Tag Archive for review

Barbara J. Shelton’s Review of “Treasury of Bible Stories: Rhythmical Rhymes of Biblical Times” by Kelly Pulley

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Treasury of Bible Stories

Magnificent Tales are rhyming Bible stories with clever art and clear lessons that the whole family will enjoy. The stories and illustrations are so engaging that you won’t grow tired of reading and rereading a Magnificent Tale night after night! From “The Salty Tale of Noah and the Ark” to “The Lasting Story of the Last Supper,” the rhyming tales in this book remind us that God loves his people—in the Bible and today!

  • Age Range: 4 – 8 years

…….MY REVIEW…….

5 STARS

5 STARS

What gifted artistry this gentleman uses to educate children four through eight about the Holy Bible.  Actually, it does not matter the reader level, child through adult.  This beautiful book will be a treasured storybook for years to come for each family fortunate enough to own a copy.  It appears that most of the reviews are written by much younger persons than I am.   My husband and I hold dear to us eighteen grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren (at last count), who we would enjoy sharing these stories.  Even though the grandchildren are grown I am sure they would want a copy of this book in their households for their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren to come.  Just one glance at the animation on the cover of this book would convince anyone of enchantment between the covers.

The poetry is so musically rhythmical that I can imagine David playing his harp….and singing the stories into Psalms.  That might seem a bit farfetched, but the book touches me this way.   The story titles are very witty; the subtitles thought-provoking.  Several reviewers have pointed out what they deem to be a scriptural discrepancy and repetitive in rhyming.  I disagree with that.  Mr. Kelly Pulley did a remarkable job with this publication which is a delight to youngsters and adults alike.  The graphics are fun and appeal to children brightly and imaginatively.  I could not pick a favorite story; each one charmed me for different reasons.  In fact, I even picked up new information or something I had forgotten long ago.

Kelly Pulley has created an heirloom.  He talks about God’s love for all.  I pray this book will become as important to families as a book of regular nursery rhymes.  It definitely is a treasury of Bible stories, magnificent in every way.  God bless you, Mr. Pulley for your unique gift.  Many will become aware of God’s love for the very first time – no matter what age.  Hey, I just started my Christmas list – can you guess what I will be giving this year?!

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Litfuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

ABOUT AUTHOR KELLY PULLEY…….

Kelly Pulley

Born and raised in Wabash, Indiana, a small and quaint Midwestern town surrounded by miles upon miles of corn and soybean fields. Kelly was brought up to love art and creating art along with his three older brothers and younger sister by their artistically talented mother, while their father, ex-WWII bomber pilot, fireman and electrician, worked multiple jobs to keep them all in new converse sneakers. 

While still in high school Kelly took a job at The Shirt Shed, a large local sportswear screen-printing company. He remained in that industry for seventeen years working his way up from Production Artist to Art Director. 

At age 24 Kelly gave his life to Jesus Christ at a Free Will Baptist revival, changing every aspect of his life including the direction that his career would eventually take.

In 1995 Kelly made his way to Tennessee to illustrate the Beginner’s Bible series of books for Performance Unlimited and later, Mission City Press. He has illustrated dozens of books, most notably the best-selling latest edition of the Beginner’s Bible, which has sold more than 1.5 million copies.

Kelly now works from his Middle Tennessee home where he writes and illustrates original children’s books and freelance illustrates for others.

 
His authorial debut was, Ten Unusual Features of Lulu McDunn, which was released in August 2010. His second book, The Cycling Wangdoos, was released in August 2011. 

October, 2012 was the release date for the first two books in the Magnificent Tales series of Bible stories by David C. Cook, which was followed by two more in February, 2013.

Member of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).

Children’s book author and illustrator.
http://www.kellypulley.com/

Barbara J. Shelton’s Review of “A Light in the Wilderness” by Jane Kirkpatrick

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A Light in the Wilderness
Letitia holds nothing more dear than the papers that prove she is no longer a slave. They may not cause white folks to treat her like a human being, but at least they show she is free. 
5 STARS

She trusts in those words she cannot read–as she is beginning to trust in Davey Carson, an Irish immigrant cattleman who wants her to come west with him.

Nancy Hawkins is loathe to leave her settled life for the treacherous journey by wagon train, but she is so deeply in love with her husband that she knows she will follow him anywhere–even when the trek exacts a terrible cost.

 

Betsy is a Kalapuya Indian, the last remnant of a once proud tribe in the Willamette Valley in Oregon territory. She spends her time trying to impart the wisdom and ways of her people to her grandson. But she will soon have another person to care for.

 

As season turns to season, suspicion turns to friendship, and fear turns to courage, three spirited women will discover what it means to be truly free in a land that makes promises it cannot fulfill. This multilayered story from bestselling author Jane Kirkpatrick will grip readers’ hearts and minds as they travel with Letitia on the dusty and dangerous Oregon trail into the boundless American West.

 

MY REVIEW

Jane Kirkpatrick is a phenomenal writer to pen such fiction from truth into a beautiful work of art.  This “truth is stranger than fiction” novel takes place during the 1800’s, following a harrowing wagon train venture from Missouri to Oregon.  A personal note here – I am well acquainted with the areas of Oregon Ms. Kirkpatrick wrote about, which brought visual enjoyment during my reading. Letitia is a strong black woman, full of wisdom and dreams.  Her dream of freedom from the buckles of slavery is ongoing, even though she received her papers of freedom in Kentucky.  Frankly, prejudice against the color of one’s skin is abhorrent to me – I’ve never understood slavery.  Letitia will not be stopped!  The reader will discover immediately that this courageous young woman turns the other cheek to adversity and faces life with everything within her.

 Recently, I read in an interview with Jane Kirkpatrick that the wedding scene between Letitia (Tish) and Davey Carson, an Irish immigrant, had to be discreet and meaningful considering they were breaking the law.  The wedding was sweet and joyful, even a bit of humorous relief when a Jewish peddler happened upon the scene, including stomping on the glass as is done in Jewish weddings.  This is one of my favorite scenes.  Davey was kind to Tish, although he was of a male mind of that time period.  Soon after, a thorn begins in Tish’s side when Davey’s grown son appears in the picture, jealous, hateful, and prejudiced.  He does not stick around long when he decides to take another route to Oregon.  Another constant thorn in her side is Greenberry Smith, mean spirited and murderous, intent on making Tish’s life miserable.  Tish wants Davey to draw up a paper willing his property to her and her children should he become deceased.  He is reluctant because he does not know how to read and write, a fact he keeps to himself.  He finally comes up with something that appeases Tish for the time being.

 Among the characters is the dearly loved milking cow Charity that Tish owns, in whom she can safely confide, and does so many times.  Tish is pregnant when the trek to Oregon begins. She is mid-wife to many, but alone when her baby daughter Martha is born.  The children love her as she entertains them with great stories.  Her closest friend is Nancy Hawkins, a quilter who treasures the loom made for her by her husband.  The determination and inner strength of the women on the wagon train amazes me…I can scarcely comprehend their depth.

 It is difficult to be succinct about this beautiful story.  One of the impractical events that occurred was when Davey inadvertently lost Tish’s freedom papers and his document.  Tish had hidden them in a flour barrel that Davey exchanged for a full barrel.  But Tish was to find out within time that the document Davey made up was of no value – which she felt a betrayal on his part.

 Finally, Tish made it to Oregon City alone.  Davey met her there after helping with other matters regarding the wagon train.  Davey did not stay around much, as he got gold rush fever and headed to California several times.  Settling in Oregon reveals much more – Tish found joy in meeting a Kalapuya Indian woman named Betsy and her grandson.  Davey and Tish had a baby son, Adam born around 1853.  Davey, Jr. enters the picture again in Oregon, causing her frustration.  Hardship is a daily word, but Letitia’s trust and faith in God were chiefly imperative to getting through each day.  Letitia’s valor brought her through a lawsuit with a white man over her property.  She was known as one of the first free black slaves to enter Oregon.  I enjoyed Ms. Kirkpatrick’s novel because of the history and culture of the 1800’s.  This free child of God is definitely the Light in the Wilderness.
   
Thank you to Revell for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

AUTHORS INSIGHT…….

This is the first book I’ve written with much of the research completed before the story was brought to me. Thirty years previous, two former Oregon state university students Janet Meranda and Dr Bob Zybach discovered the court records and never forgot Letitia’s story. They brought it to me believing a novel would tell it best. Their research and progress on a nonfiction book about her and Davey’s life can be followed at Friends of Letitia Carson.

A Brief Biography Carson, Letitia

Birth Year : 1814 Death Year : 1888
Letitia Carson was a free African American woman who was born in Kentucky. She was one of the early African Americans to be listed in the U.S. Federal Census as living in Oregon.
Letitia’s husband was an Irishman named David Carson (1800-1854). The pioneering couple and their two children lived in Benton, Oregon Territory, according to the 1850 U.S. Federal Census. The couple had come to Oregon in 1845, and their daughter Martha was born along the way, their son Adam around 1853.

When David Carson died, Letitia and her children were left out of his estate settlement, and Letitia filed suit against the estate for her children’s benefit. She won the lawsuit and settled on land she had purchased near South Myrtle Creek,today known as Letitia Creek. She is buried near her property now on private land.

Letitia Carson was a well known mid-wife in the county. The Letitia Carson Pioneer Apple Tree was named in her honor; it is thought that Letitia planted the tree, and researchers named the tree while completing a cultural resource inventory of the property owned by Oregon State University.

Letitia’s Homestead Deed Why This Story?

“Letitia’s story of one of the first black women to cross the Oregon Trail in 1845, give birth along the way, and have a Missouri man impact her life here in Oregon after the death of her common law white husband is a compelling story of courage and commitment . . .How could I not pursue that story?” Jane Kirkpatrick

Jane Kirkpatrick is a writer, speaker, teacher…

Jane Kirkpatrick

Jane is inter-nationally recognized for her lively presentations and well-researched stories that encourage and inspire.  Her works have appeared in more than 50 publications including  Decision, Private Pilot and Daily Guideposts.  Jane is the author of over 25 books including historical novels. Many of her titles are based on the lives of real people or incidents set authentically in the American West.  Her first novel, A Sweetness to the Soul, won the coveted Wrangler Award from the Western Heritage Center.  Her works have been finalists for the Christy, Spur, Oregon Book Award, WILLA Literary Award and Reader’s Choice awards.  Several of her titles have been Book of the Month and Literary Guild selections.  Follow this link to see other awards that Jane has won.

Early Years

Jane grew up near Mondovi, Wisconsin, a little town not far from the Mississippi River. Her older sister Judy (now deceased) and younger brother Craig helped on the family dairy farm. Dozens of cousins lived within 50 miles providing the privilege of extended family memories. Most of the “Rutschow” clan remained in the Wisconsin-Minnesota area. Jane moved to Oregon in 1974 after completing her master’s degree in social work at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She worked in the disabilities field and became the director of the mental health program in Deschutes County and the first female president of the Oregon Community Mental Health Director’s Association.

Homesteading & Family

Eventually, Jane “retired” to homestead and begin a new adventure in writing, working on the Warm Springs Indian reservation, growing watermelons, and attempting to grow grapes, alfalfa and cattle. The Kirkpatrick’s new life included “clearing sagebrush and wrestling wind and rattlesnakes” while “homesteading” land on the John Day River in a remote part of Oregon known locally as Starvation Point.  “It was our ‘rural 7-Eleven’ since our home sat seven miles from the mailbox and eleven miles from the pavement” notes the author. Additionally, she worked for seventeen years as a mental health and educational consultant on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation in Central Oregon with both Native American and non-Indian communities, a position she left in 2002.  Jane has two step-children.  Kathleen lives in Florida with her family and youngest granddaughter, Madison.  Matt lives in Wasco and works on the ranch full time when not looking after his family including his and Melissa’s daughter, Mariah.

In the fall of 2010, after twenty-six years on the homestead, Jane and Jerry, her husband of 35 years, made another life change moving back to Central Oregon near Bend. “There is a season for everything,” Jane notes.  Their seasons on the ranch changed their lives and they leave with no regrets looking forward to new adventures in writing and life.

Speaker & Philosophy

A lively and humorous speaker, Kirkpatrick is a frequent keynote presenter for conferences, women’s retreats,fund-raisers and workshops.  In addition to her historical fiction which dramatizes pioneer life, Homestead relates, with love and laughter, her own family’s modern-day struggle to catch a dream in the Oregon Territory.

Jane believes that our lives are the stories that others read first and she encourages groups to discover the power of their own stories to divinely heal and transform. Visit her blog for more information about her current projects and the privilege of following one’s passion wherever the dreams may lead. 

Barbara J. Shelton’s Review of “A Matter of Heart” by Tracie Peterson

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A Matter of Heart

Texas born and raised Jessica Atherton is a wealthy young woman whose heart was broken when the man she intended to marry wedded another. But her world is upended when two men come into her life and both manage to stir her heart. Harrison Gable is a rich young lawyer who intends to travel the world and live a life of opulence. His ambitions match Jessica’s dreams, but her heart has begun to change.

Austin Todd, former Secret Service agent, enjoys working now as a Texas Ranger cattle inspector. But learning of forged gold certificates and missing printing plates, he’s drawn back into the world of intrigue and agrees to help solve the case. Austin is well-thought-of and admired in the community. Jessica is drawn to his kind nature and the unspoken pain she sees in his eyes. Will Jessica choose financial security or follow her heart?

…….MY REVIEW…….

It came as a delightful surprise when I remembered that I had already read the first book in this Lone Star Brides Series, “A Sensible Arrangement.” Now, having read the third book of this series, I definitely want to read the second book, “Moment in Time.” Tracie’s well-honed prose that mixes mystery, romance, and humor during the late 1800’s creates a fascinating read.

Jessica Atherton seems to be left behind when all her friends have married and having babies. Jessica had imagined herself married to a wealthy handsome man and living a life of luxury in a large city. She feels the sting of rejection from the man she had planned to marry, Robert Barnett, who married another. She ponders why and decides the reason might be her own behavior toward others. She realizes she is tactless, hurtful to others, spoiled and selfish and begins to work on changing herself. The first of Tracie’s story is a bit slow until Jessica decides a change is in order and things begin to happen.

Jessica feels she is being pitied during a gathering of friends and family at her parent’s home in Texas. She could barely handle Robert Barnett arriving with his wife Alice and new baby. She thought to herself “that baby should be mine.” Inadequate is how she felt when she overheard comments being made. Her own mother had urged her to draw closer to God and forget about her beauty. She thought her mother simply did not understand – no one did. It wasn’t as though she had not had suitors; she had turned down several proposals.

We meet widower Austin Todd in the middle of a reoccurring nightmare. He feels responsible for the deaths of his wife Grace, his stillborn baby, and his brother. He sees them all in his dream plus the disapproving and accusing eyes of his mother and father. He was a cattle inspector for the Texas Rangers and had formerly worked in Washington D.C. for the Treasury Department’s Secret Service. Ironically, Robert Barnett was the first to visit him with an invitation to a gathering on the Barnett Ranch. Robert’s father had plans to build a railroad spur and a new town and wanted Austin Todd to be the Marshall. The Barnett gathering is where Jessica and Austin meet for the first time – pleasantly aware of each other, but afterward Austin kept his distance.

Another newcomer to this large cattle area is handsome attorney Harrison Gable. He immediately is attracted to Jessica, but there is something about him that seemed untrustworthy. Jessica is drawn to Harrison, but really cares for Austin. Now everything begins to get a bit messy – a lot of iniquitous and mysterious happenings need Austin to investigate.

Some characters and situations have been carried through both novels in this series that I have read. A Matter of Heart brings them altogether through this gifted author’s pen. Ms. Peterson concludes this series cleverly and artfully. You will enjoy the warm feelings tendered and watch a young woman face challenges that will renew her faith and maturity. It is almost impossible for me to conceive the numerous books Tracie Peterson has composed…..she is definitely creating a reputation for herself! (Notice the pun…..Jessica certainly made a new reputation for herself) Now, go buy the series and see for yourself how Ms. Peterson can entertain you.

I was provided this book by Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing for my honest review. I have not received any compensation.

MEET TRACIE PETERSON…….

Tracie Peterson

Tracie Peterson is an award-winning, best-selling author of over 100 books. Having given her heart to Jesus at the young age of six, Tracie has always felt called to some form of ministry, and writing fulfills that mission field.

Tracie received her first book contract in November, 1992 and saw A Place To Belong published in February 1993 with Barbour Publishings’ Heartsong Presents. She wrote exclusively with Heartsong for the next two years, receiving their readership’s vote for Favorite Author of the Year for three years in a row.

In December, 1995 she signed a contract with Bethany House Publishers. Tracie now writes exclusively for Bethany House Publishers. She has co-written with a variety of authors including Judith Pella, Judith Miller, James Scott Bell, Kimberley Woodhouse and her daughter Jennifer.

Throughout her writing career Tracie has found time to speak at writer’s conferences where she has a special heart for new authors. She is often joined by her husband Jim, whose background in history offers new authors insight into research. Besides teaching at conferences, Tracie also at one time managed Barbour Publishing’s Heartsong Presents book line – overseeing the production of 52 books a year. Tracie teaches at women’s conferences around the country and shares her testimony and insight for Christian living through the eyes of an author passionately in love with her Heavenly Father.

Tracie was awarded the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for 2007 Inspirational Fiction and the 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award from American Christian Fiction Writers. Her books have won numerous awards for favorite books in a variety of contests, including USA “Best Books 2011” Awards, best Religious Fiction for Embers of Love!

Making her home in Montana, this Kansas native enjoys spending time with family–especially her three grandchildren–Rainy, Fox and Max..

For information on having Tracie speak at your event – contact Noelle Buss at Bethany Publishers/Baker Books.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Favorite Verse

Joshua 1:9 (NIV) – “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Tracies Website:  http://www.traciepeterson.com

Facebook Page:  https://www.facebook.com/TraciePetersonAuthor/timeline

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 “The Button Legacy” by Ginger Marcinkowski

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The Button Legacy

“My Dearest Emily… When you were a little girl, a change occurred in you. You lost a piece of yourself somewhere….But when you were here in Plaster Rock, you bloomed……..

The stories we told with these buttons made you smile. With your smile came hope…………..

Repeat the stories you’ve been told to your own children, never forgetting that God was there in every situation, in every story held inside this box…”

Growing up, Emily Evans of Run, River Currents had always shared a special understanding with her grandfather, John Polk, even when she couldn’t fully see beyond the darkness of her father’s abuse. Yet John looked to the future in faith to what his God could do.

Years after her grandfather’s death, the unexpected delivery of the decorated tin, still brimming with odd-colored buttons, unlocks the joyous memories and lets Emily realize she has finally discovered the secret her grandfather promised lay within the stories of the worn button box.

Told through the eyes of a godly grandfather, The Button Legacy laces together a godly heritage and the power of one man’s prayers, offering a lesson of how God’s grace can be seen even in the simplest thing–a button.

MY REVIEW

Ginger Marcinkowski’s stories about buttons that reveal family memories is my first read from this fine author.  I was immediately drawn into the Polk family saga and recalled the “buttons” in my own life.  Both of my grandmothers saved buttons in lovely old tins, as well as an elderly next door neighbor lady that I visited often.  How I loved going through those buttons and admiring the sparkly ones mostly, but bright colors and odd shapes piqued my imagination over and over.  I wonder if all my questions about these peculiar items were a nuisance to their collectors.

Back to the story at hand, John Polk’s family was ordinary, in that their ups and downs, dreams, tragedies, and faith in God were much like other families.  The subtle difference was the loving Christian characterization of John Polk.  I felt like part of the family around the blazing fire listening to John reveal memories through a button picked from an old tin box by one of his two daughters, grandchildren or himself.

John’s daughters were different from each other in their reactions to John’s revelations.  Maureen, the oldest, displayed boredom with indifference.  Carol, the youngest, more like her gentle mother Ellen, was always caught up in the story and grasped the value of God’s ultimate message.  Maureen was becoming rebellious in her identity and a worry to her parents.

In fact, John had displayed rebellion in his youth that led to a drunken experience ending in tragedy; ultimately realizing the need for God’s love and forgiveness in his life.  This story began in Plaster Rock, New Brunswick, Canada 1956 – nostalgic to my own years of being a teen and related easily to the years that followed to 1997 when this story concluded in a poignant intention of carrying on this family tradition.

When I began reading this sweet novella, I was unaware that it is a sequel to Ms Marcinkowski’s Run, River Currents.  Wishing I had read it before The Button Legacy, I intend to read Ginger Marcinkowski’s Run, River Currents soon.  The character of John’s granddaughter, Emily, was bittersweet and the favorite of her “Grampy” John.  Emily Evans, being the daughter of Maureen, might have followed in her mother’s footsteps; however Grampy John was wise in the Lord, and effective in teaching a lesson of trust.

Rich and deep in meaning of God’s love are Ginger Marcinkowski’s words – so compelling in faith and knowledge of God’s Word.  The humor is addictive, causing giggles so hard my bed shook.  The button stories gather personal emotions of happiness and tears.  How our lives parallel our neighbors as well as in the generations before us are awesome and amazing to witness God’s touch throughout.  Well done, Ms Marcinkowski.  Thank you for writing loud words of joyful noise.

I received a free kindle copy of this story from Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for my honest review.

FROM THE AUTHOR

Instructors of Creative Writing repeated the words, “The first book any new writer pens is the book that had to be written.” I now fully understand those words. For three gut-wrenching years, my debut book, Run, River Currents, begged to be put to paper. My intent was to write a humorous biography about my mother, a woman who raised a boat-load of children on her own. But for some reason, I could not make the stories resonate, so the humor turned to heartbreak as the story was released from me…coaxed by a writer whose own heart somehow understood the story that was within.
The Button Legacy tells the much happier “rest of the story,” as well as the background of my godly grandfather, whom God used in Emily’s life to ultimately lead her to Himself. Lacing together a godly heritage and the power of one man’s prayers, The Button Legacy offers a lesson of how God’s grace can be seen even in the simplest thing–a button.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ginger Marcinkowski

Ginger Marcinkowski was born in northern Maine along the Canadian border, a setting that plays a prominent role in Run, River Currents. She is a daughter of divorced parents and is one of eight siblings.

Her debut novel, Run, River Currents, was published in August 2012 and was a 2012 semi-finalist in the ACFW Genesis Awards, also winning honorable mentions in national awards and festivals. The Button Legacy, published in June 2013, was written as a prequel / sequel to Run, River Currents.

Ginger has been a public speaker and visiting lecturer for many years. She has been a professional reader for the James Jones First Novel Award ($10,000 prize), and is currently a judge for the East-West Writer’s Contest and a reader for the ACFW First Impressions award.

Barbara J. Shelton’s Review of “Welcome To Last Chance” by Cathleen Armstrong

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Welcome to Last Chance

The red warning light on her car dashboard drove Lainie Davis to seek help in the tiny town of Last Chance, New Mexico. But as she encounters the people who make Last Chance their home, it’s her heart that is flashing bright red warning lights. 

These people are entirely too nice, too accommodating, and too interested in her personal life for Lainie’s comfort–especially since she’s on the run and hoping to slip away unnoticed.

Yet in spite of herself, Lainie finds that she is increasingly drawn in to the dramas of small town life. An old church lady who always has room for a stranger. A handsome bartender with a secret life. A single mom running her diner and worrying over her teenage son. Could Lainie actually make a life in this little hick town? Or will the past catch up to her even here in the middle of nowhere?

Cathleen Armstrong pens a debut novel filled with complex, lovable characters making their way through life and relationships the best they can. Her evocative descriptions, observational humor, and talent at rendering romantic scenes will earn her many fans.

MY REVIEW

What goes on in a small town?  Plenty!  Lainie Davis was about to find out that dark desolate night her crippled used Mustang rolled to a dead stop in Last Chance, New Mexico, abruptly ending her escape from life in Palm Springs to El Paso where she would be safe with her friend Lindsay…at least for awhile.  Her phone was also dead and the only light was in the High Lonesome Saloon across the parking lot where her car had given up the ghost.  Was this a dead end to her running as far as possible from the threatening dangerous ex-boyfriend, Nick?

The bartender Ray wasn’t too warm toward frazzled Lainie when she dragged into the bar to ask for answers about what to do next.  The town’s only motel was closed while the owner was attending a mayor’s convention.  She would need to wait until morning to contact the only mechanic in town.  While in the bar, the town drunk Les tried to “be friendly” with her and Ray squelched that, telling Les to go sit in the truck and wait for him to take him home after he closed the bar.  Lainie appeared brazen when she asked if Ray had an empty spot for her.  In desperate resolve she slept in her car.

Lainie began to experience the kindness offered to strangers when she entered the Dip ‘n’ Dine café across the street from the High Lonesome Saloon the next morning.  Fayette, the owner, recognized immediately that Lainie was in desperate straits and offered her a shower, breakfast and even called Elizabeth to ask if Lainie could stay with her while the car was being fixed.  That arranged. Lainie was uncomfortable over Elizabeth’s insistence that members of her household attend church.  However she trudged on to meet this unusual woman with momentary promise of rescue.

After showering, Lainie found something hidden in her backpack that sickened her and filled her with fear.  The package she found was evidently put there by Nick.  During her time in the café, she was able to contact her friend Lindsay and heard frightening news that Nick had called Lindsay looking for her.  Never before had Lainie had so many people, strangers at that be so concerned for her well being.  In a way it caused her to feel like running “like the wind.”   She noticed a police car pulling up to the café and wasn’t sure what to do by then, so she slapped a ten dollar bill on the counter and headed for the door when Fayette called out that she had change coming.

And indeed, Lainie had many changes coming!    Last Chance was certainly a town where everybody – all 743 – knows your name….and your business.  Cathleen Armstrong wrote her characters well with defining qualities about each one.    Everyone has a personality that’s either strong, weak or somewhere in between.  It was an engrossing read, so much so that it kept me from getting my needed rest at night.  Having been born and raised in a small town, I could identify with those things considered normal or unusual that happens in Everytown, USA.

Ms Armstrong writes strongly with color and conveys vividly the beauty of the country around Last Chance; romance with caution between the characters; the true Christian nature of the Last Chance residents; and problems in single parenting a self-indulgent child.  Lainie wasn’t familiar with Christian principles and values, but surprised herself when she sought to know more about God….and particularly when she began singing in the church choir. Cathleen Armstrong left a few conclusions unwrapped and hopefully this fine author will give another chance at a sequel to Lainie’s last chance.

About Cathleen Armstrong

Cathleen Armstrong

Cathleen Armstrong lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, Ed, and their corgi. Though she has been in California for many years now, her roots remain deep in New Mexico where she grew up and where much of her family still lives. After she and Ed raised three children, she returned to college and earned a BA in English. Welcome to Last Chancewon the 2009 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for Women’s Fiction.

http://www.cathleenarmstrong.com

Barbara J. Shelton’s Review of “Icing on the Cake” by Janice Thompson

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The Icing on the Cake

Scarlet isn’t sure if she has just the right ingredients for true love–or utter disaster

Scarlet Lindsey is busy making her dreams come true. She’s moved her bakery to a prime spot on Galveston’s most popular street, she’s planning an extravagant cake for her best friend’s wedding, and she has a great relationship with Bella Neeley, the island’s most popular wedding coordinator. Business is booming and Scarlet is enjoying the ride.

But when Bella’s dangerously handsome brother Armando breezes into her life, Scarlet is faced with a sticky situation. Should she stay with the safe, sweet guy who’s been a fixture in her life for years? Or will this brash Italian hunk melt her guarded heart?

Fan favorite Janice Thompson is back with more wit, more weddings, and more of what you love best–bridal-business drama laced with laughs.

“Not only does Janice Thompson know how to spin a delightful tale, she knows weddings and wedding cakes. If you’ve ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes, take a big bite of this sweet, romantic story. It will leave you laughing and looking for the nearest confectionary!”–Lisa Wingate, bestselling author of Firefly Island and The Prayer Box

“Janice Thompson has done it again! From characters that will jump right off the page and into your heart to a story that had me laughing even as I cheered them on, The Icing on the Cakeis a sweet treat. I urge you to indulge–you won’t be sorry!”–Kathleen Y’Barbo, bestselling author of The Secret Lives of Will Tucker series

BARB’S REVIEW…….

Before I opened “Icing on the Cake” written by Janice Thompson, I anticipated lots of fun and many surprises.  Janice’s sense of humor and tongue in cheek quotations at the beginning of each chapter were so entertaining – my favorite being “Families are like fudge, mostly sweet with a few nuts.” (Author unknown)  Having read the prequel “Picture Perfect,” in this series – Weddings by Design –   many of the characters were familiar to me in the beautiful setting on Galveston Island.  Janice’s stories are written ingeniously around wedding productions created by Bella Neely and Club Wed; and the whole cast of characters from Bella’s odd family; Scarlett’s family and other familiar characters like Hannah and Drew whose wedding is being planned in this episode.  There is not a family on this Island that isn’t sweet with a few nuts!

Our main character Scarlett Lindsey had just opened her own bakery, Let Them Eat Cake, on the popular Strand.  Her friend Kenny worked in the bakery and had a crush on Scarlett, however she was a bit of two minds where romance with Kenny was concerned.  Little did Scarlett know what she was in for when her spinster Aunt Willy, an infamous first-rate chef, financed Scarlett’s venture.  Not only was Scarlett planning an elaborate wedding cake for her best friend Hannah’s wedding, she was in charge of planning the church fund raiser. 

We met Armando, Bella’s brother, in “Picture Perfect” as the problem child of the Rossi family with a reputation of being a real womanizer.  He swept in and out of the first story like a bird on the fly and had a dislike for staying on the Island.  Scarlett had issues with her self-image because of being overweight.  Many, including “moi” can relate to her inner feelings and insecurities.  Let Them Eat Cake was located next door to John’s Pizzeria where Armando worked in his family’s business.  Scarlett and Armando found themselves pushed together at a Rossi family event – not at all to Scarlett’s liking.  An indefinite relationship sets in motion…and Scarlett begins to perceive Armando differently.  He volunteers to help solve the sound problem at the church which meant more time spent in each other’s company.  When Scarlett fills in for Armando’s mother on a Food Network competition with a secret recipe for Italian Wedding Cake, she decides to drop a few pounds so she’ll look better on camera.  Now the real fun begins, so hold onto your hat!

Ms Thompson has an innate talent at developing a plot that serves the heart in hilarity to sentiment along with beautiful spirituality throughout.  What does “sticky buns” and “Lucille Ball of I Love Lucy” have to do with Scarlett’s anxiety?  It was entertaining as the author allowed the reader into Scarlett’s inner thoughts and I laughed loudly at the zany debates she argued with herself.  One never knows what to expect in the stories Janice Thompson writes.  She is perceptive in creating characters that are well rounded and real.  Her characters build as the story moves forward and can be loved in one chapter and disliked in the next.  Scarlett reminded me so much of myself that that I wondered who might have been the role model for Janice.  Honestly, I’ve never met Janice Thompson in my life….although I’d consider it an honor to do so.

MEET AUTHOR JANICE THOMPSON…….

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, as well as Picture Perfect. She lives in Texas. 

Visit http://www.janiceathompson.com for more.

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

Barbara J. Shelton’s Review of Olivia Newport’s “The Invention of Sarah Cummings”

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The Invention of Sarah Cummings

Sarah Cummings has one goal in life–to break into Chicago’s high society. Desperate to stop serving dinner and to start eating at society tables, Sarah alters cast-off gowns from the wealthy Banning women to create lustrous, flattering dresses of her own. On a whim at a chance meeting, she presents herself as Serena Cuthbert, weaving a fictitious past to go with her fictitious name. But as she gets closer to Simon Tewell, the director of St. Andrew’s Orphanage, Sarah finds that she must choose between the life she has and the life she dreams of. Will she sacrifice love to continue her pretense? Or can Simon show her that sometimes you don’t have to pretend for dreams to come true? Olivia Newport brings us back to Prairie Avenue to explore the place where class, social expectations, and romance come together. Readers will enjoy following the intrepid Sarah as she searches for true love in a world of illusions.

MY REVIEW…………..

 

Feeling somewhat at a loss having not read the first two books in this series, I nevertheless enjoyed The Invention of Sarah Cummings as a standalone story.  Olivia Newport was unfamiliar to me as an author and I presently regard her highly as a fine writer and am excited to read her future works.  The time period of late 1800’s is a favorite of mine in this historical genre.

It was difficult at times not to be a tad judgmental of Sarah’s choices; but learning her background definitely gave me more understanding and compassion toward her as an individual.  She was impetuous, to say the least and at first, quite unlikeable.  Without that compelling characteristic, the story wouldn’t have taken hold of my interest as it did.  Ms Newport’s story is rich in history around the 1800’s time frame, including the political tensions on all sides of the presidential election between William McKinley vs. William Jennings Bryan.  The author obviously is a deep researcher into historical facts which lends completely in writing truth into fiction – a very admirable quality.

Chicago high society in that day is snobbish and discriminating – developing a wide gap in expected behavior between the rich and the poor, particularly those in service to the “polite society.”  Sarah Cummings became an orphan in her early teens through a tragic loss of both parents.  Without anyone to take guardianship over her, she was placed in St Andrews Orphanage, where she met Simon Tewell, the director of St Andrews who had a secret affinity for Sarah.  Sarah had no faith in a God that would allow such misfortune and unhappiness in her life.  She was empty and developed some vindictive conniving habits that she felt deservedly would take her where she wanted to go.  A chance meeting in a hat shop with a young lady of culture, Lillie Wagner was the beginning of Sarah Cummings new identity as Serena Cuthbert with an impressive new history of living the life of wealthy infamy.  Lillie and Serena became instant and fast friends.

So – here we go, hold onto your hat!  Lillie takes Serena in hand and introduces her to the society of Chicago and Prairie Avenue, where coincidently Sarah was in service as a maid to the Banning family.  Sarah, talented with a needle and thread and could fashion her own clothing from hand-me-downs with an aura perceived as high fashion readily disguising her as the wealthy young woman of good grace named Serena Cuthbert.  Story tension builds when Serena meets Bradley Townsend and targets him as husband material.  Bradley is involved in the political scene with a life of his own that caused the infrequent dates that was frustrating to Serena.

Serena exploited others unwisely in her endeavors to exist in her disguise.  Serena’s antics at being in two places at once, her deceptions, her unique contriving  routes of travel, and lies was dizzying.  I felt I needed to keep a score card going page after page of Sarah’s demise as Serena could head for a downfall at any time.  In my mind, I fathomed Ms Newport still held a few surprising shocks ahead, which kept me involved.  Would waiting for Serena and Sarah to meet the real Creator be fulfilled?  Candidly, there is nothing further I can share with you about this finely structured tale without ruining your own joy in reading Sarah/Serena’s story.   Olivia Newport has written a story of what can happen to anyone without proper respect and value for God’s love, grace and tender mercies.  Great lessons can be learned from this worthwhile and imaginative writing skill of Ms Olivia Newport’s Invention of Sarah Cummings.

About the Author………………

Olivia Newport

Olivia Newport is the author of The Pursuit of Lucy Banning and The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow. Her husband and two twentysomething children provide welcome distraction from the people stomping through her head on their way into her books. She chases joy in stunning Colorado at the foot of the Rockies, where daylilies grow as tall as she is. Olivia Newport’s novels twist through time to find where faith and passions meet.

Find out more at http://www.olivianewport.com/

Like her page at https://www.facebook.com/OliviaNewport

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

I received this book through Revell’s Blogger Tour, and was not required to give a positive review.

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

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Springtime in Savannah

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/

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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