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Friday, September 30, 2016

Blog Tour and Giveaway: A Lady Unrivaled


Click here to purchase your own copy.

About the Book

Amid the Unforgettable Cotswolds, the Final Grasp for the Fire Eyes Diamonds Could Threaten Them All

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 how the dangerous Fire Eyes diamonds have haunted her brother and their friends, 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 James 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 acquaintances pull Cayton into their desperate attempt to seize the jewels. 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 intent to destroy them all?

My Thoughts

I really enjoyed this book, it was interesting to read a book set during the Edwardian era - I haven't read a whole lot set during this time period. This is also the first Roseanna White book that I have read and I think it was a great introduction to the author. 

I really enjoyed the mystery and the intrigue surrounding the "Fire Eyes" diamonds, I was left guessing as to what would happen regarding all the drama that seems to follow those who have been impacted to some extent by the diamonds and how different people react differently. 

The characters were well developed and I really liked Lady Ella because she was so spunky and was constantly trying to prove that she could be an independent woman. I also enjoyed seeing her interaction with the other characters in the novel. I liked that she was realistic in some of the thoughts and "struggles" that she endures over the course of the novel. I also enjoyed Lord Cayton, although I felt like he was constantly focused on what he had done in his past - especially since he was continuously reminded of it - and it was frustrating. 

Even though this novel is the last one in the series, it can be read as a stand-alone. I really enjoyed the ploy, although sometimes it did tend to drag a little bit. 

I am giving this book 4/5 Stars because I enjoyed it, although some of the characters did get on my nerves and there were some slow parts in the plot. 

About the Author

Roseanna M. White pens her novels beneath her Betsy Ross flag, with her Jane Austen action figure watching over her. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two children, editing and designing, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of a slew of historical novels and novellas, ranging from biblical fiction to American-set romances to Edwardian British romances. She makes her home in the breathtaking mountains of West Virginia. You can learn more about her and her stories at www.RoseannaMWhite.com.

Guest Post from Roseanna White

So Very Ella

Back in 2008, I went to my first writers conference, where I met my current best friend and critique partner. I’d been pitching the first book in a series I was rewriting from my childhood, so this was the first project of mine our newly formed critique group did together. Specifically, the third book in the series, which I was then calling Diamond Blaze.

It was about a girl very much like me. Optimistic in the extreme. Always looking for a reason to smile. Her name was Lady Ella Myerston, and though she was the heroine in the third novel in a series—friend to heroine from book 1 and sister of hero in book 2—Ella stood on her own. Or I hoped she did. You see, it’s not very often I try to write a character so much like me, and I wasn’t sure what my new critique partners would think.

I was delighted and relieved when my critters, as I call them, loved her—it felt a little like them loving me. 😉 With Stephanie, that BFF/critique partner, Ella became part of our language. “That’s so Ella” meant “that’s so hopefully and optimistic.” It’s a phrase we used for years, long after that series got shelved and we focused on other projects.

When I finally sold a rewrite of the first book to Bethany House and The Lost Heiress released last September, I was so excited to get to breathe new life into the other books in the series as well. I gave some new twists and turns to Brice’s and Rowena’s story in The Reluctant Duchess, took it to new depths, but it was still largely the story I’d first written seven years before.

Ella’s story, though . . . we eventually settled on the title A Lady Unrivaled, but it was the hardest one in the series for us to name. And writing! Ella’s story didn’t work anymore as I’d had it. I had to toss out the entire thing and start fresh, with a new premise and new plot. But Ella—Ella had to remain Ella. I learned more about her as I rewrote the series, of course, and I added a few things not like me, naturally. But Ella still seeks a reason to smile, always. She still believes in hope, in every situation. And her knack for misplacing things—herself included—might be borrowed (and exaggerated) from my remarkable ability to lose things that I sat down right there two minutes ago.

Ella got new adventures, new goals, new excitement in her life—but she’s still the Ella I got to know all those years ago. And her hero, Cayton, is still the sometimes surly, too-realistic, very different-from-Ella man he has to be to counteract her.

My editor, in her notes to me, said, “Cayton and Ella are so very different. In a way, you wonder how they’ll make it work. And yet you can’t help think they will, and want them to.”

The love story in this book is partly mine, too. Because though on the surface my husband isn’t much like Cayton, in the ways that matters, he is. He’s my opposite, but my perfect complement. He doesn’t always see the bright side I cling to, but he’d never ask me not to cling on anyway. We view the world very differently—and can face it because we’re together.

I love all my books, all my characters. But A Lady Unrivaled . . . well, it’s just so very Ella. I hope you love it just a fraction as much as I do!

Blog Stops

September 22: 100 pages per hour
September 22: Smiling Book Reviews
September 23: Book by Book
September 23: Bibliophile Reviews
September 24: bigreadersite
September 24: Jeanette’s Thoughts
September 25: The Power of Words
September 25: Pause for Tales
September 26: Faithfully Bookish
September 27: Back Porch Reads
September 28: cherylbbookblog
September 28: D’S QUILTS & BOOKS
September 29: Blossoms and Blessings
September 29: Heidi Reads…
September 30: The Scribbler
September 30: Karen’s Krayons
October 3: Colonial Quills

Giveaway

I’m giving away a complete set of the Ladies of the Manor Series PLUS a special surprise straight from England! (US addresses only for paperbacks; an international winner is eligible for digital gifts, though!)

Friday, September 16, 2016

Blog Tour and Giveaway: The Wedding Shop by Rachel Hauck


To purchase your copy, click here.

About the Book

Two women separated by decades. Both set out to help others find their dreams when their own have crumbled.

It’s the early 1930s, but Cora Scott is walking in stride as a career woman after having inherited her great aunt’s wedding shop in Heart’s Bend, Tennessee, where brides come from as far away as Birmingham to experience her famed bridal treatment. Meanwhile, Cora is counting down the days until her own true love returns from the river to make her his bride. But days turn into months and months to years. All the while, Birch Good continues to woo Cora and try to show her that while he is solid and dependable, he can sweep her off her feet.

More than eighty years later, former Air Force Captain Haley Morgan has returned home to Heart’s Bend after finishing her commitment to military service. After the devastating death of her best friend, Tammy, and discovering the truth about the man she loved, Haley is searching for her place in life.

When Haley decides to reopen the romantic but abandoned wedding shop where she and Tammy played and dreamed as children, she begins a journey of courage, mystery, and love.

As Cora’s and Haley’s stories intertwine through time in the shadow of the beloved wedding shop, they both discover the power of their own dreams and the magic of everyday love.

My Thoughts

The Wedding Shop was an interesting read, I liked how there were two stories, but yet they were connected. I enjoyed getting to know Cora and Haley and how even though they lived over 80 years a part they both had similar stories in that they were both in unhealthy relationships, but in the end they both found true love. I also liked how the author switched between characters and time periods in the same chapter, especially when the events for both of these women's lives seemed to parallel each other.

Throughout the novel the themes of redemption and forgiveness are weaved in, especially in the present day for Haley, as she figures out how to move on with her life. I also loved the two male main character, Cole and Birch because both of them demonstrate unconditional love to the woman that they each love, even though it is sometimes painful for them.

I really enjoyed the historical aspects of this novel, I liked how the author captured what life would have been like during the early years of the Depression and how it affected people in all walks of life. I also liked how the novel also showed Haley trying to fit into normal life after being a captain in the Air Force.

There were a few things that I didn't like about the novel, but they are very minor and I can't remember most of them, except the chapter where Carolyn (Charlotte) describes the "purple man" to me it was kind of weird, but I also kind of see where the author was going with it.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and it was a great introduction to Rachel Hauck and I can't wait to read more of her books in the future. I am giving this book 3.95/5 Stars because even though I enjoyed the novel as a whole, there were a couple of things that I didn't like that kind of threw me off. 

About the Author

Rachel Hauck is a USA Today Bestselling author. Her book, The Wedding Dress, was named Inspirational Novel of the Year by Romantic Times and was a RITA finalist. Her book Once Upon A Prince was a Christy Award finalist.

Rachel lives in central Florida with her husband and two pets and writes from her ivory tower. Visit her online at rachelhauck.com, Facebook: rachelhauck, and Twitter: @RachelHauck






Guest Post from Rachel Hauck 

 Hey everyone! I’m so excited to share The Wedding Shop with you. This book is one of my favorites.

While all books are my “babies,” this one found a special place in my heart.

This standalone novel is part of the Wedding Collection – The Wedding Dress and The Wedding Chapel – and it came to life when I discovered the story of Cora Scott, a 1930s wedding shop owner.

At 30, she’s an old maid, but the best “bride’s maid” in fictional Heart’s Bend, Tennessee. But she’s in love with a charismatic, charming river boat captain.

The contemporary heroine, Haley Morgan, is a retired Air Force captain returning to Heart’s Bend to restart her life. She’s recovering from a broken heart. The handsome, dynamic, charming man she loved was nothing but trouble.

Returning home, Haley is set on keeping a childhood promise she made with her best friend—to open the old wedding shop.

The shop is legend in Heart’s Bend. Haley grew up with stories of Miss Cora and the shop, hearing the town’s mothers, grandmothers, and great grandmothers reminiscing about their “day in the shop,” walking down the grand staircase in their wedding gown.

But in 2016, the shop is dilapidated, neglected and in need of more money than Haley possesses.

While writing this story, I had to ask a lot of questions. Why reopen the old shop? Why not just open a new one?

Haley was a combat veteran, deployed to Afghanistan twice, why would she want to open a wedding shop?

I also investigate the meaning of the shop to the town? To Cora? To Haley?

As I developed the backstory for the characters, the shop and the town, Cora’s came to life. She fascinated me. I admired this fictional woman. She exuded ingenuity, courage, and deep, deep devotion.

On the other hand, Haley was a bit of a mystery but from the start, she saw value in something no one else did.

What if we all saw value in people or places others wanted to reject?

Isn’t that what Jesus does for us?

The heroes of the book, Birch and Cole, are just stellar guys. Princes among men. I love writing about slightly wounded but strong and tender men.

The theme of family and community populates the story. Also, how misconceptions and preconceived ideas often ruin relationships.

Booklist gave The Wedding Shop a Starred Review and called it, “Spellbinding.”

There’s a lot of fun drama in this book! I hope you enjoy spending time with Cora and Haley, the men they love and the shop they bring to life.

 I’d love to hear your thoughts! Connect with me at www.rachelhauck.com.

Blog Stops

September 13: A Holland Reads
September 14: Giveaway Lady
September 14: Daysong Reflections
September 15: Bibliophile Reviews
September 16: Bigreadersite
September 16: The Scribbler
September 17: Books,Dreams,Life
September 17: ASC Book Reviews
September 18: Book Babble
September 18: D’S QUILTS & BOOKS
September 19: Pause for Tales
September 19: Book by Book
September 20: The Power of Words
September 20: Lighthouse Academy
September 21: Proverbial Reads
September 21: Splashes of Joy
September 22: Faithfully Bookish
September 23: Tell Tale Book Reviews
September 24: Quiet Quilter
September 25: For The Love of Books

Giveaway



To celebrate her tour, Rachel is giving away her Wedding Collection Series! Click here to enter: https://promosimple.com/ps/a366

Happy Reading,
Janelle L. C.

P.S. If you have any book recommendations let me know and I will check them out! :) 

Friday, September 9, 2016

Book Review: The Artisan's Wife

Today's review is on The Artisan's Wife by Judith Miller.
I received a copy of this novel from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Ainslee McKay's world is turned upside down when her twin sister unexpectedly elopes several weeks before they were supposed to move to Weston, West Virginia to run the tile works that her family had recently acquired. Despite her apprehensions, Ainslee moves to Weston and takes charge of the tile works until her older brother can find a buyer. During this time, artisan Levi Judson moves to Weston to show the new owner of the tile works his designs for a new kind of tile. However, that is not the true reason for his move to Weston. Will Ainslee continue to pursue her plan of selling the tile works? Or will a romance blossom between her and the handsome new artisan?

This is the first time I have read anything by Judith Miller and I can't wait to check out more of her novels. I really enjoyed the premise of the novel and how Ainslee grows as a character. I also enjoyed learning more about the asylum that was the main provider of jobs for Weston, and what some of the cruel alternatives were for those who were declared insane. The author did a good job of showing how not everyone in the asylum was necessarily crazy, especially the women, some of them were put in there because of cruel husbands. She also did it in such a way that it didn't have feminist undertones, she was simply basing it on historical fact.

It was interesting to see Ainslee become her own person. At the beginning of the novel she relied heavily on her sister, Adiara to forge ahead, however when she comes out from her sister's shadow and takes charge of the tile works and starts to enjoy it. I also enjoyed how Levi opens the doors for her to help out at the asylum and help provide a library for the women that live there. Levi was an interesting character because even though he wants to be a good artisan, he also wants to look out for his younger brother who is a patient of the asylum. He strives to find ways to engage his brother so that his brother has something to live for.

I enjoyed all the different characters in this book, especially some of the women from the asylum that are introduced about halfway through the novel. I liked that we got some of the back story behind these women and the real reason why they were in the asylum. I also enjoyed getting to know more about the McKay family, even though I hadn't read the other books in this series.

I appreciated how the plot was romance heavy, in fact the romance isn't really a big part of the novel. I enjoyed the plot, even though it was simple and most of the time it was just depicting day-to-day life. I loved that it was after the Civil War, but yet it is still a time filled of historical gems. I also liked how Ainslee's project at the asylum was putting together a library because I could relate to her a lot more at that point.

One of my favorite quotes from the book is when the library at the asylum is about to open and Ainslee states the reason for why she chose to open a library, "Beyond what we learn from books, they can also provide a wonderful escape from the difficulties that surround us." (p.205) I like this because it is true, books can provide a wonderful, entertaining escape from the world when we need a break.

I am giving this book 4/5 Stars because I really enjoyed it and it surprised me in several ways. I also enjoyed some of the historical background that came to light whilst reading the book. I also enjoyed how even though this is the third book in a series, it can be read as a stand alone. I am looking forward to checking out more of Judith Miller's books in the future.

Thanks again to Bethany House Publishers for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Happy Reading,
Janelle L. C.

P.S. If you have any book recommendations, let me know and I will check them out! :) 

Friday, September 2, 2016

Book Review: Changeling

Today's review is on Changeling by Philippa Gregory
Philippa Gregory is known for her historical novels, such as The Other Boleyn Girl, and this is the first book in a YA series called Order of Darkness. I enjoyed this book, but it ended up being kind of different from what I was expecting.

Changeling takes place in Italy, 1453 and it tells the story of Luca, who has recently been kicked out of the monastery for heresy because he dared to question one of the relics that they have. He is then recruited to join the Order because there are weird things going and they want someone to go and investigate these events and whether it truly means that the end of world is near. His first assignment is at an abbey, where weird things are happening to the nuns that lived there. All the evidence for these strange occurrences all seem to point to the new Lady Abbess, Isolde, who was forced to into the position after her father died. Is Isolde guilty of witchcraft or is there something else going on at the abbey?

Let me start by saying that the synopsis on the back of this book is kind of misleading because it gave the impression that there would be werewolves and magic, but there isn't any of that, so I was kind of disappointed because I thought there was going to be some fantasy in this novel.

There is an overarching plot that will continue throughout the series, Luca investigating strange occurrences for the Order, however there were two successive minor plots that take place. The first one is the whole situation at the abbey, and the second one is after those events. I felt like the second plot point was disjointed from the rest of the book and that it was just shoved in there so that a page requirement could be met. It was still interesting, but it didn't fit within the whole framework of the novel.

The events that take place at the abbey were interesting and the author gives enough information about the religious climate of this time. The end of this plot point had a surprising outcome, even though in the back of my mind I kind of knew what might happen, it was still a shock. The second plot point was where I expected the fantasy element to start coming through in the work, but it didn't, there is no fantasy whatsoever in this book.

I really enjoyed getting to know the main characters in this novel, Luca and Isolde are both compelling characters and I kind of want them to get together eventually. Some other characters that are kind of main characters were Fierze, who doesn't know when to keep his mouth shut but he does give some comic relief to the novel, Brother Peter, the sober scribe, and Ishraq, Isolde's best friend since birth. They were all really interesting and even the villains in this novel were pretty well-written.

I loved the historical and religious details, Philippa Gregory definitely does what she does best by trying to make the setting as historically accurate as possible. She paints a very accurate description of the atmosphere of superstition during the Middle Ages, as well as a description of the Catholic culture that was prevalent in Italy.

While I liked this book, I'm not exactly in a rush to read the rest of the series, maybe if I see them at a library I will pick them up, but it was just an okay read.

I am giving this book 3.5/5 Stars because even though I liked reading this book, I was disappointed that there wasn't any fantasy in it, which I had been led to believe would be in this book.

Happy Reading,
Janelle L. C.

P.S. If you have any book recommendations let me know and I will check them out! :) 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

What I Read in July and August

I never got around to posting about what I read in July last month, so I decided to combine it with my August list. I know I kind of disappeared for a few weeks, but I'm back! Without further ado here are the books I read in July and August.

Books I Read in July:
1. The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan
I enjoyed this installment in the Percy Jackson series. I love Rick Riordan makes each book an individual adventure, but yet they all lead to a bigger event that I think happens in the last book of this series. I can't wait to find out what happens next. 4/5 Stars.

2. I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella
This was a cute contemporary read. I loved the whole idea of the novel and just how there were some surprising turns along the way. I can't wait to read more of Sophie Kinsella's books soon. 3.5/5 Stares

3. The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson 
I listened to the audio book and I enjoyed it. Another kind of light contemporary read, although there were a few tropes that made me roll my eyes a couple of times, but it was a perfect book to read/listen this summer. I am looking forward to reading some more books by the author soon. 3.75/5 Stars

4. I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You by Ally Carter
I picked up this book because I saw that it was about a spy school for girls, however it wasn't as action packed as I expected it to be. However, it was still a fun read. 3.5/5 Stars

5.  Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares 
I read the first few books in this series about 8 years ago and I watched the movies (multiple times). It was great catching up with these characters 10 years after the events of the fourth book (Forever in Blue). I am planning on having a longer review up soon. 4/5 Stars.

6. That Summer by Sarah Dessen 
This was a good summer read, even though it turned out to be very different from what I thought it would be. I definitely want to check out some of Sarah Dessen's other books in the near future. 3.75/ 5 Stars.

7. Parables by John MacArthur 
I really enjoyed this book. I liked how Dr. MacArthur explained some of the more difficult parables and how they make sense. 5/5 Stars.

8. The Heart Answers by Colleen Coble 
This was a sweet light romance, I wish I had known it was part of a series that I am starting because it deals with one of the antagonists of that series. If you would like to read more of my thoughts on this book, check out my full review here. 4/5 Stars.

9. Stars Above by Marissa Meyer
I loved this collection of novellas and it made me realize how much I love this series. I will have a longer review of this collection up soon!! 5/5 Stars.

10. An Elegant Facade by Kristi Ann Hunter 
I liked this book - mainly because it was set during the Regency era- but there several issues that I had with the plot and I spent most of the book confused as to what was actually going on. Here is my review on this book if you would like to find out more of my thoughts. 3.5/5 Stars

11. The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs 
I have been wanting to read this book for a while because a lot of my friends have been reading it. I enjoyed it, but I wish that had been more Scripture to back up his points. 4/5 Stars. 

Books I Read in August:

1. Living the Cross-Centered Life by C.J. Mahaney 

This was a great, short book about how the gospel ought to be the main thing in our lives and everything else is secondary to that. Also, it doesn't just deal with just understanding the gospel, the author also gives practical advice on how to live a life that is centered around the gospel.  5/5 Stars.

2. Royal Wedding (The Princess Diaries #11) by Meg Cabot 

This was an okay read. I read it more for the nostalgia factor because I had read the first 10 books in high school so I was interested to see what had happened to Princess Mia since she had graduated from high school. 3/5 Stars

3. The Artisan's Wife by Judith Miller 

I really liked this book a lot! I also appreciated how it wasn't heavy on the romance elements, but it kind of surprised on me on what ended up being the main focus of the novel. I will have a longer review up either tomorrow or next week. 4/5 Stars.

4. A Heart's Disguise (Journey of the Heart #1) by Colleen Coble

This was the first part in a series of novellas. I liked it and it was a quick read, however the blurb on the back of the book summarized every single event that took place in this novella. But it was still cute, and I will have a longer review of the whole series when I eventually finish it. 3.5/5 Stars.

5. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson 

I enjoyed this graphic novel, even though it was missing something that would make it a five star read for me. It is action-packed and filled with twists and turns. This will not be a disappointment to those who enjoy reading graphic novels. 4/5 Stars.

Those are all the books I have read in last two months. I don't know how many I will get to read in September because I am back at school, but I will keep reading! I have also decided that for the next few months I am not going to write TBR posts because I don't want to put a whole lot of extra pressure on myself.

Happy Reading,
Janelle L. C.

P.S. If you have any book recommendations let me know and I will check them out! :)