First Line Friday # 25

Friday, June 23, 2017





It's Friday, time for no alarm clocks, late nights, days spent with friends and family, and reading.


Today I am featuring The Noble Servant by Melanie Dickerson. This fairy tale retelling is based on the goose girl, one I am not familiar with, but know that Ms. Dickerson will make it unforgettable.



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.


First Line

The year 1365, Barony of Mallin, the Holy Roman Empire

"Where do you think you are going looking like a beggar?" Mother asked 
Magdalen's hand was on the door. "Just walking."


What is your first line? Leave it in the comments and then go and visit my friends to see their first lines.
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Joyful Inspirations Coloring Book by Robin Mead and A Giving Heart Coloring Book by Stephanie Corfee

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The adult coloring book market keeps blooming with new themes and pages to color. FaithWords a division of Hachette Book Group asked me to review these two coloring books, and I of course said "Yes!"



About the book:

Color uplifting depictions of God's creation--from blossoming gardens to smiling children--and vibrant cityscapes, with illustrated scripture and quotes to inspire and encourage.
Do you delight in spying cheerful birds outside your window? Are you awed by God's creativity as your eyes scan the fields alongside a road of quiet beauty? If your soul craves more moments like these, you'll experience endless joy through coloring the intricate pictures and illustrated scripture in this book. Excite your creativity by filling in creatively rendered cities, gardens, and seas. Reinvigorate your spirit through the uplifting messages of these pages. As you do, you'll feel happily reminded that God is ever-present and looking out for you, because His love touches everything and everyone.

About Robin Mead:

ROBIN MEAD is an artist who combines her background in social work, studies in Fine Art, and love of expression to create joyful depictions of life. Using insight and intuition she translates positive emotions onto paper, canvas, and the digital screen. A native of New York, Robin and her husband of 27 years now reside near Athens, Georgia, where she delights in seeking inspiration outdoors. Look for her Joyful Inspirations Coloring Book

Here is the page I colored from this book....
                                      
                                          Click on my picture to order your copy.


The pictures in this book are big and easy to color. Coloring is a stress reliever for me, and I color at least once a day. 




About the book:

A beautiful artist-drawn coloring book with Scripture created to encourage, inspire, and delight Christian mothers. 
This beautifully rendered adult coloring book will offer Christian moms a perfect way to enjoy moments of peaceful creativity as they color 46 gorgeously intricate pictures and meditate upon God's word. Filled with lovely botanical scenes, charming designs, and intricate patterns, the images and words of this book will remind mothers of their special place in the hearts of their loved ones and the wonderful purpose God created in them. 

Here is the page I colored out of this one.

                                          Click on my picture to order your copy.


The pictures in this book are smaller and more intricate, but very pretty and I love the quotes that are patterned with them.


I enjoyed coloring in both of these books and will have many more hours of coloring pleasure.










I received these books from the publisher and was not required to write a review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

First Line Friday #24

Friday, June 16, 2017


YAHOO!!!! It's Friday, time for a weekend of reading and celebrating our dads and our husbands!
If you've followed my blog for any length of time you know that Julie Lessman is my absolute favorite author. I fell in love with her writing in 2008 when I read her debut, A Passion Most Pure. I was in the midst of my divorce and her book spoke to me on so many levels. While the book does not deal with divorce it showed me that as a single woman seeking God I could stay pure whether God brought another man into my life or not.
She has a new book releasing in August, His Steadfast Love, book three in her Isle of Hope series, which I am going to feature here today.

AMAZON PRE-ORDER




About the book:

Cat O’Bryen is the prodigal daughter unhappy with God. First, the father with whom she reconciled dies of cancer and now her twin sister and best friend marries, leaving Cat at home with a newlywed mother, her new husband, and a little brother. But when Cat moves in with a roommate of questionable morals, her family is worried, certain she’s on a path that could damage her faith forever.
Reluctant to get involved with a woman like the one who destroyed his life, ex-Navy SEAL Pastor Chase Griffin steers clear of the attraction he feels for Cat O’Bryen. Until her family begs him to take her under his wing, hoping he can draw her back into the fold. But when the draw she has on him proves too strong to resist, he must rely on the strength of God to offer a friendship as steady and strong as the God whose love is wooing her home.





First Line:

Isle of Hope, Georgia, Early Spring

The winds of change are blowing . . . and it's a category five.

Catherine "Cat" O'Bryen plopped her chin in her hand on the linen-clad table, grateful for the low lighting of the candlelit ballroom while she battled another onslaught of tears. 


Quite a line, huh?!?! A true first line that grabs you and propels you to read more. What's your first line this week?? Leave it in the comments and visit my friends to read theirs. As always mark your place and have a great weekend!

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Top Ten Tuesday . . . Father's Day Related

Tuesday, June 13, 2017



I am joining Broke and the Bookish for Top Ten Tuesday. 

I am a true daddy's girl so I love Father's Day and being able to honor my dad. For this post I'm going to feature favorite dads in books.







Frank Gilbreth in Cheaper by the Dozen. He was a strict time keeper and dad who was completely, and udderly involved with his kids.  

Patrick O'Connor in Hope Undaunted. Katie is growing up and Patrick is the dad she needs not the friend she wants.
Mr. Bennet who raised five daughters in Pride and Prejudice.




 Pa in the Little House series. I loved how Laura talked about Pa playing his fiddle.

Matthew Cuthbert in Anne of Green Gables. He was a sweet "dad" figure to Anne.                                                                        


Atticus Finch.
I read this book to my girls, and I always thought it was sweet how the father and daughter would go looking for owls at night.
















A true example of a father and daughter repairing their relationship.


















I don't have ten today. I had a long day yesterday and my brain is still tired. What are your favorite literary fathers?

Me and my daddy.




First Line Friday # 23

Friday, June 9, 2017



Welcome to another edition of First Line Friday! What is your first line? What are you reading? Let me know in the comments.



About the book:

When a series of circumstances beyond her control leave Rosalyn Bernay alone and penniless in London, she chances upon a job backstage at a theater which is presenting the most popular show in London. A talented musician and singer, she feels immediately at home and soon becomes enthralled with the idea of pursuing a career on the stage.
An injury during a skirmish in India has forced Nate Moran out of the army until he recovers. Filling his time at a stable of horses for hire in London, he has also spent the past two months working nights as a stagehand, filling in for his injured brother. Although he’s glad he can help his family through a tough time, he is counting the days until he can rejoin his regiment. London holds bitter memories for him that he is anxious to escape. But then he meets the beautiful woman who has found a new lease on life in the very place Nate can’t wait to leave behind.




First Line:

Six Years Later
October 1879

Rosalyn crouched as low as her sturdy walking gown would allow, hiding behind the hedgerow. When she left the orphanage to begin her life as an adult, she'd anticipated some hard times.


Visit my blogging friends and see their first line and leave yours.

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Life After by Katie Ganshert

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

About the book:

It could have been me.

Snow whirls around an elevated train platform in Chicago. A distracted woman boards the train, takes her seat, and moments later a fiery explosion rips through the frigid air, tearing the car apart in a horrific attack on the city’s transit system. One life is spared. Twenty-two are lost.
A year later, Autumn Manning can’t remember the day of the bombing and she is tormented by grief—by guilt. Twelve months of the question constantly echoing. Why? Why? Why? Searching for answers, she haunts the lives of the victims, unable to rest.
Paul Elliott lost his wife in the train bombing and wants to let the dead rest in peace, undisturbed and unable to cause more pain for his loved ones. He wants normalcy for his twelve-year-old daughter and young son, to see them move beyond the heartbreak. But when the Elliotts and Autumn are unexpectedly forced together, he fears she’ll bring more wreckage in her wake.



About Katie Ganshert:

Award-winning author, Katie Ganshert, graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Madison with a degree in education, and worked as a fifth grade teacher for several years before staying home to write full-time. She was born and raised in the Midwest, where she lives with her family. When she’s not busy penning novels or spending time with her people, she enjoys drinking coffee with friends, reading great literature, and eating copious amounts of dark chocolate. You can learn more about Katie and her books by visiting her website or author Facebook page.

You can also visit Katie here http://www.katieganshert.com/






My thoughts:

What an emotional ride. Ms. Ganshert's new book evokes all the emotions. I found myself dreaming about the characters last night, and I know I will be thinking about them for some time. The book grabbed me from the beginning and didn't let go until I closed it last night. Every character in the book is dealing with raw, hard emotions. They are mainly plagued with grief that seems to encompass every part of their life. The beauty of this book is the hope and healing that occurs as the characters see that their only hope and healing is through Jesus. 
The events that happen in the book could happen to anyone of us or our family and friends, which is what makes this book so incredibly real and poignant for today. 
This is a must read! I highly recommend it! 

Grab your copy today  AMAZON 



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




 
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