Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Sensible Arrangement by Tracie Peterson Litfuse Blog Tour

About the book: A Lone Star Brides book.

Marty Dandridge Olson is ready to leave behind the pain of the past.
Answering an advertisement for a "Lone Star bride," she leaves her Texas ranch and heads to Denver to marry a man she doesn't know.
Jake Wythe is the man waiting for her.
Burned by love, he marries now simply to satisfy the board of Morgan Bank, which believes a man of his standing in society should be wed. Together Jake and Marty agree they are done with romance and love and will make this nothing more than a marriage of convenience.
When missing money and a collapsing economy threaten his job, Jake's yearning to return to ranching grows ever stronger, much to Marty's dismay. But a fondness has grown between them, as well, further complicating matters.
What will happen when their relationship shifts in unexpected ways . . . and dreams and secrets collide?

Purchase a copy: http://ow.ly/vlp1S

Landing page: 

My thoughts:  What do you do when you are unhappy in your current life?  Make a big change, of course!  When Marty answers and ad for a man seeking a wife for a marriage in name only she thinks she has the answer to her prayer.  Of course, she stopped praying when her beloved husband was killed on their ranch, she hardened her heart to church and to God.  She loves her family, but she misses all that she could have had with her Thomas and the children they were unable to have. 

Jake has been unlucky in love, but his boss insists a man of his standing at the bank should have a wife, so he places an add for a bride from Texas. He may work in a bank for now, but he hopes to be able to one day return to Texas and run a ranch.

The two get along well and form a friendship, but will that be enough?  Marty worries about her own sins and finds her way back to prayer.  Should she reveal to Jake that she owns a ranch in Texas, just what he has dreamed about, but one which she hoped to be able to avoid returning to because of bad memories?  Is it sin if she didn't lie about it in words, simply failed to mention it to him?

We all have our own difficulties in life, many of which play out inside our own minds.  There is relief to be found by being truthful with oneself and with others.  It can be better to know you were honest in word and action, even if it was hard and cost you some moments of peace, than to worry inside about that which you are keeping hidden from all.

About the Author: Tracie Peterson is the award-winning author of over eighty novels, both historical and contemporary. Her avid research resonates in her stories, as seen in her bestselling Heirs of Montana, and Alaskan Quest series. Tracie and her family make their home in Montana.

Learn more about Tracie at: www.traciepeterson.com

Monday, April 7, 2014

Maybelle in Stitches by Joyce Magnin Litfuse Blog Tour

About the book: Maybelle Kazinzki can't sew. She was after all, the only girl in the seventh grade Home Economics class to sew the zipper in the neck hole of the A-Line dress they were supposed to make. But when she finds an unfinished quilt in the attic of her mother's house she gets the crazy idea to finish it---somehow, come heck or high water. She thinks it will help fill the lonely nights while her husband, Holden, is serving overseas during World War II.

Her recently departed mother's quilt is made from scraps of material Maybelle traces back to her mother's childhood, her grandmother's childhood and her own childhood. She tries to add one of Holden's stripes to it but the sewing is not going well and neither is her life. After receiving some harsh news, Maybelle's faith falters and she puts the quilt away and stops trusting God. But God is faithful---no matter what. And it'll take a group of neighborhood women armed with quilting needles to help Maybelle believe that.

Learn more about this book and the series at the Quilts of Love website.

About the Author: Joyce Magnin is the author of the Bright's Pond novels, including the award-winning The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow. A member of the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Fellowship, Joyce is a frequent workshop leader and the organizer of the StoryCrafters fiction group. She lives near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Learn more about Joyce at: http://joycemagnin.blogspot.com

About Quilts of Love: Quilts tell stories of love and loss, hope and faith, tradition and new beginnings. The Quilts of Love series focuses on the women who quilted all of these things into their family histories. A new book releases each month and features contemporary and historical romances as well as women's fiction and the occasional light mystery. You will be drawn into the endearing characters of this series and be touched by their stories.

Landing page: 

My thoughts:  I love how this book brought the time around WWII and what was going on for those who stayed behind.  The rationing, women in factories, blackout curtains and V Mail.  I never really considered what they did with the remains of the soldiers killed overseas, how many of them were buried far from home and the families had no body to honor at a funeral.  We are so used to knowing about news instantly and being able to reach those even far away with the push of a few buttons, but imagining what it was like to wait for short letters or dreaded telegrams to find out what was going on days or weeks after it had already happened is so far from our regular way of life.

Maybelle feels that she is inept at household matters and misses her late mother.  She doesn't know how to sew, after a disastrous school assignment, and isn't so sure about cooking or cleaning either!  It takes her friends and an unfinished quilt of her mother's to show her how much friends, faith and taking a chance can change matters for her.

To work through missing her husband, Holden, who is missing in action and the husband's of her friends, they decide to finish a "crazy quilt" that has bits of fabric from things that are meaningful to each of the women.  Scraps from wedding dresses, baby clothes, war banners, and husband's shirts are all sewn together to demonstrate their hope in the safe return of the men and their faith that God is making it all work together for a reason.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Tilt (Dreams of Chaos) by Ashley Chappell TLC Book Tour

About the book:
Two years ago Trotter discovered that she was a goddess and saved the entire pantheon of Realm from a dark god in the process. But that didn't stop the gods from banning her from Realm and - worst of all - from her parents when she refused to honor the Accord and declare a dominion. Now even her lonely refuge in Aevum has been destroyed when the world itself is violently tilted away from the sun and plunged into permanent night.

Angry and desperate for someone to blame, she's ready to battle whatever demons she might find behind the destruction. Instead of evil, however, she discovers another world even older than Aevum and filled with people the gods created, then abandoned and left for dead.

Trotter will be forced to choose a dominion that will let her save both of the worlds she's come to love, even if it means giving up one of them permanently. Yet throughout her journey she is unaware that the terrifying darkness growing within her means that another dominion has already chosen her...

My thoughts:
Trotter is still coming into her own and getting used to her powers when something awful happens to Aevum, the stars are in the wrong place, the tide is coming at the wrong time and then they are in permanent darkness.  In going to the gods to discover how the world flipped so fast and left them in darkness with many dead and all panicking, Trotter discovers a whole world the gods created, then left to die in darkness.  The leader of these people caused the worlds to flip over, switching who was in darkness and who was in light, but making a mess of both sides of the world.

Trotter has been refusing to claim a dominion over anything, which has all the gods upset with her, and has wanted to live among her friends and people in Aevum, but she feels a kinship as well with the people in Novum and feels her loyalty being torn.

Through trial and error, the people of both worlds must unite within their groups to go against a god, create a new balance and find a way to continue on.  Trotter is a normal teenager in some ways, losing her temper with her parents and wanting time to be herself, plus sleeping great periods of time, but she has a lot more responsibilities on her shoulders and has to make some tricky decisions.

What happens when one is not able to choose their own destiny, but must deal with the one given to them through circumstances and fate?  What if those you care for the most come to fear you?  How do you reconcile yourself with a life that you find you must lead?  It will be interesting to see how things fare for Trotter and this world in the next book.

About the Author

Ms. Chappell currently resides in Huntsville, AL with the love of her life. She is a contractor for NASA in the Rocket City and during her writing time her cats sometimes share her lap with her computer, should they choose to allow the usurpation at all. She is an avid lover of nature who enjoys climbing, camping, hiking and sailing.

Product Details

  • File Size: 789 KB
  • Print Length: 299 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1939985013
  • Publisher: Center One Books (October 5, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Alice Will by Ashley Chappell TLC Book Tour

Book Description

November 13, 2012
 With her leaky powers and premature smiting problem, fourteen year-old Trotter was still just trying to get the hang of the demi-godding business when the apocalypse began. In a world where the gods have withdrawn from humanity, leaving mortals bitter toward magic, she finds herself torn between the human and the goddess in her as the world begins to fade away and she becomes the prime suspect. When her search to determine the cause and prove her innocence ends up revolving around a mysterious little girl named Alice, she discovers that not all of the gods had been as distant as they seemed... Now, with everyone against her and the gods fighting amongst themselves, Trotter is on her own to save her world and stop a spiteful god from using Alice to destroy everything.
My thoughts: 
Chappell has created a world where magic lives side by side with reality, where gods have been banned from the reality of the humans they created for their own good.  Trotter is a fourteen-year-old girl who lives on her own.  Her father is a god she has never met and her mother died when she was born.  Her companion is a talking cat, a cat who was once human but was turned into an enchanted cat who has more than one life.  It turns out that Trotter is not the only one who has powers in the human world, and the powers of one little girl have the potential to end the world for everyone.  This lonely little girl is Alice.  Alice is a poor servant who lives in a cupboard under a bar in a tavern and her orders are always the things that Alice will do, hence her name is Alice Will.
The book cycles through reality, gods, fantastical beasts and creations and the willingness to forget the needs of others for ones own gain and the ability to be selfless and forget the needs of self for the greater good.  It is a journey through great highs and great lows with a  lot of surprises thrown in.  There were strains of Harry Potter (the ability to do magic and the cupboard as a room) and Percy Jackson (gods as parents who don't understand the human or demi-god wants needs and desires).   But through it all it is world of her own creation, one I am not sure I would want to visit, but interesting just the same!

Product Details

  • File Size: 806 KB
  • Print Length: 299 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0983002223
  • Publisher: Center One Books (November 13, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.




Wednesday, March 26, 2014

It Had to be You by Susan May Warren Litfuse Blog Tour

About the book: A Christensen Family Novel.

Eden Christiansen never imagined her role as her younger brother Owen's cheerleader would keep her on the sidelines of her own life. Sure, it feels good to be needed, but looking after the reckless NHL rookie leaves little time for Eden to focus on her own career. She dreamed of making a name for herself as a reporter, but is stuck writing obits---and starting to fear she doesn't have the chops to land a major story. If only someone would step up to mentor Owen . . . but she knows better than to expect help from team veteran and bad-boy enforcer Jace Jacobsen.
Jace has built his career on the infamous reputation of his aggressive behavior---on and off the ice. Now at a crossroads about his future in hockey, that reputation has him trapped. And the guilt-trip he's getting from Eden Christiansen isn't making things any easier. But when Owen's carelessness leads to a career-threatening injury and Eden stumbles upon a story that could be her big break, she and Jace are thrown together . . . and begin to wonder if they belong on the same team after all.

Learn more and purchase a copy at Susan's website.
Landing page: 
My thoughts:   When does helping and supporting become enabling and avoidance of a personal life?  That is what Eden is struggling with in this novel.  She loves her family and her brother and she has been his cheerleader for so long, that she had gotten used to putting her own desires on the back burner to make sure that she is there for him.  That she attends games and cheers him on and looks out for him outside of the arena starts to take up more of her day than she can afford.  Her job at the newspaper has been a struggle, she loves to write and wants to make a difference, but doesn't see herself doing that while working in the obits department.
Jace has had a reputation since very early in his career, but his frequent fights on the ice have led to migraine headaches that have the potential to become brain bleeds if he doesn't change things.  Unfortunately everyone expects him to keep enforcing for the hockey team, while he misses the time he spent actually making slap shots and power plays.
Eden seems bossy to Jace and Jace seems like a bad boy to Eden, but as they get to know each other while trying to track down the identity of a John Doe at the hospital, they both realize they are holding onto stereotypes that are untrue about each other.  How far should one go to trust and to make things right for someone else, even someone else who is a stranger?
Each of the characters in this book is wrestling with something, some turn to prayer while others sink into despair.  How do you find the balance you need to live the life you are meant to have and to trust that you are being led down the path that is just right for you.
About the Author: Susan May Warren is the bestselling, RITA Award-winning author of more than forty novels whose compelling plots and unforgettable characters have won acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. She served with her husband and four children as a missionary in Russia for eight years before she and her family returned home to the States. She now writes full-time as her husband runs a lodge on Lake Superior in northern Minnesota, where many of her books are set. She and her family enjoy hiking, canoeing, and being involved in their local church. Several of her critically acclaimed novels have been ECPA and CBA bestsellers, were chosen as Top Picks by Romantic Times, and have won the RWA's Inspirational Reader's Choice contest and the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year award. Five of her books have been Christy Award finalists. In addition to her writing, Susan loves to teach and speak at women's events about God's amazing grace in our lives. She also runs a writing community for authors. Visit MyBookTherapy.com to learn more.

Learn more about Susan at: http://www.susanmaywarren.com

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Sky Without Stars by Linda S. Clare Litfuse Blog Tour

About the book: In 1951, Frankie Chasing Bear is a Lakota caught between cultures. She wants to raise her son Harold to revere his Lakota heritage, but she knows he will need to become as a white man to succeed. After his father's killed in a barroom brawl, Harold and Frankie move to Arizona, where she begins a Lakota Star pattern quilt for Harold with tribal wisdom sung, sewn and prayed into it.

She distrusts Christians, as her own parents were forced to convert at an Indian School, until she meets BIA agent Nick Vandergriff, a half-Lakota who's also caught between cultures. Nick must convince Frankie that white men and Christians aren't all bad as he tries to win her heart in order to put the stars back into her sky.

Learn more about this book and the series at the Quilts of Love website.

About the Author: Linda S. Clare is an award-winning coauthor of three books, including Lost Boys and the Moms Who Love Them (with Melody Carlson and Heather Kopp), Revealed: Spiritual Reality in a Makeover World, and Making Peace with a Dangerous God (with Kristen Johnson Ingram). She is also the author of The Fence My Father Built. She has taught college-level creative writing classes for seven years, and edits and mentors writers. She also is a frequent writing conference presenter and church retreat leader. She and her husband of thirty-one years have four grown children, including a set of twins. They live in Eugene, Oregon, with their five wayward cats: Oliver, Xena the Warrior Kitty, Paladine, Melchior, and Mamma Mia!

Learn more about Linda at: http://www.lindasclare.com

My thoughts:  Frankie Chasing Bear just wants to make a better life her son and herself.  On her Lakota reservation in North Dakota she got used to having a father who drank too much and a husband who drank too much.  She recalls cold winters spent in a trailer with no bed and just one blanket for warmth, she wants and education for herself and for her ten year old son, but she doesn't want to lose the Lakota ways or be forced to convert to the religion of the white man.  When her son Harold is accused of stealing at the Indian school they are both attending, she is forced to look at what they  need to do to make it in Arizona.  With a car on the fritz and the persistent words of her grandmother in her head that she must finish the Lakota Star Quilt for her son, she tries to do her best to make her way.

Frankie can't decide if she should trust Nick or not, he is a BIA agent but also a half-Lakota who believes in God and prays to him.  He offers her the chance to make friends and use her skill in quilting for employment.  Even when things are going so wrong, she still hears her grandmother guiding her and helping her, even when things look the bleakest.

It is hard to trust that things will work out and that there is a plan.  In hard times it is harder to trust and believe and to have faith in oneself and others, but there is always a plan.  Frankie has to let go of her fear and believe in herself, in Nick, in Harold and in her new friends from the quilting shop that things will work out.  I could not believe how strong she was able to be when things looked bleak for her son, but she held strong and kept believing and praying.   What an example to readers that even those who don't seem to have much might very well be rich if they have friends and love and faith.

About Quilts of Love: Quilts tell stories of love and loss, hope and faith, tradition and new beginnings. The Quilts of Love series focuses on the women who quilted all of these things into their family histories. A new book releases each month and features contemporary and historical romances as well as women's fiction and the occasional light mystery. You will be drawn into the endearing characters of this series and be touched by their stories.


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Wonder by R.J. Palacio


Overview from Barnes and Noble:

I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.
August Pullman was born with a facial deformity that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.

"Wonder is the best kids' book of the year," said Emily Bazelon, senior editor at Slate.com and author of Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy. In a world where bullying among young people is an epidemic, this is a refreshing new narrative full of heart and hope. R.J. Palacio has called her debut novel “a meditation on kindness” —indeed, every reader will come away with a greater appreciation for the simple courage of friendship. Auggie is a hero to root for, a diamond in the rough who proves that you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.

Join the conversation: #thewonderofwonder
Winner of the 2013 E. B. White Read-Aloud Award for Middle Reader
My thoughts:  I have wanted to read this book for quite some time.  Each time I have been in a classroom and noticed this book it reminded me to look for it to read.  I checked it out of our local library last week and read it in just a few days.  People can  be so mean to one another, sometimes knowingly, but other times by accident. August Pullman was born with a disorder that caused his head and face to be made differently than everyone else.  He has undergone many surgeries to correct things like a cleft palate, but he is still noticeably different.  When people see him for the first time on the street or out in public they are surprised and this reaction is hard to hide.  August pretends he doesn't notice, but he does.  Most people aren't trying to be mean, he just looks so different that they can't help being surprised.  Most try to hide it right away, but he knows, and as much as he tries to not let it bother him, it does.
He has been home schooled due to his frequent surgeries, but for fifth grade his parents are suggesting strongly that he attend school for the first time.  He is scared of this change, having to deal with all the  staring and possible teasing that he has endured at his visits to the playground and out in public, but he ends up taking the step.  Seeing his strength when things are changing and his classmates are unsure of what to think of him is powerful and heartening.  Academically and intellectually August is just like everyone else, his only  difference is how he looks, but some people can't get around that.  There are parents who thinks he has special needs academically because he looks different, but he is one of the top students.
I think people with differences used to be kept out of the public eye a lot more than they are now, so it is now much more common to run into someone who has physical or mental differences.  If children are exposed to these differences from a young age, they are much less likely to make a big deal out of it or even think that meeting people with differences are unusual.  I think schools are making strides in including students of all ranges in homeroom classes.  Each of my children has been in class with students who have a noticable difference(either physically or mentally), but since they have always been there and have always been a part of the group, they don't even seem to notice.  They accept whatever limitations the person might have, but still count them as one of their friends and classmates.  We need this, there are too many people who are still intolerant of differences.  Like one of the characters in the book says, once you get to really  know someone you stop noticing the differences and they just become the person, not a person with differences. 

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375869020
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 2/14/2012
  • Pages: 320

Meet the Author

R. J. PALACIO lives in NYC with her husband, two sons, and two dogs. For more than twenty years, she was an art director and graphic designer, designing book jackets for other people while waiting for the perfect time in her life to start writing her own novel. But one day several years ago, a chance encounter with an extraordinary child in front of an ice cream store made R. J. realize that the perfect time to write that novel had finally come. Wonder is her first novel. She did not design the cover, but she sure does love it.