Out of the Ordinary by Jen Turano - Review and Giveaway

Friday, November 24, 2017

 About the Book

out of the ordinary
Name of book: Out of the Ordinary
Author: Jen Turano
Genre: Christian historical

Release Date: November 7, 2017

“With all the charm of a Regency romance, the humor of a drawing room farce, and the swoonworthy delight of a fairy tale, Turano’s first Apart from the Crowd historical absolutely sparkles.”–Publishers Weekly on Behind the Scenes

Working as a paid companion may be quite commonplace, but Miss Gertrude Cadwalader’s eccentric employer makes her job unpredictable, to say the least. She finds herself carrying out an array of highly unusual tasks, including wearing peculiar outfits and returning items the woman pilfered. But when the wealthy Mrs. Sinclair catches Gertrude sneaking around the Sinclair yacht with some of the missing items in her possession, she immediately jumps to the wrong conclusion.
Shipping magnate Harrison Sinclair is caught in the middle of a misunderstanding between his mother and Gertrude, but he can’t help coming to his friend’s defense. Even as he hopes their friendship might become something more, Harrison is unprepared for the outlandish escapades that seem to follow the lovely, anything-but-ordinary Gertrude at every turn.
“The second installment of Turano’s Apart from the Crowd series is laugh-out-loud enjoyable. The foibles of the characters, balanced out with a light-hearted yet meaningful love story, is a true treat. . . . All of the threads are tied together in the end, even the small mysteries and side stories. It makes for a very satisfying read when the last page is turned.”–RT Book Reviews
Click here to purchase your copy!

About the Author

jen turano
Jen Turano, author of nine books and two novellas, is a graduate of the University of Akron with a degree in clothing and textiles. She is a member of ACFW and lives in a suburb of Denver, Colorado. Visit her website at www.jenturano.com.

Q & A with Jen Turano

What Readers Want to Know from Jen

Hey Everyone! Thank you so much for stopping by today. Because I’m in the midst of a first draft, and in case you don’t know, I don’t actually care for first drafts – all those pesky blank pages, but…I’m getting off track…where was I? Oh yes, why I brought up first drafts in the first place. You see, I’m a little scattered when I’m doing a draft, and because of that, and because my mind is a scary place to visit while filling up those already-mentioned blank pages, I was having a tough time coming up with a post for Celebrate Lit. That’s why I reached out to my fabulous readers, and…here are some of the questions their inquiring minds wanted to know about me or my books. I hope you enjoy them!

Why write in the Gilded Age?

When I started writing historical romance after experimenting with other genres, I didn’t write Gilded age but Regency pieces. However, when I ran across the book “The Court of Mrs. Astor in Gilded Age New York” by Greg King, I was intrigued, and a little baffled about how it came to be that I was so unfamiliar with that riveting time in history. It’s an era where unprecedented fortunes were made at a remarkable rate, those fortunes responsible for so many scandals that I’ll have enough fodder for stories to last me for years. The antics of the members of high society are vastly intriguing, as are the fashions of the day, which is exactly why I’ve never had second thoughts about choosing to write Gilded Age romances.

How do you come up with such unusual names for your characters?

I get asked this a lot. And, contrary to popular belief, I don’t make up the names of my characters. I search through obituaries from the 1800’s, peruse books on the New York Four-Hundred (those were members of high society – chosen by Mr. Ward McAllister, the social arbiter of the day,) and I also scour old census records. I do occasionally pair a first name with a different surname so that my main characters aren’t real historic figures because that can get tricky. Not long ago, while reading through Memoirs of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania: Person and Genealogical, Volume 1, I found a bit on my great-grandfather, which was cool – not that I’ll be using him, but I might have a character modeled after him at some point in time. Another interesting tidbit about choosing names is this – names only work for me if the characters decide they like the names I select for them. If they don’t like the name, they simply stop cooperating. I can’t write their stories until I choose another name. An example – I was recently going to name a heroine Georgianna – but it was like trying to write through mud. As soon as I changed her name to Myrtle, I was back in business.

What is the most ordinary thing you enjoy doing?

I love to shovel snow.

Who is responsible for your book covers? Do you choose the model/setting?

Bethany House’s design team does all of my covers, and occasionally they hire out the job to other design houses. The only input I give is when I send in a character/setting sheet, describing my heroine and listing a few scenes that I feel might be good for the background. In “Out of the Ordinary,” I suggested having Gertrude on or near a boat, and the design team then hired a model who resembled my character sketch and put her on a boat.

Which character has been the most difficult to write?

All of my characters give me trouble at some point in time, but recently, Mrs. Davenport was the character who was being incredibly difficult. For the first three edits of “Out of the Ordinary,” she was too complicated and a bit on the dark side, but after I changed her backstory, and remembered she was supposed to be eccentric, not deranged, she turned into a delightful lady, one I enjoyed writing.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever Googled while doing research for a book?

I don’t know if this is crazy, more on the lines of idiotic, but I once googled Gentleman’s Clubs when I was looking for an all-male club my hero would want to join. That was a definite mistake, especially since I didn’t include a very important word – historic. Well, the next thing you know, all sorts of naughty sites were flashing in front of my eyes, and to this day, I still get advertisements for singles looking for a good time and all sorts of other interesting…offers.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Nope, it never entered my head to pursue a career in writing, nor was I ever a person to even keep a diary or a journal. I’m pretty sure I wanted to be a movie star when I was younger, but when that didn’t pan out, I majored in fashion and spent quite a few years working for department stores. It wasn’t until my son was in third grade and we wrote a book together just for fun that I began entertaining the thought of trying to see my stories in print.

How long did it take you to break into the publishing world, and how many books did you write before that happened?

What everyone needs to understand is that publishing is a cut-throat business. I had no idea when I decided to try and get published what the competition was like, and if I had, well, I might have nipped the whole idea of getting a book into print right in the bud. But, because I knew I only wanted to go the traditional route, it soon became clear, what with all the suggestions I was getting about the work I was sending out to agents, that I needed to up my game…a lot. I experimented with quite a few different genres – middle grade, YA, contemporary women’s fiction, Regency romance, and then Gilded Age, getting really proficient with query letters in the process. It wasn’t until I started writing historical romance, though, that I really began getting requests for full manuscript. After I’d been writing for about three years, I finally signed with an agent. She never sold the book she signed on to represent, but after I wrote “A Change of Fortune,” she sold that within two months. Long story short – it took me about seven years to get published from the time I wrote my first book, and…I have seven manuscripts that will never see the light of day because they’re awful.

Is there a reason you include so many animals in your stories?

I’ve always been an animal lover, and as such, I really enjoy writing different animals into my scenes. Dogs are my favorites, followed by pigs, and most of the characteristics my animals have are traits I’ve seen in real life. Matilda, the pig in “A Match of Wits,” was inspired by a pig I used to see in New York. She was so quirky, as well as intelligent, that I knew I would have to write a pig in at least one of my stories. This current series does not have as many animals because I do want to keep my stories fresh. But, having said that, my next series finds my heroine visiting a farm, and well, I don’t know many farms that don’t have animals, especially adorable cows by the name of Buttercup that may or may not have the odd tendency of moseying into the house to eat pie whenever the urge strikes.

Last question – Have any of the crazy antics in your books been inspired by real-life events???

I seem to be a magnet for weird things happening, so…yes, quite a few of those antics were inspired by real life events. I’ll share just one since I do need to get back to that first draft. I live near Denver, and when my son was little, we used to visit the Denver Zoo. That zoo just happens to have a very large flock of peacocks – peacocks that took one look at me one day – and I must add that I wasn’t doing anything except pulling my son in a wagon, and the next thing I knew, I was being chased through the zoo by what seemed to me to be the entire flock of peacocks – all seemingly intent on trying to murder me. Funny how fast a mom can run while pulling a wagon when in fear for her life. My son thought it was fabulous fun, and bless those members of the staff who came to my rescue. They were almost successful in not laughing, and…I received a free lunch after the dastardly peacocks were chased away. That event is what inspired me to write a mad flock of peacocks in “In Good Company.”

Thank you so much for visiting me today. Hope I answered a few questions you may have about me!

All the best,

~ Jen ~

My Thoughts:

This is book two in the Apart From the Crowd series. Like the first book in the series and all of her others this book caused me to be in a fit of giggles. Attempting to read in bed at night and not wake my husband while laughing was a challenge.

Taking what would be considered misfits in the Gilded age, Wallflowers, Ms. Turano crafts a story full of faith, romance, mystery, and a healthy dose of shenanigans.

I have had the pleasure of reading Ms. Turano's work since her first book, A Change of Fortune was published in 2012. Her writing is crisp, and incredibly visual. Adding antics that will have you clutching your side with laughter.

While the characters from the previous book, and novella carry over, this book can be read as a stand alone. I do however recommend that you read the others first.

Blog Stops

Vicky sluiter, November 11
Bookworm Mama, November 11
cherylbbookblog, November 11
Book by Book, November 11
Lane Hill House, November 12
C Jane Read, November 12
The Power of Words, November 12
Smiling Book Reviews, November 13
Moments Dipped in Ink, November 13
Faithfully Bookish, November 14
Bigreadersite, November 14
Mommynificent, November 14
All 4 and About Books, November 14
Just the Write Escape, November 15
allofakindmom, November 15
Pause for Tales, November 16
D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, November 16
Neverending Stories, November 17
Have A Wonderful Day, November 17
Christian Bookaholic, November 17
A Reader’s Brain, November 18
Karen Sue Hadley, November 18
The April Journal, November 18
Cafinated Reads, November 18
Bibliophile Reviews, November 19
Blogging With Carol, November 19
Mary Hake, November 19
Baker Kella, November 20
Rachel’s Back Talk, November 20
Texas Book-aholic, November 20
Joy of Reading, November 21
Remembrancy, November 21
Splashes of Joy, November 22
amandainpa, November 22
A Greater Yes, November 23
Radiant Light, November 24


To celebrate the tour, Bethany House is giving away a grand prize of Two Jen Turano Novels and a $20 Starbucks Gift Card!!
Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/4664b04914/

Disclaimer: I received this book from Celebrate Lit as apart of their blogging review program. I was not required to write a positive review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!!! I hope you have a wonderful day with family and friends, along with some great food!

This year I am thankful for a lot! One thing I am very thankful for are these three amazing girls. Each of my girls have been a caretaker, supporter, and encourager to me as a mom, and their strength is something that I have been able to pull from when I have fought epilepsy, as well as when I divorced their father. Sometimes I think they know me better than I know myself.

I will be featuring each one of them in the next few weeks with their thoughts on epilepsy and how growing up with a mama who had an illness was for them.

I am also thankful for my amazing husband, Mark. He is a goof, as you can see. His goofiness keeps me laughing when I want to cry. He keeps me grounded when my stress level goes through the roof. Most of all he directs me back to Jesus when I am scared. He doesn't try to fix me, he loves me as I am and just listens, which is sometimes all I need.

I am very thankful for technology, especially this little guy. It is the Vagus Nerve Stimulator. It resets my brain which helps control my seizures. Having this device has given me more freedom and control than I thought I would get since I had brain surgery.

These are just a few things I am thankful for. I am thankful I was adopted, that Jesus loved me so much that He died so that I would know freedom through His salvation.

Tell me what you are thankful for in the comments.

The Esther Paradigm by Sarah Monzon - Reviewed

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

About the book:

Hannah Pratt dreams of starting a school for the Bedouin clan she grew up with as a missionary kid, and finally her hopes are coming true. But shortly after she returns to the desert from her college years in the U.S., she discovers her parents have received threats from their Muslim neighbors. As the danger escalates, Hannah finds she’s in the middle of a battle no one seems to understand. She must decide to what lengths she'll go to stay faithful to the mission to which God has called her. Even if it costs her everything.
As sheikh, Karim Al-Amir feels the weight of responsibility as the leader of his people. When a mysterious illness ravishes the clan’s flocks and threatens to destroy their centuries-old way of life, locals believe the American doctors and their daughter, his childhood friend, Hannah, are to blame. Karim must do something to keep them safe—even if the only solution can be found within marriage vows.
In a society where the line is drawn between us and them, Christianity is outlawed, and foreigners are mistrusted, will their union heal wounds or inflict the final fatal blow?

You can purchase a copy HERE.

About Sarah Monzon:

Sarah Monzon is a Navy chaplain's wife and a stay at home mom to the two cutest littles in the world. Playing pretend all day with them isn't enough, she spends the evenings after their heads hit the pillow to create her own imaginary characters. When she isn't in the world of make believe, she can be found in the pine forests of western Washington taking care of her family, fostering friendships, and enjoying all the adventures each day brings.
Her debut novel, The Isaac Project, skyrocketed to Amazon bestseller status while her Sophomore book, Finders Keepers, won the 2017 SELAH award for contemporary romance.

My Thoughts:

The story of Queen Esther has to be one of the most known from the Old Testament. A young Jewish girl who is taken into the harem of King Ahasuerus and through trials saves the Jewish people. 
Ms. Monzon has taken the theme of the Old Testament story and created a beautiful story for today. 

Two people from two completely different cultures, one a Christian, the other a Muslim with a dilemma on their hands. For one the pressure to marry, the other a need for protection.

I fell in love with Hannah and Karim. They were so real I could reach out and touch them. The entire time I read this book I felt like I was in the middle of the desert, with camels, dangerous insects, the whipping of sand from sandstorms, and caves where breathless kisses take place. 

The beautiful part about this story is Ms. Monzon's ability to put human flesh on the Muslim culture showing not only a belief system but a person. I don't know about you, but I don't exactly run into many Muslims here in Nampa, Idaho, and reading this book gave me a new understanding. 

This is a definite must read! I highly recommend taking the time to read this.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. 

Sunday Funday - Favorite Holiday Desert

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Happy Sunday before Thanksgiving! Can you believe that Thanksgiving is just four days away? It seems like the days just go quicker and quicker!

In thinking about Thanksgiving we were talking about our favorite holiday desert and thought it would be a great idea to share it, and the recipe if we have it.

My favorite is my Gramma Newberry's pumpkin pie.
Since my dad was in the Navy we weren't in Colorado for a lot of holidays, but the ones we were there are some of my favorites. I wish I had the recipe to share but I don't.

What is your favorite holiday desert? Let me know in the comments.

I hope you have an absolutely wonderful Thanksgiving!

Charming the Troublemaker by Pepper Basham Review and Giveaway

Saturday, November 18, 2017

About the Book

Title: Charming the Troublemaker  
Author: Pepper Basham  
Genre: Contemporary Romance  
Release Date: November 1, 2017

Troublemaking never looked so good… When Dr. Alex Murdock is demoted to a university in rural Virginia, the last thing he expects to find is a future. But country charm never looks as good as it does on Rainey Mitchell. Rainey Mitchell doesn’t need a high-class flirt in her wounded world, but trouble and temptations wafts off the new professor as strong as his sandalwood-scented cologne. When circumstances thrust them together to save her tutoring clinic, can the troublemaker find the hero inside and encourage the reticent Rainey to open her heart again.

Click here to purchase!


About the Author 
Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes novels inspired by her love for history and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Her Penned in Time series has garnered recognition in the Inspys, Grace Awards, and the ACFW Carol Awards. Her contemporary romance novel, A Twist of Faith, received 4-stars from Romantic Times, and most recently, her newest release, The Thorn Healer, received a Top Pick from RT with 4 ½ stars. Her newest contemporary romance, Just the Way You Are, releases in April 2016. You can get to know Pepper on Facebook, or over at her group blog, The Writer’s Alley, or Instagram.

Guest Post from Pepper Basham

I have a thing for underdogs. Misfits. Lots souls who desperately need to find where they belong. I can’t help it! Call it a ‘fix-it’ mentality or an awareness that God rescued me and now I want to rescue other people…even fictional characters, but I’m definitely a softy for those characters that people are less likely to root for. Catherine from The Thorn Bearer/Keeper became my first rescue…and I just HAD to find another. I guess that’s how Charming the Troublemaker came into existence. Dr. Alex Murdock desperately needed to be rescued. In a bad way. If you’ve had a chance to read my first book in the Mitchell’s Crossroads series, A Twist of Faith, you’ll know that Alex doesn’t seem to be made up of much hero material. He’s a flirt, a little arrogant, and…well, kind of like a lost puppy. As book 1 grew and came to a close, I knew Alex and Rainey’s story would be next…but I immediately ran into a real problem. Who in the world was Alex Murdock? We really didn’t get to know him very much in book 1. He zoomed in a few times, ruffling feathers and then finally showing off some interesting kindness/compassion in the end, but…he was still a big-time flirt. So the question emerged: Can a flirt be a hero? What is Alex hiding behind that ready smile and sense of humor? Why does he seem so lost? The answers were surprising!! Just wait. The Mitchell family draw him right in, as they did with Dee, and his world is forever changed. And then there’s Rainey. Strong-willed and independent, she is deeply wounded by her ex-husband’s betrayal. Though she gives off all these ‘confident’ vibes, she hides her insecurities behind a tough exterior in a desire to keep people at a distance – well, everyone except her family. Alex rocks her world with his ready charm. And she sees beyond the plastic grin to recognize another wounded soul. Throwing them together into a book has been a hilarious and heart-stirring adventure, I wasn’t prepared to encounter. They’re so much fun! AND…he’s ADORKABLE!! Seriously!! He is SUCH a dork, but makes me grin. And…he looks like Armie Hammer 😉 Let me just give you a hint to some of my favorite scenes: Anything with Sarah! Underoos All of the scenes in Rainey’s house And those in Mama Mitchell’s Okay, I like the WHOLE STORY…and I can’t wait to see what you think too.

My Thoughts:

We met Adorkable Alex in Twist of Faith, and while he was adorkable in that book he is even more so in this book.

This the fifth book of Ms. Basham's that I have read and her writing gets better with each book.
In this book Ms. Basham adds an element of suspense which works perfectly and stretches her as an author. The charm, and humor within the pages of this book is off the charts. I have highlighted so many quotes within the book, that I have to choose my favorites for meme making. I really identified with Rainey. My ex-husband was a lot like Gray, and I had a lot of the same feelings, and issues. Mama Mitchell reminded me of my mom, in the way she talked to Rainey about how she had changed since being with Gray.

Bottom line this book has it all. Suspense to keep you on the edge of your seat, romance with sizzle that you will need a fan blowing on you, and you will have to catch your breath during the kissing scenes. Along with great family scenes that encompass you like a warm hug.

This book is appropriate for pre-teens through adults.
I received a copy of this book compliments of the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

I'm giving Charming the Troublemaker 5.5 stars. How appropriate that my rating quote is from Pepper Basham's The Thorn Keeper. You can read about my rating system here.




To celebrate her tour, Pepper is giving away a grand prize of a paper copy of A Twist of Faith, a mug from the Blue Ridge Parkway, one driftwood scented candle, one mango scented candle, and a Troublemaker snickers 😉 highly appropriate. Chocolate with a nutty personality :)!!
Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/c1f1


Blog Stops

By The Book, November 14
Just the Write Escape, November 14
Avid Reader Book Reviews, November 15
Reading Is My SuperPower, November 15
Moments Dipped in Ink, November 15
Fiction Aficionado, November 16
autism mom, November 16
Fiction, Faith, and Fun, November 17
Inklings and Notions, November 17
Faithfully Bookish, November 18
Radiant Light, November 18
Reflections From My Bookshelves, November 19
The Power of Words, November 19
Cordially Barbara, November 20
Red Headed Book Lady, November 20
Smiling Book Reviews, November 20
Kat’s Corner Books, November 21
A Greater Yes, November 21
100 Pages per Hour, November 22
Splashes of Joy, November 22
Carpe Diem, November 23
Bookworm Mama, November 23
A Baker’s Perspective, November 24
The Important Things in Life: God, Books, & Chocolate, November 24
Daysong Reflections, November 25
Rachel Scott McDaniel, November 25
Remembrancy, November 26
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 26
Christian Chick’s Thoughts, November 27
Karen Sue Hadley, November 27


Deadly Proof by Rachel Dylan - Review

Friday, November 17, 2017

About the book:

Riveting New Series Offers Legal Suspense with a Romantic Twist
In the biggest case of her career, attorney Kate Sullivan is tapped as lead counsel to take on Mason Pharmaceutical because of a corporate cover-up related to its newest drug. After a whistleblower dies, Kate knows the stakes are much higher than her other lawsuits.
Former Army Ranger turned private investigator Landon James is still haunted by mistakes made while serving overseas. Trying to forget the past, he is hired by Kate to look into the whistleblower's allegation and soon suspects that the company may be engaging in a dangerous game for profit. He also soon finds himself falling for this passionate and earnest young lawyer.
Determined not to make the same mistakes, he's intent on keeping Kate safe, but as the case deepens, it appears someone is willing to risk everything--even murder--to keep the case from going to trial.

About Rachel Dylan:                                        

Rachel Dylan writes Christian fiction including inspirational romantic suspense for Love Inspired Suspense and the Windy Ridge Legal Thriller series. Rachel has practiced law for almost a decade and enjoys weaving together legal and suspenseful stories. She lives in Michigan with her husband and five furkids--two dogs and three cats. Rachel loves to connect with readers. You can find Rachel at www.racheldylan.com.

My Thoughts:

This is the third book I've read by Rachel Dylan and I thoroughly enjoy the suspenseful, edge of your seat ride that she creates. This is the first book in her Atlanta Justice series and it is not one to be missed. Her characters are real and engaging. The book is based on a lawsuit against a pharmaceutical company which is relevant to our society today. 
Using her legal skills Ms. Dylan has you nearly figure out what is going on and then schools you on the truth of bait and switch. I didn't read this in one sitting but easily could have. You won't want to miss this legal thrill ride! Highly recommended!!


I received a copy of the book from the author, through the publisher for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Top Ten Tuesday . . . Books I Want My Grand-Kids to Read

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

I've missed a few top ten Tuesday's, sorry about that. I was a little under the weather. I am finally feeling back to myself.

This week's Broke and Bookish top ten Tuesday meme is books I want my kids, or niece and nephews to read. My kids are all grown and gone, and my niece and nephews are adults too and definitely ask for recommendations. I decided I'd focus on books I would want my grand-kids to read.
They range in age from 22 months to thirteen, so this should be fun.

For the younger ones, Olivia and Xander, I would want them to read Goodnight Moon, The Very Hungry Caterpillar,  and definitely Green Eggs and Ham.

Our school age kiddos, Isabella, Lily, Savannah, and Kalea, all or any of the Ramona books by Beverly Clearly, Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish, Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank.

For our school age boy, Jackson, any or all of Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel, all of the Dr. Seuss books.

Our middle age kiddos, James, Chance, Nalani, there are so many, and two of these kiddos are huge readers. Definitely The Chronicles of Narnia, The Bridge to Terabithia, The Indian in the Cupboard,  series, Behind the Attic Wall.

For all, I'd say Pocahontas: True Princess, The Black Stallion, The Girl of the Limberlost, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and The Book Thief.

I could go on and on, but I thought I better cut off the list now. The hard part about being a bookworm.

I'd love to hear what books you want your kids, nieces, nephews, or grandchildren to read. Please tell me in the comments!

Have a Terrific Tuesday!

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