Tag Archive for Barbara J. Shelton

Barbara J. Shelton’s Review of “Springtime in Savannah” by Gail Warner

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MY REVIEW

ON

SPRINGTIME IN SAVANNAH

BY

GAIL WARNER

It seemed a normal spring morning in Savannah until Jonathan Rayburn heard an angelic voice on Monterey Square. Within moments of setting eyes upon the exceptionally beautiful Keri McGuire, he welcomed her to his beloved city and into his heart. In the days ahead, his faith is severely tested because of one homeless man and a civil lawsuit. Daniel Stanton, a busy attorney in St. Augustine, arrived at Mrs. Quinn’s home, questioning why his father’s client has requested his legal advice. One portrait upstairs caught his attention; one nearly identical portrait in the music room captured his wishful thoughts. Never in his life had he been so disappointed when he actually met the granddaughter from Milwaukee. While Laura Martin challenged his ethics, he prayed to be a man of conviction.

 

MY REVIEW

It was a surprise to me that more reviews hadn’t been written on this beautifully composed story about Springtime in Savannah by Gail Warner.  Truly, this story does not stand alone – but of several stories skillfully intertwined to keep the reader drawn in.  Each story has the possibility of being complete as one – but to include so many well defined characters, each with different personalities and problems, was done with proficient cleverness by Ms. Warner.

The author went deep into research on the history of Savannah, as well as interesting facts that I would never have known without reading this novel.  At times, I felt I was reading a travelogue which made the scenery in my mind vivid through the color of illustrious scripting.  The story is lengthy – and never boring.

What can I say about this story that wouldn’t add spoilers to future readers?  My heart was warmed by the conversions to faith in Jesus.  Some of the characters were idiosyncratic and unlikeable.  I fell in love with those characters that were fun in spite of themselves.  My compassion lay with the emotionally and physically abused with admiration for their passion to change their lives through Christ.  The love interests were enthralling and romantic.  Budding romance was proven unpredictable in the length of time and adversities the couples faced.  I sensed this author was emotionally involved with her characters, as I also felt.  Her characters and situations were so real that I found myself praying for those in the story that continued to sin and live evilly.  It felt silly to pray – Gail had already decided their outcome!  Will there be hope for these individuals in Gail’s story?  You’ll be amazed as you watch God working in the lives of all under the pen of Gail Warner. 

Ms Warner shows herself a person of deep faith in God; in tune with reality of our world today and historically, and that she is intelligent and capable of sculpting words with such an inspiring touch.  Gail is an accomplished author that I will follow and look forward to her future publications.  Whew, I got through this review without spoilers….so if you want to meet the characters, learn the answers, take a guided tour of Savannah – history included –  you’ll need to get you own copy!

MEET AUTHOR GAIL WARNER

Gail Ann Warner

Gail Warner’s parents joined the family of God five years before she was born, and they faithfully attended a large rural Nazarene Church named Richfield, near Flint, Michigan. For thirty-five years, Gail’s varied roles as a minister’s wife brought her great fulfillment and opportunities to witness for Christ. With fond memories, she recalls the years in a parsonage setting, where she and her husband, Richard, raised three outstanding daughters. Gail finds joy in traveling with their family, singing in a quartet, working in her flower garden, participating in Beth Moore Bible studies, and connecting with friends on Facebook. Though she is a five-time cancer survivor, she thanks God for giving her good health. Gail lives with her husband in Illinois, but because of Eugenia Price’s novels, she has a love for historical places.

SPRINGTIME IN SAVANNAH GROUP PAGE – https://www.facebook.com/groups/SpringtimeinSavannah/

Springtime in Savannah

Barbara J. Shelton’s Review of Rebekah by Jill Eileen Smith

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Rebekah

When her beloved father dies and she is left in the care of her conniving brother Laban, Rebekah knows her life has changed forever. Though she should be married by now, it’s clear that Laban is dragging his feet, waiting for a higher bride-price to line his pockets. When she is given a chance to leave her home to marry Isaac, a cousin she has never even seen, Rebekah’s hope for the future is restored. Little does she know what a wondrous and heart-wrenching journey she is beginning.

As Rebekah experiences the joy of young love and the bitterness of misunderstanding and betrayal, her resolve will be tested. When the rift between her and Isaac grows so wide it is surely too great to be mended, can she trust the God of Isaac’s father Abraham to bridge the gap?

MY REVIEW

My overall opinion of Jill Eileen Smith’s writing Rebekah’s story can be explained in one expletive – WOW!!

Ms Smith certainly displayed her ability to reveal deep inner feelings of each character that brought the age old story of Abraham followed by his blood born children to life. From now on, my personal thoughts of this scripture will vividly be quite different. She wrote with such freedom that only could have come from the Lord.

Rebekah is now known to me in a completely different light – before I had mistakenly imagined her as haggish and manipulative, but Jill brought out her beauty from the inside that endeared her to me. Yes, there were the same small minded or broad minded compassionate beings in that time as in any time. Rebekah and Isaac both showed a more loving compassionate lifestyle toward others, and as human nature proves time and again…resentment , jealousy and distance can mar close relationships through real or imagined slights and hurts.

Jill Eileen Smith’s story is rich in believable information about the personal lives of each character, their thoughts, emotions, fears, and affections. This writing of Biblical fiction caused me to think deeper about the scriptures from whence the story came. Believing in God was as much of a choice then as now. I do have many questions yet as to where Ishmael and Esau spread their influences throughout history. But that is an issue that might better not be questioned here.

My admiration is unmeasured toward Jill’s study and research, placing herself in the position of each character to think deeply as they might have thought. I count this all as AWESOME! She has further interested me in digging out maps and study regarding the scripture from which this fabulous story is written.

This review is following a bit later than others due to personal circumstances; however sharing a few thoughts about this historical Biblical fiction is merited. Indeed a pleasurable and emotional read and proving again God is infinite and blesses beyond comprehension. Thank you, Jill Eileen Smith, for shedding new light on the Word of God. In the future, over time, all of your writings will appear in my personal library. Abigail and now Rebekah have brought joy with my recommendation for all to pick up these great reads.

ABOUT JILL EILEEN SMITH

Jill Eileen Smith

Jill Eileen Smith is the author of Sarai, book one in the Wives of the Patriarchs series, and the bestselling author of the Wives of King David series. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys spending time with her family–in person, over the webcam, or by hopping a plane to fly across the country. She can often be found reading, testing new recipes, grabbing lunch with friends, or snuggling one or both of her adorable cats. She lives with her family in southeast Michigan.

To learn more about Jill or for more information about her books, visit her website at www.jilleileensmith.com. You can also contact Jill at jill@jilleileensmith.com. She loves hearing from her readers.

Barbara J. Shelton’s Review of When the Heart Heals by Ann Shorey

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When the Heart Heals

When the Heart Heals is my first introduction to Ann Shorey’s writing. What a writer! Historical fiction is at the top of my reading joy, and Ann didn’t disappoint in authoring such a realistic story of the times after the Civil War. One fact that struck me odd, because I wasn’t aware of it before, was the disdain toward women nurses. Funny, but all my life, I’ve been accustomed to woman nurses, and thought it unusual when more males began to choose nursing as a career.  Only a comment on my part…not a complaint.

The nature of Rosemary Saxon wasn’t revealed all at once, her story is complex with personal history of her and her brother Curt being estranged from their parents because of the division of beliefs about whose side was right during the Civil War. We learn early that Rosemary had been extremely capable as a nurse to injured Union soldiers at Jefferson Barracks.  She met and worked briefly with Dr. Elijah Stewart during this time, and developed a secret attraction for him.

Rosemary moved to Noble Springs, Missouri in 1867 to live with her brother Curt Saxon who had married her best friend, Faith. This being the second novel in Sisters at Heart Series, I was at a disadvantage of not knowing many of the overlapping details from “Where Wildflowers Bloom.” Ann Shorey didn’t leave the reader in the dark with prior details – they fell naturally in place during the story. Rosemary insisted on moving into her own home to live independently and hoped to find work to sustain her financially. Ms Shorey has an admirable talent of throwing intriguing hooks of mystery into the story to keep your interest alert.  Rosemary is a knowledgeable herbalist, which caused suspicious and dim witted townspeople to label her a witch.

Dr. Elijah Stewart appears again when he moves to Noble Springs to set up his medical practice. Rosemary applies for a nursing position there, and Elijah has little faith in her as a nurse but hires her for a brief time to see how things work out. He doesn’t like her herbal medicinal practices or the fact that she becomes personally involved with his patients. Their romantic feelings toward each other developed slowly, much to Rosemary’s chagrin. Rosemary has another suitor Jacob, who was a fine man, however complicated Rosemary’s desire to develop her love interest in Elijah.

All the characters in this story are well developed and believable. At times, I did become irritated at Rosemary’s stubbornness even though it made for a better story. My favorite character, Bodie the dog, was comical, loyal, and lovable. Actually, there were several interesting stories developing constantly that interacted lively and heartwarmingly throughout.  Ann Shorey has written a wonderful story of healing and forgiveness that will bless you for a long time after closing the book. Her fascinating characters and the many mysteries about what has happened in the past to cause the pain in Rosemary and Elijah’s past are revealed. They are two individuals that came from diverse background and experience the same emotions. Thank you Ann Shorey for a fine writing and an excellent enjoyable read. All the prayers were answered and I’m sure God is smiling on Noble Springs, Missouri.

ABOUT ANN SHOREY…….

Ann Shorey

Ann’s mother always wanted to write a book about her ancestors. She felt there was enough material in her collection of family memoirs, which dated back to the 1600’s, to make fascinating reading.

When Ann’s mother died in 1994, she passed those memoirs on to Ann. Over the next several years Ann put stream-of-consciousness reminiscences into chronological order and followed up each “remembered fact” with necessary research.

Thanks to the computer age, she wrote the book her mother had envisioned and in the late 1990’s distributed it to family and interested historians.

In the process of researching her family history, Ann discovered that all of the collected memoirs had been written by men. Memories of the American Revolution, the Mexican and Civil Wars, and the westward migration were all told from the male perspective. What was life like for the women who maintained the homes, reared the children, and followed their husbands from place to place? That question sparked her interest in writing fiction to fill in the gaps. Over the next several years Ann learned her craft by attending classes, reading books, and, yes, collecting a few rejections.

On a research trip to Kentucky in 1997, Ann and her husband, Richard, were fortunate enough to locate the graves of her great-great-great grandparents on the land they had settled in 1800. Standing in front of her great-times-three grandmother’s resting place, Ann promised that grandmother she would not be forgotten.

The At Home in Beldon Grove series honors that promise. The first volume, titled The Edge of Light, was released in January, 2009. The second book in the series, The Promise of Morning, released in March 2010, and the series concludes with The Dawn of a Dream, released in April of 2011.

Ann’s new series, Sisters at Heart, opens with Where Wildflowers Bloom. The stories follow her ancestor’s emigration from Illinois to Missouri after the close of the War Between the States. As the series title promises, the books are linked by the friendship between Faith, Rosemary and Cassie, the novels’ protagonists.

One of the best things Ann learned about fiction is that it’s okay to make stuff up! Thus, although these novels are inspired by her courageous female ancestors, the largest percentage of their adventures are fictional. Ann leaves it to her readers to separate truth from “it could have happened like this.”

Ann is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Agency, and is an active member of several writer’s organizations, among them  American Christian Fiction WritersOregon Christian Writers, and Willamette Writers. As such, she is enthusiastic about the benefits of attending workshops and conferences. Ann is available to teach workshops on research, story arc, and other fiction fundamentals to writer’s groups.

In addition to writing, Ann has won many prizes for her culinary skills. Her recipes have appeared in Country Woman magazine, and in several national cookbooks, including Taste of Country and Taste of Home. Recently author Patti Hill included one of Ann’s recipes in her  Garden Gates Cookbook, available on Patti’s web site. Ann has been privileged to present cooking demonstrations to young women from her church as part of the Apples of Gold mentoring program.

Ann and Richard share their home with a loveable Belgian Shepherd named Amber.

Website
Facebook http://facebook.com/AnnShoreyAuthor

Barbara J. Shelton’s Review of Picture Perfect by Janice Thompson

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Picture Perfect

Feisty wedding photographer Hannah McDermott has dealt with her share of difficult brides. But none can compare to the ultimate Bridezilla she’s dealing with now.

Still, she’s trying desperately to impress Bella Neeley, Galveston Island’s most sought-after wedding planner, so she can take the top spot in Bella’s list of recommended photographers–a spot currently occupied by her archrival, Drew Kincaid. What she doesn’t count on, however, is falling head over heels for the competition.

With her contagious humor and cast of quirky characters, Janice Thompson gives readers more of the bridal business drama they want in a brand-new series all about those long-suffering people who make beautiful weddings happen. Readers are desperately waiting for more of Bella and this new series brings her back in a big way, while introducing new characters fans will love. Fans will laugh out loud as they experience this breezy and entertaining novel from a great storyteller.

She’s trying to focus on her future. How can one man make everything feel so . . . fuzzy?

Hannah McDermott has a successful photography studio. She’ll soon be featured in Texas Bride magazine. And she has a celebrity client whose Galveston ceremony will be her ticket to the top spot on wedding coordinator Bella Neeley’s list of recommended photographers. But it could all come crashing down around her because of one man: archrival and photographer extraordinaire Drew Kincaid.

MY REVIEW

It couldn’t have been more apropos that I read Janice Thompson’s story “Picture Perfect” over the St. Patrick’s Day weekend. Perhaps I should say that I giggled, chuckled and laughed aloud throughout my entire read of Hannah McDermott’s situation at this crazy point in her life.

One of my favorite parts of Ms Thompson’s book were all the Irish blessings, sayings, proverbs, and limericks at the beginning of each chapter; and of course Hannah’s Grandfather Aengus’s favorite sayings. But….this story went far beyond the humor to deeper emotions of each main character that the reader could easily relate.

It did my heart good to see the changes taking place between Hannah’s parents after meeting Bella’s large Italian family and friends who were so big hearted and loving toward one and all. A lot of the unexpected became a hectic and normal occurrence in both families’ lives. The Bing and Bob party thrown annually for all the McDermott Irish friends became a huge invasion of the Italian Rossi/Neeley clan. This party turned into a big noisy bash and I can’t understand why the neighbors didn’t complain about all the loud singing. That’s just the luck of the Irish. I do wish I could have imbibed in the Irish and Italian food that fed that bunch. All in fun this intermingling of cultures.

Let’s get to the real story. Hannah McDermott is a wedding photographer located in Galveston, Texas and about to be featured in the Texas Bride Magazine. Hannah has an infamous bride client whose demands on photo details are slightly erratic, including the agent putting intense and not so honest guidelines on Hannah to involve herself in a scam involving wedding publicity. Then, there is Drew Kincaid her archrival photographer. Hannah finds it hard to really dislike this handsome man who shows his considerate sweet side to Hannah, and then she hasn’t a chance of not falling in love with him. God is still in control and moving in His mysterious ways throughout the story.

Having not read any of Janice Thompson’s writings before, I’m now enticed to read the books leading up to this delightful story. It is a fast paced novel with many characters and sentimental moments. If you need a boost out of a low moment – read Ms Thompson’s Picture Perfect of the Weddings by Design series. Oh yes, I forgot to tell you about the McDermott/Kincaid historical feud…..well, I guess you will need to read the book to find out!

About the Author

Janice Thompson
Janice Thompson is a seasoned romance author and screenwriter. An expert at pulling the humor from the situations we get ourselves into, Thompson offers an inside look at the wedding business, drawing on her own experiences as a wedding planner. She is the author of the Weddings by Bella series and the Backstage Pass series. She lives in Texas.

Website:  * http://www.janiceathompson.com

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Janice-Han…

Facebook:  http://facebook.com/jhannathompson

Barbara J. Shelton’s Review of Twice a Bride by Mona Hodgson

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ABOUT THE BOOK…….
Twice a Bride
Love lost doesn’t mean love lost forever.
Can unexpected romance deliver a second chance for two deserving widows?

Full of resolve, young widow Willow Peterson decides to pursue her dreams to be an artist as she settles into a new life in the growing mountain town of Cripple Creek. When she lands a job working as a portrait painter with handsome entrepreneur and photographer Trenton Van Der Veer, the road before Willow seems to be taking a better-than-anticipated turn.

With questions tugging at several hearts in town, including the Sinclair Sisters’ beloved Miss Hattie, change is traveling down the tracks as several unexpected visitors make their way out West. Will the new arrivals threaten the deep family bonds of the Sinclair sisters and the roots of love that are just taking hold for Willow?

Filled with the resonating questions that all women face, this romance awakens hope against grief, love against loss, and dreams against life’s unexpected turns.

MY REVIEW………………

My first impression of Mona Hodgson’s novel was the gorgeous cover with a picture of a young woman that reminded me of a young Judy Garland in appearance, and that’s the way I saw Willow Raines Peterson throughout this entire warm and involving read.

Having not read the first three books in The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek series did not detract from my getting to know the characters and story behind the Sinclair sisters and their brother-in-law Pastor Tucker Raines, Willow’s brother, prior to this story written around Willow.  Even though placed in the year of 1898, we see that Cripple Creek is a burgeoning town filled with like characters working hard to build their town that we might still see across our nation in the present day. Of course, we have much more modern day conveniences now, but it was a time of running water, plumbing, telephones, iceboxes, (refrigerators) ovens and other inventions of rough nature.  It worked for those living in this historical era.

We first meet Willow, Tucker and his wife Ida Sinclair Raines at the graveside of their father.  The family watched Willow closely, because she now felt twice the sorrow having just lost her husband, Sam, in a drowning incident; and just having spent time in an asylum for depression.  Ida and Tucker tried to convince Willow to live with them at the parsonage, but Willow preferred to live independently.  Willow soon became a boarder at Hattie Adams’ Boarding House, the same home of the Sinclair sisters for a length of time after their mother’s death and their father, Harlan Sinclair moved to Paris to conduct business.

Willow depending deeply on God’s grace and mercy is determined to find employment to support herself.  She is a talented artist.  Enters Trenton Van Der Veer, a professional photographer a new resident of Cripple Creek whose heart had recently been broken by his ex-fiancé’.  Trenton has a speech impediment and has been scarred by a temperamental and controlling father all his life.  Even though Willow and Trenton can’t seem to understand one another after their first meeting – he puts her to a test to prove her talent before he decides to finally hire her as his assistant.  Their relationship evolves into one of admiration and respect.  Could this be a potential romance?

Mona Hodgson artistically and talentedly twists story into story to bring about this delightful town of characters all closely related in one respect or another.  The story becomes even more fun and complicated when the sister’s father re-enters their lives.  He brings with him a big mysterious surprise that baffles one and all.  That dear landlady, Hattie, became my favorite character as she is beloved of all the book’s personalities…..and turns Harlan’s head just enough to make one wonder if there is romance in the air for Hattie. 

Ms Hodgson writes in an entertaining manner, holding interest and particularly proficient in showing God at work and bringing the conclusion of her story to show Gods glory.  Well done, Mona Hodgson – thank you for adding to my joy in reading.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah for this review. The opinions expressed are my own.

ABOUT MONA FROM ARIZONIA…..

Mona Hodgson

The author of nearly forty books, Mona Hodgson writes historical fiction for adults and picture books and readers for children. In 1987, Mona began writing articles, poems, and short stories for publication and has had several hundred printed in more than 50 different publications. Her publishing credits now include The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek historical fiction series, The Quilted Heart eBook novellas, nearly 30 children’s books, and contributions to 11 books for adults.

Mona is a speaker for women’s retreats, schools, educators and librarians, and at writers conferences throughout the United States and Canada. She holds professional memberships in Women Writing the West, American Christian Fiction Writers, Pikes Peak Writers Group, Romance Writers of America, Christian Authors Network, Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and Advanced Writers and Speakers Association.

What does Mona like to do when she’s not writing? Picnic, read to kids, visit museums, play Wii Tennis, sink her toes into wet sand at the beach, retreat with her sisters, explore new places, gaze at sunsets and share lunch with a friend. Mona Hodgson is the author of Two Brides Too Many, Too Rich for a Bride, and The Bride Wore Blue. Mona’s writing credits also include nearly thirty children’s books, including Real Girls of the Bible: A 31-Day Devotional,Bedtime in the Southwest, and The Princess Twins and the Tea Party. One of Mona’s favorite things to do, besides writing or eating dark chocolate, is to speak at women’s retreats and conferences. Mona lives in Arizona with her husband, Bob.

FACEBOOK – https://www.facebook.com/Author.Mona

MONA HODGSON AUTHOR PAGE – https://www.facebook.com/Author.Mona

Hindsight by Mona Hodgson – http://monahodgson.wordpress.com/

Mona Hodgson from Arizonia – http://www.monahodgson.com/default.htm

WEBSITE – http://www.monahodgson.com

Barbara J. Shelton’s Review of Surprise Love by Michelle Sutton

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Surprise Love

Bryan Miller’s dream is to become a professional baseball player. At least that’s what he’s always believed. Then this stunning woman enters his world and he’s instantly smitten. But she dares to shake his foundation by asking if playing pro ball is his dream, or his parents’ dream for his life. Who does she think she is to question his future plans? Sure, he has always enjoyed solving math equations and teaching people more than playing sports. Of course he wants to play pro ball, doesn’t he? Suddenly he’s not so sure anymore.

Kami Garrett traveled the country with a women’s professional rodeo circuit before a serious injury two years ago took her out of the arena. Now if she stays in Arizona for the rest of her life, that will be fine by her. She’s content to teach riding lessons. She adores baseball, but refuses to hook up with a pro ball player. Then this amazing man comes to Surprise for Spring Training and she’s torn. Are they meant to be together, or are their different goals in life destined to keep them apart?

MY REVIEW

Kami’s first impression of Bryan as she watched him hit a home run showing off with a cocky strut around the bases was that he looked like Ashton Kutcher, her favorite actor crush. Her cousin Mindy, who was a bit nervy and ornery, decided she would introduce Kami to Bryan just for fun. And…she did, much to Kami’s embarrassment!  Bryan’s best friend Will, another ball player, stepped into the conversation and Mindy immediately began to flirt with him causing Kami much consternation about this entire developing situation.  Bryan and Will were attending spring training for the Texas Rangers in Surprise, Arizona hoping to be picked for the team.

Backtracking a bit – Kami was still recovering emotionally from a tragic accident that happened while she was performing on her horse during a rodeo. The bones had healed physically, but she felt responsible for the death of her father. She had insisted he be there for her performance that day, which became doubly horrific for her because he was killed when his airplane crashed on the way there.  Considering herself now orphaned, her mother had passed away earlier; the only family she had left was Uncle Jay and Mindy. The cousins lived together in a trailer near their Uncle Jay on his ranch.

Each character Michelle Sutton wrote into this story has problems of their own.  The story isn’t all moonlight and roses in the romance section, particularly for cousin Mindy who suffers from a bipolar condition for which she will not take her meds; and is promiscuous without guilt.   Kami worries that Mindy’s attitude could be a serious deterrent to Bryan’s developing affections for her.  Kami suffers from PTSD over being sexually attacked when she was sixteen combined with guilt over her father’s death and self esteem issues.   Kami’s dad had been a professional ballplayer, which caused bad memories from a lonely childhood and wasn’t sure about her relationship with Bryan.  Bryan feels oppressed by his father’s demanding control that he be a professional ball player.

Michelle’s ability to build a well crafted story with surprises and a few shocks is highly impressive.  She pulls off realistic characters with qualities and faults that keep the reader focused on several stories at one time.  Ms Sutton is blessed with writing integrity and good Christian morals that glorify the Lord and mix a good flavor for reading.

Personally, not much of a baseball fan myself, the annual rodeo was always a big event in my hometown.  There were many emotions in the story to which I can easily relate and feel compassion toward.  Surprise Love is a definite interesting read and Michelle Sutton has hit another home run! 

ABOUT MICHELLE……..

Michelle Sutton

Michelle is a social worker who has been writing romantic fiction with an inspirational message for over nine years. Southeastern Arizona is where Michelle calls home. She loves being surrounded by mountains and fresh air, which inspires many of her novels. She and her husband are approaching twenty-two years of marriage and their two sons will begin their third year of college in August. She is the author of a dozen novels in print and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, as well as an avid book reviewer and blogger on a variety of sites. She founded Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers social networking site which has well over 1000 members. Crafting new stories and reading/reviewing great books is her idea of a fun time.  

Website http://www.michellesutton.nethttp://www.edgychristianfictionlovers.ni…http://www.edgyinspirationalauthor.blogs…

http://www.healingheartsseries.blogspot.com

http://www.neverwithouthopethenovel.blog…

 

Barbara J. Shelton’s Review of The Headmistress of Rosemere by Sarah E. Ladd Author

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The Headmistress of Rosemere

Patience Creighton has devoted her life to running her father’s boarding school. But when the enigmatic master of the estate appears at her door, battered and unconscious, the young headmistress suddenly finds her livelihood—and her heart —in the hands of one dangerously handsome gentleman.

At twenty-five, Patience Creighton is already a spinster. The busy headmistress of Rosemere always expected a dashing man to sweep her off her feet and take her away . . . but that man never came. And since her father’s death, keeping the school running and her mother happy has been plenty to keep her occupied. 

William Sterling dallied his way into financial trouble and mortal danger. When he is assaulted by his creditors’ henchmen on the road home from a tavern, he guides his horse to the doorstep of his tenant, the Rosemere School for Young Ladies. After being tended to byPatience, the wounded William rides off into the dawn—but makes a point to learn more about the lovely headmistress. 

As he spends more time at Rosemere, something delicate begins to develop between William and Patience. But that will not deter William’s creditors. With little money to repay his debts, and less for the upkeep of his estate, it becomes clear that sacrificing Rosemere may be the only way to preserve his legacy. But it may also cost him his happiness.

MY REVIEW

If I had been shopping in a bookstore, the beautiful enticing cover of The Headmistress of Rosemere would have caught my eye and my hand would have reached for it quickly with curiosity. Sarah E. Ladd caught my attention immediately with the vivid description of darkness and danger in the night. William Sterling sensed he was being followed. He was, and what happened from there lead the reader to the Rosemere School for Girls where we meet Patience Creighton before dawn, coming unexpectedly face to unconscious face with William Sterling to tend his wounds. There is a tinge of possible romance developing– at least from the imagination of Patience.

Having not read Sarah Ladd’s writings previously, or realizing this book is the second in the series, “Whispers on the Moors,” The Headmistress of Rosemere stands second to none in excellent story quality and clear Christian morality. I consider it a stand-alone story. However, it is my intention to read The Heiress of Winterwood, the first novel in this series. It is not my tendency to draw out details of the events and interactions of the characters in my reviews, at the risk of spoiling the read for others. My purpose is to draw the reader’s interest as a possible read depending on their own taste and expectation.

However, I will introduce the major characters who Sarah Ladd has casted so appropriately in her story. Lovely in appearance and a credit to her name, raven haired Patience Creighton is the Headmistress of Rosemere since the passing of her beloved father, leaving her mother Margaret grief-stricken and inconsolable. Rawdon, older brother of Patience, disappeared, neglecting his inherited duties at Rosemere, abandoning his lady love, causing all the women vexation and disillusionment. Handsome William Sterling inherited Eastmore and his father’s holdings, including Rosemere. An impractical and fast living man, whose drinking and gambling are causing him insurmountable problems. William is in dire financial straits, risking the loss of everything. Raising race horses appeals to William as an answer to solving his financial difficulties, but will it? Emma Simmons, one of the little girls at Rosemere is one of Patience’s favorites. How does a child so small and innocent figure such prominence in Ms. Ladd’s plot? Cassandra, a teacher at Rosemere, is the best friend of Patience and in love with Rawdon. Who are Lydia, Isabel, George, Lewis, Captain Rafertee, Ewan O’Connell and Angus? Each character and others essential to this setting are refined to perfection and mixed well with the era to bring about Ms. Ladd’s fascinating and curious story. Enjoyment of the unexpected mysterious twists amidst this Regency romance appealed to my liking.

The accentuated weight of surmounting strife is effectively calmed through forgiveness, redemption, Christian love and salvation, proving God works all things together for good for those that love Him. Indeed, God’s grace falls on the words originating from Sarah E. Ladd’s pen covering this wonderful story. Thank you, Ms. Ladd for giving me several hours of “getting away from it all” and finding myself in the nineteenth century.

This book was sent to me free of charge for my honest review from Litfuse Publicity.

ABOUT SARAH E. LADD

Sarah E Ladd

Every word has a melody.
Every sentence has a rhythm.

This truth has intrigued me since my early years. Even before I fully understood the meaning behind many of the words, I devoured literature and consumed poetry.

Austen, Alcott, Wordsworth: I left no piece of literature untouched, left no author unexamined. I continue to see magic in how a word is transformed by the word next to it and how written thoughts can incite emotion and evoke change.

In addition to a lifetime of writing and exploring fiction, I have more than ten years of strategic marketing and brand management experience, including five years of marketing non-fiction books and three years of marketing the musical arts. I live in Indiana and am blessed to share my life with my amazing husband, sweet daughter, and very lovable Golden Retriever.

Sarah’s Resources for Authors 

Every author needs a marketing plan, but do you know where to begin?

Read my recent Seekerville blog post Your First Marketing Plan: Why Every New Author Needs One and How To Get Started for step-by-step instructions and download my Author Marketing Plan Worksheet to start creating your plan today! Need help with creating your Author Facebook Pages? Here are my tips!

Recognitions:

2011 Genesis Contest: Winner, Historical Romance Category
2011 Touched by Love Contest: Overall Winner
2011 Fool for Love Contest: Winner, Inspirational Category 2011 MSRW Dixie First Chapter Contest: Winner, Inspirational Category
2011 Lone Star Writing Competition: Winner, Inspirational Category
2011 Frasier Contest: Bronze Medalist

Website: http://www.sarahladd.com

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Barbara J. Shelton’s Review of Surprised by Grace by Elizabeth Sherrill

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Elizabeth Sherrill

God intends fulfillment for us. Yet it’s easy to forget that truth in our daily life. For fifty years, Elizabeth Sherrill cowrote life-changing books: The Hiding Place, God’s Smuggler, and The Cross and the Switchblade. Now for the first time, in Surprised by Grace, she shares her personal discoveries of God’s unfathomable love and strength while battling chronic depression and self-doubt. “When God created you, do you think He meant to make someone else?” a friend asks Sherrill. Faced with questions like these, she learns she’s infinitely valued and cherished by God. In vivid episodes, Sherrill takes you through the three stages of her awakening joy, from the thirty-some years when the idea of God was elusive to the years since then when she’s reveled in breathtaking moments in God’s presence and to her inspiring vision of eternity. In Surprised by Grace, you’ll discover that God loves you individually and infinitely. You can find real peace, for you are God’s amazing creation. Let that truth echo forever in your own life.

Surprised by Grace

Upon reading excellent reviews already written and published about Elizabeth Sherrill’s Surprised by Grace, I pondered about what I could add sufficiently unique to draw reader interest. When I received the query to read and review Elizabeth Sherrill’s biography, I excitedly recalled her authoring a favorite story I read years ago about David Wilkerson; and subsequently seeing her book The Cross and the Switchblade, made into a movie starring Pat Boone as David Wilkerson, a young Assemblies of God minister moved to action when he witnessed the devastating effects of delinquency and drugs on teenagers in New York City. Hence, this story was about the ministry of Teen Challenge, born in 1958 in the heart of David Wilkerson, My love and devotion to this organization resides deep in my heart, as it was through Teen Challenge that my daughter found her life once more.

The above paragraph is merely mentioned in passing, as my reaction to Ms. Sherrill’s beautiful testimony hit so deeply in my emotions, that I am again reading her book to reap further joy and knowledge. The preface and the forward so impressed me that I decided to share parts of those. It is a small novel; however seems to grow broader in wisdom by the wonderful stories and tid bits Elizabeth Sherrill shares about her life, marriage, and deep faith in God. Her catchy titles before each chapter were captivating to my interests and followed by words sensitively respective of the memories she wrote about. One of the intimate facts I learned – Elizabeth has a nickname – Tibby.

It seems Ms. Sherrill had repeatedly refused Van Varner, a Guideposts editor’s suggestion to write a book telling her own story. She felt her faith was a private matter. “I know now that my emphatic “Never” to Van was part of the door between me and the world that I write about in Surprised by Grace. My whole world was constructed on the insistence that I was different. Since I “wasn’t like others,” how could my experience interest anyone else?” It wasn’t Van, however, who’d finally changed my mind, but people I’d never met. Over the years I’d written, always reluctantly, three or four short articles about my own life. To my surprise, the articles drew responses from readers, ‘You’ve written my story!’ the letters said, over and over. The article that brought the most mail was about my struggle with depression. All of us, apparently, in the black pit of that blackest place, had felt that no one else had ever experienced what we did. And the relief that these correspondents felt in recognizing themselves in my story was stunningly evident.” Ms. Sherrill received two letters ten days apart relating to the help others had received from her Guidepost articles. It was then she went into action and allowed her word processor to put the words in order that produced this wonderful story. Elizabeth “Tib” Sherrill said her book is about the discovery of a secret. It’s the story of how heaven, which I used to think of as an imaginary realm-in-the-sky, has become more real to me than the ground beneath my feet. Real in the past, real for the future, and best of all, real right now. And this book is also an invitation. An invitation to us all to look back, to look ahead, and to look around, and keep being surprised at what we see.

“She is a writer of extraordinary gifts who truly practices what she preaches. With honesty and unflinching self-examination, Tibby peels back the layers of her life to reveal an astonishing journey of faith, from nonbeliever to believer, from itinerant journalist to the influence behind some of the greatest inspirational writing of our time.” Edward Grinnan, Guideposts Magazine Editor-in-Chief

Now, dear reader, you can get this fantastic little book for yourself and I know you will be as impressed as I am with this endurable and lovely lady writer. God bless you, Tibby!

This book was sent to me free of charge for my honest review from Litfuse Publicity.

ABOUT AUTHOR ELIZABETH SHERRILL………

Elizabeth (“Tib”) Sherrill has published some 1500 articles and authored more than 30 books, with sales in excess of 50 million. Book titles, many co-written with her husband John, include The Hiding Place, The Cross and the SwitchbladeGod’s SmugglerThey Speak with Other Tongues, and Return from Tomorrow.  For over sixty years, Elizabeth has been a writer and editor for Guideposts Magazine.

http://www.elizabethsherrill.com/

John and Elizabeth Sherrill

John and Elizabeth met aboard ship on their way to Europe and were married in Switzerland in 1947. In 1970, they founded a publishing company, Chosen Books,* dedicated to developing new Christian writers. Their first title was Born Again by Charles Colson. The Sherrills’ work has taken them on year-long assignments in Africa, South America and Europe, as well as numerous trips to the Near and Far East, and to each of the 50 US states. Elizabeth has taught writing workshops on five continents. Their writing still keeps them on the road, here and abroad, about half the time. The Sherrills have three children, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchild, and are occasionally at home in Hingham, Massachusetts.

Barbara J. Shelton’s Review of Out of the Ruins by Karen Barnett

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Out of the Ruins

Karen BarnettWhile her sister lies on her deathbed, Abby Fischer prays for a miracle. What Abby doesn’t expect, however, is for God’s answer to come in the form of the handsome Dr. Robert King, whose experimental treatment is risky at best.

As they work together toward a cure, Abby’s feelings for Robert become hopelessly entangled. Separated by the tragedy of the mighty San Francisco earthquake, their relationship suddenly takes a back seat to survival. With fires raging throughout the city, Abby fears for her life as she flees alone through burning streets. Where is God now? Will Robert find Abby, even as the world burns around them? Or has their love fallen with the ruins of the city?

MY REVIEW

 
Karen Barnett’s story is charged with high voltage emotion encircling factual detail of the historical San Francisco earthquake in 1906. Although the characters and story are fictional, the realism rings authentic. Be prepared to experience heart jerking responses during your tour through this shocking event. Expect to audibly gasp and feel the need to pray for the situations described as seen on a wide screen movie. This is a sensational writing.We tune in on the Fischer family near San Jose, California at a difficult time. The eldest sister Cecelia suffers from leukemia with little hope of surviving, but younger sister Abby will not accept Cecelia’s pending death. She tries to make a deal with God, but quickly loses faith as He does not answer her prayer as demanded. When cousin Dr. Gerald Larkspur and his assistant Dr. Robert King arrive at the Fischer family orchard, Abby grabs onto hope when the doctors feel their new found cancer cure can help Cecelia. Consequently, the entire family, including little brother Davy travel the distance to San Francisco where Cecelia is hospitalized. The Fischer family stays with cousin Mae Larkspur in San Francisco. Mae is one of my favorite characters throughout this story, as she is loving, full of faith in God, and a teacher of the Word.

Prior to the doctor’s assessment of Cecelia’s situation, handsome Dr. Robert King, is taking a walk through the orchard and first meets Abby hanging upside down from a fruit tree. Nope, I am not explaining that! He becomes immediately and irrevocably attracted to Abby. Abby is a strong minded, strong willed, immature 19 year old who doesn’t understand the word “no” and God made boundaries. Is this a case of striking the obvious match? Could be!

Soon to experience unmeasurable sorrow, their lives are further disastrously turned to chaos when the infamous earthquake hits San Francisco. Ms. Barnett’s unique gift for description so vivid is one of her most favorable assets with the written word. Her story is uniquely imaginative based on real facts. She writes well of the longing of a romance interrupted by of all things, a major earthquake. I repeat, be prepared for many surprises and shocks as we follow Abby through her journey of searching for loved ones and meeting new acquaintances while San Francisco burns. Karen Barnett gives us a hint of human prejudice that remained existent even during tragedy. Some incidents are merciless, however plausible during such a time as this. God’s presence is there for all – will Abby find her way to Him in her journey? Will the Phoenix show it’s courageous head out of the ashes when the flames are gone?

Since this book is part of a trilogy, I am anxious to learn of who and what survived Out of the Ruins in the next two novels. I am certain it will be as exciting as this story. I see a remarkable future for this impressive writer.
I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

 
About the Author
Karen Barnett
Karen Barnett is the author of Mistaken and several articles that have been published by Guideposts and other national magazines. She lives in Albany, Oregon, with her husband, two children, and three cats. For more information, visit her website KarenBarnettBooks.com.

http://www.KarenBarnettBooks.com

About Karen
God is the same yesterday, today, and forever–and yet our human story changes daily. As a writer of historical romance, I love to explore my characters’ faith and how their experiences impact the way they view God.
There’s nothing I enjoy more than a beautiful love story and God’s devotion to His people is the best one of all. It even ends with the hero riding in on a white horse! (Revelation 19:11).My first novel, Mistaken, released in July 2013 with Abingdon Press and my next novel, Out of the Ruins (Book 1 of the Golden Gate Chronicles) will hit store shelves in May 2014.

I was blessed to be named the Cascade Awards Writer of Promise in 2013 from Oregon Christian Writers (OCW).

Back in 2010, Guideposts Magazine printed “Birthday Wish,” a story I wrote about my son and a very special prayer. I am represented by Rachel Kent of Books & Such Literary Agency.

I grew up in Washington and went to college at Valparaiso University in Indiana, followed by graduate study in Geosciences at Oregon State University. Fueled by a fascination for God’s creation, I worked several years in outdoor education–as a naturalist at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, a seasonal ranger at Mount Rainier National Park, and as Park Naturalist at Silver Falls State Park in Oregon.

I live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with my husband, two children, three furry felines and an attention-hungry dachshund. When I’m not writing and blogging, I enjoy playing guitar, hiking, decorating bizarre birthday cakes, and dragging my kids through boring history museums.

Barbara J. Shelton’s Review of The Butterfly & The Violin by Kristy Cambron

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The Butterfly and the Violin

Kristy Cambron

A mysterious painting breathes hope and beauty into the darkest corners of Auschwitz—and the loneliest hearts ofManhattan. Manhattan art dealer Sera James watched her world crumble at the altar two years ago, and her heart is still fragile. 

Her desire for distraction reignites a passion for a mysterious portrait she first saw as a young girl–a painting of a young violinist with piercing blue eyes.

In her search for the painting, Sera crosses paths with William Hanover, the grandson of a wealthy California real estate mogul, who may be the key to uncovering the hidden masterpiece. Together, Sera and William slowly unravel the story behind the painting’s subject: Austrian violinist Adele Von A darling of the Austrian aristocracy, talented violinist, and daughter to a high-ranking member of the Third Reich, Adele risks everything when she begins smuggling Jews out of Vienna. In a heartbeat, her life of prosperity and privilege dissolves into a world of starvation and barbed wire.

As Sera untangles the secrets behind the painting, she finds beauty in the most unlikely of places: in the grim camps of Auschwitz and in the inner recesses of her own troubled heart.

“. . . impossible to put down.” —RT Book Reviews, 4 1/2 Stars, TOP PICK!

“In her historical series debut, Cambron expertly weaves together multiple plotlines, time lines, and perspectives to produce a poignant tale of the power of love and faith in difficult circumstances. Those interested in stories of survival and the Holocaust, such as Eli Weisel’sNight, will want to read.” —Library Journal, starred review

“. . . debut novelist Cambron vividly recounts interwoven sagas of heartache and recovery through courage, love, art, and faith.” —Publishers Weekly

MY REVIEW

Kristy Cambron’s story keeps echoing obstinately in my mind.  The double layering of two stories at once is done with artistic brush strokes of description that challenges other fine writers with her expertise and talent.  This is Ms. Cambron’s debut novel, excellently done is a contemporary and a historical romance dealing with two women with two very different stories involving one lost painting.

Manhattan art dealer, Sera James, excitedly enters the gallery she owns with great anticipation that the painting that just arrived is THE ONE she has been searching for – the one that haunted her since a child of eight seeing it in a Paris art gallery.  Her assistant Penny explains that an instant response to her ad had been made by a mysterious businessman – a financier in real estate named William Hanover III who was liquidating his late grandfather’s estate.  HOWEVER – he won’t sell the painting, but will pay an exorbitant fee to hire Sera and her gallery to help him look for the original painting.  Sera is soon flying to San Francisco at Mr. Hanover’s expense.

December 1942, Vienna, Austria.  Adele Von Bron, daughter of a high-ranking member of the Third Reich and whose mother is a concert pianist; is currently known as “Austria’s Sweetheart” as a violinist with Vienna’s Philharmonic.  Vladimir Nicolai, Adele’s romantic interest is a cellist with the Philharmonic, involved secretly in smuggling Jews to Switzerland.   Adele has enmeshed herself for the first time in the rescue of The Haurbech family, which failed tragically.  All of the Haurbech family except Sophie were shot and killed.  Adele is presently in her family doctor’s office in shock because her hands were badly cut by glass she had fallen on when she and Vladimir scattered.  Not knowing Vladimir’s or Sophie’s whereabouts, she told the doctor about the rescue attempt and shuddered over what might have happened if they were discovered by the Gestapo.   “This is not Austria, you know.  What we’ve become? This is not God’s path.”  The doctor replied.  Danger lurked everywhere.  Adele was scheduled for a solo performance the next evening and was concerned about being able to perform with her injured hands.  The doctor bandaged them and kept her safe that night.

Sera stood looking at the large estate and noticed a large white tent being constructed and a van sat to the side where workers were unloading candelabras and flowers, preparing for a big event.  She questioned aloud “Just what in the world do you do, Mr.Hanover?”  “He was in real estate.” replied a man that walked up behind her – who she assumed was the gardener.  She learned that a wedding was to take place.  Sera had been left at the alter three years before and still had not recovered from the emotional scars. Thereafter she met William Hanover the Third; only to find out he was the gardener.  He was not prepared to discuss the painting until his sister’s wedding was over.  Sera decided that a small nervous breakdown was in the making for her, but finally resolved that issue when William Hanover displayed kindness and interest in her during the wedding reception.  Oh, and he called Sera “Manhattan” – his endearing name for her.

The only thing our four protagonists had in common is their Christianity.  Each agonized from complex issues of their own.  In 1942 I was only 4 years old, but I can relate to the reality in some ways that others might not.  Kristy Cambron delved into WW II history and brought out the unbelievable ugliness of what Adele suffered in Auschwitz.  How can any one of us relate to being branded traitors by the Gestapo?  Vladimir’s soft and lovely nickname for Adele “Butterfly” suggests how he saw her.  Omara painted her as she knew her in the concentration camp.  Adele’s only saving grace was her talent as a violinist in the Auschwitz orchestra that played for the SS Officers.  Although Sera’s story was important to Adele’s – I would have read this book on Adele’s nightmarish story as a stand-alone.    It seemed an interruption when the chapters changed from modern day to WW II unbearable Holocaust.  Ms. Cambron’s research revealed more than 1600 pieces of art discovered in the ruins of Auschwitz and brought to my mind the recent movie of The Monument Men.  Music and art cannot be erased from world culture – although some will try.  It is part of our will to survive.

There is so much more that could be said about this incredible book.  Your questions will be answered in the coming revealing chapters.  But I have taken liberties already and must save the uniqueness of what Ms. Cambron has accomplished for your own discovery.  Seventy-five  reviews alone have been published on Amazon, and I am sure that will not be the last of them.  So, I leave it to you – go get this book for yourself….NOW!  You will recognize this book by its beautiful cover.  Respectful congratulations, Ms. Kristy Cambron.  We look forward to your next publication.  God most certainly plans something special for your exceptional talent.

In exchange for my review, I received a free copy of the book through Litfuse Publicity Group.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR……KRISTY CAMBRON…….

I’ve been taken with the WWII Era since I was a young girl.My grandfather was a B-17 co-pilot in the war and I remember the stories he’d so often tell. Years later, I came across the lost art of Auschwitz while studying for my undergraduate degree in Art History. I didn’t know if then, but more than a decade later, God would remind me of the heart of this book. In the wee hours of the morning in early 2013, it came alive once again.

I write WWII and Regency Era Christian fiction titles, placing first in the 2013 NTRWA Great Expectations and 2012 FCRW Beacon contests (Inspirational Categories)! One of those stories (which I hope will make it to bookstore shelves one day!) also became a Finalist in the 2013 Laurie contest. I’ve been a contributing author on RegencyReflections.com since 2012, and still post there with my Regency friends from time to time.

A SPARROW IN TEREZIN (Hidden Masterpiece #2) will release in April, 2015.