Saturday, January 30, 2016

Litfuse Publicity Blog Tour: A Son's Vow

About the Book

Three months ago, everything changed for Darla Kurtz and her family. 

Darla’s father was responsible for a terrible fire at Charm’s lumber mill which killed five Amish men. And though he, too, lost his life, the town of Charm hasn’t looked at her family the same since. Even Lukas Kinsinger—with whom Darla used to have a close friendship.

Now her brother’s anger at the town is spilling over onto Darla, and she has the bruises to prove it. The accident already cost five lives, but if something doesn’t change soon, Darla fears it will cost her—and her family—even more.

Lukas Kinsinger wants to mourn the loss of his father, but he can hardly find the time to breathe. Suddenly the head of his father’s lumber mill and responsible for taking care of his three siblings, he’s feeling the pressure. He has also never felt more alone—especially with the new tension between he and Darla. But when he learns of her troubles at home, Lukas knows he can’t simply stand by and watch. Someone has to help her before another tragedy occurs.

As Lukas and Darla attempt to repair their families, they discover something deeper than friendship growing between them. But will Lukas and Darla’s love be accepted after so much loss? Or will the pain of the past overcome any chance of future happiness?

Shelley Shepard Gray’s first book in her Charmed Amish Life series is set in the quaint Amish village of Charm, Ohio, and tells the stories of the Kinsinger siblings who are each struggling to find both forgiveness and love in the face of tragedy.

My Rating


My Review

I was instantly intrigued by the description of this book. I love a story where the hero steps up and protects the one he loves!

I confess I'm not entirely sure what to think of how this particular story played out... One thing I will say is that this is a very sweet and hopeful book, despite it's traumatic premise. The main issue felt a little too easily resolved, and the ending a bit anticlimactic. And while I did enjoy reading about the protective instincts of our hero (Lukas), I didn't always appreciate his lack of gentleness when interacting with Darla.

My favorite couple was a secondary pair of characters. While I don't know how their differences will be resolved, I loved the tenderness of their relationship and how it was built on a growing friendship. They're so cute!

A Son's Vow was an easy read with a little less depth than I'd prefer (especially given the circumstances of the story), but with a lovely emphasis on forgiveness, friends, and family.

*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

Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town’s bike trail.

Litfuse Book Page: click HERE


Enter to win 1 of 5 copies of A Son's Vow! Click HERE or the image below and fill out the form to get your name in the drawing. Giveaway ends February 10, 2016 and is open to US residents only. Good luck!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Cat Detectives Are Back! | Review of The Case of the Clever Secret Code

About the Book

Buckley and Bogey, Cat Detectives, find their next big case with the Buckley and Bogey Cat Detective Agency to be their most difficult yet.

It all starts one hot summer day, when the boys are sitting in the front window of their Mom’s antique store. That’s when they see a big, black limo crawling up the street and going right through downtown St. Gertrude.

So who is in that long, black car? None other than famous movie star, Steele Bronson! And his surprise arrival sends the entire town into a tizzy! Especially when he announces his plans to shoot his next movie right there at the St. Gertrude Library, housed in a historic four-story mansion. And wouldn’t you know it, but it all happens just when Gracie, the boys’ human sister, is a finalist in the town’s Fourth of July essay contest. Holy Catnip!

But it isn’t long before Buckley and Bogey realize there is something very wrong with the whole picture . . . including the one that Steele Bronson is filming. Because it soon becomes very clear that the guy is after much more than just an Academy Award. And when the drama turns to danger for the boys and their family, that’s when Buckley and Bogey jump into the scene. Because this is one case that has it all—from Fourth of July festivities to tales of the American Revolution, and from a secret code to a hidden key!

Unless Buckley and Bogey want to see this movie turn into a tragedy, it’ll be up to them to crack the case . . . as well as the secret code . . . Holy Mackerel!

Available Now

My Review

Talk about clever!

The BBCDA (Buckley & Bogey Cat Detective Agency) is back, solving a brand-new mystery and cracking the code. This case takes Buckley, Bogey, and their loved ones through the library, on the hunt, and into some pretty tough moral dilemmas. Yet it's a fun ride with a hint of National Treasure, plenty of patriotism, and a great big dose of warm fuzzies. Once you meet these cat detectives, you'll love getting reacquainted with them with each new read!

Poor Gracie, Buckley and Bogey's human "sister," has a LOT to deal with in this story. What starts out in star-struck excitement quickly breaks down into frustration and sorrow as actor Steele Bronson pushes Gracie and her family into the (unwanted) spotlight. To what end? What does a big-name actor and his team want with the small Texas town of St. Gertrude? And what does Gracie's Fourth of July speech have to do with them?

As hard as it is to see Gracie meet with failure after failure, one of the best things about this story (and the whole series) is seeing the difference it makes in a person's life to have the support of loved ones.

Another thing I loved about The Case of the Clever Secret Code? For fans of this series and its precious characters, let me tell you that it's a treat to see the way Buckley comes into his own as a cat detective. While a lot of the plot revolves around Gracie, Buckley is the main character—and he's finding his purr-fect (couldn't resist!) place in the BBCDA and within his family.

This latest Buckley & Bogey mystery shows that fame has a price and doing the right thing is its own sort of prize. The ending is quite enjoyable, and the case is one for the history books.

Disclaimer: The author is one of my previous clients from my freelance editing and publicity days—and more than that, she's become my honorary aunt and dear, dear friend. So I freely admit to having a special place in my heart for Buckley & Bogey and their Mom/author. :)

*With thanks to the author for providing me with a copy of the book. A review was not required in exchange, but I offer this as my honest opinion.*

Enjoy this exclusive interview with Cat Detective Buckley.

Monday, January 25, 2016

From Fairy Tales to Regency Romance | Review of A Spy's Devotion

About the Book

In England's Regency era, manners and elegance reign in public life—but behind closed doors, treason and intrigue thrive... 

Nicholas Langdon is no stranger to reserved civility or bloody barbarity. After suffering a battlefield injury, the wealthy, well-connected British officer returns home to heal—and to fulfill a dying soldier’s last wish by delivering his coded diary.

At the home of the Wilherns, one of England’s most powerful families, Langdon attends a lavish ball where he meets their beautiful and intelligent ward, Julia Grey. Determined to maintain propriety, he keeps his distance—until the diary is stolen and all clues lead to Julia’s guardian.

As Langdon traces an evil plot that could be the nation’s undoing, he grows ever more intrigued by the lovely young woman. And when Julia realizes that England—and the man she is falling in love with—need her help, she finds herself caught in the fray.

Will the two succumb to their attraction while fighting to save their country?

Releases February 9, 2016!

My Rating


My Review

Melanie Dickerson has made the transition from historical fairy tales to Regency romance with ease! I enjoyed the setting and character descriptions of A Spy's Devotion, as well as the steady pace of the story, urged along with bouts of danger. Dickerson knows how to craft engaging tales set in long-ago eras.

The hero, Nicholas Langdon, was a gentleman. Perhaps a bit too much so in some ways, because I wouldn't have minded if he was a bit clearer regarding his feelings and said what needed to be said when it ought to have been said. ;)

And the heroine, Julia Grey, was both brave and kind-hearted. She was tender when the situation called for it, but also very loyal to her country.

If you're a fan of Melanie Dickerson, a lover of sweet romances, and/or a fan of Regency stories with a bit of intrigue, then you'll want to check out A Spy's Devotion. It's a great start to The Regency Spies of London series!

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

Monday, January 18, 2016

Join Me for the Little Women Read-Along in February?

Many thanks to awesome blogging friend Courtney (The Green Mockingbird / @CameraCourt) for bringing this read-along to my attention! I got a gorgeous Puffin in Bloom copy of Little Women from Barnes & Noble a while back, but I could use a little motivation to tackle this chubby (but lovely!) book. :)

The read-along is hosted by It's All About Books (@SueySays), Jenni Elyse (@jenni_elyse), and Kami's Library Thoughts (@kamisthoughts). Here are the details...
  • Who: Anyone's invited!
  • What: A read-along of Little Women by Lousia May Alcott
  • When: The month of February
  • Where: First discussion (February 10th) @ Suey's blog; second discussion (February 19th) @ Kami's blog; third discussion (February 29th) @ Jenni's blog
  • Why: To read a treasured classic with friends
There will also be some Twitter chats (#LittleWomenRAL) and a movie watch-along in early March. (Woot!)

If you're interested, you can learn more and sign up at Jenny's blog!

Hope to chat with you in February. :)

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Looking Back...and Feeling in Awe Once Again

I'm one of those people who has tons of journals, many of them partly used. I love having them around for writing down ideas, feelings, plans, lists. :)

While cleaning house and putting away Christmas decorations this past weekend, I delved into a box with several journals and other memorabilia. And, of course, I got sucked into a period of reminiscing.

I think we need those moments of looking back.

"Remember his marvellous works that he hath done; his wonders and the judgments of his mouth." - Psalm 105:5 (emphasis added)

I was deeply touched to come across an entry from a time when I was feeling really uncertain and worried about my future. I'll leave out a bit with some more personal details, but I wanted to share most of it with you...

* * *

January 15, 2013

Tonight is one of those nights... I'm feeling so uncertain about my future, and so afraid of my own fears and of never moving forward in love and life.


I don't know what's wrong with me. I think perhaps I'm being too prideful - I want to have a legacy, to see and know that what I'm dong has an impact on others, is meaningful, successful. I suppose that I want to be successful... And yet I'm lazy, and I'm scared of change. 

Do I really think God's hand is not strong enough or long enough to guide me, to help me? Heaven help me if I do. I know He can work His will for my life no matter where I live. I know He can give me the strength to take the steps I need to take. I just wish I knew what those steps were!

Am I like that second girl on Joe vs. the Volcano? She was afraid of declining her father's money and leaving to go live on her own. Joe told her, "See! You know what you're scared of doing. If you have a choice between ending your life and doing the thing you're scared of doing, why not take the leap and do the thing you're scared of doing?"

What am I scared of doing? I'm scared of applying for jobs. I'm scared of getting a job and having to work and maybe hating it. I'm scared of getting my license. What if I can't pass the test? I'm scared of the freedom - and the added responsibilities. I'm scared of taking the step between the sheltered life I have here at home and the life I can have out there. What if I'm rejected? What if I have to work in a negative atmosphere? What if I fail? What if I hate my job? I'm scared of having to make choices. I'm so impulsive, and my choices haven't always been the wisest. What if I make horrible choices?

What if I've been making excuses? What if I'm hiding from life? God help me, please, because I just don't know how to take another step. I don't know if I can make the right choices, and I'm scared of having to live with the consequences of wrong choices. Please, God, please guide me. My heart is quaking within me. 

"We'll jump, and we'll see." Make my crooked paths straight, please, God. Don't let me live in fear of the life you have given me.

"Thank you for my life. I big... Thank you."*

* * *

I looked back at that time, almost exactly three years ago, and was moved by how God has worked in my life since then.

It would still be another year and a half after I wrote this journal entry before I'd be offered my current job.

A year and a half in which my editing business finally found traction and brought in some amazing clients who gave me wonderful work experience.

A year and a half in which I became an indie author.

A year and a half in which I got the driver's license that so terrified me.

And now, three years later, I'm living away from home. In my own little apartment, having survived job applications and moving and acclimating to a new job and life in a new town. While there have certainly been some rough patches and many, many learning experiences, God has brought me to a wonderful place.

Amazingly enough, I've even come to enjoy driving. My parking skills have greatly improved. :)

It's easy for me to caught up in the new journal entries. The ones where I stress about work and what I feel I'm lacking and the next step. Always the next step...

But the God who brought me this far, who faithfully helped me take those scary steps in His time, hasn't changed.

How could I doubt that He's just as much at work in this season as He was in the past?

Wherever you are in your own journey, I hope that you'll be able to look back at those previous journal/life entries soon and remember God walking beside you. You've come a long way, dear friend.

*These quotes are from the movie Joe Versus the Volcano with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan (although likely not word for word). Yes, I do love to quote movies!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Broken Things to Mend Blog Tour + Review

Broken Things (1)
broken things to mendAbout the Book

Celia is in desperate need of a change - a change of scenery, a change of pace, and a complete redo of all relationships. Not knowing what else to do, she opens a map, closes her eyes, and lets fate decide her future. Then she packs her meager belongings and buys a one-way ticket to a little town on the fringes of Oregon's Deschutes National Forest called Sisters. She's wanted a family for years. Will she find one in Sisters?

What Celia doesn't plan to find is a strange Chinese woman whose meddling ways keep throwing her in the path of a handsome, but reserved, forest ranger. But no matter how kind or dependable Silas seems to be, there are some things in Celia's past that neither of them can escape, and this time, the damage might be too much to mend.

  amazon get itadd to goodreads   

My Rating

My Review

Broken Things to Mend is another delightful contemporary romance from Karey White! The books I've read by her so far celebrate the adventure and fun of very real settings, while sharing the blossoming of romance between very relatable and lovable characters. This series starter is no exception.

The story begins with two broken souls being brought together by a Chinese matchmaker. It was interesting to get a bit of (heartbreaking) back story for the hero, Silas, and to meet him as he's trying to indulge a kind older lady in her odd requests (yes, plural) for transportation to the bus stop in Bend, Oregon.

Then there's the heroine, Celia, who's running from a past and present that haunt her, hoping to find a better future in the small town of Sisters, Oregon. One can't help but root for her in her quest to find a place to truly belong.

Perspectives switch quite a bit at the beginning of the story, which could potentially be disorienting, although it does help give a sense of a larger destiny at play and provide an inside look at the converging of multiple lives.

I really enjoyed all of the characters: the way they slowly open up like new blooms; the way the seasons change from wariness to tender trust; the way they find joy and understanding together. Silas is a quiet, gentle, and loyal soul. Celia is reserved but dedicated and caring. And Silas's aunt, while not without fault, is the perfect friend and nurturing figure for them both.

While there's not a whole lot of suspense and danger in this story, there's a good deal of tension and plenty of questions to keep the story moving along at a steady pace. And, as a girl who calls Oregon home now, I found particular pleasure in following the characters through Sisters and beyond, recognizing some town and landmark names while experiencing some new things.

Broken Things to Mend is touching and heartwarming, while being a little more serious in nature than The Husband Maker series (which I also highly recommend for sweet contemporary romance fans). I felt the ending was resolved a little too quickly, but otherwise I was quite pleased with this story of learning to trust those you love, discovering the perils of judging others, and taking a chance on something wonderful.

*With thanks to I Am A Reader Blog Tours and the author for providing me with an e-copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*

About the Author

Karey WhiteKarey White grew up in Utah, Idaho, Oregon, and Missouri. She attended Ricks College and Brigham Young University. Her first novel, Gifted, was a Whitney Award Finalist. She loves to travel, read, bake treats, and spend time with family and friends. She and her husband are the parents of four great children. She teaches summer creative writing courses to young people and is currently working on her next book.

Blog Tour Giveaway
$50 Amazon Gift Card or $50 in Paypal Cash

Ends 2/2/16.  Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. 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. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway