Top Ten Tuesday: Top {11} Most Anticipated Releases of 2016

It’s another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by  The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

This week’s topic is actually top 10 most anticipated releases for the first half of 2016…but since that was a bit challenging for me to do, I’m changing it up slightly. So we’re going with the whole year (because some of these don’t have release dates) and 11 titles.

Top {11} Most Anticipated Releases of 2016

Top [11] Most Anticipated Reads of 2016

In no particular order…..

1. Like Never Before by Melissa Tagg

After the cover alone inspired this novella,have to read this one.

2. The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder by Rachel McMillan

The prequel novella won me over! This one will be read soon.

3. The Goodbye Bride and 4. Just a Kiss by Denise Hunter

I’m anxiously awaiting these stories about the other 2 brothers after Falling Like Snowflakes.

5. The Cautious Maiden by Dawn Crandall

You probably know my love of Dawn’s Everstone Chronicles series already. This one is likely book 4!

6. Together at the Table by Hillary Manton Lodge

I need to know how Jules’ story will go. Like, yesterday. (Reviews for book 1 & book 2)

7. You’re the One that I Want by Susan May Warren

I’ll be sad to end the series, but I’m anxious for Owen’s story of redemption. (most recent in series, book 5, review here)

8. A Flight of Arrows by Lori Benton

Part of her Pathfinders series, whatever transpires, this will be epic.

9. Where Trains Collide by Amber Stokes

Hopefully releasing in 2016!!!??? Whenever it does, you can count on me to read it pronto. (related novella review here)

10. Told You Twice by Kristen Heitzmann

Not sure of a release date here, but after a fabulous series debut, I’m excited.

11. Under Scottish Stars by Carla Laureano

I know, I still need to read book 2 first, but this one sounds promising. (book 1 review here)

What about YOU? What 2016 releases are you anticipating?

Top Ten Tuesday: Top {11} Book Quotes

It’s another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by  The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

This week is a FREEBIE topic for Top Ten Tuesday! So, looking back through past topics, I was inspired to share some favorite book quotes (originally a topic in 2010, I believe). While I have many favorite book quotes, I have chosen 11 to share here that hopefully make sense out of context. Narrowing it down was not easy!

Top {11} Book Quotes

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV

Taking a sip of tea, she felt immediately better. Tea was comfort. Tranquility. Civility. – Love’s Awakening by Laura Frantz

She felt that she could so much more depend upon the sincerity of those who sometimes looked or said a careless or hasty thing, than of those whose presence of mind never varied, whose tongue never slipped. – Persuasion by Jane Austen

“You put new meaning to the word bookworm. More like a book… boa constrictor.” – Blake in Here to Stay by Melissa Tagg

We said goodbye at the end of the day with the kind of reluctance usually reserved for small children leaving Disneyland. – A Table by the Window by Hillary Manton Lodge

“…one cannot turn one’s back on the truth. One cannot wish it away, or pray it away, or even live it away.” – Verity in Ross Poldark by Winston Graham

“I know it’s difficult to see right now, but if we trust Him, God can bring us through these dark places, through our fears and even what we think is impossible, to give us more. More of Him. Even more of ourselves, through Him. In fact, He can do more than you can ask or imagine if you let Him.”  – Grace in When I Fall In Love by Susan May Warren

“I wanted to see the place where Margaret grew to what she is, even at the worst time of all, when I had no hope of ever calling her mine.” – Mr. Thornton in North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

“Do you know-” her tone went musing- “belief does something marvelous to courage. Courage is something to be drummed up without it, but if you have belief, it does the drumming.” – Clare in Maggie Bright by Tracy Groot

Not everything that happens to us in this life will bring us joy. …But in time God will work even the worst things men do to us for our lasting good. Eternal good. Trust in the Almighty, in His love for you, and you’ll have no need to dread anything He has befall you. For with a test, a trial, He gives an equal measure of grace to bear it and the comfort of His fellowship as He strengthens us. He is acquainted with suffering. – The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn by Lori Benton

Imagine how differently we’d treat people if at the beginning of an acquaintance we were given opportunity to know how that person would affect our life. – Mark of Distinction by Jessica Dotta

Have you read any of these? What are some of your favorite book quotes?

The Wood’s Edge by Lori Benton: Review + Interview + GIVEAWAY

The Wood’s Edge by Lori Benton: Review + Interview + GIVEAWAY

On rare occasions, books come along that have such depth and truth painted in a beautiful manner, they surpass mere literary purposes and become timeless accounts of their characters’ trials and journeys — even if they are fictional.

The Wood’s Edge by Lori Benton is one such gem. I’m happy to be reviewing it today and sharing an insightful review with the author. Plus, Lori has graciously offered to give away an autographed copy of The Wood’s Edge to one of my readers!!! You can find instructions for how to enter the giveaway at the end of this post.

Plot Summary: At the wood’s edge cultures collide. Can two families survive the impact?Woods Edge

The 1757 New York frontier is home to the Oneida tribe and to British colonists, yet their feet rarely walk the same paths.

On the day Fort William Henry falls, Major Reginald Aubrey is beside himself with grief. His son, born that day, has died in the arms of his sleeping wife. When Reginald comes across an Oneida mother with newborn twins, one white, one brown, he makes a choice that will haunt the lives of all involved. He steals the white baby and leaves his own child behind. Reginald’s wife and foundling daughter, Anna, never suspect the truth about the boy they call William, but Reginald is wracked by regret that only intensifies with time, as his secret spreads its devastating ripples.

When the long buried truth comes to light, can an unlikely friendship forged at the wood’s edge provide a way forward? For a father tormented by fear of judgment, another by lust for vengeance. For a mother still grieving her lost child. For a brother who feels his twin’s absence, another unaware of his twin’s existence. And for Anna, who loves them both–Two Hawks, the mysterious Oneida boy she meets in secret, and William, her brother. As paths long divided collide, how will God direct the feet of those who follow Him?

My thoughts:

Lori Benton has a way with words that completely immerses the reader in the story – the setting, characters’ hearts, the smell and feel of the woods, the clothing, and the feelings of opposite cultures. You might recall how much I LOVED one of her previous novels, The Pursuit of Tamsen LittlejohnIt still remains one of my all-time favorite books.

I’m sure it is challenging to write a complex story that spans over several years’ time, but Lori makes it seem effortless. Small gaps in time are traversed while maintaining ongoing emotions of the characters and with no lull to the pace of the story. From the beginning, the reader is torn between two worlds (much like the characters themselves are), that of frontier colonial America and generations of established Oneida Indian culture.

Without saying too much, I did love how Lori chose to develop a certain romantic relationship between two of the characters. This relationship was a little unexpected initially (though I was rooting for it!) and seemed, at times, an impossibility due to the characters’ circumstances. But it was sweetly developed in the story in a way only Lori could write!

Within this story, Lori has included the unique perspective of the events leading up to the Revolutionary War from the Oneida tribe’s viewpoint (specifically, the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy, to which the Oneidas belonged). The attention to detail and the historical research included in The Wood’s Edge make this a rich and fascinating read.

With themes of mercy, grace, and forgiveness, the characters of The Wood’s Edge face lessons wrought through choices. Choices of love, hatred, following God’s path, or sin. These choices shape who the characters become, whether right or wrong, with consequences that can only be overcome through forgiveness.

I could go on talking about this book for a long time. There is so much I could still say about the characters – the faithful missionary who shared the simple truth of Jesus’ sacrifice, the friend who becomes a mentor to Anna, or the supporting characters who offer words of wisdom in the midst of great loss. Or, I could save us both some time, and you could read it for yourself! Trust me, it will be time well spent.

Alright, next I get to share my interview with author Lori Benton! 

What was the inspiration for The Wood’s Edge?

TWE_2ChSneakPeek_txtIn writing my previous published novels, Burning Sky and The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn, I recognized my passion for telling stories about people caught in a middle ground—between cultures, identities, social classes, world views, etc. So I was looking for a setting and historical situation through which to weave another story of this kind, something similar to those previous titles but not exactly the same. I began thinking about the back story I hinted at in Burning Sky—the political conflict on the New York frontier, during the years leading up to the Revolutionary War, that divided not only colonists but also the Iroquois Confederacy. Then there was that terrible battle called Oriskany in 1777…

Around that time I read an article about twins born to a multiracial couple where one twin was dark skinned, the other fair. They were quite a startling contrast. That snagged my attention. I began asking myself the “what if” questions that authors do. What if a set of twins like these was born in the 18th century? What if one of them was raised never knowing he had a different heritage than his skin proclaimed? What if I set this against that Revolutionary War backdrop and put one twin on one side of the conflict, one on the other?

That’s the short story of how The Wood’s Edge grew into being.

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

The Wood’s Edge is a story of grief and healing, vengeance and forgiveness, and man’s justice verses God’s mercy. I hope the journey these characters take will be one that touches readers hearts in all these areas and more. God’s ways are often counter to the impulses of the human heart and mind. Sometimes it’s in dying that we find life, or in laying down a right that we find the peace we truly need.

What was most challenging about writing a story set in mid-18th century America?

It’s always challenging to force myself to think like a person from the mid-18th century and not with my own 21st century world view. People from that era wouldn’t necessarily react to situations as we would. The only way to absorb something of their mindset is to read widely in primary sources like diaries and journals and letters.

Just for fun: Do you have any hobbies?

LORI_1

When I’m not home writing I love to get out into the mountains, take a hike along a river, enjoy our wonderful forests and mountain vistas. We try to do that on Sundays after church. Heading up to church is an excursion into the mountains too, as that’s where our fellowship is situated. As for hobbies, right now writing doesn’t leave time for them, though I wouldn’t mind getting back to my abandoned love of wildlife painting.

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

I’d just pick the 18th century purely for research purposes—if I could get back. Otherwise I really like living now, with the hope of Christ’s return so near.

What are you currently reading?

Remnants: Season of Fire by Lisa T. Bergren

Grace Intervention by Bill Giovannetti

A book on blacksmithing for research

Connect with Lori at her blog or on her Facebook author page.

Thank you so much, Lori, for taking to time to answer my questions! I look forward to seeing what’s next in this “Pathfinders” series. Also, a huge thank you to Lori and Waterbrook Multnomah for sharing an advance review copy of The Wood’s Edge with me.

Giveaway time!

To enter, leave a comment (with a valid email address) answering this question: What are you currently reading? Giveaway open to US residents only through 5/01/15. Winner will be contacted by email on 5/02. Good luck!

Review: “The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn” by Lori Benton

The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn by Lori Benton is such an epic, beautiful, and breathtaking story, I feel that my meager review cannot do it justice. But, alas, I shall attempt it.

Tamsen Littlejohn finds herself subject to the schemes of Hezekiah Parrish, her stepfather. He plans for her advantageous marriageThe Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn by Lori Benton in post-Revolutionary North Carolina. Paired with his ill treatment of her mother, Tamsen at first attempts to placate the situation with her agreement to consider marrying wealthy Ambrose Kincaid.

As Tamsen begins to suspect there is more to her stepfather’s agreement than she knows, she becomes caught up in some chaotic events. (I don’t want to reveal more!) Unexpectedly finding an ally in the mysterious frontier man Jesse Bird, she takes the opportunity to flee with him to the west through the wild Blue Ridge Mountains. Forced to rely on the kindness of a stranger, Tamsen is guided by Jesse as they make their way through rough country. They must skirt hostile Indians, suspicious settlers, endure the harsh change of seasons in the mountains, and evade Parrish and Kincaid, who are pursuing them vehemently.

Through this journey, Tamsen learns more of the considerate man who’s come to her aid. Jesse Bird, a white man raised by the Shawnee (and now friends to the Cherokee), shows the simplicity of mountain living to Tamsen. As they realize God’s provision and the potential of their relationship, the mystery of Jesse’s past and Tamsen’s pursuers threaten to converge with frontier conflicts in the area, testing the faith and endurance of all involved.

Lori has written an action-packed story, complete with quiet, restful moments that expose the beauty of the wild, untamed – and unsettled – land. Tamsen and Jesse’s journey is an epic story that transports the readers to the mountainous settings of North Carolina and Tennessee. Having family in that region myself, I can attest to unique and often treacherous terrain Lori vividly describes. Her flowing writing style really immerses the reader in the story.

Lori’s inclusion of a piece of forgotten history, the almost 14th State of Franklin, adds an interesting backdrop to Tamsen and Jesse’s stories. In this region, two states were claiming the land, residents — and any applicable taxes– as their own: North Carolina and Franklin. This political unrest combined with the threat of hostile Indians added action, excitement, and tension to the story. And trust me, there already WAS tension with the pursuit of Parrish and Kincaid! Also, some minor historical details add to the story, such as the issue and discussion of slavery, Indian traditions, the displacement of Native Americans, and the expansion of the frontier.

In addition to an “Overmountain” journey, the characters of The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn travel on an inward journey, making startling discoveries about their heritages and true desires for the future. It’s delightful to see Tamsen and Jesse’s relationship evolve. What they first thought would be a convenient and comfortable friendship slowly develops into  serious feelings of attraction and love. Also, the mystery surrounding several of the characters’ early lives was cleverly woven throughout the story.

A fitting sentiment conveyed with this story is that the past does have some bearing on our identity, but God’s direction and our decisions determine who we are now, in the present, with the people around us. It’s important that we live in the present, looking toward the future God has for us – and His plans for our good.

I would really love to see this novel as a miniseries. I think it would be FABULOUS! Just seeing Lori Benton’s Pinterest board for the novel has me ready to volunteer as a crew member in the miniseries (are you listening, Hallmark Channel?). I’ve read in friends’ reviews and comments that this novel reminded them of “The Last of the Mohicans” or “Courting Morrow Little” by Laura Frantz (one of my personal faves). I have to agree, in part. But The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn perfectly fits in its own niche among Native-American-influenced-heroes-rescuing-ladies-in-the-wilderness stories. It is certainly one of my new favorites in the historical romance genre!

You can find all kinds of fun extras on Lori’s website, like a link to read the first two chapters of The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn and where to find out more about the history behind the State of Franklin. Also, connect with her on her Facebook page here.

 

“Trust in the Almighty, in His love for you, and you’ll have no need to dread anything He allows to befall you. For with a test, a trial, He gives an equal measure of grace to bear it and the comfort of His fellowship as He strengthens us.” –Lori Benton, The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn

Note: Thank you to the publisher for a complimentary copy in exchange for a review! I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Do you have a favorite historical romance novel? Is it set in the same era?