Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Calling by Suzanne Woods Fisher, ©2014

The Inn at Eagle Hill, Book 2
   "I take all these scraps and leftovers and odds and ends, and turn them into something beautiful. Something useful and purposeful. It just seems like that's what God is always doing, all around us. Taking our jumble of mess and transforming it into something wondrous."
   --Naomi and quilting, The Calling, 189.
Sequestered at the Inn at Eagle Hill, a lone guest continues to experience the freedom and love shown from her innkeepers. Reverend Geena Spencer had been given a gift certificate for the inn and because of the heat, other reservations canceled giving her a continued stay. Perhaps this is where she was meant to be all along, to refresh and to refocus on her calling to serve youth. Separated from her church, fired actually for lack of sermonizing skills, Geena longs to find her place.

I wonder if the family at Eagle Hill know the legacy they are leaving for others? Sisters, Mim and Bethany, visit at the Sisters' House. Bethany tries to help the elderly sisters clear their comfortable home to invite others in ~ but... they keep snatching things out of the keep, throw, give away boxes! Mim likes to come and visit with Ella, "the oldest of the five ancient sisters who lived together in an even more ancient house." Mim is the silent "Mrs. Miracle" at the local newspaper, the Stoney Ridge Times, as Bethany, 20, collects the filled manila envelope for Mim to answer inquiries. Mim is fourteen years old and keeps her ears open to wise comments around her that will be just the thing to tell in her advice column she mails in to the paper. Brother, Tobe, has answers of his own to give to solve the dilemma of their failed securities family business, and returning invested money to their contributors.

Seeing needs beyond their own homes, Stoney Ridge residents care for others. Despite struggles, help comes without thought of recognition as they steadily work together giving for the betterment of others. This is a true revealing of hearts.

The Calling may be read as a stand-alone, continuing the story from Book 1, The Letters, which tells about the beginning of the inn and introduces you to the care of this family.

Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of The Letters, the Lancaster County Secrets series, and the Stoney Ridge Seasons series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace. She is also the coauthor of an Amish children's series, The Adventures of Lily Lapp. Suzanne is a Christy Award finalist, a Carol Award winner, and a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazines. She lives in California. For more information, please visit and connect with her on Twitter @suzannewfisher.

The Revealing
Look for Naomi's story this summer in the conclusion of the Inn at Eagle Hill series ~ The Revealing.

***Thank you to Litfuse Publicity Group for inviting me to review The Calling and to Revell for sending me a print copy. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***

THE CALLING | Six Chances to win an iPad, Kindle, or Nook from Suzanne Woods Fisher!

Bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher is celebrating her newest book, The Calling, by giving away TWO iPads, TWO Kindles, and TWO Nooks!
Two grand prize winners will receive:
  • An iPad
  • The Letters and The Calling by Suzanne Woods Fisher
Four second place winners will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX or a Nook HD—winner's choice!
  • The Letters and The Calling by Suzanne Woods Fisher
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 8th. All winners will be announced February 10th at Suzanne's blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to visit Suzanne's blog on the 10th to see if you won one of the great prizes! (Or better yet, subscribe to her blog and have the winner announcement delivered to your inbox!)

The Quilted Heart ~*Three Novellas in One*~ by Mona Hodgson, ©2014

Illustration by Howard Sanden. Looks like the women at Elsa Brantenberg's Quilting Circle in Ripples Along the Shore, a Quilted Heart novella.

~*Dandelions on the Wind*~ ~*Bending Toward the Sun*~ ~*Ripples Along the Shore*~

Gatherings with valuable wisdom shared together amid prayer, fill needs deep within one's heart.

Widow Elsa Brantenberg has been hosting the Saint Charles Quilting Circle at her farmhouse for many Thursdays with friends bringing new friends. Changes are coming. Some will be staying while others are preparing to travel west by wagon train. The Civil War has altered what they have known in their Missouri lives. Have you begun quilting? Such a nice time to gather hearts sharing generational wisdom, prayer, and encouragement.

God knows what we don't know. He sees the purpose in what happens.
   --Maren, The Quilted Heart, 250.

Saint Charles, Missouri, is located on the Missouri River which branches over to the Mississippi River by St. Louis. It is the fall of 1865, as the novellas begin. Every time we go this way by car to our daughter's, I gaze at the arch. Memories of our girls being younger and going to the top to look out on a foggy day. Gateway to the West. Have you stopped to walk along the shoreline?
The Oregon Trail migration, more correctly known as the Oregon-California Trail migration, is one of the most important events in American History. The Oregon-California trail was a 2,170 mile route from Missouri to Oregon and California that enabled the migrating of the early pioneers to the western United States.
Leaving in six months, Garrett Cowlishaw [Ripples Along the Shore] will be gathering his third wagon train company on the Oregon Trail; twice serving as a scout and this time as captain. He interviews those wishing to join the caravan, assessing whether they can withstand the four to five months on the trail. A supply list is passed out among those signing to go West as part of the Boone's Lick Wagon Train. Boone's Lick Road is where they will be beginning from in Saint Charles. If you were going on a wagon train, would you pack light, or stop along the way to look through the treasures left behind by others to lighten their load? Somehow we think of these places as being in the past, but Boone's Lick Road still exists in St. Charles, Missouri.
ST. CHARLES COUNTY • In the early 1800s traders and settlers used the Boone's Lick Road, also known as a trail or a trace, to get from St. Charles to central Missouri.
   Now some historians hope that the route gets yet another designation — a national historic trail.
   Advocates must persuade Congress to order a National Park Service feasibility study, then to pass a bill actually making the national trail designation. --St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 22, 2011
Founded in 1827, Lindenwood remained a female college until 1969 when it became co-educational ~ a four-year liberal arts university in St. Charles.
Roemer Hall
A freighter/passenger steamboat brings these supplies to the riverfront where a wagon awaits to load and deliver them to Heinrich's Dry Goods and Grocery, housed in the bottom floor of the Old Capitol Building. [Bending Toward the Sun] Quaid McFarland makes deliveries with his father and brother from McFarland Freight House. Emilie Heinrich is attending Lindenwood Female College near their store. Quaid, with hopes of seeing Emilie, would like to switch off with his father to take the dry goods and college freight deliveries. Unfortunately, earlier in the Spring of the same year there had been a steamboat disaster.
SS Sultana The explosion of this steamboat paddlewheeler on the Mississippi River is considered the worst maritime disaster in U.S. history. On April 27, 1865, the ship left New Orleans bound for St. Louis, with stops along the way to pick up passengers and make repairs. Many of the passengers were Union soldiers who had been released from Confederate prisons and were trying to make their way home, resulting in a severely overcrowded ship. Three boilers exploded off Memphis, Tennessee, at about 2 a.m., turning the wooden ship into an inferno. Many died from burns, drowning or hypothermia. The death toll is estimated at up to 1,800.
Rutherford "Woolly" Wainwright has returned after serving in the American Civil War. He had left four years earlier after the childbirth death of his wife leaving his newborn daughter, Gabi, with his mother-in-law, Mrs. Brantenberg. Maren Jensen [Dandelions on the Wind] is a mail-order bride suddenly without a groom when her eyesight begins to fail. She has been staying with Mrs. Brantenberg, helping on the farm and with Gabi's care. Upon Gabi's PaPa's return, Maren moves to town and helps out at the dry goods while Emilie is at school. Jack Rafferty comes home from war, bitter with an amputated leg, miserable and a misery to his wife, Jewell, their children, and sister-in-law, Caroline Milburn, awaiting her husband's return from the war. They each have adjustments to make. Attitude is supreme.

Apple picking party ~ harvesting is a time of coming together as the friends go to the Brantenberg farm to help harvest the apples and enjoy a lunch together. This is a fun time for those joining activities at  today's orchards. There is nothing like the taste of fresh picked apples.

They gather at church services. Another time of getting together, unexpectedly brings Caroline and Garrett near each other again. Garrett is staying at the Brantenberg farm with his friend. With Caroline visiting the Presbyterian Church for the first time, she is surprised to find him entering the same pew with them.

These three novellas were offered earlier as eBooks. I was glad to receive a print copy to review. I had not read them. I liked how one story wove into the next, and it was seamless to read them. I was eager to find out what happened next, coming acquainted further with the characters. I have read and reviewed Prairie Song [], enjoying the first part of their journey West. I am looking forward to the next book in the Hearts Seeking Home series.

***Thank you to Mona Hodgson for the opportunity to read and review The Quilted Heart. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***

Stick around for a surprise! Mona Hodgson is offering three signed copies of The Quilted Heart to three winners ~ holds the key to your entry.

Lane Hill House is the final blog on the tour with a feature review connecting The Quilted Heart to real-life happenings. There are eleven other blogs on the tour, listed below.

Blog Tour for The Quilted Heart & Book Giveaway

Quilted Heart Blog Tour banner

Release date ~ Tuesday, January 21st!

A Blog Tour for The Quilted Heart Omnibus is part of the fun. Join Mona and several bloggers for stories behind the stories, character interviews, and opportunities for you to win a signed copy of The Quilted Heart.

Visit the blogs on the Blog Tour, commenting on each blog ~ and then comment on Mona Hodgson Author Page on Facebook letting her know which blog posts you commented on, for a chance to win a signed copy of The Quilted Heart omnibus–all three novellas in one volume!

~*Monday, January 13 - Juanita Nobles Blog (Character Interview & Blog Tour Drawing),

~*Tuesday, January 14 – Diana Montgomery Blog (Author Interview & Blog Tour Drawing),

~*Thursday, January 16 - Linda Finn Blog (The Quilted Heart feature & Blog Tour Drawing),

~*Monday, January 20 - Martha Rogers Blog (Character Interview & Book Giveaway),
~*AND Margaret Daley Blog (Character Interview & Book Giveaway),

~*Tuesday, January 21 – Jasmine Augustine Blog (Character Interview & Blog Tour Drawing),
~*AND Martha Rogers Blog (Character Interview & Book Giveaway), 

~*Wednesday, January 22 – Britney Adams Blog (Author Interview & Blog Tour Drawing),
~*AND Stitches Thru Time Blog (Book-Related Guest Post and Book Giveaway),

~*Thursday, January 23 – Trish Perry Blog (Author Interview & Book Giveaway),

~*Friday, January 24 - Britney Adams Blog (Character Interview & Blog Tour Drawing),

~*Tuesday, January 28 – Kathleen Belongia Blog (The Quilted Heart Feature & Blog Tour Drawing),

Blog Tour Drawing – How to Enter!

Leave a comment here, then comment on Mona Hodgson Author Page before Friday, January 31st to enter the BLOG TOUR DRAWING for one of three signed copies of The Quilted Heart. Tell Mona which blog(s) you visited and commented on!

You can enter once for each Participating Blog (noted above) you visit and comment on.
Join Prairie Song on the first part of their journey West

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Disappearing Key ~ Debut Novella by Wendy Paine Miller, ©2013

“All of these lines across my face
Tell you the story of who I am
So many stories of where I’ve been
And how I got to where I am
But these stories don’t mean anything
When you’ve got no one to tell them to
It’s true. . . ”
--Brandi Carlile, musician ~ "The Story"

Part One: Gabrielle Bivane: My husband, Roy, and I have longed for a child and have had the sadness of two pregnancies ending without the warmth of a child, living, breathing. This birth is different. It must be. We have planned. Our daughter, Oriana, is the joy of our life. Whatever it takes, we will keep Oriana safe, secure, and protect her very life.
Part Two: Oriana Rose Bivane: There is more in this music box than the opening strains of Edelweiss. The key. The nightly opening of the box kept in the back of my parents' closet. I know I am different from other girls. I am not allowed sleepovers nor to be away from home at night. I question, "Why?"

My parents are in the medical science field, but I have never been to a doctor appointment. I am cared for at home. But at what expense to my life? I see things in color. Lively color.

"How someone with synesthesia might perceive (not "see") certain letters and numbers. Synesthetes see characters just as others do (in whichever color it's actually displayed), yet simultaneously perceive colors as associated to each one.

"The automaticity of synesthetic experience. A synesthete might perceive the left panel like the panel on the right."

I have difficulty talking with my parents about my wondering. I do talk to our gardener, Viola, as we work side-by-side. She hears my heart song.

Secrets. There are secrets at our house. I am now fourteen. I want to know the answers, whispers in the dark.
Part Three: Viola Nephesh: I have come to be part of this family; Gabby, Roy, and their daughter, Oriana. I am with Oriana when she isn't in school until her parents are home from the hospital. They both are in genetics and have busy schedules. Researchers, they also have a supplied medical facility in the basement of their house. Experiments with refrigerated chemicals with solution formulas written on scraps of paper.
My favorite character is Emile Roberts. She comes in and out of the story and I would like to know more about her. She appears to care about this family beyond a curiosity. Her point-of-view would be interesting. So, as you can see, these people came alive for me. Kudos to the author. One drawback was the smaller print size. Don't let the width of the book fool you. The content is packed full. The cover is very well done depicting the story.
author Wendy Paine Miller
  ***Thank you to author Wendy Paine Miller for sending me a copy of her debut novella. Enjoying her blog, ~ thoughts that move ~, this novella will have you wondering what will happen next and keep you reading to find out. With medical ethics in question, there is no certainty in how it will end. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Emma of Aurora: The Complete Change & Cherish Trilogy by Jane Kirkpatrick, ©2013

I first noticed when opening the book, how the pages lay flat on the table without having to hold them down. The new binding for this omnibus edition allows the spine to bend and will keep the pages together without separating. Set any three novels together, and you are going to have a two-inch book. Since I like detail, I liked the cast of characters pages telling who everyone was; the maps with the route they took in the mid-1800s from Bethel, Missouri, to Willapa Bay area of Washington Territory, parting to Aurora Mills in Oregon Territory; and especially the depth of the author's research. Emma Giesy was a strong pioneer woman.

I like historical fiction because of the facts and woven in connector to what is unknown. Based on a true story, issues of today aren't much different; nor are they new. Relationships, compromise, striking out on your own and finding you indeed do need others and God. Emma Giesy is very outspoken, willful, wanting to be different, and not cast in the same dye as the others in her community; at least, not spoken out loud. Emma is at odds with the leader of their religious community, Dr. Wilhelm Keil. She finally is allowed to journey West with her husband and other scouts, to secure a new community settlement far from the encroaching influence near Bethel from those around them. A visible drawback was the difficulty for such a small group to build homes for so many in the colony to follow. A contributor to dissension within, Emma paves her own way, leaving behind turbulence, so she thinks. When the first part of the Bethany group joins them, the leader determines it is not sufficient for their needs, and moves them yet again. Emma struggles to stay within these confines and sets out again, to separate herself and her family from the strict adherence.

How much becomes again tradition? "This is how we have always done it." Following man, or God? Anew with Biblical direction, not man's knowledge alone, frees limiting constraints. Emma had the right idea but stubbornly adhered to her own way, rather than considering the caring of others. When her attitude changed, she found not all were against her, but wanting to be a part. Shaping from teenager, marriage, children, and loss, to her middle age, Emma reflected truth in a clearer way by following God. In this way, her viewpoint changed in helping others beyond self-imposed needs. By working together they were able to form community that coexisted, rather than separating values and tenets of faith.

As this is a real story of a real life, reflecting struggles and change, it can't be glamorized or changed for the outcome. Her life was what it was. I like the writings of Jane Kirkpatrick because she looks into the people's hearts. She brings forth women I would never have heard of in history class in school. Determination and goal-oriented, going her way; for the first time, Emma does finally figure it out. She does need others to walk alongside and the Lord to guide her.

I especially liked the journaling as Emma viewed her thoughts. It brought you in closer to her inner reflections and feelings, contributing in turn to her decision-making. Each chapter has a heading of the content. I also liked Louisa's (Dr. Wilhelm Keil's wife) views and humor as she placed her thoughts in her diary. Forgiveness and moving forward to repair a breech are necessary to bring continuity. These three novels are well-written following their days.
Emma Wagner Giesy, who lived in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and our own contemporary longings―to be known, to be loved, to find meaning despite life's trials. Through exploration of our longings, we are freed to live full, community-integrated lives and to discover how fortunate we are to have gifts enough to give away.
   --author Jane Kirkpatrick, 747.
Describe the photo or the page it links to
author Jane Kirkpatrick
Emma Wagner Giesy was the only woman sent west from Missouri with nine male scouts to find a new home for their 1850s German-American religious community. What they eventually establish is the only successful utopian colony to survive for more than twenty years west of the Mississippi. A Clearing in the Wild (Book I ) was a finalist for the WILLA Literary Award for Historical Fiction; A Tendering in the Storm won the WILLA Literary Award. A companion book, Aurora: An American Experience in Quilt, Community and Craft, provides a history told through quilts and crafts of the actual colony in Oregon.
EmmaNow available: The omnibus edition: Emma of Aurora.
Aurora Colony (1856-1883), a National Historic Site
The Giesy House, later the Kraus House, is now part of the Old Aurora Colony Museum.

Notice the two front doors. Here is the current day photo of the museum with the house on the left.

***Thank you to WaterBrook Multnomah blogging for Books for sending me a copy of Emma of Aurora. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***

The Change and Cherish trilogy ~ A Clearing in the Wild, A Tendering in the Storm, A Mending at the Edge ~ based on the true story of Emma Wagner Giesy, now available in one volume. See more at:

   Emma <i>Wagner</i> Giesy
Emma Wagner Giesy
Birth: Mar. 26, 1833
Pennsylvania, USA
Death: May 17, 1916
Aurora Marion County Oregon, USA

Emma Wagner Giesy was the only woman along with nine male scouts who selected Willapa Bay in Washington Territory, in 1853, as the new "Second Eden" in the West, for Dr. Wilhelm Keil's Christian Communal Society. After Keil rejected Willapa in 1855, as too wet and remote, he selected Aurora Mills in the Willamette Valley.

Emma continued to make a life for her husband, Christian, and their children at Willapa, on their own donated land claim. When Christian Geisy drowned in 1857, Emma was left alone with their three children. In 1860, she married her cousin-in-law, Jacob Geisy. After the birth of her fourth child, she claimed that Jacob abused her and (she) brought her children to Aurora.

Emma Giesy was one of Oregon's strong pioneer women, ahead of her time in independence and productivity. She owned property, had a business as a dressmaker and made several exquisite quilts, one of which will be displayed in the winter exhibition at the Willamette Heritage Center.

In 1892, 30 years after leaving Jacob Giesy, she finally filed for divorce. She died in 1916 and is buried in the Aurora Community Cemetery.

Statesman Journal - Sunday, January 15, 2012.

Emma was listed in the 1860 census for Pacific County, in the Territory of Washington. She was 24 at the time and listed as head of household, with children, Andrew 6, Catherina 4 and Christian, Jr. 2, all born in Washington Territory. Her real estate value is listed as 1200 and personal at 600.

Among those listed on the same page of the census and the previous page were eight other Giesy adult males and some with their families. The oldest was Andrew Giesy, age 69, born in Switzerland, the others, possibly his sons or other relations, Rudolph 40 PA, John 39 PA, Henry 38 PA, Sabastian 37, Swit, Jacob 26 Swit, Frederick 25 PA, Martin 23 PA and Nicholas 21 PA.

The Jacob Giesy, listed above is most likely the cousin who later married Emma and was the father of Emma's daughter, Ida.

There were also some Beck's and Stauffer's listed on these pages, some of whom are now buried in the Aurora Community Cemetery.

Burial: Aurora Community Cemetery
Aurora Marion County Oregon, USA

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Dancing Master by Julie Klassen, ©2013

Published by Bethany House Publishers
Summary: “Regency era dancing master Alec Valcourt wants to bring new life to the
sleepy little village of Beaworthy in remote Devonshire—and to one young woman’s
restless heart”— Provided by publisher.

I look forward to Julie Klassen's novels. Suddenly there is an unexpected shift you don't see coming in the lives of the characters. Whether it is supporting and hiding someone else or undisclosed information that totally changes the story, the revelation is so smooth. Like turning a corner, you may begin looking back to events that now become clear to their previous actions. So much like real life, where there may be hidden reasons a person is guarded, self-protecting, and controlling of those around them.

Historical fiction is my very favorite genre. I enjoy reading adventure and unexpected happenings discovered along with the characters. The setting of The Dancing Master is in the early Regency 1800s in the town of Beaworthy in Devonshire, England. After an unsettling fallout to their family, London dancing master Alec Valcourt brings his mother and sister to their uncle's for respite from gossip and further demise hoping to begin again to enable him to care for them. He knocks on doors throughout the countryside offering dance and sword classes. He begins friendships within the second generation of three families. Secretly they further learn skills not seen in their homes or township. What a somber place Beaworthy must be with no music, and subsequent lack of joy.

To research the book, I read old manuals and journals written by dancing masters of ages past. And my dear, longsuffering husband and I went English country dancing several times. It was research, after all! We learned a lot and enjoyed ourselves. Or at least, I did.   --Julie Klassen,

Prior to reading this novel, I was excited for the author to be able to attend a ball herself: The Netherfield Ball in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In costume and with live musicians, it will remain an experience she will long remember. Especially, to be able to go beyond the research of English country dancing classes Julie and her husband took. Wouldn't that be fun! Fiction became fact for her. Another exciting event for Julie was that the models for her book cover would be coming to her first book signing. Wouldn't we all have loved to have been there ~ and more meaningful even after reading the book!

Mingling between social classes would bring self-doubt and confusion as to mixing up affections. How would you keep them apart? To guard the heart and its influence? Trying to keep separate, yet one would require the servitude of another to enhance their station in life. Baffling even further, the generational training one received to continue, each in their place.

Absorbed in the story, I was caught off guard by a change as much as the characters were! Such excellent writing of lives you become embedded in the times. Prayers were answered in a surprising way.

I liked how the villains in the story were turned around. So absorbed in their talents, they were unaware they were being set aside. Pride does that. So offensive to others they avoid you.

Traditions kept or broken turn a community toward each other or apart. Reaching out to each other or solitary, deeper issues kept them separated. By being open, the next generation was freed.
A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance.
   --Ecclesiastes 3:4
Music is such a part of life, its absence so obvious. Life, like songbirds stopping their trill upon notice of caution. I thought of this clip from Anchors Aweigh upon the mention of "No Dancing Allowed." Dancing Master, Gene Kelly:

Excerpt The Dancing Master by Julie Klassen

May 1, 1815
Beaworthy, Devonshire, England

We observed the first of May as we always did. We dressed somberly and rode in the black barouche from Buckleigh Manor into Beaworthy. It was tradition, my mother said.
   But I knew she had another reason for visiting the village on that particular day. Lady Amelia Midwinter wanted to make her presence known—make sure no one dared forget.
   We drove first to the flower shop and bought two bouquets—lily of the valley and forget-me-nots.
   From there our coachman, Isaacs, halted on the corner of High Street and Green, as he knew to do without being told.
   The young groom helped my mother alight. She turned to look back at me, but I ignored her, sullenly remaining in the carriage. This was her tradition, not mine.
   She crossed the street and laid one bouquet before the market hall— that center of trade on an island of green amid the cobbled High Street. The place where he died.
   Forget-me-nots. Never forget.
   She returned to the carriage, though we did not immediately depart. We sat for a few minutes in silence, waiting for the church bells to ring at midday.
   Clang, clang, clang . . .
   As the last peal faded away, she used one dainty finger to move aside the velvet curtain and survey the street. For a moment her face remained impassive, but then her mouth parted in surprise before stiffening into a grim line.
   “What is it?” I asked, rebellious hope rising in my contrary heart. I slid over to that side of the carriage and looked out the window.
   There, before the village green, an elderly woman as thin as a sparrow stood. She held her skirt aloft with one hand and raised her other hand high. She looked this way and that, as though waiting for someone, and for a moment I feared she would be left standing alone in the middle of the street.
   Then, from behind the market hall, an old man hobbled into view. He tossed aside his apron and bowed before the woman. And she in turn curtsied. She gave him a girlish smile, and decades flew from her face.
   He offered his hand, and she placed hers in his. Together, side by side, they slowly walked up the High Street in a curious rhythm—step, shuffle-step. Step, shuffle-step. Then they faced each other, joined both hands, and turned in a circle.
   “What are they doing?” I breathed in wonder.
   My mother snapped, “What does it look like?”
   “Who are they? Do you know?”
   She made no answer.
   I glanced over and saw an array of emotions cross her face. Irritation. Pain. Longing.
   “Who are they?” I whispered again.
   She kept her gaze trained out the window. On the couple’s retreating figures as they continued their odd shuffle-step up the street.
   My mother inhaled deeply, clamping an iron fist over her emotions, whatever they were. “A Mr. and Mrs. Desmond, I believe.”
   “I don’t think I know them.”
   “No, Julia. You wouldn’t. They . . . live outside of town.”
   I felt my face pucker. “Then, don’t they know about . . . the rule?”
   “They know.”
   I glanced at her, but she averted her eyes, using her father’s walking stick to knock against the roof.
   At the familiar signal, the coachman called “Walk on” to the horses and we moved away.
   We returned to Buckleigh and paused at the estate’s churchyard. My mother alighted first, waving away the hovering groom and his offered umbrella. I exited after her, and when the young groom offered his hand to help me down, I smiled flirtatiously and enjoyed watching his face redden.
   The day had turned pewter grey. A cold drizzle pricked through my thin cape, sending a shiver up my neck.
   I followed my mother past lichen-encrusted graves and listing markers. We stopped before the family plot, outlined in brick and set with impressive headstones like dull gems in a macabre bracelet. There I read her brother’s epitaph.

Graham Buckleigh, Lord Upcott
Born January 4, 1776
Died May 1, 1797
Beloved Son & Brother

   “One and twenty years old,” I murmured. “So young.”
   “Yes,” she whispered.
   “How did he die?” I asked as I did every year, hoping she would one day tell me the whole story.
   “He was killed in a duel.”
   “Who killed him?”
   “I prefer not to speak his name.”
   My gaze wandered from the headstone of the uncle I had never met, to settle on that of the aunt I had never met either. She died in childbirth before I was born.

Lady Anne Tremelling
Born December 5, 1777
Died December 9, 1797
Beloved Daughter & Sister

   I nodded toward her sister’s headstone. “She died less than a year later.”
   My mother bent and laid the bouquet of lily of the valley on her brother’s grave.
   Lily of the valley. Tears and humility.
   She straightened. “We ought not tarry, Julia. Your father is not at all well.”
   “Yes, I am surprised you wanted to come today.”
   “It is tradition.”
   I sent her a sidelong glance. “You believe in carrying on only your own private traditions, I see.”
   I referred, of course, to May Day, which had not been celebrated in Beaworthy for twenty years—though I had heard whispers about the old tradition and its demise.
   Mother turned toward the carriage without reply, and I tried to ignore the sting of rejection as easily as she ignored my sharp tongue.
   “What was the duel fought over?” I asked, following her.
   She did not answer. Ahead of us, the waiting groom opened the carriage door.
   “Why do you not put flowers on your sister’s grave?” I asked. “Why only your brother’s?”
   With a glance at the groom, my mother said quietly, “We shall discuss the matter another time. Not now. We have left your father alone too long as it is.”
   I doubted he would mind my absence. But then, I doubted he cared for me at all.
   My father left us the next day. And in the aftermath of death, of mourners and bombazine, of funerals and the selection of headstones, we buried my questions along with my father, knowing they would someday be resurrected.

***Thank you to Litfuse Publicity Group for inviting me to be part of this book tour for Julie Klassen's The Dancing Master and to Bethany House Publishers for sending me a print copy. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***

Julie Klassen’s “The Dancing Master” giveaway and “All Things Jane” webcast 1/23!
Best-selling author Julie Klassen will be hosting a Kindle Fire HDX giveaway and a live webcast event (1/23) to celebrate the release of her latest novel, The Dancing Master. Enter and RSVP today!

  One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • The Dancing Master by Julie Klassen
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on January 23rd. Winner will be announced at the "All Things Jane (from Austen to Eyre)" Live Webcast Event on January 23rd. Connect with Julie for an evening of book chat, trivia, laughter, and more! Julie will also be taking questions from the audience and giving away books, Jane Austen DVDs, fun "Jane" merchandise, and gift certificates throughout the evening.

So grab your copy of The Dancing Master and join Julie and friends on the evening of January 23rd for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP today by signing up for a reminder. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 23rd!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Painted Table by Suzanne Field, ©2013

This story follows four generations in America ~ the first being the eldest son of Anders and Maria Kirkeborg, the recipient of a Norwegian father's crafting. As heir, the family table now belongs to emigrated son, Knute, in America. The Painted Table, not only being actual but symbolizing covered layers, extended into the hearts of each family member. The original table-gifted family, Knute and Clara Kirkeborg, lived on the harsh prairie. A farming family, the father was distraught that out of nine children only two are boys to further help him in the fields. As the story opens, there is a prairie fire that almost consumes them. The children flee to protection under the sturdy kitchen table. One of the daughters, Joann, has long sought refuge under this table from a young child, seeking its shelter at night and a place of comfort by day. So commonplace, she is forgotten and hears conversations and observes what was meant to be hidden.

thepaintedtableAs the young wife of Nels Kvaale, Joann becomes the recipient of the Norway table. It brings back the horrors of the fire and voices replaying in her mind bringing her torment. As she seeps deeper into sinking darkness, mental illness overtakes her.

A third generation daughter, Sapphire Eve (Saffee), tells of their family life during her childhood and leaving home as a young adult in college. As newlyweds, Saffee and her husband are told they can choose from furnishings left in the house her parents are selling. Her new husband chooses a couple lamps, and the painted table.

The story begins in 1858 to 1976. Very well written, Suzanne Field has categorized the events in chapters of their lives. One thing that stood out to me was fathers feeling their support in supplying the family's basic needs was enough. Taking an active roll in the family could have opened the door to conversation, acceptance and inclusion of each one in the family. Unaware of emotional support, neglect and isolation caused silence, walls, and guardedness in lives. I especially like how the remnants of the second and third generation are turned for the fourth, where the story concludes, and begins anew.
Suzanne FieldSuzanne Field, a graduate of the University of Minnesota, has taught English as a Second Language in China, Ukraine, and Hawaii. She has also been a magazine editor and home-school teacher. She and her husband have five children and divide their time between Kansas and Hawaii where she is a tutor and mentor. Find out more about Suzanne at Painted Table.

***Thank you to Litfuse Publicity Group for sending me a copy of Suzanne Field's The Painted Table to review. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***

Win a hand-painted table from Suzanne Field in “The Painted Table” giveaway!

Suzanne Field is celebrating her novel, The Painted Table, with a beautiful hand-painted table giveaway!

One winner will receive:
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on January 18th. Winner will be announced January 20th on Thomas Nelson's Facebook Page.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to stop by check the TNZ Facebook Page on the 20th to see if you won.

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Quilted Heart Omnibus: Three Novellas in One: Dandelions on the Wind, Bending Toward the Sun, and Ripples Along the Shore

by Mona Hodgson

Tattered relationships and broken hearts, like a quilt, can be pieced together by God’s love.

Already available as individual eBook novellas, The Quilted Heart will be available as a single print collection ~ WaterBrook Press releases January 21, 2014. The Quilted Heart Three Novellas in One is available for pre-order ~ ISBN 978-0307731142

Like a beautiful patchwork quilt, the three novellas in The Quilted Heart tell stories of lives stitched together with love and God’s unending grace.
Once a week, Elsa Brantenberg hosts the Saint Charles Quilting Circle at her farmhouse on the outskirts of the riverside town of St. Charles, Missouri. The ladies who gather there have all experienced heartache related to the intense hardships of the Civil War, and together, they are facing their painful circumstances with friendship and prayer. Can the tattered pieces of their hearts be stitched together by God’s grace?

Dandelions on the Wind ~ When Maren Jensen took a job on Elsa Brantenberg’s St. Charles, Missouri farm, she never expected to call the place her home. As she grows to love Mrs. Brantenberg and her granddaughter, Gabi, Maren is transformed from a lonely mail-order bride-without-a-groom to a beloved member of the Brantenberg household. But when Gabi’s father, Rutherford “Wooly” Wainwright, returns to the farm unexpectedly, everything changes for Maren, and she feels compelled to find another job. Are her choices in obedience to God, or is she running from His plan?

Bending Toward the Sun ~ Dedicated to her education and to helping her father in his general store, Emilie Heinrich is convinced she doesn't have time for love. But when a childhood friend returns to St. Charles, Missouri, after serving in the Civil War, his smile and charm captures Emilie’s eye and her heart. Will she be forced to choose between honoring her father and a future with a husband and family of her own?

Ripples Along the Shore ~ Change is brewing in St. Charles. A group of brave souls are preparing to head west on the Boone's Lick Wagon Train, led by the mysterious and handsome Garrett Cowlishaw, who served as a Confederate soldier in the war that killed Caroline’s husband. Despite her dislike for him, Caroline is tempted to join the wagon train and start fresh somewhere new, but when Mr. Cowlishaw forbids her—a single woman—to travel with them, will one man’s prejudice destroy Caroline’s hope for a new future? Or will the ripples of God’s love bring the answer she needs?

And for sure you won't want to miss Boone's Lick Wagon Train story!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A Hero's Promise by Roseanna M. White, ©2014 ~ Free e-Novella ~ Culper Ring Series

Ring of Secrets (The Culper Ring #1)
Book 1
Fairchild's Lady (The Culper Ring, #1.5)
Book 1.5 (free novella)
Whispers from the Shadows (The Culper Ring #2)
Book 2

Circle of Spies (The Culper Ring #3)
Book 3
A Hero's Promise ~ January 1835 ~ Baltimore, Maryland.
Naval officer, Jack Arnaud, is returning from a tour of duty exhausted hoping his fiancée will understand postponing their weekend wedding until he has rested. Julienne "Lenna" Lane has had the date changed twice beyond their control and the guests are already arriving.
Jack and Lenna both have secrets they are not disclosing which bring stress and guardedness to their separation from each other. What should be an exciting time has conflict escalating.
This free novella releases today, January 1, 2014. Book 3, Circle of Spies, expected release date is April 1, 2014.
Join the Culper Ring espionage in American history while secret information is relayed and plans are intercepted.

A Hero's Promise ~ Book 2.5 (free novella)
A Hero’s Promise ~ Book 2.5 (free novella)
In addition to the Culper Ring trilogy, Roseanna is the author of two biblical novels, A Stray Drop of Blood and Jewel of Persia, and the historical romance, Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland.