25 Book Reviews

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Two Authors Combine Their Talents to Write a Winning novel!! Be sure to enter the Giveaway!!

"A Spring of Weddings"
By:  Toni Shiloh  and
     Melissa Wardwell
    Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Release Date: March 30, 2017
A Proxy Wedding
Carly James values loyalty and friendship above all, so when her best friend calls asking her to be a proxy bride, she says, ‘yes.’ How hard can it be to say ‘I do’ so that her best friend can be with the one she loves? Only, Carly never counted on the feelings that began to swirl around with the proxy groom.
Damien Nichols likes life lined up from A to Z, but when his best friend calls in a favor, disorder begins to reign. Instead of taking a quick flight to the proxy wedding, he must take a road trip with the proxy bride. Carly’s free-spirit attitude bumps heads with his meticulous approach to life. As Damien discovers the woman underneath the carefree façade, his emotions become involved.
Will love become real at A Proxy Wedding?

Hope Beyond Savannah
Lily Allman and Nikotemo (Nik) Lagatuo were the poster children for the term “opposites attract.” He was an evangelist and CEO for a non-profit from Samoa who grew up in a large loving family. She was a blond bombshell with a funky style and no family to call her own. Two of the most unlikely people meet in the most unlikely of places, but God had a plan when He brought them together. They never let their differences deter them from the love they had for each other, but when Nik’s mother comes to the States for the wedding, the idea of wedded bliss is shaken. Can prejudices be over looked, insecurities overcome, and hope for a better future be restored so that these two can have all that was promised?
My Thoughts:
When you think of springtime, don't you always think of approaching weddings?? I sure do!! This wonderful season makes me think of new life, new beginnings, new relationships. 
Before reading Toni Shiloh's story, entitled "A Proxy Wedding", I did not realise that this ceremony even existed. This work of fiction was a whole new learning experience for me. Toni 's story exhibited her unique talent of dealing with the unusual in a realistic way, that had me living alongside the characters as they fought their way through the many challenges and bumps in the road. I could feel every emotion as the characters struggled to be good friends while a budding, but not desired, romance developed. Although the characters fought against the growing attraction, God had another plan!  It just shows how very different personalities can be attracted to one another  and be a very positive experience. 
Melissa Wardwell has been another favorite author of mine for a while now. Her story, "Hope Beyond Savannah" was rich in the realistic description of the heritage of the characters. The blending of two very different backgrounds was informative and showed us how God is at work to make us all one with another. A mixed marriage is not unusual these days, however, not all people deal with it in a positive manner. The characters came alive in my mind as the plot thickened. I walked beside them in their difficult times as well as chuckled in their good ones!! Nik's mother, I have to admit, was humorous while being the kind of mother in law that everyone dreads and fears!! There were the perfect number of twists and turns in the plot to make one keep reading past bedtime!
 Both of these authors did a superior job of writing novellas that were unique in content and presentation!! Well done, ladies!!
This book was gift. The thoughts and opinions expressed are honest and my own. 

Make sure to click here to preorder your copy!
About the Authors:
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.

Melissa Wardwell was born and raised in a small mid-Michigan community living there still with her Husband and three children. She enjoys taking pictures, reading, and leisurely rides with her husband on their motorcycle. All her stories revolve around women who are mothers. Single mothers, widowed mothers, young mothers, married mothers, and even women who have a mother’s heart but no children of her own.
Her hope is that each story touches your heart, gives you hope, or just gives you a moment away from the chaos of life.

Guest posts from Toni & Melissa

A Proxy Wedding
By Toni Shiloh
Spring is here! I love it because I always think of new beginnings as the flowers bud and then bloom. The trials and tribulation of the winter season are no longer on my mind. My hope that the winter season would not linger begins to become visible as new life takes shape on the bare trees. The seeds I planted in faith of God’s faithfulness sprout up in hope and promise.
When I sat down to write A Proxy Wedding, I had to imagine spring time, because the dreary, overcast skies outside my window were a constant reminder that I was in a season of sickness. One person would get sick, then the next, and the next. By the time the last person got sick, the round would start over. Visits to the doctor were made. Miserable kids were constantly whining in their discomfort.
It. Was. Rough.
It made perfect sense for me to throw my characters into a new situation. One that would make the stretch, take them out their comfort zone, and search for God’s goodness. I wanted to give them a hint of goodness and throw in a trial or two so they could make the decision that sometimes, risk is worth it. Just as we all react differently to new situations, so did my characters.
Carly was intent on making lemonade from her lemons. She tries to get the handsome broker, Damien, to see the importance of smelling roses and lingering over new adventures. Of course, Damien wasn’t partial to the frivolity. He’s so intent on becoming a success that he had no time to slow down.
In order for them to see God’s handiwork in their lives, I had to remind them that they were not products of their past. That in God, they’re a new creation with new opportunities available to them.
I hope you enjoy A Proxy Wedding. May you think of the Father’s love as you take time to stop and smell the roses.
Hope Beyond Savannah
By Melissa Wardwell
I hope you enjoy this story of love, acceptance and new beginnings. It was a joy to write because there is much more to it than the hope of marriage. It is about the blending of two families who are from two completely different cultures. Researching the island traditions, beliefs, and customs was not only fun, but enlightening. Being able to return to my background in bridal as well as the most beautiful city in the United States was just an added bonus.
With Nik and his family being from another country, I gave you a glossary of words and phrases used so you knew what was being said. I found the language to be rather beautiful and to not include it would take away from who these people are. I also give a small explanation as to what Rock-a- billy is. Lily is a funky chick who dresses in a fun and exciting way. When I saw this couple in my head, I knew it would be quite the uncommon match. As you will soon see, they fit together quite nicely.
My point in using a bi-racial couple for this story was based on what we have been seeing in the news lately. It is unlike anything I have ever done but after talking to friends in similar relationships, I knew I had to step out on this limb. I think it is time we begin to look at people through the eyes of God and not man, then we would see how beautiful we all are. It doesn’t matter what color our skin is or what our past contains, we are all God’s creation and we are beautifully and wonderfully made.

Blog Stops

April 25: Lighthouse Academy
April 28: Mary Hake
April 29: The Power of Words (Spotlight)
May 1: Quiet Quilter
May 4: A Greater Yes
May 5: Carpe Diem
May 7: God is Love
May 8: Autism mom

Enter the Giveaway to win a marvellous prize!!

To celebrate the tour, Celebrate Lit Publishing is giving away a Kindle! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/b614

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Great New Amish Fiction in the Hope Chest of Dreams Series!

             "Annie's Recipe"
           By Lisa Jones Baker

About the Book:

Three young Amish women, each gifted with a hand-carved hope chest, find that one by one, with patience and faith, their most blessed dreams for the future can come true…

Annie Mast and Levi Miller were best friends until his father was shunned by the church. Now, ten years later, Levi has returned to Arthur, Illinois, for a brief visit, and he and Annie discover their bond is as strong as ever. Spending as much time together as possible, Annie finds herself dreaming of a future with Levi. And Levi is soon dreaming of building a home on a beautiful local hillside—to live in with Annie. Yet their longings are unlikely to become reality…

Levi is part of the English world, and while Annie cannot see herself there, she knows she must reveal her heart’s truth to him. And Levi, strongly reminded of his Amish roots, knows he must heal the bitterness of the past. And together, with love on their side, they just may find their way to an answered pray. 

My Thoughts:

As the Amish fiction genre just happens to be a favorite of mine, I was honored to be able to review this new book.  The cover grabbed my attention right away, making me wonder what this young Amish woman was going to create in her kitchen, with the handsome man, who obviously is NOT Amish,  watching her closely.

The characters are realistically and well developed in such a way that make them very easy with whom to identify. Annie is such a precious girl who struggles to make sense of the challenges that life throws at her. She stumbles along to  attempt to solve her dilemma while keeping her faith and beliefs intact. Levi also encounters many problems that cause him to question his beliefs. 

The plot seems to start out slowly  but after a couple of chapters I was caught up in this adventure. A sweet romance develops within the confines of an Amish community , where mixed relationships are frowned upon. The underlying theme of keeping true to one's faith is apparent throughout the story. How can one possibly trust a God who causes us to question our beliefs??? But, isn't that what our Lord wants us to do?  He wants us to give him our absolute trust to follow Him and not question His plans.

 Annie's recipe for sponge cake is an unexpected bonus included at the conclusion of the tale. I can honestly say that it is delicious!!!

I will definitely be watching for the next book in this series!

About the Author:  

I write heart-warming stories with Amish characters; I grew up near an Amish town and began interacting with the Plain Faith when they custom made our kitchen cabinets. Since childhood, I've been fascinated.
I dream up stories that I love and hope that my readers will love them, too.
My HOPE CHEST OF DREAMS series features wonderful female characters, and my debut
book, REBECCA'S BOUQUET, got a starred review from Publishers Weekly.
I've been blessed to have been raised by Christian parents, have been on five out of seven
continents, was once a high school teacher, and love horse and buggy rides almost as much as I love tomatoes from my dad's garden!
You can message me on facebook or on lisajonesbaker.com. I may be a little
slow to respond, but I will get back to you. Thanks for reading my page, and enjoy REBECCA'S BOUQUET, ANNIE'S RECIPE, and RACHEL'S DREAM!
Lisa Jones Baker

Excerpt From Book:  

Annie Mast tossed a rock into Pebble Creek and giggled.  She clapped her hands as the small stone hit the water.  Beside her, Levi Miller nodded his approval.  Their contest was always who could make the bigger splash.  Of course, Levi usually won.  But she guessed when her efforts trumped his, it was because he allowed it.  After all, at eight years of age, it wasn’t easy competing with a twelve-year-old boy.  Especially a boy much taller and stronger than she was.

Levi joined in the applause. “If you keep throwing like that, I’ll have to practice.”

Annie grinned. Automatically, they stepped side-by-side up the incline leading to their sitting spot. Hills were unusual in predominantly flat Illinois, but she was sure God had planned this particular elevation especially for her and Levi.

Without talking, she claimed her stone at the same time he declared his. Not wasting a moment, Annie reached into the wicker basket between them for a sponge cake. Levi accepted the napkin-covered, sweet-smelling dessert with an appreciative grin. As he did so, she automatically took in the curve of his high cheekbones and determined jaw. Brightness lightened his autumn-brown hair a shade. As always, he waited to bite into the treat until she held hers between her fingers. Together, they ate while the late August sun caressed them. In her long Amish dress and apron, Annie quickly forgot the unusually hot temperature when Levi pointed to old Sam Beachy’s barn.

“You want to know a secret?”

She lifted an inquisitive brow while anxiously awaiting the response.

 “One day you’ll be as good a cook as Esther.”

Annie’s heart smiled. Everyone knew Sam’s wife made the best dishes around.

Excitement edged Annie’s voice. “You really think so?”

He took another bite before offering a quick, definitive nod and lowered his pitch to a whisper. She wondered why. There wasn’t anyone within hearing distance.

“There’s no doubt in my mind.”

Annie’s heart jumped with happiness. Even more than matching Esther’s baking skills, what really mattered was that she and her best friend were together. And as long as she was with Levi, how could life get better?

Buy Link:

This book was received as a gift. The opinions and thoughts expressed are honest and my own.

Lisa will be awarding a $50 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. See Link on Sidebar.

Follow the book tour at the following link! Enter to win a terrific prize!! The more visits you make , the more chances you have to win!!


Saturday, April 15, 2017

A Great Combination of Suspense and Romance!! Enter the Author's Giveaway!!

"Finding Hope in Savannah"
     By Melissa Wardwell    

About the Book:

Book: Finding Hope in Savannah
Author: Melissa Wardwell
Genre: Christian Suspense/Romance
Release Date: September 15, 2016
Elizabeth “Liz” Thompson liked her quiet, predictable life with her son.When she witnesses something horrifying and dangerous, they are forced into hiding. She seeks refuge in the small community of Isle of Hope, Georgia only to find that her life and her heart are still hanging in the balance.
Officer Jake Andrews, dedicated his life to protect and serve the people of Savannah. In the back of his mind always wondering “what if?”. The arrival of a young woman from his past forces him to face a long-buried secret, that will change how he sees his future.
As danger comes to Georgia, Liz & Jake must learn to trust God and each other, to see their way out of the situation.
Click here to purchase your copy.

My Thoughts:

Having greatly enjoyed  a previous book by this author, my expectations were high when presented with this new one. No disappointment !! This novel was a very enjoyable read. The subject of a single mom's life immediately appealed to me. Her life was not perfect! Is anyone's?? What is the natural and unfortunately human thing to do in times of despair??? Turn one's back to God! Life is not a dream come true! We all wish it could be but let's face it, life has its hills and deep valleys!! Liz, the main character was no exception. Easy to identify with, this woman experiences tough times. Finding peace with her past and hope in her future involves the need to realise that God loves one in ALL circumstances. Jake is a natural protector. His past with Liz demands that he not only help her but face those hidden times that seem to be better forgotten. The characters are all described so realistically that the reader walks alongside them on their journey back to faith and redemption.

The plot moves steadily at a quick pace, with just enough twists and turns, to indulge those of us who enjoy suspense. The sweet romance, at times , seems to sour, but with the help of Christian friends, it grows. The need to have an active relationship with God is the underlying theme throughout the novel. Prayer and study of God's Word is the basis to a more meaningful life. The past is forgiven and forgotten. 

I am eagerly awaiting the next book by this author!! 
Definitely, a five star book!!!
This book was received as a gift. The thoughts and opinions expressed are honest and my own.
About the Author:   
Melissa resides in a small mid-Michigan farm community with her husband and three children, all of whom they home school. Besides writing, she enjoys reading, taking photos, and motorcycle rides with her husband. Her hope is that each story touches your heart, gives you hope, or just gives you a moment away from the chaos of life.

Guest Post from Melissa Wardwell

Finding myself though “Finding Hope in Savannah”
Writing this book opened my eyes to quite a few things about myself. It opened a door to a need to discover new places and try new things. To step outside of my shell and not be afraid to discover what I am capable of as a wife, mother, and a Christian Woman. In one scene, I have “Liz” talking about how she wishes she could be brave enough to face things without being so fearful of the outcome. I was reminded that when we are moving in Christ’s will for our lives, there is nothing to fear. (Insert image of Woman on top of the fountain)
When I came up with the idea for “Finding Hope in Savannah” I wanted a location that was unlike any place I have ever been. All my other books take place in my area. So, I set out to find images of some place warm and southern. I came across images of this little community on the outskirts of Savannah Georgia called Isle of Hope. I loved the looks of this little haven so much, I made it the location of this book.
Writing the descriptions on the location was a bit of a stretch of my imagination. I hadn’t seen it, smelled it, or touched it in any way. The writing of this book just so happened to be the same year as when our family would be driving to Florida for a family vacation. After expressing my frustration in not getting the feel of the place right, my darling husband suggested leaving a bit earlier and spending some time in Savannah on the way down. I am so glad we did and I discovered for myself why it is considered the most beautiful city in the United States.
This book isn’t just a love story or a story about a woman in hiding, but about a single mother of a tween boy who is trying her best to find her way in this world. Having two teen boys of my own I know how fun, as well as gross, boys can be but to get the right mind set for “Liz” I had to do some homework. It took watching and talking to my friends who are single mothers, hear their concerns about life and managing their time. I admire those who have to play both roles every day and still have a smile on their faces. With my husband’s job, I am on my own with the kids part of the time, but it is only part time. I couldn’t imagine raising my three all by myself. My hats off to all the single mommies of the world.

Blog Stops

April 8: Karen Sue Hadley
April 11: A Greater Yes
April 12: Bigreadersite
April 14: Carpe Diem
April 15: my site/autism mom
April 16: Quiet Quilter


To celebrate her tour, Melissa is giving away one print copy of “Finding Hope in Savannah” as well as a $10 Amazon gift card!! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/b2b9

Saturday, April 8, 2017

A Topnotch Humorous Romance by Pepper Basham!! Enter the Giveaway!!

     "Just the Way You Are"
       By Pepper Basham
About the Book:
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Single mom, Eisley Barrett, prefers to keep romance safely housed within a centuries-old mystery, but when she travels to England to unearth the secret, an actor with a sordid past offers her reluctant heart a very different type of discovery.
Wes Harrison has a past he’s ashamed to confess. Suspicious and cynical, he’s managed to avoid romantic entanglements since a tragedy upended his career and life, that is until American Eisley Barrett comes along. Her authenticity and kindness upend his bitter assumptions and send his heart into unscripted territory.
When his past threatens to ruin a second chance at love, can some Appalachian matchmaking and letters from the grace salvage their unexpected romance?

My Thoughts:

"Just the Way You Are" , Book One in the Pleasant Gap Romance series, was the most enjoyable, light read that I have had in a while!! Pepper has a unique talent of combining a delightful romance with the perfect amount of humor to allow you to giggle throughout the good times and the bad. This author grabbed my attention in the first chapter, making it impossible to put the book down until I had read the last page!!

The characters were realistic and totally believable, with whom I could identify easily! What an unlikely couple:  a single mom from the Appalachian Mountains and a proper Brit movie star!! That alone brings a smile to my face!! What a strange combination!!! I fell in love with all of these very different characters, with their quirky and humorous ways of dealing with things. 

The plot moved steadily and quickly, with twists and turns at every corner. Trust issues played a huge part in the development of the romantic relationship, as well as God providing second chances to those who don't always expect them! The fear that Eisley hung on to almost caused her to miss her opportunity to fall in love. Risk taking played an important part of the story as it was proven over and over again that God gives us so much, but the individual must take a chance and put total trust in His power to forgive our pasts. 

One quote stood out to me and has remained with me long after reading the novel, " God  loves you just the way you are." What an awesome and overwhelming truth!! How many of us forget that ?! I absolutely LOVED this book !! I chuckled, I cried, I believed!!! God comes through in the end!!!

Definitely a five star book! Looking forward to more by this author.

This book was a gift. The opinions and thoughts expressed are honest and my own.

About the Author:

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

Guest post from Pepper Basham

Thank you so much for featuring my newest novel,  Just the Way You Are, on CelebrateLit. I am THRILLED to be a part of this and to share a story that is very dear to my heart.

Just the Way You Are is my first ‘true’ Britallachian romantic comedy. Even though I’ve written comedy in some of my other novels and included elements of both Appalachia and Britain, this one embodies the tag #britallachian to the core. For those of you who’ve read some of my previous books, you know I’m a big fan of my native Blue Ridge Mountains and the Appalachian culture. You may also know that I’m a proud Anglophile.
Those two loves met in Just the Way You Are – and I tossed lots of other things I love best into the mix. What are those ingredients, you might ask?
Well, let me just tell ya! Just the Way You Are is a blend of Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian culture, big (hilarious) family dynamics, matchmaking, Britain, a swoony English hero, a quirky, magnanimous heroine, a bunch of adorable kids, Scooby Doo and Indiana Jones references, lots of humor, a historical mystery, a devious villainess, stately manor houses, secret rooms, love letters, and matchmaking all rolled into one…oh, and did I mention brain-numbing romance?
(Did anyone else feel the need to add “fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, miracles, true love….” From the Princess Bride?) J I don’t think I included torture, giants, or monsters in Just the Way You Are…but I may have the other elements in this novel J
Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating about the brain-numbing, but I do have a tendency to err on the side of overly dramatic J
Within the pages of Just the Way You Are, you’ll meet people from my own family, people from my imagination, and some people who stepped into the story without one ounce of my planning to ever meet them. This story came out of my desire to write something I love reading – spicy romance, clean humor, culture clashes, the big love of family, and redemption.
How did my heroine Eisley Barrett evolve? Out of thin air. I was washing dishes one afternoon and staring out the window into our small backyard with the Blue Ridge Mountains painting a purplish-blue frame on the horizon when I closed my eyes. Into my imagination came this ginger-headed woman walking through Heathrow International Airport pulling a hot pink bag behind her…and then, she tripped and fell. That was it. That’s how I was introduced to my insecure, hilarious, romance-loving, single-mom heroine.
And the dashing hero? Okay, this may sound ridiculous, but I was watching an interview about Richard Armitage (Thoron Oakenshield, Guy of Gisborne, etc) regarding his lovely costume drama North and South where he plays a very dashing British hero. Anyway, he was SUCH a gentleman to watch during the interview. So polite. Kind. Funny, in a sweet way, and then, out of the blue, he said the word ‘gosh’. I know, that may not be a big deal to anyone but me, but after watching celebrity interviews where every other word needed a censor, the very fact that this elegant man used the word ‘gosh’, sent my writing brain into motion. My first internal question? What if a movie star with a tender heart had been burned by the pretension and expectation of celebrity status? What kind of woman could touch a heart who’d lost his faith in love’s authenticity?
Enter my red-head single-mom toting her pink bag through Heathrow and you have the very beginning of Just the Way You Are – a story of forgiveness, second chances…and a little bit of movie magic.

Click here to purchase your copy.

Blog Stops

April 6: cherylbbookblog
April 8: Bookworm Mama
April 9: Quiet Quilter
April 10: Faithfully Bookish
April 10: Back Porch Reads
April 11: Robin’s Nest
April 13: Cordially Barbara
April 14: A Greater Yes
April 15: Just Commonly
April 15: 100 Pages per Hour
April 16: Book by Book
April 17: Splashes of Joy
April 18: Karen Sue Hadley
April 19: Henry Happens
April 19: Baker Kella

Enter the Giveaway!!
Grand Prize Giveaway:
A 'chest' - in JTWYA historical letters are discovered in a chest that relates to the historical storyline, so meof these lovely goodies are going to be safely inside this chest.

Chocolate - several references take place in JTWYA that compare the hero to chocolate ;-)

A plaque about family - because that's a main point of importance in JTWYA

A Spider-man zipper pull - Pete, the heroine's son, is a major Spider-man fan.

English Breakfast Tea - The hero is English...swoony English

A dishcloth - again, something that relates to a scene in the book regarding the hero and dishes (twice)

Stirring spoon and measuring cups - food and cooking are a big part of Appalachian culture and fellowship, something celebrated in JTWYA

A notebook - Eisley (the heroine) is taking notes about a historical family mystery

A lovely container full of cloth flowers (for fun, and beauty) - the container says - Love and you will be loved. Loving others has an amazing way to find its way back to us (as is what happens in JTWYA)

A little plaque that reads "You are Loved" - a theme of this story

A beautiful lace doily from England (the English part of the story)

Some "Pixie Dust" a fun visualization of the 'magic' of romance in this story

A copy of Just the Way You Are

Another Fantastic Read by One of My Favorite Authors, Vannetta Chapman!

An Amish Proposal for Christmas  By Vannetta Chapman Synopsis: Her deepest Christmas wish will bring more than she imagined…in this novel by...