Book Review: Beauty From Ashes

Happy Friday! Can you believe it’s almost Christmas?!? Less than two weeks away – it’s like we blinked in January & suddenly it’s December lol.

Today I’m sharing a review of a book that has such a pretty cover! The story inside is just as beautiful.

ABOUT THE BOOK

beauty from ashesSERIES: Orchard Grove #1
GENRE: Inspirational Women’s Fiction
PUBLISHER: Firstfruits Publishing
RELEASE DATE: July 7, 2017
PAGES: 327

A baby was never part of Tiff’s plans. Especially not a sick baby in a NICU, struggling for life on a ventilator.

As days in the hospital turn to weeks, Tiff grows more and more convinced that God is punishing her for turning her back on him so many years ago. Or is it possible he’s working in the midst of her daughter’s bleak prognosis to draw Tiff back to himself once more?

The Orchard Grove Christian Women’s Fiction books are standalone literary novels about real-life believers facing real-life struggles. You won’t meet perfect saints whose lives are faultless models of the Christian faith. Instead, you’ll meet a perfect God whose plans of redemption are far more glorious than what the mortal mind could ever imagine.

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

other books in this series

before the dawn  breath of heaven

MY THOUGHTS

“…whatever you’ve done, you can’t pluck yourself out of God’s hand.”

Beauty From Ashes is an incredibly moving story about a young woman in a heartbreaking situation. It reads like a conversation between the main character Tiff and the reader, as she tells us about the events leading up to and including the past few months of her life. In her frank yet endearing manner, Tiff reflects on her years in foster care, her relationship with God, and how she wound up married with a baby in the NICU.

I loved how honest Tiff is about God, and we see this particularly during the church service. There’s no guile to her as she struggles to pay attention, struggles to make sense of the service, and then as something touches her deeply. Side note: If you haven’t spent time with people who aren’t familiar with church and God, you are really missing out on seeing your faith and your worship practices in fresh ways ♥

One thing I love about Alana Terry’s writing is that she always surprises me. Just when I think a scene or a character is about to slide into cliche territory, she turns it on its end and takes it somewhere I wasn’t expecting. This happened more than once in Beauty from Ashes, not the least of which involved Tiff’s incredibly difficult mother-in-law. I also loved the diversity of the characters – their ethnic backgrounds as well as their backstories.

I will say that, if you’re currently going through a very difficult season, Beauty from Ashes may feel almost too heavy to keep reading at certain points. Life just continues not to turn around for Tiff and instead of seeing ‘beauty’ you see mostly ‘ashes’. In fact, I remember looking at the ‘time left in book’ on my kindle copy and thinking, “I’m not sure how the author is going to pull this one off with the 18 minutes left of my reading speed.” And, of course, as usual Alana Terry surprised me yet again. So I want to encourage you – if the ‘ashes’ overwhelm you in this story, keep reading for the ‘beauty’.

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author.
All views expressed are only my honest opinion.
Review first appeared on ReadingIsMySuperPower.org

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alana TerryAlana Terry is a pastor’s wife, homeschooling mom, self-diagnosed chicken lady, and Christian author. Her novels have won awards from Women of Faith, Book Club Network, Grace Awards, Readers’ Favorite, and more. 

Alana’s passion for social justice, human rights, and religious freedom shines through her writing, and her books are known for raising tough questions without preaching

She has also been accused of making her readers stay up way too late.

Alana and her family live in rural Alaska where the northern lights in the winter and midnight sun in the summer make hauling water, surviving the annual mosquito apocalypse, and cleaning goat stalls in negative forty degrees worth every second.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR: website | Facebook | Twitter


 

What about you?

What interests you about Beauty From Ashes?

Book Spotlight: Taye’s Gift by Pat Simmons

Happy Wednesday! Christmas is fast approaching (how did that happen?!?) and ’tis the season for Christmas reads! Today, I’m spotlighting Taye’s Gift by prolific author Pat Simmons!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Welcome to Snowflake, Colorado—a small town where wishes come true! When six old high school friends receive a letter that their fellow friend, Charity Hart, wrote before she passed away, their lives take an unexpected turn. She leaves them each a check for $1,500 and asks them to grant a wish—a secret wish—for someone else by Christmas. It sounds simple but the friends soon discover that it isn’t as easy as it seems! With the clock ticking, will they make it happen in time?

Join Mia, Caro, Nate, Sara, Holly, and Taye on their journey to make a wish come true—and find love along the way.

taye's giftTaye’s Gift is part of a series of 6 Sweet Inspirational Romances from 6 Sweet Romance Reads authors.

Who lays off someone before the holidays? Taye Thomas’ employer did, so instead of Christmas shopping, she’s job hunting. More devastating news comes when an old high school friend passed away. Could God be answering her prayers for help when she learns that Charity Hart left a $1500 check?

No, the caveat is it’s more blessed to give than receive. Taye has 30 days to find someone else in need to bless. To complicate matters, she’s lives in Kansas City, which is more than eight hours away from Snowflake and she can’t do it alone. Keeping a secret has never been so much work.

GOODREADS | AMAZON
Also available to read for FREE with Kindle Unlimited

OTHER BOOKS IN THIS SERIES:

mia's gift  caro's gift  nate's gift

sara's gift  holly's gift


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Pat's picturePat Simmons is the multi-published author of more than 30 Christian titles, including the #1 Amazon bestseller in God’s Word category A Christian Christmas. She is a self-proclaimed genealogy sleuth who is passionate about researching her ancestors and then casting them in starring roles in her novels, in the hope of tracking down any distant relatives who might happen to pick up her books.

She describes the evidence of the gift of the Holy Ghost as an amazing, unforgettable, life-altering experience. She believes God is the Author who advances the stories she writes.

Pat holds a B.S. in mass communications from Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts. She has worked in various positions in radio, television, and print media for more than twenty years. She oversaw the media publicity for the RT Booklovers Conventions for fifteen years. She has been a featured speaker and workshop presenter at various venues across the country.

Pat’s other hobby includes sewing. She has converted her sofa-strapped sports fanatic husband into an amateur travel agent, untrained bodyguard, GPS-guided chauffeur, and administrative assistant who is constantly on probation. They have a son and a daughter. Readers may learn more about Pat and her books by connecting with her on social media.

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | PINTEREST | INSTAGRAM


What about you? What interests you most about Taye’s Gift? Have you read it?

Book Review: The Someday List

Happy Friday! Today, I’m pleased to bring you my thoughts on The Someday List by Stacy Hawkins Adams. I was recently introduced to Stacy and her books on this great discussion at Seekerville!

About the Book

somedaylist

*an Essence magazine bestseller*

Rachelle Covington has it all. A fabulous home, a handsome and prestigious husband, two beautiful children, and a place in the upper crust that’s quite comfortable. But her life is not all it’s cracked up to be. When her husband goes away on business trip and the kids are sent off to the grandparents for a month, Rachelle takes up the challenge of a dying friend to start a list of things to do before she dies. She heads back to Jubilant, Texas, to reconnect with her past, her purpose, and herself. But when her ex shows up in town looking very fine and very single, Rachelle must confront feelings she thought she’d long buried. Will she give up everything to recover the past? Or will she find a reason to plan for the future?

The Someday List is an honest look at what makes us who we are and what can throw us off track. Author Stacy Hawkins Adams writes with a voice that is fresh, sincere, and completely real. Her characters jump off the page and into her readers’ hearts.

SERIES: Jubilant Soul #1
PUBLISHER: Revell
RELEASE DATE:
January 1, 2009

BUY THIS BOOK: goodreads | amazon | b&n | book depository


My Thoughts

This may have been my first book by Adams but it won’t be my last! In fact, I’m already wishing the next two books in the series were available to read on Kindle Unlimited like The Someday List is.

One thing I loved the most about this story was that Adams spared no one when it came to flaws, some hidden beneath the surface and others more obvious. From devoted believers to prodigals and every level in between, the characters in The Someday List present an authentic picture of the struggle to share this planet with each other. Every reader should be able to see themselves in at least one character in this book, if we’re being honest with ourselves. Perhaps we may not share the specific sins or stumbling points… perhaps we may… but the bottom line is that these characters are real and honest with weaknesses common to many.

Aunt Melba was my favorite character, hands down. She brought smiles and laughter when needed & also brought home some wisdom at the appropriate time. She was full of life – with a surprising history – and I’d love to read more of her story (she doesn’t seem to have her own book but I hope we spend more time with her in the next two books.)

The writing style was a little disjointed sometimes, at least as far as background information. Most of the time we’re left to connect the dots on our own, and that works just fine with a couple of exceptions. I struggled to connect with Rachelle in certain areas, particularly regarding her first marriage, and I would have liked to see a bit more to the ending. But, then again, life doesn’t always make sense nor tie up nicely with a red bow so in that sense Adams continues the pattern of authenticity that we see throughout the story.

The Someday List is a story of decisions that change the trajectory of our lives. Good decisions that lead us closer to each other & Jesus… and poor decisions that cause painful divisions and lifelong regret. Some surprising twists and turns are in store as you get to know & love these characters and, while I wish there was a bit more emotional dimensionality to the events that transpire, it really touched my heart.

I voluntarily reviewed this book after reading it via Kindle Unlimited.

About the Author

Stacy's fotoStacy Hawkins Adams is an award-winning author and journalist who loves to inform, entertain and inspire readers through the written word. She has a gift for weaving tales in both the fiction and nonfiction genres, and in both faith-based and secular markets, that help readers thrive and grow confident in their own stories.  

She has penned 10 books – nine women’s fiction novels and one nonfiction faith-based devotional book. Her fiction features themes related to personal growth, self-esteem, matters of faith, forgiveness, friendships and family, and some of the books have been featured reading selections in high school and college courses.

Beyond the literary world, Stacy is a marketing and communications professional for an independent school. She holds a graduate degree in women’s leadership studies, and often shares messages with corporate, civic and faith-based organizations related to empowerment and leadership, personal growth, and the power of storytelling. She devotes considerable volunteer time to advocating for women and children, leading to recognition in recent years as a YWCA of Richmond “Outstanding Woman of the Year” and a Style Weekly magazine Top 40 honoree. Stacy is also an alumna of Leadership Metro Richmond and is well-versed in diversity and inclusion issues as a result of that experience and her communications work. She lives with her family in suburban Richmond, Virginia.

CONNECT WITH STACY: website | blog | facebook | twitter


What about you? Have you read The Someday List?

Book Spotlight: An Alaskan Christmas

Happy Wednesday! I have some exciting news to share with you today!

Today’s spotlight features a book by Belle Calhoune that will air as a movie on UPtv! Look for Love, Alaska (based on An Alaskan Christmas) this Saturday (October 26th) at 7:00pm eastern.

LOVE ALASKA PROMO

ABOUT THE BOOK

an alaskan christmasHer Christmas Match

After inheriting a gift shop in Love, Alaska, single mom Maggie Richards is ready for a new beginning—while her little boy is ready for a new daddy! But Maggie has no time for love—she wants to open the shop in time for Christmas, something she’ll do with help from childhood friend Finn O’Rourke.

Finn’s on board to help Maggie—but not with the romance rumors that swirl around them like snow. Like Maggie, he’s hiding too many secrets to ever wed.

So why do Maggie and her little boy make him dream of finding an unusual gift under the tree—a ready-made family?

GOODREADS | AMAZON | B&N


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

belle calhouneBelle Calhoune is a Publisher’s Weekly best-selling author of inspirational and heartwarming romance. Raised in a small town in Massachusetts, Belle had the pleasure of growing up right across the street from a public library. Married to her college sweetheart, Belle has two lovely daughters and two very spoiled dogs. She is a member of the RWA Honor Roll and a recipient of the Angeline Bishop award for multicultural series. She’s published 40 novels with four additional books being released in 2020 and 2021 from Harlequin Love Inspired.

Connect with Belle:  website | Facebook | Twitter


What about you? Will you be tuning in to Love, Alaska? Have you read An Alaskan Christmas?

Author Interview: Stephenia H. McGee

Happy Monday!

On Friday, I shared my book review of Missing Mercy by Stephenia H. McGee. Today, I’m pleased to share part of my interview with the author, an interview first posted at my own blog.

ABOUT THE BOOK

missing mercyMISSING MERCY
SERIES:
Ironwood Plantation Family Saga #3
GENRE: Inspirational Historical Fiction
PUBLISHER: By the Vine Press
RELEASE DATE: October 1, 2019
PAGES: 376

Mercy is missing, Faith is floundering. Only truth can lead them to freedom.

The venture ahead could leave their friendship behind.

Made a safe-haven after the Civil War, Ironwood Plantation is a refuge of equality for former slaves. But twenty years and a new generation later, they have become an isolated community with little contact with the rest of the world.

Mercy Carpenter is everything the world thinks she shouldn’t be. Educated and adventurous, she longs to make a life for herself beyond the beautiful prison of Ironwood. When she secretly submits an article to the Boston Globe under a man’s name and receives an enthusiastic response and an offer for employment, she’s determined to take advantage of the opportunity. But she isn’t prepared for a startling world that won’t accept her color or her gender, and her ambitions soon land her in grave danger.

The privileged daughter of a plantation owner and an aspiring suffragette, Faith Harper is determined not to marry. Especially not her father’s opportunistic new business partner. She doesn’t want any man telling her what to do, least of all the annoyingly chivalrous Nolan Watson. But when Mercy goes missing, Faith will do anything to find her best friend, even if it means trusting a man she doesn’t understand. In a time where prejudices try to define them, Mercy and Faith must push the boundaries of their beliefs and trust in the God who holds the keys to freedom.

Pick up your copy HERE!


Hi dear Stephenia! Welcome to Diversity Between the Pages! Let’s start with a couple of ‘just for fun’ questions first 😉

Q: Which books are “on your nightstand”?

Stephenia: If we ignore my Kindle full of hundreds of books stored in that one slim little device, then I have: Shadows over England series, books 1- 3 and the Everstone Chronicles, books 1 – 5. And then there’s Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes… in You and Your Kids in my drawer. But don’t tell my boys.

Carrie: haha! I highly recommend both of those series… and your boys won’t hear it from me 😉

Q: If I sneaked a peek in your purse right now (which I would never do, I promise!), what would it tell me about you?

Stephenia: It would tell you I need to throw away a bunch of crumbled receipts, I prefer lip gloss over lipstick, I have a keychain that I could use to hurt you (should you be a nefarious villain of ill-intent) and that I must never have to actually remove my key from the depths of my purse in order to start my car.

Carrie: LOL – hopefully that keychain is more accessible than the key, should you run into any nefarious villains of ill-intent!

Q: What was something you learned in the process/challenge of writing Mercy as a diverse main character?

Stephenia:Writing outside of your own ethnicity is daunting. I’m very grateful for the gracious guidance and insights of some awesome authors who performed a sensitivity read. The hardest part was having to write in some of the cruelty and hateful attitudes toward Mercy. I love her as a character. She’s smart, feisty, and strong-willed. Having people treat her as less than because of her physical appearance and disregarding the soul and mind inside was difficult.

Carrie: I adore Mercy – and those scenes broke my heart for her. Vital to the story – and to her character development – but heartbreaking nonetheless ♥

Q: Were there any songs that inspired you as you wrote Missing Mercy?

Stephenia: There is a scene toward the end of the book (I won’t give it away!) that is inspired by “This is Me” from the Greatest Showman soundtrack. Actually, that song really could be the theme song for Mercy.

Carrie: I think I know which scene you’re talking about and I nearly stood up and clapped after reading it!

Q: How would Mercy and Faith each personally define ‘freedom’?

Stephenia: Freedom and what it means is a major theme in this book. In the beginning, Mercy defines freedom as life away from the isolated community of Ironwood, and Faith defines it as making her own way without depending on a man. However, as the story progresses, they both discover that true freedom, and how that relates to their relationship with God, is deeper than they imagined.

Carrie: I really love this theme in the book, and how it fine-tunes in each of their lives.

Q: What is something God taught you while you wrote Missing Mercy?

Stephenia: Every book means a lesson I have to learn. It’s no coincidence that during this particular book, I was struggling with asking God how I was supposed to maintain the calling to write when He also told me to homeschool. I couldn’t find a way to do both in the ways I expected. I had to learn to turn my gifting back over to the Giver, and do things His way. I’m still struggling with it, but the lessons Mercy learns are also things God taught me about following His plans instead of mine.

Carrie: I think that’s something we all struggle with at some point – just in different forms. ‘I had to learn to turn my gifting back over to the Giver, and do things His way.” – love this!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Stephenia H McGee HeadshotWinner of the 2012 RONE Best Inspirational Book of the year (2012) and author of seven Historical novels, Stephenia H. McGee has a fascination with hoop skirts and ball gowns, Greek revival homes and horse-drawn carriages, quirky Southern sayings, and home-grown recipes. She currently lives in Mississippi with her husband and two boys, (accompanied by their two spoiled dogs and mischievous cat) where she writes stories of faith, redemption, and stories steeped in the South.

Visit her website at www.StepheniaMcGee.com and be sure to sign up for the newsletter to get sneak peeks, behind the scenes fun, the occasional recipe, and special offers.

Join Stephenia H. McGee’s Faithful Reader Team on Facebook to find out the latest on what is going on in her writing and chat about book-related topics. You can also catch her on Twitter & Pinterest.


What about you? What stuck out to you most about this interview?

Book Review: Missing Mercy

Happy Friday, friends!

I’m delighted today to bring you my review of Missing Mercy by Stephenia H. McGee. Come back on Monday for portions of my interview with the author about the book!

ABOUT THE BOOK

missing mercy.jpgMISSING MERCY
SERIES:
Ironwood Plantation Family Saga #3
GENRE: Inspirational Historical Fiction
PUBLISHER: By the Vine Press
RELEASE DATE: October 1, 2019
PAGES: 376

Mercy is missing, Faith is floundering. Only truth can lead them to freedom.

The venture ahead could leave their friendship behind.

Made a safe-haven after the Civil War, Ironwood Plantation is a refuge of equality for former slaves. But twenty years and a new generation later, they have become an isolated community with little contact with the rest of the world.

Mercy Carpenter is everything the world thinks she shouldn’t be. Educated and adventurous, she longs to make a life for herself beyond the beautiful prison of Ironwood. When she secretly submits an article to the Boston Globe under a man’s name and receives an enthusiastic response and an offer for employment, she’s determined to take advantage of the opportunity. But she isn’t prepared for a startling world that won’t accept her color or her gender, and her ambitions soon land her in grave danger.

The privileged daughter of a plantation owner and an aspiring suffragette, Faith Harper is determined not to marry. Especially not her father’s opportunistic new business partner. She doesn’t want any man telling her what to do, least of all the annoyingly chivalrous Nolan Watson. But when Mercy goes missing, Faith will do anything to find her best friend, even if it means trusting a man she doesn’t understand. In a time where prejudices try to define them, Mercy and Faith must push the boundaries of their beliefs and trust in the God who holds the keys to freedom.

Pick up your copy HERE!


MY THOUGHTS

“I have this impossible idea that God wants all his children to realize that what makes them different isn’t nearly as important as what makes them the same.”

It always amazes me how historical fiction can be just as relevant today as the themes were at the times in which they were set. In Missing Mercy, we encounter racism (born of ignorance as well as hatred) and human trafficking – two things that are still prevalent in our world today. For all of our technological advancements, humankind doesn’t change all that much as far as our prejudices and sins, do we? If nothing else, Missing Mercy reminds us that ‘there is nothing new under the sun’ and ‘Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it’ .. and thereby challenges us to always be alert to how we can be used to change the current course.

But that’s not all that Missing Mercy does – it also captivates readers with a beautifully written story of friendship, forgiveness, and the truest Love that pursues us through our faults and failures. It’s an adventure, a love story, a tear-jerker, and a smile-inducer. Mercy & Faith are strong heroines, due in part to their unusual upbringing at Ironwood Plantation – a  community protected from racism and one which encourages female education and independence. Both young women are in for a rude awakening when they venture out into the world, and both must learn to lean into God and surrender to His plans for them.

I loved both Faith and Mercy (and Nolan and Jed, too, for that matter) but oh how I wanted to shake both of them at various times throughout the book. Probably because I share similar traits with each one and heaven forbid fictional characters point out my own flaws LOL. During their separate character arcs in Missing Mercy, my heart alternately sank with dread and swelled with pride. One scene in particular, near the end, almost had me standing up and clapping (I refrained, because my husband was already asleep lol).

And then there’s Hezzie – oh my heart, one of my fave fictional characters ever, I think. I wanted to pick her up and hug her more than once. At other times, I wanted to sit at her feet and just listen. She was adorable, intuitive, wise, and kind – and she just made me smile.

Bottom Line: Missing Mercy by Stephenia H. McGee is simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking. While it’s the third book in this series, it can easily be read as a standalone. The theme of freedom – and where it’s truly found – manifests in various ways and through various characters, and its contribution to the story is well-written and pivotal. The layered plot keeps you firmly engaged from beginning to end, and the multi-dimensional characters capture your heart. Thought-provoking and entertaining, Missing Mercy is a must-read!

THIS REVIEW FIRST APPEARED ON READINGISMYSUPERPOWER.
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author.
All views expressed are only my honest opinion.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Stephenia H McGee HeadshotWinner of the 2012 RONE Best Inspirational Book of the year (2012) and author of seven Historical novels, Stephenia H. McGee has a fascination with hoop skirts and ball gowns, Greek revival homes and horse-drawn carriages, quirky Southern sayings, and home-grown recipes. She currently lives in Mississippi with her husband and two boys, (accompanied by their two spoiled dogs and mischievous cat) where she writes stories of faith, redemption, and stories steeped in the South.

Visit her website at www.StepheniaMcGee.com and be sure to sign up for the newsletter to get sneak peeks, behind the scenes fun, the occasional recipe, and special offers.

Join Stephenia H. McGee’s Faithful Reader Team on Facebook to find out the latest on what is going on in her writing and chat about book-related topics. You can also catch her on Twitter & Pinterest.


What about you? What interests you most about Missing Mercy?

Some Of My Favorite Diverse Reads (Part 2)

Happy Wednesday again, friends!

Today, I’m picking up where I left off last week in my spotlight of several of my favorite diverse reads, specifically with ethnically diverse characters & blended cultures.

Set against the stunning landscape of Kenya, the multi-generational From Kenya, With Love series by Rula Sinara is a feast for the senses.

every serengeti sunrise

In This Courageous Journey by Misty M. Beller, we meet Daniel, a complex character wrestling with the many dimensions & nuances of his heritage.

this courageous journey

Sydney Tooman Betts’ People of the Book series will make God’s Word come alive for you in fresh ways, seeing His Story from the Native American’s perspective with new eyes.

a river too deep

Terri J. Haynes’ “Legacy of Love” in The Runaway Brides Collection is a sweet romance & also gives insight into a different perspective on the Reconstruction era than what we’re normally taught in history class.

The Runaway Brides story collection

Speaking of history not really taught in schools, the Creek Country Saga from April Gardner is powerful and emotional as it highlights a period of history we don’t often read about

The Red Feather by April W. Gardner

In Camy Tang’s Protection for Hire series, we get well-defined & layered (sometimes hilarious) characters, romance, humor, faith, cultural diversity & smartly-plotted suspense (with martial arts!)

protection for hire

Randy Alcorn’s Safely Home, a compelling inside look at the underground Chinese church, quite simply changed my life.

safely home

Pick up any book by Lori Benton for an emotional and compelling story of blended cultures that will linger long in your heart

the woods edge

Pick up the Secrets of Rios Azules suspense series by Alexa Verde and meet a diverse group of friends & multicultural relationships

color of danger

I love the biracial characters – and relationships – in Ruth Logan Herne’s Shepherd’s Crossing series from Love Inspired

her cowboy reunion

The Long Highway Home by Elizabeth Musser is a multicultural, multi-continent story that will open your eyes

the long highway home

What about you? Have you read any of these diverse reads yet?

Book Spotlight: Some Of My Favorite Diverse Reads (Part 1)

Happy Wednesday, friends!

Today, I want to look at more than one book – in fact, several of my favorite diverse reads, specifically with ethnically diverse characters & blended cultures. But there’s …. uh… a lot… so I’m breaking this into more than one post 😀

First up – visit the Maple Run series by Toni Shiloh for mouthwatering food, compelling characters and touching romance!

buyinglove

Still hungry after visiting Maple Run? Hungry for a good cozy mystery? Definitely check out the Noodle Shop Mysteries by Vivien Chien.

death by dumpling

And if you’re still hungry… Plan a trip to the Kebab Kitchen Mysteries by Tina Kashian

Hummus and Homicide - Final Cover

I love Sixty Acres and a Bride by Regina Jennings, a retelling of the biblical story of Ruth & Naomi, with a young Mexican widow learning to navigate the ways of the American West.

sixtyacresandabride

And prepare to fall in love with Red Shirt in Courting Morrow Little by Laura Frantz!

courting morrow little

Speaking of falling in love… Karim. The Esther Paradigm (and swoony Karim) by Sarah Monzon is bravely unique to Christian fiction but it is here ‘for such a time as this’.

theestherparadigm

Millie may only have a supporting role in The Memoir of Johnny Devine by Camille Eide, but I adore her character. Not to mention the unforgettable side plot involving racial oppression and how it directly affects her.

the memoir of johnny devine new

What about you? Have you read any of these diverse reads yet? (Stay tuned for the rest of my list next week!

Book Review: “Legacy of Love” by Terri J. Haynes

Happy Friday! Who else is looking forward to it finally feeling like Fall outside?!?

Today, I’m excited to bring you a review of “Legacy of Love” by Terri J. Haynes. It’s one of the novellas in The Runaway Brides Collection from Barbour.

ABOUT THE BOOK

The Runaway Brides story collection

What is a woman of the 1800s to do when she feels powerless to choose her own spouse and marry for love—run!

Amy’s home is at stake if she doesn’t marry her neighbor. Delia’s father wants her to marry into a political family. Georgiana is posing as a wealthy man’s wife in order to hide from her groom. Callie is fleeing one wedding and racing to marry a stranger. Emily flees her wedding with the help of a mysterious coachman. Josey’s best friend leaves a letter proposing marriage unanswered in order to elope. Bernadine becomes the ward and pawn of her evil uncle. Where will each turn when they have only God to trust?

Seven women facing the marriage altar make the decision to flee, but who can they now trust?

Legacy of Love by Terri J. Haynes

1877, Kentucky

Delia McClure longs to create a family legacy like her father, a former slave, who now owns a general store in a black community outside Lexington. But can Delia consent to her father’s choice of a husband for her when she has come to love another?

BUY THIS BOOK: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Barbour


MY THOUGHTS

Haynes is quickly becoming one of my fave Barbour collection authors – both novellas of hers that I’ve read to date have been engaging and romantic, both touching and really fun to read.

In “Legacy of Love”, part of The Runaway Brides Collection, we have one of my very favorite tropes – friends who fall in love. Josiah and Delia live in very different economic situations – Delia, the daughter of a former slave turned wealthy merchant & Josiah, a hard worker who promised his dying parents he would take of his little sister Grace. The two have become good friends, however, in spite of their societal differences – and beneath the surface some deeper feelings are simmering. That first kiss? Whew! Mercy, it’s the stuff of swoons and weak knees and husky voices. The emotion behind it – and the realizations it prompts – leaves it in ‘memorable kisses’ territory for sure.

But the other thing I loved about this story is the compelling history that frames it. Along with the layered diverse characters Haynes has created, the perspective that she brings to the Reconstruction period is one I was, sadly, unfamiliar with. The tidbits about the Exodusters & the black migration to the West (specifically in this case to Kansas) is something that was never covered in my American history classes in school, nor in the citizenship materials I used to teach international adults in more recent years. Yet, it should have been, because the courage shown and the sacrifices made by those who left behind the familiar for the unknown deserve to be remembered and honored.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Terri J. HaynesTerri J. Haynes, a native Baltimorean, is a homeschool mom, writer, prolific knitter, freelance graphic artist and former Army wife (left the Army, not the husband).

She loves to read, so much that when she was in elementary school, she masterminded a plan to be locked in a public library armed with only a flashlight to read all the books and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. She is a storyteller at heart. Her passion is to draw readers into the story world she has created and to bring laughter and joy to their lives.

Terri is a 2010 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis contest finalist, and a 2012 semi-finalist. She is also a 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Quarterfinalist. Her publishing credits include Cup of Comfort for Military Families, Crosswalk.com, the Secret Place Devotional, Vista Devotional, Urbanfaith.com and Publisher’s Weekly.

Terri and her husband pastor a church where she serves as executive pastor and worship leader. Terri lives in Maryland with her three wonderful children and her husband, who often beg her not to kill off their favorite characters.

Follow Terri online: Website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Book Review: “Free to Love” by Terri J. Haynes

Happy Friday! I hope you’re finding some place cool to read in this summer heat! Is it Fall yet???

Today, I’m excited to bring you a review of “Free to Love” by Terri J. Haynes. It’s one of the novellas in The Underground Railroad Brides Collection from Barbour.

ABOUT THE BOOK

The Underground Railroad Brides collectionLove Guides Hearts Along the Road to Freedom

Nine historical couples walk the road to love even as they dare to escape and help others break free from the injustices of slavery between 1849 and 1860. From Southern states of Georgia and South Carolina to above the Mason-Dixon Line in Indiana and Pennsylvania, they work within the network known as the Underground Railroad.

Free to Love by Terri J. Haynes

East Towson, Maryland—1850
Winnie is hiding a secret—Hiram, a fugitive. Their lives cross at an Underground Railroad station. Can they overcome danger and find freedom in love?

BUY THIS BOOK: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Barbour

MY THOUGHTS

“Love had never been as valuable as strength and freedom. Until now.”

I absolutely loved this story!

Despite being limited to a short novella-length word count, the author has packed the riveting plot with heart-in-your-throat moments of life or death… and a sweet romance that lightens the emotion a bit when needed. Layered and well-defined characters will quickly settle in your heart, and you’ll be rooting for them every step of the way.

Additionally, the author’s writing style is very engaging as well as entertaining. Every page makes you eager to read the next one & I would love to see a follow-up novel with these characters – specifically related to the escaped slaves’ stories Winnie has recorded in her notebook.

Winnie’s revelation about her owners will also linger with me for a while – how many similar things in modern times have we passed off as well-meaning or kind when in fact it’s sin? And once we realize that, what are we willing to do about it?

A sobering but simultaneously encouraging story of the power of love and the pull of freedom – and the people who risked their lives to give others the chance at both. Perfect for your weekend reading list. I’m off to catch up on the author’s backlist 🙂

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Terri J. HaynesTerri J. Haynes, a native Baltimorean, is a homeschool mom, writer, prolific knitter, freelance graphic artist and former Army wife (left the Army, not the husband).

She loves to read, so much that when she was in elementary school, she masterminded a plan to be locked in a public library armed with only a flashlight to read all the books and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. She is a storyteller at heart. Her passion is to draw readers into the story world she has created and to bring laughter and joy to their lives.

Terri is a 2010 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis contest finalist, and a 2012 semi-finalist. She is also a 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Quarterfinalist. Her publishing credits include Cup of Comfort for Military Families, Crosswalk.com, the Secret Place Devotional, Vista Devotional, Urbanfaith.com and Publisher’s Weekly.

Terri and her husband pastor a church where she serves as executive pastor and worship leader. Terri lives in Maryland with her three wonderful children and her husband, who often beg her not to kill off their favorite characters.

Follow Terri online: Website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram