Thursday, February 28, 2019

Month in Review -- February

  • Wrote 1530 words
  • Sculpted 0 babies
  • Tatted 0 crosses
  • Sewed 0 sock monkeys  
  • Knit 0 hats
  • Exercised 15 days
  • Read in the Bible 28 days
  • Wrote up 0 backlogged book reviews 
  • "The Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides Collection" featuring Kathleen Rouser -- Book Review, Blog Tour, and Giveaway

    About the Book51ZdzdL75lL._SY346_

    Title: The Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides
    Author: Kathy Rouser
    Genre: Christian Historical Romance
    Release date: November 1, 2018
    Publisher: Barbour

    Lighthouses have long been the symbol of salvation, warning sailors away from dangerous rocks and shallow waters.
    Along the Great Lakes, America’s inland seas, lighthouses played a vital role in the growth of the nation. They shepherded settlers traveling by water to places that had no roads. These beacons of light required constant tending even in remote and often dangerous places. Brave men and women battled the elements and loneliness to keep the lights shining. Their sacrifice kept goods and immigrants moving. Seven romances set between 1883 and 1911 bring hope to these lonely keepers and love to weary hearts.
    The Last Memory by Kathleen Rouser
    1899—Mackinac Point Lighthouse
    Natalie Brooks loses her past to amnesia, and Cal Waterson, the lighthouse keeper who rescues her, didn’t bargain on risking his heart—when her past might change everything.

    My Thoughts

    I love reading books set in Michigan since that is where I live. I enjoyed the addition of the old lighthouses around the Great Lakes. It was so nice having things like Trilliums mentioned as it is what I have around me and feels like home. Imagining what it was like in the past and being able to live it through the book was nice. Good biblical truths are conveyed as well. These Barbour collections of novellas are wonderful as they are well written, quick to read, and let you experience authors you might not have heard of otherwise.

    About the Featured Author 

    Kathleen Rouser is the multi-published author of the 2017 Bookvana Award winner, Rumors and Promises, her first novel about the people of fictional Stone Creek, Michigan, and its sequel, Secrets and Wishes. She is a longtime member in good standing of American Christian Fiction Writers. She longs to create characters who resonate with readers who realize their need for the touch God’s grace and hope in their everyday lives. A former homeschool instructor, mild-mannered dental assistant, and current Community Bible Study kids’ teacher, she lives in Michigan with her hero and husband of thirty-some years, and the sassy tail-less cat who found a home in their empty nest. Connect with Kathleen on her website at, on Facebook at, and on Twitter @KathleenRouser.

    Guest Post from Kathy

    When author Pegg Thomas approached me about writing a novella for The Great Lakes Lighthouse Bridesbook proposal I couldn’t refuse the chance. After all, I am a lifelong resident of Michigan, which is the Great Lakes State! Plus, I had a favorite lighthouse in mind, though I briefly considered others.
    For over 20 years we have ventured “up north” for a week-long summer vacation on Lake Michigan, most of them spent in the same cottage. Since the cottage is almost 20 miles west of Mackinaw City, I’ve made the annual pilgrimage to the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse since they reopened with exhibits in 2004. Part of the first floor has since been restored to the middle-class furnishings of 1910 when George Marshall and his family resided there. Two generations of Marshalls manned the lighthouse and George Marshall’s brother, Charles, was at one time the assistant lighthouse keeper.
    There is also an area of the lighthouse where they display maps, photographs and other information, chronicling the history of the lighthouse built on the Straits of Mackinac in 1892. Fresnel lenses, like those used in the tower, and interactive displays are also included. Did you know for several years, the fourth-order Fresnel lens flashed a red light? I’d always pictured a yellow light! A tour guide, dressed in period clothing, such as a U.S. Lighthouse Service uniform, will take you up the tall, winding metal staircase to enjoy the view.
    My many visits, whether they’ve included the long climb to the tower or not, have intrigued me. I’d often thought that someday I would like to write a fictional story about this lighthouse. Built with Cream City brick, in a Norman architectural style, the building reminds me of a castle. Perhaps that’s why I chose to have the lighthouse keeper hero, Cal Waterson, rescue Natalie Brooks, a lone shipwreck survivor. She is the proverbial damsel in distress. Yet, despite her amnesia she finds a new strength in her faith to face an unknown future and in a sense rescues Cal and his daughter.
    Returning to the lighthouse last year, I did climb to the tower to examine the view my characters might have had. Of course, I had to imagine what it would have been like without the Mackinac Bridge, which has joined our upper and lower peninsulas since 1957. It’s a spectacular view, where you can also see Mackinac Island, home of the famous Grand Hotel, which was already there in 1899, when my story takes place.
    Not only do lighthouses spark so many ideas of history and romance, they are so symbolic— as guiding lights—and beacons of hope to lead through treacherous waters, much like our Savior, Jesus Christ, is the true Light who leads us to the Father. Indeed, Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse played a strategic part in guiding ships through the dangers of the straits. I look forward to visiting this beautiful historic landmark again and hope my readers will be drawn into an intriguing visit to the lighthouse through my story, The Last Memory.

    Blog Stops

    Among the Reads, February 21
    The Power of Words, February 21
    Simple Harvest Reads, February 22 (Guest Post from Mindy Houng)
    Bibliophile Reviews, February 23
    Just the Write Escape, February 24
    Carla Loves To Read, February 24
    Book by Book, February 25
    EmpowerMoms, February 26
    Back Porch Reads, February 27
    Mary Hake, February 28
    KarenSueHadleyMarch 4
    Carpe Diem, March 5
    BigreadersiteMarch 6


    To celebrate her tour, Kathy is giving away a grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card, a signed copy of The Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides Collection, a sterling silver charm of the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse, and a souvenir pictorial book of some of the Great Lakes lighthouse!!
    Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

    "The Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides Collection" is available in paperback:
    • Paperback: 448 pages
    • Publisher: Barbour Books (November 1, 2018)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 1683227697
    • ISBN-13: 978-1683227694
    • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches

    and in Kindle edition:
    • File Size: 1447 KB
    • Print Length: 448 pages
    • Publisher: Barbour Books (November 1, 2018)
    • Publication Date: October 4, 2018
    • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B07D8GNHBF

    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 26, 2019

    "Ladies of Intrigue" by Michelle Griep -- Book Review, Blog Tour, and Giveaway

    About the BookLadiesOfIntrigue_Cover

    Title: Ladies of Intrigue
    Author: Michelle Griep
    Genre: Christian Historical
    Release date: February 2019
    Publisher: Barbour
    3 Page-Turners Under One Cover from Reader Favorite Michelle Griep!
    Can truth and love prevail when no one is as they appear?
    The Gentleman Smuggler’s Lady
    Cornish Coast, 1815
    When a prim and proper governess returns to England from abroad, she expects to comfort her dying father—not fall in love with a smuggler. Will Helen Fletcher keep Isaac Seaton’s unusual secret?
    The Doctor’s Woman (A Carol Award Winner!)
    Dakota Territory, 1862
    Emmy Nelson, daughter of a missionary doctor, and Dr. James Clark, city doctor aspiring to teach, find themselves working side by side at Fort Snelling during the Dakota Uprising. That is when the real clash of ideals begins.
    A House of Secrets
    St. Paul, Minnesota, 1890
    Ladies Aide Chairman, Amanda Carston resolves to clean up St. Paul’s ramshackle housing, starting with the worst of the worst: a “haunted” house that’s secretly owned by her beau—a home that’s his only means of helping brothel girls escape from the hands of the city’s most infamous madam.
    My Thoughts

    "Ladies of Intrigue" is a collection of three novellas. As novellas, the romances happen quickly, but you expect that since there isn't the time to develop and drag them out. I enjoyed reading the stories and found them to be well written. I like novellas as they are quick to read and you can fit them in when you wouldn't have time to read a longer book.

    The Gentleman Smuggler's Lady: I felt like this one's romance felt the most rushed of all the stories. I would have liked to have an epilogue to see how Mr. Farris' investigation turned out and to see Isaac and Helen later. I also wouldn't have thought of Isaac as a smuggler as he wasn't importing things secretly and illegally, more of a raider as he removed things from ships.

    The Doctor's Woman: I enjoyed the interactions between James and Emmy and their work together to minister to the Sioux people. I especially liked Makawee and Little Jack.

    A House of Secrets: This story was different than the others as it wasn't so much a romance since Amanda and Joseph were already engaged when the story started. It had twists to the story that I wasn't expecting.

    About the AuthorMichelleGriep_AuthorPhoto

    Michelle Griep has been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She seeks to glorify God in all that she writes—except for that graffiti phase she went through as a teenager. She resides in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, where she teaches history and writing classes for a local high school co-op. An Anglophile at heart, she runs away to England every chance she gets, under the guise of research. Really, though, she’s eating excessive amounts of scones while rambling around a castle. Michelle is a member of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and MCWG (Minnesota Christian Writers Guild). Keep up with her adventures at her blog “Writer off the Leash” or visit

    Guest post from Michelle

    3 Reasons to Read Historical Fiction
    Believe it or not, some readers snub historical fiction, preferring instead to stick to contemporary reads. Several have good reason to, simply preferring one genre over another. But others have never given historical fiction a try. If you fall into that camp, here are some reasons you should consider reading a tale from the past.
    1. Historical fiction books are not as boring as your high school history class.
    Does the thought of endless names and dates make you break out into hives? Good news! Historical fiction is a painless way to glean some historic facts without mindless memorization. You can experience a different era and culture vicariously through heroes and heroines that live on the pages of yesteryear.
    1. Makes for great conversation.
    In a world that prides itself on keeping up with the Kardashians, dare to add a little cultural zest to your next dinner conversation. Reading historical fiction arms you with interesting tidbits of things that’ve happened in years gone by.
    1. Because truth is timeless.
    Some people yearn to go back to a simpler time. The truth is, though, that the grass isn’t necessarily greener on the historic side of the fence. People have had tough issues to deal with no matter the era. . .but therein lies a great reason to read historical fiction: truth is timeless. Be it ancient, biblical, medieval, Victorian, or anything in between, truth never changes.
    In my new release, Ladies of Intrigue, you’ll experience all these things and more. Find out about the smuggling trade in Cornwall in The Gentleman Smuggler’s Lady. Learn about the rough and dangerous life on a military fort during the 1860’s in The Doctor’s Woman. Find out why the gilded age wasn’t as glittery as we often think in A House of Secrets.
    Don’t be doomed to repeat history. Grab a cup of tea and master it with a great read!

    Blog Stops

    The Avid Reader, February 23
    The Power of Words, February 23
    D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, February 23
    Blogging With Carol, February 24
    Jeanette’s Thoughts, February 24
    Mary Hake, February 24
    Kathleen Denly, February 25
    Genesis 5020, February 25
    Splashes of Joy, February 25
    Faery Tales Are Real, February 26
    Inspired by fiction, February 27
    All-of-a-kind Mom, February 27
    Back Porch ReadsFebruary 27
    Andy Carmichael, February 28
    Stories By Gina, February 28
    Emily Yager, March 1
    Multifarious, March 1
    Baker kella, March 1
    Remembrancy, March 2
    BigreadersiteMarch 3
    Vicky Sluiter, March 4
    Book by Book, March 4
    Pause for Tales, March 6
    Simple Harvest Reads, March 6 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)
    Carpe Diem, March 8


    To celebrate her tour, Michelle is giving away a grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card and a free copy of Ladies of Intrigue!!
    Be sure to comment on blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

    "Ladies of Intrigue" is available in paperback:
    • Paperback: 288 pages
    • Publisher: Barbour Books (February 1, 2019)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 168322826X
    • ISBN-13: 978-1683228264
    • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches

    and in Kindle edition:
    • File Size: 1038 KB
    • Print Length: 288 pages
    • Publisher: Barbour Books (February 1, 2019)
    • Publication Date: January 15, 2019
    • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B07HYM6HQ6

    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.

    Friday, February 15, 2019

    "The Amish Candy Maker" by Laura V. Hilton -- Book Review, Blog Tour, and Giveaway

    About the Book

    The Amish Candy Maker Cover
    Title: The Amish Candy Maker
    Author: Laura V. Hilton
    Genre: Amish Christian Fiction
    Release date: February 5, 2019
    Publisher: WhitakerHouse
    Agnes Zook finds herself on her own in a small Amish community in Mackinac County after a tragedy kills her family. Most of the Amish call her “off in den Kopf” (strange) since she’s starting her own business and forging her own way in the community instead of relying on the bishop to take care of her. Since she’s viewed as non-submissive and too-forward for an Amish woman, she’s not courted by young men in the area.
    Isaac Mast is on the verge of leaving the Amish church. He’s become a sought-after auctioneer and has a thriving business, but he feels confined by the strict rules. When his brother is severely injured in a wild fire, Isaac receives a letter from his sister-in-law, begging him to come to Mackinac County to help out while his brother is hospitalized. Isaac agrees but is unsure how to manage their young children when he has weekend auctions he’s expected to attend.
    Agnes may be the answer to a prayer. Sparks fly when she and Isaac meet. But could their differences help them form a deeper connection to their faith…and each other?
    My Thoughts

    I enjoyed being back in the Amish community in Michigan's Mackinac County. It was fun seeing characters we met in other books. "The Amish Candy Maker" is the second book in the Amish of Mackinac County series, but Laura V. Hilton also has two novellas that fit in with the series, also. For the story to fit chronologically, the stories would go "Wildfire", "Playing with Fire" (in Plain Everyday Heroes), "The Amish Candy Maker", & " Winter's Treasure" (in Love's Christmas Blessing). When I first met Agnes in Wildfire, I didn't really like her very much. It was nice to get to know her better and see what "made her tick". I ached for Agnes and Isaac and the pain and hurt from their pasts. I felt the book flowed well and was well written. I look forward to reading more books by Laura V. Hilton.

    About the Author

    Laura pictureLaura Hilton is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and is a professional book reviewer for the Christian market, with more than a thousand reviews published on the web. Her first series with Whitaker was The Amish of Seymour, comprising Patchwork DreamsA Harvest of Hearts (2012 Laurel Award winner, first place in the Amish Genre Clash), and Promised to Another; and her second was The Amish of Webster County, comprising Healing LoveAwakened Love, and Surrendered Love. Her next series was The Amish of Jamesport, featuring The Post CardSnow Globe, and The Birdhouse. Her latest books include The Amish FirefighterThe Amish Wanderer, and Love By the Numbers. Laura and her husband, Steve, live in Arkansas with their five children, whom Laura homeschools.

    Guest Post from Laura

    Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Fudge
    Courtesy of Laura V. Hilton
    1 bag (12 ounces) milk chocolate chips
    1 bag (10 ounces) peanut butter chips
    2 cans sweetened condensed milk, divided
    6 tablespoons butter, divided
    20 to 30 miniature Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or six regular-size ones broken into four or five pieces each
    For the chocolate layer: Line a greased 8-by-11.5-inch baking dish with parchment paper.
    In a double boiler or metal bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, combine milk chocolate chips, 1 can sweetened condensed milk, and 4 tablespoons butter. Stir until melted and smooth.
    Pour into prepared baking dish and allow to cool to room temperature, then move to the refrigerator while preparing next layer.
    For the peanut butter layer: In a double boiler or metal bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, combine peanut butter chips, 1 can sweetened condensed milk, and 2 tablespoons butter. Stir until melted and smooth.
    Pour on to the milk chocolate fudge layer and press pieces of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups into the surface. If desired, group candy pieces in a grid-like fashion for easier cutting later.
    Allow to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate overnight or until set.
    Remove from refrigerator, lift out of the pan by the edges of the parchment paper, and cut into squares, with roughly one miniature peanut butter cup or piece of a cup per square.
    Store in the refrigerator.

    Blog Stops

    Carla Loves To Read, February 5
    Among the Reads, February 6
    Britt Reads Fiction, February 6
    The Avid Reader, February 7
    Emily Yager, February 8
    Quiet quilter, February 8
    Maureen’s Musings, February 9
    Bibliophile Reviews, February 10
    Vicky Sluiter, February 10
    Daysong Reflections, February 11
    Texas Book-aholic, February 12
    Janices book reviews, February 12
    Carpe Diem, February 13
    SusanLovesBooks, February 14
    Inklings and Notions, February 16
    Pause for Tales, February 16
    Have A Wonderful DayFebruary 17
    For the Love of Books, February 17
    Bigreadersite, February 18


    To celebrate her tour, Laura is giving away a grand prize of a large and small spatula set and a $10 Starbucks gift card!!
    Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

    "The Amish Candy Maker" is available in paperback:
    • Publisher: Whitaker House (February 5, 2019)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 164123119X
    • ISBN-13: 978-1641231190
    • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches

    and in Kindle edition:
    • File Size: 2788 KB
    • Print Length: 255 pages
    • Publisher: Whitaker House (February 5, 2019)
    • Publication Date: February 5, 2019
    • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B07CG2Q11N

    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.