Thursday, February 26, 2015

Cover Reveal - Belong to Me by Laura Howard


Belong to Me by Laura Howard 
(A Moore Crossing Novel) 
Publication date: March 31st 2015
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance


Kate and Noah thought they had the kind of love that could last through anything. Until their world crumbles out from beneath them.
After months of separation, the tragic death of Jack, Kate’s twin and Noah’s best friend, throws them back together. As they try to heal from the horrific loss, will they be able to overcome old wounds or are they destined to live separately forever?


Laura Howard lives in New Hampshire with her husband and four children. Her obsession with books began at the age of 6 when she got her first library card. Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley High and other girly novels were routinely devoured in single sittings. Books took a backseat to diapers when she had her first child. It wasn’t until the release of a little novel called Twilight, 8 years later, that she rediscovered her love of fiction. Soon after, her own characters began to make themselves known. The Forgotten Ones is her first published novel.

Author links: 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Review - The Shadow Catcher's Daughter by Carla Olson Gade

Eliana has secrets. Daring Eliana Van Horn aims to make her mark by joining her father as his photography assistant--disguised as a young man--on a survey expedition to the remote Four Corners.

Living in the shadows of his native heritage, trail guide Yiska Wilcox is thrown off course when the shadow catcher's daughter opens up the uncharted territory of his heart. As they travel through dangerous terrain in the mountains and deserts of Colorado and New Mexico, Eliana and Yiska must learn to overcome the barriers of culture, faith, and ideals to discover common ground.

Though they are worlds apart, will they stake a chance on love?

I got The Shadow Catcher's Daughter by Carla Olson Gade, book 1 in the Love in Four Corners series, when it first debuted... but lost it for a while after I'd started reading it. For a long while. I actually found it just a couple of months ago searching through my mom's house in a pile of books she'd taken off my old shelves and from various corner's of the house. I'm really glad it found its way back to me.

Eliana is the daughter of a photographer. She's accompanying him on a professional trip but she's disguised as a boy, both to keep herself safe and to try and avoid issues with the team. Before leaving on the expedition she meets Yiska. A "halfbreed" who's both a trail guide and a wonderfully poetic writer. They both become enamored with each other immediately.

Along the journey Yiska proves an incredible asset to the team, saving Eli several times and protecting the team from attack on more than one occasion. The trip is not without tragedy though... but along with the tragedy comes hope.

I liked this story. It was WAY too short if you ask me. I wish it had gone on for at least another 100 pages. Yiska was brave and selfless. And as I said before, an incredibly poetic writer. He was a man with dreams that, it seemed, he wasn't sure he'd be able to realize. Until he came across Eliana and her father. Two people who treated him like a human being and not like an animal like it seemed so many others believed him to be.

Eliana was a very determined young woman. She knew what she wanted and she wasn't going to let the fact that she was female stop her from achieving the goals she'd set for herself. She was also extremely kind and so full of faith. A faith that rubbed off on her trail guide eventually.

Her father was wonderful. He was protective but not overbearing. He was stern but he was kind and he was generous. Not quick to jump to conclusions or to accuse. He let Eliana be who she wanted to be and accepted Yiska almost as a part of the family, trusting him to take care of his daughter should anything happen to him on their journey. Or even after.

There wasn't necessarily one defining moment in this story. A peak, so to speak. It was full of mountains and valleys and action scattered all throughout. I love period pieces, especially set in or around this time. The descriptions of their travels and Yiska's stories and journal writings were absolutely lovely. Due to the characters in this story it was not without the issues of prejudice and finding faith. And as I said before, it was not without its tragedy.

But there was a joy as well. Every cloud has a silver lining right? Yiska was Eliana's every bit as much as she was his. And I thought that ended the book fantastically. I just wish it had been longer. I really do. That is the ONLY bone I have to pick with this story.

If you like period pieces as much as I do then this is a wonderful story to read. If you like Christian fiction (mixed in with some actual history!) then this is the book for you. If you're interested in reading at ALL then I suggest picking it up. It's an easy book to breeze through and it's such a wonderful story. Carla is a fantastic writer (I've also reviewed her novel A Pattern for Romance HERE) and a fantastic person as well and I'm glad that I was able to finally get this story reviewed!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Review - A Place Beyond by Laura Howard

The time has come. Allison's quest to save her mother from Aoife's wicked enchantment will test everything she believes in. Who is trustworthy in the land of the Fair Folk, the Tuatha de Danaan? It's up to Allison, along with her ragtag host of allies, to unravel the truth.

Journey along and discover the power of love and duty as Allison faces the most difficult trial of her life.

Ah. The conclusion to the Danaan Trilogy, A Place Beyond by Laura Howard was a great period to a long and suspenseful sentence.

Allison finds out that Liam, her father, is not dead as she'd thought, but imprisoned by Aoife... ill and getting worse every moment. His condition, unfortunately, is in direct connection with her mother's who, like Liam, is not feeling well.

Aoife puts a curse on Allison in an effort to derail Niamh and Aodhan's relationship and to ensure the rule of Tir na n'Og once her own parents have moved on. Meanwhile, things in the human world are falling apart for Allison. All except for Ethan. She has to make the decision to lie and manipulate and trick her friends, or lose her mom and her dad for good.

I can't say too much about this story, being that it is still relatively new and I don't want to spoil it for anyone. What I will say is that it is super fast paced and fantastic. I love the relationship between Allison and Ethan, how he knows he's not really enough to protect her against her paranormal foes, but he would die trying anyway. I hate that she has to keep lying to her friends and family but completely understand her need for doing so. Even in as difficult a time as they face in this story.

Aoife is as hateful as ever in this installment and proves that she will literally stop at nothing to win the right to rule... even if it means dozens more die in the process. She seems to care for nothing and no one and plows through the lives of those she deems lesser than her.

One of my favorite characters is Allison's grandmother. Despite the hardship she's been through, and having to deal with Allison's constant disappearing, she is still super supportive of Allison. She's sweet and kind and caring and even with everything going on around her she still wants to try and help Allison have as normal a life as possible. And she accepts all of Allison's excuses without getting angry at her or demanding too much of an explanation.

Well, the roller coaster ride is over. It's time to get out of the car. A Place Beyond was the final loop in the track and was well worth the wait to get to it. Once I finally got a chance to sit down and really get in to the story it moved along quite quickly, not really giving you a chance to relax and take a breath before moving on in to another exciting bit of the book.

It's kind of sad that it's over. I enjoyed the series immensely. Irish lore has always intrigued me and with this story it was like it had come to life in front of my eyes. I enjoyed watching Allison mature and grow. I enjoyed watching her and Ethan grow together. It was nice to see her "friends" become real and true companions. And... well, I can't say much more.

If you haven't read the series, I highly recommend it. Start with The Forgotten Ones and just jump right in. It's a magical world and the descriptions are amazing along with the characters. It's a fun read and an exciting one as well. You won't regret it!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Review - Huckleberry Spring by Jennifer Beckstrand

Nothing gives Anna and Felty Helmuth greater satisfaction than seeing their grandchildren happily married--except for planning their next matchmaking venture. And as springtime comes to Huckleberry Hill, Wisconsin, the air is filled with promise. . .

Ever since the Helmuths' grandson, Ben, abruptly broke his engagement and moved to Florida, Emma Nelson has kept busy tending her vegetable garden and raising award-winning pumpkins. She can put her heartache aside to help Ben's Mammi with her own pumpkin patch. At least until Ben shows up to lend support to his ailing Dawdi. . .

Gardening side by side with pretty, nurturing Emma is a sweet kind of torture for Ben. She could have her pick of suitors who can offer what he can't, and he cares too much to burden her with his secret. Leaving once more is the only option. Yet Emma's courage is daring him to accept the grace that flourishes here, and the love that has been calling him back to Huckleberry Hill. . .

I've been reading a lot of Amish fiction lately. And unfortunately due to an email mishap I was not able to get this review up when I normally would... BUT we're here now. And Huckleberry Spring (book 4 in the Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill) by Jennifer Beckstrand was definitely worth the scramble and stuffing my ears in headphones with movie soundtracks blasting and blocking out any other noise so that I could read straight through until I'd finished it.

Emma Nelson and Ben Helmuth were engaged and in love. The ideal couple. The type that made everyone else wish they could be them. Incredibly in love. And then it was over. Engagement was broken and Ben was gone. To Florida of all places. Leaving Emma in Wisconsin to mourn and try and put on a brave face so no one scolded her for crying or tried to make her feel better either.

Anna Helmuth was not easily dissuaded and was bound and determined to put the two lovebirds back together again. She convinced her husband, Felty, that he needed some fixing. Needed to get Lasik surgery for his eyeballs, his deviated septum repaired, plantar warts removed.... all in the name of love. Because if Felty was laid up recovering then Ben would HAVE to come back to help out with the chores until he was up on his feet again. And, it just so happens that at that same time Anna decided she needed a giant pumpkin and that Emma was the only person in the world that could help her to grow one.

Ben and Emma were thrown together, both wanting to help his grandparents, but neither being able to  handle being around each other. Ben wanted Emma to move on. And Emma thought she'd forced Ben away. That she'd disgusted him so much that he had no choice but to leave. Both of them couldn't have been more wrong. Even if it took them forever to figure it out.

I loved this book. I loved Anna and Felty's relationship. Felty didn't think Anna should meddle in Ben and Emma's lack-of-relationship but loved her enough to do whatever she wanted him to do to keep their grandson in Wisconsin. Even if it meant a root canal and a new false tooth.

Emma is the MOST accident prone person I have ever "met" in my life. And I thought I was clumsy. She seems to attract problems like a super magnet. It kind of made her endearing though. And it only seemed to REALLY embarrass her when it came to what she thought Ben thought of her, and when people made fun of her for it. Which they rarely did on account of how much everyone loved her. She was kind and helpful and never sought out sympathy for all the trouble she found herself in. Even when the man she loved more than anything left and her best friend deserted her. She was so much stronger than she gave herself credit for.

Mahlon was her twin, and a wonderful big brother. Even if he was a little cranky. He was Emma's shoulder when she needed one and was hellbent on defending her even when she didn't want him to. The relationship between the two of them was wonderful and comical. And it made me happy when Emma's friend Lizzy came back and Mahlon started paying her more attention. Even if in the beginning it was mostly teasing.

Oh my gosh this book made my heart ache. Watching Ben and Emma from the outside, knowing the way they felt about each other but Ben being too stubborn it seemed to do anything about it. And Emma thinking it was all her fault that he'd left to begin with. I just wanted to take them both and shake some sense in to them. Make them see how ridiculous the whole thing was. I could completely imagine the pain Emma was feeling every time she thought of Ben. The soul sucking emptiness that she must have felt when he left.

Three quarters of the way through the book I got a kick in the gut though. One I wouldn't have been able to see coming from a mile away. And one that kind of hits a little close to home. Obviously I won't give it away... you'll have to read it to find out what it is.

That being said, this book is definitely highly recommended. The characters are wonderful (although Emma's mother and Adam were not high on my list of likes). I was rooting for Emma the entire time and just when I thought I knew what was going to happen the rug got pulled out from under me. There's enough going on to keep you interested and the plot twist will most certainly surprise you. And I don't do this often with books... I may have teared up a bit toward the end. But in a good way. Do yourself a favor and read Huckleberry Spring!

Author Bio:

I grew up with a steady diet of William Shakespeare and Jane Austen. After all that literary immersion, I naturally decided to get a degree in mathematics, which came in handy when one of my six children needed help with homework. After my fourth daughter was born, I started writing. By juggling diaper changes, soccer games, music lessons, laundry, and two more children, I finished my first manuscript—a Western—in just under fourteen years.

I have always been fascinated by the Amish way of life and now write Inspirational Amish Romance. I am drawn to the strong faith of the Plain people and admire the importance they put on enduring family ties. I have visited and studied Amish communities in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin where I met with a bishop and a minister as well as several Amish mamms, dats, and children. It has always impressed me at what salt-of-the-earth people they are. My interactions with these kind people have been some of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I have a dear Amish friend with whom I correspond in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. She helps me keep my facts straight and gives me inspiration for my stories.

My goal is to write uplifting, inspiring stories with happy endings and hopeful messages. If my books make readers want to give themselves a big hug or jump up and down for joy, I’ve done my job. I am a member of Romance Writers of America and American Christian Fiction Writers and am represented by Mary Sue Seymour of The Seymour Agency.

There are three Amish romances in the Forever After in Apple Lake Series (Summerside/Guideposts). Kate’s Song, Rebecca’s Rose, and Miriam’s Quilt are all now available.

I have six Amish Roamish buggymances in the works with Kensington Books. The first and second books, Huckleberry Hill and Huckleberry Summer, are now available in stores and online. The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill is set in northern Wisconsin Amish country.

The series, The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill, is about an elderly Amish couple who try to find suitable mates for their grandchildren. What could be more fun than throwing two young people together to see if sparks ignite? No one would ever suspect two octogenarian Amish folks of mischief.

Romantic Times gave Huckleberry Hill 4 1/2 stars and chose Huckleberry Summer as a TOP PICK.

I have four daughters, two sons, three sons-in-law, and two adorable grandsons. I live in the foothills of the Wasatch Front with my husband and one son still left at home.

Author Links:


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