Book Review and Giveaway: Together Forever by Jody Hedlund

Saturday, May 26, 2018

About the Book

Title: Together Forever, Orphan Train Book 2  
Author: Jody Hedlund  
Genre: Inspirational historical romance  
Release Date: May, 2018

Determined to find her lost younger sister, Marianne Neumann takes a job as a placing agent with the Children’s Aid Society in 1858 New York. She not only hopes to offer children a better life, but prays she’ll be able to discover whether Sophie ended up leaving the city on an orphan train so they can finally be reunited. Andrew Brady, her fellow agent on her first placing-out trip, is a former schoolteacher who has an easy way with the children, firm but tender and friendly. Underneath his charm and handsome looks, though, seems to linger a grief that won’t go away–and a secret from his past that he keeps hidden. As the two team up, placing orphans in the small railroad towns of Illinois, they find themselves growing ever closer . . . until a shocking tragedy threatens to upend all their work and change one of their lives forever.

Click here to purchase your copy!

                             About the Author

Jody Hedlund is the author of over a dozen novels, including Love Unexpected, Captured by Love, Unending Devotion, The Preacher’s Bride, and A Noble Groom, winner of the 2014 Carol Award for historical romance. She received a bachelor’s degree from Taylor University and a master’s from the University of Wisconsin, both in social work. She lives in Michigan with her husband and five children. She loves hearing from readers on Facebook and on her blog at

Guest Post from Jody Hedlund

30,000 Abandoned Children By Jody Hedlund Imagine a city where 30,000 abandoned and homeless children live on the streets. Sounds like something from a futuristic dystopian novel, doesn’t it? Or something that might happen after a war or apocalypse or major disaster, right? This exact thing actually happened in the 1850’s. And the city was New York City. It’s hard to believe, but an estimated 30,000 homeless children roamed the dirty city streets and alleys of New York City. 30,000. Children. Let that sink in for a minute. That’s the size of a town. Historians look back on that time and try to make sense what led to such horrific conditions for children. Of course, the influx of immigrants was at an all time high. Jobs and housing were scarce. Diseases were rampant. Hunger and poverty became a norm. (Orphan Train Depot)  

As more and more people became aware of the enormous problem within the crowded slums, courageous heroes rose up and attempted to do their part to make a difference. While we may not always agree with the methods that were used to save the thousands of homeless children, we can admire the men and women who could no longer sit idly by. The Children’s Aid Society was started by Charles Loring Brace as one such attempt to help the hordes of homeless children. His “Emigration Plan” is better known today by the term “Orphan Trains.”  

My latest series tackles various elements of the orphan train movement. Together Forever, releasing in May, highlights the placing agents, those devoted people who rode the trains with the orphans. The agents spent weeks and months on the road caring for the children, all the while trying to place them in loving homes. (If you’d like to try out the series, start with my FREE novella, An Awakened Heart.) Like the brave men and women who came before us, may we always strive to do our part to make a difference!

My Thoughts:

This book started out a little slow for me which is unusual for a Jody Hedlund novel. But by about the third chapter I was completely connected and invested in the story.

The relationship between Marianne and Drew began in a believable way. As their friendship grew they were playful, and snarky with each other which I loved!

I love historical fiction because I always learn something and Ms. Hedlund does not disappoint with the historical fact she wove into this story.

The compassion that Drew and Marianne had for the orphans as they traveled west really grabbed my heart.

My Bottom Line:

Together Forever (Orphan Train #2) is packed with heart, historical fact, and lots of swoon. There was a little mystery within the story. I love having children in the story they bring such a unique and individual quality all of their own, and each of these children did just that. Dorothea and Jethro were my absolute favorite of the bunch.
This book can be read alone but I highly recommend reading book one.


To celebrate her tour, Jody is giving away a grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card!!

Top Ten Tuesday - Best Character Names

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

So, what are some of your favorite character names? Today's Top Ten Tuesday is Best Character Names.
I actually had to search to find ten. I like unusual names, hence why my children's names are spelled so differently and to this day can't find one souvenir with their name on it. I attempted to choose names from 2018 reads but I had to go back a few years to get ten.

Liberty and Blaze from ...

Willow and Corbin from...

Chloe, and Hamilton from... 

Eliyana from... 

Wilhelmina and Edgar from . . .


Permilia and Asher from . . .   

Lillian and Archer from . . . 

Morrow and Red Shirt from . . . 

Temperance (Tempe) and Sion from . . .

And one of my absolute favorite character names.

Cole "Tox" Russell from . . .

Are any of your favorite character names in my list? Let me know yours in the comments.

The Prayer Map for Women: A Creative Journal

Monday, May 21, 2018

What Does Prayer Look Like? . . .
Find out in The Prayer Map for Women.

This engaging prayer journal is a fun and creative way for you to more fully experience the power of prayer. Each page features a lovely 2-color design that guides you to write out specific thoughts, ideas, and lists. . .which then creates a specific "map" for you to follow as you talk to God. Each map includes a spot to record the date, so you can look back on your prayers and see how God has worked in your life. The Prayer Map for Women will not only encourage you to spend time talking with God about the things that matter most. . .it will also help you build a healthy spiritual habit of continual prayer for life!

Amazon || Barnes and Noble ||

My Thoughts:

I like this book on a lot of levels. Each day spans two pages with spots for personal prayer, thanksgiving, writing out worries, who you're praying for, needs, and a verse for each day. Each section are great prompts to encourage personal prayer life. I do like that each day spans two pages.
The colors are bright and inviting. The size of the journal is perfect for tucking in your bag to take with you.

My only dislike is that each section doesn't give much space for writing more than a few lines.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book via Barbour Publishing. I was not required to write a review. All thoughts expressed are my own.

Who Or What is Your Truth

Trust is such a small word in our vocabulary, but it carries with it a huge meaning. The Webster's Dictionary defines Trust as . . .

1 a : assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something
b : one in which confidence is placed
2 a : dependence on something future or contingent : hope
b : reliance on future payment for property (such as merchandise) delivered : credit bought furniture on trust
3 a : a property interest held by one person for the benefit of another
b : a combination of firms or corporations formed by a legal agreement; especially : one that reduces or threatens to reduce competition
4 a : care, custody the child committed to her trust
b (1) : a charge or duty imposed in faith or confidence or as a condition of some relationship (2) : something committed or entrusted to one to be used or cared for in the interest of another
c : responsible charge or office
5 archaic : trustworthiness

Assured reliance on the character of someone, one in which confidence is placed, and dependence on someone is in my opinion what happens when we as an individual decide to let someone into our personal space, are vulnerable, our true self. This definitely happens when we marry someone, at least for me it does. It also happens when we

The problem with trust is that it can be broken and when it's broken it cuts, and cuts deep. I don't trust easily anymore. I used to trust so easy I was gullible and very naive. I think a lot of my naivety was because I was raised in church, with parents who kept me and my brother very protected so we stayed pretty innocent. I think my brother saw more junk as he grew up than I did. Which was probably more choice than true exposure.

When the reality of my former husband's betrayal became reality my belief system was really rocked to it's core. I didn't know what was true or what wasn't. For about a year I found out a lie nearly everyday which sounds like a lot, but this was 23 years of marriage that had just ended. It was pretty amazing to me how scriptures on truth, and faith flooded to my mind almost instantly.

John 8:32 And you will know the truth and it will set you free. NLT

John 16:13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. NIV

Psalm 119:160 All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal. NIV

Psalm 145:18 The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. NIV

Camping on verses about His truth, not mine, really helped me see that He is my only truth! It has also helped me to allow Him to choose who I can trust instead of relying on my own feelings whether good or bad. Since our feelings can fluctuate with the weather using them to guide our trust-o-meter isn't a good thing. I can feel as though someone is trustworthy one minute and the next question it. Leaving it up to Him is the best way for me to not be an emotional roller coaster. Dealing with broken trust and betrayal has to be one of the hardest things we deal with as humans but relying on Him and who He says He is and we are makes the junk of this world a lot easier.

The Accidental Guardian Blog Tour and Giveaway

Friday, May 18, 2018

Title: The Accidental Guardian
Series: High Sierra Sweethearts, Book 1
Author: Mary Connealy
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: April 3, 2018
Genre: Historical Romance / Western
+To Read: Goodreads 

She's the Only Witness to a Wagon Train Attack. Keeping Her Safe, Though, Means His World Is about to be Turned Upside Down.

When Trace Riley finds the smoldering ruins of a small wagon train, he recognizes an attack by the same group who left him as sole survivor years ago. Living off the wilderness since then, he's finally carved out a home and started a herd--while serving as a self-appointed guardian of the trail. He'd hoped the days of driving off dangerous men were over, but the latest attack shows otherwise.

Deborah Harkness saved her younger sister and two toddlers during the attack, and now finds herself at the mercy of her rescuer. Trace becomes an accidental guardian when he offers the only shelter for miles around and agrees to take them in until they can safely continue their journey. His simple bachelor existence never anticipated kids and women in the picture and their arrival is unsettling--yet enticing.

Trace and Deborah find themselves drawing ever closer as they work together to bring justice to the trail and help the group survive the winter--but every day closer to spring means a day closer to leaving the mountains forever.


Amazon l ChristianBook l Book Depository l Itunes

**The next book in the series, THE RELUCTANT WARRIOR 
will be released later this year in October, 2018!**


Mary Connealy writes "romantic comedies with cowboys" and is celebrated for her fun, zany, action-packed style. She has more than half a million books in print. She is the author of the popular series Wild at Heart, Kincaid Brides, Trouble in Texas, Lassoed in Texas, Sophie's Daughters, and many other books. Mary lives on a ranch in eastern Nebraska with her very own romantic cowboy hero.

CONNECT WITH MARY: websitefacebooktwitterinstagram

You can also find Mary at these sites: Seekerville and Petticoats & Pistols

 Photo courtesy of  Ginger Murray Photography

My Thoughts:

This is a great first book to a new series. There aren't as many laugh out loud moments that I have come to know in a Mary Connealy novel. I love books with kids in them and there is an adorable little girl in the book who assists in creating some cute moments. 

Trace Riley is a perfect hero, and the cast of characters that Ms. Connealy adds to the story round it out well.

My Bottom Line:

This latest book by Mary Connealy is a sweet and lighthearted read. It sets up the next book in the series perfectly. The characters are real and engaging. I found myself thinking about them long after I closed the book.

(1) Winner will win: 
The Cimarron Legacy by Mary Connealy (all 3 print books)
The Accidental Guardian by Mary Connealy (print)
(US/Canada Mailing Addresses Only) Full terms & conditions noted on Rafflecopter form.


     For the full tour schedule for more giveaway entries, head to JustRead's Launch Page HERE (or click on the Tour Banner above).      

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book via the publisher. I was not required to write a review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

First Line Friday - Love's Silver Lining

Thursday, May 17, 2018

It's FRIDAY!!!! Yay!!! I've really been looking forward to the weekend and some time to just be and enjoy a good book. How about you?

My dear friend, Julie Lessman has a new book releasing on Saturday, May 19th so I thought I'd feature her upcoming release for First Line Friday.

About the book:

She tampers with his life.
He tampers with her heart.
Love tampers with them both.
Desperate to escape an arranged marriage to a womanizer, twenty-two-year-old Maggie Mullaney flees New York for Virginia City, Nevada with her Aunt Liberty, two spunky suffragists intent on bettering the life of women. Fresh out of nursing school, Maggie hopes to devote herself to serving others rather than just one man, a goal quickly affirmed when she encounters Blaze Donovan, a womanizing cowboy who both riles and rouses her pulse. But when Aunt Liberty’s parent’s house burns down, she and Maggie are coerced into staying at the ranch of Liberty’s ex-husband, Finn McShane, who just happens to be the uncle of the cocky cowboy Maggie had hoped to avoid.
If there’s one thing twenty-nine-year-old Blaze Donovan can’t abide, it’s respectable women who spout piety and prayer, so when he butts heads with perky Maggie Mullaney at St. Mary Louise Hospital, he wants to stay as far away from her as he possibly can. Unfortunately, she now lives in the bedroom next to his in his uncle’s ranch house, a revolting development that sends Blaze to The Ponderosa Saloon more than usual. But when Maggie interferes in Blaze’s life by converting his favorite “disrespectable” girl, Blaze is determined to make her pay. Only problem is—the price HE has to pay may be a little too steep for his heart.

First Line:

Virginia City, Nevada, May 1885

Sweet chorus of angels --- pinch me! Palms to the windowsill, twenty-two-year-old Maggie Mullaney leaned out the back window of St. Mary Louise Hospital's hallway, drinking in the heady scent of freedom and pine.

What's your first line? Leave it in the comments and then go to Hoarding Books for more first line fun.

Top Ten Tuesday - Books I Read Before I Started Blogging

Monday, May 14, 2018

Today's Top Ten Tuesday is books you disliked/hated but are glad you read even for bragging rights.  I can't think of one book that would fit that category so, in true rebel style I looked at Broke and the Bookish's list and found a topic I've not done, books I read before I started blogging.

 In the late 80's I stopped reading Danielle Steel novels because they were pretty much identical, and there wasn't much on the Inspirational fiction scene that I could find so Frank Peretti and Oprah's Book Club kept me in books until more and more Inspirational fiction found its way to my local bookstore or library.

What books did you read before you started blogging? I'd love to hear about them, tell me in the comments.

Have a wonderful Tuesday!



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