With You Always (Orphan Train Book 1) by Jody Hedlund Review and Interview

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

About the book:

A Riveting Look at the Orphan Train from Historical Novelist Jody Hedlund
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.




My Thoughts:

I literally just finished the book an hour ago and my head is still in Illinois. Ms. Hedlund takes back to the 1850's, with financial crisis, orphans, and twin brothers competing to inherit everything from their dying father.
I first thought the father was a little loopy to pit his sons against each other, but in the end you see he was actually pretty smart in his thinking.
Even though Thornton is pretty much engaged to a girl back in New York, Ms. Hedlund creates quite the romantic tension between him and Elise. Thornton is swoon worthy, Elise is pretty and devoted to her sisters. There are kisses that will have you catching your breath, and a little bit of mystery to keep you turning the pages. The spiritual thread is woven perfectly through the story. It shows God not forsaking us even when we maybe fearful of trusting.

This is book one of the series, and today is release day! Happy Book Birthday, Jody Hedlund!!!

I highly recommend this book!!

Pick up your copy at your favorite retailers.



Interview with Jody Hedlund . . .

1. What is the inspiration behind your new Orphan Train series?

I have long been fascinated by the era of the Orphan Trains and the heart-wrenching stories of the homeless and helpless young orphans that were taken from the streets of New York City and other eastern cities and shipped West by the dozens. I was familiar with stories of those scared orphans who were placed out in what was thought to be a more wholesome, healthy environment of the newly settled Mid-Western states. Some of the orphans found happy endings and were adopted into loving families. Others experienced great abuse and heartache in their new homes.

While stories of the orphans who rode the trains have been told—and rightly so—the stories of the women who were involved in the movement are not as well known. One of the things I particularly like to do when telling my stories, is focus on women who have been overlooked by the pages of history. I consider it a great privilege to be able to bring forgotten women to life for our modern generation. Thus, throughout this series, I’ll be focusing each book on a different aspect of the Orphan Train movement, particularly from the perspective of women who experienced riding the trains in one form or another.

2. An e-novella, An Awakened Heart, kicks off the series. What is the novella about, and is it a must-read in order to understand the series?

An Awakened Heart  is not a must-read in order to understand the series. But I do highly recommend reading it. (Plus it’s FREE, so you have nothing to lose by giving it a try!) The e-novella introduces a couple, Guy and Christine, who are both passionate about helping the poor immigrants crowded into the overflowing and dirty tenements of New York City. The novella shows their efforts to bring about change in the city, but also brings them together in a satisfying love story.

The novella also introduces the three orphan sisters who will each become main characters for the three full-length novels in the series. It gives some of the background information on their situation, particularly how they become orphans, which I think readers will find helpful as well as informative.

 3. How did you come up with the idea for the first book in the series, With You Always?

For this first book in the series, I decided to base the story around the placing out of women that happened in 1857 as a result of a financial crisis and economic panic in the autumn of that year. Women laborers were already at a disadvantage with poor working conditions and low wages. In September of 1857, estimates of New York unemployment ran as high as forty percent. Female employment was cut by almost half. With prostitution already a main source of income for many women, the recession drove even more to desperate measures and the number of women in prison rose as well.

To meet the growing crisis, the Children’s Aid Society in New York, along with organizations in other cities, who were already sending children West, decided to set up special placement offices to find jobs for seamstresses and trade girls in the West. The associations only wanted women of “good character” and they were required to provide references. If the women met the qualifications, then they were sent on trains to towns in Mid-Western states, particularly central Illinois where the demand for cheap labor was prevalent. They were presented to western employers as “helpless females left without the means of support.” Placement of these women continued until the spring of 1858.

It was my hope through the first book in the series, With You Always, to give readers a glimpse into the disadvantage of women during this particular era by showing the heroine Elise Neumann’s struggle, first in New York City and then also the continued heartache and problems that arose after leaving her family behind so that she could attempt to start a new life in central Illinois.

4. What special research did you do in writing With You Always?

In the beginning phases of writing this series, I did a great deal of reading about the orphan train movement. In particular, I really loved Stephen O’Conor’s book, Orphan Trains, because he includes so many personal stories and details about real orphans, which are heart wrenching.

I also read, A History of New York City to 1898, by Burrows and Wallace, which gave me great insights into the lives of immigrants, particularly immigrant women. Masses of foreigners were arriving into New York City on a daily basis, and the book gave a detailed look into their pathetic housing situation, the difficult working conditions, as well as gang problems and the underworld.
Finally, another important aspect of the story that required a concentrated amount of research was the development of railroads. The mid-1800’s was an incredible period of growth for the railroad industry in the Mid-West. The new railroads aided the orphan train movement but also brought about the settlement of the Midwestern states, including Illinois, which is one of the settings of the book.

5. Many of your previous stories are set in Michigan. With You Always takes place in both New York City as well as Illinois. Why did you decide to change settings?

I definitely could have used Michigan as the Mid-western setting for this book since the very first orphan train went to Dowagiac, a small town in southwestern Michigan. However, as I studied railroads and town development, I decided that the plains of central Illinois would really add to the story, especially because the Illinois Central Railroad (IC) was built between 1851 and 1856 during the time of my story.

With this new railroad that ran the length of Illinois from north to south, investors were looking at attempting to build towns along the railroad in order to attract new settlers who would use the railroad. Since my hero, Thornton Quincy, is involved in the development of the IC, he and his family have an invested interest in seeing the growth of towns along the new railroad. Adding in a competition with Thornton’s twin brother for the development of one such town made the story and setting in Illinois come alive.

I also loved having my heroine, Elise Neumann, be able to travel from the crowded dirty streets of New York City to the plains of Illinois where she experienced a culture shock. She’s taken from a bustling city life to an isolated farming town that consists of only a few buildings when she arrives.

6. What do you hope readers take away from With You Always?

One of my hopes in telling this story is to leave readers with the reminder that God is walking with us in whatever dark valley we’re going through. Often, like Elise, we tend to pull away from God and let the bitterness of our circumstances drive us into a cave of isolation and self-blame and heartache. But God wants us to realize that even if we pull away from Him, He’s still there walking by our side, waiting for us to reach out our hand and grab ahold of Him. He never leaves us or forsakes us. He’s there waiting.

Personal Q & A
7. What is your inspiration to write?

I write because I love telling stories. I love the quote by Toni Morrison because it sums up part of why I write: "If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it." Essentially, I write the stories that I LOVE to read! Of course there are other, deeper reasons I write too. But mostly I just really enjoy the process of creating imaginary people and places.

8. Is there something you tell yourself before writing?

Usually I tell myself to sit down, put my hands to the keyboard, and get to work. I don't wait for inspiration or magical fairy dust to hit me before writing. I just do it.
 But I also always ask myself, what could make this story better? How can I increase the tension? How can add more excitement? What can I do to make my characters more likeable? I'm constantly challenging myself to make my story more vibrant and alive.
9. What role does faith play in your novels?

While I try not to preach at my readers, I do weave faith themes through my books. My faith also motivates me to keep my stories "clean." I believe Christian fiction is a much needed alternative, especially Christian romance.
I just recently got an email from a reader telling me she that she'd picked up several books and been really turned off by the explicitness within them, but that she didn't realize the books contained such content until she started reading them. She wanted to know if there was a rating system or some way that she could tell if the book would be "clean" before she started reading. I was glad that I could point her to inspirational Christian fiction, that she would be guaranteed the sweet romance she desired.

10. With You Always is the third book you’ve released in 2017.  How do you find time to write so many books?

I keep a very rigorous writing schedule, usually writing six days a week. I give myself a challenging word count goal—a certain number of words to write every day. Then, in the morning, I sit down and write until I meet my goals. It’s as simple . . . and as hard as that!

I like to compare being an author to a marathon runner. The person training to run a marathon doesn’t start off running twenty-six miles the first time she runs. Instead she begins with just a few miles, strengthens her muscles, builds her endurance, and slowly adds more miles.

Writing is the same way. Over the years, I’ve strengthened my writing muscles and built up my endurance so that now I can write faster and for longer stretches.

11. What are you working on next?

The second book in the orphan train series releases next summer in 2018. The story continues with Marianne Neumann. She gets involved in the orphan train movement as one of the placing agents and accompanies the orphans as they ride the trains west. I hope readers will enjoy Marianne’s story and also appreciate learning more about the orphan train movement from the eyes of the compassionate workers who tried to place the orphans into new homes.

12. Do you have any parting words?
I love hearing from readers! Make sure you stop by one of these places and say hello!
I hang out on Facebook here: Author Jody Hedlund
I also love to chat on Twitter: @JodyHedlund
My home base is at my website: jodyhedlund.com
Find me on Instagram: instagram.com/jodyhedlund/
Come pin with me on Pinterest: pinterest.com/jodyhedlund/pins/

www.jodyhedlund.com




Top Ten Tuesday - Books I've Added To My TBR



I'm joining Broke and the Bookish again for Top Ten Tuesday. This week the prompt is books I've added to my TBR from a specific genre. The only problem with choosing just one genre is that my reading is very eclectic, so I will be posting ten books I've added along with the genre they fall under. I'm constantly adding to my TBR so this should be interesting!


Non-fiction, Christian living . . .

I don't read a lot of non-fiction because I don't want to read about real life, I want to be taken to another place and time. However, I keep hearing about this book and I like Lysa TerKeurst so I'm hoping to read it this summer.

About the book:
The enemy wants us to feel rejected . . . left out, lonely, and less than. When we allow him to speak lies through our rejection, he pickpockets our purpose. Cripples our courage. Dismantles our dreams. And blinds us to the beauty of Christ’s powerful love.
In Uninvited, Lysa shares her own deeply personal experiences with rejection—from the incredibly painful childhood abandonment by her father to the perceived judgment of the perfectly toned woman one elliptical over.
Overcome the two core fears that feed our insecurities by understanding the secret of belonging.Stop feeling left out and start believing that "set apart" does not mean "set aside."End the cycle of perceived rejection by refusing to turn a small incident into a full blown issue.

Fantasy and Supernatural:

This book piqued my interest because the main character battles seizures, something I deal with on a daily basis.

About the book:
Jonah wishes he could get the girl, but he’s an outcast and she’s the most perfect girl he knows.
And their futures seemed destined to fork apart: Jonah’s physical condition is debilitating, and epileptic seizures fill his life with frustration. Whereas Stormi is seemingly carefree, and navigates life by sensing things before they happen. And her most recent premonition is urging her to leave town.
When Stormi begs Jonah for help, he finds himself swept into a dark mystery his small town has been keeping for years. And the answers Stormi needs about her own past could possibly destroy everything Jonah has ever known—including his growing relationship with Stormi herself.


I read the first book Deliver Us From Darkness and loved the spiritual warfare aspect of the book. I'm a huge fan of Frank Peretti and in my review I said "Move over Frank there is another Frank in town." and Mr. Lattimore put that line in the endorsement section. I want to read the next two.

About the book:
In this sequel to Deliver Us from Darkness, twenty-four years have passed since best friends Brent Lawton, Marta Rosales, and Karen McLaughlin, had their lives rocked and changed through an encounter with Tara Baker, a black-magic practicing witch who was bent on their destruction. Brent has remained in his hometown of Millsville, Ohio. A police officer now, he raises his family of five within the suburban community that he has been hired to protect.
Not all is well, though. People are having premonitions.
Picti High Priests, Brendan Cadeyrn and Tara Baker's former mentor, Stephanie O’Leary, have finally pieced together the fragments of a culture and religion once so powerful that it had kept the mighty legions of ancient Rome at bay. It is their intention, along with several hundred of their followers, to reclaim that religion, and with it, its power. No one will be permitted to stand in opposition to their plan to unleash an evil that has lain dormant for over a thousand years.
Yet a single family will stand. They will confront the darkness and put their own lives on the line for the sake of their God, their community, and each other.
With a twist that few will see coming, dive deep into the story of one family’s war against—and for—a mortal enemy bent on their very destruction.
Is there a darkness that exists that is too deep—too evil—for God's love to penetrate?



Book 3 in the Otherealm Saga . . .

About the book:

Control is a Delusion…
Control. An elusive, yet greatly-coveted power, sought after by the young and the old, the wealthy and the poor. Can it be bargained for? Bought? Seized? And if attained, how much control can a individual actually wield?
Pittston Police Chief Brent Lawton is about to share a story with his wife that will affect both of their lives forever. Listen with her as she receives the account of a twenty-five-year-old man, endowed with an array of unexpected supernatural powers and sent on a chilling mission to protect the life of a fifteen-year-old pregnant girl named Elizabeth.
Journey into a realm of spiritual beings that few believe exist, and find out if one person's good intentions can be enough to stop the murderous plans of an ancient, evil enemy.
Who—or what—is really pulling the strings to life and death?
Welcome to the Otherealm, where heaven, hell, and man battle for the soul.



Romance Suspense


I enjoyed If I Run when I read it last year, reading the sequel is a must!

About the book:

Casey Cox is still on the run, fleeing prosecution for a murder she didn’t commit. Dylan Roberts—her most relentless pursuer—is still on her trail, but his secret emails insist that he knows the truth and wants to help her. He’s let her escape before when he had her in his grasp, but trust doesn’t come easily.
As Casey works to collect evidence about the real murderers, she stumbles on another unbearable injustice: an abused child and a suicidal man who’s also been falsely accused. Casey risks her own safety to right this wrong and protect the little girl from her tormenters. But doing so is risky and just may result in her capture—and if she’s captured, she has no doubt she’ll be murdered before she ever steps foot in a jail.


Contemporary Romance/Adventure
                                                     

About the book:
Search and rescue pilot Kacey Fairing is home on leave in Mercy Falls, Montana, twelve years after she joined the military to escape the mistakes of her past. With a job waiting for her as the new lead pilot of Peak Rescue in Glacier National Park, Kacey hopes to reconnect with the now-teenage daughter she sees only between deployments. What she doesn't realize is that someone else is also back in town.
Ben King has been building his country music career since the day Kacey shut him out of her life. Now all of that's on hold when his injured father calls him home to help run Peak Rescue until he's fully recovered. It doesn't take long, though, to discover his father's ulterior motives as Kacey Fairing walks into the house and back into his heart.
With Mercy Falls in a state of emergency due to flash floods, Kacey and Ben are forced to work together to save lives. But when floodwaters turn personal, can they put aside the past to save their future?



About the book:
When Deputy Sam Brooks commits to something, nothing can sway him--not just on the job as liaison between the Mercy Falls sheriff's department and PEAK Rescue, but in his private life. He's the one who stuck around to take care of his mother after his father's accidental death. And he's the one--perhaps the only one--who believes Sierra Rose is the perfect girl for him. Safe, practical, and organized, she's nothing like her hippie, impulsive, bleeding heart sister, Willow.
Willow, however, has been in love with Sam Brooks for as long as she can remember. But she wants her sister to have a happy ending. Besides, Willow has other things to focus on--namely, nabbing the job as youth pastor for her small-town church. Best thing for her to do is to purge Sam from her heart.
Neither can predict the events that will bring them together in a fight for their lives in the forbidding wilderness of Glacier National Park. Stranded, injured, and with the winter weather closing in, Sam and Willow will have to work together to save a crew of terrified teenagers. As they fight to survive, they might just discover a new hope for love.



Historical Medieval  Fairytale



I enjoy going back in time to the fairy tales I loved as a child, and I just haven't read this one yet.

About the book:

She lost everything to an evil conspiracy . . . but that loss may just give her all she ever wanted.
Since meeting Steffan, the Duke of Wolfberg, at Thornbeck Castle, Lady Magdalen has not been able to stop thinking about him. She knows—as a penniless lady with little to offer in terms of a dowry—she has no real hope of marrying such a highly titled man, so it comes as a great surprise when she receives a letter from him, asking for her hand in marriage.
But all is not what it seems at Wolfberg Castle. Steffan has been evicted by his scheming uncle, and his cousin has taken over the title of duke. Left for dead, Steffan is able to escape, and disguised as a shepherd, hopes to gain entry to the castle to claim the items that will prove he is the true Duke of Wolfberg.
Journeying to the castle, Magdalen has no idea what awaits her, but she certainly did not expect her loyal maidservant to turn on her. Forcing Magdalen to trade places with her, the servant plans to marry the duke and force Magdalen to tend the geese.
Without their respective titles—and the privileges that came with them—Steffan and Magdalen are reunited in the shepherd’s field. Together they conspire to get back their rightful titles. But they must hurry . . . or else they risk losing it all to the uncle’s evil plan.


Historical Regency Romance Mystery

This series of Melanie Dickerson has it all, except I haven't read it. I know crazy, huh?!? Well it is on my list for summer too!

 About the book:

In England’s Regency era, manners and elegance reign in public life—but behind closed doors treason and tawdriness thrive. Nicholas Langdon is no stranger to reserved civility or bloody barbarity. After suffering a battlefield injury, the wealthy, well-connected British officer returns home to heal—and to fulfill a dying soldier’s last wish by delivering his coded diary.
At the home of the Wilherns, one of England’s most powerful families, Langdon attends a lavish ball where he meets their beautiful and intelligent ward, Julia Grey. Determined to maintain propriety, he keeps his distance—until the diary is stolen and all clues lead to Julia’s guardian. As Langdon traces an evil plot that could be the nation’s undoing, he grows ever more intrigued by the lovely young woman. And when Julia realizes that England—and the man she is falling in love with—need her help, she finds herself caught in the fray. Will the two succumb to their attraction while fighting to save their country?






About the book:

Leorah Langdon has no patience for Regency society’s shallow hypocrisy and unnecessary rules, especially for women. She’s determined to defy convention by marrying for grand passion instead of settling for a loveless union like her parents—or wedding a stuffy, pompous gentleman like Edward, the Viscount Withinghall. But when a chance meeting in the countryside leads to Leorah and Withinghall being discovered in his overturned carriage—alone and after dark—the ensuing gossip may force them together.
Withinghall has his reasons for clinging to propriety; his father perished in a duel with his mistress’s husband, and Edward must avoid scandal himself if he wants to become prime minister. He certainly has no time for a reckless hoyden like Miss Langdon. But soon the two discover that Withinghall’s coach “accident” was no such thing: the vehicle was sabotaged.
Can the culprit be brought to justice? Strong-willed Leorah and duty-driven Withinghall will have to work together if they have any hope of saving her reputation, his political career—and his life.


What books have you recently added to your TBR??? What genre's? Please tell me in the comments.





 
RADIANT LIGHT | Blogger Template Design By LawnyDesigns Powered by Blogger