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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Elusive Miss Ellison



I can't say for sure what inspired my love for traditional regency romances. Maybe it was Downton Abbey or any of Jane Austen's novels, but I love the life of the ladies of that era. Responsibilities were much different as was a woman's role. Not so much subserviant but one had to hold her tongue and avoid saying what she thought, especially if one held some financial gain that would make her an agreeable match to the right man. It was much different for someone in service, because that was their lot in life and would look for matches in the same line of work as they were. Never did most of those relationships intermix with upper crust and those of servants. That is until Miss Lavinia Ellison, the daughter of the local Reverend and charitable do-gooder among those in the village of St. Hampton Heath in England.

The only way most of the town's residents life would improve was if the new Earl of Hawkesbury took a personal interest of those who serve his estate. Yet one could hardly be expected to answer that call personally even if Lavinia could inspire such a visit or plead her local charity case. However without his necessary funds to make the most basic repairs, it seems as if the revenue the Earl was anticipating would not be as healthy as he would hope.

It is Lavinia who challenges him to see the needs of those who depend on him, that they are not taking advantage of his good intentions and that in the long run, it will only benefit him. But since they come from two very different sets of circumstances, it is hard for them to see past what they only know of their own circumstances. Lavinia is determined to help those she deems less fortunate even if Nicholas, the Earl of Hawkesbury can't or won't. He is trying to see her side of things but unfortunately for Lavinia, he ability to temper her words with grace, doesn't make it easy for Nicholas to hear her truest intentions. Is there hope for either one of them? Time will tell.

I received The Elusive Miss Ellison by Carolyn Miller compliments of Kregel Publications. This is Carolyn Miller's debut novel into the Traditional Regency Romance, and I can tell fans of the genre will absolutely LOVE Lavina Ellison's gumption, grit and sass! The attention to detail instantly transports readers back to Gloucestershire, England of the early 1800's. I can't wait to see what will happen when Nicholas' mother gets a dose of Lavinia to see if she will applaud the girls determination or will issue the ultimatum most mother's made of their sons at that time in history. For me, this one was a welcomed 5 out of 5 stars in my opinion.

For more information about The Elusive Miss Ellison, Carolyn Miller or where you can pick up a copy of this novel today, please click on the links below:


You can find Carolyn Miller on Facebook to stay up to date on all her latest novels.

To read more reviews on The Elusive Miss Ellison, please visit Kregel Publication's website. 


Monday, March 20, 2017

The Little Book of Hygge



If someone were to ask you what is one little thing that can make you happy? Perhaps it is the smell of your favorite rose in bloom, or the furry antics of your pet, an unexpected rain shower, or the brilliant ways your comfort food makes you feel? Some people consider the Danes a famously happiest people in the world and hygge is a cornerstone of their way of life. Hygge (pronounced Hoo-ga) loosely translates as a sense of comfort, togetherness and well-being. It is the pursuit of everyday happiness.

In his book, The Little Book of Hygge, Meik Wiking, the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, he shares different ways both inside and outside the home of ways you can get back in touch with those moments of true comfort which he believes leads to happiness. From foods to activities, to making memories, and those things we do routinely, which the less we do them, the more they make us happy. Think of it like a hug without touching in some small way. The book defines these very Danish ways from the way you light a room, whether by candlelight or electric lamp, and these ways that Danes find happiness is the very source of this book. In fact there are Danish hygge bakeries, shops and cafes are popping up all over in an effort to teach people to enjoy more of the life we are missing out on in a rush to get it all done.

"Hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience, rather than about things. It is about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. The feeling that we are safe, that we are shielded from the world and allow ourselves to let our guard down. You may be having an endless conversation about the small or big things in life - or just be comfortable in each other's silent company - or simply just be by yourself enjoying a cup of tea." (pg. 6).

I received The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking compliments of William Morrow, a division of Harper Collins Publishers. This book contains a bit of everything from mouth-watering Danish dishes, mulled wine. to clothing types (dressing in layers and woolen socks) to designing your home to bring you a bit more hygge or well-being happiness, like a shelf filled with thick books or your favorite tea pot or vase! I believe we add these things to our homes and favorite rooms without considering why, just that they make us happier by being in the room that is filled with things we love. This will provide you with some amazing smiles and perhaps offer you some suggestions to take those ordinary places in your home or office and make them a bit more hygge-like! I give this book a 4 out of 5 stars in my opinion.

For more information about The Little Book of Hygge, Meik Wiking or where you can pick up this book today, please click on the links below:


You can find the Happiness Research Institute on Facebook to learn more about Hygge.

To read more reviews on The Little Book of Hygge, please visit Harper Collins Publishers website. 


Friday, March 17, 2017

Home At Last



You can't seem to go anywhere where race is not an issue. From our latest president to the news reports, race is an issue where is simply shouldn't be. All it is is a matter of skin tone and that is all. Yet in this final novel in the Chicory Inn series by Deborah Raney, the lone wolf of the Whitman family, Link finds love where he might least expect it. Tucked quietly away in the Coffee's On Bakery, Link is attracted to Shayla Michaels. I guess one could say it was love at first sight, but as most romance stories go, theirs will not be one that goes smoothly.

Shayla has a lot of things she would rather keep buried, secrets from her past that have earmarked her for a different future than one she might have imagined long ago. Since her parents married years ago, her mother, a white women of some affluence married Mike, a black man and with it came a separation between the families. Shayla's mother's family refused to acknowledge the relationship and left her and Mike to struggle and find a way to make it in the world. Even when a terminal cancer diagnosis was revealed, her parents still refused to budge. After watching her mother suffer needlessly in that regards, Shayla believes that the colors should not mix despite how one might feel differently. Of course, growing up under those stereotypes is bound to make one a bit hardened to it all.

That is why Link is determined to show her that love can transcend any barriers including race, and he is willing to overlook everything that Shayla tosses his way to discourage any attempts at a future for them both. She even has a younger niece, Portia, a wonderfully articulate and precocious five-year-old, that will undoubtedly be one she must care for the rest of her life while her father, Shayla's brother remains locked up in prison. But can love be that easy to accept when one has had to deal with these issues her entire life or will love be the one thing that saves them all and provides a way to change the world or just their part in it, one step at a time?

I received Home At Last by Deborah Raney compliments of Litfuse Publicity and Abingdon Press. This novel gives you an idea of what it is like dealing with all the stereotypes people of color must deal with without having the ability to change things or walk away from it. I love that Deborah Raney took this risk in making this a part of the Whitman story and conveys to us all that love really is the best gift of all. There are discussion questions that conclude the novel that makes for a great book club find and for me, this one was worth 4 out of 5 stars in my opinion. I love that you don't even realize that Shayla is a different color until you are well into the story and that is what love is all about, it never takes that into consideration when it unites people together.

For more information about Home At Last, Deborah Raney or where you can pick up a copy of this book today, please click on the links below:


You can find Deborah Raney on Facebook to stay up to date on all her latest novels.

About the author:

Deborah Raney's novels have won numerous awards including the RITA, National Readers' Choice Award, HOLT Medallion, the Carol Award, and have three times been Christy Award finalists. She and her husband, Ken Raney have traded small-town life in Kansas-the setting of many of Deb's novels-for life in the city of Wichita.

Find out more about Deborah at http://deborahraney.com.

You can read more reviews on Home At Last by visiting Litfuse Publicity's Book Tour Page.


Conclude Deborah Raney's Chicory Inn novels with the final book, Home at Last, a story of acceptance, trying to overcome differences, and love. Everything changes for bachelor Link Whitman one icy morning when a child runs into the street and he nearly hits her with his pickup-and then the girl's aunt Shayla enters Link's life. Can Shayla and Link overcome society's view of their differences and find true love? Is there hope of changing the sometimes-ugly world around them into something better for them all?

Join Deborah on Thursday, March 23, for a live author chat party in her Facebook group with fun prizes to be won! Click the graphic below for more details and to RSVP. Hope to see you there-bring a friend or two who loves to read!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Prayers for A Simpler Life



I absolutely love the simplicity of the Mennonite or Amish life styles. Their sense of community and their love of God is something to be admired and replicated within our own lives and homes. Yet in our far-too busy lifestyles, we barely have time to complete all the items off our "To-Do" list, and can't even find time for prayer or God. We make bargains to ourselves we will try and do a better job of that tomorrow. Yet what if we simply took the time at the beginning of our day and just spent 10 minutes with God, reflecting on His attributes, growing our faith, seeing the light of God's truth in our daily lives, dealing with negative emotions, improving our relationships with others, understanding the Fruit of the Spirit, seeing analogies in our lives with that of the ocean, learning how to have a servant's heart, and even dealing with the joys of cooking and seeing lessons of faith in that. Perhaps it is reflecting on the beauty of God in the way we get ready for our day, dealing with the stress women do, understanding the sacrifices to God that can improve our lives and finally coming back to the spring that refreshes and provides water for a thirsty and parched soul.

In 13 weeks, once a day, Faith Sommers, a Mennonite mother leads readers into a short devotional, Prayers for a Simpler Life, focusing on each of these situations to help us understand that even in our daily routines, God can be found and a lesson gleaned from something as easy as gardening or putting on our makeup. Each promises to take up no more than 10 minutes but it is a place to begin our days with time with God instead of waiting for the end of the day to do so. Yet you can do both or either one or simply work these into your day however it may suit you. Each daily devotion is coupled with a passage from Scripture to set the tone of each devotion topic along with a short prayer, a real life example from Faith's own life experience and a simple reflection for you to consider on the subject.

This would be an ideal way to begin a women's study either in a small group setting or in a larger church atmosphere because each of these topics deals with the daily struggles of women and the stress loads we bear, from raising children, dealing with our marriages, husbands, friends, and even finding time to serve when we can't even find time to get through our daily tasks at home. It creates a balance and gives readers a reprieve for a short time, to realize that God is always present and He is always teaching us from everything we deal with each day without realizing it.

I received Prayers For a Simpler Life by Faith Sommers compliments of Herald Press. The best part I love about this book is that it often leads you to further personal study on the subject and really makes you evaluate the simplicity of the things we take for granted every single day. Since it is spring in my next of the woods, the week on using gardening and planting was a huge life to my parched soul and now I look forward to bringing my garden back to life and enjoying my time in it even more. I would give this book a 4.5 out of 5 stars in my personal opinion.

For more information about Prayers for a Simpler Life, Faith Sommers or where you can pick up a copy of this book today, please click on the links below:


You can find Herald Press on Facebook to stay up to date with all their latest books. 

You can pick up a copy today through Amazon as well.


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Coming Apostasy



Are we truly living in the Last Days? Is the imminent return of Jesus just around the corner? Is there a road map of sorts we can reference to see if we are and if so, how close? Many would say all the answers we need to know the signs of the end times are right inside the Bible. They are as clear as looking into the sky and knowing if rain is coming or if it will be a sunny day. We know as people living in this world, things are getting worse. They are far worse than they were 50 years ago or even 10 years ago and it would benefit us all to know what is coming next and just how close to the end we truly are.

In the book, The Coming Apostasy by Mark Hitchcock and Jeff Kinley, they both take us alongside the relevant events that the Bible predicts with 100% accuracy of what is happening now, what is coming and where we stand currently in light of End Times Prophecy. I am not conveying in any manner that a definite day and time are predicted, but if you are a follower of the Bible, Jesus did tell us that we would know the signs of those days drawing closer as well as you could tell spring from winter and I believe we, who are looking, are seeing them coming to some sort of culmination of not getting any better, but instead we have fallen so far from where we used to be and it appears as if there is no going back.

There is a growing apostasy happening within the Christian church and we see more and more signs of those turning from the truth of what the Bible has said, and instead casting aside some of the teachings of condemnation and judgement in light of what will grow their churches inside and satisfy what the the world wants in a church now and not what has always been. We see people accepting that all religions are in fact the same in such worldly signs such as COEXIST. We see Muslims trying to convince the church that we all do in fact worship the same God, but we know that is another worldly lie. We have seen some of the signs prophesied being fulfilled such as the regathering of the Jewish people, the rise of globalism, as well as others that continue to move into a growing culmination of the end such as the ratification of a peace treaty between the nation of Israel and her enemies; rumors of wars in the Middle East, rebellion of apostasy.

I received The Coming Apostasy by Mark Hitchcock and Jeff Kinley compliments of Tyndale House Publishers. The purpose of this book is to help the reader understand what apostasy is, to help you understand that it is surging all around us and is a a serious sign of the end times, to guard you from a spiritual shipwreck and the danger of sinking in your own faith, and finally to help you understand the truth so you can stay on course until Christ's returns. Many people pray today for a great revival, and though it may happen, no such revival is prophesied. On the contrary, according to Scripture, a great apostasy is coming and you might just want to pay attention to just how close we truly are. I absolutely LOVE this book and give it a 5 out of 5 stars in my opinion. I believe everyone needs to read this book and understand where we stand in regards to end times events and what are the signs we need to be aware of even in our own lives.

For more information about The Coming Apostasy, Mark Hitchcock, Jeff Kinley, or where you can pick up a copy of this book today, please click on the links below:


You can find Mark Hitchcock on Facebook to stay up to date on all his latest books.

You can find Jeff Kinley on Facebook to stay up to date on all his latest books.

To see even more reviews on The Coming Apostasy, please visit Tyndale House Publisher's website.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Laura Story - Open Hands CD Review and Giveaway



The beauty about worship music is that this is a preview on earth of what we will be spending an eternity doing in heaven. Think of it like a trailer of the wonder things to come, when we spend every moment thanking our God and Savior Jesus for the ultimate sacrifice of restoring what was broken in the Garden of Eden so long ago, a forever, eternal relationship with each other for those that place their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. The best part is finding some incredible songs that can express exactly what those moments in our life mean and this is Open Hands, the latest CD by Laura Story.

In fact the title track Open Track is a combined effort with Mac Powell (Third Day) which perfectly conveys taking everything we have in life and offering it to Him with open hands, holding nothing back.

Death Was Arrested conveys that loving restoration that happened when Jesus gave His life for ours who place our faith and trust in Him and redemption was possible from our sin. You Came Running is about what happens when we have those trials and storms in our life and feel completely lost in search of someone who can save us! This is one of my personal favorites because all we need to do is call out to Jesus and He comes running to us! Give You Faith conveys that all the world has to offer will never measure up to the faith we can have in Jesus which never fails us, no matter what we are going through. For The Love Of My King is truly a love story between the singer and the One we sing for. It also conveys how much love God has in store for us, one that is unconditional and eternal.

Awake My Soul (A 1000 Tongues) is a collection of all the wonders God offers us from the glories of His majesty and the triumphs of His love and how He is worthy of the songs of a 1000 tongues that sing His praise to Him. Whisper tells us how God calls us to Him, despite our circumstances when we are willing to leave the world behind, if we but seek Him, we will be found and we will be set free in only a way that Jesus can from our sin and bondage. Every Word You Breathe is a personal conversation or prayer with God asking Him to let us hear His voice above all those in the world, to not lean on the things we have known and only in placing our hope in Him.

Majesty is the 9th track on the CD is such a precious song of worship conveying all the qualities of God and how holy and wonderful He is based on His grace and mercy for us. Extraordinary sums up how wonderful a believer's life looks in Christ. Grace Abounds the final track on the CD defines what grace means, that we can come to Jesus broken and battered and He will restore us from all the burdens of the world and set us free. You can definitely feel the heart of Laura Story's walk of faith in this CD and for those looking for something uplifting and one that will speak to you in any circumstance, this is it!




I received Open Hands by Laura Story compliments of Fair Trade Services LLC, Provident Music Distribution and Propeller LLC. It speaks of God's unconditional love and how the Bible is His instruction manual for how much he is trying to restore that relationship between us that is lost, broken and keeping us from experiencing all He has to offer through His grace and mercy and the promises found in His Word. I easily give this a 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Thanks to the generosity of Propeller LLC they are offering a giveaway copy of this CD to one lucky follower of my blog, Reviews From The Heart. Here are your guidelines to enter:

1. Be a follower of my blog Reviews From The Heart.

2. "Like" Laura Story's Facebook page.

3. Be a resident of the US or have a US mailing address. Please No P.O. Boxes.

4. Leave me a comment below telling me why you'd love to win a copy of Open Hands by Laura Story. Don't forget to include your email address as well so I know how to contact you if you're the lucky winner of this giveaway. You can even use the words (at) and (dot) instead of the symbols.

I will be notifying the winner of the giveaway on Wednesday, March 22, 2017. Enter as many times as you like and remember without an email address, I can't contact you so don't forget to include it.


You can find Laura Story on Facebook to stay up to date on all her latest projects and music.

You can pick up a copy of this CD through iTunes. 

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Ashes



How can you possibly resolve years of bitterness and resentment between two estranged brothers Jason and Tom Prendergast? Require them to complete a task together that neither has the option to say No to. Growing up together under the cruel hand of their father, both boys longed to find the quickest way out of the home growing up and the way their father raised them created some of the competitiveness and animosity between the two. When they both are informed that their father has finally died, they are each requested at the reading of their father's will. Neither is too happy to see the other.

Yet when the lawyer informs them that their father has one final request of them both before they will know what he has left them, they are quite sure whether it is something they can do without killing the other. They must travel together to retrieve their father's ashes and then drive across country with one another to spread his ashes in Seattle. Only then will the contents of the letter reveal what they will each receive. The stipulation requires that they have to travel together, and they must document their journey of completing the tasks with photos for the attorney to know they have completed their father's final request.

Like most siblings, their are those hard feelings that are difficult to put behind one another, but for these two, it is more of a hate/hate relationship. Both have harbored strong feelings against the other for the way they were raised and what was allowed to happen to them. It has driven a wedge against them that will be almost impossible to find a way to work together. Many miles separate the time it will take to get from one side of the country to the other, but how is this even going to work when they can't even agree on who will drive, where they will stay and even the quickest route to take so they can get this over and done with. Is this the final straw of bitterness that their father had in mind when he drafted his will? Or does he have something better in mind?

I received Ashes by Steven Manchester compliments of The Story Plant and Partners in Crime Book Tours. I have read everything he has written and he truly takes you into the heart of places you don't want to go, but find yourself compelled to go anyway just to see how it all turns out in the end. This reminded me of a movie called Faith of our Fathers in which two very similar brothers had to travel together to get to the war memorial for their father. It shows that underneath it all, no matter how you feel about one another, blood is thicker than one might think and sometimes it is the misunderstandings and how we interpret them that create the walls that don't really exist except in our own mind. I would give this one a 4 out of 5 stars in my opinion based on my own rating system and that this one does contain some profanity that might offend some readers.

For more information about Ashes, Steven Manchester or where you can pick up a copy of this book today, please click on the links below:


You can find Steven Manchester on Facebook to stay up to date on all his latest books.

Ashes by Steven Manchester on Tour February 19 - April 21, 2017

  Ashes by Steven Manchester
Book Details Genre: Fiction
Published by: The Story Plant
Publication Date: February 21st 2017
Number of Pages: 260
Purchase Links:

Synopsis:

Middle-aged brothers Jason and Tom Prendergast thought they were completely done with each other. Perceived betrayal had burned the bridge between them, tossing them into the icy river of estrangement. But life – and death – has a robust sense of irony, and when they learn that their cruel father has died and made his final request that they travel together across the country to spread his ashes, they have no choice but to spend a long, long car trip in each other's company. It's either that or lose out on the contents of the envelope he's left with his lawyer. The trip will be as gut-wrenching as each expects it to be . . . and revealing in ways neither of them is prepared for.
At turns humorous, biting, poignant, and surprisingly tender, Ashes puts a new spin on family and dysfunction with a story that is at once fresh and timelessly universal.

Read an excerpt:

Tom wheeled his late-model, platinum-colored BMW into Attorney Russell Norman’s freshly paved lot and parked between a brand new Lexus—sporting the license plate JUSTIS4U—and a custom pickup truck. Looks like I’m going after the hillbilly, he thought when he spotted the faded Massachusetts Department of Correction sticker in the rear window. His blood turned cold. “It must be Jason,” he thought aloud. I didn’t think he’d come.
Tom took a few deep breaths, not because he was nervous about his father’s death or talking to any lawyer but because he hadn’t seen his Neanderthal brother—for fifteen years, I think. He paused for a moment to give it more thought. Although their relationship had essentially vaporized in their late teens—the result of a fall out that still haunted his dreams—they’d occasionally wound up in each other’s orbits; weddings, funerals, and the like, enough to remain familiar with each other’s career choices, wives, and children. But even that came to an end fifteen years ago, he confirmed in his aching head before opening the door. While his toothache-induced migraine threatened to blind him, he took one step into the oak-paneled waiting room. His and Jason’s eyes met for the briefest moment. As though they were complete strangers, they both looked away. And here he is, Tom thought, disappointed. This is just great.
Through peripheral vision, Tom noticed that his older brother now wore a scar over his right eye, just above a bushy eyebrow that could have easily belonged to a homeless Scotsman. A jagged ear lobe, a piece clearly torn away, pointed to a crooked nose that sat sideways on his face—all of it rearranged since birth. What a big tub of shit he’s turned into, Tom thought, struggling to ignore his throbbing face and head. He’s as fat as a wood tick now, he thought, grinning, and he looks like he’s ready to pop. Jason looked straight at him, as if reading his mind. Tom immediately looked away, his rapid heartbeat starting to pound in his ears, intensifying his physical pain. Unbelievable, he thought. After all the years and all the distance, his elder brother—by only two years—still scared the hell out of him. He’s just a big asshole, that’s all, he told himself, but he still couldn’t bring himself to rejoin his brother’s penetrating gaze.
The secretary answered her phone before calling out, “Mr. Prendergast . . .”
Both brothers stood.
“Attorney Norman will see you now.”
Tom walked in first, letting the door close behind him—right in Jason’s face.
“Still a weasel,” Jason muttered, loud enough for all to hear.
“What was that?” Tom asked just inside the door.
“Don’t even think about playing with me,” Jason warned as he reopened the door and entered the room, “’cause I have no problem throwing you over my knee and spanking you right in front of this guy.”
I’m fifty years old, for God’s sake, Tom thought, and he thinks he’s going to spank me? I’m surprised the prison even let him out.
The attorney—his hand extended for anyone willing to give it a shake—looked mortified by the childish exchange.
Tom shook the man’s hand before settling into a soft leather wing chair. Jason followed suit.
The room was framed in rich mahogany paneling. The desk could have belonged in the oval office. Beneath a green-glassed banker’s lamp, stacks of file folders took up most of the vast desktop. An American flag stood in one corner, while framed diplomas and certificates, bearing witness to the man’s intelligence and vast education, covered the brown walls.
Attorney Norman wore a pinstriped shirt and pleated, charcoal-colored slacks held up by a pair of black suspenders. He had a bow tie, a receding hairline that begged to be shaved bald, and a pair of eyeglasses that John Lennon would have been proud to call his own. There’s no denying it, Tom thought, trying to ignore his brother’s wheezing beside him, he’s either a lawyer or a banker. He couldn’t be anything else.
While Jason squirmed in his seat, visibly uncomfortable to be sitting in a lawyer’s office, his hands squeezed the arms of the chair. What a chicken shit, Tom thought, trying to make himself feel better. Peering sideways, he noticed that his brother’s knuckles were so swollen with scar tissue they could have belonged to a man who made his living as a bare-knuckle brawler. He’s still an animal too, he decided.
Attorney Norman took a seat, grabbed a manila file from atop the deep stack and cleared his throat. “The reason you’re both here . . .”
“. . . is to make sure the old man’s really dead,” Jason interrupted.
In spite of himself and his harsh feelings for his brother, Tom chuckled—drawing looks from both men.
“The reason we’re all here,” Attorney Norman repeated, “is to read Stuart Prendergast’s last will and testament.” He flipped open the folder.
This ought to be good, Tom thought, while Jason took a deep breath and sighed heavily. Both brothers sat erect in their plush chairs, waiting to hear more.
As if he were Stuart Prendergast sitting there in the flesh, the mouthpiece read, “My final wish is that my two sons, Jason and Thomas, bring my final remains to 1165 Milford Road in Seattle, Washington, where they will spread my ashes.” “Seattle?” Tom blurted, his wagging tongue catching his tooth, making him wince in pain. Quickly concealing his weakness, he slid to the edge of his seat. “Oh, I don’t think so,” he mumbled, careful not to touch the tooth again.
Jason was shaking his head. “Hell no,” he said.
The attorney read on. “I’ve always been afraid to fly, so I’m asking that I not be transported by airplane but driven by car.”
“No way,” Tom instinctively sputtered.
Jason laughed aloud. “This is just great. The old bastard’s dead and he’s still screwing with us.”
The less-than-amused attorney revealed a sealed envelope and continued on. “As my final gift to my sons . . .”
“Only gift,” Tom muttered, feeling a cauldron of bad feelings bubbling in his gut.
“I’m leaving this sealed envelope for them to share, once and only once they’ve taken me to my final resting place.”
“What the fuck!” Jason blurted.
Every cell in Tom’s overloaded brain flashed red. Don’t do it, he thought. You don’t owe that old man a damned thing. But every cell in his body was flooded with curiosity. He looked at Jason, who was no longer shaking his fat head.
“Maybe the bastard finally hit it big at the dog track?” Jason suggested.
Tom nodded in agreement but secretly wondered, Could it be the deed to the land Pop bragged about owning in Maine? He stared at the envelope. For as long as I can remember, he claimed to own forty-plus acres with a brook running straight through it. He stared harder. Could it be? he wondered, wishing he had X-ray vision. A parcel of land in Maine sure would make a nice retirement . . .
“How ’bout we travel separately and meet in Seattle to spread the ashes?” Jason said, interrupting his thoughts.
“Great idea,” Tom said, hoping against all hope that the idea would fly with their father’s lawyer.
Attorney Norman shook his head. “I’m sorry, gentlemen, but your father specifically requested that you travel together with his remains to Seattle. Any deviation from this can and will prohibit you from attaining the sealed envelope.”
There was a long pause, the room blanketed in a heavy silence. Son of a bitch, Tom thought, this couldn’t have come at a worse time. He turned to Jason, who was already looking at him. “What do you say?” he asked, already cursing his inability to curb his curiosity.
Jason shook his head in disgust. “The last thing I want to do is to go on some stupid road trip with you.”
“Trust me, that’s a mutual feeling,” Tom shot back.
“But I don’t think we have a choice,” Jason added. “Our fucked-up father wants to play one last game with us, so to hell with it—let’s play.”
This is insane, but he’s right, Tom thought. With a single nod, Tom stood. “Okay, let’s have the ashes then,” he told the lawyer.
The attorney shook his head. “I don’t have them. They’re currently at a funeral home in Salem.”
“Salem?” Tom squeaked, unhappy that his tone betrayed his distress.
“That’s right. You have to take custody of your father’s remains from the Buffington Funeral Home in Salem, Massachusetts.”
“You must be shitting me.” Jason said.
The attorney smirked. “I shit you not,” he said, throwing the letter onto his desk.
Salem? Tom repeated in his head. Just when I thought Pop couldn’t be a bigger prick . . . The migraine knocked even harder from the inside of his skull, making him feel nauseous. Amid the pain, his synapses fired wildly, considering all this would mean: I’ll have to take bereavement leave from school and find someone to cover my classes. I should probably double my treatment with Dr. Baxter tomorrow. And what about Caleb and Caroline? he asked himself, quickly deciding, They’ll be fine without me for a few days. Then he pictured his wife’s face. And Carmen, she’ll be fine without me for a lot longer than that. The nausea increased. Screw her.
“Are we done here?” Jason asked, obviously itching to leave.
The lawyer nodded. “I’ll need proof in the form of a video or a series of photos that you’ve deposited your father’s remains where he wished. Once I have that, the letter’s all yours.”
“How wonderful,” Jason said sarcastically. He stood, turned on his heels, and headed for the door.
Tom also got to his feet. He looked at the lawyer and, trying to ignore his physical discomfort, he smiled. “Don’t mind him,” he said, shrugging. “That imbecile is exactly what our father trained him to be.”
 

Author Bio:

Steven ManchesterSteven Manchester is the author of the #1 bestsellers Twelve Months, The Rockin’ Chair, Pressed Pennies, and Gooseberry Island as well as the novels Goodnight, Brian and The Changing Season. His work has appeared on NBC’s Today Show, CBS’s The Early Show, CNN’s American Morning, and BET’s Nightly News. Recently, three of Manchester’s short stories were selected “101 Best” for the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.

Find Steven on his Website, on Twitter, & on Facebook

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Don't miss your chance to learn more about Steven Manchester & his book, Ashes! Visit the tour stops for interviews, guest posts, and lots of reviews!

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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Providence Book Promotions for Steven Manchester and The Story Plant. There will be 5 US winners of one (1) PRINT copy of Ashes by Steven Manchester. The giveaway begins on February 18th and runs through April 23rd, 2017.

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Friday, March 10, 2017

The Dressmaker's Dowry



If only this novel has been written differently, my review rating my be more favorable. The overall content of the story was simply amazing but what really devalued it for me, was the sexual content and profanity. Unfortunately that didn't happen til more than half way through the book. Oh how I wish I could give it more but based on the standards and review ratings I established, I can't and still remain true to my reviews as well as my own personal ethics and integrity.

The Dressmaker's Dowry by Meredith Jaeger is a duality novel meaning that it revolves around two very different characters and each chapter toggles between both time frames, past and present and those characters point of views which we find out much later on, tie in quite uniquely to one another in a unusual manner I didn't see coming.

The setting for the novel is both San Francisco, both in the early 1870's as well as present day. For Sarah Havensworth, who is married but hiding a long dark secret from her husband Hunter, she hopes to some day have her novel published and one her husband whole-heartily supports. She now uncovers some details while researching ideas for her writers block which open up the investigative side of her journalists heart. So she switches gears to follow up on the missing dressmakers who lived in the same part of town she lives in, who apparently people believed might have been murdered. As she begins to unravel the lives of Hannalore Schaeffer and Margaret O'Brien, the missing dressmakers, she begins to uncover a more sinister secret that someone wants to be keep buried at all costs and will stop at nothing to ensure that Sarah gives up any further pursuit.

For Hannalore or Hanna, as she is referred to in the novel finds that working in the dressmaker's shop helps her meet a deeper goal. To escape an abusive father who believes that Hanna is holding out her money so he can spend it on alcohol and gambling. Now she knows she will do whatever it takes to rescue herself and her 3 siblings leave home and find a new life someplace else. For now she will simply do all she can to endure the abuse and keep whatever food she can on the table, even it if means she does without. But her life is about to change with Lucas Havensworth shows up to get his suits mended and runs quite literally into Hanna. From that point on, their lives will be forever changed in remarkable and sinister ways.

I received The Dressmaker's Dowry by Meredith Jaeger compliments of William Morrow, a division of Harper Collins Publishers. For me this was so well written about both women searching for something more than what their providential lives offered not realizing that in time they would be somehow connected. I love the passion that Sarah has to uncover the truth about what happened to Hanna and Margaret and to solve a century old cold case in the process. I just wish profanity and sexual content was eliminated because it would have made for a much better well received novel across a broader audience. The fact that these two elements exist call for me to give this a 3 out of 5 stars based on my own reviewers rating scale. If those items were removed, it would be a 5 out of 5 star novel!

For more information about The Dressmaker's Dowry, Meredith Jaeger, or where you can pick up a copy of this novel today, please click on the links below:


You can find Meredith Jaeger on Facebook to stay up to date on all her latest novels.

To read more reviews on The Dressmaker's Dowry, please visit Harper Collins Publisher's website. 


Monday, March 6, 2017

The Women in the Castle



Well I was disappointed. Based on the rear cover's premise of what the novel, The Women in the Castle was promised to deliver and also based on the accolades from others on this novel I wanted so much more than it delivered. The first half of the novel was great, highlighting the stories of Marianne Von Lingenfels and Benita Fledermann, the wife of a childhood friend she promises to look after if anything should happen to her husband Connie. The stage is just before World War II when a group of resistors to Hitler's plan to take over Germany and eliminate those who stand against him. Her husband along with most of her friends have all been hanged for their crimes against Hitler and now she has lived up to her vow to protect their wives, fellow resistors like herself along with their children.

The novel showcases both of the women's lives in a toggling between chapters of their past and present lives while living in a Bavarian castle of her husbands ancestors even though it doesn't have much of the creature comforts it once did. They eventually take on another woman Ania and her two sons who are now refugees with no place to go. They all band together to try and make it to their futures despite the odds against them in a makeshift family of sorts. It is an interesting perspective on what life would have been life trying to survive against the odds in the midst of a world war and one I had anticipated I would have enjoyed until midway through the book where it seems to take on a darker worldly side of not only language but also subject matter you didn't experience until this far into the novel. For me, it wasn't needed to get into the particulars of such events and sexual encounters because up to this point the novel was moving along and conveying such events were possible without describing them and adding profanity to both the characters dialogue, which in my opinion, cheapened the storyline even if such things were probably said in real life.

I received The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck compliments of William Morrow, a division of Harper Collins Publishers. It is for this very reason that reviews are needed. It prevents the reader from having to endure things they don't wish to read in novels while hoping for an enjoyable historical novel. That being said, most people will rave over the novel as other reviews will undoubtedly praise it for the historical details of what women might have had to endure when their husbands were killed for their beliefs against Hitler and even those who didn't know if their husbands were alive when they were shipped off to imprisonment camps of the SS Nazi's. I give this novel a 3 out of 5 stars.

For more information about The Women in the Castle, Jessica Shattuck or where you can pick up a copy of this novel today, please click on the links below:


You can find Jessica Shattuck on Facebook to stay up to date on all her latest novels.

To read more reviews on The Women in the Castle, please visit Harper Collin's website.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Door To Freedom



"A great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me." 1 Corinthians 16:9.

This quote sums up the entire theme behind Jana Kelley's latest novel Door to Freedom, her sequel to Side by Side in which the Weston's,  a missionary family working for the Keller Hope Foundation in Sudan. For Michael and Mia along with their three children, they truly believe it is God's calling on their life to spend their next two years working for the foundation and offering hope to the Muslim community who wants to know more about Jesus, whom they refer to as Isa. It's not as simple as simply accepting Christ.

For a Muslim to deny their faith often means death, especially when that faith leads them to Jesus. For one family it meant the beating of their oldest daughter Halimah who fled from her family and has no contact with them any longer. They don't even recognize her as being their daughter and any word of her whereabouts would most certainly lead to her death. Now her sister Rania has faced growing up without her sister and now struggles with the Muslim customs of an arranged marriage with any man her father chooses. She finds hope in the New Testament that Halimah left her and told her that this book contained all the answers she would ever need in her life. Could it be so simple that one book held all the answers to whatever she faced in life? If that is the case, then why would so many people be opposed to reading it?

Michael and Mia face their own opposition at work where they can be investigated by the local authorities for even speaking about their Christian faith. It is a death sentence for anyone to attend to convert a Muslim to Christianity. During the Bible Study through Acts, they both believe that whatever the opposition in the community or at work is worth the price to tell others about Jesus, even if it would cost them their very lives.

I received Door To Freedom by Jana Kelley compliments of Litfuse Publicity and New Hope Publishers. This is a remarkable story based on true events that shows readers that the life of a missionary isn't as always as easy as we might think it is. It is dangerous and often times results in the deaths of those simply trying to share the message of hope to those lost in Islam and all the restrictions that family members, especially women face. The best part is the message of hope and salvation that comes to those who find the true light and truth in Jesus Christ. I easily give this book a 4.5 out of 5 stars.

For more information about Door To Freedom, Jana Kelley or where you can pick up a copy of this book today, please click on the links below:


You can find Jana Kelley on Facebook to stay up to date with all her latest novels.

To read more reviews on Door To Freedom, please visit Litfuse Publicity's Book Tour page.