Saturday, March 31, 2012

Month in Review [March 2012]

It's hard to believe it's the end of March already. (I feel like I say that EVERY month!) Time just seems to fly by faster and faster. As much as I've had other stuff going on, I still read a ton! Here's a run-down of my month book-wise . . .

Books Read [10]

Favorite book this month?
Easy! Hands down it's a tie (surprised, aren't you?!) between The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen and The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Couldn't be more different, but so so good!!!

Reviews Posted [9]
Blue Moon Promise by Colleen Coble (Litfuse Tour)
Heart's Safe Passage by Laurie Alice Eakes (Revell Tour)
Dawn Comes Early by Margaret Brownley
Heart Echoes by Sally John
Beauty for Ashes by Dorothy Love (Litfuse Tour)
Song of My Heart by Kim Vogel Sawyer (Litfuse Tour)
You're Already Amazing by Holley Gerth (Revell Tour)
Naomi's Gift by Amy Clipston
Simon and the Easter Miracle by Mary Joslin (Kregel Tour)

Blogside Chats

Update on Reading Challenges
I'll give you a little more specific update on my reading challenges this month. I may need to update some of my goals soon! As always, you can get more details on each challenge here.

2012 Goodreads Challenge - 32 / 113
100+ Books in a Year - 32
2012 Ebook Challenge - 8 / 25
New Authors Challenge - 21 / 25
2nds Challenge 2012 - 7 / 12
Just For Fun Reading Challenge 2012 - 4 / 12
What Are You Reading? - 16 / 50
50 States Challenge - 16 / 50
2012 Christian Suspense Reading Challenge - 5 / 10
2012 Christian Historical Fiction Reading Challenge -  16 / 24

Other Noteworthy Posts / Happenings
  •  I joined up with Compassion Bloggers and shared about my experiences as a child sponsor. As much as I love Compassion, I'm sure you'll be hearing more about this in the future!
  • I asked for feedback about a couple of new blogger features. I'd love to hear from you if you haven't commented yet.
  • And finally, I announced my Titanic Blogaversary Party, complete with a little pre-party quiz. The party officially begins on Monday, so stop by all next week for some great interviews and giveaways!
Well, that's it for me. How was your month?

Friday, March 30, 2012

Simon and the Easter Miracle

Simon and the Easter Miracle
by Mary Joslin
illustrated by Anna Luraschi
Published January 2012
Kregel Publications
32 pages

About the Book
The gospels tell of Simon of Cyrene--"a man coming in from the country"--who was ordered to carry Jesus' cross. Over the centuries, his story has been woven into a Polish folktale. In the tradition of The Three Trees this folk tale gives a fresh perspective on the Easter story.

When Simon the farmer brings his wares to market, little does he expect how he will be involved in the events of that very special day, nor how his items--bread, eggs, and wine--will become important symbols of Jesus' passion and resurrection, remembered throughout the ages.

This picture book retelling of a traditional tale is both thought-provoking and engaging.

My Thoughts
I had high hopes for Simon and the Easter Miracle. The illustrations were beautiful—the color and the details instantly captured my attention. Unfortunately, however, the story was a disappointment.

Based on the title and the fact that the book was marketed as a Christian book, I anticipated reading a story about Jesus. Instead, Jesus is not mentioned by name (referenced only as "the prisoner"), He is described simply as "preaching a message of peace," and the resurrection is overlooked altogether. The miracle referenced in the title has nothing to do with Jesus, but refers to the "miraculous" growth of Simon's crops. The story is rich with symbolism but I couldn't figure out how it related to the rest of the story and think it will probably be over most kids' heads. Lastly, the story ended so abruptly that I thought I was missing pages. (I was not.)

While the pictures are worth a 5-star rating, I sadly can't recommend the book based on the merits of the story. [1 star]

I received a free copy of this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for my fair and honest review.

About the Author
Mary Joslin, published exclusively by Lion, is known for her children's books on belief and spirituality. Her books, which include The Story of the Cross and On That Christmas Night, have sold more than 200,000 copies.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Blogside Chat | Sharlene MacLaren

Ellie's Haven by Sharlene MacLaren was one of my top two picks for January. I'm so excited that Sharlene MacLaren stopped by for a Blogside Chat. I love getting to know the person behind the books I love! Before we dive right in, here's my review / preview of Ellie's Haven and a teaser.

i blog 4 books: Sharlene, welcome to i blog 4 books! I'm so glad you could stop by today! For any readers who might not be familiar with you, please tell us a bit about yourself.
Sharlene MacLaren: I was born and raised in west Michigan and attended Spring Arbor University.  Upon graduating with an education degree in 1971, I taught second grade for two years then accepted an invitation to travel internationally for a year with a singing ensemble.  In 1975, I married my childhood sweetheart, and we raised two lovely, wonderful daughters, both of whom are now happily married and enjoying their own families.  I retired in 2003 from 31-years of teaching, and I love to read, sing, travel, and spend time with my family, in particular, my wonderful, adorable four grandchildren, ages 6 and under.

In recent years, I felt God’s call upon my heart to try my hand at writing fiction, and in 2006 I signed a contract for my first faith-based novel; thereby, launching my writing career with Through Every Storm. With a dozen books now gracing store shelves nationwide, I give God all the praise and glory. 

My husband Cecil and I live in Spring Lake, Michigan with our beautiful white collie, Peyton, and our very lazy cat Mocha.

ib4b: Give us a little background on your latest novel.
SM: My latest novel is Ellie’s Haven. It’s book two of three in my River of Hope Series set in the 1920s in Wabash, Indiana.  Here’s the blurb taken from the back of the book:

A courageous young woman seeking refuge...

Ellie Booth was never the type to run away. But she'd witnessed her stepfather commit a heartless crime, and, knowing he'll stop at nothing to keep her quiet, she has no choice but to flee. Soon, she finds herself in Wabash, Indiana, scrambling for a cover identity to evade her stepfather. For lack of a better option, she answers an ad for a wife/housekeeper/nanny, praying that her lack of experience won't be obvious.

A widowed father with no domestic skills to speak of...

Gage Cooper is reaching the end of his rope. With four children between the ages of three and ten, he needs a reliable nanny, yet each one he's hired has thrown up her hands and deserted her post. When an attractive, spirited young woman applies for the "job," he knows he should pray about the matter, but his desperation for help propels him headlong into a marriage of convenience.

A trial by fire of their wedding vows...

Ellie immediately falls in love with the Cooper children, and, not long after, with their father. Soon, the "marriage of convenience" becomes less of a business arrangement as husband and wife yield to an attraction neither one had expected. When secrets of the past and dangers of the present arise in their lives, their marriage is put to the test, and God alone knows what will become of their union.

ib4b: What do you hope readers will take away from reading Ellie's Haven?
SM: My heartfelt, deepest prayer with all my books is that Christ will shine through my words and that my readers will come to know Christ in a personal way.  It’s a humbling thought that Christ would choose to use me in this way, but it’s my longing and desire.

ib4b: What was the last "must read" Christian fiction book that you read?
SM: Well, it wasn’t the last Christian fiction book I read, but it has always been my favorite. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers.  Wonderful, inspiring, captivating, romantic, and challenging.  Loved it! Everyone should read it – more than once!

ib4b: I totally agree! Give us a peek into your favorite place to write.
SM: My office is in our basement.  No, it’s not a dungeon as some might think whenever they think of a basement. Ours is fully finished. My office is small, probably 10 X 12, but it suits me perfectly. I have a floor to ceiling bookshelf lined with tons of research materials, family photos, and various knick-knacks that hold special meaning. My desk is facing a wall, and on the wall are the words, “If I fall asleep with a pen in my hand, don’t remove it – I might be writing in my dreams.” ~ Danzae Pace ~ Isn’t that a cool saying?

I’m sitting right next to the window, so I can look outside and watch the weather. Right now it’s sunny, and I’m glancing up at the trees, which are sprouting spring buds. Love it!  There’s also a comfy chair in my office that my dog loves to lounge in while I write. As of this moment, though, he’s lying near me on the floor sound asleep. (He’s never far away.) 

ib4b: Sounds like a great space! If you could eat dinner with any celebrity, who would you choose?
SM: I wouldn’t refer to her as a celebrity, but she’s a very well known figure in Christian circles, and that’s Beth Moore. I simply adore her and would love the chance to sit down with her and glean from her many words of wisdom. She’s also such a funny lady, and I just envision myself “hitting it off” with her. I think we would find all sorts of things to laugh about together.  I love her heart for Jesus, her passion for studying God’s word, and I fully appreciate the hours upon hours she has put into bringing us the most wonderful Bible studies anyone could hope for. I’ve learned so much from her studies.

ib4b: Do you have a "life verse" or favorite Scripture?
SM: Yes, my life verse is Romans 8:28: “For we know that all things work together for good to them who love the Lord, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” I know you just asked for one, but my OTHER life verse is found in Isaiah 41:13: “I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not be afraid; I will help you.’”

ib4b: Can you tell us a bit about what you're working on now? When can we expect to see it in stores?
SM: Currently, I’m working on Sofie’s Secret, the third and final installment in my River of Hope series. I’ll be handing it in to my editor on June 1, and it should release before the end of the year.

ib4b: Ooh! Can't wait to read it! Anything else before we go?
SM: I love hearing from my readers! Please feel free to drop me a line via email, stop by my website and sign my guestbook, leave a comment at my blog, or join me over on my Facebook page. I always make every effort to respond to each one who takes the time to write to me!

ib4b: Thanks so much for stopping by today! It's been fun getting to know you. :)

Sharlene MacLaren Online
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Email

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Naomi's Gift by Amy Clipston

Naomi's Gift
by Amy Clipston
Kauffman Amish Bakery series
Contemporary Christian Fiction / Amish / Christmas
Published September 2011
192 pages

I've been meaning to post this review for a while, but it kept getting pushed off until another day. Nothing like a little Christmas in March, right?!

About the Book
Part of a family-oriented Amish community, twenty-four-year-old Naomi King has given up her dreams of finding true love. But when a young widower stirs surprising feelings in her, Naomi cautiously opens her heart to him and receives an unexpected response that once again turns her world upside-down.

My Thoughts
Naomi has had her heart broken twice and has given up on ever falling in love and having a family. However, when Caleb and his daughter Susie arrive in town to visit family, Naomi feels that love may not be lost on her afterall.

I enjoyed Naomi's Gift and was instantly drawn into the community of Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania. It's apparent that many of the characters are featured in other novels in the Kauffman Amish Bakery series, but it's fairly easy to figure out who everyone is—even if you haven't read the other books in the series. Overall, Naomi's Gift is a sweet novella that gives readers a taste of Amish life, Christmas, and romance all rolled into one. [4 stars]

I received a free copy of this book from Zondervan in exchange for my fair and honest review.

About the Author
Amy Clipston is the author of the bestselling Kauffman Amish Bakery novels. She has a degree in communications from Virginia Wesleyan College and currently works for the city of Charlotte, North Carolina. Amy lives with her husband, two sons, and four spoiled-rotten cats.

 Amy Clipston Online
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

Teaser Tuesday | Lonestar Angel

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly post hosted by MizB on her blog Should Be Reading.

It's easy! Just pick up your current read (or one of them!), open to a random page, and choose a couple of sentences on the page to post as a teaser. No spoilers please! Make sure to tell which book you pulled the quote from so others can check it out if they're interested.

It's been a while since I've participate in Teaser Tuesday, but I didn't have anything scheduled for today, so I thought I'd post one! If you missed my pre-party game last night, check it out. And . . . don't forget about the party next week!

She tried to keep panic out of her voice. Being locked in brought back too many memories from her childhood. Was there breathing on the other side of the door? The hair stood on the back of her neck as she listened. "Who's there?"

Lonestar Angel
by Colleen Coble
page 72

I'm really enjoying this book so far! Can't wait to see how it turns out!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Pre-Party Fun!

Whoop! I'm getting so excited about my Blogaversary Party next week! I thought it might be fun to have a little Titanic "quiz" of sorts to spread the excitement around. Consider this a little pre-party fun. (Yes, I just called a "quiz" fun!) I'll go semi-easy on you since we're just getting started . . .

1. What port did Titanic sail from?
2. When Titanic set sail on its fateful journey, what was the final destination supposed to be?
3. Who was the captain of Titanic?
4. How many voyages did Titanic make before sinking?
5. When did Titanic sink? (I'm looking for a precise date here.)

Post your answers in the comments section if you want to play along. I'll try to post another game/quiz this week too. (Just a hint, but playing along could work in your favor for some of the giveaways that will be held next week.)

Mark your calendars for the party next week . . . April 2-6. All the details are here.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

You're Already Amazing by Holly Gerth

You're Already Amazing
by Holley Gerth
Published March 2012
Revell Books
224 pages

About the Book
Psst . . . pull up a chair and I'll tell you a secret. You'd better lean in close for this one.


You don't have to do more, be more, have more.

I'm sure there are security alarms going off somewhere. You should probably hide this book when your in-laws come over.

But it's true.

It's the kind of true that will change your life, set you free, and make you wake up smiling for the first time in a long time. I know because that's what it did for me. . . .

So watch out, sister. If you keep reading you just might be next.

With this heart-to-heart message, Holley Gerth invites you to embrace one very important truth--that you truly are already amazing. Like a trusted friend, Holley gently shows you how to forget the lies and expectations the world feeds you and instead believe that God loves you and has bigger plans for your life than you've even imagined.

My Thoughts
Wow. You're Already Amazing is an incredible book that every woman I know needs to read. While it may seem from the title that this is going to be a rah-rah, feel good back, that's simply not true. Instead, it's obvious from the outset that Holley desires for women to know who God created them to be and to use the strengths and skills that He has gifted them with to honor Him!

"We are chosen, cherished, created women who have all we need to fulfill God's plans for our lives. He has made us just as he wants us to be. We have something to offer that no one else can bring . . . and the world is waiting" (p 40).

Holley writes in such a way that reading the book feels more like having a conversation with a close friend. The exercises throughout the book and the "Go Deeper Guide" at the end make this a great book for individuals or groups to go through. [4 stars]

I received a free copy of this book from Revell Books in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Available March 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

About the Author
Holley Gerth is an award-winning writer, licensed counselor, certified life coach, and speaker. She is co-founder of (in)courage, an online destination for women, which received more than one million page views in its first six months. She also reaches out to readers through her popular blog, Heart to Heart with Holley and through her partnership with DaySpring, a subsidiary of Hallmark. Holley lives in Arkansas with her husband Mark.

Holley Gerth Online
Website  |  Blog  |  Twitter

Bloom Online Book Club
Bloom—the book club at (in)courage—has chosen You're Already Amazing as their next book club selection. The first discussion takes place on Monday, March 26. Grab a copy, read the first two chapters, and stop by for a chat on Monday. I'll be re-reading along with the group, so I'd love for you to join me! The full schedule of posts and special events is here. And you can "meet" Holley along with the book club hosts here.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Unsinkable Titanic Giveaway

Celebrate the release of By the Light of the Silvery Moon with Tricia by entering her giveaway and RSVPing to her Titanic party. 

One "unsinkable" winner will receive:
  • Flip HD video Camera (Make your own dramatic saga!)
  • Titanic movies from the ages {Titanic (1953) Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964), Titanic (1997)}
  • Secrets of the Titanic (Get the facts from National Geographic.)
  • And the Band Played On (Music Played on the Titanic.)
  • By the Light of the Silvery Moon by Tricia Goyer (Be swept away in this tale of love and courage.)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 9th. Winner will be announced at "Silvery Moon" Titanic Facebook Party on 4/10. Tricia will be hosting an author chat (on Facebook and Live from her website) and giving away books, gift certificates and a book club prize pack! (Ten copies of the book for your small group or book club). During the live chat Tricia will have a *special guest* join her. More details coming soon!

So grab your copy of By the Light of the Silvery Moon and join Tricia on the evening of the April 10th for a fun chat, trivia contest (How much do you know about the Titanic?) and lots of giveaways. 

Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 10th!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Song of My Heart by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Song of My Heart
by Kim Vogel Sawyer
Historical Christian Fiction / Romance
Published February 2012
Bethany House
352 pages

About the Book
Sadie Wagner has always been devoted to her family. So when her stepfather is injured and can't work, she decides to leave home and accept a position as a clerk at the mercantile in Goldtree, Kansas. Goldtree also offers the opportunity to use her God-given singing talent--though the promised opera house is far different from what she imagined. With her family needing every cent she can provide, Sadie will do anything to keep her job.

McKane comes to Goldtree at the request of the town council. The town has been plagued by bootlegging operations, and Thad believes he can find the culprit.

After he earns enough money doing sheriff work, he wants to use it to pay for his training to become a minister.

Thad is immediately attracted to the beautiful singer who performs in Asa Baxter's unusual opera house, but when he hears her practicing bawdy tunes, he begins to wonder if she's far less innocent than she seems. And when Sadie appears to be part of the very crimes he's come to investigate, is there any hope the love blossoming between them will survive?

My Thoughts
Song of My Heart is a sweet book that makes for an enjoyable read. I truly liked Sadie and found myself hoping for everything to work out okay for her in the end. Likewise, Thad is a great character. A sheriff who wants to be a pastor and has a few hurts in his past that he's working through. I appreciated the depth and growth in these two characters. Sid, on the other hand, drove me nuts, and I found myself skimming through the parts of the book that featured him.

Sadly, this isn't my favorite book by Sawyer. It took me about 120 pages to really get into the story. While several interesting teasers were tossed out on the back blurb, it seemed that all of the possible "questions" in the story were answered in the first few chapters. It was hard to keep reading when I already knew how the book was going to end.

Once I pushed through, though, I did find myself wanting to read to the end and see how exactly those conclusions came about. If you're already a huge fan of Kim Vogel Sawyer, you'll enjoy Song of My Heart as well. However, I might recommend Courting Miss Amsel or In Every Heartbeat if Sawyer is a new author for you. I really loved those! [3 stars]

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House and LitFuse Publicity in exchange for my fair and honest review.

About the Author
Kim Vogel Sawyer is the author of nineteen novels, including several CBA and ECPA bestsellers. Her books have won the ACFW Book of the Year Award, the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, and the Inspirational Readers Choice Award. Kim is active in her church, where she leads women's fellowship and participates in both voice and bell choirs. In her spare time, she enjoys drama, quilting, and calligraphy. Kim and her husband, Don, reside in central Kansas, and have three daughters and six grandchildren.

Kim Vogel Sawyer Online
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Song of My Heart FB Party with Kim Vogel Sawyer

Win a Nook Tablet from Kim Vogel Sawyer and RSVP for her "Song of My Heart" Facebook Party {3/29}! Celebrate with Kim by entering to win a Nook Tablet and connecting with her at the Book Chat Party on 3/29!

One "songbird" winner will receive:
  • A Nook Tablet
  • Song of My Heart by Kim Vogel Sawyer
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends 3/28/12. Winner will be announced at Kim's Book Chat Facebook Party on 3/29. Kim will be hosting an evening of chat, fun trivia and more! She'll also be giving away some GREAT prizes: gift certificates, books, and much more!

So grab your copy of Song of My Heart and join Kim and friends on the evening of March 29th for an evening of fun.

Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP TODAY and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 29th!

An Interview with Author Kathi Macias

Special Delivery is book two in the Freedom (human trafficking) series. For anyone who may not have read book one, Deliver Me From Evil, can you fill us in on the focus of the series in general, and Special Delivery in particular?

The Freedom series is a three-book fiction series built around the horrifying topic of human trafficking. People often ask me why I decided to write about such a dark topic. First, I explain that I’m not writing about a dark topic; I’m writing about the Light that shines in that darkness. And second, I believe the Church should be at the forefront of the modern-day abolition movement to set the captives (modern-day slaves) free. The three books in this series specifically follows the life of a young woman named Mara, who was sold into sexual slavery by her own parents in Mexico, and then smuggled across the border into San Diego by her uncle who then served as her pimp. A strong sub-plot throughout the series tells of two sisters in the Golden Triangle of Thailand, Chanthra and Lawan, who are also trapped in a brothel. Finally, a teenage girl named Francesca, kidnapped in Juarez, Mexico, and forced into prostitution, is introduced in book two. Special Delivery picks up two years after book one, Deliver Me From Evil, ends, and continues with the stories of Mara and Lawan, as well as others carried over from book one. Mara hopes she is finally free to pursue her own life because she was rescued from the brothel and her testimony helped lock up her uncle for life. But the man has underground connections and is driven by revenge to reach out from behind bars and deliver the ultimate punishment to his niece.

This isn’t the first fiction series you’ve written on nationwide and even worldwide social issues, the one previous to this being the persecuted Church. What draws you to these difficult topics?

As a Christian, I believe I am compelled to use my God-given gifts to honor God in all I do—and that includes exposing the deeds of darkness, calling sinners to repentance, and taking a stand for righteousness by doing all I can to help rescue those who are suffering. I dare not turn my back on “the least of these.” I also believe that God placed this sort of burden on my heart even before I became a Christian at the age of 26. I’ve always been a champion of the underdog, a “soap-box” preacher, if you will. When I met Jesus, I simply redirected that passion toward His people, realizing I couldn’t effect real change in my own strength anyway.

With your obvious passion to right social and moral wrongs through the power of the Gospel, how did writing and speaking enter into that?

I’ve known I wanted to be a writer since I was a child—never wanted to do anything else. When I was a teenager I told my then boyfriend (now husband) that I was going to be a writer one day. What a blessing that God allowed me to fulfill that dream! After becoming a believer and growing in my faith, it was natural to take my passion to fight for others and incorporate it into my writing. Speaking, on the other hand, was an entirely different story. I was terrified of public speaking when I was young, and the day I received Christ I made a “bargain” with God, promising to do anything He asked of me—so long as it didn’t include public speaking. (Does God have a sense of humor or what???) Now, when I stand in front of audiences where I believe God has called me to speak (and actually find myself enjoying it!), I tell my listeners that if God has called them to do something and they feel it’s impossible, they can consider me their “visual aid” that NOTHING is impossible with God IF we will simply take that first step of obedience and let Him fulfill His purpose in and through us.

With the topics of the worldwide persecuted Church and human trafficking under your belt, what other issues are you dealing with in your writing?

My Christmas 2011 book, A Christmas Journey Home, dealt with the immigration/border problem, and my Christmas 2012 novel, Unexpected Christmas Hero, will be about homelessness in America. The next issues-related fiction series I have on tap—which I am just starting to write, by the way—is called the “Patches of Courage” series and will begin releasing in late January 2013. Book one is The Moses Quilt, based on the life of Harriet Tubman, and will be followed by The Christmas Quilt and The Impossible Quilt. This series of books will highlight historical American women whose Christian faith enabled them to walk in great courage and make a difference in the lives of countless people.

Where can people find out about you and your books/speaking/appearances?

They can go directly to my website ( or or my Easy Writer blog: I’m also on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google, and various other social sites. Would love to hear from all of you!

Where can people find out about free book giveaways on this blog tour?

The blog tour host is giving away a set of two books from the Freedom Series -  Book 1 (Deliver Me From Evil) and Book 2 (Special Delivery). Also, readers can follow @ChristianSpkrs on Twitter or follow on Facebook at for more book giveaway locations on the tour.

I was given a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for posting the author’s interview on my blog. This blog tour is managed by Christian Speakers Services (

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Blogside Chat | Margaret Daley

It's time for another Blogside Chat! Margaret Daley was kind enough to stop by for a chat. If you haven't read her latest book Saving Hope (you can read my review here), you should definitely check it out! It's a wonderful combination of suspense and romance and addresses some really tough, real-life issues. And now, won't you give Margaret a warm, i blog 4 books welcome?

i blog 4 books: Welcome to i blog 4 books, Margaret! For any readers who might not be familiar with you, please tell us a bit about yourself.
Margaret Daley: I've been writing for over thirty years and have had ups and downs in my career, but I felt in 2000 I found my writing home—in the Christian market. I have three cats and a wonderful, supportive husband. I have one son and four granddaughters.

ib4b: Give us a little background on your latest novel.
MD: Saving Hope is the first in the Men of the Texas Rangers series. My second one will be out in October called Shattered Silence and the third in the series next March called Scorned Justice. In Saving Hope my message is hope even through difficult trials. We all need hope, and sometimes it's hard to feel that, especially with all that is happening in this world.

Here's the Blurb for Saving Hope:
When a teenager goes missing from the Beacon of Hope School, Texas Ranger Wyatt Sheridan and school director Kate Winslow are forced into a dangerous struggle against a human trafficking organization. But the battle brings dire consequences as Wyatt's daughter is terrorized and Kate is kidnapped.    

Now it's personal, and Wyatt finds both his faith and investigative skills challenged as he fights to discover the mastermind behind the ring before evil destroys everyone he loves.

ib4b: What was the inspiration behind Saving Hope?
MD: As a high school teacher, I saw and heard many things concerning teens that broke my heart. Although I'm retired now after twenty-seven years as a teacher, my heart has always been with the children. They are our future and some of them are being threatened. We have to protect them.

ib4b: If your book was being made into a movie, who would you cast as the main character(s)? 
MD: Hugh Jackman for Wyatt and Amy Adams as Kate.

ib4b: Oooh, I can totally see them in those roles! It seems like most authors have quite an interesting journey to getting published. What did you do in your "former life"?
MD: I taught school, students with special needs, and loved working with them. I wrote for many years and taught school. Now I'm focusing totally on my writing.

ib4b: What were some of your favorite books growing up?
MD: All the Nancy Drew mysteries, Gone With the Wind and other mysteries and adventures.

ib4b: I think all girls must have loved Nancy Drew growing up! What was the last "must read" Christian fiction book that you read?
MD: Love Finds You in Tombstone, AZ by Miralee Ferrell.

ib4b: What was your biggest fashion mishap?
MD: I'm often out of step with fashion—I wear white shoes whenever I want, etc. I don't let fashion dictate what I wear.

ib4b: The beach or the mountains?
MD: Both like in Hawaii where you have a beach with a mountain behind you.

ib4b: What's your favorite comfort food?
MD: Cookie dough ice cream—I got a cone today and thoroughly enjoyed it.

ib4b: Do you have a "life verse" or favorite Scripture? (If so, please share it with us.) 
MD: With men it is impossible, but not for God; for with God all things are possible. Mark 10:27

ib4b: Can you tell us a bit about what you're working on now? When can we expect to see it in stores?
MD: I'm working on the second book in the Love Inspired Suspense continuity series for 2013. My book, Detection Mission, is the second one, out February 2013. The series revolves around a K-9 unit in Sagebrush, Texas. The dog in my story is a border collie, a cadaver dog, named Kip.

ib4b: Wow. You're certainly busy! I'll have to check out this series as well as the rest of the Men of the Texas Rangers series. Is there anything else you'd like to share with us before we go?
MD: I love hearing from readers. My favorite genre to write is romantic suspense. It is also my favorite genre to read. What do you like to read the most?

ib4b: I'm a huge fan of romance and suspense. If the two can be combined, that's even better! Margaret, thanks so much for stopping by today! I've enjoyed getting to know you!

Alright, folks, you heard her. Margaret loves to hear from readers. So, stop by and say hi!

Margaret Daley Online
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

Monday, March 19, 2012

You're Invited!

Happy Monday! I hope you all are enjoying this beautiful spring weather we're having! I know it's an early spring—which probably means an especially hot summer—but I'll take it whenever I can get it!

I mentioned on Friday that I've been working on a few things for the blog and I'm excited to let you in on one of the secrets today!

[Drum roll, please!]

On April 5, I will be celebrating my 2nd Blogaversary at i blog 4 books! I can't believe it's been two years, but it has been! (Well . . . almost, anyway!) To celebrate, I'm having a Titanic-themed party on April 2-6, and you're invited! Several incredible authors will be dropping by, and of course there will be giveaways!

Feel free to grab the button in the sidebar and share about this party on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc. If you do, please leave a link in the comments section. Sharing about the party by April 1 may help you out in the giveaways. (Hint, hint!) Watch for other pre-party events as well!

So mark your calendars, dress in your best frock, and don't miss out on the fun!

(Oh . . . and if you missed Friday's post, would you take a minute and give me your feedback?)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Need Your Feedback :)

It's been a slow posting week around here for me. I've been working on a few things for the blog, reading (of course!), and been taking a mini-break from posting daily. I'm sure you've had plenty of other blogs to read in my absence!

Of course, a little down time has allowed the creative juices to start flowing, so I have a couple of ideas I want to run by you.

Book Discussions
I know there are a lot of online book clubs and in real life ones as well, but I just finished reading a book that I'm DYING to talk to somebody about. I'm not exactly sure how this would work, but I'm thinking the posts would be hosted here on i blog 4 books and people could comment away. It may be a one-post discussion or a series of posts over several weeks. I think most of the questions would allow for interesting discussion whether or not you had already read the book - but might actually prompt you to grab a copy next time you're looking for a new book.

Getting to Know You
The thing I've liked the most about hosting various authors for Blogside Chats recently is getting to know a bit more about them—including some totally random tidbits. It's just fun getting to know the people behind the book. I was tossing around some low-maintenance ways to get to know YOU a bit better. What about posting one or two random questions for you to answer each month? You could post on your blog and link up or just answer in the comments. Nothing too personal—just some bloggy fun. I know some of us—including myself—like to maintain our privacy out here on the inter webs. :)

So there they are. What do you think? Good ideas? Bad ideas? Would you participate? Can you think of a better way to do them? After all, they'll really only work with a little audience participation, you know?!

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend! I'll be back with lots of posts and a fun announcement next week!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Blogside Chat | Robin Lee Hatcher

I recently read Belonging and Heart of Gold by Robin Lee Hatcher. How in the world am I just now discovering her?! If you're a fan of historical fiction, I think you'll really enjoy these books! Robin was gracious enough to stop by and chat about her latest novel Heart of Gold today. Give her a warm welcome!

i blog 4 books: Robin, thanks so much for stopping by! For any readers who might not be familiar with you, please tell us a bit about yourself.
Robin Lee Hatcher: I'm the author of 65 books (to date). I began my writing career in the general mass market (30 releases), but I answered God's call to write for Him in 1997. My first Christian novel, The Forgiving Hour, was released in February 1999. I'm a native Idahoan, and I love everything about my state which is why most of my books are set here. I'm a wife, mom, and grandma (the latter being one of the coolest things to "be" that was ever invented). In my spare time, I like to spoil my dog and cat, take rides on my bike along the Boise River Greenbelt, and knit prayer shawls and funky scarves.

ib4b: Give us a little background on your latest novel.
RLH: My latest novel is Heart of Gold, which officially released on Valentine's Day 2012. It is set in the Boise Basin (the mountains north of Boise) in a gold rush town called Grand Coeur in 1864. Spoiled and headstrong, Shannon, the heroine, is a displaced Virginian and an ardent supporter of her beloved South. The hero, Matthew, is one of the best stagecoach drivers west of the Mississippi, but he has been forced to settle down, at least temporarily, while he cares for his ailing sister and her son. What neither of them knows is that God is at work behind the scenes and is lovingly bringing them together to discover the true desires of their hearts.

ib4b: What was the inspiration for Heart of Gold?
RLH: Many, many years ago, while researching for another book set in Idaho Territory during the Civil War, I came across the information about Confederate supporters attempting to steal and send gold shipments to the South. This happened in Idaho and throughout the western states and territories, all of which "belonged" to the Union. I was fascinated by it, but it wasn't useful for the particular book I was writing at the time. When I began thinking about the book that would become Heart of Gold, I remembered that tidbit of research and the story began coming together in my mind.

ib4b: I loved this aspect of the story. There's so much history that I'm not even aware of! What do you hope readers will take away from reading it?
RLH: I believe the underlying thread that runs through all of my books is about the amazing grace of God and how He is working in our lives, even when we are completely unaware of it.

ib4b: If your book was being made into a movie, who would you cast as the main character(s)?
RLH: I would want a young (30-ish) George Strait to play Matthew. I know casting doesn't work that way, but that's who I envisioned when I wrote the book. I am unable to come up with an actress who I think would embody Shannon. Maybe Reese Witherspoon with red hair. I think she can play spoiled and headstrong.

ib4b: I can definitely see George Strait and Reese Witherspoon in those roles! It seems like most authors have quite an interesting journey to getting published. What did you do in your "former life"?
RLH: My former work life was bookkeeping and office administration. In 1981, I decided to try to write a book. I wrote in the evenings and on weekends. That book and its sequel were published in early 1984. In 1990, the month my ninth book was published, I quit my day job to write full time. I've been at it ever since.

ib4b: What were some of your favorite books growing up?
RLH: Little Women; Jo's Boys; the complete Trixie Beldon series; Old Bones; Champion Dog Prince Tom; Irish Red

ib4b: Little Women is my all-time favorite book. Can you believe I've never read anything else by Louisa May Alcott? What was the last "must read" Christian fiction book that you read?
RLH: Mine is the Night by Liz Curtis Higgs

ib4b: My husband and I often talk about what concerts we can only dream of going to. What bands/artists make your list?
RLH: George Strait; Brad Paisley; Carrie Underwood; Steven Curtis Chapman; Nicole C. Mullen; Babbie Mason; and plenty more

ib4b: We may be kindred spirits where music is concerned. [Grin!] What's your favorite movie?
RLH: Once again, too many to give just one. I have a huge DVD collection and watch my favorites over and over and over again. Among my favorites: An Ideal Husband; Sense and Sensibilities; Pride and Prejudice; Fiddler on the Roof; About a Boy; The Help

ib4b: If you painted every room in your house only one color, which color would you choose?
RLH: Something in either the mauve tones or the teal tones. Those are my favorite colors. I uses to have a bedroom with mauve and teal walls. Loved it. But I'm not sure I would want those colors in every room in the house, year after year. Light tan (the color of all the walls of my current home) probably serves me best.

ib4b: Do you have a "life verse" or favorite Scripture?
RLH: I have countless favorite Bible verses. I've been reading and studying the Bible daily for decades. But the verse God used to change the direction of my writing career is this one:

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10, NASB95)

ib4b: I love that verse too! I'm so thankful that we are created in Christ! Can you tell us a bit about what you're working on now? When can we expect to see it in stores?
RLH: As I answer these questions, I'm in the midst of revisions for Betrayal, the second book in the Where the Heart Lives trilogy (releasing in late 2012). And as soon as the revisions are done, I will return to writing Beloved, the third book in the Where the Heart Lives trilogy. It will release in May or June of 2013.

ib4b: You are one busy lady! I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the Where the Heart Lives trilogy! Thanks so much for stopping by!

Robin Lee Hatcher Online
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Beauty for Ashes by Dorothy Love

Beauty for Ashes
by Dorothy Love
A Hickory Ridge Romance, Book 2
Historical Christian Fiction / Romance
Published February 2012
Thomas Nelson
336 pages

About the Book
She’s a beautiful young widow. He’s a Southern gentleman with a thirst for adventure. Both need a place to call home.

After losing her husband in the Civil War, Carrie Daly is scared she will never have the family she longs for. Eligible bachelors are scarce in Hickory Ridge, Tennessee, but Carrie has found love. Not the weak-in-the-knees kind, but something practical. Still, she isn't quite ready to set a wedding date with Nate Chastain.

Griff Rutledge is a former member of Charleston society, but has been estranged from his family for years. He’s determined to remain unattached, never settling in one place for too long. But when asked to train a Thoroughbred for an upcoming race in Hickory Ridge, he decides to stay awhile.

Despite objections from the townsfolk, and her fear that true happiness has eluded her, Carrie is drawn to Griff's kindness and charm. It will take a leap of faith for them to open their hearts and claim God's promise to give beauty for ashes.

My Thoughts
Carrie Daly is alone after the deaths of her parents, grandmother, and husband. When her brother marries and has an instant family, she feels even more alone than before. Not wanting to miss out on what may be her last chance at happiness she begins to feel pressure to marry her friend Nate Chastain. When Griff Rutledge, a horse trainer, arrives in town, Carrie feels a strong attraction to him—despite the misgivings of the rest of the townspeople. She must decide if she will make a practical choice or follow her heart.

After reading Beyond All Measure last year, I knew that I had found a real treasure in Dorothy Love. It was great to return to the quaint town of Hickory Ridge, Tennessee in Beauty for Ashes.

I felt so sorry for Carrie. In the absence of family, she has made great friends in the dying town of Hickory Ridge. However, some friends have moved away and then some turn away from her when she needs them most. I was so frustrated with some of the townspeople! I suppose that's how life in a small town is (or used to be, anyway). Griff, on the other hand, was intriguing. It was obvious that he had secrets about his past, and I was curious to figure out what they were. The best part about the main characters—Carrie, Griff, and even Mary—was that there was such growth and change and even redemption in each of them. While everything didn't turn out perfectly in the end, it was good to see that trials weren't wasted on them!

While Beauty for Ashes certainly stands alone, it could be helpful to read the series in order as there are a number of references to people and events that took place in the first book. At first, it was a little hard for me to remember what happened in the last book, but I was able to put the pieces together quickly. Overall, I truly enjoyed this book and look forward to seeing what will happen next in Hickory Ridge! [4 stars]

I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson and LitFuse Publicity in exchange for my fair and honest review.

About the Author
Before returning to her writing roots in historical fiction, Dorothy Love published twelve novels for young adults. Her work has garnered numerous honors from the American Library Association, the Friends of American Writers, the International Reading Association, the New York Public Library, and many others. The Hickory Ridge novels mark her Christian fiction debut.

Dorothy Love Online
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Party with Dorothy Love & Win Great Prizes!

Dorothy Love's Beauty for Ashes Kindle Fire and a Sapphire Ring Giveaway! Enter Today & RSVP for 3/20 Facebook Author Chat Party!

We're thrilled to announce the fun giveaway Dorothy is hosting! First, she'll be giving away a Kindle Fire (3/1-3/20), then on the evening of the 20th she's inviting everyone to her Facebook Author Page for a fun Author Chat party! Don't miss a minute of the fun ... sigh.

One beautiful winner will receive:
  • A Brand new Kindle Fire with Wi-Fi
  • Beauty for Ashes by Dorothy Love
  • Beyond All Measure by Dorothy Love
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends 3/20/12. Winner will be announced at Dorothy's Facebook Author Chat Party on 3/20. Come for an evening of chat, trivia, and a sneak peek at the next book in Dorothy's Hickory Ridge series - bring your friends! She'll also be giving away some GREAT prizes: gift certificates, books and a stunning sapphire ring!

So grab your copy of Beauty for Ashes  and join Dorothy and friends on the evening of March 20th for an evening of fun.

Don't miss Dorothy's delightful giveaway and party. RSVP TODAY and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 20th!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Chat with Julie Klassen!

Don't miss the perfect blend of Regency-era romance and mystery in The Maid of Fairbourne Hall! Grab a copy and then be sure to enter Julie's Kindle Fire Giveaway and RSVP for her Author Chat party on Facebook! Swoon.

One fortunate winner will receive:
  • A brand new Kindle Fire
  • A Julie Klassen Library (The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, The Girl in the Gatehouse, and The Silent Governess)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends 3/14. Winner will be announced at Julie's "Fairbourne Hall" Facebook Party on 3/15 . Julie will be hosting an evening of chat, trivia and a sneak peek at her next book - bring your friends! She'll also be giving away some GREAT prizes: gift certificates, books, and a Downton Abbey Prize Pack (Season 1 & 2)!

So grab your copy of The Maid of Fairbourne Hall and join Julie and friends on the evening of March 15th for an evening of fun.

Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP TODAY and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 15th!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Heart Echoes by Sally John

Heart Echoes
by Sally John
Side Roads, Book 3
Christian Fiction
Published March 2012
Tyndale House
368 pages

About the Book
In the aftermath of a massive Los Angeles earthquake, the perfect existence Teal Morgan-Adams has built begins to crumble. Teal’s daughter, Maiya, is determined to learn the identity of her biological father, despite the loving devotion of her stepdad, River Adams. But that’s a secret Teal hoped would remain buried forever. She has never shared the truth with anyone . . . not her family, not River, not even Maiya’s father.

As Maiya’s rebellion escalates, Teal receives tragic news from her sister and decides to take Maiya home to Cedar Pointe, Oregon, a place she’s avoided most of her adult life. But will her already-strained marriage survive the distance and the secrets she’ll be forced to face there? And can Teal erase the lies that echo in her heart?

My Thoughts
Teal has worked hard to forget her past and make a good life for her and her daughter. Marrying River may be one of the smartest decisions she ever made, but even that can't erase the past and the secrets she's carried for 17 years. When an earthquake hits L.A. and traumatizes Teal and her daughter hits a rebellious streak, Teal decides that returning home may be the only thing that can help put their family back together again.

Sally John is an incredible story-teller, and Heart Echoes is a beautiful story. John has a way with words that pulled me into the story so that I felt more like part of the story rather than merely a spectator. I felt like I was reading a movie at times. :)

I loved the characters in this book. They were "real" people—complete with flaws and real personalities. Maiya was an outrageous, drama-filled teenager (so glad I'm not still 16!); I alternated between wanting to hug Teal and wanting to shake her; and River seemed to be too good to be true, but I loved him just the same! The rest of the family and neighbors were equally interesting and I would love to see another book or two about a few of them. (Hint! Hint!)

Heart Echoes is an emotional story about secrets, family, faith, and love. Fans of writers like Nicholas Sparks and Denise Hildreth Jones will surely enjoy this wonderful book! [5 stars]

I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale House in exchange for my fair and honest review.

About the Author
When the going gets tough—or weird or wonderful—the daydreamer gets going on a new story. Sally John has been tweaking life's moments into fiction since she read her first Trixie Belden mystery as a child.

Now an author of more than fifteen novels, Sally writes stories that reflect contemporary life. Her passion is to create a family, turn their world inside out, and then portray how their relationships change with each other and with God. Her goal is to offer hope to readers in their own relational and faith journeys.

Sally grew up in Moline, Illinois, graduated from Illinois State University, married Tim in 1973, and taught in middle schools. She is a mother, mother-in-law, and grandmother. A three-time finalist for the Christy Award, she also teaches writing workshops. Her books include the Side Roads series, the Safe Harbor series (coauthored with Gary Smalley), The Other Way Home series, The Beach House series, and In a Heartbeat series. Many of her stories are set in her favorite places of San Diego, Chicago, and small-town Illinois.

She and her husband currently live in southern California.

Sally John Online
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook

Friday Freebies

Because I love all things To Kill a Mockingbird, I thought I'd let you know that The Mockingbird Parables by Matt Litton is a free e-book right now. I haven't read it yet, but it's worth a shot. :)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Blogside Chat | Martha Rogers

I'm back with a Blogside Chat today and am glad to have Martha Rogers as my guest! I've read three of her books in the past few months and have thoroughly enjoyed them all! You can find reviews and previews of Autumn Song, Amelia's Journey, and Winter Promise here. I'm sure you'll want to check them out after getting to know Martha a bit better!

i blog 4 books: Hey, Martha! Thanks so much for stopping by for a Blogside Chat today! For any readers who might not be familiar with you, please tell us a bit about yourself. 
Martha Rogers: Although I’ve been writing for almost all my life, I came into the world of full length novels late in life. I received my first contract at the age of 73. In the past 2 ½ years I have written ten full length books and one novella.  Number 9 will be released in May and Number 10 in October.

ib4b: Wow! That's pretty impressive! Give us a little background on your latest novel.
MR: My latest novel now in bookstores is Winter Promise and tells the story of Abigail, Daniel Monroe’s sister and Rachel’s best friend in Summer Dream and Doctor Elliot Jensen from Autumn Song. Abigail comes to Texas to set up a library for the town of Porterfield and is drawn to the young doctor whose eyes are shadowed by a great sadness. Theirs is a story of growing and changing as one realizes the true meaning of God’s love and forgiveness.

ib4b: What was the inspiration for Winter Promise?
MR: I wanted to tell Abigail’s story as well as Dr. Elliot’s. As part of a series, it’s fun to take minor characters from one book and let the reader learn more about them in their own story.

ib4b: What do you hope readers will take away from reading it?
MR: With all my books I want  the reader to see and understand the all encompassing love of our Savior and God. His love and forgiveness know no bounds and crosses over into every culture, every way of life and into every sin.

ib4b: That absolutely comes through! It seems like most authors have quite an interesting journey to getting published. What did you do in your "former life"?
MR: I taught school for 36 years. For almost 24 years I taught Home Economics which included Home Management, Home and Family Life,  and Child Development as well as teaching students to cook and sew. For the last 12 years I taught English at the secondary and college levels. I also supervised student teachers for five years.

ib4b: On a totally random note ... As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
MR: A missionary, but God never gave me a call, so I went into teaching, and that led me to the mission field He’d planned for me then. Now I spread God’s Word through my writing.

ib4b: If you were Miss America, what cause would you champion?
MR: Human rights including protection of the rights of unborn babies.

ib4b: My mom always let me choose a special meal for my birthday. What's on the menu for your birthday dinner?
MR: Anything Tex-Mex plus a Lady Baltimore Cake or Coconut Cake with Lemon or Coconut filling. My Grandmother always made one of those two cakes for my birthday when I was growing up. The last one was for my 21st birthday.

ib4b: Yum! That sounds wonderful! What a sweet memory of your grandmother too! What were some of your favorite books growing up?
MR: I read all of Grace Livingston Hill’s books and also all of Janet Lambert’s books. Nancy Drew came in a close second to these ladies.

ib4b: I'm a huge Nancy Drew fan too! What was the last "must read" Christian fiction book that you read?
MR: I would say The Chair by James Rubart as the fiction must read, but Abby Rike’s Working It Out is a close second and my first recommendation for non-fiction.

ib4b: Do you have a "life verse" or favorite Scripture?
MR: The verse I use with signature at all my book signings is Galatians 6:9. It says, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” How true that was and is for me.

ib4b: Can you tell us a bit about what you're working on now? When can we expect to see it in stores?
MR: I just started a new series, Love’s Homeward Journey, that will first appear in the bookstores in early 2013. The first book is based on the love story of my great-grandparents just after the Civil War ended. The following two will simply carry the story forward with other family characters, some of it based on truth, the rest will be completely fiction.

ib4b: That sounds wonderful ... can't wait to check it out! Is there anything else you'd like to share with us before we go?
MR: In May, the fourth book of the Seasons series will be released. It’s a very special book to me because it parallels my own journey to forgiveness for a completely unacceptable lifestyle by a
family member. In order to forgive others, we must realize that God forgives them unconditionally when they come to Him and seek it. That’s what happened with my brother and the heroine in my book. They book came to know the Lord and sought His forgiveness. My hero and I then had to accept the fact that if God forgave them, we must also forgive. It was a hard lesson and a difficult journey for me and it in the book, it is a difficult one for my hero.

ib4b: I can't wait to read the last book in the Seasons series. You are one busy lady! Thanks so much for taking the time to drop in!

Martha Rogers Online

Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook
* Martha also just signed up on Pinterest, so for all you Pinterest people, look her up. :)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Dawn Comes Early by Margaret Brownley

Dawn Comes Early
by Margaret Brownley
The Brides of Last Chance Ranch, Book 1
Historical Christian Fiction / Romance
Available March 13, 2012
Thomas Nelson
320 pages

About the Book
Looking for a woman of good character and pleasant disposition willing to learn the ranching business in Arizona territory. Must be SINGLE and prepared to remain so now and forever more. Will be given ownership of ranch. —Eleanor Walker

Disgraced dime novelist Kate Tenney fled the city that banned her latest book for a fresh start at a cattle ranch in the Arizona Territory. She hopes ranching turns out to be as romantic as she portrayed it in her novels.

But what awaits her is a much harder life. There is no room for mistakes on a working cattle ranch in 1895, and Kate is ill-prepared for her new life. She quickly learns that dawn comes early . . . every day. But she is tenacious.

Having been abandoned by a string of men, Kate has no intention of ever marrying. But she didn’t expect to meet Luke Adams either. Luke awakens feelings inside Kate she doesn’t recognize, and his steady presence is a constant distraction. She has only written about love in the past, never known it herself. But her feelings for Luke stand in the way of all she has to gain if she is chosen as the heir.

Perhaps God brought Kate to the barrenness of the desert to give new life to her jaded heart.

My Thoughts
Running from her past and her failed career, Kate answers an add to become heiress to a successful ranching operation in Arizona. The catch? She must promise never to marry. When she arrives at the Last Chance Ranch, she realizes that everything she thought she knew about ranching is actually much harder. If she's going to earn a place as the heir, she's going to have to learn a lot—and quickly. When she meets Luke, her plans of ranching come into question. Will she choose a ranch or love? And more importantly, will she learn to rely on God?

Dawn Comes Early is a sweet, romantic story. I loved the idea behind the series—a commitment to remain single for life. Not your typical fare in romance novels! Kate and Luke were interesting characters and I liked them both right off the bat. I knew there were underlying issues in both of their pasts and often wondered how they would relate to the rest of the story. Slowly but surely, the secrets began to come out, which really enriched the story.

The hands at the ranch are great secondary characters. They provided a bit more depth and interesting interactions with Kate. There were a couple that I would like to learn more about in future books in the series. Additionally, Kate's ranching adventures are hilarious, and I caught myself laughing out loud a few times.

Overall, Dawn Comes Early is an enjoyable, heart-warming story. If you're looking for a romantic story with a few laughs thrown in, add this one to your TBR list. [3.5 stars]

I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson in exchange for my fair and honest review.

About the Author
New York Times best-selling author Margaret Brownley has penned more than twenty-five historical and contemporary novels. Her books have won numerous awards, including Reader’s Choice.

Though successful, Margaret decided to leave behind the secular publishing world to follow God’s will for her: to write inspirational fiction. Since then she has published the Rocky Creek series, and A Lady like Sarah was a Romance Writers of America RITA finalist.

Happily married to her real life hero, Margaret and her husband have three grown children and live in Southern California.

Margaret Brownley Online
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

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