A Breath of Hope (Under Northern Skies #2) by Lauraine Snelling (review by Cathy)

a breath of hope

About the book:

Nilda Carlson has been trying to save enough money to go to America for months, so when a letter arrives, with an offer to pay her passage, she jumps at the chance. Her younger brother Ivar accompanies her, and they are thrilled to join older brother Rune and his family in the northern forests of Minnesota.

But America is not everything Nilda imagined. A terrifying experience in a lumber camp shakes Nilda’s confidence and trust in men, but a job helping a young widow raise her children and run her farm gives her a chance to build her own life. When she meets Fritz, the children’s schoolteacher, she is initially unimpressed and uninterested. His kindness and passion for learning begin to win her over, but how can she sacrifice her dreams for the future for a man she’s still not sure of?

My thoughts:

This was the perfect book for me!  I tuned out all of the outside noise and was once again transported back to Minnesota to spend time with Rune, Signe and their children.

I loved the conversational tone in this book, it made me think I was in the kitchen with Signe and  Aunt Gerd as they chatted while preparing meals, baking cookies, hanging laundry to dry and any discussion they had.  Their relationship has developed and deepened.   I appreciate how the author brings her readers into her characters daily  lives making you feel like you are there with them no matter what is going on.

I sensed the excitement and anticipation that Nilda and Ivar had when they were able to join their brother Rune and family in Minnesota.  I felt like warning them that it was going to be difficult living with Uncle Einar but he was their ticket to America since he was paying their fare.

I have grown to care about the characters in this series and have rooted for  all of them to find peace, happiness and the prosperity they have worked so hard for. There has been only one character that I didn’t love, but I still wanted him to enjoy the fruits of his labor and embrace the love of his family and neighbors. I loved seeing the change in Gerd as she becomes stronger and healthier.

A Breath of Hope picks up where, The Promise of Dawn ends, so effortlessly that it seemed as though it hadn’t been that long since I had read the first book. I recommend that you read the books in order to fully understand all that the Carlson family has experienced and how close they are to turning their dreams into reality.  I’m eagerly anticipating the next book in the series to find out what’s next for my current fictional favorite family.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and was under no obligation to write a review.  All opinions are my own.

 

 

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Author Interview ~ Cynthia Roemer

Hello everyone!  Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres and I am so excited to have the chance to interview a (fairly) new author to the genre.  Cynthia Roemer has written two novels and is currently working on her third.  I am so glad that she took time out of her busy schedule to answer questions for me so we can all get to know her better.  If you haven’t read her books (Under This Same Sky and Under Prairie Skies) then be sure to grab copies of each (purchasing links are available at the end of this post but check those out after you read the interview of course!)  Grab a drink, sit back, and spend a few minutes getting to know Cynthia Roemer.  You’ll be glad you did!  Happy reading!!!

 

Kristi:  Your Prairie Sky Series is fantastic.  Where did you come up with the idea for the series?

Cynthia:  Thanks so much, Kristi! You’ve very kind. The idea for Under This Same Sky came to me during my college days. I had a theme verse, an overall message I wanted to get across to readers through the lives of my characters. I wrote a rough draft of the novel, but it sat untouched for a number of years until the Lord revived my dream of novel writing in 2012. Under This Same Sky went through many changes as I refined my writing skills and tweaked the storyline, but it never lost its original message that, no matter what we go through, God is with us and has a plan for our lives.

Under Prairie Skies also began with a theme message of “iron sharpening iron.” Once I had established characters, it was easy to take a minor character from the first novel and create a story all her own. It’s so wonderful how the Lord takes a simple message and an outline and weaves it all together into a palatable story. He is the thread that binds my novels together.

 

Kristi:  I fell in love with your writing while reading your first book. It put me in mind of a Janette Oke novel in that you really captured the time period and the characters were so realistic.  Who inspired you as an author?
Cynthia:  At the top of the list would be Laura Frantz. Upon entering my first ACFW Genesis Contest, one of the judges recommended her book The Frontiersman’s Daughter to me, and I willingly sought it out. It was the first novel I’d read that really put me into the character’s skin. It inspired me to dig deeper into my characters and helped to transform the way I write. Apparently, it worked, for the following year (2014) I was named a finalist in the Genesis Contest.  =)

 

Kristi:  What is a typical day like for you as an author?  (Do you have a schedule or word goal for the day?)

Cynthia:  My days vary. Two days a week, I’m a school librarian and mainly just have time in the evening to work at marketing/blogging. Sundays my computer is off to spend time in worship and with family. So that basically leaves 4 days to write. Mix in all my other responsibilities of cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, gardening, etc. and it boils down to a fight for time to write. On a good day, I’ll write for 3 hours in the morning and 3 hours in the afternoon. I’m not a fast writer, so am really looking forward to being off work this summer so I can buckle down and write much of Book 3 in my series, Under Moonlit Skies.

 

Kristi:  What’s your writing process?  Do you outline the story or let the characters decide what happens?

Cynthia:  I generally outline the key events of my stories and know where my characters start and how they’ll end up, but I leave room for the Lord’s leading and for the characters to change and grow. Often they end up going places and doing things I hadn’t anticipated.

 

Kristi:  What is the easiest part of the writing process?  The most difficult?

Cynthia:  Perhaps because it is my favorite part of writing, the easiest is developing characters. I love breathing life into new characters much like, I’m certain, the Lord enjoys creating each of us.  =)

The most difficult and least favorite part of writing for me is the many rounds of edits I must do prior to publication. By that stage, I’ve read through my manuscript so many times I nearly have it memorized! But it is a necessary part of the process to see that the novels reach readers in tip-top shape. And for that reason, I do it willingly.

 

Kristi:  How did it feel when you saw your book in a store for the first time?  Did you pull all customers in the area over to look at it?  Shout to everyone in the store that you wrote the book and suggest they buy one? : )

Cynthia:  LOL! Not quite. I’m not a pushy saleswoman. I’m much braver at posting a picture on-line about my books than drawing people’s attention to it in person. But it is truly a thrill to see my novels on a book shelf and to see my name in print! It still doesn’t seem real at times. Such a blessing.

 

Kristi: Why did you choose to write historical fiction as opposed to contemporary?  Do you think you will write contemporary fiction someday?

Cynthia:  I’m old-fashioned at heart and love history, so historical novels are what I most enjoy reading as well as writing. Though I don’t foresee myself writing contemporary, I am quite open to writing about other time periods, whether it be wartime novels or Biblical fiction.

 

Kristi:  How many more books can we expect in the Prairie Sky Series?  Can you give us a hint as to what the next book is about?

Cynthia:  There will be at least one more novel, possibly two, in the series. Currently, Book 3: Under Moonlit Skies is slated to release with Mantle Rock Publishing in early September, 2019. This third novel will take place in 1858, three years after Book 2: Under Prairie Skies ends. I’ve enjoyed researching for this third book and have my rough outline completed, along with the first few scenes.

I’ll refrain from giving away too much about Under Moonlit Skies, other than to say it will feature Esther Stanton (younger sister of Charlotte Stanton from Under Prairie Skies) as the heroine and will take place in part in historic Cincinnati, OH. I’m excited to delve deeper into this third installment in my Prairie Sky Series and hope you readers will look forward to reading it!

 

(Kristi:  2019????  Any chance I can get my hands on a copy earlier?….lol)

 

under prairie skies

 

BOOK BLURB FOR UNDER PRAIRIE SKIES

~ Beyond shattered dreams lies a realm of possibilities ~

Illinois prairie ~1855

Unsettled by the news that her estranged cousin and uncle are returning home after a year away, Charlotte Stanton goes to ready their cabin and finds a handsome stranger has taken up residence. Convinced he’s a squatter, she throws him off the property before learning his full identity. Little does she know, their paths are destined to cross again.

Quiet and ruggedly handsome, Chad Avery’s uncanny ability to see through Charlotte’s feisty exterior and expose her inner weaknesses both infuriates and intrigues her. When a tragic accident incites her family to move east, Charlotte stays behind in hopes of becoming better acquainted with the elusive cattleman. Yet Chad’s unwillingness to divulge his hidden past, along with his vow not to love again, threatens to keep them apart forever.

AUTHOR BIO: 

Cynthia Roemer is an award-winning inspirational writer with a heart for scattering seeds of hope into the lives of readers. Raised in the cornfields of rural Illinois, Cynthia enjoys spinning tales set in the backdrop of the 1800s prairie. She writes from her family farm in central Illinois where she resides with her husband and their two college-aged sons. Under Prairie Skies is Book Two in her Prairie Sky Series.

 

Contact Info:

 

Cynthia Roemer can be contacted at:

 

Website:  http://cynthiaroemer.com/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com@cynthiaroemer

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCynthiaRoemer/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16785237.Cynthia_Roemer

Author Newsletter Sign-up: http://cynthiaroemer.com/

 

Purchase Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=cynthia+roemer

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/under-prairie-skies-cynthia-roemer/1128471176?ean=9781945094446

Buried Secrets (Harvest of Hope #2) by Barbara Cameron (review by Cathy) + Giveaway

Buried Secrets-cover_alt 2_090717a

 

About the book:

Family secrets could get in the way of a second chance at love

After her husband dies, Rose longs to be near her family—especially her twin sister, Lillian—so she packs up her young son and leaves their life in Ohio to move back to Paradise, Pennsylvania.

Luke Miller is ready to settle down in Paradise. He soon forms a partnership with Rose to help farm her land. He finds that he’s enjoying the company of the quiet, modest widow and she may be just the woman he’s been waiting for. But is Rose hiding a secret beneath her reserved exterior—one that could keep her from having a future with Luke?

And Rose isn’t the only one concealing something. Luke has a secret of his own, and it could threaten their partnership—and their chance at love.

My thoughts:

What a wonderful and heartwarming story Ms. Cameron has penned!   From beginning to end, I was fully caught up in the story of Rose and  her adorable little boy, Daniel.  Rose is returning to her family home in Paradise as a widow to be with her family, especially her twin sister, Lillian.

I loved Rose and mourned the loss of her husband, but she had an inner strength that I greatly admired and she is the epitome of  a good mother.  The love and care she gave Daniel was so sweet.

I was extremely fond of Luke and his relationship with Daniel was natural and believable.  The caution that Rose took with her son , her farm and most of all with her heart was refreshing as she wasn’t in a hurry to dive into a relationship with Luke or any other man in the community.

This is a tender story with selfless love and a secret that I kept trying to figure out but was a bit surprised when it was revealed.  Although this is the second book in the series, it was fine to read as a stand-alone to me.  I will be reading the first book as soon as I can and I’m curious to see what’s next in this series.

I recommend this book to readers of all ages that enjoy both Amish and Christian fiction

I received a copy from the publisher and was under no obligation to write a positive review.  All opinions are my own.

Meet the author

Barbara Cameron.

CBD, CBA, and ECPA bestselling author of 24 books (including new series upcoming for Abingdon Press in 2011/2012) including fiction and non-fiction books for Abingdon Press, Thomas Nelson, Harlequin, and other publishers.

I sold three films to HBO/Cinemax and am the first winner of the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award.

 

Blog Tour Giveaway

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Flowers and Foul Play (A Magic Garden Mystery #1) by Amanda Flower (review by Cathy)

flowers and foul play

About the book:

Fiona Knox lost her fiancé and her flower shop—but when she flies to Scotland to inherit her godfather’s cottage and possibly magical walled garden, she may lose her life as well when she’s swept into a murder investigation.

Florist Fiona Knox’s life isn’t smelling so sweet these days. Her fiancé left her for their cake decorator. Then, her flower shop wilted after a chain florist opened next door. So when her godfather, Ian MacCallister, leaves her a cottage in the Scottish Highlands, Fiona jumps on the next plane to Edinburgh. Ian, after all, is the one who taught her to love flowers. But when Ian’s elderly caretaker Hamish MacGregor shows her to the cottage upon her arrival, she finds the once resplendent grounds of Duncreigan in a dreadful shambles—with a dead body in the garden.

Minutes into her arrival, Fiona is already being questioned by the handsome Chief Inspector Neil Craig and getting her passport seized. But it’s Craig’s fixation on Uncle Ian’s loyal caretaker, Hamish, as a prime suspect, that really makes her worried. As Fiona strolls the town, she quickly realizes there are a whole bouquet of suspects much more likely to have killed Alastair Croft, the dead lawyer who seems to have had more enemies than friends.

Now it’s up to Fiona to clear Hamish’s name before it’s too late in Flowers and Foul Play, national bestselling author Amanda Flower’s enchanting first Magic Garden mystery.

My thoughts:

This is one of my favorite books that I’ve read by Ms. Flower and I’ve read several of them . It is so easy to love, Fiona Knox from the very beginning as you learn that her fiancé left her for their cake decorator and she has to close her flower shop.  There is a silver lining when she inherits her godfathers estate, so she travels to Scotland to claim it.

Not only did I love Fiona, I loved everything about this novel. The setting, the cottage, Hamish the elderly caretaker of the property and the characters we meet in this story.  I know that the author is going to write in a couple of furry characters that steal a few scenes and my heart but this time she surprised me with Duncan, a rather chatty squirrel and a dear companion to Hamish.   Ivanhoe the cat is obviously very dear to me because I am a cat lover.

I was pleased to meet the residents of the village fairly early in the story which made it easy to keep track of them and get to know them and their relationship to Alistair  Croft the attorney that Fiona needed to meet since he was handling the estate she inherited.  The only problem with meeting Alistair is that he was murdered in the magical garden that now belongs to her.   With this being a cozy, there is nothing graphic about the attorneys demise and there were several times I laughed throughout this book.

I’ve often wondered what it must be like to live in the mind of Ms. Flower although to be honest, I’m not sure I could keep up!   Which is fine with me because I’m perfectly content to sit back and enjoy her wonderful imagination and the gift of her writing,

This is he perfect book for a lazy sunny day to escape to a garden that you don’t have to tend.

I received a copy from the publisher through Netgalley and have given my honest opinion.

 

 

The Captured Bride (The Daughters of the Mayflower) by Michelle Griep (review by Cathy)

the captured bride

About the book:

A War-Torn Countryside Is No Place for a Lady
Mercy Lytton is a lady like none other. Raised amongst the Mohawks, she straddles two cultures, yet each are united in one cause. . .to defeat the French. Born with a rare gift of unusually keen eyesight, she is chosen as a scout to accompany a team of men on a dangerous mission. Yet it is not her life that is threatened. It is her heart.

Condemned as a traitor, Elias Dubois faces the gallows. At the last minute, he is offered his freedom if he consents to accompany a stolen shipment of French gold to a nearby fort—but he is the one they stole it from in the first place. It turns out that the real thief is the beguiling woman, Mercy Lytton, for she steals his every waking thought. Can love survive divided loyalties in a backcountry wilderness?

Join the adventure as the Daughters of the Mayflower series continues with The Captured Bride by Michelle Griep.

My thoughts:

I love historical romance and, The Captured Bride did not disappoint.  This takes place in 1759, five years into the French and Indian War, normally not my preferred time to read in historical fiction but since I have enjoyed the other books in the series and Ms. Griep is one of my favorite authors, I knew that I wanted to read this.

The author  takes you on a journey where you truly get to know the characters as, Mercy and Elias are on a mission to deliver a shipment of gold to a nearby fort, posing as husband and wife.  Of course they have a couple of traveling companions with them, Matthew and Rufus and along the way they meet other families and they encounter quite a few challenges along the way.

I liked the chemistry between Mercy and Elias but I liked that she isn’t written as a starry-eyed woman in need of rescue. She is pretty fearless and spunky.  It’s refreshing to find a female character that lived the life that she did.

Overall, this is a wonderful addition to The Daughters of the Mayflower series, although the third book this can be read as a stand alone, as can the other two in the series.  I loved the characters and the storyline.  Most of all, I loved the descriptive writing and time spent with The Captive Bride.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

 

 

Where the Fire Falls (Shadows of the Wilderness #2) by Karen Barnett (review by Cathy)

Where the Fire Falls

About the book:

Stunning Yosemite National Park sets the stage for this late 1920s historical romance with mystery, adventure, heart, and a sense of the place John Muir described as “pervaded with divine light.”

Watercolorist Olivia Rutherford fashioned her image as an avant-garde artist to appeal to the region’s wealthy art-collectors. When she lands a lucrative contract painting illustrations of Yosemite National Park for a travel magazine including its nightly one-of-a-kind Firefall event, she hopes the money will lift Olivia and her sisters out of poverty.

After false accusations cost him everything, former minister Clark Johnson has found purpose as a backcountry guide in this natural cathedral of granite and trees. Now he’s faced with the choice of becoming a National Parks Ranger, but is it his true calling?

As Clark helps open Olivia’s eyes to the wonders of Yosemite, she discovers the people are as vital to the park’s story as its vistas– a revelation that may bring her charade to an end.

My thoughts:

It doesn’t matter if you’re an outdoorsy, adventurous kind of person or more sedate like me, you will love this book.  Where the Fire Falls is the second book in, A Vintage National Perks series and this one is just as exciting and can be read as a stand alone, although I recommend reading the first book, The Road to Paradise because it is so, so good!

There is so much to like in this story, the time period, the vivid descriptions of Yosemite National Park, but most of all the wonderful characters.  I liked Oliva immediately but I liked her even more when she discovers the beauty and wonders of  Yosemite.  It took a bit longer to appreciate Clark, but once I did he quickly became a favorite of mine.

Ms. Barnett has a talent for descriptive storytelling and she made me feel as if I was taking an adventure and seeing the same sights that her characters saw.

Overall, Where the Fire Falls is filled with engaging characters, a bit of suspense, and a delightful plot.   Oh, and that cover?  Gorgeous!

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher and was under no obligation to write a positive review.  All opinions at my own.

The Hawaiian Discovery by Wanda E, Brunstetter and Jean Brunstetter (review by Cathy)

the hawaiian discovery

About the book:

Ellen Lambright mourned when her best friend, Mandy, moved from Indiana to Hawaii. But now Ellen has received the Amish church’s permission to go to Hawaii and help Mandy through challenging times. Rob Smith works on the Williams family’s organic farm, far from his past mistakes and burning regrets. When Ellen befriends Rob, the attraction is mutual, but her commitment to the Amish faith stands between them. Could a heartfelt discovery lead to forgiveness, reunion, and love? Or is Ellen’s destiny waiting for her in Indiana?

Find out in this sequel to The Hawaiian Quilt from New York Times bestselling author Wanda E. Brunstetter, writing with her daughter-in-law Jean Brunstetter.

 

My thoughts:

In this sequel to The Hawaiian Quilt, the authors once again take us from Indiana to Hawaii where we catch up with characters from the first book and we meet some new ones in this book.

I actually liked this book more than I did the first one.  It was nice to see Mandy with her husband, Ken in Indiana with their own B&B.  It was sad to see them have to leave for Hawaii due to an emergency in Ken’s family.   So far in  both in books, I’ve been more fond of Ellen than any of the other characters because I find her more grounded and responsible.  The friendship between Mandy and Ellen is as strong as ever and it was touching to see Ellen head off to Hawaii to offer her love and support to Mandy as circumstances keep the couple there longer than they anticipated.

There were a couple of things that surprised me with the characters in this book and I love when that happens.   I suggest you read the books in order to gain an understanding as to why this is a story of Amish traveling back and forth between Indiana and Hawaii and why both states have a special meaning to all of them.

Overall, I liked the story of friendship, faith and new beginnings and recommend it to readers of both Amish and Christian fiction.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher and was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions are my own.