Friday, July 31, 2015

Friday Reads with Ruth Logan Herne, Pam Hillman, and DiAnn Mills

This is the second week where I'll be sharing the novellas contained in The Homestead Brides Collection. There are nine stories, and I will be sharing my review of three of them each time.

In case you didn't read my last post, I will tell you a bit about the book. It contains novellas by eight veteran authors (Mary Connealy, Darlene Franklin, Carla Olson Gade, Ruth Logan Herne, Pam Hillman, Erica Vetsch, and Kathleen Y'Barbo) and one newbie (Becca Whitham). The stories provide a quick read that will fit in perfectly to your day. They all focus on the pioneering folks of the 1800s, but each story contains its own cast of characters on a search for land and a new future. This collection is a wonderful way for readers to be introduced to new authors and possibly find some favorites!

Prairie Promises by Ruth Logan Herne: Jack O Donnell is heading to Nebraska to bring his mother Mary back to civilization in Philadelphia. Mary feels that her place is the homestead she began with her late husband. She has taken pregnant widow and neighbor Bridget Murphy under her wing, and they depend on each other. He questions how two women can possibly keep two farms afloat. Bridgette is rumored to be crazy. Is she all that she appears? Mary and Bridget are strong, capable women … even without a man. Herne’s characters remind the reader about the importance of always trusting God. Jack’s father left him with a wise reminder: “Pay heed to the land and the good Lord, son, and everything will fall into place.”

This Land is Our Land by Pam Hillman:  Mollie Jameson is headed to Nebraska, along with her siblings and grandfather, to claim her family’s land so they will not be homeless. Along the way, in the middle of a storm, they encounter Lasso McCall who helps them find shelter. As her parents are dead, and they only have six days to reach Nebraska, Molly worries that they may not succeed. Can Lasso help them? Are they able to trust him with all they have left? Strong family bonds are evident, and the relationship develops at a realistic pace, which is tricky in a novella. The characters remind the reader that God’s plans are always best.

You can find Pam online at

Flaming Starr by DiAnn Mills: Starr Matthews wins a Texas Homestead in a card game. Wanting to change her life, she heads out to lay claim. When she arrives, however, she discovers that the land is already claimed by widower and single father Aaron Conrad. He has no plans for another woman in his life. When it appears that he may have legal claim to the property, Starr worries that she may need to return to her old way of life. Starr’s faith journey is inspiring, as is the reminder that God always works for our good. Two wonderful reminders are: “…life is a progression of always starting over.” and that it is important to treat others as we want to be treated.

You can find DiAnn online at

You can purchase the book at the following Amazon link:

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A Tempting Ruin by Kristin Vayden (July 29, 2015)

Title: A Tempting Ruin
Author: Kristin Vayden
Genre: Regency
Series: Greenford Waters Legacy
Blue Tulip Publishing
Release Date: July 28th

He might be a gentleman by title, but he was a rogue at heart…

Beatrix Lamont is in hiding. Sequestered at Lady Southridge's country estate, she assumes the identity of the lady's companion: never once expecting her past would catch up with her. It does, however, in the vexing and seducting form of Lord Neville. Determined and far too charming for his own good — after all, who simply demands a woman marry him? Not a gentleman.

Lucky for Lord Neville, being a gentleman has never been an option, especially when it comes to Beatrix, the woman would try the patience of a saint, and every encounter with her leaves his body yearning for more.

Caught between wanting her for himself and needing to protect her from dangers that lurk in the shadows of both their pasts, he must eventually make a choice. Become the gentleman he's never been — or play the seducer she brings out in him, and hope in the and shall forgive him for using her to catch a killer.

Here are the links:

A Tempting Ruin



Kristin's inspiration for the romance she writes comes from her tall, dark, and handsome husband with killer blue eyes. With five children to chase, she is never at a loss for someone to kiss, something to cook, or some mess to clean, but she loves every moment of it! She loves to make soap, sauerkraut, sourdough bread, and gluten-free muffins. Life is full of blessings, and she praises God for the blessed and abundant life He's given her.

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Monday, July 27, 2015

Monday Motivation: Stairway to Success!

Some inspirational quotes to start your week:

"You can do anything if you have enthusiasm." — Henry Ford

"Abolish fear and you can accomplish anything you wish." — Dr. C.E. Welch

"It's easy to have faith in yourself when you're winner, when you're number one. What you've got to have is faith in yourself when you're not a winner." — Vince Lombardi

"Keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground." — Theodore Roosevelt

Friday, July 24, 2015

Friday Reads with Mary Connealy, Darlene Franklin, and Carla Olson Gade

Over the next few weeks, I am going to be sharing the novellas contained in The Homestead Brides Collection. There are nine stories, and I will be sharing my review of three of them each time.

This book contains nine novellas by eight veteran authors (Mary Connealy, Darlene Franklin, Carla Olson Gade, Ruth Logan Herne, Pam Hillman, DiAnn Mills, Erica Vetsch, and Kathleen Y’Barbo) and one newbie (Becca Whitham).  These stories provide the perfect quick read for your day. While they all focus on the pioneering folks of the 1800s, each story contains its own cast of characters on a quest to secure land and create a bright future.  This collection is a nice way for readers to be introduced to a wide variety of authors and possibly find some new favorites!

Homestead on the Range by Mary Connealy:  Widow Elle Winter and widower Colin Samuelson meet shortly after his arrival on the Nebraska prairie. There seems to be an immediate connection, until he learns that between the two of them, they have seven children. He can barely handle his own three. He does agree to friendship. The connection grows when a tornado hits the area. In addition to dealing with nature, they must deal with the antics of their children. Are they in favor of the union? This tale is a combination of “The Brady Bunch” and “Little House on the Prairie.” Connealy’s wit is evident, even as the characters cling to God in life’s storms. “Martha” leaves the readers with a good reminder: “Love always fits. Family always fits.”

You can find Mary online at

Priceless Pearl by Darlene Franklin: Rick Eady grew up poor, and America Barton grew up rich. They meet each other during the Oklahoma Land Rush. The Bartons are clearly out of their element, and Rick offers to help. In exchange for helping them farm, America helps him learn to read. Rick is a hard-working man with a strong faith. Can her parents see that those qualities are more important than money? While some scenes drag at times, overall, this is a sweet romance. The perils at that time are evident, and it is a reminder that many people who moved there were ill-equipped to face things without God’s help.

Proving Up by Carla Olson Gade: Nils Svensson longs for his wife to see the timber business that he is building. He is interested in acquiring the neighboring land. He learns that Elsa Lindstrom has claim to it, which thwarts his dreams. Is his only interest in her land? This story is interesting in the fact that it educates the reader about the Timber Culture Act of 1873 and Swedish immigrants. The tale outlines the misunderstandings and surprises that many faced in this new world.

You can find Carla online at

You can purchase the book at the following Amazon link:

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Tuesday Tip: Who vs Whom

Are you one of the many people confused by when to use who or whom? If so, you are not alone. Do you pause to think about whether or not you should be saying, "It is the early bird who gets the worm?" Or "It is the early bird whom gets the worm?" If you have problems figuring out when to use which pronoun, perhaps this post will help you.

  1. It is important to first look at the clause associated with who or whom. If there is only one clause, that makes it easier to find the right word. However, there is often an independent clause and one or more dependent clauses in a sentence.
  2. Look at the question and mix the words around to create a sentence.
  3. In place of the word who or whom, insert the word he or him. If he makes sense, you would use the word who. If him makes more sense, then you would use whom. (The "m" in whom/him can help you remember the connection.)
  4. If you have a linking verb rather than an action verb, you would use he (who) and not him (whom).
Here are some examples:
  • Who rang the doorbell? ( No scrambling is necessary, as you can easily substitute the word he for who and create an appropriate sentence.)
  • Whom did you visit in Phoenix? ( If you scramble this question to form a sentence, you will find that him makes sense, so whom is correct.)
  • Stephanie wondered whom Melissa would ask to the dance. (This one is a bit trickier. However, looking at it in the following way makes it easy to understand: Melissa would ask him to the dance. Therefore, whom is correct.)

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

July Featured Book #2 ... and a GIVEAWAY!

Krysten has graciously offered to give away a copy (e-book) of "Best Friends ... Forever? (Landry's True Colors #2)" to one lucky person. In order to be entered, see the Rafflecopter giveaway link at the end of this post. The last day to enter is July 31, 2015. If you are chosen, I will be in touch to get your information to pass along to Krysten.

Before sharing my review, here's a bit of information from Krysten.

A Word from Krysten...

I have always loved reading books that use humor and have realistic (and relatable) characters. I decided to write the book I wanted to read when I was reading YA, and I’m overjoyed it’s now a series where people can follow along on Landry’s journey through dealing with friendships, the ups and downs of school, crushes, relationships, and insecurities. Sure, going back to that time in my own life was a little crazy, but lucky for me there weren’t camera phones to capture me dancing in the school talent show … while wearing jean shorts. If you’re not cringing yet, let’s just say I also had a moment of “genius” where I thought my super dark brown hair would look amazing with “Sun-In” highlights that actually turned my hair a lovely shade of copper. Sigh.

The Landry’s True Colors Series is a clean reads young adult series about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, middle school and high school, frenemies, modeling, crushes, values, and self-image. Best Friends…Forever? was ranked at #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases in Teen & Young Adult Values & Virtues Fiction and #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases in Children's Books on Values. True Colors is an international bestselling book.

Tag line: Good friends have your back, but some go behind it.

My Review…

Everyone knows that middle school can be difficult, and the school year has not been an easy one for Landry Albright. She is no longer sure which of her friends she can trust, and it doesn’t help that most of them made the cheerleading squad (without her).  She is excited to have her first boyfriend, but she gets dumped just as things decline with her besties. As she is unable to separate friends from frenemies, she has few people to turn to… especially as everyone is looking forward to attending high school, a thought which scares her to death. Landry feels ignored and 100% alone, until she gets an unexpected second chance at a modeling competition and some helpful advice from an unlikely source. Will Landry learn to speak up for herself and move past her fear of failure?

This is the second book in Hager’s “Landry’s True Colors” series, and the author does an out-of-the-ballpark job at capturing teenage girls and all the associated drama of middle school. While this book does a nice recap from the first one, it would be beneficial to read them in order to appreciate the growth and development of the characters and plot. 

Who doesn’t remember their middle school years? For many, they were filled with insecurity, misunderstandings, and a search for a sense of belonging. This book is the epitome of middle school! There is something here that will be identifiable for everyone, though that may not necessarily be a good thing. Hager and Landry remind the readers still going through this period of life that it is possible to survive middle school in one piece.

A fast, active pace and humorous scenes and dialogue combine with descriptors (such as “… school uniform colors made me look like a dead goldfish on a good day.” and “I was like a scarecrow blowing in the wind.”) that will take the reader back in time (but without having to actually experience middle school all over again). I consider this a must-read book for teens and adults everywhere, as it is relatable and contains numerous takeaway messages that are relevant at any age.

About Krysten…

Krysten Lindsay Hager is a book addict who has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. She’s worked as a journalist and writes middle grade, YA, humor essays, and adult fiction. She is originally from Michigan and has lived in Portugal, South Dakota, and currently resides in Southern Ohio where you can find her reading and writing when she’s not catching up on her favorite shows. She received her master’s degree from the University of Michigan-Flint.

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Monday, July 13, 2015

Monday Motivation: Sparkle!

Some inspirational quotes to start your week:

"Better to illuminate than merely to shine to deliver to others contemplated truths than merely to contemplate."— Thomas Aquinas

"Never dull your shine for somebody else." — Tyra Banks

"You can turn off the sun, but I'm still gonna shine!" — Jason Mraz

Now go out and sparkle!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Tasty Thursday: Coca-Cola Pot Roast

If you are looking for a meal that will not increase the heat in your kitchen this summer, here's a slow cooker recipe to try. Do you have a favorite slow cooker recipe?

Coca-Cola Pot Roast
1 (2.5 pound) lean chuck roast
1 envelope onion soup mix
1 (12 ounce) can Coca-Cola
2 tablespoons flour
¼ cup cold water

1.      Place chuck roast in a greased slow cooker. Sprinkle onion soup mix over roast. Pour Coca-Cola on top.
2.      Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours or until roast is tender.
3.      Remove roast from slow cooker. Pour cooking liquid into a saucepan, skim off, and discard fat. Bring cooking liquid to a simmer. Whisk together flour and water and whisk into cooking liquid. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes or until desired consistency is reached. Gravy will thicken up on standing.
4.      Serve roast with gravy.

Nutrition facts per serving: 220 cal, 6 g fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 60 mg cholesterol, 360 mg sodium, 9 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 29 g protein

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Just Couldn't Put It Down Giveaway Hop!

As an editor and reviewer, I read A LOT! I've been an avid reader most of my life. Along the way, there have been a handful of books that I'd consider ones I "just couldn't put down." The most recent novel that fits the bill is "The Butterfly and the Violin" by Kristy Cambron.

Cambron's debut combines history, art, music, and romance in this tale set, in part, during World War II. I love the fact that it weaves the historical and modern story lines together so seamlessly. For me, that adds to the power of the message. Few people would associate anything good or beautiful with concentration camps. However, this book does just that. It's a poignant reminder that God can, and does, use evil for His good. The use of the butterfly is a wonderful example of something that goes through a period of darkness, yet comes out as something special on the other side. Something can be learned from every event in life. This story also demonstrates why it is important to never forget this period in history. The characters' faith is so strong that it made me reevaluate some of the times my own faith has wavered, and it helped me view things from a different perspective.

Music is another component in this story, and it, too, has always been a large part of my life. One of my favorite takeaways from this story is this reminder from one of the characters (Omara): "When we worship in the good times, it brings God joy. But worship in the midst of agony? That is authentic adoration of our Creator." True joy comes from within, and it is not based on the circumstances surrounding us. Cambron's characters embody that statement.

"The Butterfly and the Violin" is a moving tale that will stick with the reader long after the final page.

My review can be found on the RT Book Reviews website at the following link:
(I rated it 4.5/4.5 - TOP PICK!)

In celebration of this blog hop, I am giving away an Amazon gift card. Kristy Cambron has graciously agreed to give away an autographed copy of this wonderful book. You can enter to win by completing the tasks in the Rafflecopter box found below. 
(This contest is open to US residents only.)

After entering my contest, be sure to visit the other blogs in this hop. You can find the list below the Rafflecopter box.

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