The Sound of Silence

A beautiful tribute to a loving woman and blogging friend.

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Love, Lies and Fireflies by Jan Elder

My Review

Loves, Lies, and Fireflies is the first book I have read by Jan Elder. The story covers a myriad of subjects, from stalking and abuse to redemption and love. I enjoyed the story and its inspirational message even though it is a little edgier than most books I read.

Didi O’Brien’s fiancé, Kevin, informs her, during dinner at a fancy restaurant, he has been escorting another woman to different events. He then tries to make it sound as if Didi is being too “female” when she’s upset. At this point, we realize something is a little off where Kevin is concerned, and what follows confirms our suspicions.

Ms. Elder does a fantastic job of showing how easily a person could fall for the charming persona of someone like Kevin, the ex-fiancé, and psychopathic abuser, only to be drawn into their web of deceit and abuse.

I didn’t relate to the characters, having never been in their situations, but as the novel progresses, I cheer for Didi when she meets Jake. Jake, a teacher, whose fiancée was killed in a car crash, questions the Lord about all that happened in his life. His questions are slowly beginning to be answered when he meets and is attracted to Didi.

Loves, Lies, and Fireflies deals with mature subject matter. Nevertheless, it is dealt with within an inspirational context. There are numerous references to the Lord along with how God’s leading has impacted the characters’ lives.

I received Loves, Lies, and Fireflies from the author. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

****Disclaimer*****

There is one word, an abbreviation for a curse word, near the beginning of the book. I was surprised to see it. Although a case could be made that it fits the storyline, I feel it could have been left out without changing the story.

Publisher’s Summary

Didi O’Brien is engaged—at least she was an hour ago. Now she’s not so sure. Her fiancé, the suave Kevin Cabot, has just revealed that he’s been unfaithful, and he’s not the least bit sorry. Reeling from the betrayal, with her plans for a happily-ever-after life in doubt, she prays for direction. The answer comes as a complete surprise. God has someone better in mind.

Middle school teacher, Jake Montgomery, is struggling with some issues of his own. Sadly, a year previously his fiancée had been killed in a car crash. Battling anger and despair, in a mountain-top experience, Jake wrestles with the Almighty, and is ready to live again. In his youth, he’d felt an unmistakable call to the ministry but, like the prophet Jonah, since then, he’s been running hard in the wrong direction.

Through a crisis of faith, and glimpses of mercy, Didi and Jake find each other. But can they find the strength to resolve the many obstacles that conspire to keep them apart?

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Of Rags and Riches Romance Collection: Nine Stories of Poverty and Opulence During the Gilded Age by Susanne Dietze, Michelle Griep, Anne Love, Gabrielle Meyer, Natalie Monk, Jennifer Uhlarik, Erica Vetsch, Jaime Jo Wright and Kathleen Y’Barbo

My Review

Of Rags and Riches Romance Collection is a delightful set of nine novellas chronicling the lives of nine couples from a variety of socio-economic stations in life. The stories are set between the years 1867 and 1899, during a time in US history known as the Gilded Age (The term was coined from a satirical Mark Twain novel, The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today).

I enjoyed each of the stories in the compilation-some, of course, more than others, but each had its own endearing qualities. I learned a few new words (which, by the way, I love to do when reading). For example: faille, a word defined by Wiktionary as a fabric woven from silk, cotton, or rayon with slight ribs.

I was so engrossed in the story of the all-female baseball team in Susanne Dietze’s The Right Pitch that I was startled when members of the team were transported by carriage. The story is such a captivating and timeless saga that I forgot it was set in the 1800s!

Debut author Natalie Monk does an extraordinary job with her novella, For Richer or Poorer. I was drawn to Marcella Lipski and her plight in wanting to find a way to bring her family to America.

Each novella has a sweet story with messages of faith, hope and love; some have stronger messages than others, but all complement their stories well.

If you want a quick read or would rather spend more time lost in history, Of Rags and Riches is the perfect book to curl up with and get lost in the Gilded Age.

I received this book from NetGalley. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

Publisher’s Summary

Love Flourishes during America’s Gilded Age

Journey along in nine historical romances with those whose lives are transformed by the opulence, growth, and great changes taking place in America’s Gilded Age. Nine couples meet during these exhilarating times and work to build a future together through fighting for social reform, celebrating new opportunities for leisure activities, taking advantage of economic growth and new inventions, and more. Watch as these romances develop and legacies of faith and love are formed.

Union Pacific Princess by Jennifer Uhlarik – Cheyenne, Dakota Territory, 1867
In the hell-on-wheels rail town of Cheyenne, grieving Boston socialite Dara Forsythe must choose between her estranged father; Connor, a bigwig with the Union Pacific Railroad; and Gage Wells, a former Confederate sharpshooter bent on derailing the Transcontinental Railroad’s progress.

The Right Pitch by Susanne Dietze – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1876
Guarded industrialist Beck Emerson agrees to sponsor his sister’s all-female baseball team. But when pretty pitcher Winnie Myles throws a curveball that makes him team manager, it challenges his plan to play it safe in life and love.

A Gift in Secret by Kathleen Y’Barbo – New Orleans, Louisiana, 1871
May Bolen offers Sam Austin a marriage of convenience. He will get to run the company that drove his into bankruptcy, and she will be free from her father’s rule to travel the world. But when Sam meets May, he knows the offer is too good to be true—or convenient—when hearts become tangled.

For Richer or Poorer by Natalie Monk – Newark, New Jersey, 1885
In order to bring her starving family to New Jersey, Polish immigrant Marcella Lipski must marry wealth. So she takes Americanization lessons from the poor-but-mysterious cart driver teaching her English—and loses her heart in the process.

A House of Secrets by Michelle Griep – St. Paul, MN 1890
Ladies Aide Chairman, Amanda Carston resolves to clean up St. Paul’s ramshackle housing, starting with the worst of the worst: a “haunted” house that’s secretly owned by her beau—a home that’s his only means of helping brothel girls escape from the hands of the city’s most infamous madam.

Win, Place, or Show by Erica Vetsch – New York City, 1890
Beryl Valentine, a socialite with a passion for horses, finds herself falling in love with her riding instructor, a man her parents will never accept. Will she follow her parents’ wishes, or let Gard Kennedy ride away with her heart?

The Fisherman’s Nymph by Jaime Jo Wright – Flambeau River, Wisconsin, 1890
The reclusive daughter of a fly-fisherman guide must read the waters for a wealthy gentleman’s sport and send him back where he belongs before he hooks her heart and takes her away from the river she was born to love.

The Gardener’s Daughter by Anne Love – Bay View, Michigan, 1895
When the nephew of a prestigious Chautauqua resort founder sets his eye on the new library assistant believing her an academy student, it will take more than reciting poetry for love to bloom when he learns she’s the humble gardener’s daughter.

A Tale of Two Hearts by Gabrielle Meyer – Little Falls, Minnesota, June 1899
Reputations and jobs are on the line when lady’s maid, Lucy Taylor, and neighboring footman, Elijah Boyer, compete against each other for a place of honor during the annual community appreciation event hosted by their wealthy employers.

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Crown of Souls (The Tox Files Book #2) by Ronie Kendig

Publisher’s Summary

Six months after stopping a deadly plague, Cole “Tox” Russell and his team are enjoying a little rest. That peace is short-lived when a sniper shot hits Tox. The enemy is discovered to be one of their own, a rogue Special Forces team operator.

Alec King is perhaps the only person as skilled as Tox, and he’s out for justice. Furious with orders that got his men killed, he intends to make those responsible pay. And he insists Tox join him, believing they are the same breed of soldier.

Afraid his old friend is right, Tox battles a growing darkness within himself as he and his team engage in another deadly encounter with antiquity. It appears Alec is cheating–he’s using a mysterious artifact, a crown that history has linked to some of the worst slaughters in humanity. Racing to stop Alec before his vengeance is unleashed, Tox must fight the monster without becoming one.

Note from Me

Although I did not review Crown of Souls by Ronie Kendig, I wanted to give a shout out to  Ronie. I know, based on her previous books and Book One in The Tox Files, that Crown of Souls will be another great book. There is also a prequel to the series, The Warrior’s Seal (The Tox Files): A Tox Files Novella, available for free on Amazon.

If you would like more information you can visit Ronie’s website at http://roniekendig.com/toxfiles/.

(Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of Crown of Souls from the publisher and NetGalley. I was under no obligation to review the book. I am receiving no compensation through affiliate links or otherwise for any of the afore-mentioned books.)

 

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My Heart Belongs in the Shenandoah Valley: Lily’s Dilemma by Andrea Boeshaar

My Review

The My Heart Belongs series is fast becoming one of my favorite  go-to series for appealing and likeable, quick to read romantic history novels, and My Heart belongs in Shenandoah Valley continues the lore!

Lillyanna “Lilly” Laughlin is the oldest sister of two brothers, all three of whom are orphans. Mr. Silas Everett, her late father’s closest friend and confidante, takes on the guardianship of the three, convincing them, and a judge, it is their father’s wish. Yet, when Captain McAlister “Mac” Albright purchases land Lilly believes to be hers from Mr. Everett, she begins to question Mr. Everett’s altruism.

I enjoyed most of the interplay and teasing between Lilly and Mac, but at times it seemed a little too dramatic. However, I may be a little less sympathetic because I prefer honest, straightforward dialogue, even with myself, and felt Mac wasn’t always honest with himself.

My Heart Belongs in the Shenandoah Valley sheds light on problems those returning from the war of 1812, the second war of independence, encountered while trying to assimilate into society.

Andrea Boeshaar has written a charming, compassionate and at times heartbreaking story of life in 1816’s Shenandoah Valley.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

Publisher’s Summary

Journey into the Shenandoah Valley of 1816 where…
With Very Little Left of the Family Farm, Lily May be Forced into a Loveless Marriage.

Captain McAlister “Mac” Albright has purchased land in the Shenandoah Valley. However, the land belongs to Lillyanna Laughlin—or so she erroneously thinks. Mac sets her straight and despite a poor start, the two become friends. . .if only he were financially stable to offer her more.

When Lily’s life is threatened and his whole future goes up in flames, Mac truly becomes a man without means, and Lily is forced to make the impossible choice between a loveless marriage with a man twice her age or the man who has shown her what true love could be. How can she choose between love and economic security? Her family is depending on her. Is her heart destined to break?

Journey into Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley of 1816 where a woman’s dreams and future happiness are on the line.

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Winner!

***ANNOUNCING THE WINNER**

Congratulations going out to Lynnabbottstudios!!!! You won the random drawing for Tamera Alexander’s book, To Wager Her Heart. You will be contacted later today for your information.

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Ascension of Larks by Rachel Linden

My Review

Ascension of Larks is Rachel Linden’s debut novel, and although it could have very easily become a dark tale of loss of love and death, it didn’t. However, it is not a happily ever after story by any means.

Magdalena “Maggie” Henry has three constants in her life: her friendship with Marco and Lena Firelli, her career as a world renown photographer and her hidden love for Marco Firelli. When Marco accidentally drowns in a kayaking mishap, everything Maggie knows and lives for is shattered, leaving her rudderless and confused.

The story is complex, dealing with friendships, careers and choices with far-reaching consequences, giving a glimpse into human nature and why some people do the things they do.

The book is listed as Christian fiction. Conversely, there is virtually no true mention of God or the Bible. There are some small references to a character’s Catholic upbringing. Several references deal with mysticism and the rituals of German settlers to the island where the Firelli’s live.

I sometimes had a hard time connecting to and understanding the characters. The love triangle was an uncomfortable element to the story, as were some of its supernatural aspects. Ms. Linden’s writing is poignant, powerful and descriptive, but the subject matter is controversial for Christian fiction.

I received a copy of Ascension of Larks from The Fiction Guild. However, I was under no obligation to provide a review.

Publisher’s Summary

When globetrotting photographer Magdalena Henry loses the only man she’s ever loved, she risks her stellar career to care for his widow and young children on a remote island in the Pacific Northwest.

Free-spirited and fiercely independent, Maggie adores her life of travel and adventure. But she has a secret. She can’t let go of her first and only love, renowned architect Marco Firelli, now married to her best friend Lena.

When Marco drowns in a kayaking accident, Maggie rushes to the Firelli family’s summer home on San Juan Island. Once there she discovers that Marco was hiding something that could destroy his family. As fragile, perfectionistic Lena slowly falls apart, Maggie tries to provide stability for Marco and Lena’s three young children.

When Maggie is offered a once-in-a-lifetime chance to compete in the world’s most prestigious photography competition, she thinks she’s found the answer to their problems. Then Lena makes a choice with unexpected and devastating consequences, forcing Maggie to grapple with an agonizing decision. Does she sacrifice the golden opportunity of her career or abandon the Firellis just when they need her the most?

Gradually the island begins to work its magic. A century-old ritual to beckon loved ones home offers hope in the midst of sorrow. And a guilt-ridden yet compelling stranger hiding on the island may offer Maggie a second chance at love, but only if she can relinquish the past and move forward to find joy in unexpected places.

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An Amish Summer: Four Novellas by Shelley Shepard Gray, Amy Clipston, Kathleen Fuller and Kelly Irvin

My Review

An Amish Summer is a wonderful collection of novellas by four well-known authors of Amish fiction. Each story focuses on difficulties encountered between prospective young couples.

They each teach a valuable lesson, and the plots vary greatly as does each lesson.

I think my favorite is One Sweet Kiss by Kelly Irvin. There is an interesting mixture of Amish on their rumspringa, Englishers, and devout Amish. The story has a very unusual twist, one you would not expect from a story about Amish. However, it makes the story more interesting and intriguing.

The individual novellas are appealing in different ways. Shelley Shepard Gray’s A Reunion in Pinecraft makes you wonder if the easily understood confusion between sisters Sharon and Sherilyn’s names can ever be straightened out. In Summer Storms, by Amy Clipston, we learn sacrifices are sometimes necessary to obey our parents, even when it seems unfair. Lakeside Love, by Kathleen Fuller, shows how outward appearances aren’t everything, and beauty only lasts for a season. In One Sweet Kiss, by Kelly Irvin, a very unusual plot gives way to a satisfying ending.

I received a copy of An Amish Summer from The Fiction Guild. However, I was under no obligation to provide a review.

Publisher’s Summary

A Reunion in Pinecraft by Shelley Shepard Gray

When sisters Sharon and Sherilyn Kramer attend a wedding in Shipshewana, one of them returns with a new penpal while the other returns to her job at the bakery. After sending weekly letters back and forth, Sherry and Graham Holland arrange a reunion in Pinecraft. Upon Graham’s arrival, however, he realizes he’s been writing to the wrong sister. He decides to use the reunion as a way to get to know both sisters, but can he sort through the confusion in time to turn the worst vacation ever into something truly wonderful?

Summer Storms by Amy Clipston

Ariana is counting down the days until her wedding to Jesse. They have been friends longer than Arianna can remember, and that friendship turned into love over the past couple of years. But when Arianna’s brother Tobias, who happens to be Jesse’s best friend, gets them both into trouble, Arianna’s father puts an end to her engagement to Jesse. Some summer storms pass quickly, but Arianna is afraid the damage from this one may be too much to repair.

Lakeside Love by Kathleen Fuller

Esther has always lived in the shadow of her beautiful younger sister Sarah. Even the boy she has known—and loved—her entire life, Judah, only has eyes for Sarah. But when a handsome young Englischer comes to live with the family for a summer, everything begins to change.

One Sweet Kiss by Kelly Irvin

Everybody in little Bee County, Texas, can see the obvious: Jacob King and Martha Byler are meant to be together. Everyone, that is, but Martha. Ever since her mother died when Martha was a young girl, she has taken over the role of caregiver to her large family. And reckless Jacob, who has had a little too much fun on his rumspringa, only seems to add to the list of people to manage. But one summer changes everything, and these two may just find a way to meet in the middle and share one sweet kiss.

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I’m posting this for Robbie. She fell yesterday and hurt herself pretty badly. Her face took the brunt of the fall, which resulted in a broken nose and several broken teeth. In addition, she hurt her knees, hip and wrists. She has lots of bruises and scrapes, including a very fat lip. She spent several hours in the ER; thankfully she didn’t suffer a concussion, though she hit her head hard.

Please say prayers for her as she navigates doctors, dentists and others associated with her recovery.

Fortunately, she had a few reviews pre-programmed.

I will be sure and make the announcement for the winner Wednesday and contact them for all necessary information to get their prize to them

Unfortunately, she won’t be responding to any comments for a while.

Thank you.

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Thursday Throwback – To Gain A Mommy

to-gain-a-mommy

About the Book

They had a plan, but will it work?

Thirteen years ago, pediatrician Hope Michaels was the fool-hearted girl who came home from college to learn the man she loved was engaged to her twin. But now to move on with her life and accept a proposal of marriage, she must confront the one man who holds the key to the wounds of her past.

Fire Captain Carl McGuire can put out any flame, except for the one Hope sparks within him. As she stirs up his life and heart, Carl knows some things never change. Even a past he’d rather keep hidden.

When a new neighbor moves in across the street who would be a perfect fit for their family, Mary and Brody form a plan to bring their dad and Hope together. But how will it work if Hope keeps pushing him away?

My Review

Widower Carl McGuire is trying to carry on after the death of his wife, Faith. He and his children, Mary and Brody, are getting on with their lives, until Hope Michaels moves in across the street, throwing everyone’s life into an uproar.

Hope relocated her pediatric firm back to her hometown to be close to her Mom. Little did she know, she would be moving across the street from the only man she had ever loved, the one who betrayed her and broke her heart.

I really enjoyed To Gain a Mommy. The children were so true to life. Mary is twelve with a going on 20 attitude and Brody is eight, and loves dogs, and don’t even get me started on Hope’s dog, Goldie. She is such a sweetheart! I appreciated feeling as if I was getting to know each character, and in getting to know them, to also understand why they chose certain paths or behaved a particular way.

Even though this is a novella, the characters are well-rounded. As you read the story, you become invested in their pains, hopes and dreams.

Tanya Eavenson has written a short (only 93 pages), sweet story of heartbreak, betrayal and redemption. To Gain a Mommy is a quick read and a great book to curl up with on a lazy day.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

(Originally posted 2-27-2017. I am re-posting in conjunction with CelebrateLit’s tour, I am under no obligation to do so, nor was I asked to do so.)

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