Friday, September 4, 2015

Friday Reads with "Refuge of the Heart" by Ruth Logan Herne (and a GIVEAWAY!)

To celebrate her latest release, Ruth is giving away one (1) copy of "Refuge of the Heart" (reader's choice of hard copy or eBook). To enter, go to the Rafflecopter box at the end of this post. The last day to enter is September 10, 2015. If you are the randomly chosen winner, I will contact you to find out your preference and pass your information along to Ruth. Good luck!

Inspiration behind the Story...

Well, this is the most important thing of all. Like most stories, a combination of things came together and made me say, "What it?" My daughter was sent to Myanmar to study refugee camps there… a chance encounter with a parking lot cart boy who thanked me for putting my cart back because so many people don't bother…and then all of a sudden, I saw "Lena," a refugee who goes the distance, a victimized woman with a rise-above mentality strengthened by faith, hope, and love. The love of her family, of her mother, of her little sister, born out of grievous circumstances. Chechnya was in a frantic state at the time, so many people seized and killed, and there was little to be done. So much blame, and so little action. But when I read of one small Catholic enclave that had been obliterated, one by one, that helped cement where the story should be set…and Lena's history was born. Fiction from fact.

We have many refugees here in upstate New York. Each one has a story. Most stories aren't as dark as Lena's, but I worked with Cambodians who had to escape their country post-Vietnam as they helped Americans. They made it across a great space, and across the river, and eventually here, to America where they worked cleaning restaurants and businesses…and now the son owns a beautiful restaurant, employing two dozen people.

So many things came together to make this story happen, but primarily it was spirit-driven. Lena's story came to me like a blessing from the Holy Spirit… and it needed to be told. God has surely blessed America!

My Review ...

Refugee Magdalena (“Lena”) Serida and her five-year-old sister Anna escaped an uprising in Chechnya and headed to America to pursue a better life. Lena is in nursing school and struggling to support her sister, but she is quite content with her new life. She meets District Attorney Mitchell Sanderson when he helps her with a flat tire. This chance encounter is the start of a new friendship. A tragic accident once cost Mitch everything he loved, so he is not looking for a relationship at this time. Or so he thought. He finds himself falling for the Christian refugee from an Islamic region as she slowly turns his world upside down. Lena has a strong faith, which is something that Mitch is struggling with. He can tell she is fearful about something related to her past, and he wonders what it is. How will he feel about her when he learns the whole story?

This is the first full-length novel from Ruth Logan Herne, and I certainly hope it will not be her last! There is so much to be said about this book. The story details how opposites can truly attract. There are a number of emotionally gripping scenes, including some humorous ones as Lena tries to get a grasp of the American language.

While Mitch is a strong, driven character, and Anna is endearing, Lena is truly the heart and soul of this novel. She is a strong, courageous, and inspiring character — one of the best characters I have encountered in a long time (and I read a lot of books!). She is a kind soul despite her past circumstances, and she is determined not to be stopped by those events. Lena has many wonderful insights about faith, such as: “Perhaps faith is the equalizer. If we are born with varied talents and strengths, perhaps it is the valor of God which brings us to new heights.” As a refugee, she understands how much responsibility comes with the freedom that many people take for granted every day. Lena also exemplifies the importance of remembering to bless others when we, ourselves, have been blessed.

This is a well-researched novel and it educates the reader on refugees and Chechnya, which may be unfamiliar to some readers. The relationships develop at a realistic pace, and the emotional ending will stick with you beyond the final sentence.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy from the author in exchange for an honest review. 

Q & A  with Ruth...

Q: What are your thoughts on current trends in the publishing industry, including self-publishing?
A:  This is the best time ever to be an author! No longer must authors wait to be discovered and published by diminishing publishers and their lists. We have a host of choices awaiting us! Now this shouldn't minimize our responsibility to bring the best work possible to readers, but I trust readers to find me (my traditional and indie published works) and they do! I am so blessed to have a foot in both waters.

Q:  What would you be doing if you weren't an author?
A:  Well, I'm still doing it, LOL! Like so many others, I'm still working a full-time job with children, and I love it. Keeping myself immersed in young families helps me to keep my fingers on the pulse of today's family dynamic: the good, the bad, and the funny! I have six children, and now a 14th grandchild on the way, and I love being surrounded by mayhem. While this works for me, most folks would cringe … But I'm okay with controlled chaos and kids love it!

Q:   What advice do you have for new authors?
A:   I get all Winston Churchill on them: Never give up. Never, ever, ever give up. Write every day. Don't take a day off. Develop writer habits early. Don't whine :)

Q:   What is your next project that you are currently working on?
A:   Several! I'm so delighted to say that! I've got several novella collections coming out in early October: "Home for Christmas," a historical collection, "A Heart Full of Christmas," a contemporary collection, and a duo/duet called "Ribbons and Roses" with Mia Ross, a friend and fellow Love Inspired author. Then I have my first Grace Haven release for Love Inspired in January, "An Unexpected Groom," a Franciscan release in March, "More Than a Promise,"and then the first Double S Ranch book for Waterbrook/Multnomah, "Back in the Saddle." It is been a crazy, fun, busy year here on the farm, Leslie!

Q:   What is your favorite writing-related book?
A:   Don't hate me. I never read writing-related books. I do study authors. I'm self-taught. I never went to college, so what you get from me are life-shaped stories that embrace all of the beauty, wonder, and sometimes ill, of mankind, but with the strength and wonder of faith, hope, and love, and how that strengthens us — ALL OF US! — To those times of trouble. But what I do believe is that practice, practice, practice makes better writers. I don't learn by reading … I learn by doing, so once I recognized that, I pushed myself to be like Dorrie on Finding Nemo : (imagine sing-song voice) "Just keep writing, just keep writing, just keep writing…" :)

Q:   Now for a few fun getting-to-know-you questions. PC or Mac?
A:   PC, an HP laptop that I love, love, love with Windows 7, because why on earth would I want to waste good writing time teaching myself Windows 8??

Q:  City or country?
A:   Both. I live in the country. We have a small farm, so summer is crazy busy, but I love going down to NYC (about five hours away). I'm in upstate, so envision Lake Ontario, with hills and green, green, green, deciduous forest land. If you don't mow it or plow it, a forest will appear, and fairly quickly! Amazing! But I love going to the Big Apple, Philly, Baltimore, etc. I love cities!

Q:   Cat or dog?
A:   Dog, but we have two farm cats, too, and they are sweeties.

Q:   Introvert or extrovert?
A:   Extrovert. I love people.

Q:   Tea or coffee?
A:   HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA :)  I am an admitted coffee addict. But I'm safe to drive with, so that's good, right???

Q:   Mountains or ocean?
A:   Gosh, both. Who wouldn't love both? But if I was to live by one or the other, it would be water. I love watching storms roll and ebb across the water.

Q:   Winter or summer?
A:   Winter. Hot and muggy and bug-infested aren't my thing. I love winter. I'm weird, I own that, but by the end of February I'm ready to be done with it and embrace spring. Up here, winter is not generally that accommodating!

Q:   Casual or dressy?
A:   Both. Mostly casual by nature of working with kids, but I love to dress up now and again and make sure I'm still a girl!

Q:   Twitter or Facebook?
A:   Facebook. I love human contact. I love chatting back and forth with people!

Q:   Mexican food or Italian food?
A:   Italian, Italian, Italian! I love pasta! I will never be a skinny woman because I love pasta and potatoes (I'm Irish, so of course, right??) and homemade bread.

Thanks for taking the time to chat with me. I'm sure my readers will enjoy getting to know you a bit better :)

About Ruth...

Multi-published, best-selling author Ruth Logan Herne lives in upstate New York where record-setting snowfall buys her extra time to write sweet books mid-winter. Inaccessibility has its advantages! She loves God, her family, her country, dogs, chocolate, and coffee. The order of preference varies depending on mood and season. She loves to hear from readers. You can friend her on Facebook or stop by her website (, visit her in Seekerville (, or the Yankee Belle Cafe (, where she and a sweet group of regional authors share recipes, thoughts, and pictures of life, sweet life!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I've not read any books by Ruth Logan Herne that I recall. I've also never read a book with a refugee theme, so this story appeals to me for that reason.

    1. Laurie, I'd love this to be your first! I've published several series with Love Inspired, and I have a wonderful cowboy romance series coming out next spring with Waterbrook/Multnomah, but I'm thrilled to step into the big book arena with Franciscan! This heartfelt, beautiful story is one of those that you remember, long after you close the last page... because we totally "get" Lena's courage, strength, fear and faith. Thanks so much for stopping by!

    2. Laurie,

      You'll totally love this! I think you'd really enjoy Ruthy's other books, too, but this one (particularly Lena) really stands out.

      Thanks for visiting my blog, and good luck!

  2. This has definitely wet my appetite. Waiting impatiently for my book to arrive. Hopefully before the weekend!

    1. Kav!!! I'm so glad you moseyed over here, and we won't throw your name in for this because I know you're waiting for your good-looking Canadian postman!!!! Bless you for jumping in and ordering it from the U.S. because it hasn't released in Canada yet. Waving to you from the Big Apple!!!

    2. Kav,

      Thanks for stopping by! I hope your book, and the good-looking postman, shows up today :)

      You'll have to let us know how much you enjoy it!

  3. Ruth sounds like a fun lady! I would love to read Refuge of the Heart.


    1. Patty, so nice to meet you! And yes, I'm fun, a little crazy, but raising 6 kids and trying to keep them all alive... will do that to you, right? We try to err on the fun side of crazy, but I expect there are some who would probably raise an eyebrow... and just put us in the flat-out crazy section!!! Thank you for stopping in and chatting with us!

    2. Patty,

      She sure does, doesn't she? Nothing wrong with being a bit crazy sometimes :)

      Good luck, and thanks for stopping by my blog!

  4. Ruthy, only 6.? I wanted at least 6 but got 12, lol. I guess it's called double the fun right ? What would we do without our families ? They are everything to us. Congratulations on your 14th upcoming grandchild. They always keep us young don't they ? I had the pleasure of finding and "meeting" you on the wonderful blog Seekerville. I love your sense of huimor and I know it comes from having a half dozen kids . After all we have to have a sense of humor or we might just go crazy, lol. I would love to have a chance to read Refuge of the Heart, Ruthy. Another excellent release I am sure. It's wonderful talking to you this Saturday morning and I hope you have a wonderful week. ((Hugs))

    1. Deanne,

      Thanks so much for stopping by! She does have a wonderful sense of humor :) You're right...with all those kids, she'd have to!

      This book certainly is a keeper. Good luck in the contest and have a great holiday weekend.

    2. Deanne, so nice to see you over here! And 12, really????? Oh my stars, now I feel like SLACKER RUTHY!!!! God love you, that's amazing and wonderful!

      You're tucked in and I'm in NYC visiting two of these boys right now, my youngest two... and having so much fun! Bless you, Deanne!

  5. I have truely enjoyed every one of Ruthy's books! The last I read, Her Holiday Family, was one of my favorites! I love that she writes both sweet romance as well as deeply meaningful subjects such as Try, Try Again. I always feel blessed after reading one of her books.

    1. Donna, waving madly to you! Thank you for your kind words, they mean so much to me. Love seeing you!!!!

  6. I have truely enjoyed every one of Ruthy's books! The last I read, Her Holiday Family, was one of my favorites! I love that she writes both sweet romance as well as deeply meaningful subjects such as Try, Try Again. I always feel blessed after reading one of her books.

  7. Donna,

    I have enjoyed them, as well :)

    You make a really good point. Ruthy does a fabulous job of incorporating that deep meaning into stories, and she certainly does it in this book.

    Good luck, and thanks for visiting my blog.

  8. I have read ALL of Ruthy's books so far....and can't wait to read this one! I love her books and am always inspired by them. Thanks for the giveaway.

    1. You're very welcome, Jackie. Thanks for stopping by.

      This book is definitely inspiring. I'm sure you'll really enjoy it. Good luck!

  9. This story sounds really interesting, especially the character Lena. I've read a few books by Ruth-- a love inspired one, and a Christmas one-- and enjoyed them. Thank you for doing a giveaway.

    1. Karen,

      You're very welcome. As I said in my review, I LOVE Lena! She's truly inspiring.

      Thanks for vising my blog, and good luck!

  10. The book sounds captivating not only with the characters but also by teaching the reader something valuable as well. And wow, the cover is amazing! Don't you just want to step right into the book? I know I do. :) Thank you so much for sharing this interview and giveaway!

    1. Kelly,

      It certainly does educate the reader as well. I really enjoy that in books (as I love learning almost as much as I love reading!). I agree about the cover. They did a fabulous job with it :)

      You're very welcome. Good luck, and thanks for stopping by!

  11. Refuge of the Heart sound like a wonderful book. I have read a few of Ruth's books and loved them. Would so love to win this one.
    God Bless

    1. Cheryl,

      Thanks for stopping by to enter. I think it's one of her best, but her books are certainly easy to love :)

      Good luck!