Review & Author Interview: With You Always by Jody Hedlund

I ALWAYS love it when a novel shines light on a lesser-known historical fact, era, or event. Often, there is nothing more fascinating that real life. In this case, the time period is 1850s New York to Illinois, during a challenging economic downturn. This was especially hard on immigrant families, and subsequently children AND women were sent west to find a better life, on what is now known as the Orphan Train. With You Always by Jody Hedlund tells a fictional story based on the journeys many women took to provide a better life for their families. Read on for more about the book, my review, and an interview with Jody Hedlund!

About the Book

When a financial crisis in 1850s New York leaves three orphaned sisters nearly destitute, the oldest, Elise Neumann, knows she must take action. She’s had experience as a seamstress, and the New York Children’s Aid Society has established a special service: placing out seamstresses and trade girls. Even though Elise doesn’t want to leave her sisters for a job in Illinois, she realizes this may be their last chance.

The son of one of New York City’s wealthiest entrepreneurs, Thornton Quincy faces a dilemma. His father is dying, and in order to decide which of his sons will inherit everything, he is requiring them to do two things in six months: build a sustainable town along the Illinois Central Railroad, and get married. Thornton is tired of standing in his twin brother’s shadow and is determined to win his father’s challenge. He doesn’t plan on meeting a feisty young woman on his way west, though.

Find With You Always on Amazon | Goodreads

Review

With You Always by Jody Hedlund.jpgAuthor Jody Hedlund dependably pens characters with well-established personalities. I loved the nurturing tendencies of Elise and the gentlemanly determination of Thornton. It *did* take me a few chapters to really settle into the plot and the direction the story was taking, but I empathized with the characters immediately, especially concerning the plight of Elise and her family.

I liked that the challenges both Elise and Thornton face are not only tactile and physical but also challenges to their very hearts. Elise, for instance, faces finding a place for her family AND coming to terms with her faith that God is constant, and for her. Thornton deals with the manner of proving himself; whether choosing to set aside his pride is worth a greater, selfless task he can accomplish in the wake of his dreams.

Through the ups and downs of Elise and Thornton’s intersecting journeys, a sweetly natural romance emerges. Jody handles this with her signature style (read: era-appropriate swooniness) and realistic conflicts. The romance combines with the threads of faith, a story of finding a “true home”, and the belonging found with friends in a close community to make With You Always a rich story AND a lovely introduction to a new series.

Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for the complimentary review copy of this book. This review is my honest opinion.

 

Interview with the Author

What is the inspiration behind your new Orphan Train series?

I have long been fascinated by the era of the Orphan Trains and the heart-wrenching stories of the homeless and helpless young orphans that were taken from the streets of New York City and other eastern cities and shipped West by the dozens. I was familiar with stories of those scared orphans who were placed out in what was thought to be a more wholesome, healthy environment of the newly settled Mid-Western states. Some of the orphans found happy endings and were adopted into loving families. Others experienced great abuse and heartache in their new homes.

While stories of the orphans who rode the trains have been told—and rightly so—the stories of the women who were involved in the movement are not as well known. One of the things I particularly like to do when telling my stories, is focus on women who have been overlooked by the pages of history. I consider it a great privilege to be able to bring forgotten women to life for our modern generation. Thus, throughout this series, I’ll be focusing each book on a different aspect of the Orphan Train movement, particularly from the perspective of women who experienced riding the trains in one form or another.

What do you hope readers take away from With You Always?

One of my hopes in telling this story is to leave readers with the reminder that God is walking with us in whatever dark valley we’re going through. Often, like Elise, we tend to pull away from God and let the bitterness of our circumstances drive us into a cave of isolation and self-blame and heartache. But God wants us to realize that even if we pull away from Him, He’s still there walking by our side, waiting for us to reach out our hand and grab ahold of Him. He never leaves us or forsakes us. He’s there waiting.

An e-novella, An Awakened Heart, kicks off the series. What is the novella about, and is it a must-read in order to understand the series?

An Awakened Heart is not a must-read in order to understand the series. But I do highly recommend reading it. (Plus it’s FREE, so you have nothing to lose by giving it a try!) The e-novella introduces a couple, Guy and Christine, who are both passionate about helping the poor immigrants crowded into the overflowing and dirty tenements of New York City. The novella shows their efforts to bring about change in the city, but also brings them together in a satisfying love story.

The novella also introduces the three orphan sisters who will each become main characters for the three full-length novels in the series. It gives some of the background information on their situation, particularly how they become orphans, which I think readers will find helpful as well as informative.

What are you working on next?

The second book in the orphan train series releases next summer in 2018. The story continues with Marianne Neumann. She gets involved in the orphan train movement as one of the placing agents and accompanies the orphans as they ride the trains west. I hope readers will enjoy Marianne’s story and also appreciate learning more about the orphan train movement from the eyes of the compassionate workers who tried to place the orphans into new homes.

Connect with Jody

Facebook  | Twitter | Author Website | Instagram | Pinterest

Review & Author Interview: “Love, Lace, and Minor Alterations” by V. Joy Palmer

Review & Author Interview: “Love, Lace, and Minor Alterations” by V. Joy Palmer

This post is all about a recent release from author V. Joy Palmer and WhiteFire Publishing (yay for small-time publisher!): Love, Lace, and Minor Alterations. A contemporary rom-com with spunk and meaning, this story is one to be enjoyed for its sweetness and fun. I’m happy to have Joy joining us today to answer a few questions about her novel.

About the Book

Love, Lace, and Minor Alterations by V. Joy Palmer.jpgIsabel “Izze” Vez, bridal consultant extraordinaire, has been helping brides find The Dress for years. She loves nothing more than helping make wedding dreams come true…but sometimes the
happy endings grate on her. How many times can a girl discover someone else’s gown without dreaming of the day it’ll be her turn to wear one?

When James Miles Clayton walks into her life, he represents everything Izze can’t handle: change. He’s determined to bring the Ever After Bridal Boutique into the black…and to prove to Izze that she should give him a chance.

But if there’s anything Izze handles worse than change, it’s trust. She may have a few issues—fine, she knows she does. But will they keep getting in the way of any chance of her own Happily Ever After? She wants to trust God to give her those dreams of love and lace, but that’s going to require some…minor alterations.

Review

Izze’s snarky and sarcastic humor is hilarious. This book is laugh-out-loud funny — or at least it speaks to my sense of humor really well. While the humor is important and fun, sometimes I think it’s more of a shield for Izze’s character, brushing off a few issues she doesn’t want to deal with yet. Since we experience Izze’s (and occasionally Miles’s) first person perspective, sometimes there are little “asides” and explanations that add to the humor. For example, my favorite was when Izze tells on her grown cousin who chased her around with a snake just a few years ago. Or when she’s lamenting about the properness of her boss and her perfect bun.

Random comment: I liked the “behind the scenes” look at a  bridal shop through Izze’s career. If you like TV shows like Say Yes to the Dress or similar ones, you will enjoy this aspect!

The “denial factor” of the storyline is something Izze deals with on a deeper level, making the story have import and meaning behind the lighter moments. Her denial extends to her interest in Miles, her trust issues, and even her lack of confidence in her own abilities of “adulting”. Despite this flaw, she is instantly relatable and likable. Though frustrating at times, you want to cheer her on with pom-poms or claps or whatever form of celebration. Her arc teaches the bigger picture of this story: that God is the remedy for fear and doubt. Trusting Him is the way to real happiness. (And not the rainbows and perfect happily-ever-after kind, but reality with its joy and peace in the moment.)

Speaking of happily-ever-afters, Miles is ideally romantic and a fitting compliment to Izze. Steadfast where she is unsteady, sure when she is uncertain. Though not without his own flaws and pain, his character is an anchor to the story, even during the time he has his own lessons to contend with. His journey takes seeing beyond doubts to another level, learning selflessness and how to recognize other people’s pain instead of being blinded by his own hurt.

This story is stitched together with humor. The fabrics are deep hues of love and God’s provision, with scriptures and lessons weaved throughout. The finishing touch is a happily-ever-after that looks at lot like hope. I look forward to whatever story Joy crafts next!

Thank you to the author and WhiteFire publishing for providing the review copy. This is my honest review.

Interview with the Author

What inspired you to write Love, Lace, and Minor Alterations?

I’ve always been obsessed with weddings, and I was single and frustrated with the man who is now my husband when I first started writing and brainstorming. I started venting writing, and all of a sudden I just heard Izze in my head. The idea of a single woman in the wedding business who wanted to get married and was fed up with the leading man fascinated me. However, there were a lot of factors that lead to me writing this particular story, like amazing books by amazing authors and the fact that I had a hard time finding first person point of view books for twenty-somethings that sounded like real twenty- somethings.

What spiritual message or theme do you want to communicate to readers with this story?

I really, really just want God to touch your heart. That’s what makes me happiest. 🙂 But I really hope readers know all the way to the core of their souls that they can trust God. Life, fear, and drama can make it so hard for us to fully trust Him, but God has beautiful plans for us. We can trust Him with our dreams.

What was most challenging about writing this book?

It was probably when I introduced Miles’ perspective. I wanted to stay true to my own writer voice and the tone of the story, but I also wanted Miles to sound and respond like a real guy. I bugged my husband with a lot of guy questions. 😉

Which character was your favorite to write?

I really loved writing my main character, Izze! She is very similar to me, but Izze is a little more of a loose cannon. For instance, I don’t take off and refuse to talk when something makes me angry. I try to resolve the problem then and there – even if I don’t want to talk. But Izze doesn’t. She just reacts on impulse. While it was fun to write a character who reacts to everything (Especially in ways the very human side of me wants to react sometimes!), it was also really insightful.

Just for fun:

Do you have any hobbies?

Um, does reading count as a hobby? Or eating chocolate? I’m great at those things. 😉 When I’m not perfecting my résumé as a chocolate connoisseur, I’m trying to avoid cooking and thus burning our food, chasing after my one-year- old daughter, and arguing with two cats and a dog. I’m also a youth leader at my church, which I love! It means I get to drink lots of coffee and eat more chocolate. 😉

If you could live in any other time period in history, which would it be and why?

The Victorian Era! Some of my all-time favorite books are Lori Wick’s Kensington Chronicles, specifically, The Hawk and the Jewel and Wings of the Morning. I love that era. *happy sigh*

What are you currently reading?

I am tantalizingly close to finishing Ronie Kendig’s Conspiracy of Silence. Then I’ll be reading Unfolding by Jonathan Friesen, An Uncommon Courtship by Kristi Ann Hunter, Sandy Toes by Robin Jones Gunn, and I’m am super excited to read Happily Ever Ashton by Erynn Mangum!

About the Author

v-joy-palmer

Joy Palmer is an avid blogger and co-founder of Snack Time Devotions. She is a youth leader at her church, and loves acting crazy and drinking coffee with the teens. When Joy isn’t urging the elves that live in her computer to write, she’s hanging out with her husband, their adorable baby girl, and their two socially awkward cats.

 

WebsiteBlog | Facebook | Twitter  | Instagram | Goodreads

Snack Time Devotions Blog  | The Diamond Mine of Christian Fiction

Review & Author Interview: “The Sound of Diamonds” by Rachelle Rea

Review & Author Interview: “The Sound of Diamonds” by Rachelle Rea

One of my favorite things about book blogging is virtually “meeting” bloggers and authors who share a similar passion for story. Another one of my favorite things is seeing the success of bloggers-turned-authors –whether through a major or small publisher, or those who brave self-publishing. Rachelle Rea is one such author braving the market through a smaller publishing house. Her debut novel, The Sound of Diamonds, deserves a shout from the rooftops to spread the beauty of her story (and humble talent) to the world! 🙂 I’m thrilled to be sharing my review and an interview with Rachelle today!

About the Book

Her only chance of getting home is trusting the man she hates.

With the protestant Elizabeth on the throne of England and her family in shambles, Catholic maiden Gwyneth seeks refuge in the Low Countries of Holland, hoping to soothe her aching soul. The Sound of Diamonds.jpgBut when the Iconoclastic Fury descends and bloodshed overtakes her haven, she has no choice but to trust the rogue who arrives, promising to see her safely home to her uncle’s castle. She doesn’t dare to trust him…and yet doesn’t dare to refuse her one chance to preserve her own life and those of the nuns she rescues from the burning convent.

Dirk Godfrey is determined to restore his honor at whatever cost. Running from a tortured past, Dirk knows he has only one chance at redemption, and it lies with the lovely Gwyneth, who hates him for the crimes she thinks he committed. He must see her to safety, prove to the world that he is innocent, prove that her poor eyesight is not the only thing that has blinded her but what is he to do when those goals clash?

The home Gwyneth knew is not what she once thought. When a dark secret and a twisted plot for power collide in a castle masquerading as a haven, the saint and the sinner must either dare to hold to hope…or be overcome.

Review

Rachelle writes first person point of view with major skills. It’s something that can be tricky for an author to pull off!!!!  Sometimes, a character can come off self-centered, but that is not the case with Gwyn and Dirk. I can see why Rachelle chose to tackle that format for this series. A shift in perspective between Dirk and Gwyn each chapter added additional interest and made the journey very personal and relatable. It also caused the action scenes to be more dramatic because you’re experiencing them through the eyes of one person at a time.

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One of my FAVORITE quotes from this book!

The mystery surrounding the connection Dirk and Gwyn have –the source of her hostility and his determination to prove honorable — was expertly revealed. I was anxious to know just what drove Dirk to such lengths and what caused Gwyn’s initial bitterness. And when all is revealed, the deep emotion of each of them is poignantly communicated.

Though the era and religious turmoil of the Reformation age seems far removed from contemporary times, the questions and doubts these characters wrestle with are very relevant today. Does God’s holiness make Him distant because of our sin, or does He really want to extend forgiveness and offer a personal relationship to us? Let me assure you, He does offer forgiveness and grace with the desire that all would come to Him. These questions are addressed with themes of hope and forgiveness shining in a beautiful way through the journeys of Gwyn and Dirk.

This story had the perfect combination of action, suspenseful drama, mild humor, serious issues of faith, and a sweet and promising romance. I’m already on to book two where Gwyn and Dirk seem to be getting out of one scrape into another!

Thank you to Rachelle and WhiteFire Publishing for the complimentary review copy in exchange for my honest review.

Interview with the Author

What inspired you to write The Sound of Diamonds?

The title came first, as I was driving down the road one day. I decided I needed to know what the sound of diamonds even was, so I started writing a story about a girl who needs glasses and gets herself embroiled in the middle of the Dutch Revolution–and of course the handsome red-headed hero who saves her!

Rachelle ReaWhat spiritual message or theme do you want to communicate to readers with The Sound of Diamonds?

Hope. Specifically, how hope can be had even in the midst of life’s tragedies…like the death of loved ones, the death of dreams held dear.

What was most challenging about writing a story set in this time period?

Probably nit-picking the little details! I searched for what felt like the randomest facts: what sleeves looked like in the 16th century, what the most common beverage was since water sanitation was, well, not quite up to par. And how far a horse could travel in a day. Although it could be frustrating, it could be fun, too.

Do you have any hobbies?

I spent way too long staring at this question, LOL. Do writing-related hobbies count? Book signings make me nervous and happy at the same time! I enjoy blogging more as a hobby than a regularly-posting blogger. And I’m always, always tempted to put writing as a hobby at times like these, before I remember that I actually get to call that a job now. 🙂

If you could live in any other time period in history, which would it
be and why?

The Elizabethan era! It fascinates me, which is one of the reasons I wrote about it…

What are you currently* reading?

Three Little Words by Melissa Tagg! I haven’t gotten very far yet but I already really like Ava and Seth. Also, I’m reading Harry Potter for the first time. Currently in number four!

*I’m sure Rachelle has finished these books by now…. I have been terribly slow at posting this interview! I ❤ Melissa Tagg, too!

Thank you SO MUCH for answering my interview questions! It’s fascinating to learn stories behind a book or author. I’m glad to hear you googled sleeves 🙂 Now I know I’m not the only person who googles odd things!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rachelle Rea plots her novels while driving around the little town she’s lived in all her life in her dream car, a pick-up truck. An Oreo addict, she is also a homeschool graduate and retired gymnast. She wrote The Sound of Diamonds the summer after her sophomore year of college.

LINKS

Website: http://RachelleRea.com

Facebook: http://facebook.com/InspiringDaring/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/RachelleRea/

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/RachelleRea

Instagram: @RachelleDianeRea

What is one of your favorite eras to READ about? Have you ever read a book set in the Elizabethan or Protestant Reformation era? 

Review & Interview: “The Thorn Keeper” by Pepper D. Basham ~ Blog Tour & Giveaway

Review & Interview: “The Thorn Keeper” by Pepper D. Basham ~ Blog Tour & Giveaway

The Thorn Keeper Tour BannerA few weeks ago, I was happily a part of the blog tour for Pepper Basham’s debut novel, The Thorn BearerIt was a fabulous book, and exhibits everything I love about the historical romance genre. I didn’t think the next novel in the series could compete with my attachment to it. I was wrong. The second book, The Thorn Keeper, is different and beautiful in so many ways. And it has overtaken book 1’s position on my favorites list. It just released on February 28th! Today, I’m thrilled to feature my review and an INTERVIEW with Pepper hosted through Singing Librarian Books.

About the BookThe Thorn KeeperGenre:  Fiction, Historical, Romance, Christian

Publisher: Vinspire Publishing

Publication Date: February 28, 2015

Number of pages: 402

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With her past in shambles, how can she fashion a future of hope?
Catherine Dougall’s past of manipulation has left her future in threads. With a new faith, she longs to take the remnants of her life and make something beautiful, but shame, societies’ judgments, and the natural consequences of an unplanned pregnancy test her newfound hope. Dr. David Ross doesn’t help either. His kindness, sacrifice, and tenderness tempt her to impossible dreams. A fallen woman doesn’t merit a fairytale.

David Ross has made every effort to keep his life above reproach. His passion for the sick pump fresh purpose through his choices, but without financial support to maintain his war hospital, all is lost. When his notorious aunt offers an easy solution, David is tempted to give in to her demands, but his growing affection for the reformed flirt, Catherine Dougall, unwinds the careful wall around his heart and offers an unexpected choice.

When the worst of war tears them apart, can love renew the memory of what was lost or will tragedy steal away their hope forever.

From the beautiful Derbyshire countryside to the trenches of World War One, Catherine and David must learn to trust in a God who designs a masterpiece out of brokenness and fashions hope in the most unlikely places.

Purchase on Amazon

Review

Lately I’m prone to choose one adjective to describe a story. To borrow an adjective she used a couple times in this story, I must say Pepper’s writing is exquisite. She builds on a world of characters established in The Thorn Bearer and takes them forward in another story of forgiveness and growth. So many manifestations of redemption and grace intertwine in this story while never feeling overbearing. It’s a story of second chances while WWI rages on with tumultuous challenges and social conflicts.

This story goes beyond the power of grace (and God) to transform a person and continues to show the aftermath of forgiveness. I appreciated that Pepper doesn’t depict life through a rose-colored view — even after giving your life to God, surrendering your will to His is a daily commitment. Tough choices, hard trials, and struggles to understand God’s will are all depicted realistically and contrasted with the beauty and peace that can shine through it all.

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Pepper made this meme after I posted it as my Goodreads status while reading! 🙂

David and Catherine’s relationship becomes a beautiful example of what true love should be, in my opinion. Gentle, selfless, passionate, and protective. I could talk about how perfect they are for each other (and the sparks that fly between them! *swoon*) for another hour, but I don’t want to spoil the story! Just read it. Please.

Even secondary characters in this book, like Jessica and Fanny, have a voice or influence with the main characters and their own concepts to learn. I really love it when an author uses secondary characters like this. And I’m very excited that Jessica will be the main character of book 3!

I’ve compared Pepper to Julie Lessman before, and I want to reiterate that here with a different emphasis. With The Thorn Keeper, Pepper reminds me of her characters in the best way. Pepper writes spunky characters, deep emotion, and romantic scenes with amazing skill. So, if you’re a fan of Julie’s style, historical fiction, romances, emotional page-turners, or if you’re breathing and like to read, I would HIGHLY recommend Pepper’s books! They are, 2 for 2, #mustreads.

Thank you to Pepper and Vinspire Publishing for the review copy obtained through Singing Librarian Books for this tour.

Interview

What inspired you to write The Thorn Keeper?

Well, I suppose necessity brought about The Thorn Keeper because I’d signed on for a 3 book series with Vinspire -but the most interesting thing that happened from the process is that the ‘fallen’ character from The Thorn Bearer (book 1) who was NOT supposed to be ‘redeemed’ in the initial draft, became the redeemed heroine of book two. I was not expecting that, but I’m SOOOO glad I was initially wrong. This story is my favorite historical I’ve ever written.

What spiritual message or theme do you want to communicate to readers with The Thorn Keeper?

God can take the most broken person and fashion something beautiful from the pieces of their hearts. In essence, nothing is impossible for God 🙂

What was most challenging about writing a story set in this time period?

Meeting my deadline 😉

AND…. making sure my fashion research was right. There were so many wonderful tidbits I wanted to include but just didn’t have the time or space to do so.

Just for fun: Do you have any hobbies?

Well, since I work full-time outside the home as a speech-language pathologist, writing tends to be my hobby 🙂 But I also love spending time with my awesome kids, reading, playing music, and going on walks through the Blue Ridge Mountains near where I live.

If you could live in any other time period in history, which would it be and why?

The early 20th century. I’m fascinated by the world of that time (plus indoor plumbing was in use in many places ;-). I love the costuming, the vast changes, and the beauty of the era. Of course, I’m romanticizing it, but still…I’d choose it 🙂

What are you currently reading?

A Spy’s Devotion by Melanie Dickerson. Fantastic regency novel.

Pepper, thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions! And I love that the story went somewhere unexpected — that’s just like God to show the power of his redemption, even through story.

About the Author

Pepper D. BashamPepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she is the mom of 5 great kids, speech-pathologist to about fifty more, lover of chocolate, jazz, and Jesus, and proud AlleyCat over at a group writing blog, The Writer’s Alley. Her debut historical romance novel, The Thorn Bearer, released in May 2015, with the second arriving in February 2016. Her first contemporary romance debuts in spring 2016.

Website/blog: www.pepperdbasham.com

FB Author page – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pepper-D-Basham
Twitter – https://twitter.com/pepperbasham
Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/pepperbasham/
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13561411.Pepper_D_Basham
AmazonAuthor Page – http://www.amazon.com/Pepper-Basham/e/B00W0IZ1F4/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

Giveaway

TWO ebook copies of The Thorn Keeper will be give away at the end of the tour! Click below to enter.

Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway here.

Tour Schedule

February 29–Singing Librarian Books
March 1–Toni Shiloh Prayerfully-Lifted Romance | Smiling Book Reviews
March 2–Just Commonly 
March 3–Griperang’s Bookmarks
March 4–Red Headed Book Lady | The Green Mockingbird
March 5–Reading Is My SuperPower

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Review & Author Interview: “Northern Light” by Annette O’Hare

Today I’m honored to feature debut author Annette O’Hare with an interview and my review of her upcoming release, Northern Light. It is an inspirational historical romance set during the Civil War and releasing in paperback THIS WEEK on February 19.

NorthernLightBanner

About the Book 

Civil War has robbed Margaret Logan of all she holds dear, including her beloved New Orleans home and her fiancé. When her family moves to the desolate Bolivar Peninsula to manage a lighthouse that is no longer there, all her hopes for a normal future are dashed. Her world is rocked once again when a wounded Yankee soldier washes ashore needing her help. Despite her contempt for the North, Margaret falls in love with Thomas Murphy. As their love blooms, Margaret’s sister is overcome with neurosis, and her mind slowly slips away. Bitterness, psychosis and depression yield a decision fueled by contempt. Will one fatal choice cause Margaret to lose the man she loves and condemn Thomas to death?

Review

northernLightCoverI thought this was a sweet story that showed the transformation of one family as a result of the Civil war. It causes many trials and has a far-reaching impact on every area of their life. Annette weaves a subtle and straightforward thread of faith throughout this book, with clear themes of trust in God’s provision and design.

I enjoyed observing Margaret as her character changed and matured through the story. Her opinion and perspective are dramatically transformed because of the unexpected presence of Thomas. This really shatters her assumptions because she had a willingness to grow and an openness to what God had in store for her.

Thank you to Annette and Pelican Book Group for the complimentary review ecopy.

Interview with the Author

And now, on to my interview questions with Annette!

What inspired you to write Northern Light?

My inspiration for writing Northern Light came from my love for Texas history and the Gulf Coast.The setting for the book is the Bolivar Point lighthouse. This is a real lighthouse I’ve known and loved since childhood. I drew on historical facts I learned while researching the lighthouse and combined them into a fictional love story.

10616575_303464849835705_2583502552383509096_nWhat spiritual message or theme do you want to communicate to readers with Northern Light?

The scripture reference for this novel is Psalm 43:3a, “O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me.” I chose this scripture for two reasons. First, it speaks of a light that guides, like the lighthouse in the book! Second, the Psalmist asks God to send His truth to lead him. The truth I want to reveal is that we can’t always believe things are right just because they’ve been handed down from one generation to the next. When we don’t know what to believe, we should seek God’s wisdom and He will lead us to the truth.

What was most challenging about writing a story set in the American Civil War era?

Good question! The most difficult thing I faced in writing a Civil War era novel is having to stop in the middle of writing a scene to look something up. For example, many words we commonly use today weren’t in existence 150 years ago. And think about how many modern advances have come about since the 1860s. A lot of thought went into researching how they took care of everyday situations differently than how we do things today.

Just for fun:

Do you have any hobbies?

Me, my husband and all three kids love surf fishing. We take really long fishing poles to the beach, cast out our bait and sit in our beach chairs and wait to see whatever bites! It’s a lot of fun and a great family outing. Our oldest son is 24 and he takes his fiancé fishing with him now.

If you could live in any other time period in history, which would it be and why?

This is a difficult question. If I could choose to live in a different time period I would love to live in the 1950s. I feel like it was a much simpler time to raise a family. Our country was respected around the world for having strong leadership that truly seemed to care about the people. We were known as a Christian Nation and those values were important to us. On the other hand, in the past 24 years of raising my kids I’ve never had to worry  about my sons being drafted into the military like those mothers did in the 50s.

What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading The Hesitant Heiress by Dawn Crandall.

Thank you again, Annette, for answering my questions! Surf fishing sounds like fun!

For more about Annette, visit her website. While you’re there, sign up for her newsletter! I hear she has some fun giveaway contests planned for subscribers.

Annette is hosting a FACEBOOK LAUNCH PARTY with lots of giveaways on February 19, 6pm CT. Click here to join the group!

Interview with the Author! Rebecca DeMarino, “A Place In His Heart”

Today, the fabulous Rebecca DeMarino has dropped by to talk about her debut novel, A Place In His Heart. If you haven’t read my thoughts on A Place In His Heart, see my review here. I’m so happy she took the time for this interview!

About A Place In His Heart:

Anglican Mary Langton longs to marry for love. Puritan Barnabas Horton is still in love with his deceased wife and needs only a mother for his two young sons. And yet these two very different people with very different expectations will take a leap of faith, wed, and then embark on a life-changing journey across the ocean to the Colonies. Along the way, each must learn to live in harmony, to wait on God, and to recognize true love where they least expect to find it.
This heartfelt tale of love and devotion is based on debut author Rebecca DeMarino’s own ancestors, who came to Long Island in the mid-1600s to establish a life–and a legacy–in the New World. A Place In His Heart is the first in The Southold Chronicles series.

DeMarino_Rebecca head shotRebecca, what inspired you to write A Place In His Heart (APIHH)?

I grew up listening to my mom’s stories about Barnabas Horton, my ninth great-grandfather and how he came across the pond from England on a ship called The Swallow. When my brother became interested in genealogy, we discovered there was a lighthouse named after Barnabas, located on Long Island. I asked my mom if she’d like to go there, and off we went. There was a lot of interesting information about Barnabas. He was a baker and a widower with two young sons when he met my ninth great-grandmother. But I could find very little about her, and I began to wonder about what dreams and motivation she had, and courage she must have possessed, when she married and then left her family behind for the wilds of Long Island. A few years later, I began writing my first novel in a quest to give her a voice.

What spiritual message or theme do you want to communicate to readers with APIHH?

That God is there to hold our hand, no matter what our troubles.  We don’t have to do it alone – all we need to do is ask.

What was most challenging about writing a story set in this time period?

I would say the dialogue. I had many good resources for the political/religious climate and for the home life/culinary aspects.  But writing the dialect for today’s readers is challenging. You want to convey the feel of the language and for the reader to know what place in time they are, but for modern readers it can get irritating if overdone. Finding the right balance is the challenge!

Just for fun:

Do you have any hobbies? 

I love to read! And I enjoy gardening and hiking. Travel is a passion of mine and I really like to study genealogy and learn about my past. It’s fun seeing how many of the things I enjoy kind of “run” in my family!

If you could live in any other time period in history, which would it be and why?

Tough question. Perhaps the 17th century if only to maybe have the chance to get to know my ancestors that I wrote about in A Place In His Heart. But they lived in a pretty harsh world.  Living in the wild west in the 1800’s would be fun – I’d love to be a cowgirl!

Thank you for having me on your blog, Courtney! It was fun!!

A place in his heart cover FINAL

Thank you so much for agreeing to the interview – and for writing a unique and touching novel!

Rebecca DeMarino lives in the Pacific N.W. with her husband Tom, and enjoys travel, hiking,

 

baking, genealogy and gardening. Her debut novel, A Place in His Heart, is a historical romance

 

inspired by her ninth great-grandparents, Barnabas and Mary Horton, and is book one of The

 

Southold Chronicles.

 

Author Contact Info:

Read a chapter excerpt: Visit here

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Interview with the Author! Lynne Gentry, “Healer of Carthage”

I’m so excited today! The author of Healer of Carthage, Lynne Gentry, is here visiting my blog! She’s answered some interview questions about her latest book. If you haven’t yet, check out my review of Healer of Carthage, the first book in “The Carthage Chronicles” series. It’s a must-read!

About Healer of Carthage:

The first in The Carthage Chronicles series, Healer of Carthage launches Dr. Lisbeth Hastings into third-century Carthage. Desperate to survive in this unknown world, Lisbeth is forced to grapple with slavery, religious persecution, and disease. Against this dark backdrop, romance, justice, and courage take center stage. 

IMG_9446 Hi-Res_300dpi_Vert_Crop

Lynne, what inspired you to write Healer of Carthage?

There comes a point in everyone’s life when they look back and ask themselves, “could I have done something differently?” and “If I had, what would my life look like now?” I was at that point when the notion came to me of Time Travel…going back and having a redo, so to speak. An interesting thing happened when writing this book: I realized I’m exactly who God intended me to be and there wasn’t a single thread of my life that I wanted pulled … not even the hard times, for those hard times had built my character. I wouldn’t be me if I’d done things differently. I believe I am on the road to becoming exactly who God wants me to be.

What spiritual message or theme do you want to communicate to readers with Healer of Carthage?

The entire Carthage Chronicles series is about courage. Courage as individuals and as a collective body, i.e. the church. But Healer is about mercy. The mercy we extend to others. The mercy God extends to us. And the mercy we can learn to extend to ourselves.

What was most challenging about writing a story set in this time period?

Authors love to research the places they write about. Want to write a beach story set along the Carolina coast? Actually traveling to a beach on the east coast can really help an author set an accurate tone for the story world. Obviously, I couldn’t return to third-century Carthage or even the considerable amount of ruins left behind by that civilization. The volatility in that part of the world is too great. So, all of my world building had to take place through the painstaking process of reading, reading, and reading some more. Some of those ancient scholars are extremely boring and difficult to read.HiResHealerCover

Just for fun:

Do you have any hobbies? 

I love to walk my dog and read something off of the New York Times bestseller list.

If you could live in any other time period in history, which would it be and why?

I really think I would like to give living in the third century a shot. But if we’re dreaming here, I might as well dream that I’d go back to the third century as a pampered patrician’s wife, not a slave girl. 🙂

Thank you so much, Lynne, for taking the time to answer my questions and for writing such a beautiful story!

Lynne Gentry has written for numerous publications. Her newest novel, Healer of Carthage, is the first in The Carthage Chronicles series. She is a professional acting coach, theater director, and playwright with several full-length musicals and a children’s theater curriculum to her credit. Lynne is an inspirational speaker and dramatic performer whose first love is spending time with family.

Author Contact info:

Website: http://lynnegentry.com/

Facebook: Author Lynne Gentry https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Lynne-Gentry/215337565176144

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lynne_Gentry

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/lynnegentry7/

Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Imh1AwR698Y

Simon & Schuster: http://authors.simonandschuster.com/Lynne-Gentry/412732530

 

As always, thank you for taking the time to visit my blog. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!