My review of “Prelude For A Lord” by Camille Elliot

 

There is so much more to this story than a young girl playing the violin.

 

Yes there is a hint of danger, yes there is adventure and romance but there is also an intriguing family dynamic that was clearly very well researched.

Bravo to Camille Elliot for doing such a wonderful job!

I recently attended a writer’s conference and one of the authors writes historical fiction and she stressed that accuracy in research is key to telling a convincing story. Clearly Camille knew that already!

I admit it is a bit difficult at times to follow the language but it really does take you back into this far away time when life was so much simpler and yet so much more complex.

Camille Elliot draws us in immediately with a shock that just may knock you off your feet as well. And then she takes us on what – at first appears to be a simply spun take of a young and somewhat odd woman.

But it soon becomes clear that we are in for a wild ride. This is not the regency romance I grew up with… This is a tale of deceit carefully woven and the danger that comes along with it.

What a surprise! A mystery and a romance wrapped up in a historical novel that you would not truly expect either from.

 

 

Here is more about “Prelude For A Lord” from Zondervan:

 

An awkward young woman. A haunted young man. A forbidden instrument. Can the love of music bring them together . . . or will it tear them apart?

Bath, England 1810

At twenty-eight, Alethea Sutherton is past her prime for courtship; but social mores have never been her forte. She might be a lady, but she is first and foremost a musician.

In Regency England, however, the violin is considered an inappropriate instrument for a lady. Ostracized by society for her passion, Alethea practices in secret and waits for her chance to flee to the Continent, where she can play without scandal.

But when a thief s interest in her violin endangers her and her family, Alethea is determined to discover the enigmatic origins of her instrument . . . with the help of the dark, brooding Lord Dommick.

Scarred by war, Dommick finds solace only in playing his violin. He is persuaded to help Alethea, and discovers an entirely new yearning in his soul.

Alethea finds her reluctant heart drawn to Dommick in the sweetest of duets . . . just as the thief’s desperation builds to a tragic crescendo . . .

 

You can find more information and/or buy the book from these popular sites.

GOODREADS   ZONDERVAN   CAMILLE’S WEBSITE

AMAZON   BARNES & NOBLE   CHRISTIANBOOKS   LIFEWAY   BOOKSAMILLION

Disclaimer: I received the book free from the BookLook Blogger program
in exchange for an honest review.

Happy Reading

And

GOD BLESS!

Disclaimer: I have no control over the ads you may see below.
I am sorry if any of the content is inappropriate.

Author Spotlight: Melanie Dickerson | Award Winning Author of REAL Fairy Tales

Thank you for joining me for another exciting Author Spotlight!

 

Melanie Dickerson is one of my new FAVORITE authors – for her exceptional writing AND for her true-to-life portrayals of traditional fairy tales!

 

 

headshotA bit about Melanie via her WEBSITE:

 

Melanie Dickerson is an award-winning author who earned her bachelor’s degree in special education from The University of Alabama. She has taught in Georgia, Tennessee, Germany and the Eastern European country of Ukraine. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA), she now spends her time writing and taking care of her husband and two daughters near Huntsville, Alabama.

 

 

And here is my interview with Melanie Dickerson:

 

You talk a lot about researching the towns and time period of your novels. What research have you done for the fairy tale part? Do you study the original fairy tales written by the brothers Grimm, Hans Christine Anderson and Charles Perault?

I wouldn’t say I study them, but I usually read them. More often than not, my stories are loosely based on the Disney movie as much as they are on the original fairy tales. My goal is more to write a story with some of the familiar elements that people relate to the Beauty and the Beast story, or the Sleeping Beauty story, or the Frog Prince story. For instance, in my upcoming book, The Princess Spy, which is a Frog Prince story, the heroine loses something valuable—a family heirloom bracelet—in the well, just as the girl in the original story lost her favorite ball in the well, and the “frog prince” offers to get it for her. In return she is expected to do something for him. So I try to incorporate some of the little details of the story into my books, and I also try to use some of the same themes from the original story, as well as the overall premise.

 

Your story plots are so intricate and many times, it seems impossible that things could work out like the tales we know so well. Do you sketch out a rough draft or an outline before you start writing? How often does a plot twist surprise you in the middle of writing?

There is always at least one plot twist that surprises me during the writing of the book. I do try to have a rough outline, at least in my head, before I start writing, but the details tend to work themselves out as I write and think ahead. I don’t write detailed outlines, though, before I write the first draft, and the first draft usually just needs a little tweaking and editing before it’s ready to send to the editor at my publishing house.

 

How do you come up with the names of your characters? How close are they to the original names of the fairy tale heroes or villains?

Right now I’m trying to decide what to name my Rapunzel heroine, which is the book I’m about to start writing. Should I call her Rapunzel? Something similar? Or just some Medieval German name I like that seems right for the character? I don’t know, honestly. My Snow White character I named Sophie, since Snow White seemed too unrealistic, and for my Beauty and the Beast character, I named her Annabel instead of Belle because it seemed more British, which is where I decided to set that story. So I usually try to make the name similar but accurate to the time period.

 

You recently signed a new contract with Thomas Nelson. The first book you mention sounds as if it will be following a similar line as your YA fairy tales. How much more adult will those stories be?

They will not be very different at all. Maybe one or two extra kisses, and maybe a slightly more mature situation here or there, but not very different at all from my “YA” stories, which appeal to adults as well. The heroines will be slightly older.

 

Any chance you have an idea for Rapunzel’s story? That would be a tricky one to make “real” I would think. (Yes I asked this question with no idea of how Melanie would answer my above question…)

Yep. I have to start writing it right away since it’s due to my publisher in 4 months! The heroine is a surprise, so I can’t say too much about her, but you will catch a glimpse of the hero, Sir Gerek, at the end of The Princess Spy. He is one of Duke Wilhelm’s knights who falls in love with a mysterious midwife’s only daughter. But when the midwife decides to separate the two, Sir Gerek will do anything to find her and get her back.

 

Thank You Melanie for giving us your time and sharing a bit about your work!
I don’t know about everyone else but I LOVE reading about how an author goes about their process and what’s next for them. It makes me feel like I’m chatting with an old friend.
And it makes reading the books that much more special too!

 

Click HERE to visit Melanie’s blog for updates and info, HERE for her Facebook page, HERE for Twitter and HERE for her Author page on GoodReads!

 

And now here’s a look at Melanie Dickerson’s most recent release:

 

The Captive Maiden

 

The Captive Maiden 300

A Cinderella Story

 

Happily Ever After…Or Happily Nevermore? 

Gisela’s childhood was filled with laughter and visits from nobles such as the duke and his young son. But since her father’s death, each day has been filled with nothing but servitude to her stepmother.

So when Gisela meets the duke’s son, Valten–the boy she has daydreamed about for years–and learns he is throwing a ball, she vows to attend, even if it’s only for a taste of a life she’ll never have. To her surprise, she catches Valten’s eye. Though he is rough around the edges, Gisela finds Valten has completely captured her heart.

But other forces are bent on keeping the two from falling further in love, putting Gisela in more danger than she ever imagined.

 

And don’t miss the other fantastic titles in this wonderful series!

 

The Fairest Beauty

imageA Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Retelling

 

A daring rescue. A difficult choice.

Sophie desperately wants to get away from her stepmother’s jealousy, and believes escape is her only chance to be happy. Then a young man named Gabe arrives from Hagenheim Castle, claiming she is betrothed to his older brother, and everything twists upside down. This could be Sophie’s one chance at freedom—but can she trust another person to keep her safe?

Gabe defied his parents Rose and Wilhelm by going to find Sophie, and now he believes they had a right to worry: the girl’s inner and outer beauty has enchanted him. Though romance is impossible—she is his brother’s future wife, and Gabe himself is betrothed to someone else—he promises himself he will see the mission through, no matter what. When the pair flee to the Cottage of the Seven, they find help—but also find their feelings for each other have grown. Now both must not only protect each other from the dangers around them—they must also protect their hearts.

 

 

The Merchant’s Daughter

imageA real-life tale of Beauty and the Beast

 

An unthinkable danger. An unexpected choice.

Annabel, once the daughter of a wealthy merchant, is trapped in indentured servitude to Lord Ranulf, a recluse who is rumored to be both terrifying and beastly. Her circumstances are made even worse by the proximity of Lord Ranulf’s bailiff—a revolting man who has made unwelcome advances on Annabel in the past.

Believing that life in a nunnery is the best way to escape the escalation of the bailiff’s vile behavior and to preserve the faith that sustains her, Annabel is surprised to discover a sense of security and joy in her encounters with Lord Ranulf. As Annabel struggles to confront her feelings, she is involved in a situation that could place Ranulf in grave danger.

Ranulf’s future, and possibly his heart, may rest in her hands, and Annabel must decide whether to follow the plans she has cherished or the calling God has placed on her heart.

 

The Healer’s Apprentice

imageWhen destiny sleeps, it can only be awakened by true love’s kiss.

 

Two Hearts. One Hope.

Rose has been appointed as a healer’s apprentice at Hagenheim Castle, a rare opportunity for a woodcutter’s daughter like her. While she often feels uneasy at the sight of blood, Rose is determined to prove herself capable. Failure will mean returning home to marry the aging bachelor her mother has chosen for her—a bloated, disgusting merchant who makes Rose feel ill.

When Lord Hamlin, the future duke, is injured, it is Rose who must tend to him. As she works to heal his wound, she begins to understand emotions she’s never felt before and wonders if he feels the same. But falling in love is forbidden, as Lord Hamlin is betrothed to a mysterious young woman in hiding. As Rose’s life spins toward confusion, she must take the first steps on a journey to discover her own destiny.

 

Watch for her upcoming releases!

 

The Princess Spy

                       Coming in November!

The Princess Spy by Melanie Dickerson

 

Margaretha has always been a romantic, and hopes her newest suitor, Lord Claybrook, is destined to be her one true love. But then an injured man is brought to Hagenheim Castle, claiming to be an English lord who was attacked by Claybrook and left for dead. And only Margaretha—one of the few who speaks his language—understands the wild story.

Margaretha finds herself unable to pass Colin’s message along to her father, the duke, and convinces herself ‘Lord Colin’ is just an addled stranger. Then Colin retrieves an heirloom she lost in a well, and asks her to spy on Claybrook as repayment.Margaretha knows she could never be a spy—not only is she unable to keep anything secret, she’s sure Colin is completely wrong about her potential betrothed.

Though when Margaretha overhears Claybrook one day, she discovers her romantic notions may have been clouding her judgment about not only Colin but Claybrook as well. It is up to her to save her father and Hagenheim itself from Claybrook’s wicked plot.

 

And…

 

The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest

 

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The first book in a NEW series Melanie most recently signed to publish with Thomas Nelson Publishers!

“Swan Lake” meets Robin Hood when the beautiful daughter of a wealthy merchant by day becomes the region’s most notorious poacher by night, and falls in love with the gamekeeper.

Jorgen is the gamekeeper for the wealthy margrave, and he is in pursuit of the poacher who has been killing and stealing the margrave’s game. When he meets the lovely and refined Odette at the festival and shares a connection during a dance, he has no idea that at night she is the one who has been poaching the margrave’s game.

Odette is caught up in a ring of black market sellers of poached animals. She thinks the game is going to feed the poor, who are all but starving, both in the city and just outside its walls. However, most of the animals are being sold by the greedy leader of the ring–her stepfather. When Odette discovers what he is doing, she threatens to expose him, putting herself in great danger.

The gamekeeper finds her poaching one night and shoots her, wounding her. When he realizes who she is, he hides her to keep her from being executed by the margrave and also to protect her from her stepfather. Jorgen and Odette will band together to stop the black market poaching ring . . . as they fall in love. But what will the margrave do when he discovers his gamekeeper is protecting a notorious poacher?

 

 

 

THANK YOU for joining me for this special AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT!

And don’t forget to check back or follow my blog to see new reviews –
there’s a new one up almost every day!

A Look Back at “The Captive Maiden” by Melanie Dickerson | The BEST Cinderella story I have ever read!

The Captive Maiden 300

Yes I did. I went back and read “The Captive Maiden” again!

And it was JUST as wonderful the second time through!

Even knowing what to expect did not detract from the romance and excitement of the story.

From my original review:

This is a wonderful story! Melanie Dickerson did a great job of molding a popular fairy tale into an inspirational story for teens that, I think, will appeal to adults as well.

It’s also an answer to a prayer since I am hesitant about letting my daughter read more traditional fairy tales – which focus so much on magic. Now I can collect the previous 3 books Melanie has written and any more that are yet to come.

Melanie Dickerson has taken out the magic and weaved God into every part of this story. So instead of confusing teens, Melanie Dickerson offers hope and truth.

What a blessing!

And it truly is! It is such a blessing to read a real fairy tale. It is also incredibly refreshing to read about heroes and villains who are clearly just human. The villains of Cinderella are famous – evil stepmother, evil stepsisters, being poor… But Melanie Dickerson added an extra villain to this wonderful story and I was so relieved to see that he was all too human – with human weaknesses and flaws.

And speaking of human flaws – it is beyond refreshing to read about a big strong knight who is absolutely unnerved by tears. There are quite a few men who suffer from this particular flaw and young girls need to know about this sort of thing.

The story itself is an absolute gem. In “The Fairest Beauty”, we watched a handsome young man who was clever with words win the maiden’s heart and then, when she met her betrothed – she found him frightening and overwhelming…she even thought he was somewhat of a bully. But she was seeing him through the eyes of his brother and her perspective was most likely due to her love for him.

In “The Captive Maiden”, we see another young maiden’s reaction to that same brother and it could not be more different. It’s a prime example of seeing someone through the eyes of love – any young lady who is not in love with him would see only the rough battles scars, be intimidated by his size and feel put off by his lack of finesse when it comes to words. However, these are the very things that should endear him to the woman who loves him. That should be how love works and traditional fairy tales simply don’t get that point across. – in my humble opinion.

Melanie Dickerson does!

 

5star

 

Here’s a further look at the story from Zondervan:

Happily Ever After …Or Happily Nevermore? Gisela’s childhood was filled with laughter and visits from nobles such as the duke and his young son. But since her father’s death, each day has been filled with nothing but servitude to her stepmother.

So when Gisela learns the duke’s son, Valten—the boy she has daydreamed about for years—is throwing a ball in hopes of finding a wife, she vows to find a way to attend, even if it’s only for a taste of a life she’ll never have. To her surprise, she catches Valten’s eye.

Though he is rough around the edges, Gisela finds Valten has completely captured her heart. But other forces are bent on keeping the two from falling further in love, putting Gisela in more danger than she ever imagined.

And you can click HERE to go to the book page on Zondervan

HERE for ChristianBook.com HERE for GoodReads

And HERE for Melanie Dickerson’s website.

Disclaimer: I won a free copy of this book from Grace Thorson | A Paradise of Colors. THANK YOU Grace! I was not required to review the book but I have to share thoughts on such a wonderful book!

HAPPY READING! 

And

GOD BLESS!

Disclaimer: I have no control over the ads you may see below.
I am sorry if any of the content is inappropriate.

“The Fairest Beauty” | A retelling of Snow White by Melanie Dickerson

image

I find myself wishing I were a slower reader… Because now I have come to the end and I must wait until November to read the next story.

How will I survive?

Well I suppose I can always read “The Captive Maiden” again so there’s that. And I’m certain I can find some other books to help me pass the time.

But I want to know what happens next!

Absolutely no insult is intended to “The Captive Maiden” or “The Healer’s Apprentice” or “The Merchant’s Daughter”… but I do believe “The Fairest Beauty” is the absolute BEST book Melanie Dickerson has written yet!

“The Fairest Beauty” has everything you would expect to find in a fairy tale – A damsel in distress, mistaken identity, exaggerated rumors of the Princess’s death, an evil “Queen” – in this case a Duchess, a hired assassin and a hero!

It’s just an all-around GREAT story!

And the real-life fairy tale is so much more  appealing in my opinion! These are real people with real emotions and real flaws! – not some perfect, flawless combination of all the best traits and none of the worst that we see in the traditional fairy tales. Even the “bad guys” are clearly human, with flaws and weakness – not just a villain that’s purely evil who does nasty things simply because they can.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.
I LOVE the way Melanie Dickerson writes fairy tales!

She doesn’t put the focus on the wrong things – magic and rebellion. She makes certain the focus is on how important it is to marry for love – which is Biblical (Marriage is meant to be forever… do you really want to be in a loveless marriage forever?). And she draws your attention to how important it is to remain pure and innocent – saving yourself for the man you marry.

This story especially – shows how important it is to understand the difference between love and lust.

It’s a difficult subject and not always a popular one in the world we live in today but it is an important one and I am very impressed to see an author taking a stand!

BRAVO MELANIE!

I wish these were the fairy tales I had grown up with. I can only imagine how different my outlook on life might be if I had not started with the ridiculous world view traditional fairy tales present.

All the more reason that these will be the fairy tales I give MY daughter to read!

All little girls need to know – while fairy tales can be real – they are not all about magic and luck!

5star

Here is a bit about the book from Zondervan:

A daring rescue. A difficult choice.

Sophie desperately wants to get away from her stepmother’s jealousy, and believes escape is her only chance to be happy. Then a young man named Gabe arrives from Hagenheim Castle, claiming she is betrothed to his older brother, and everything twists upside down. This could be Sophie’s one chance at freedom—but can she trust another person to keep her safe?

Gabe defied his parents Rose and Wilhelm by going to find Sophie, and now he believes they had a right to worry: the girl’s inner and outer beauty has enchanted him. Though romance is impossible—she is his brother’s future wife, and Gabe himself is betrothed to someone else—he promises himself he will see the mission through, no matter what.

When the pair flee to the Cottage of the Seven, they find help—but also find their feelings for each other have grown. Now both must not only protect each other from the dangers around them—they must also protect their hearts.

 

Click HERE for the page on Zondervan

HERE for the page on ChristianBooks.com

HERE for GoodReads

And HERE is Melanie Dickerson’s website

 

GOD BLESS

and

HAPPY READING!

 

Disclaimer: I have no control over the ads you may see below.
I am sorry if any of the content is inappropriate.

Beauty and the Beast as seen by Melanie Dickerson | “The Merchant’s Daughter”

image

Melanie Dickerson has done it again!

These books truly are the absolute BEST versions I’ve ever seen of the classic fairy tales!

Melanie Dickerson brings together the romance of fairy tale and the harsh reality of life – blending them together seamlessly to tell a beautiful tale of Love, Healing and Forgiveness.

You think you know where the story is going and you think you know precisely how it’s all going to end up because the stories are following the classic fairy tale we all know… Right?

No.

Melanie Dickerson has surprising twists and turns all through the book that you will never see coming, all the while still weaving in bits from the original fairy tale. And you will find yourself so entranced with the story, you may not even realize it until later.

“The Merchant’s Daughter” once again deals with some hard-core themes. And once again Melanie Dickerson does so with class and diplomacy. There is no sugar coating but the descriptions are done in the best possible taste.

I recommend these books to anyone and everyone! In fact, I plan to introduce them to my daughter, instead of the more traditional fairy tales!

Personally I never understood how such tales became so very popular – especially in a time where magic and witchcraft was so suspect. People from the times described originally in these tales did not delight in magic and sorcery, they hunted down anyone suspected of it and dealt them a quick and harsh death. So why tales filled with such magic would ever have become popular, I have no idea. Unless it was simply the temptation of the forbidden – we humans do seem to have a particular weakness for wanting those things that we cannot have.

Melanie Dickerson has told these stories in such a realistic way – retaining the romance and excitement but adding in truth. And in my opinion, it makes them that much more appealing! I would rather my daughter have realistic fairy tales to grow up with and not ridiculous stories that could not possibly have happened – that I will one day have to tell her are entirely false and quite impossible.

Any woman would greatly enjoy these stories of adventure, love and danger.

And with Melanie Dickerson at the helm, you may know where you’ll end up but you can never accuse her of being predictable.

 

5star

 

Here is what Zondervan has to say about “The Merchant’s Daughter”:

An unthinkable danger. An unexpected choice.

Annabel, once the daughter of a wealthy merchant, is trapped in indentured servitude to Lord Ranulf, a recluse who is rumored to be both terrifying and beastly. Her circumstances are made even worse by the proximity of Lord Ranulf’s bailiff—a revolting man who has made unwelcome advances on Annabel in the past.

Believing that life in a nunnery is the best way to escape the escalation of the bailiff’s vile behavior and to preserve the faith that sustains her, Annabel is surprised to discover a sense of security and joy in her encounters with Lord Ranulf.

As Annabel struggles to confront her feelings, she is involved in a situation that could place Ranulf in grave danger. Ranulf’s future, and possibly his heart, may rest in her hands, and Annabel must decide whether to follow the plans she has cherished or the calling God has placed on her heart.

 

Here is the book page on Zondervan

HERE for ChristianBooks.com

HERE for GoodReads

And HERE for Melanie Dickerson’s website

 

GOD BLESS

and

HAPPY READING!

 

Disclaimer: I have no control over the ads you may see below.
I am sorry if any of the content is inappropriate.

Melanie Dickerson’s tale of the classic story – Sleeping Beauty – “The Healer’s Apprentice”

To think that I almost missed this series…image

I have to admit that I only read this book because my 10 year old son (who is now 11) told me that I had to read “The Captive Maiden”.

Now you’re wondering why…

Once upon a time, I signed up to win a copy of Melanie Dickerson’s “The Captive Maiden” and I won. I was surprised because I don’t usually win when I sign up for giveaways. I do it to show support for the author.

But apparently God meant for me to read this series!

I was not impressed when I started reading the book. The cruelty was almost too much for me and I stopped reading. Then my son picked up the book, looked at the cover and read the back. After that, he demanded that I read it. This was such a rare occurrence (usually he ignores the books I buy or teases me about it) that I knew I had to give it a try.

And again, it must have been God’s leading.

These books are the absolute BEST versions I’ve ever seen of what are typically know of as “classic” fairy tales!

I’ve read reviews that complain about the strong themes in these books and I’ve read reviews that say they wish more from the original tales had been incorporated. And I am here to tell you that, in my opinion, they are wrong.

Melanie Dickerson deals with hard-core themes, yes. But she does it in a way that is honest and realistic while maintaining, what some may feel are ridiculously, high standards of modesty and decency – but I find refreshing in a world of bared bodies and brutish language. Our children need to be aware of these things and how to deal with them, especially since they are very much a part of the world we live in today. As much as I would like to shelter them from everything bad or wrong in the world, they have to know that evil exists and they have to know how to confront it!

I feel that Melanie Dickerson presents these harsh issues with grace and discretion.

And as for having more from the original tales, I think it is amazing how well Melanie weaves the pieces of the classic fairy tales through her own stories – using them to help tell the story and reveal the hidden truths slowly throughout.

“The Healer’s Apprentice” is a masterpiece of reality blended flawlessly with fairy tale!

Melanie Dickerson’s characters are simply astonishing – well written, colorful and embodying the very same values and flaws of the heroes and villains that inspired them. And, as much as I would love to say that she always paints the bad guys as bad – it would not be true to life if that were the case.

Evil is deceptive and tricky and it is not always easy to see it for what it really is.

The plot is so well-conceived, it is difficult to believe this is the first book she wrote after fifteen years of not writing. It flows beautifully and there is absolutely nothing I can think that would add to it.

Amazing!

And now I have three more books to look forward to – “The Merchant’s Daughter” and “The Fairest Beauty” right now and “The Princess Spy” releases soon!

Exciting!

 

5star

Just in case you’re still not convinced…

Here is what Zondervan says about the series

 Two Hearts. One Hope.

Rose has been appointed as a healer’s apprentice at Hagenheim Castle, a rare opportunity for a woodcutter’s daughter like her. While she often feels uneasy at the sight of blood, Rose is determined to prove herself capable. Failure will mean returning home to marry the aging bachelor her mother has chosen for her—a bloated, disgusting merchant who makes Rose feel ill.

When Lord Hamlin, the future duke, is injured, it is Rose who must tend to him. As she works to heal his wound, she begins to understand emotions she’s never felt before and wonders if he feels the same. But falling in love is forbidden, as Lord Hamlin is betrothed to a mysterious young woman in hiding.

As Rose’s life spins toward confusion, she must take the first steps on a journey to discover her own destiny.

HERE is the book page on Zondervan

HERE is the page on ChristianBooks

HERE is the page on GoodReads

And HERE is Melanie Dickerson’s website

 

GOD BLESS

and

HAPPY READING!

 

Disclaimer: I have no control over the ads you may see below.
I am sorry if any of the content is inappropriate.

 

“A Mother’s Secret” | Book 2 in the Hearts of the Lancaster Grand Hotel series | Amy Clipston

A Mother's Secret

I ranted more than a little with my review of the first book in this series: A Hopeful Heart,  because someone ruined the book for me.

Which is why, In preparation for this book, I did not read ANY reviews.

Besides… I knew it would be great!
Why would I need to read reviews!

 

A Mother’s Secret  is a absolute masterpiece.

Amy Clipston has taken a delicate, sensitive subject and put a face on it that I certainly never expected to see.

I have read books by other authors of Amish fiction about this same subject but most of them focus on the shame in their community or the hardship on the mother or the ostracism from family.

A Mother’s Secret  takes a whole new approach and I LOVE IT!

Yes there is mention of the “shame” Carolyn’s “situation” brought to the family but it is not the focus of the story, except for how much Carolyn punishes herself about it. The community has forgiven her – but that’s really what we expect from an Amish community, isn’t it?

And yes, there is mention of the hardship on Carolyn but it’s primarily past-tense for this story and only as it contributes to the story, again…not the focus. It’s nothing like what you read about in many other books that seem to make the hardship a single mother deals with the main focus of the story.

And while there is friction between Joshua and his mother… and Carolyn and Joshua’s mother… and Benjamin and Joshua’s mother – noticing a pattern here… if you read the first book, you know Barbie causes friction between her and almost everyone around her – there is no ostracism from Carolyn’s own family, which…again, is what you would expect from an Amish family. The Amish are famous for their forgiveness.

Just keep that in mind as you read – I’m not going to say why…

This is the story of a mother and her son. It highlights the family dynamics that come with this somewhat unique situation but it clearly focuses on the mother and son. And Amy Clipston does a beautiful job of writing, not just a love story between Carolyn and her possible suitors, but between Carolyn and her son – who she and her family consider a blessing… not a burden like many other families might.

Perhaps it is the Amish worldview that helps them accomplish this or perhaps it is simply due to their intense faith in God and their strong desire to live as Christ-like a life as possible. Whatever the reason, Amy Clipston hit the mark perfectly with this book!

I must have rewritten and added to this review a dozen or more times – I kept thinking of things I had to add or a different way I wanted to say something and I just had to get it right! This is a tremendous story and I hope everyone who reads it gets as much of a blessing from it as I have.

God Bless you Amy Clipston!

Now I’m impatient for the next book, “A Simple Prayer, which is the final book in my Hearts of Lancaster Grand Hotel series” – via AmyClipston.com.

Is it 2015 yet?

 

5star

 

More about “A Mother’s Secret” from Zondervan:

Carolyn Lapp dreams of marrying for love. But will the errors of her past destroy this dream forever?

Carolyn Lapp longs to have a traditional Amish family. But she lives on her brother’s farm with her parents and her 15-year old son, Benjamin. Carolyn has never revealed the identity of Benjamin’s father and lives daily with the guilt and shame of her youthful indiscretion.

Her brother simply will not forgive her. His answer is to arrange a practical marriage for Carolyn to Saul, a widower with a little girl. But Carolyn isn’t convinced that Saul really loves her and believes he is simply looking for someone to help raise his daughter.

When Benjamin causes trouble at a local horse auction, horse breeder Joshua Glick decides that he must be taught a lesson. Carolyn and Joshua are unmistakably drawn to each other, but Joshua mistakenly assumes that Benjamin is Carolyn’s brother.

Carolyn fears that if he discovers the truth, her past will destroy their budding romance. After years of shame and loneliness, Carolyn suddenly has two men vying for her attention. But which of them will give her the family—and the unconditional love—she’s longed for?

Click HERE to visit the page on Zondervan

HERE for GoodReads HERE for ChristianBook.com

And HERE for Amy Clipston’s website.

 

 

Happy Reading

And

GOD BLESS!

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Litfuse Publicity book review program in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

 

Disclaimer: I have no control over the ads you may see below.
I am sorry if any of the content is inappropriate.

A Mother’s Secret | Kindle Fire giveaway from Amy Clipston

 

Don’t miss the newest offering in the Hearts of the Lancaster Grand Hotel series from
Amy Clipston – A Mother’s Secret

An unwed Amish woman yearns for real love and a family. The only thing in her way is the shame she’s been carrying for half of her life. The novel received 4-1/2 stars from Romantic Times and was chosen as a Top Pick.

Amy is celebrating with a Kindle Fire giveaway.

motherssecret-400-click
One winner will receive:

  • A Kindle Fire
  • Books 1 and 2 in the Hearts of the Lancaster Grand Hotel series, A Hopeful Heart and A Mother’s Secret.

 

Enter today, the giveaway ends on July 6th.
Winner will be announced July 7th on Amy’s blog.

 

{A bit About Amy Clipston}

Amy Clipston

 

Amy Clipston holds a degree in communication from Virginia Wesleyan College and works full-time for the City of Charlotte, NC. Amy lives in North Carolina with her husband, and two sons and four spoiled rotten cats.

Find out more about Amy at http://amyclipston.com.

 

 

 

 

Happy Reading

And

GOD BLESS!

Disclaimer: I have no control over the ads you may see below.
I am sorry if any of the content is inappropriate.

Sneaky, deceptive and far too good! | “Murder Simply Brewed” by Vannetta Chapman

This has nothing whatsoever to do with how great the story is but I always LOVE a book with a map in the front! It makes the story so much more REAL!Murder Simply Brewed by Vannetta Chapman

 

WARNING: this book may cause lack of sleep!

I was up really late because I just could not put the book down until I finished it!

(And on a side note, let me say how refreshing it is to read a mystery novel with a character named Hannah that is actually well-written! Some of you may get lost with that comment but I know some people know who I mean…)

Murder Simply Brewed is the best mystery I’ve read to date! Vannetta Chapman did a fantasy job with it and I can hardly wait for the next one!

The characters are well-written and believable. The story line moves along beautifully. The clues are just enough to keep you intrigued without being too obvious.

It won’t take you long to start worrying about your favorite characters and being more than a little annoyed with the local police over their lack of interest in what is clearly fowl play – or at least in the minds of our heroes and the reader of course.

Another side note that really has nothing to do with the story itself – I LOVE that the cover of the book shows no faces. As much as I LOVE Amish fiction, I do not like that so many of them show the faces, especially the ones that are so prominent on the cover. The Amish do not like their pictures to be taken and I think having covers that show pictures of “Amish” gives people the wrong idea. A random person who picks it up doesn’t know it’s a paid model.

And the cover for book 2 is the same way! WAY TO GO Vannetta!

Murder Tightly Knit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(I think it’s cut off a bit but we don’t mind do we…)

I admit I am more than a little impatient for this next book! And I have to wait until December… GRR.

 Oh well… Until then, Here is a bit more about Murder Simply Brewed from Zondervan:

When the coffee shop manager is murdered in Middlebury’s Amish Artisan Village, two women from different walks of life must join together to solve the mystery. Spring has arrived in Middlebury, Indiana, and Amber Wright is optimistic about the growing profit from her collection of Amish shops—until she receives a call that Ethan Gray is dead. Hurrying over to A Simple Blend, she finds a solitary hole in the front window and the store manager lying next to the espresso machine, dead from an apparent heart attack. All the money is still in his register.

When Amber hires a young Amish woman, Hannah Troyer, to take over the shop’s duties, the two women become fast friends—as well as amateur sleuths. The police believe Gray’s death is a by-product of vandalism, but Amber and Hannah aren’t convinced.

Clues that don’t add up, a neighbor who is pulled into the midst of the investigation, a town with secrets to hide, and a blossoming romance—all will combine to push Amber and Hannah into unfamiliar roles in order to reveal answers to the mysteries around them

I won’t go into all the ways the words above are misleading because that would give too much away about the book but trust me when I say that the description is not exactly spot on with what’s actually happening in the story. But then again, when aren’t there inaccuracies in a back cover blurb?

It’s a little bit tricky of them. Reviewers who mention it will tell you it’s not entirely accurate and some of them might give away the things that are not quite right but it makes you want to read the book that much more – so you can discover the differences for yourself.

5star

Click HERE for the book page on Zondervan.com

HERE for ChristianBooks.com HERE for GoodReads

And HERE for Vannetta Chapman’s website!

HAPPY READING!

And

GOD BLESS!

 

“The Kissing Bridge” by Tricia Goyer | Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors book 3

The Kissing BridgeIt’s always fun to read a book that is part of a continuing story.

And I really hope we get 7 books out of this series!

Tricia Goyer certainly has a deep well of story lines. Each book of hers that I have read is clearly original. There is no feel of having read the same story in a slightly different form over and over again.

Tricia continues the story that began with The Memory Jar – beautifully in The Kissing Bridge. We see some familiar characters and we meet new ones.

And we get to enjoy the familiar surroundings colored through the views of different people and their experiences.

It’s wonderful!

In fact, I recently read another story that is at least loosely attached to this series and it was equally wonderful.

Tricia Goyer wrote a novella for An Amish Garden called Seeds of Love. It was about the Amish of West Kootenai, Montana as well.

The Kissing Bridge is the third book in this series and it is just as enjoyable a read as the first two.

If you enjoyed The Memory Jar and The Promise Box, you will enjoy The Kissing Bridge!

And I am certain that, if you are a fan of Tricia Goyer’s writing, you will love this book!

4 Stars

A bit more from Zondervan about The Kissing Bridge:

Caught between a stifling Amish community and an unnerving outside world, a devout young woman on the run is about to become the newest arrival to West Kootenai, Montana.

On the day of her sister’s death, Rebecca Troyer took her first step away from the Amish. Rebecca had always strayed a little outside the fold—a job at an Englisch bakery, long weekends with non-Amish friends—but nothing could have prepared her family for what she is about to do: Rebecca is abandoning the community to attend nursing school. She is headed to college, into “the world.” But she has to make it across the country first.

When she stops in West Kootenai, at the home of a lapsed Amish friend from her youth, Rebecca finds a lot more in Montana than she had bargained for—namely a handsome working man named Caleb Hooley. Caleb is at a crossroads of his own. A daredevil bachelor with high standards, he has decided he’ll never find an Amish woman who can quench his thirst for adventure. Needless to say, the pretty Amish girl who has fled her community in secret catches his attention immediately.

As hearts are opened and secrets are revealed, Rebecca and Caleb find they have much more in common than just their Amish background. But can this runaway find love with a risk-taker who has lost his faith in God? All it will take is one week in the wilderness to find out . . .

Click HERE for more about this book from Zondervan

HERE for ChristianBook.com HERE for GoodReads

And HERE for Tricia Goyer’s website.

GOD BLESS

and

HAPPY READING!

Disclaimer: I received the book free from the BookLook Blogger program
in exchange for an honest review.

Disclaimer: I have no control over the ads you may see below.
I am sorry if any of the content is inappropriate.

I won a copy of “The Captive Maiden”! Want to hear my thoughts on it?

The Captive Maiden 300WOW! What a surprise!

I never saw this coming. In fact, I almost didn’t read The Captive Maiden because I had downloaded a sample of it for Kindle…

The way Gisela’s stepmother treats her is just so harsh – from the very first page (and this is where you first see the excellence of Melanie Dickerson’s writing), I could never have expected just how exceptional the rest of the story would be.

But I am thrilled that I won a copy! Winning a copy compelled me to read it so that I could review it and support a fellow author.

And I am SO glad I did!

This is a wonderful story! Melanie Dickerson did a great job of molding a popular fairy tale into an inspirational story for teens that, I think, will appeal to adults as well.

It’s also an answer to a prayer since I am hesitant about letting my daughter read more traditional fairy tales – which focus so much on magic. Now I can collect the previous 3 books Melanie has written and any more that are yet to come.

Melanie Dickerson has taken out the magic and weaved God into every part of this story. So instead of confusing teens, Melanie Dickerson offers hope and truth.

What a blessing!

Read it.

 

5star

 

Here’s a further look at the story from Zondervan:

Happily Ever After …Or Happily Nevermore? Gisela’s childhood was filled with laughter and visits from nobles such as the duke and his young son. But since her father’s death, each day has been filled with nothing but servitude to her stepmother.

So when Gisela learns the duke’s son, Valten—the boy she has daydreamed about for years—is throwing a ball in hopes of finding a wife, she vows to find a way to attend, even if it’s only for a taste of a life she’ll never have. To her surprise, she catches Valten’s eye.

Though he is rough around the edges, Gisela finds Valten has completely captured her heart. But other forces are bent on keeping the two from falling further in love, putting Gisela in more danger than she ever imagined.

And you can click HERE to go to the book page on Zondervan

HERE for ChristianBook.com HERE for GoodReads

And HERE for Melanie Dickerson’s website.

Disclaimer: I won a free copy of this book from Grace Thorson | A Paradise of Colors. THANK YOU Grace! I was not required to review the book but I have to share thoughts on such a wonderful book!

Happily Ever After or… Not? “A March Bride” by Rachel Hauck

20140228-153818.jpgOK… truth – my initial review started this way:

“It’s HERE! It’s HERE! It’s HERE!

I’ve only just read “Once Upon A Prince” but it seems I’ve waited forever to read the next chapter in Nathaniel and Susanna’s romance!”

And THEN I read the book.

Yeah… this review is going to be different than my others.

I’m going to spill a bit – can’t help it. Because at some point while you’re reading… anyone who is remotely like me, is going to get mad.

And I mean MAD!

Mad as in – you’re going to be ready to skin Rachel Hauck. That’s pretty serious. And yes, I was there. And I was there hard-core.

At that point, only a mildly morbid curiosity kept me reading.

And then… you realize – WHOO! Rachel Hauck is a GREAT writer! She has me so mad, I’m ready to scream – over… a book. That’s GOOD writing!

And at that point, you couldn’t have pried the tablet out of my hand!

After all that, she did come through. You knew she would. You had to know, all along that she would find some way to make it all come out OK.

And then, just when you think it’s all OK, just when you’re ready to enjoy the rest of the book, she hits you with another whammy and you’re ready to scream again, you’re ready to stomp over to Europe and rip into somebody.

But she’s no dummy, that Rachel Hauck. She does all this on purpose. It’s kind of like God’s plan. Even the missteps and trials help you on your way to the destination God has in mind for you. I LOVE that Rachel has that in mind when she’s writing these stories.

In fact, God is central to her novels in a way unlike most others you will read. It’s AMAZING! God has truly gifted Rachel Hauck with such an amazing gift!

The only complaint I have about this book is that there wasn’t more of it!

Now I just keep hoping to hear a book 3 announced in her Royal Weddings series!

5starCan I give it 10 stars?

Here’s a bit more about the story from Zondervan:

Susanna has found her true prince, and their happily ever after is just around the corner. But when Nate asks her to give up something precious to her, Susanna can’t help but wonder if it’s a sign that their love is not meant to be.

Susanna Truitt (Once Upon A Prince) is three weeks from royalty. She’ll soon marry King Nathaniel II of Brighton Kingdom. But when the government insists she renounce her American citizenship before the wedding, coupled with the lack of involvement by family and friends, Susanna’s heart begins to doubt whether this marriage is God’s plan for her.

Nathaniel would do anything for his bride-to-be. But he knows his position requires that she give up a lot to be with him. Her life will never be her own—right down to her very identity.

When she travels home to St. Simon’s Island, Georgia, right before the wedding, Nathaniel fears she won’t return. Gathering his courage, he devises a plan to win his bride all over again, and together they seek out a kingdom to treasure above all.

A year’s worth of novellas from twelve inspirational romance authors. Happily ever after guaranteed.

For more about this and the other titles in this series, click HERE.

Click HERE for reviews from Christianbook.com. And click HERE for reviews from GoodReads.

Click HERE to visit Rachel Hauck’s website.

GOD BLESS

and

HAPPY READING!

Disclaimer: I received the book free from the BookLook Blogger program
in exchange for an honest review.

Disclaimer: I have no control over the ads you may see below.
I am sorry if any of the content is inappropriate.

“Princess Ever After” by Rachel Hauck | Royal Weddings series #2

"Princess Ever After" by Rachel Hauck First let me just say, I LOVE this cover! I’m not wildly in love with the cover for the first book in this series because it gives the impression that the woman we see is undressed but everyone has different ideas of what is or is not appropriate so I can understand if I stand alone in that area.

But THIS COVER IS PERFECT! It just screams Princess! to me. LOVE IT!

Second let me say that I have gotten into an Amish obsession lately so I decided to branch out a bit and read some other Christian fiction.

And I’m so glad I did! WOW!

Rachel Hauck is an AMAZING author!

I really don’t know if I am even a good enough writer to do this review justice. I have no idea how to tell you just how amazing this book is without sounding like a silly fan-girl.

One thing I will say about “Princess Ever After” is what I said to mum while I was reading – I am terribly excited to see so many Christian authors stepping out in faith. Too many others are making money on stories about supernatural happenings that are clearly impossible, it’s high time we show the world just how SUPERNATURAL our AWESOME GOD is!

Rachel Hauck blends these wondrous occurrences into her stories so well, you might not even catch them the first time through…unless you’re looking for them or you are exceptionally close to God yourself but they’re in there.

In “Once Upon A Prince”, we read all about Suzanna giving herself over to God – to do with as He choses. This is a bit more of a struggle for the characters in “Princess Ever After” but they do finally manage to “let go and let God” and the story is so much better for it!

The characters grab your heart right away and will not let go! And the story is so intense, you can’t stand to put the book down for even a minute. I read this book faster than any book other book I’ve read in over a year!

Now I find myself rushing through the rest of my TBR pile so I can go back and read the other books of Rachel Hauck’s that I haven’t yet! And impatiently awaiting the next book in this series too!

Definitely DON’T miss out on the Facebook party that Litfuse is throwing to celebrate the release of this book!

5star

While you wait, here’s a bit more about the story from GoodReads:

Regina Beswick never dreamed of faraway places. She’s happy with her life as a classic car mechanic and owner of a restoration shop.

But an unexpected visitor and the discovery of a fairytale, drawn by her great-grandma, causes Regina to wonder if she might be destined for something more.

Tanner Burkhardt, Minister of Culture for the Grand Duchy of Hessenberg, must convince the strong-willed Southerner, Miss Beswick, that she is his country’s long-lost princess. Failure could destroy his reputation and change his nation forever.

As Regina and Tanner face the challenges before them, neither are prepared for love to invade their hearts and change every thing they believe about themselves.

However, when a royal opponent nearly destroys Regina’s future, she must lean into God and trust He has sovereignly brought her to her true and final destiny.

Click HERE to visit the book’s page on Zondervan

Click HERE for more reviews from GoodReads and HERE for reviews from ChristianBook.com

Click HERE to visit Rachel Hauck’s website.

“A December Bride” by Denise Hunter | It still works for February – the month of LOVE!

20140224-081745.jpgOK mom. I have to take back what I said… I LOVE this book!

When I started reading the book, I was sure it would end up on my “not a favorite” shelf in GoodReads.

I could NOT have been more wrong.

It’s a FANTASTIC story. And now I find myself determined to go hunt down the rest of Denise Hunter’s Chapel Springs stories.

I seriously misjudged this novella and I’m so glad I gave it a proper chance. Otherwise, I might never have discovered how wonderful is truly is!

It is possible I’m not the only one who might jump to the wrong conclusion so I’m going to give you a couple of hints that I really don’t think will kill the story.

The synopsis might give you the wrong idea – especially if you’ve ever read Zebra or Harlequin romance novels. You might expect it to be one of those things where the two characters make a shady deal about getting married and then doing a “quicky” divorce later.

It’s NOT! Thank GOD!

Granted, the reasons for the “fake” engagement are not all that altruistic or even honest but they do not drag marriage through the mud like I was afraid they would. This is truly a good, decent, Christian story. And, while I hold that courtship is still the best way to head toward a marriage – it could be said that this is about what they have. They’re “engaged” before they even kiss and there’s a minimum of physical contact because the whole thing isn’t real anyway.

A terrific story, excellent writing, real characters and great world-building! And it’s easy to get right into the story – even if you haven’t read any of the others that Denise has written. I didn’t even realize this was part of a continuing series until I got to the end and saw “other books by Denise Hunter…” – which I now have to read…of course.

5star

If you haven’t already decided to read it, here’s a brief synopsis from GoodReads:

What started as a whim turned into an accidental – and very public – engagement. Can Layla and Seth keep up the facade in Chapel Springs this holiday season – for the sake of her career . . . and his heart?

Under normal circumstances, Seth Murphy, the best friend of Layla O’Reilly’s ex-fiance would be the last person she’d marry. But the news of their upcoming (and phony) nuptials convinces a big client that Layla may be high-society enough to work for his agency, a coup that would put her fledgling home-staging business on the map.

Seth has secretly loved Layla for years, even when she was dating his best friend. Maybe she’ll never forgive him for the way he hurt her back then, but he has to try. And Layla is willing to keep up their engagement farce until she’s landed her client. For Layla, it’s the chance to save her career. But for Seth, it’s his last chance to win her heart.

For more people convincing you this is a GREAT book, click HERE to read more reviews on GoodReads.

There are even more people who have reviewed and LOVED it on Amazon HERE and you can snag the e-book while you’re there too! And if you like ChristianBook.com better, HERE is their link.

And don’t forget to visit Denise Hunter’s website HERE!

GOD BLESS

and

HAPPY READING!

Disclaimer: I received the book free from the BookLook Blogger program
in exchange for an honest review.

Disclaimer: I have no control over the ads you may see below.
I am sorry if any of the content is inappropriate.

“Captives” by Jill Williamson

CAPTIVES
Well I can officially chalk another one up to my 10 year-old son… And it really shouldn’t surprise me.

When I pulled the book out of the package, he said he didn’t think it was a good book for us.

And he was/is 100% right.

Not that it’s a bad book. It’s just not our taste – not at all.

The writing isn’t bad… a bit disjointed and lacking a certain flow that writers typically achieve as they become more seasoned but – all in all, not bad.

Personally, I don’t feel this should be marketed to teens. That’s most likely my biggest problem with the book. Yes, Mason is 17 but he is not 17 like a teen today would be. Granted most teens could do with a bit of growing up but I suppose my point is that we don’t live in a world anything like the one here so it’s not a very good example for most teens today.

Also, a chunk of the secondary characters are about as far from 17 as you can get.

I think my other problem is that this fits squarely into the dystopian fad that is so popular today and, while I am glad to see Christian writers getting into the popular markets, I have moved so far past that particular genre myself, I just can’t seem to get into it like I once could.

So please, don’t take my opinion as your only source of info.

3 Stars

Here is a little blurb about the book from Zondervan:

One choice could destroy them all.

When eighteen-year-old Levi returned from Denver City with his latest scavenged finds, he never imagined he’d find his village of Glenrock decimated, loved ones killed, and many—including his fiancée, Jem—taken captive. Now alone, Levi is determined to rescue what remains of his people, even if it means entering the Safe Lands, a walled city that seems anything but safe.

Omar knows he betrayed his brother by sending him away, but helping the enforcers was necessary. Living off the land and clinging to an outdated religion holds his village back. The Safe Lands has protected people since the plague decimated the world generations ago … and its rulers have promised power and wealth beyond Omar’s dreams.

Meanwhile, their brother Mason has been granted a position inside the Safe Lands, and may be able to use his captivity to save not only the people of his village, but also possibly find a cure for the virus that threatens everyone within the Safe Lands’ walls.

Will Mason uncover the truth hidden behind the Safe Lands’ façade before it’s too late?

Click HERE for more from Zondervan about this title.

Click HERE for reviews from Christianbook.com and HERE for reviews from GoodReads

Click HERE for the author’s website.

Decide for yourself if it’s a story for you.

GOD BLESS

and

HAPPY READING!

Disclaimer: I received the book free from the BookLook Blogger program
in exchange for an honest review.

Disclaimer: I have no control over the ads you may see below.
I am sorry if any of the content is inappropriate.