity projects and other stuff going on. So hopefully by the end of April I'll have the first draft of Morning Glory done! That's my goal. :)

You can follow my writing progress via the StoryToolz widget in the sidebar of my series blog. And if you'd like to join me, Amanda, and a group of other writers for 2 months of DOOM, be sure to check out the lowdown on Amanda's blog and let her know you're signing up!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Litfuse Publicity Blog Tour: The Calling

Here's a description of the book:

Book Two in the Inn at Eagle Hill series.

Bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher delivers her trademark twists, turns, and tender romance in this delightful and exciting visit to the deceptively quiet community of Stoney Ridge. 

Twenty-year-old Bethany Schrock is restless. Her love life has derailed, her faith hangs by a thread, and she is spending the incredibly hot summer days wading through a lifetime’s accumulation of junk at the home of five ancient Amish sisters. About the only thing that holds her interest is the spirited and dangerously handsome Jimmy Fisher–and he seems bent on irritating her to no end.

When the sly old sisters and a guest at the Inn get Bethany involved in running the local soup kitchen and starting a community garden, she suddenly finds herself wondering, Shootfire! How did that happen? Despite her newfound purposefulness, a gnawing emptiness about a childhood mystery continues to plague her. Encouraged by Jimmy Fisher, she will seek out the answers she craves–and uncover a shocking secret that will break her heart, heal it, and point her to love.

My Rating


My Review

With the first book in this series taking a while to grow on me and turning out not to be a favorite (although it was still good), I wasn't sure what to expect with this one. I did hold out hope, though, that Bethany and Jimmy - characters whose potential romance I was interested in - would save the day and make this an enjoyable read. And all in all, my hopes were happily fulfilled! While this series does have a different feel due to the uniqueness of the characters, family situations, and the B&B, I felt like The Calling was a reminder of (and a return to) what I love about Fisher's books.

We've got an interesting cast with this story: a young Amish woman who likes to organize things, is a bit sassy, and doesn't like to step out of her comfort zone; her younger sister with a couple of big secrets involving some letters and a crush; a young Amish man who's torn about his future and about his feelings for a certain headstrong girl; and a female preacher who comes to stay at the Inn at Eagle House when she loses her job. And those are just the main POV perspectives! There's also the rest of Bethany and Mim's family, Jimmy's overprotective and determined mother, the neighbors, a group of older women bent on helping others at the cost of a cluttered home, a group of "outcast" girls, an attorney, and a "villain." One thing's for sure - Fisher knows how to create some authentic but quirky characters! And she demonstrates once again in this book that she can make the reader care for them.

I really enjoyed seeing these characters grow, watching them interact and respond to revealed secrets, and observing them live in love. There are some intriguing twists in the plot, with a dash of suspense to boost the pace of this character-driven novel. And the lessons learned through it all are really touching - about the importance of truth and of reaching out in compassion and understanding.

The Calling is a great continuation of "The Inn at Eagle Hill" series, one that held my interest and won me over much more than Book 1. Fisher continues to write fascinating Amish novels!

*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.*

About the Author

Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of the Inn at Eagle Hill series, Lancaster County Secrets series, and the Stoney Ridge Seasons series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including “Amish Peace.” She is also the coauthor of a new Amish children’s series, The Adventures of Lily Lapp. Her interest in the Anabaptist cultures can be directly traced to her grandfather, who was raised in the Old Order German Baptist Brethren Church in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Suzanne is a Carol Award winner and a Christy Award finalist. She is a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazines. She lives in California. For more information, please visit and connect with her on Twitter @suzannewfisher.

To Buy the Book: click HERE

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

My Reviews of Other Fisher Books: The Waiting, The Search, A Lancaster County Christmas, The Keeper, The Haven, The Letters

Litfuse Contest

Bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher is celebrating her newest book, The Calling, by giving away TWO iPads, TWO Kindles, and TWO Nooks!

Two grand prize winners will receive:
  • An iPad
  • The Letters and The Calling by Suzanne Woods Fisher
Four second place winners will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX or a Nook HD—winner's choice!
  • The Letters and The Calling by Suzanne Woods Fisher
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 8th. All winners will be announced February 10th at Suzanne's blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to visit Suzanne's blog on the 10th to see if you won one of the great prizes! (Or better yet, subscribe to her blog and have the winner announcement delivered to your inbox!)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

My Review of This is What Happy Looks Like

I caught this book at the very tail end of a Kindle Daily Deal back at the beginning of January. It was nearing midnight, and when I checked the "Daily Deal" section, I zeroed in on this cover and title. I had previously read and enjoyed The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, and I was aware of this book but never quite sure if I wanted to purchase it. And then, lo and behold, there it was for $1.99! I couldn't resist. ;)

Seeing how close it was to midnight, I snatched it up right away - and right after, the price changed. It was fortuitous timing! Mostly, I'm just glad the sale prompted me to give this book a try, because I loved it even more than Smith's first book. Here's my review...


Here's a description of the book from Goodreads:

"If fate sent you an email, would you answer?

When teenage movie star Graham Larkin accidentally sends small town girl Ellie O'Neill an email about his pet pig, the two seventeen-year-olds strike up a witty and unforgettable correspondence, discussing everything under the sun, except for their names or backgrounds.

Then Graham finds out that Ellie's Maine hometown is the perfect location for his latest film, and he decides to take their relationship from online to in-person. But can a star as famous as Graham really start a relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie want to avoid the media's spotlight at all costs?"

My Rating

My Review

The book description sounds cute but suggests that 1) e-mail correspondence takes up a lot of the book, 2) pigs play a prominent role, and 3) the romance is going to be cliche or annoying in some fashion. Happily, while there are e-mails and mentions of a pig and a movie-star-falls-in-love-with-"ordinary"-girl romance, the story exceeded my expectations and went so much deeper than I had dared to hope.

The story begins with Graham and Ellie meeting via e-mail, but as soon as Chapter 1 hits, the e-mails (etc.) are relegated to chapter dividers. I had thought perhaps this might be more of an epistolary novel, so I wasn't sure if I should be disappointed by the actual format. But nope - the "real" story soon had me enthralled.

I adored the setting: the ice cream shop that reminded me of family vacations, the quirkiness of the knickknacks store that displayed Ellie's heart for poetry, the mood-changing beaches, and all the various charms of a small seaside town. It served as a wonderful stage where a sweet romance could be spotlighted.

The pacing is quiet in some ways, but it never really felt so. I was wrapped up in the drama of broken friendships, family secrets, love against the odds, and journeys of discovery. The writing is beautiful, and there's just enough excitement mixed in with the daily trials and simply joys to keep the pages turning and the story intriguing.

So, what does happy look like? Perhaps, in this case, it looks like a reader who enjoyed meeting a beagle named Bagel, seeing the freedom found in revealed truth, embracing family and a small-town community, and delighting in the tender hope of a sunrise.

Monday, February 3, 2014

This is {Remembering} ~ A Special Guest for the Forget Me Not Blog Tour

This interview has been in the works since last fall. When my dear college friend Hannah Dawley told me about the blog she had started - This is {Remembering}, with a URL that includes the phrase "play no part in forgetting" - it seemed like the perfect plan to team up, featuring our combined theme of "remembering" for the Forget Me Not blog tour. Take a look at Hannah's blog's mission statement to see what I mean:

Remembering the ones the world has forgotten through sharing their stories and praying on their behalf

The characters I write about are fictional (although they do include pieces of my heart and experiences). But the children Hannah writes about on her blog, they're real, and their stories are real. Read on to learn more about my friend, her heart for orphans, and how you can "play no part in forgetting"... 

Please do not download or reproduce this photo.

Amber: So wonderful to feature you here, Hannah! Could you share a little about yourself and your heart for children around the world?

Hannah: Thank you so much, Amber, for featuring me on your blog! Yes, I am a twenty-two-year-old recent Corban University graduate who is trying to follow God every day. Growing up, I have been drawn to people, mostly children, needing compassion and mercy. I had the opportunity to intern at child abuse and neglect prevention programs while in college, and those experiences streamlined my heart for hurting and broken children.

I think what God has used the most to lead me to a place of having a heart for children around the world was my trip to Ukraine in June 2013. I went with Corban University and an organization called Little Lambs to an orphanage in western Ukraine that housed about 100 children, most of them physically or mentally disabled. God has given me compassion and love for those children who are not loved or precious to anyone in their life.

Amber: Your heart is an inspiration, dear friend. 

What prompted you to start a blog? How did you choose the title and theme?

Hannah: Well, the idea was sparked when my team leader challenged us to not let our hearts become hardened from the pain and hurt we saw in the children we met at the orphanage. He asked us to continue being advocates for them and to be a voice for them, because they have no voice. I decided the way I would be their advocate was to share their stories and pray for them.

A meaningful song for our team during our time in Ukraine was Kings and Queens by Audio Adrenaline. As I was journaling during my time at the orphanage, I wrote out a line of the song, “These are the ones the world has forgotten,” which I continued with, “and since I am not of the world, I can play no part in forgetting.” I felt it was my responsibility as a Christ follower and citizen of heaven to play no part in forgetting the orphans around the world and to help others do the same.

Amber: I love that you've not only determined not to forget, but that you've taken an active step in keeping that from happening. And that's a powerful song! It's wonderful the way you took that one line and built from it. 

Do you imagine yourself expanding your blog in the future? If so, how?

Hannah: This blog is mostly me processing through what I experienced when I was in the orphanage in Ukraine. I believe God puts on my heart the specific children I am to write about, and through reflecting on the child’s uniqueness I am able to write up part of their story and choose a scriptural blessing or theme for them. I would love to see the body of Christ become more aware of the plight of orphans and in response choose to pray for them. I could also see myself being open to letting other people who have been impacted by orphans they have met share their stories on the blog.

Amber: What are some ways we can join you in “playing no part in forgetting”?

Hannah: That’s a great question. There are several ideas that come to mind.

First is pray for your heart to be aligned with God’s heart concerning orphans. The Bible says a lot about God’s heart and his priority of caring for orphans. If our hearts are aligned with God’s, compassion and love come naturally, even in hard circumstances.

A powerful way is to pray for the Ukrainian children I have written about on the blog. Use the prayer guide and the Scripture to intercede for them. I also have a general prayer guide (at the end of the Pray page) focusing on orphans in other countries I have been to, as well as foster children in the United States. With the personal stories about real children in a real orphanage, share what you have learned with your friends and family. It’s easier for our hearts to break for specific people we know about instead of an overwhelming vague people group.

Consider financially supporting the organizations I have listed on the blog under External Resources or others you know about. Prayerfully consider if you would be willing to go and serve orphans through an organization on a short-term (or long-term) trip.

 Please do not download or reproduce this photo.

Amber: How true that knowing specific people and their stories brings all of this home for us. Thank you for these great suggestions!

How have you seen God showing you and the orphans you’ve worked with that He remembers you?

Hannah: Let me share part of a poem I wrote from the viewpoint of a precious child I bonded with in Ukraine. His name is Yura. It was extremely hard leaving him, and I was afraid he would feel abandoned or betrayed.

So I ask: How soon did you forget me when you got home?

Just so you know, I haven't forgotten you. Because you played with me and took pictures and videos of me and sang with me and hugged me when the big kids hurt me and were something that was guaranteed to be for two weeks.

And you introduced me to someone who you said won't leave me. Which I think is the best thing about what you did. Because I feel hope when I think about Him. And I've never felt hope before now.

I hope my Christian brothers and sisters whom I went to the orphanage with were used by God to speak this powerful message to the kids: We’re here because we love you and God loves you. We want to teach you about God because he is a perfect Father who knows you and is with you.

By sending this message to the children, I hope they see God as merciful and loving. I also hope they are able to see God as Someone who remembers them and cares for them even if everyone else in their life doesn’t.

The image of the Israelites crying out to God comes to mind. Maybe some of those children have been crying out to God, and just as God showed he heard the Israelites and remembered their cries, he can show the children he hears and remembers them as well.

For me, God has been very loving to me on my journey of processing through my experiences at the orphanage in Ukraine. I know I can depend on him to gently guide me through life. He knows me intimately and has a plan for my life.

 Please do not download or reproduce this photo.

Amber: Beautiful - and so very true.

Where might my readers be able to connect with you online?

Hannah: Feel free to comment on certain blog posts that spoke to your heart to get a conversation going. You can also e-mail me at hannah1318[at]gmail[dot]com to connect with me further.

Also, I’m hoping to put poems and other forms of art inspired by the stories of the children on my blog. If you have an artistic response to any of the children you met through the blog and want to share it, please send it to me so it can inspire other readers.

Amber: Thank you so much for sharing with us today, Hannah! The message of "playing no part in forgetting" and showing others that they're remembered is such an important one, and I'm so, so grateful for our friendship and for this glimpse of God's work in and through your life.

Readers, do you have any thoughts on how we can "play no part in forgetting"? Please do share a kind word for Hannah, and don't forget to visit her blog and "meet" these children on her heart!

You may have noticed the request not to download or reproduce Hannah's photos. To learn why, please check out Hannah's Privacy Policy. We appreciate your understanding and your help in protecting these children by not sharing their photos on other social media outlets or elsewhere.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

3...2...1 - The Forget Me Not Blog Tour Has Begun!
In some ways it feels like it's been such a long wait for this tour to begin... And yet, somehow, the tour still managed to sneak up on me! February seemed like a distant dream a few weeks ago, LOL.

You may have noticed that I haven't been posting quite so much about my books here on this blog. While I still plan on sharing any "big" book news here, as well as hosting the tours via this blog, I've been sharing most of my author-ly posts on The Heart's Spring series blog. So if you'd like to keep up on my author news, please do follow that blog, and/or sign up for my author newsletter! I just wanted to make sure you knew that I am still posting about my books - just at a different site. :)

Anyway, on to the tour! Here's an overview of the blog tour schedule (but be sure to visit the official blog tour page for direct links when they're available, as well as the latest information about the tour):

Saturday, February 1st
Sunday, February 2nd
Monday, February 3rd
Tuesday, February 4th
Wednesday, February 5th
Thursday, February 6th
Friday, February 7th
Saturday, February 8th
Sunday, February 9th

Purchasing Info & a Sale!

Forget Me Not is now available for Kindle! You can pick up your copy for only $3.97. And if you haven't read the sequel yet, this is the perfect time to pick up a copy! You can read the first two books in this series in order now, and Book 2, Bleeding Heart, is only $.99 for the first 7 days of the tour. This is a Kindle Countdown Deal, so you have until the end of the day on February 7th to take advantage of the sale. If you'd like to help spread the word, I'd truly appreciate it!

A paperback version of Forget Me Not is in the works and should be available for order later this month. In the meantime, though, you can pick up the paperback version of Bleeding Heart for only $8.99! The cover design and formatting (by Lena Goldfinch) are absolutely beautiful.

Free Short Story Offer!

In case you missed it when I sent out the winter edition of my author newsletter, I'm offering Bellflower (the short story prequel to Forget Me Not) FREE to newsletter subscribers! All you have to do is subscribe to my newsletter HERE, then send me an e-mail with your e-book format preference (.mobi for Kindle or .epub for Nook/iPad). That's it! You can learn more about the story on the Short Stories page of The Heart's Spring blog.

An "Unforgettable Journey" Giveaway!

I've put together a special prize package for the tour designed to give one lucky winner an epic journey by book, by movie, and by music! The winner will receive a signed copy of my book (when the paperback becomes available), The Journey of Natty Gann on DVD, and "Barton Hollow" by The Civil Wars.

Regarding The Journey of Natty Gann, the movie is rated PG, but it was originally released in 1985 (meaning the rating is rather lenient). So just realize that there are some violent situations and language that make it more suitable for teens and above. Anyway, I actually mention the movie in my author's note at the end of Forget Me Not. I was rather obsessed with it as a young teen. ;) The movie's set during the Great Depression, and it's the story of a girl whose father leaves her behind in Chicago while he pursues a job opportunity in the Pacific Northwest. When too much time goes by without her father sending for her, Natty decides to set out and find him. And so begins an epic journey full of interesting characters, harsh and touching situations, and a hero who stole my heart. (If you want to learn more about that, be sure to check out my guest post on Julie's blog next Friday, the 7th!)

Regarding "Barton Hollow," I wanted to include this CD in the giveaway not just because I personally love it, but because I used two of the songs in my "soundtrack" for Forget Me Not ("My Father's Father" and "Forget Me Not"). Actually, I also used two other songs from the CD in my soundtrack for Bleeding Heart ("Falling" and "Poison & Wine"), and I included one of the other songs on my Pinterest board for Bellflower ("Birds of a Feather"). So basically, the mood and lyrics of this CD fits "The Heart's Spring" series very well! I'm not entirely sure how to classify the genre... On The Civil Wars' Facebook page, they list their genre as "Americana, Folk, Pop, Alternative, Country, Rock, Soul." So...yeah. Let's just call it folk. ;)

All three of these prizes (book not pictured) will go to one winner who enters via the Rafflecopter form below! The winner will be announced at the end of the tour. Please note that this particular giveaway is U.S. only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
I hope you have a great time visiting all of the fabulous blogs participating in the tour! And be on the lookout for some special posts here and on The Heart's Spring blog in the next week, as well!