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Monday Musings…Cover Love

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.

After a devastating heartbreak three years ago, genealogist and historical village owner Nora Bradford has decided that burying her nose in her work and her books is far safer than romance in the here and now.

Unlike Nora, former Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient John Lawson is a modern-day man, usually 100 percent focused on the present. But when he’s diagnosed with an inherited condition, he’s forced to dig into the secrets of his past and his adoption as an infant, enlisting Nora to help him uncover the identity of his birth mother.

The more time they spend together, the more this pair of opposites suspects they just might be a perfect match. However, John’s already dating someone and Nora’s not sure she’s ready to trade her crushes on fictional heroes for the risks of a real relationship. Finding the answers they’re seeking will test the limits of their identity, their faith, and their devotion to one another.

On the day of a late spring storm, in Chicago, Autumn Manning boarded an “L” train. A bomb explodes, killing everyone in the train car except for Autumn—the sole survivor. A year has passed and Autumn suffocates under a blanket of what ifs and the pressing desire to bring the victims back to life, every day, if only for her. She doesn’t want their stories to be forgotten. She wants to undo what cannot be undone. An unexpected ally joins her efforts, also seeking answers and trying to find a way to stumble ahead.
But one victim’s husband, Paul Elliott, prays to let the dead—and their secrets—rest in peace, undisturbed and unable to hurt his loved ones.
Caught between loss and hope, these restless souls must release the past to embrace a sovereign God.

Grace Mallory is tired of running, of hiding. But when an old friend sends an after-hours telegraph transmission warning Grace that the man who has hunted her for nearly a year has discovered her location, she fears she has no choice. She can’t let the villain she believes responsible for her father’s death release his wrath in Harper’s Station, the town that has sheltered her and blessed her with the dearest friends she’s ever known.

Amos Bledsoe prefers bicycles to horses and private conversations over the telegraph wire to social gatherings with young ladies who see him as nothing more than an oddity. His telegraph companion, the mysterious Miss G, listens eagerly to his ramblings every night and delights him with tales all her own. For months, their friendship–dare he believe, courtship?–has fed his hope that he has finally found the woman God intended for him. Yet when he takes the next step to meet her in person, he discovers her life is in peril, and Amos must decide if he can shed the cocoon of his quiet nature to become the hero Grace requires.

Rosemary Gresham has no family beyond the band of former urchins that helped her survive as a girl in the mean streets of London. Grown now, they concentrate on stealing high-value items and have learned how to blend into upper-class society. But when Rosemary must determine whether a certain wealthy gentleman is loyal to Britain or to Germany, she is in for the challenge of a lifetime. How does one steal a family’s history, their very name?

Peter Holstein, given his family’s German blood, writes his popular series of adventure novels under a pen name. With European politics boiling and his own neighbors suspicious of him, Peter debates whether it might be best to change his name for good. When Rosemary shows up at his door pretending to be a historian and offering to help him trace his family history, his question might be answered.

But as the two work together and Rosemary sees his gracious reaction to his neighbors’ scornful attacks, she wonders if her assignment is going down the wrong path. Is it too late to help him prove that he’s more than his name?

There’s a lot to look forward to! Which one catches your eye?

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Irene Hannon’s Tangled Webs

After a disastrous Middle East mission ends his six-year Army Ranger career, Finn McGregor needs some downtime. A peaceful month in the woods sounds like the perfect way to decompress. But peace isn’t on the agenda once he crosses paths with publishing executive Dana Lewis, a neighbor who is nursing wounds of her own. Someone seems bent on disrupting her stay in the lakeside cabin she inherited from her grandfather. As Finn and Dana work together to discover who is behind the disquieting pranks, the incidents begin to take on a menacing tone. And when it becomes apparent Dana’s foe may have deadly intent, Finn finds himself back in the thick of the action–ready or not.

Review

I enjoy a good romance with a side of mystery and I knew Irene Hannon would deliver. My thoughts:

What I liked:

The romance. It wasn’t complicated and sometimes that’s nice. Finn and Dana each come to the table with their own issues and are forced to face them, but the story is weighed down by unnecessary drama.

The suspense. I found myself immediately drawn into the story from almost the first page. I will admit that the suspense dies down a bit as the story goes on, but I still found myself very much invested and seeing how things were going to play out.

Complicated villains. It’s easy to have a villain who is all bad. It’s harder to have a villain who is complex and here is where Hannon succeeded. The ‘bad guy’ (or ‘bad guys’) are bad, but they’re motivations are real and that adds an extra layer to the story.

What I didn’t like:

This is probably because I’ve read a lot of Irene Hannon’s books, but I just noticed that the hero and heroine in this book is kind of interchangeable with the heroes and heroines in the previous other books. This book just felt the same and I found myself skimming towards to the end.

Romantic scale: 7.5

Overall, it was a good read.

**I received a copy from Revell. My opinion was not affected in anyway.**

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Monday Musings…NaNoWriMo

It’s almost that time of year! I have participated in National November Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) several times. And I have never been…successful. Last year was my best year yet as I finished at 40,000 words (you’re supposed to finish at 50,000 words). Nevertheless, I keep trying every year. I have my new project ready: Through the Fire (book three in the Tate Family series).

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There are a boatload of tips out there for being successful with NaNoWriMo. I think one of the best ones is having an outline. The only problem with that is that I never write with an outline. I always know the beginning and the end and maybe the middle. That’s it. So, no outline for me. That said, if my book is in a certain time period dealing with certain historical factors, I do try to do a ton of research beforehand (except I haven’t really started yet this year. Talk about winging it.)

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But. My tip for you, the one that made me more successful last year, is keep writing. I guarantee you that you will face writer’s block at some point or reread what you’ve written and feel like an idiot. Keep writing. Maybe instead of writing in Abcdefg order you write in abdefh order. Remember that your first audience is you. It doesn’t matter what other readers think. Right now, at this moment, it only matters what you think. So…write for yourself, forget your audience, don’t think about critics and know that you can only edit what’s on the written page. Writing is fun. It’s like playing with play-dough and creating something out of a mess.

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P.S. I have been writing historical romance for eleven years. This year I took a break and started something totally different: fantasy. Is it good? Meh

But you know what? I found myself excited about writing in a way I hadn’t been in years. Sometimes you just need a break from the usual. Maybe use this month to do something different!

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What are some tips that have helped you with NaNoWriMo or with writing in general?

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Jill Williamson’s Broken Trust

 

Broken Trust (The Mission League Book 3) by [Williamson, Jill]

In the midst of training for the outdoor survival trip to Alaska, Spencer is distracted by a mysterious young woman—Nick’s new girlfriend. He’s not just wondering how someone that gorgeous would waste her time on a jerk like Nick, he recognizes this girl from her bit part in one of the cultish Jolt movies he’s been investigating. She’s up to something, and Spencer is determined to find out what. As he gets closer to the truth, it becomes harder to know who to trust. Things are getting dangerous. Can Spencer figure out what’s going on, or will this mystery leave him M.I.A?

Review

Oh how I have missed Spencer Garmond! Williamson writes the absolute best teenage male povs. My thoughts:

What I liked:

Spencer. I love reading from his point of view. In this volume of Spencer’s life, he’s dealing with his torn ACL, he’s just got saved, and Grace is back. While I will readily admit that Grace is not my favorite person, the way Spencer is when he’s with Grace is so typical teen male that all of his reactions to her fit.

The friends. Spencer’s friends are such a dynamic group of people. Spencer has a strong personality and engages with a lot of people. However, none of these secondary characters come across as cookie-cutter. I felt like I knew each person and how they would react to different situations.

The humor. The book manages to deal with serious topics and still have loads of humor.

The mission. One of Spencer’s missions is to survive in the Alaskan woods. The classes he takes and his preparation is so realistic, I felt like I learned a thing or two about surviving.

What I didn’t like:

I wanted more! I have so many questions and most of them were not answered in this book.

Romantic scale: 5 (this is not really a romance)

Overall, so enjoyed this book! I wasn’t ready for it to be over and I kind of want a grown-up Spencer Garmond book one day!

*I received a copy from the author. My opinion was not affected in anyway.**

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Monday Musings…What’s A Book Supposed To Do?

I just recently posted a….negative review of a book on amazon. I titled it “Not For Me.” And that got me thinking, what exactly, is a book supposed to do?

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Obviously, this is a subjective question. I’m sure I read books for reasons that might be different from yours.  That said, I do think authors should shoot for a couple of things like:

 

Escapism

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A five star book for me, is one that makes me forget where I am and what I’m supposed to be doing. I should be so involved in the story, the characters are so real I want to pray for them.

Plausibility

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Readers read because they like escapism…but we’re not…stupid. The plot should make some sense-even if it’s a fantasy novel.

And of course,

Entertainment

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Reading should be an enjoyable process. I’ll never forget reading a secular mystery series and I was so hesitant to read the next book because I was tired of people dying. It took a minute for me to realize that I was no longer being entertained. I was being punished. I had to take a break from that series. Reading should be fun! Not depressing. Not punishing. Not boring.

For me personally, that means there should always be some romance:

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and bonus points if there’s humor:

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What are some things you think a book is supposed to do?

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Monday Musings…Cover Love

Blacklisted in the photography business over a controversial shot, Avery Tate answered an ad for a crime scene photographer. She expected to be laughed at, but crime scene analyst Parker Mitchell hired her outright–and changed her life. But six months ago, when her feelings for Parker became too strong, she left his employ to sort out her heart.

Now, for the first time, Avery is facing the world that rejected her to attend the gallery opening of a photography exhibit and support her best friend, who modeled for the show. But the only image of her friend is a chilling photo of her posing as if dead–and the photographer insists he didn’t take the shot. Worse, her friend can’t be found. She immediately calls Parker for help. As Avery, Parker, and his friends in law enforcement dig into the mystery, they find themselves face-to-face with a relentless and deadly threat.

Alanna has been plagued by tragedy. So it should come as no surprise that in the beauty that surrounds Charleston, all is not as it seems.

When her husband is killed by a car bomb while their band is on tour in Charleston, Alanna doesn’t know where to turn. Her father-in-law is threatening to take custody of the baby she carries, but the one thing she knows for sure is that she can’t lose the last piece of Liam she has left.

Their manager offers her a marriage of convenience to gain her U.S. citizenship and allow her to escape her father-in-law’s control. It seems like the perfect solution . . . but her doubts begin almost as soon as she arrives at Barry’s family home, a decaying mansion surrounded by swamp.

To make matters worse, Liam’s best friend survived the car bomb. She’s never really liked Jesse and now she can’t seem to get away from him. When he takes Liam’s place in their band, it’s almost more than she can bear.

But then things start happening. Things that could easily cost Alanna her life—or the life of her unborn child. Are they merely coincidences? Or is there something much more sinister at work?

The Boden clan thought their problems had ended with the death of a dangerous enemy, but have they truly uncovered the real plot to take their New Mexico ranch? Rancher Justin Boden is now in charge. He is normally an unshakable and rugged man, but with his brother, Cole, shot and in mortal danger, even a tough man faces doubts. And it doesn’t help that Angie DuPree, the assistant to the doctor trying to save Cole, is as distracting a woman as Justin ever laid eyes on.

With her and the doc’s timely skills, Cole looks to be on the mend, and Justin and the rest of the Bodens can turn their attention back to the dangers facing them. It’s clear now that everything that’s occurred is part of a much bigger plot that could date back to a decades-old secret. Can they uncover all the pieces before danger closes in on them, or is the threat to the ranch even bigger than any of the Bodens could imagine?

As elegant as the Sacramento residence she operates, Isabelle Labrie keeps her past concealed, like the treasure she hides under the Golden Hotel. It’s 1853, the heyday of the California Gold Rush. Isabelle is full of hope, staking her claim on the city’s refined clientele and her future on a sweetheart’s promise to marry her when he returns from the gold fields. Then, unexpected guests—fugitive slaves seeking safe passage to the North—force her to confront her past and reconsider her path.

While Isabelle learns to trust God’s provisions, a law student in Virginia must confront his father’s cruelty and rescue a young slave from his family’s tobacco plantation. As the two escape to freedom, and Isabelle risks everything to harbor runaway slaves, the past and present are set on an inevitable collision course—one that reveals hidden treasures of the heart.

So much to look forward to! Aren’t you glad? I mean what with the state of our country and politics it seems like I’m dreading time moving on…Lord, please send someone else! (laughing, but serious).

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Roseanna M. White’s A Lady Unrivaled

Lady Ella Myerston can always find a reason to smile–even if it’s just in hope that tomorrow will be better than today. All her life everyone has tried to protect her from the realities of the world, but Ella knows very well the danger that has haunted her brother and their friend, and she won’t wait for it to strike again. She intends to take action . . . and if that happens to involve an adventurous trip to the Cotswolds, then so much the better.

Lord Cayton has already broken two hearts, including that of his first wife, who died before he could convince himself to love her. Now he’s determined to live a better life. But that proves complicated when old friends arrive on the scene and try to threaten him into a life of crime. He does his best to remove the intriguing Lady Ella from danger, but the stubborn girl won’t budge. How else can he redeem himself, though, but by saving her–and his daughter–from those dangerous people who seem ready to destroy them all?

Review

Roseanna M. White always writes books that are absolute treats to read. My thoughts:

What I liked:

Lady Ella Myerston and Lord Cayton. Ella was a joy to read about. She is effervescent and almost always happy and fun to be around. She knows her mind, and isn’t afraid to share it. Yet, she manages to not come across as annoying. Lord Cayton is moody and broody and really has every right to be, however, whenever they were together, all the pieces of their personalities fit together perfectly. They balanced each other out.

Secondary characters. Just about everyone from book one and two are here. It’s like seeing family again.

Secrets and miscommunication. Two things that are not what drives this book! I’m so glad that Ms. White doesn’t rest the plot of her books on secrets and miscommunication. Whenever there was a secret or a chance for miscommunication, the characters would eventually share their information and work together when needed.

Spiritually, I love the way the characters just walk out their faith. They come across a variety of problems, but approach them with prayer, faith , and friendship.

What I didn’t like:

I actually thought the suspense/mystery was a bit drawn out. I felt like everything could have been resolved a bit sooner. To clarify, I didn’t want the book to end sooner, but I felt like the mystery could have been cleared up.

Romantic scale: 8

Overall, a lovely conclusion to a series I wish wasn’t over.

** I received a copy from BethanyHouse. My opinion was not affected in anyway.**