Thursday, February 25, 2021

"Dance With Me" by A.M. Heath -- Book Review (repost), Blog Tour, and Giveaway

About the Book

Book:  Dance with Me

Author: A.M. Heath

Genre: Christian Historical Romance (1960s)

Release date: April 2019


Will a new partnership tear their worlds apart … or will it be the piece they never knew was missing?

In 1959, Arleen Thatcher and Neil Fox are fierce competitors on the dance floor, so they’re the least likely pair to enter a televised competition together. But when rivaling studio owners decide to team up, the two find a partnership they never thought possible.
Arleen’s reputation around town is reason enough for Neil to keep his distance from his new partner. But as Neil gets to know Arleen, he discovers a side of her few others have seen, one of dark family secrets and carefully-constructed facades.
God’s plan for their partnership may involve more than a single dance; it may be the key to the healing Arleen so desperately needs.

The Art of Love series is compiled of stand-alone novels where the characters tell their own stories and love means so much more than passion.

My Thoughts(
I originally posted my review in April 2019)
"Dance With Me" is the first book in the Art of Love series, but each book is a stand alone novel and not necessary for the others. I really enjoyed reading "Dance With Me" and once I started, I didn't want to stop. I found the book to be well written and felt that it flowed well. I liked how even though most of the story was a flashback, we got to see the story unfold and not know the conclusion before the end of the book. I liked getting to know Arleen and Neil. I felt the faith thread was woven through the book well and liked getting to see the growth and transformation of characters. I liked how "Dance with me" meant so much more than just the physical act of dancing. I cried while reading the end of the book and finished with a contented sigh. I could really see this book as a movie. 
Click here to get your copy!

About the Author

Besides being an Indie Author, I’m a wife, mother of four, children’s Sunday School teacher, sweet tea drinker, history fanatic, romantic, bubbly, lover of broccoli, and a retired cake decorator who has a soft spot for Christmas trees, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.
What I’m not is a laundress (or at least not one who keeps up very well), a duster, tall, or patient in a doctor’s office.

 

More from A.M. Heath

Breathing Life Into A Novel

One of the common remarks I get from my readers is how they felt like they had been transported into the story. The characters felt like real people and the setting felt authentic. And that’s always a blessing to hear as an author!

But the question is how do I do it?

Well, I’ll let the cat out of the bag. Since I’m not big on heavy descriptions, I allow other features to weigh in and help create the setting. In a nutshell, “I’m just keeping it real” (as we used to say in the 90s). And there are 3 areas to focus in on, especially when working with a historical novel:

Common objects or daily habits

Names

Slang

Common Objects:

It’s all about those minor details. The everyday objects or habits that a character might have that will help create the setting and bring authenticity to it.

Here are a few items found in the 1950s that aren’t as common today:

Two-toned painted vehicles

Phones attached to the wall, with a cord, and a rotary dial

Jukeboxes

Soda shops

Records

Pull tab canned drinks

Clothes lines and ironing boards

Names:

I use the U.S. census to preview the top 1000 baby names in any given year starting in 1880. But I also make note when I run across a name that sounds modern but is found in a real historical document.

While I’m writing, I create a name bank so I have era approved names on hand to use for my secondary characters.

Here’s a preview of a name bank for characters set in the 1950s:

Female:

Jan

Tabitha

Mabel

Judy

Paula

Rita

 

Male:

Dennis

Gary

Marvin

Earl

Barry

Rodney 

Slang:

I must admit, the slang is my absolute favorite. I browse slang for each era through online searches and history books. But my favorite place to collect phrases is directly from the source. Anytime I’m watching an old movie or TV show, I jot down phrases I heard and the year it was filmed. It doesn’t get anymore authentic than hearing it straight from the horse’s mouth.

While I’m writing, I’ll preview my list and create a smaller word bank of phrases that my characters are most likely to use, so I can remember to weave them into the story.

Here’s a look at some of the fun phrases:

Say, (use at the start of your sentence)

Call dibs

Don’t have a cow

Flick (movie)

Cool it

Righto

No sweat

Cloud 9

Teed off or sore (mad)

Burn rubber

Get bent

Dullsville

Dig it

Fellas

Doll

Gee

Neat

Swell

I hope you enjoyed this little sneak peek into the 1950s. Dance With Me was a real neat novel to write. It’s set in 1959, so there’s a strong greaser vibe throughout the story. Believe me, I was on cloud 9 the entire time.

Now it’s your turn! Do you have a favorite era in history to read about?

Which one of these swell phrases will you dust off and use in normal conversation today? Lol You should definitely surprise someone with it, then tell me about it. It’s a load of fun. My kids get sore at me all the time for using “lame” phrases, but I must say that they have a wide lingo vocabulary whether they wanted it or not.

Happy Reading!

Blog Stops

Artistic Nobody, February 13 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Texas Book-aholic, February 14

deb’s Book Review, February 15

Connie’s History Classroom, February 16

Labor Not in Vain, February 17

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, February 17

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 18

Sara Jane Jacobs, February 19

Locks, Hooks and Books, February 20

Inklings and notions, February 21

For Him and My Family, February 22

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 23

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, February 24

Blossoms and Blessings, February 25

Rachael’s Inkwell, February 25

Blogging With Carol, February 26

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, A.M. is giving away the grand prize package of a multi-artist CD and a paperback copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/10747/dance-with-me-celebration-tour-giveaway

I got a free copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own and given voluntarily. No compensation was received for my review.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

"Bookers on the Rocks" by Chautona Havig -- Book Review, Blog Tour, and Giveaway

About the Book

Book:  Bookers on the Rocks

Author: Chautona Havig

Genre: Christian Contemporary Romance

If it ain’t broke, why’s she so intent on fixing it?

Tessa Booker hates romance.

For twenty-five years, Tessa Booker has insisted that romance is something Hollywood cooked up to sell books and movies. Yes, she knows the word existed before movies.  She doesn’t care. That’s her story, and she’s sticking to it.

So when Ross gets a gentle nudge from Mallory Barrows to look into what Tessa’s doing every day while he’s at work, he discovers a romance in the works–one that sounds a little too “ripped from the pages” of his life!

Who is this woman, and what has she done with his wife? 

Armed with advice from 101 Ways to Romance Your Wife and a copy of the manuscript he printed while she was napping, he’s determined to figure out what’s up with his wife… and if maybe a little romance wouldn’t be a good thing after all.

In a twist of the “on the rocks trope,” this book introduces the next island in the Independence Islands Series featuring five islands, six authors, and a boatload of happily-ever-afters.

The Independence Islands Series: beach reads aren’t just for summer anymore.

 My Thoughts

I really don't like to read romance books about married couples. Mostly, I think, because that means that the couple has problems in their marriage and I don't like reading about that. "Bookers on the Rocks" was not really like that. They didn't have marriage problems like you would see in other types of books. In a way, they "made" problems by wondering if there was problems. It was nice to see Tessa and Ross rediscover the love they have for each other. My husband has never been much for gift giving, but especially now as we near being married for 25 years. This book brings to mind some things I could do to make sure he knows how much I love and appreciate him.


Click here to get your copy! 

About the Author

Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her at chautona.com and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.

 

More from Chautona

Who Needs Romance? My Marriage Is Great as It Is!

Writing a book about a couple who are in love, devoted to each other, and don’t have marriage problems is… challenging. Let’s face it. Most books about married couples, especially ones “on the rocks,” are going to have fights, an affair (at least of the emotional variety), or some big thing threatening to send them straight to divorce court.

Mine doesn’t.

In fact, Bookers on the Rocks shows what happens when couples become too comfortable in their routines—so comfortable, in fact, that they become blind to each other’s needs. If you asked Tessa Booker if anything is wrong in her marriage, she’d say no. If you asked her if she wanted anything different, she’d say no. The age old, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality.

Still, if you look at stories in Scripture, you see deep love and even romance in some places. Elkanah, who loved his wife enough to say, “Am I not more to you than ten sons?” Jacob who worked fourteen years to marry the woman he loved. Solomon and his love for the Shulamite woman. While the first two do not make me squirm, Solomon does. That book… oh, that book.

What I think Song of Solomon does is remind us of the Lord’s wooing of His people and how invested the Shulamite woman was in being delighted in her beloved—in all of him. If that isn’t a picture of how we should devote ourselves to our Lord, I don’t know what is.

In Bookers on the Rocks, I explore the possibility that those of us who aren’t naturally romantic might just be missing a vital ingredient in our marriages. A body can look and feel perfectly healthy for years—even decades. But if some essential nutrient is missing in a person’s diet, eventually that body will show it in some way. A lack of calcium can create brittle bones. No one sees the problem until a slight stumble turns into a nasty break.

Did it change how I view my marriage? No… not yet. Then again, yes it did, too. I’m more… aware of what is going on in my marriage these days. I doubt candlelight and roses will ever become a thing in our relationship, but translating what romance might mean and look like to my husband has become something I do think about from time to time. That probably means more Wienerschnitzel and less broccoli, but hey. He did a lot of dishes, dinner, and diapers (my perfect three Ds of romance) when our kids were small. I can endure a hot dog or three thousand, right?

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 10

Livin’ Lit, February 10

lakesidelivingsite, February 11

Sara Jane Jacobs, February 11

She Lives to Read, February 12

Texas Book-aholic, February 12

Book of Ruth Ann, February 12

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, February 13

Rebekah Reads, February 13

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 14

Batya’s Bits , February 14

Inklings and notions, February 15

Simple Harvest Reads, February 15 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, February 16

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, February 16

Robin’s Nest, February 16

Lots of Helpers, February 17

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, February 17

Splashes of Joy, February 18

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, February 18

Artistic Nobody, February 19 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, February 19

For Him and My Family, February 20

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, February 20

CarpeDiem, February 20

deb’s Book Review, February 21

Connect in Fiction, February 21

Locks, Hooks and Books, February 22

Blogging With Carol, February 22

Blossoms and Blessings, February 23

Godly Book Reviews, February 23

Pause for Tales, February 23

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/10740/bookers-on-the-rocks-celebration-tour-giveaway 


I got a free copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own and given voluntarily. No compensation was received for my review.

Monday, February 22, 2021

"Roots of Wood and Stone" by Amanda Wen -- Book Review and Giveaway

About the Book 



This historic home holds the keys to their destiny . . . and their hearts

Abandoned at birth, her family roots a mystery, historical museum curator Sloane Kelley has dedicated her life to making sure others know theirs. When a donor drops off a dusty old satchel, she doesn't expect much from the common artifact . . .until she finds real treasure inside: a nineteenth-century diary.Now she's on the hunt to find out more.

Garrett Anderson just wanted to clean out his grandmother's historic but tumbledown farmhouse before selling it to fund her medical care. With her advancing Alzheimer's, he can't afford to be sentimental about the family home. But his carefully ordered plan runs up against two formidable obstacles: Sloane, who's fallen in love with both the diaries and the house, and his own heart, which is irresistibly drawn to Sloane.

A century and a half earlier, motherless Annabelle Collins embarks with her aunt and uncle on the adventure of a lifetime: settling the prairies of Sedgwick County, Kansas. The diaries she left behind paint a portrait of life, loss, and love--and a God who faithfully carries her through it all. Paging through the diaries together takes Sloane and Garrett on a journey they never could have planned, which will change them in ways they never imagined.

This warm, beautifully written split-time novel will resonate with readers looking for stories that reveal the beauty of God's plan for our lives, and how our actions ripple for generations


My Thoughts

I wasn't sure at first if I wanted to read/review this book, but ended up going for it. I am very glad that I did as I absolutely loved it. I found it to be well written and had a nice flow. Once I got reading, I didn't want to put it down and lost track of the time a few times due to reading. I liked the characters and I wished I could go to Marty's to listen to the jazz band or read Annabelle's diary along with Sloane. The book took me on a rollercoaster ride of emotions and there were several twists that I did not see coming. I enjoyed the biblical faith element present in the book. I eagerly look forward to Amanda Wen's next book.


About the Author 


Amanda Wen is an award-winning writer of inspirational romance and split-time women’s fiction. She has placed first in multiple contests, including the 2017 Indiana Golden Opportunity Contest, the 2017 Phoenix Rattler Contest, and the 2016 ACFW First Impressions Contest, among others. She was also a 2018 ACFW Genesis Contest finalist. Her debut novel, Roots of Wood and Stone, will release from Kregel Publications on January 26, 2021.

In addition to her writing, Amanda is an accomplished professional cellist and pianist, frequently performing with symphony orchestras, string quartets, and her church’s worship team, and accompanying high school and middle school choirs. A lifelong denizen of the flatlands, Amanda currently lives in Kansas with her patient, loving, and hilarious husband, their three adorable Wenlets, and a snuggly Siamese cat.


An Interview with Amanda Wen

For readers who can’t decide if they would like to pick up something historical or
contemporary for their next read, debut author Amanda Wen offers them the best of both
worlds in her new release. Roots of Wood and Stone (Kregel Publications) is a warm,
delightfully written split-time novel that will resonate with readers looking for stories that
reveal the beauty of God’s plan for our lives, and how our actions ripple for generations.

Q: What drew you to the split-time genre? What unique challenges does writing in two time
periods present?
I’ve always loved reading both historical and contemporary books, and I’ve long been a fan of TV
shows that hop from era to era. From the ‘80s sci-fi show Quantum Leap and the 2000s crime
drama Cold Case to the new hit This Is Us, series like these illustrate in dramatic fashion just how
deeply the past impacts the present. Split-time novels do the same thing: characters’ past decisions
have ripple effects, both good and bad, for generations to come.

In addition, one of my favorite things about split time is watching the contemporary characters dig into the past. My mother is
a genealogist who’s been tracing our family history since before I was born, and her passion for uncovering our family’s stories
has been an important backdrop my entire life. Her research has given me an appreciation for those who came before and a
desire to pass along this appreciation to my own kids. Given all this, I think the split-time genre is a natural fit for me!
However, split time doesn’t come without its challenges. Instead of writing one story, I’m writing two, and they have to weave
together in an organic way. If you can lift one story line out of the book without hurting the other one, then it’s not integrated
well enough. With two stories come two heroes, two heroines, and two plotlines, all of which must be correctly paced and
equally interesting to the reader. But challenges aside,

Q: How does the historical story connect with the contemporary story?
Roots of Wood and Stone revolves around an 1890s farmhouse that is the home of contemporary hero Garrett Anderson’s
grandmother, Rosie Spencer. In cleaning out the house, he finds an old satchel which he brings to the local historical museum
in hopes that they might have some use for it. The curator, Sloane Kelley, is initially unimpressed with the satchel . . . until she
opens it and finds a nineteenth-century diary inside. That diary, written by past heroine Annabelle Collins, links the past time
line with the present. As Sloane digs into the diary, she wants to find out more, so she ends up going to the farmhouse to help
Garrett and his sister, Lauren, declutter.
Subsequent diaries found in the house shine a light on Annabelle’s life as an early settler to Sedgwick County: the love she
finds, the losses she suffers, and the God who is faithful to carry her through it all. In addition, these diaries draw Sloane and
Garrett together in ways neither could imagine and form the crux of the conflict that arises between the two. Exploring the
past has a direct impact on the present for both Sloane and Garrett.

Q: Roots of Wood and Stone was inspired by your own family history. Can you tell us a little bit about your family’s
story and what parts made their way into your book?
The seed of inspiration for Roots of Wood and Stone is an 1890s farmhouse not far from where I grew up (and where I now
live) which belonged to my great-great-grandfather, Francis Thomas Little. He immigrated to the United States from Ireland as
a child and became one of the earliest settlers of Maize, Kansas. Grandpa Little, as he’s known in my family, wrote a memoir, A
Kansas Farmer, which was an invaluable resource during my research process.
Francis Little married Mattie Stevens, daughter of another early settler, William Fletcher Stevens, who lost his first wife and
infant son shortly after arriving in Sedgwick County in 1870. (In fact, my great-great-great-grandfather would go on to bury a
second wife and eight of his fourteen children.) I wondered how someone would cope with such a tragic loss and emerge with
his faith intact, and it’s this first early loss that forms the crux of the spiritual journey for my past hero, Jack Brennan.
My past heroine, Annabelle Collins, is very loosely based on a paternal ancestor, Antoinette Patrick Peterson, who as a young
child was left with an aunt and uncle after the death of her mother. She moved to Kansas with her aunt and uncle, who raised
her to adulthood, and I grew curious about the impact of such a decision on a child. The rest of Antoinette’s life was no less
interesting and colorful, but I decided to save it for a future book.

Q: Sloane was abandoned at birth, so she never had a connection to her biological family or their history. How did she
compensate for that in her professional life?
Abandoned at birth and adopted by strangers, Sloane differs from her adoptive parents in every way—appearance,
personality, talents, and interests. She struggles with knowing they love her, and they don’t fully understand her. She feels like
plan B: someone her birth parents didn’t want, who her adoptive parents settled for after not being able to conceive
biologically. This feeling haunts her formative years.
As an adult, Sloane discovers historical research, the filling in of gaps in her own knowledge and the sharing of information she
uncovers with others. Though incomplete, the satisfaction she receives from helping people connect with and appreciate the
history of the Wichita area is enough to propel her forward in her career as a museum curator. “I guess that’s why I’m so
passionate about history,” she tells Garrett in one scene. “If I can’t know my own, at least I can help everyone else know theirs.”

Q: Tell us about Garrett. Where does his sense of responsibility come from?

A type-A overachiever since childhood, Garrett Anderson has been thrust into a difficult situation
with the weight of the world on his shoulders. In recent years, he’s lost his mother to cancer, his
father to a hasty remarriage and subsequent new life in Florida, and his grandfather to a sudden
heart attack. As a result, the burden of care for his Alzheimer’s-afflicted grandmother, Rosie, has
fallen to him and his sister, Lauren. The siblings are close but very different in personality, and they
have not been able to reach an agreement as to what’s best for their grandmother.
In caring for Rosie, Garrett has also learned what can happen when people fail to plan. Due to a
family whose approach to life has always been “ready-fire-aim,” as he describes it, he now realizes
his grandmother is in dire financial straits. This impacts him personally and professionally, since,
as a certified financial planner, his career revolves around helping other people avoid the sort of
situation his grandmother has found herself in. He believes that all of life’s problems can be
avoided, or at the very least mitigated, if one just comes up with—and follows through on—the
perfect plan.

Q: How about the historical characters—do they carry the missing pieces of their family with them as well?
Like Sloane, Annabelle Collins was raised by people other than her birth parents, although unlike Sloane, Annabelle had a
relationship with her birth family. A child of eight when her mother died of a sudden illness, Annabelle is left with a father and
two older brothers, all of whom feel called to fight for the Union in the Civil War. Before they enlist, Annabelle’s father leaves
her with his sister, Katherine, and her husband, Stephen, who’ve always longed for a child of their own. As Annabelle grows up
under her aunt and uncle’s roof, she feels loved, cared for, and wanted, but she also suffers the wounds of her father’s
abandonment, particularly when she learns that he has remarried and started a new family: one that has no room for her.
Jack Brennan, meanwhile, is reeling from the tragic loss of his wife and infant son, along with his wife’s sister and her husband,
who made the journey to Sedgwick County with Jack. In fact, the only other survivor of the journey is Jack’s young nephew,
Oliver, who he’s taken in as his own. Jack’s love for his nephew is one of the first things Annabelle notices, and it’s a key part of
their blossoming relationship.

Q: What role does faith play in the lives of your characters?
All my characters are people of faith, but all of them have run up against some struggles. For Sloane, the wound of her
childhood abandonment is the lens through which she sees everything. Feeling unwanted and unloved by her birth parents
extends to her relationship with God. Is she plan B to him too? Garrett, meanwhile, has grown up in the church and has a fairly
strong faith, but he hasn’t truly grasped the concept of trusting God rather than leaning on his own understanding (Proverbs
3:5–6). A highly intelligent and motivated individual, Garrett believes that life will be infinitely easier if he just comes up with
and follows through on the perfect plan. But when his perfect plan runs up against obstacles he can’t overcome, he struggles to
let go and allow God to enact the ultimate plan.
Trust is also a theme for Annabelle Collins, the heroine of the past time line. She suffers some losses both early and later in her
life, and she struggles with the holes those losses leave in her heart. Can she learn to trust God to provide not necessarily
everything she wants but everything she needs? Meanwhile, past hero Jack reels from loss as well, and he struggles to
understand why—if he’s being obedient to God’s call on his life, as he thought he was—his life involves so much suffering.
Throughout the book, Jack learns that just because life is difficult doesn’t mean he’s on the wrong path. Sometimes, one needs
to stay the course.

Q: What did God teach you through the writing of Roots of Wood and Stone? What do you hope your readers take away
from the book?
Roots of Wood and Stone was my first attempt at split time, and I depended on God for the wisdom to know how to weave the
two time lines and stories together. It was an intimidating undertaking, and one possible only through him. Also, trusting God
has always been a challenge for me. Like Garrett, I’m a type-A uber planner, one who needs a plan A, plan B, and plan C to feel
fully on top of things. While writing this book, I quickly discovered that I could control very little. My characters had their own
ideas of how the plot should progress, and the story was frequently better if I let go and trusted them.
The publishing journey was no different. Through the very lengthy (and also agonizing) submission process, I had to trust
every day that the God who gave me the idea for the story and enabled me to put it on paper would do with it what he chose in
the timing that was very best, not only for me but for all who will read the book.
As for those readers, I hope they come away with a renewed and restored faith. Though I would never in a million years have
chosen to release my debut novel during a global pandemic, I think the message of the book—that God will take all your loose
ends and broken pieces and weave them into something more beautiful than you can imagine—is especially timely for such a
difficult period in our world. Many of us have been forced to alter the vast majority of our plans this past year, including plans
for things—church, work, school, family get-togethers—that we never thought we’d have to alter. But God is still in control.
This pandemic has not changed, nor will it change, his good and perfect plan.

Q: Which character in Roots of Wood and Stone was easiest for you to write and why? Which character presented the
biggest challenge?
The most challenging character was probably Sloane. An introvert by nature, and one who’s been dealt some serious wounds,
she doesn’t trust easily. In fact, that included me when I was first getting to know her. I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer, so the
only way I get to know characters is by writing them, which doesn’t work well when a character isn’t quite ready to talk. We
spun our wheels for a bit, but I finally decided to put a little of my own love for music into the book and gave Sloane a musical
hobby. That, it seemed, gave us enough common ground for her to feel comfortable opening up to me.
By contrast, Jack Brennan was the easiest character for me to write. Inspired by (but not based on) Jack Pearson from This Is
Us, Jack sprang into my head fully formed and quickly stole all his scenes in the best possible way. He wears his heart on his
sleeve and was thus very easy for me to get to know and love.

Q: How did you start writing? How do you balance writing with being a mom and a professional musician?
I’ve been writing stories since I could hold a pencil, but it wasn’t until 2008 that the writing bug bit me and refused to let go.
This sounds cheesy, but a story idea came to me in a dream one night, and I couldn’t get it out of my head. I wanted to know
what happened next, so I did the only thing I could think to do: write the story so I could read it and find out!
Over the next few years—interspersed with the births of my three kids—I dabbled in story writing in a couple different
genres. In 2014, after my youngest was a year old, I got serious about writing for publication and shared my work with my
best friend, who is a multi-published author in the general market. She took me under her wing and corrected all my newbie
writing errors, but she also encouraged me and inspired me to write better and better stories.
As for how I balance writing with my other life as a professional cellist (playing a lot of freelance gigs, including weddings and
the occasional orchestra concert) and pianist (as a choral accompanist for a local middle school and high school), I’ve learned
the fine art of prioritizing. During busy music seasons, my writing usually gets put on the back burner. Similarly, when I’m
deep in drafting mode or on deadline with revisions, I don’t take on quite so much on the music side. And sometimes I make an
intentional choice to take a week or two off from all professional pursuits and focus on my family.
Both music and writing feed my soul—as well as feed each other—and they’re both wired so deeply into my DNA that I can’t
not do them, so I pray for a lot of wisdom in how to manage my schedule and trust that God will give me the time I need to do
what he’s called me to do.

Q: What’s next from you? Can readers hope for more stories from Sedgwick County?
I am working on a sequel to Roots of Wood and Stone that features with two secondary characters from that book: Garrett’s
sister, Lauren, and his grandmother, Rosie. After a tailspin in her late teens, Lauren’s life is finally on track. Her food blog is
successful, her photography studio bustling, and her battle with bulimia seems to be under control. But an unexpected wrinkle
appears in the form of Carter Douglas, the summer fling whose rejection launched her downward spiral. When old feelings
reappear with new strength, can Lauren risk her heart to love a man who already broke it once?

TV meteorologist Carter Douglas has a job he never thought he’d take in a city where he never planned to live . . . and comes
face-to-face with a woman he never thought he’d see again. He’s determined to make the most of this second chance with
Lauren, but when circumstances force the same decision he made as a teenager, will he have the courage to make a different
choice?
When Lauren’s elderly grandmother calls out a name from the depths of dementia, the name of a man her family has never
heard of, Lauren and her family seek the truth. Who was this man? Who was he to her grandmother? Their journey takes them
to the 1950s, when a gently blossoming love attempts to withstand a storm of racial prejudice and separation. As stories are
told and secrets revealed, Lauren and Carter embark on a journey of forgiveness and second chances that will change their
lives forever.

To find Amanda Wen’s blog and short stories, visit www.amandawen.com. Readers can also follower her on Facebook
(@AuthorAmandaWen), Twitter (@AuthorAmandaWen), and Instagram (@authoramandawen).

Giveaway


"Roots of Wood and Stone" is available in paperback:

  • Publisher : Kregel Publications (February 2, 2021)
  • Language : English
  • Paperback : 304 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0825446686
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0825446689
  • Item Weight : 11.2 ounces
  • Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches

and in Kindle edition:

  • ASIN : B08QYG69SH
  • Publisher : Kregel Publications (February 3, 2021)
  • Publication date : February 3, 2021
  • Language : English
  • File size : 1263 KB

I got a free copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own and given voluntarily. No compensation was received for my review.  

Sunday, February 21, 2021

"Her Steadfast Love" by Sharlene MacLaren -- Book Review, Blog Tour, and Giveaway

About the Book

Book:  Her Steadfast Heart

Author: Sharlene MacLaren

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

Release date: January 26, 2021

Joey Fuller is still mourning three years after his wife’s death, so much so that he leaves his four rambunctious young children to throw himself into the Civil War as a Union captain. But his kids are so ill-behaved that nannies keep quitting—and now, his mother has a broken leg and can’t handle them either. In desperation, Joey decides to advertise for a wife.

Faith Haviland is in a different kind of mourning. Not long ago, her fiancĂ© left her to marry her best friend. Her customers at the diner where she works keep reminding her of that humiliating event and one of them, an older man, has been making aggressive advances. She’s desperate to flee the city—and Joey Fuller’s “Wife Needed” ad seems to be the answer to a prayer.

Will Faith live up to her name when Joey’s kids torment her with their mischief? Can she surrender this strange marriage to God while her new aloof husband is off fighting? And will a string of buttons convince her that he truly loves her?

 My Thoughts

I had a hard time connecting with this book. When I looked back, I also had the same problem with the first book in the series. It didn't flow well for me, but may just be my personal reading tastes. I did really like the biblical faith thread that clearly stated the gospel message. I think the hardest thing for me to get past in the book was the historical inaccuracies. There were several issues with dress and hair styles that were inaccurate for the period (dresses closing on wrong side [front/back] of dress for the age of the person, buns on top of head or down loose instead of at the nape of the neck, no hoops, wearing what would be a ball gown style during the day, etc ) and there were several things that appeared in the book before they actually existed [police wagons (1899), Miranda rights (1966), State prison (1891)] These were all easily found with a simple internet search, so it seems like they wouldn't have been hard to double check.  After two books that didn't connect with me, I will probably not be very eager to read another of Sharlene MacLaren's books. Other readers may not have a problem with the writing style or the historical problems, though.


Click here to get your copy!

About the Author


Born and raised in west Michigan, Sharlene MacLaren attended Spring Arbor University. Upon graduating with an education degree in 1971, she taught second grade for two years, then accepted an invitation to travel internationally for a year with a singing ensemble. After traveling for a year, she returned to her teaching job, then in 1975, she reunited with her childhood sweetheart, and they married that very December. They have raised two lovely daughters, both of whom are now happily married and enjoying their own families. Retired in 2003 after thirty-one years of teaching, Shar loves to read, sing, travel, and spend time with her family—in particular, her adorable grandchildren!

Shar has always enjoyed writing, and her high school classmates eagerly read and passed around her short stories. In the early 2000s, Shar felt God’s call upon her heart to take her writing pleasures a step further, so in 2006, she signed a contract with Whitaker House for her first faith-based novel, Through Every Storm, thereby launching her professional writing career. With more than twenty published novels now gracing store shelves and being sold online, Shar gives God all the glory.
Shar’s novels have won numerous awards. Her Steadfast Heart is her twenty-first novel and the second book in her Hearts of Honor series (after Her Rebel Heart).
Shar has done numerous countrywide book signings and has participated in several interviews on television and radio. She loves to speak for community organizations, libraries, church groups, and women’s conferences. In her church, she is active in women’s ministries, regularly facilitating Bible studies and other events. Shar and her husband, Cecil, live in Spring Lake, Michigan, with their beautiful white collie, Peyton.

Shar loves hearing from her readers. If you wish to contact her as a potential speaker or would simply like to chat with her, please send her an e-mail at SharleneMacLaren@Yahoo.com. She will do her best to answer in a timely manner. 

More from Sharlene

Faith Haviland swept a few strands of damp hair off her forehead, irritated by how it had escaped the neat bun of this morning. She shoveled more dishes into the sink and set to washing them as fast as possible to prepare for the supper crowd that would soon descend upon Daybreak Diner. It wasn’t a fairytale job by any means, but, alas, it was a job, and many would clamor for it if her Aunt Martha ever hung up a “Help Wanted” sign in the window. Her aunt, who happened to be her father’s younger sister, owned and operated the establishment and often stated her wish for Faith to one day take it over. Faith shuddered at the prospect of telling Martha she’d been entertaining the idea of leaving Columbus. Martha wouldn’t like the news, but Faith couldn’t worry about that. Things had grown too tedious in her hometown, and too many found it their job to remind her of the unfortunate event of her canceled wedding. Add to that the troublesome, if not peculiarly obsessive, behavior of Stuart Porter, and tedious hardly described it. Ever since her fiancĂ©’s departure with her best friend just two weeks before their April 15 wedding day, Mr. Porter had started closing in on her, insisting he would marry her in an instant if she’d simply agree.
For as long as she could recall, the man had outwardly admired her, even though she had done nothing to encourage it. Nothing about him appealed to her. First, he didn’t serve the Lord; second, he was an obsessive drinker; third, he came off as pushy and persistent; and finally, he resembled a goose with his nose sticking out like a beak. Not that looks meant all that much—goodness, she didn’t consider herself any major prize—but it was all the other things thrown in. The man was almost twenty years older than she and widowed to boot. At least, that was the rumor anyway. No one had really known his wife, only that she was there one day and gone the next. Some said she’d died, and others said she’d left him for another man. Whatever the case, it’d been a mysterious event that few knew anything about, and if they did, no one discussed it much, probably mostly from lack of caring.

Blog Stops

Connie’s History Classroom, February 9

Texas Book-aholic, February 10

Britt Reads Fiction, February 10

Artistic Nobody, February 11 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, February 12

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, February 12

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 13

For the Love of Literature, February 14

Sara Jane Jacobs, February 14

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, February 15

Inklings and notions, February 16

Reviewingbooksplusmore, February 16

For Him and My Family, February 17

Locks, Hooks and Books, February 18

Labor Not in Vain, February 18

deb’s Book Review, February 19

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 20

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, February 20

Blossoms and Blessings, February 21

Vicky Sluiter, February 22

Genesis 5020, February 22

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Sharlene is giving away the grand prize package of a $20 Starbucks gift card and a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/1073e/her-steadfast-heart-celebration-tour-giveaway


I got a free copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own and given voluntarily. No compensation was received for my review.