The Essence of Joy Review & Giveaway

The Essence of Joy copy

About the Book

Front bookcover2

Book Title: The Essence of Joy

Author: Lynn U. Watson

Release Date: October 12, 2017

Genre: Women’s Devotional; Women’s Inspiration; Christmas/Advent Devotional

It’s Christmas in March!

The scents of Christmas invite our imaginations into the holiday season. What emotions flood your heart when the holiday aromas waft your way?

Did you know:

  • Many favorite holiday scents like cinnamon, citrus, and cinnamon are found in the Bible?
  • There is a rich heart connection attached to many of the plant essences found in Scripture?
  • Myrrh is such an important essence, we can follow its trail from Genesis to Revelation with many significant stops along the way?
  • Women of the Bible have personal encounters with God bringing aromas of His love and joy into their lives?
  • Palm branches are an important part of Biblical celebrations beginning in Genesis and ending in the ultimate beach party around the Crystal Sea? (Christmas at the beach, anyone?)

In The Essence of Joy you’ll meet women of the Bible and contemporary women like you and me who will encourage you to discover the refreshing essence of a life lived in the presence of Jesus. Let JOY fill your heart with the aromas of His nativity.

Watch the book trailer here!

Click here to get your copy!


Guest Review from Mindy Houng

This inspirational collection is nothing like what I’ve ever read before. Each chapter integrates fictional characters and a fictional story based on true stories with a fruit or aroma of the Christmas season and its associated essence of joy (ie rose is the joy of love, mint is the joy of giving, citron is the joy of legacy), Scripture from the Old and New Testament centered around that specific fruit/aroma along with thoughts for a devotional, another devotional featuring a woman of the Bible who has had some type of experience with the essence associated with that fruit/aroma, fun facts regarding each fruit/aroma, and practical ways to incorporate the essence and fruit/aroma into daily life.

It is an interesting blend of fiction, Scripture, Biblical teaching, devotional, and how-to instructions. I’ll definitely be coming back to this book to let the words sink in deeper. I think I’ll learn a little more about His joy every time. As the author quotes at the beginning of the book from a Gaelic Prayer: “As the hand is made for holding and the eye for seeing, You have fashioned me for joy.”
I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher via Celebrate Lit stout. I was not required to to write a favorable review. All comments and opinions are solely my own.

About the Author

LynnSmallLynn Watson combines many years’ experience in women’s ministry, love of essential oils, and her passion for God’s word to bring her readers freshly inspired encouragement for their walk with Jesus. Her devotional, The Essence of Courage, was recognized as a ‘must read’ by regional publishing industry leaders. Married since 1973, Lynn and Steve have filled their Bartlett, Tennessee home with handmade treasures and lots of love for family, especially their five beautiful (of course) grandchildren. Aromas of freshly baked bread often fill Lynn’s kitchen. Jasmine, her tuxedo kitty, enjoys sleeping in Lynn’s lap while she writes.

Guest Post from Lynn Watson


A walk down memory lane on a snowy day (today) transported my thoughts to a Christmas shop our children and I visited every year. Open only for the holiday season, rich aromas reached out and drew you into this wonderland. The owners filled the space with unique treasures. A few we chose years ago remain prized member of my Christmas favorites close to four decades later.

My debut encounter with essential oils came many years later. I loved their aromas (including many of those Christmas scents) and studied their aromatic influences and potential benefits. Bible verses jumped to life in new ways. God created all plants and inspired the Biblical authors to include many. The desire to share my discoveries burned in my heart, until God finally released me to publish The Essence of Courage in December 2016. Before I completed the devotional based on Solomon’s locked garden in Song of Solomon 4:12-15, God reminded me just how many aromas and tastes of the Christmas season are found in the pages of His word, too.

Cinnamon, cedarwood, mint, citrus, myrrh, frankincense, rose, and figs are found in the pages of Scripture. So, are palms. They may not appear Christmasy unless you favor a tropical holiday, but they are an integral part of celebration in the Bible. The Essence of Joy offers discoveries of connections of all this plant life to Jesus’ nativity.

Looking back a dozen years to my first not-quite-inspired imaginings of a devotional book with aromatic offerings, I’m grateful God chose different timing. He presented me an unusual format for the collection. — one of those things easier experienced than explained. Contemporary women’s very real stories (fictionalized and often combined to create anonymity), stories from very real women living on the pages of Scripture, and a focused look at the botanical and its aromas, flavors, and essences as found in the Bible, are topped off with icing on the cake: ‘Fun Facts” and ‘Your Turn’ to invite the reader to more than read – to participate.

In The Essence of Joy you’ll encounter Scriptures in ways you had not considered before. Your faith will be enriched and stretched as you relate to the ancient women of the Bible and those that may be your next door neighbor today. You’ll be encouraged to breathe in the aromas of Jesus’ nativity, sample goodies from The Coffee Cottage’s specials of the day, and tune in to musical selections welcoming you into a posture of worship. I’m praying you are filled with His joy!

NOTE: Cinnamah-Brosia, the owner of The Coffee Cottage in the fictional stories asks readers at the very beginning of the book to be sure to read the introductory material. It helps set the stage for the book’s character and personality.

Blog Stops

Multifarious, March 3

Carpe Diem, March 4

A Baker’s Perspective, March 5

Blossoms and Blessings, March 6

Mary Hake, March 6

proud to be an autism mom, March 7

Bigreadersite, March 7

Texas Book-aholic, March 8

Seasons of Opportunities, March 9

Reading is my Super Power, March 9 (Interview)

Bibliophile Reviews, March 10

A Greater Yes, March 11

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, March 11

Janices book reviews, March 12

Jeanette’s Thoughts, March 12

Pursuing Stacie, March 13

Aryn the Libraryan, March 14

Simple Harvest Reads, March 15 (Guest post from Mindy)

margaret kazmierczak, March 15 (Interview)

Pause for Tales, March 16




To celebrate her tour, Lynn is giving away a grand prize of a “Choose Joy” hand made necklace, a “Cups of Joy” (adult coloring book) + set of 24 prismacolor colored pencils, a “Choose Joy Today” stamped silver-plated teaspoon,
flower Seeds, raspberry tea (it’s in the Cinnamah-Brosia story in the “Mint/Giving” section), a “Choose Joy” tote bag, and a signed copy of “The Essence of Joy”!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

Someplace Familiar Review & Giveaway

Someplace Familiar FB Banner copy

About the Book


Book Title: Someplace Familiar

Author: Teresa Tysinger

Release date: May, 2017

Artist Livy Johnson needs a fresh start. That’s what a broken heart and forgotten dreams can do to a person. On little more than a whim, she reclaims her grandmother’s old home in quaint Laurel Cove, North Carolina and vows to restore its original charm. When she literally collides with childhood friend, Jack Bowdon, Livy wonders if she’s back for an entirely different reason.
Jack can’t believe his childhood crush is back. As the owner of Bowdon’s Supplies, and once again the town’s most eligible bachelor, he offers to help Livy with repairs. Together they embark on the project – and an undeniable whirlwind romance.
But it’s not all smooth sailing. Can they survive the destructive pain of their pasts and discover God’s grace waiting to renovate their hearts?
Click here to purchase your copy!

 Guest Review from Mindy Houng

“He said that the love they shared flooded into the deep cracks of his grief like grains of sand. That it didn’t stitch the cracks closed, just filled in the wounds so that they were bearable.”
This is the first book by Teresa Tysinger that I have read and it was enjoyable. The book combined raw emotion, heady romance, good friendships, and memorable characters with a distinct theme of grace, forgiveness, and second chance. Anyone who enjoys a good contemporary romance will enjoy this book.
Jack is a swoon-worthy hero, capable, dependable, and straight-forward. Unfortunately he’s been struggling with his ex-wife and the ugly divorce that occurred after her multiple incidences of adultery. He seems incredibly put-together and in control of his relationship with Livy but his inner turmoils and unresolved anger surface in the middle of the book to make him more real.
Livy is an artist who has been crushed by a controlling and degrading boyfriend. She returns to her grandmother’s cottage and hopes to restart her life at a place that holds love and good memories. Their romance is swift but they both have baggage that needs to be sifted through and the plot focuses mainly on the process of their healing from the brokenness.
Jack’s couple friends are fun additions to the plot and definitely help keep the book moving.
I was given a copy of this book from the author/publisher via Celebrate Lit Tour. I was not required to write a favorable review. All comments and opinions are solely my own.

About the Author


Teresa Tysinger is a wife and mother transplanted from North Carolina to North Texas. When not working as the Director of Communications for a large downtown church, she writes charming southern romances inspired by grace. Her debut novel, Someplace Familiar, released this summer. She also is a contributing writer for the Fort Worth Moms Blog (part of the national City Moms Blog Network). A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Religious Communicators’ Council, and the Association for Women in Communications, Teresa has spent over a decade committed to telling stories of faith through written word. She loves coffee, caramel, and stories with happy endings.

Guest Post from Teresa Tysinger

Someplace Familiar began way back in 2014 when I participated in National Novel Writer’s Month, a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November. It was an exhilarating, albeit exhausting, experience! Since then, the book was workshopped with a critique group, had large portions rewritten countless times, pitched at workshops, edited by two editors, and even renamed (original title was Good Graces). After a lot of prayer, I decided that self-publishing would give me the greatest flexibility and control while being able to maintain my responsibilities as a wife, mother, and full-time communications director. It’s been a wonderful ride!

About the Inspiration for Someplace Familiar One thing I’ve learned about myself through writing Someplace Familiar is how much I am personally drawn to setting and place. The idea for the book was born out of my desire to introduce readers to the charming small-town life found in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina where I went to college. Laurel Cove, the fictional town where the story is set, is directly based on my best friend’s hometown of Burnsville, NC. The other source of inspiration comes from my great-grandmother’s tiny bungalow home in West Palm Beach, Florida. Long weekends and summer vacations spent there were full of imagination, adventure, and sweet memories. The scents of her garden, feel of the damp earth beneath my feet, slow pace matching gauzy curtains dancing in the breeze—it all is mirrored in the cottage home of Livy’s Gram in the book. The rest of the story formed around my desire to capture my childhood memories of this home that was so magical and safe for me.

About My Writing Style Here are a few ways I would describe my writing style: Sensory—I aim to provide readers with an experience that enlivens all of their senses. Relatable—It’s my hope that readers see themselves in realistic, flawed characters trying to make their way to discovering grace in a less than perfect world. Charming—Like any good southern fiction, there’s a good dose of charm in these pages.

My prayer is that Someplace Familiar will touch readers with an awareness of God’s grace even during circumstances and within relationships that feel hopeless. Restoration is possible!

Blog Stops

All-of-a-kind Mom, March 1

Just Commonly, March 1

Pursuing Stacie, March 1

Among the Reads, March 2

Faithfully Bookish, March 2

Bigreadersite, March 2

Quiet quilter, March 3

Blogging With Carol, March 3

C Jane Read, March 4

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, March 4

Remembrancy, March 5

Inklings and notions, March 5

Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner, March 6

100 Pages per Hour, March 6

Book by Book, March 7

Red Headed Book Lady, March 7

Ashley’s Bookshelf, March 8

Ladybug Chronicles, March 8

Two Points of Interest, March 9

proud to be an autism mom, March 9

Bibliophile Reviews, March 10

A Greater Yes, March 10

Texas Book-aholic, March 11

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, March 11

Reflections From My Bookshelves, March 12

Janices book reviews, March 12

Jeanette’s Thoughts, March 13

Carpe Diem, March 13

A Baker’s Perspective, March 14

Simple Harvest Reads, March 14 (Guest post from Mindy)




To celebrate her tour, Teresa is giving away a grand prize of a gift basket that includes a signed copy of the book, an Original Painting by Author’s Sister (artist Cyndi Browning), and a $10 Amazon Gift Card!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

Breaking Toxic Soul Ties Guest Review & Giveaway

Breaking toxic banner Template copy

About the Book

Breaking toxic

Title: Breaking Toxic Soul Ties: Healing from Unhealthy and Controlling Relationships

Author: Tom Brown

Genre: Non-fiction, relationships

Release Date: January 9, 2018

Going through this world in relationship with other people inevitably creates connections in our inner being called soul ties. When these relationships are loving, supportive, and nurturing, positive soul ties are created. But if the relationships become abusive or manipulative, or cause rejection, they can create a toxic brokenness within the soul that we carry with us, even long after the relationship ends. If these toxic inner soul ties are not broken, we will experience failure, fractured relationships, and even health problems throughout life.
In Breaking Toxic Soul Ties, Tom Brown describes his own story of rejection and the process of inner healing he experienced. He helps you to identify and diagnose toxic relationships as he breaks down the difference between positive and negative soul ties. He also shows why toxic soul ties develop and how they can only be broken by a process of inner healing through confession, forgiveness, and prayer. The truth is, unless your self-image is firmly rooted in the truth of your identity in Christ, you will always be susceptible to bad soul ties. Tom Brown describes the way for you to move forward in life and leave pain and brokenness behind for good!


Click here to purchase your copy!


Guest Review from Mindy Houng

This was indeed an interesting and eye-opening book. I really liked the way the author described and used the words “soul ties” to explain different relationships we have with others. The author clearly hails from a denomination that I am not very familiar with, yet I did understand and agree with most of his points. There were some speculations in the book that I was not sure I agreed with completely but these were minor and did not affect the major points the author was making.

I have been blessed not to have experienced toxic soul ties with those close to me. This book has increased my awareness for the possible toxic soul ties, but also increased my desire to strengthen and fortify the wonderful soul ties that I do have.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher/author via Celebrate Lit Tour. I was not required to write a favorable review. All comments and opinions are solely my own.


About the Author

Tom Brown is best known for his deliverance ministry. Millions have seen him on ABC’s 20/20, as well as on MSNBC and the History Channel. He is a noted conference speaker, prolific author, and committed pastor. His award-winning Internet site,, reaches more than a million people a year. His books published by Whitaker House are Devil, Demons, and Spiritual Warfare; Breaking Curses, Experiencing Healing; Prayers That Get Results; and Spiritual Gifts for Spiritual Warfare. Tom is the founder and pastor of Word of Life Church in El Paso, Texas.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, February 27

Reading is my Super Power, February 27 (Interview)

Allofakindmom, February 28

proud to be an autism mom, February 28

Bibliophile Reviews, March 1

Texas Book-aholic, March 2

Carpe Diem, March 3

A Baker’s Perspective, March 4

A Reader’s Brain, March 5

Simple Harvest Reads, March 6 (Guest post from Mindy)

Pursuing Stacie, March 7

Janices book reviews, March 8

Jeanette’s Thoughts, March 9

Margaret Kazmierczak, March 10

A Greater Yes, March 11

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, March 12

Bigreadersite, March 12



In honor of the tour, Whitaker House is giving away

Grand Prize Package: Breaking Toxic Soul Ties by Tom Brown, KJVER Study Bible, and “A Friend Loves at All Times” scented candle from Abba Jerusalem

1st Place: Breaking Toxic Soul Ties by Tom Brown, God That Saves worship music CD from, and Whitaker House/Anchor Coloring Book and Colored Pencils

2nd Place: Breaking Toxic Soul Ties by Tom Brown, and Whitaker House/Anchor Coloring Book and Colored Pencils!!!

Click the link to enter!

Across the Blue Celebration Tour

Across the Blue FB banner copy

About the Book


Title: Across the Blue

Author: Carrie Turansky

Genre: Historical romance

Release Date: February 20, 2018

Love soars to new heights in this Edwardian romance filled with adventure, faith, and inspiration, but how much will it cost Bella and James to follow their dreams?

Isabella Grayson, the eldest daughter of a wealthy, English newspaper magnate, longs to become a journalist, but her parents don’t approve. They want her to marry well and help them gain a higher standing in society. After she writes an anonymous letter to the editor that impresses her father, her parents reluctantly agree she can write a series of articles about aviation and the race to be the first to fly across the English Channel, but only if she promises to accept a marriage proposal within the year. When James Drake, an aspiring aviator, crashes his flying machine at the Grayson’s new estate, Bella is intrigued. James is determined to win that race across the Channel and gain the prize Mr. Grayson’s newspaper is offering. He hopes it will help him secure a government contract to build airplanes and redeem a terrible family secret. James wants to win Bella’s heart, but his background and lack of social standing make it unlikely her parents would approve. If he fails to achieve his dream, how will he win the love and respect he is seeking? Will Bella’s faith and support help him find the strength and courage he needs when unexpected events turn their world upside down?


Click here to purchase your copy!


Guest Review from Mindy Houng

“It’s not easy to forgive someone when what they’ve done has caused a deep wound, but when you do, it benefits you as much, or maybe more, than the person you forgive. It’s like a burden is lifted off your shoulders, and it opens the path for healing and restoration.”
This book is the first book I’ve read written by Carrie Turansky. She’s well-loved by many and I have been meaning to get to some of her books; I’m thrilled that I had the opportunity to read this book and the author now has one more fan in her corner. This historical fiction is well-researched, well-written, completely enthralling and engaging. The author has everything needed for the perfect recipe – a beautifully laid-out plot, wonderful dialogue, memorable and lovable characters, a smidgen of intrigue, and a strong faith component that defines the characters.
In 1909 England, many are inventing and re-inventing the airplane and pilots are eager to cross the English Channel for a prize sum. James is one of the aspiring aviators, born under speculative circumstances and reared by an aviation professor and his sister. He is haunted by his past that he does not know, burdened under the threat of failure but still kind, loving, faithful, and loyal. He is intelligent, innovative, and able to admit his faults even though he’s proud. Bella is the daughter of a newspaper tycoon, always being urged by her mother to make a match with someone titled to elevate their family status but wishes to be a journalist for her father’s newspaper. She is inquisitive, intelligent, tender-hearted, and loving. Bella and James must struggle through deception, disparate society standings, misunderstandings, pain of the past, and disappointments to discover what they really mean to each other.
James and his mentor professor’s faith are incredible examples for us all. Even in the midst of turmoil, disappointment, hurt, and uncertainty, both James and the professor choose to cling to the God who sees all and knows all.
I also learned quite a bit about the beginnings of aviation through this book. Anyone who enjoys historical fiction that is well-written will love reading this book.
I was given a copy of this book by the author/publisher via Celebrate Lit Tour. I was not required to write a favorable review. All comments and opinions are solely my own.

About the Author

CarrieCarrie Turansky has loved reading since she first visited the library as a young child and checked out a tall stack of picture books. Her love for writing began when she penned her first novel at age twelve. She is now the award-winning author of nineteen inspirational romance novels and novellas. Carrie and her husband, Scott, who is a pastor, author, and speaker, have been married for more than thirty years and make their home in New Jersey. They often travel together on ministry trips and to visit their five adult children and five grandchildren. Carrie leads women’s ministry at her church, and when she is not writing she enjoys spending time working in her flower gardens and cooking healthy meals for friends and family. She loves to connect with reading friends through her website, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.


Guest Post from Carrie Turansky

Following your Dreams

By Carrie Turansky

BellaIn Across the Blue, Bella Grayson and James Drake both go to great lengths to pursue their dreams. Bella longs to become a journalist and write for one of her father’s newspapers, but in 1909 England, aristocratic young women did not work as journalists. A young woman’s path was set by the unwritten rules of society. At eighteen she was presented at court, and then she took part in the London social season and hoped for a marriage proposal from a young man from a wealthy family, with an estate and title. Marriage, having children, and taking part in social and charitable events was the prescribed course for their lives.

But Bella has a different future in mind. She wants to marry for love, and she won’t settle for anything less. She also wants to write articles about the important events of the day that will inform and inspire people. She wants to be a world changer, and that is a very unique role for a woman in England in the Edwardian Era. At that time women didn’t have the right to vote yet and very few pursued any kind of career.

JamesAirplaneJames is an aviation pioneer, and his dream is to build an airplane that will allow him to be the first to fly across the English Channel. This is no easy accomplishment, and he faces many challenges as he pursues his dream. Aviation is brand new. Wilbur Wright demonstrated his airplane in France the year before and stunned Europeans with his skill. With the help of his mentor, Professor Steed, James conducts experiments, refines his design, and makes countless test flights. It takes great courage and determination to overcome setbacks and make it through near fatal crash landings, but James has his heart and mind set on perfecting his airplane and reaching his goal.

74fdde720c5ae29bd4c7672fe3b6f205What about you? What hopes and dreams do you have for your future? What goals would you like to accomplish? As you think about your dreams and future plans I hope you’ll gain some insight from James and Bella’s experiences in Across the Blue. When they considered the cost of pursuing their dreams they realized their plans and choices impacted others as well as themselves. James and Bella believed striving for their dreams is important, but they learned it must be balanced with commitments to family and friends, and most of all a commitment to following the Lord on the path He has for them.

AcrossSpineFollowing our dreams and working toward accomplishing our goals, especially those the Lord puts on our heart, is important. However, sometimes we may have to put our dreams on hold and wait for the right time and season. We don’t need to be discouraged when this happens. As we listen to the Lord and ask Him to guide and direct us He will show us the right path at the right time to follow it.

Just like James and Bella I hope you’ll pursue your dreams but also hold them with an open hand, allowing the Lord to guide and direct you each step of the way. When you do I’m confident you’ll be headed toward seeing your dreams become reality in His time and in His way. “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord; plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

With that wonderful promise in mind, I hope you’ll enjoy reading Across the Blue and joining Bella and James as they they pursue their dreams. You’re in for high-flying adventure, romance, and inspiration, and I can’t wait to share this new story with you. Happy reading to you!

Blog Stops

Bookworm Mama, February 22

Carpe Diem, February 22

Blogging With Carol, February 22

Reflections From My Bookshelves, February 23

Reading Is My SuperPower, February 23

Karen Sue Hadley, February 23

Christian Bookaholic, February 24

Mary Hake, February 24

Among the Reads, February 24

The Power of Words, February 25

History, Mystery & Faith, February 25

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, February 25

Maureen’s Musings, February 26

Rachel’s Back Talk, February 26

Smiling Book Reviews, February 26

Radiant Light, February 27

Faithfully Bookish, February 27

The Fizzy Pop Collection, February 27

Bibliophile Reviews, February 28

Remembrancy, February 28

Two Points of Interest, February 28

Tell Tale Book Reviews, March 1

Book by Book, March 1

Bigreadersite, March 1

proud to be an autism mom, March 1

Pause for Tales, March 2

Have A Wonderful Day, March 2

margaret kazmierczak, March 2 (Interview)

Pursuing Stacie, March 3

Neverending Stories, March 3

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, March 3

Texas Book-aholic, March 4

Janices book reviews, March 4

Jeanette’s Thoughts, March 4

Simple Harvest Reads, March 4 (Guest post from Mindy)

Moments Dipped in Ink, March 5

My Writer’s Life, March 5

Baker Kella, March 5

Kat’s Corner Books, March 6

A Greater Yes, March 6

A Baker’s Perspective, March 6

Romances of the Cross, March 7

Henry Happens, March 7

For The Love of Books, March 7


To celebrate her tour, Carrie is giving away a grand prize of an autographed copy of Shine Like the Dawn and $30 gift card to!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

Ain’t Misbehaving Review & Giveaway

Ain't Misbehaving FB Cover copy

About the Book

00 Final Front

Title: Ain’t Misbehaving

Author: Marji Laine

Genre: Contemporary Inspirational Fiction

Release Date: January 16, 2017

True, Annalee’s crime amounted to very little, but not in terms of community service hours. Her probation officer encouraged her with a promise of an easy job in an air conditioned downtown environment. She didn’t expect her role to be little better than a janitor at an after-school day care in the worst area of town. Through laughter and a few tears, Annalee finds out that some lessons are learned the hard way, and some seep into the soul unnoticed.

Carlton Whelen hides behind the nickname of CJ so people won’t treat him like the wealthy son of the Whelen Foundation director. Working at the foundations after-school program delights him and annoys his business-oriented father. When a gorgeous prima donna is assigned to his team, he not only cringes at her mistakes, but also has to avoid the attraction that builds from the first time he sees her.

Click here to purchase your copy!

Guest Review from Mindy Houng

What an incredibly captivating contemporary romance! This is my first novel by Marji Laine and I’m so glad that her book found me. The story is well-written, the plot is intricately planned, the dialogue is so real and engaging, the characters are wonderful, the faith component of the storyline is seamlessly integrated, and the book moves at a great pace with lots of twists and turns.
Annalee is such a beautiful heroine, inside and out. Granted, she’s the baby daughter of a rich attorney running for the mayor seat in Dallas but she’s different from the high-society women. Annalee is sweet, compassionate, loving, down-to-earth, selfless, artistic, creative and so in need of approval and belonging. Yet she has trouble trusting men because of her past experience. CJ is the sole heir to the Whelan empire who has rejected all of his father’s demands to serve as the director for a children’s after-school center in a low income area of the city. He is devoted, loyal, kind, compassionate, hard-working, but he himself has trouble trusting women. Circumstances bring them together but so many incidents and accidents try to keep them apart, especially a particular secret CJ keeps from Annalee. Their slowly blooming friendship and romance is achingly sweet and often tear-filled.
CJ’s faith is amazingly solid and yet he still makes plenty of mistakes, clearly showcasing his need for the Savior and grace. Annalee’s receptive heart and sincere prayers are touching and quite inspirational.
Anyone who enjoys a well-written contemporary inspirational romance novel would absolutely love this book. I was given a copy of the book by author/publisher via Celebrate Lit Tour. I was not required to write a favorable review. All comments and opinions are solely my own.

About the Author

Marji Laine

Marji Laine has completed seventeen years of homeschooling with the surreal notion that

she’ll now have time on her hands. But that’s unlikely. Her publishing company, Write Integrity Press, keeps her extremely busy. In her spare time, she teaches a high school and college Bible Study, leads a Sunday morning high school fellowship group, directs a children’s choir, and sings in her church’s adult choir.

She enjoys road trips with her family and friends, photography, scrapbooking, and participating in musical theater. Her favorite past time is game night with her family and her kids’ extended collection of friends.

Guest Post from Marji Laine

AIN’T MISBEHAVING delves into the depth of life from the perspective of a shallow, sheltered woman. Annalee Chambers has been raised to pay attention to all aspects of society, particularly the appearance of success. Being cultured and socially-educated, she’s not really prepared to work in one of the poorest sections of town. And she’s really not expecting to find such joy intertwined with such poverty.

Having my story set in my hometown has some fun aspects. I got to handpick the homes for the main characters and the locations for the after-school program. And even now when I drive past some of those places, I get all excited about the story again.

For instance, I chose a particular building downtown to be CJ’s (the hero’s) condo. It’s in One Arts Plaza. This condo was for sale when I was writing the book so I was able to download actual pictures of the place including the view from its southeast facing patio. You’ll laugh, but I don’t drive by that building without looking up to the 18th floor and half expecting to see CJ standing there.


AIN’T MISBEHAVING goes much deeper than only the setting, though. It was written a number of years ago, so many that I barely remembered the storyline. But when I started editing, I was moved to tears again and again. These characters are so real, and I would love to meet them!

I hope you’ll enjoy AIN’T MISBEHAVING and watch for Annalee and CJ to have an extra special cameo part in Book 2 of the Dallas Duets, PUTTIN’ ON THE RITZ.

Blog Stops

Jeanette’s Thoughts, January 27

Janices book reviews, January 27

Remembrancy, January 28

Mary Hake, January 28

Reflections From My Bookshelves, January 29

Inklings and Notions, January 29

Texas Book-aholic, January 30

Carpe Diem, January 31

A Baker’s Perspective, February 1

Multifarious, February 2

Daysong Reflections, February 2

Bibliophile Reviews, February 3

proud to be an autism mom, February 4

Power of Words, February 4 (spotlight)

A Greater Yes, February 5

Reading is my Super Power, February 5 (Interview)

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 6

margaret kazmierczak, February 6 (interview)

Simple Harvest Reads, February 7 (Guest review from Mindy Houng)

Bigreadersite, February 8

Avid Reader Book Reviews, February 8

Kaylee’s Kind Of Writes, February 9

Pursuing Stacie, February 9



To celebrate her tour, Marji is giving away a grand prize of Dallas chocolates, Texas snack box, and a packet of Bluebonnet seeds!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

Their Daring Hearts Review & Giveaway

Their Daring Hearts FB Banner copy

About the Book


Author: Sharlene MacLaren

Genre: Christian Historical Romance (Civil War)

Release Date: Jan 9, 2018

Levi Albright rebelled against his Quaker roots to fight for abolition in the Union army in the first year of the Civil War. Two years later, 19-year-old destitute orphan Josephine Winters, with her chopped hair, boy’s clothes, and new name, “Snipp,” enlists in the Union army out of desperation.

Just over five feet tall and barely weighing as much as a newborn calf, Snipp seems to Levi to be barely old enough to hold “his” gun. But despite being teased by the regiment, Snipp quickly earns admiration for skill with a musket and unequaled bravery. When Levi explains one night that he is a Quaker leading a regiment, it leads to a late-night discussion of faith and a developing friendship.

But Snipp’s secret can only be hidden for so long. After an injury forces Josie to reveal her real identity, Levi is angered by her deception. Worse, Josie is marched out of the company without a chance to explain—or even say goodbye. Will their friendship survive? Or will the hatred saturating the war-torn nation affect even the heart of a peace-loving Quaker?

Click here to purchase your copy.

Guest Review from Mindy Houng

“Only God could write so perfect a love story.”
And this book indeed is a beautiful love story. It is the first book written by Sharlene MacLaren that I have read and I’m hooked. This book blends good writing, a well-plotted story that is perfectly paced, a hint of intrigue and mystery, memorable characters, great dialogue, historical facts from Civil War with a strong element of faith, salvation, redemption and grace to produce a delightful read.
The solid faith Levi and Josie portray throughout the story is commendable and inspiring. Their compassion and care for those wounded, both physically and spiritually, bring them together in ways that neither have experienced before. Levi is strong, faithful, loyal, compassionate, full of God’s Word and love, thoughtful, loving, a natural leader and makes for a dashing hero. Josie is determined yet tender-hearted, loyal to family and friends, creative, compassionate yet so innocent about the ways of the world and romance. They go through a lot together during their days in the army and a wonderful friendship emerges even before the romance. A hint of intrigue and mystery regarding a traitor in their midst adds a layer of adrenaline to the plot.
Anyone who enjoys a well-written historical romance taking place during the Civil War will appreciate this book.
I was given a copy of this book by the author/publisher via Celebrate Lit Tour. I was not required to write a favorable review. All comments and opinions are solely my own.

About the Author


Born and raised in western Michigan, Sharlene MacLaren graduated from Spring Arbor University then traveled nationally with a contemporary Christian vocal ensemble. She married Cecil, with whom she’d grown up in Spring Arbor, and the couple had two daughters. Shar embarked on a teaching career that would span over 30 years. As she contemplated retirement, Shar sought God’s guidance, praying for a vocation that would provide the kind of fulfillment and joy she experienced as a teacher and mother. A lifelong gifted story teller, she began to write Christian romance novels. Her first book, Through Every Storm, published in 2007, was met with critical acclaim and brisk sales. The rest, as they say, is history. Whitaker House’s bestselling fiction author, she’s subsequently published 18 books, mostly historical romances. Shar enjoys reading, singing in her church choir and worship team, traveling, and spending time with her husband, children, and grandchildren. She’s very interactive on Facebook and Twitter. For more:,, Twitter @ sharzy_lu.

Blog Stops

History, Mystery & Faith, January 25

Genesis 5020, January 25

Inspiration Clothesline, January 25

ASC Book Reviews, January 26

Multifarious, January 26

Christian Bookaholic, January 27

Remembrancy, January 27

Carpe Diem, January 28

Inklings and notions, January 28

Blossoms and Blessings, January 29

Reading Is My SuperPower, January 29

The Fizzy Pop Collection, January 30

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, January 30

Moments Dipped in Ink, January 31

Mary Hake, January 31

Jeanette’s Thoughts, January 31

Daysong Reflections, February 1

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, February 1

A Baker’s Perspective, February 1

Pause for Tales, February 2

Have A Wonderful Day, February 2

Connie’s History Classroom, February 3

Cafinated Reads, February 3

proud to be an autism mom, February 4

Bibliophile Reviews, February 4

Red Headed Book Lady, February 5

My Wrtier’s Life, February 5

Simple Harvest Reads, February 5 (Guest Post from Mindy Houg)

Pursuing Stacie, February 6

A Greater Yes, February 6

Texas Book-aholic, February 6

Bigreadersite, February 7

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 7

Janices book reviews, February 7



To celebrate her tour, Whitaker House is giving away:

Grand Prize Package: Their Daring Hearts (Forever Freedom Series) #2 by Sharlene MacLaren; Summer on Sunset Ridge (Forever Freedom Series #1) signed by the author, Sharlene MacLaren, Abba Jerusalem Hyssop 6” Pillar Candle.
1st Place: Their Daring Hearts (Forever Freedom Series) #2 by Sharlene MacLaren; Heart of Mercy (Tennessee Dreams #1) by Sharlene MacLaren; Whitaker House/Anchor Coloring Book with Colored Pencils.
2nd Place: Their Daring Hearts (Forever Freedom Series) #2 by Sharlene MacLaren; Whitaker House/Anchor Coloring Book with Colored Pencils.!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

Liza’s Second Chance Review & Giveaway

Liza's Second Chance FB Banner copyAbout the Book

7-19-2017 from John S. Liza's Second Chance

Title: Liza’s Second Chance

Author: Molly Jebber

Genre: Christian Amish Fiction

Release Date: January 30, 2018

The sweet welcome of straight-from-the-oven sugar cookies and hot cocoa. The warm invitation of apple pie and fresh cold milk. In 1912 Ohio, the Amish Charm Bakery is the heart of a close-knit, faith-nourished community, where people can find a refuge, a place to start again—and love that can make their lives new . . .

For Liza Schrock, the bakery her late husband bought was an unexpected haven from their unhappy arranged marriage. Now she’s perfectly content to cook up mouth-watering delights for her hometown, give to those alone or in trouble—and remain happily unwed. And though she’s willing to give handsome, newly-arrived widower Jacob Graber all the help he desperately needs, she is sure they can stay just friends . . .

But as Liza also tries to aid Jacob’s troubled teenage daughter, she starts caring far too much for his gentle ways and steadfast hopes. And when a wrenching secret she must keep comes between them, can Liza find the faith to risk opening her heart again—and reach for one more chance at real love?

Click here to purchase your copy!

Guest Review from Mindy Houng

This is the first book by Molly Jebber that I have read. For full disclosure, I have to admit that I don’t read much Amish fiction. I have read more since becoming a part of the Celebrate Lit Tour review team, but it is not my go-to genre of fiction. That being said, this Amish fiction book that takes place in Charm, Ohio in 1912 blends love and faith in the small Amish community that provides second chances with historical happenings of that era. The deeply woven thread of faith and prayer in the storyline is also an added bonus.
Liza is a bakery owner in Charm who suffered through a terrible marriage to a verbally and emotionally abusive man. She is now a widow, enjoying her time with her sister’s family and bakery. Jacob is a widower just moved into Charm with his troubled teenage daughter. Sparks fly between the two, but many issues – past and present – interfere with their budding relationship. Liza is strong and capable but so timid and fearful in a courtship. Jacob is tender, loyal, and caring but sometimes too pushy and stubborn about getting his own way. Then there is Ellie, Jacob’s daughter, who is willful and spiteful, mostly because she’s still hurting from her mother’s death. Although the characters were definitely three-dimensional and layered, I unfortunately couldn’t really connect with any of them.
The storyline was plotted out well, but the book seemed a bit long and repeatedly addressed Liza’s emotional issues with remarriage more often than was needed.
If you enjoy Amish historical fiction, I’m sure you would enjoy this book. I was given a copy of the book by the author/publisher via Celebrate Lit Tour. I was not required to write a favorable review. All comments and opinions are solely my own.

About the Author

6-10-2016 leaning good shot greenshirt

Molly Jebber’s books have been featured on Publisher’s Weekly’s Best Ten Recommended Reads, in USA Today’s HEA, Romantic Times and many other media sites. She’s tours and speaks about Amish history/traditions, writing, marketing, publishing, and about her books. She loves God, her family, friends. She enjoys swimming, golf, reading, and says yes to butterscotch pie and parasailing, but no to coconut and skydiving! Visit for a complete list of her books and speaking events.

Guest Post from Molly Jebber

Here’s a little about Liza’s story:

Hello Friends,

I loved writing about Liza. She has a lot to overcome in this book, but her faith in God, and compassion for others helps her to arrive at her decisions through difficult and happy times. I enjoyed visiting Charm, and it makes for a good setting for this story. The bakery is fun with all the sugary pies, pastries, and breads. The unique customers, and the place where friends are made, and where trouble happens. Most of all, I hope I’ve done a good job entertaining you as you read “Liza’s Second Chance”.

Blog Stops

A Rup Life, January 30

Books n Baubles, January 30

margaret kazmierczak, January 30 (interview)

Simple Harvest Reads, January 30 ( Guest post from Mindy Houng)

Avid Reader Book Reviews, January 31

Josephine’s Thoughts, January 31

Vicky Sluiter, February 1

Splashes of Joy, February 1

For The Love of Books, February 2

Christian Bookaholic, February 2

Blossoms and Blessings, February 3

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, February 3

Christian Author, J.E.Grace, February 4

Mary Hake, February 4

SusanLovesBooks, February 5

Carpe Diem, February 5

Reading is my Super Power, February 5 (interview)

The Fizzy Pop Collection, February 6

proud to be an autism mom, February 6

Bibliophile Reviews, February 7

A Greater Yes, February 7

Pursuing Stacie, February 7

Texas Book-aholic, February 8

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 8

Have A Wonderful Day, February 9

Janices book reviews, February 9

cherylbbookblog, February 10

Red Headed Book Lady, February 10

Bigreadersite, February 10

Pink Granny’s Journey, February 11

Jeanette’s Thoughts, February 11

A Reader’s Brain, February 12

A Baker’s Perspective, February 12




To celebrate her tour, Molly is giving away a $75 Amazon gift card!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

Son of Promise Review & Giveaway

Sons of promise FB cover copy

About the Book

00 Son of Promise

Title: Son of Promise

Author: Caryl McAdoo

Genre: Woman’s Fiction

Be it known, your sins will find you out, but God’s mercy endureth forever!
Can a wife find the grace to forgive when her husband’s withheld the truth?
Travis Buckmeyer has a secret son, and the morning’s come to tell his sweet wife. He hates breaking Emma Lee’s heart. She promised him one ten years ago, but hasn’t been blessed to carry a baby to term. Every miscarriage made the telling harder, but now his clock’s run out. He’s going for his son, praying he won’t lose her.
Click here to purchase your copy!

Guest Review from Mindy Houng

This is the first book of Caryl McAdoo’s that I had the privilege of reading. I realize that this book is the latest installment of a family saga but it could be read as a stand-alone. If I had read the previous books, I would have had better insight into the family dynamics, the personalities within the families and probably Travis and Emma Lee’s relationship but the author provided enough details in this book that I did not feel lost in the story.
The story takes place in southern Texas in 1950. Travis is a farmer who breeds cows and horses and Emma Lee is his artist wife of 10 years still hoping and praying to expand their family. Travis discovers that his 12-yo son, from one night with a waitress during his traveling, needs his help and the couple set out to do what is good and right. Travis and Emma Lee are wonderful characters, full of flaws and faults, who are not afraid to admit their weaknesses and say they’re sorry. They both embody what a true Christian should look like – full of love, forgiveness, faith and prayer. Cody, Travis’ son, starts out being a punk but the story chronicles God’s hand on him and how He changes Cody one day at a time.
The story is well-constructed and full of hope and second-chances. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy the book as much as I had hoped. The historical setting of 1950s didn’t pique my interest and I had a difficult time following the language and lingo of southern Texas in the 1950s. Third person point-of-view in which the book is written switched quite a bit, which confused me and impeded my flow of reading. I did appreciate the sweet love and romance between Travis and Emma Lee. I also appreciated the sense of family and bond that the couple created for Cody. The visions and words from the Lord given to Travis, Emma Lee, and Cody (among others) were great reminders that God is very much alive and ready to move in our lives when we’re willing.
I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher via Celebrate Lit Tour. I was not required to write a favorable review. All comments and opinions are solely my own.

About the Author


Caryl McAdoo prays her story brings God glory, and a quick scroll through her novels’ rankings by Christian readers attests to the Father’s faithfulness. She loves writing almost as much as singing the new songs He gives her—look her up on YouTube to hear a few. Her high school sweetheart husband won her heart fifty-two years ago, and now they share four children and seventeen grandsugars. Ron and Caryl live in the woods south of Clarksville, seat of Red River County in far Northeast Texas, waiting expectantly for God to open the next door.

Guest Post from Caryl McAdoo

SON OF PROMISE—a companion story to my Texas Romance Family Saga’s book ten CHIEF OF SINNERS—features Travis and Emma Lee Buckmeyer, who readers first meet in CHIEF. She’s the sister of its heroine Sandy Harris, and he is a friend of its hero Buddy Nightingale; he’s also the son of Crockett Buckmeyer (from book eight COVERING LOVE) and grandson of Patrick Henry Buckmeyer (hero of book one VOW UNBROKEN).
A standalone, it isn’t necessary for readers to know all these ancestors to enjoy SON OF PROMISE, but those who do will surely love it all the more. What I know is that this couple won a chunk of my heart. Their faith is outstanding and their love inspiring. In the ’40s, Emma Lee didn’t have the fertility options young women do today, and miscarriage after miscarriage left her hurting. That’s why he hadn’t told her.
He didn’t want to hurt her, but circumstances had changed, and time was up. She had to be told that morning he already had a son born from a one night liaison thirteen years before because he was leaving to claim his Cody from a reform school and bring him home.
The boy had never known real love, but I loved him from the first. Forced to grow up way too fast—lying, stealing, and participating in most any other rebellious act—he’s missed so much. He’s overwhelmed with Travis and Emma Lee—their home, their partnership and love for each other, and their generosity toward him.
He planned to light out from the start, but days piled on top each other, and he never pulled the trigger.
In VOW UNBROKEN, there was an awesome canine named Blue Dog, and I went into his POV (Point Of View—got into his head) a couple of times. My Simon & Schuster editor ‘requested’ that I lose those segments, and so I did. But in this novel, I get into a canine’s head again . . . I’m hoping readers will find that fun.
In years past, I owned, managed, and milked a herd of eighty-plus dwarf goats and loved their Great Pyrenees guardians, so it was fun to include them in the story. I love how Emma Lee was able to sell her paintings for exorbitant prices, but remained so humble and unassuming. And that she and Travis opened their home (they’re so much like my husband and me) to total strangers. We’ve had so many people live with us over the years, to help them, be blessings—the hands and feet of God in the earth.
I pray my story gives God glory and that its readers will be drawn closer to Him through it. He blesses me and highly favors me daily. I can’t thank or praise Him enough!

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, January 18

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, January 18

Christian Author, J.E.Grace Blog, January 19

Splashes of Joy, January 19

Karen Sue Hadley , January 20

Maureen’s Musings, January 20

proud to be an autism mom, January 21

Bibliophile Reviews, January 21

Reading is My SuperPower, January 22 (Interview)

A Greater Yes, January 22

Texas Book-aholic, January 23

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 23

Baker kella, January 24

Janices book reviews, January 24

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, January 25

Jeanette’s Thoughts, January 25

Quiet Quilter, January 26

Carpe Diem, January 26

C Jane Read, January 27

A Baker’s Perspective, January 27

Simple Harvest Reads, January 28 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)

Pursuing Stacie, January 28

Red Headed Book Lady, January 29

margaret kazmierczak, January 29

cherylbbookblog, January 30

Bigreadersite, January 30

Locks, Hooks and Books, January 31

Avid Reader Book Reviews, January 31



To celebrate her tour, Caryl is giving away

GRAND PRIZE : $50 Amazon Gift Card
1st Prize: Choice-of-Caryl’s Titles (print or ebook)
2nd-4th: ebook of SON OF PROMISE!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

A Courtship on Huckleberry Hill Review & Giveaway

A Courtship on huckleberry Hill fb banner copyAbout the Book

a courtship on huckleberry hill MM (1)

Title: A Courtship on Huckleberry Hill

Author: Jennifer Beckstrand

Genre: Christian Amish Fiction

Release Date: December 26, 2017

Elsie Helmuth’s plain-spoken ways got her in trouble once before, so she needs to make a good impression at her new teaching job. But she’s not about to let disabled student Wally Sensenig work below his potential. And she definitely won’t put up with his hot-headed older brother sabotaging her efforts, no matter how handsome he is. . .

Sam is nearly at the end of his rope caring for his ailing, widowed mother, working their farm, and raising his siblings. He’ll admit Elsie’s ideas are bringing Wally out of his angry shell—but why does she have to be as stubborn as she is pretty? Yet as it turns out, Elsie has taught Sam something about himself as well. And he’ll do whatever it takes to make up for his mistakes—and win her heart forever.

Click here to purchase your copy.

Guest Review from Mindy Houng

“For sure and certain.”
I’ll be repeating this phrase in my head for many days to come. I don’t read Amish books much, mostly because I am busy reading other genres. From the handful of Amish books I’ve read, I’ve enjoyed this book the most. The author, who is new to me, has a delightful way of writing that turns every day incidents into memorable events, both heart-warming and heart-wrenching. Even though softball, school, gatherings of family and friends, and farming can seem like mundane routine things, the author uses these happenings to bring spark and interest into the plot and gives life lessons through them all. There is no mystery or suspense or adrenaline woven into the plot but the storyline moves at a good pace and keeps the reader engaged.
The author’s writing style is fluid and easy to follow. The dialogue, especially between the two main characters Elsie and Sam, ranges from angry and heated to humorous and sweet. There are some serious laugh-out-loud moments in the book that had me cracking up and shaking my head at the same time. The characters in the book are layered and deeply lovable.
Elsie is the new school teacher who lives with her grandparents (and her grandparents are sure to bring laughter and smiles as you read). She’s stubborn, proud, smart, a gifted teacher and softball player who has a tender heart and will do whatever it takes to do what she believes is right. Sam is the oldest in the family now responsible for the farm and his siblings and mother. He’s also stubborn and quite proud, loyal to family and friends and hardworking but has quite a temper. Sam does grow through the book and understands how to control his temper better and also learns to apologize in humility.
It was a delightful journey of second chances, basking in the warmth of love from family and friends, and savoring the beautiful moments that can be had in an environment uncluttered from modern technology.
I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher via Celebrate Lit Tour. I was not required to write a favorable review. All comments and opinions are solely my own.

About the Author

Jennifer Beckstrand

Jennifer Beckstrand is the RITA-nominated, award-winning Amish romance author of The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hillseries and The Honeybee Sisters series for Kensington Books. Her much-anticipated Amish series, The Honeybee Sisters, has created a lot of romantic buzz. Sweet as Honey received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly and Sweet as Honey and A Bee in her Bonnet were both awarded Top Picks from RT Book Reviews. Jennifer has always been drawn to the strong faith and the enduring family ties of the Plain people and loves writing about the antics of Anna and Felty Helmuth and the Honeybee sisters’aendi Bitsy. Jennifer has a degree in mathematics and a passion for Jane Austen and Shakespeare. She and her husband have been married for thirty-three years, and she has six children and six adorable grandchildren, whom she spoils rotten.

Guest Post from Jennifer Beckstrand

I have a very special place in my heart for teachers. My dad was a high school math teacher. My mother taught second grade for over twenty years. My son-in-law taught choir in high school, and my daughter taught seventh-grade science. Another daughter taught American history labs at the university and still another daughter taught classes for a youth summer program.

Elsie Stutzman is a dedicated teacher who was dismissed from her last teaching job in Ohio and is trying to make a fresh start and a good impression in Bonduel, Wisconsin. Unfortunately one of her students, Wally Sensenig, is making things difficult for her, and Wally’s hot-headed older brother seems determined to get her fired. But Elsie is a dedicated teacher, too stubborn to back down and too steadfast to give up on anybody.

Elsie’s grandparents, Anna and Felty Helmuth, have other plans for her. They want her to fall in love with one of the local boys, but they’re finding it a little difficult to get the two young people together.

Teachers have an immense impact on our lives. We all remember a favorite elementary school teacher who inspired a love of learning or a high school teacher who encouraged us to reach for greatness. One of my favorite teachers was Mrs. Zobell, who taught ninth grade English. I distinctly remember her reading “The Outsiders” out loud to our class. She had a way of making great books and great stories come to life, and she sparked a love of reading (and writing) that I will always be grateful for. The teacher who had the most impact on my life is my dad. He helped me through Calculus in high school and inspired me to major in math in college.

I hope we will take the time this month to thank the teachers in our lives for all they do for us and all they do for our kids.

Who was one of your favorite teachers and why?

Blog Stops

Christian Bookaholic, January 16

proud to be an autism mom, January 16

Blossoms and Blessings, January 16

Reading Is My SuperPower, January 17

Mommynificent, January 17

Avid Reader Book Reviews, January 17

Bibliophile Reviews, January 18

Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner, January 18

The Power of Words, January 18

Multifarious, January 19

A Greater Yes, January 19

Texas Book-aholic, January 20

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, January 20

Karen Sue Hadley, January 21

Splashes of Joy, January 21

A Reader’s Brain, January 22

Mary Hake, January 22

Southern Gal Loves to Read, January 23

SusanLovesBooks, January 23

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 24

Janices book reviews, January 24

Jeanette’s Thoughts, January 25

Carpe Diem, January 25

Quiet Quilter, January 26

margaret kazmierczak, January 26 (Interview)

cherylbbookblog, January 27

Red Headed Book Lady, January 27

Pink Granny’s Journey, January 27

A Baker’s Perspective, January 28

Simple Harvest Reads, January 28 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)

Pursuing Stacie, January 28

Because I said so- and other adventures in parenting., January 29

Vicky Sluiter, January 29

Bigreadersite, January 29



To celebrate her tour, Jennifer is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card to three winners!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

Soul’s Cry Review & Giveaway


About the Book


Title: Soul’s Cry

Author: Cara Luecht

Genre: Historical Fiction

Release Date: June 15, 2017

Ione has everything she’d wanted with her busy shop filled to the brim with sumptuous fabrics, gossiping debutants, and a neatly increasing profit margin. Not to mention the unexpected attention of a man who doesn’t know her past.

And then the letter dropped from the mail slot onto to lush carpet. He was back. And the abuse, the shame, rushes in, reminding her of how unworthy she really is.

Miriam also has everything she’d wanted—and with a baby on the way, for the first time in her life, she has everything to lose. When she’d been alone, the future had held promise, but now with her life full, it also holds fear.

Unwilling to risk a vision of loss, Miriam stops painting what will be…right before Ione needs it most.

Click here to purchase your copy

Guest Review from Mindy Houng

This is the first book by Cara Luecht that I’ve read. This book, the third book in Portraits of Grace series, is a well-written book that blends romance, suspense and some pieces of history from Chicago’s World Columbian Exposition. I did not read the first two books in the series and reading the previous novels would have helped me fill in the backstories of the many characters in the novel. But the author does provide the pertinent details of the backstories so I didn’t feel lost while reading through this third installment.
The author’s writing is easy to read and fluid. The undercurrent of faith and prayer is subtle but definitely present throughout the book, especially with two of the characters being involved in ministry. The plot is well-crafted and the pace of the story is just right.
Clarence Tamm, the villain of the book, is incredibly scary and eerie. He is an excellent psychopath and truly carries quite a bit of the plot. Ione, his target, is a woman from a broken background finally able to rise above her circumstances with the help of friends who love her. She has always been strong and independent but must learn to accept others’ help and love during the difficult journey she travels in this book. Evan, though he is a love interest, has a smaller role in the story and isn’t quite as developed as Ione or Clarence.
Though this isn’t technically her story, Miriam (who was introduced in the first book Soul Painter) has a journey in this book as well and she learns through repercussions of her doubt and fear that she needs to trust the gift that God has given her.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher and also through Celebrate Lit Tour. I was not required to write a favorable review. All comments and opinions are solely my own.

About the Author


Award winning author, Cara Luecht, lives in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin with her husband, David, and their children. In addition to freelance writing and marketing, Cara works as an English Instructor for a local college. Cara graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Wisconsin and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Currently, Cara is studying for a Masters of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary.

Guest post from Cara Luecht

The moment you realize how subtle racism can be.

As someone of Northern European ancestry, I approach this topic with caution and with the knowledge that I can never fully understand racism in America from a personal perspective. That being said, part of me knows that unless white America owns up to the problems that still exist, they will never go away, or if they do, they will not go away because of what I have done. I don’t want to be on the right side of history as a spectator.

Writing Soul’s Cry was daunting, because the main character in this part of the trilogy is African American. I’ll tackle the challenges with that in another blog. For now, I want to talk about one simple example of ongoing racism.

A few months ago, my publisher contacted me looking for inspiration pictures for the cover. The picture I had pinned to my desktop for Ione was from the 1800s, and heaven-only-knows how I would find permission to use it. Besides, it was in black-and-white, and we needed something that would go well with the other covers in the trilogy.

Ione’s Inspiration Picture

I went to the popular sites that cover designers use to look for modern pictures of women, in Victorian Era clothes, who had the smart, determined expression I’d imagined for Ione.

I found a bunch of models–problem is, they were all white.

I then typed in “African American Victorian Woman.” One picture. And she was dressed as a burlesque dancer. Nice. I tried “Black woman in 1890,” a bit miffed that I had to use the term “Black” rather than “African American”—nothing. I got desperate, rolled my eyes, and even attempted the archaic “Negro woman in 1890” in hopes of getting something…nothing.

I tried other sites. I found the same problem.

I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised—when you think of a high-society Victorian woman, does an African American face come to mind?

This doesn’t match up with the truth, though. In the late Victorian era, there was a thriving, influential, African American community in Chicago as well as many other major cities. While there were indeed crowded ghetto areas, the “Black Elite” prospered in the medical and legal professions.

Unfortunately, we rarely hear of these remarkable people who moved beyond the place society had deemed was theirs, who built on the humble foundation of literacy, who pushed innovation forward, who served on boards and cultural societies, and who worked to pull their families out of the devastation of slavery and the Civil War.

It is uncomfortable to admit, but the picture that comes to mind when thinking of an African American in the late 1800s has more in common with slaves than with a prosperous, thriving community.

And since poor African Americans outnumbered wealthy ones, I suppose one could make the argument that this reflected how a majority of African Americans lived. And that would be true…

…but it would also be true for whites. One of my grandfathers was born in an Iowa coal town. Another, into the dustbowl conditions of North Dakota. In fact, if I look back in my own history, almost every one of my ancestors lived in poverty.

So why is it that when I think about a Victorian Era woman, the picture that comes to mind looks like someone from the set of Meet Me In St. Louis.

And here’s the twist…because the picture of the woman in my mind looks a bit like me (in that we are both white), her poise, the no-nonsense posture and expression…it makes me feel a bit of pride—even though I have no real connection with her. The fact is, I can look at these old pictures and see in her the determination I hope to have. I want to live up to this woman’s expectations. As crazy as it sounds, when I look at these pictures, I feel pride in a heritage I do not own. My family was in poverty, but because of these pictures, I can identify with affluence. Prosperity does not feel like a foreign concept.

Now imagine that every picture of a white woman I saw as representative of my past looked haggard, tired, and hopeless.

I’ll leave the implications for you to puzzle out.

Blog Stops

Connie’s History Classroom, January 23

Blogging With Carol, January 24

Simple Harvest Reads, January 24 (Guest Post from Mindy Houng)

allofakindmom, January 25

Avid Reader Book Reviews, January 26

Pursuing Stacie, January 26

A Reader’s Brain, January 27

proud to be an autism mom, January 28

Bigreadersite, January 28

Bibliophile Reviews, January 29

A Greater Yes, January 30

margaret kazmierczak, January 30 (Interview)

Texas Book-aholic, January 31

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 1

Janices book reviews, February 2

Jeanette’s Thoughts, February 3

Carpe Diem, February 4

A Baker’s Perspective, February 5



To celebrate her tour, Cara is giving away a grand prize of signed copies of the entire series!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!