Book Review: My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah

Hi, reader friends! Have you ever gone Greek? Besides watching “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” my knowledge of this rich culture is limited so I am delighted by all the history and heritage within the pages of today’s featured book!

About the Book

My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah by Angie DickenSchoolteacher Leanna McKee plans on leaving the coal mining town of Castle Gate, Utah, and never looking back. Good riddance to coal dust, rugged men, and the fatal mine that took her husband’s life.

Until the widow meets a widower who awakens her heart…and she finds herself inexplicably falling for miner Alex Pappas which stirs up a whole heap of trouble.

Alex’s Greek parents have arranged a more traditional match for him. When the schoolteacher’s association with the Greek family begins to anger the American miners, they threaten Alex and his family. Leanna has received an offer to teach elsewhere and feels she has no choice but to leave Castle Gate. . .though she will be leaving her heart behind.

goodreads | amazon | bookdepository | christianbook

 

My Thoughts

This story of love, hope, and second chances amid heartbreak, disappointment, and prejudice tugs at my heartstrings and reveals yet another pocket of history we would do well to remember.

Leanna McKee is angry and frustrated by her circumstances and I can’t say that I blame her! She surely didn’t expect to end up a poor miner’s widow practically stranded and alone. I have to admire Leanna for marrying both for love and for the freedom to follow her convictions and dreams of teaching the less fortunate.

Alex Pappas has been working in the mines for several years now and he has dealt with a lot over the years. He is a dedicated worker and devoted family man. Alex has made more friends than enemies during his time in America yet it is the actions of a few that tend to be the loudest and most troublesome.

I would love to spend a day or two visiting with the extended Pappas family (especially after they learn a little more English because I don’t speak Greek!) not only for the company but also for the FOOD! Oh, the many tempting dishes in this book make me want to hunt down the nearest Greek restaurant and try everything!

I definitely recommend this story and look forward to more stories from this author and within this series!

I requested the opportunity to read this book through Celebrate Lit.
The opinions expressed are my own.
This review was originally posted on Faithfully Bookish.

 

About the Author

Angie DickenAngie Dicken is a third generation Greek American, the granddaughter of strong men and women who endured hardship to grow American roots.

My Heart Belongs In Castle Gate, Utah is set near the birthplace of her grandfather, a Greek coal miner’s son, and published 100 years after his birth.

Angie is a contributor to The Writer’s Alley blog and an ACFW member since 2010. She lives with her husband and four children in the Midwest where she enjoys exploring eclectic new restaurants and chatting with friends over coffee.

website | facebook

Author InterviewGUEST POST on Faithfully Bookish

 

What aspects of Greek culture do you find most interesting or appealing?
The Pappas family’s deep apprecitation for food is completely endearing.

 

Review by Beth Erin

 

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Open Discussion: Vanilla Questions

Hello, reader friends! It’s me again, timidly edging out of my comfort zone to ask an (innocent and hopefully not offensive) question to spark open and honest discussion.

As mentioned in the previous Vanilla Confessions, my home county is not blessed with diversity (96.6% “White alone, not Hispanic or Latino” according to Census.gov).

The only descriptions needed on a regular basis around these parts, besides hair and eye colors, are various degrees of “white” and “farmer’s tan.”

Share which comparisons or adjectives you find appealing,
which ones make you cringe, and why.

What kinds of descriptors are preferable in diverse fiction?
Is it taboo to use food to describe skin color?
Are there alternative ways to identify ethnicity without physical descriptions?

Post by Beth Erin

Book Spotlight: Wise at Heart

Hello, reader friends! Today’s featured book takes us back to my favorite fictional foodie community, Arcadia Valley, Idaho! It’s time for a sweet yet reluctant romance.

About the Book

Wise at Heart by Lee Tobin McClainWhen Daniel Quintana needs a summer nanny for his twins, it only makes sense to hire Tabitha Moore. Just back from an extended mission trip, she needs the job. The fact that she was his wife’s best friend shouldn’t matter, and neither should the fact that he finds her attractive. Daniel’s not in the market for relationships because he’s just so bad at them.

Tabitha Moore doesn’t want to work for Daniel because she knows a terrible secret about his daughters. But when staying with her sister is no longer an option, she feels like she has no choice. After all, it’s just for the summer…

With the help of Daniel’s five-year-old twins, Daniel and Tabitha start to become more than friends. Growing vegetables, rescuing a mama cat and her kittens, eating delicious Mexican food at El Corazon… all of it makes these two lonely souls crave to create a family long term… unless Tabitha’s secret rips apart everything they’re starting to build.

goodreads | amazon

 

About the Author

Lee Tobin McClainLee Tobin McClain read Gone With The Wind in the third grade and has been an incurable romantic ever since. The PW bestselling author of fifteen contemporary Christian romances, she enjoys crafting emotional, faith-infused love stories with happy endings.

When she’s not writing, she’s probably driving around a carload of snarky teen girls, playing with her rescue dog and cat, or teaching aspiring writers in Seton Hill University’s MFA program. She is probably not cleaning her house.

website | facebook | twitter

 

Also Available

Arcadia Valley Romance

 Summer's Glory by Mary Jane Hathaway       

 

Eeep! What could the terrible secret be?!
What are your thoughts, reader friends?

Spotlight by Beth Erin

Book Spotlight: A Sidelined Christmas

Happy Wednesday, Reader Friends!

If you’re traveling for Thanksgiving we at Diversity Between the Pages are praying safe travels for you! If you need a book to read while on holiday, check out today’s newest book spotlight: A Sidelined Christmas by Toni Shiloh.


About the Book

The Blurb: Part of the Making Spirits Bright boxset collection.

“Sidelined with a career-ending injury, wide receiver Jahleel Walker is forced to return to his hometown of Peachwood Bay, Georgia to heal. Nothing shocks him more than running into his high-school sweetheart, Lucille “Bebe” Gordon.

Bebe Gordon returned to Peachwood Bay three years ago with a divorce certificate and her daughter, Hope. When Jahleel returns, all the memories of the past come rushing back. She can’t decide if he’s changed or if her heart is holding onto past hurts.

Will Jahleel and Bebe take a chance on love or let life sidelined them at Christmas?”

Links: Amazon, Goodreads


About the Author

Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Once she understood the powerful saving grace thanks to the love of Christ, she was moved to honor her Savior. She writes to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness.

She spends her days hanging out with her husband and their two boys. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and president of the Virginia Chapter.

Follow: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, BookBub

Author Interview: Angie Dicken

Happy Monday, Reader Friends!

I can’t believe Thanksgiving is this week! This year has flown by. But before we all get ready for the holidays, I’ve got a new interview for you. Angie Dicken has stopped by to talk about her novel, My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah. Have you read it yet? If not, nows your chance to learn more.


About the Book

The Blurb: “Schoolteacher Leanna McKee plans on leaving the coal mining town of Castle Gate, Utah, and never looking back. Good riddance to coal dust, rugged men, and the fatal mine that took her husband’s life.

Until the widow meets a widower who awakens her heart…and she finds herself inexplicably falling for miner Alex Pappas which stirs up a whole heap of trouble.

Alex’s Greek parents have arranged a more traditional match for him. When the schoolteacher’s association with the Greek family begins to anger the American miners, they threaten Alex and his family. Leanna has received an offer to teach elsewhere and feels she has no choice but to leave Castle Gate. . .though she will be leaving her heart behind.”

Links: Amazon, Goodreads


Interview

Toni: Welcome to Diversity Between the Pages. I’ve heard a lot about your book so I’m excited to interview you today. First, tell us something interesting about yourself.

Angie: I am pretty much an open book, so if you are connected to me on social media you probably know most of my quirks. 🙂 Something fun to share is that my husband proposed to me on a gondola in Venice. I studied abroad in Italy my senior year of college.

Toni: How romantic! Venice is a gorgeous spot for a proposal! What are you currently reading?

Angie: I tend to have lots of books that I am reading all at once. At least, this is a current habit I am forming. 🙂 Right now, I am reading The Engagement Plot by Krista Phillips, Heidi Chiavaroli’s Freedom’s Ring, and a couple non-fiction books.

Toni: I want to read The Engagement Plot! What made you want to write in the historical fiction genre? And will you ever test the waters in another genre?

Angie: I love history. I have this world timeline in my head, and any intriguing facts I’ve learned over the years just shine bright, begging for me to find a story. I think living in a family that values family roots and traveling, and also growing up in a different country (England) for a few years, has given me a deep appreciation for world cultures and history.
Also, I have written a Contemporary Romance! It does, of course, have a ton of history in it since my heroine is obsessed with British history…um…not such a stretch to write that. But it was so fun to write it. I hope it gets published one day!

Toni: Yes! I would love to read it. Alex Pappas is Greek. It’s interesting to think of him being discriminated against because we don’t usually think about that in present day. How did you research this to bring authenticity to the novel?

Angie: My whole family is Greek, and my grandparents grew up in Salt Lake City. I recall hearing brief mention of being discriminated against when they were young, so when I came up with a story, I wanted to look into that further. I researched actual accounts of Greek immigrants, and the general social climate of the time—finding articles in newspapers around the country talking about lynching threats and anger toward the Greeks when they stepped over the line of social norm—like inter-cultural courtships. I think many immigrant groups in this country have similar trials in their history, which is very sobering and hopefully, enlightening for progress even now.

Toni: Wow! As a female writer, how did you get into Alex’s point of view to portray him accurately?

Angie: Great question! I am blessed with strong men in my family who give me such great insight into the male mentality. I also wove a lot of my own struggles into Alex’s journey, including being true to my family traditions but following my heart to different paths—like a different church, my husband’s own American traditions, and some similar familial conflicts that both men and women can find themselves in.

Toni: I love it when you can look around you for examples to write. Both Alex and Leanna are dealing with hurts. Do they have a common theme for their journey? If so, what is it?

Angie: Their common theme is giving grace to themselves. They are both riddled with guilt, but once they step back and look at God’s hand in their lives, they realize the grace that He gives freely. If we think about the grace we receive every day, it’s much easier to treat ourselves with the same grace, isn’t it?

Toni: Yes and amen! Have you ever been to Greece? If not, what’s the farthest you’ve traveled for vacation or research?

Angie: Yes! My parents took my siblings and I the day after I graduated from high school! We traveled on the mainland for a week, visiting Athens and the villages of three of my grandparents’ families, then we went sailing for two weeks and visited my great grandfather’s village in Crete (the man who came over to the mines in Utah).

Toni: I am so green right now, lol. I would love to go to Greece. Can I go in your suitcase next time? Before you go, can you share any advice for aspiring writers?

Angie: Connect with the writing community! It is important to get other eyes on your work, but to also have friends who understand your journey and become a source of encouragement. I don’t think I would be here if I hadn’t connected to ACFW, found a critique partner, and met all my writing friends at conference each year. Seriously. I really think I would have given up a long time ago if it weren’t for community.

Toni: Amen! I love the writing community and the ACFW one at that. Readers, do you have any questions for Angie?


About the Author

Angie Dicken credits her love of story to reading British literature during life as a military kid in Cambridgeshire, England. Now living in the U.S., she’s an ACFW member, a blog contributor to the Writer’s Alley, a baseball mom, and a self-proclaimed foodie. Two of her historical romance novels comprise her Fall 2017 debut: The Outlaw’s Second Chance, in September, and My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah, in November. She also writes historical and contemporary fiction. You can connect with her on social media and learn about upcoming releases at www.angiedicken.com.

Follow: Website, The Writer’s Alley, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

Author Interview: Sarah Monzon

Happy Monday, Diverse Reader Friends!

I hope you had an awesome weekend and got some reading in. I’m kicking off this week with an interview with the lovely Sarah Monzon. Her latest novel, The Esther Paradigm, is a must read and a great fit for our blog.

Let’s get started!


About the Book:

The Blurb: “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?”

Links: Amazon, Goodreads


Interview

Toni: Thank you so much for joining me at Diversity Between the pages to talk about your latest novel, The Esther Paradigm. This novel is fantastic! What made you pair an unlikely couple together?

Sarah: Well, since the book is inspired by the Biblical story of Esther, I had that foundation to go by. King Ahasuerus of Persia has a different experience in life than Esther had. Their differences included social economics, culture, ethnicity, religion, background, etc. I wanted to give my characters similar differences.

Toni: You did a fantastic job! I loved it. How were you able to write from Karim’s point of view so authentically considering the difference in gender, ethnicity, and religion?

Sarah: Haha. Prayer and a lot of research.

Toni: We don’t often get to look at the Muslim culture in Christian books. How did you research and prepare for this?

Sarah: I watched a documentary series on Netflix about the region and the people there. I read books and online articles about the religion—beliefs and practices—as well as missionary experiences and conversion testimonies.

Toni: That’s awesome! Would you ever write a sequel to this novel? Why or why not?

Sarah: I don’t have any plans to at this time, though my plans have changed before in the past. I’ll probably do another Biblical “inspired by” story, though.

Toni: Hooray! What is the overall theme in The Esther Paradigm?

Sarah: 1 Corinthians 16:14 “Let all that you do be done in love.”

Toni: A great charge! If you could vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Sarah: Is a trip around the world cheating? There are so many places I’d like to go!

Toni: It might be, but I agree so I’ll let it slide. 😉 Have you ever ridden a camel?

Sarah: I vaguely remember riding one when I was little. I wanted to get to the zoo and refresh my memory for this book, but it never happened.

Toni: Too bad! Then you could have had a pic of you on a camel all over social media. 🙂 Have you any missionary experience? And if so, can you tell us a little about it?

Sarah: I went on a two-week, short-term mission trip when I was about 15 to Fiji. We did a building project and helped in a school. Between my Sophomore and Junior year in College I went as a student missionary to China for 10 months and taught English.

Toni: That’s so neat! I’ve never been on a missionary trip so I love picking people’s brain. If you could say anything to the readers, what would you tell them?

Sarah: God made us all, died for us all, and loves us all. Let’s show love to one another, too.

Toni: Amen! Readers, do you have any questions for Sarah? (P.S. Look for Beth Erin’s review this Friday!)


About the Author

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.

Follow: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

Book Spotlight: Hope for the Holidays

Happy November, my friends!

Can you believe the year is almost over? I’m shocked but also looking forward to 2018. I hope you’re having a great week and getting in some reading. If you’re into holiday reading, then you’ll love today’s book spotlight, Hope for the Holidays, by Cathe Swanson.


About the Book

The Blurb: “Newly arrived from her home in the Congo and armed with a brand-new degree in nonprofit management, Carrie Strough is eager to organize and improve the Unity Plenkiss Community Center. Unfortunately, no one wants to be organized, and only Micah Neresen, the charming and handsome pastor of the local church, is interested in her plans. Or is he just interested in her?

With a cast of lively and eccentric characters including a homeless vet with PTSD, a con man, an elderly couple with an over-the-top Christmas display, a feisty committeewoman with a past of her own, and a police investigation, Micah and Carrie wonder if there is any hope for the holidays this year!”

Links: Amazon, Christmas Lights, Goodreads


About the Author

Cathe Swanson lives in Wisconsin with her husband of 32 years. They enjoy spending time with their family and being outdoors, kayaking, hiking, birdwatching and fishing, but summer is short in Wisconsin, so it’s important to have indoor hobbies, too. Cathe has been a quilter and teacher of quiltmaking for over 25 years, and she enjoys just about any kind of creative work, especially those involving fiber or paper.

Her family is growing steadily; she and her husband had three sons, and those boys all grew up and married delightful women and started producing grandchildren: four boys and three girls so far!

The long Wisconsin winters are perfect for writing and reading books! Cathe enjoys writing stories with eccentric characters of all ages. Her books will make you laugh and make you cry – and then make you laugh again.

Follow: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Goodreads, BookBub, Amazon, Newsletter


Post prepared by Toni Shiloh

Open Discussion – NaNoWriMo

DBTP - letstalk

Happy Saturday, folks! We’ve had several discussions about our favorite diverse Christian reads and why it is so important to have more diverse Christian fiction out there. So, today’s blog is both a discussion and a call-to-action!

Are you tired of people writing characters from your culture the wrong way? Or not seeing anyone from your culture represented in Christian fiction? Well, there’s a sure-fire way to fix it. Write a book yourself!

November is National Novel Writing Month! It is where all over the world thousands (maybe millions) of people have taken up the torch to write a book in a month (50,000 words in 30 days). There are tons of supportive people out there to help you both online and in person. Find where your home region is on the NaNoWriMo website.

Personally, I have fallen in love with NaNo. Prior to NaNo, it took me 3+ years to write a book. Since starting NaNo 5 years ago, I have written 10 books. And my first published book, Vivir el Dream, was actually written during NaNo.

NaNo is just a big ball of awesomeness. There are so many people that have said, “Wow, you write books? I always wanted to do that.” If you’re one of those people, that could be the Holy Spirit nudging you. Does God want you to write a book? If so, don’t be like Jonah and go the other direction. Let NaNo swallow you up and bring you to authorship! (Okay, I had a bit of fun with that analogy).

Here’s the discussion part…Do you write books? Have you ever done NaNoWriMo? Have you ever considered writing a book? Are you interested in trying out NaNo this year and want more info?

Remember: God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called. 🙂 Have a blessed Saturday!

Book Review: Raising Attabury

Happy Friday, Diverse Reader Friends!

I hope you’ve had a blessed week and have an awesome weekend planned. We at Diversity wanted to bring you a new book review. Maybe it will inspire your reading this weekend. Check it out!


About the Book

The Blurb: “Dani Richardson is living the dream. A corporate lawyer pursuing the case that could make her whole career, married to the man of her dreams with a beautiful child to boot, Dani knows this is the life she’s always wanted. What she can’t quite figure out is why she is so desperately, quietly miserable.

When Dani and her husband Eric decide to buy and renovate the old Attabury house in Ridgemount, North Carolina, Dani has no idea that God might have other plans when it comes to her life and her marriage. Will Dani be able to hold it all together long enough to get the impossible project done, or has she finally met her match?

Eric Richardson has built a life for himself and his family to be proud of. Coming up from a family drenched in grief and turmoil, he has painstakingly engineered their way into the good life. But when his wife Dani decides to buy and renovate an old, broken-down house that might as well be demolished and used for kindling, Eric is plunged into a way of life he never knew existed. Now as Dani battles ghosts and shadows old and new, Eric must decide if staying with her is even worth the gut-wrenching ride, or if it’s time to call it quits and admit the life he thought he was building is doomed to failure.

Can God’s love really save a broken, desperate marriage? Find out in “Raising Attabury.”

Links: Amazon, Goodreads


Review

Raising Attabury is book five in the Grace series. When I purchased this to read, I didn’t realize it. But it quickly became apparent this book was part of a series. The first few chapters left me confused as I struggled to figure out what was going on and what had been going on. Once I figured it was book five, I chalked the rest of my confusion to that. So I would caution you to read the other books first.

The message of Raising Attabury is a good one. It looks at marriages and I love that. Rarely do you get an already married couple in a romance book. The struggles Dani and Eric go through are real. We get to see what their life is like without God as their center and what happens when they began to change that.

There are a lot of good lessons and quotes in this book. I highlighted a lot but Kindle showed me how much everyone else also highlighted. It was stunning.

All in all, another good read by Ms. Stallings.


Review by Toni Shiloh

Book Spotlight: Adored by Belle Calhoune

Happy Wednesday, Reader Friends!

Thanks for stopping by Diversity Between the Pages.

Today, we’re featuring a book by the famous Belle Calhoune! It’s called Adored.

~*~

About the book:

 This series centers around seven brothers and one sister raised by Penelope and Jude Donahue in the idyllic Florida seaside town of Pelican Bay. A blended family of adopted and biological siblings, the Donahue clan always have each other’s backs as they face life’s challenges and search for love. A spin-off of the Cape Cod Donahue brothers, the Pelican Bay clan are their southern cousins.

Caleb Donahue is a chef who has recently achieved his life’s dream of opening his own bistro, The Blue Bayou. Adopted by the Donahue family of Pelican Bay, Caleb’s past is a bit murky. He’s stuffed down the memories of his biological mother and the circumstances leading to his adoption by the Donahue family.

Addie Fontaine steps into his life when he least expects it. Daughter of a wealthy businessman, Sebastian Fontaine, Addie is attempting to prove herself to her father by making inroads in the business world. When her father gives her his partnership in the Blue Bayou, Addie ends up working side by side with Caleb. Addie is determined to step up and live her life out loud, while Caleb is determined to make his bistro a success.

When love comes calling, will Addie and Caleb be able to reach out for the love of a lifetime?

Book purchase link: Amazon

~*~

About the Author:

 Belle Calhoune grew up in a small town in Massachusetts as one of five children. Although her mother was a doctor and her father a biologist, Belle never gravitated toward science. Growing up across the street from a public library was a huge influence on her life and fueled her love of romance novels. Belle is the author of nine Harlequin Love Inspired novels with a tenth hitting the shelves in March of 2018. She has Indie published the popular and best-selling inspirational romance series, Seven Brides, Seven Brothers. The Secrets of Savannah and Pelican Bay are both spin-offs of her debut series. Belle loves writing romance and crafting happily-ever-afters. When she’s not wrangling her two high maintenance dogs or spending time with her husband and two daughters, Belle enjoys travel and exploring new places.

Follow Sandra on Twitter