Where She Belongs, by Johnnie Alexander

Book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Can love redeem a broken past?

Shelby Kincaid is ready to move forward after the death of her husband left her devastated. With high hopes for the future, she longs to purchase her family’s homestead, Misty Willow, so she can raise her young daughters in the only place she ever truly belonged. She plans to transform the abandoned house into the perfect home of her memories. But she has her work cut out for her.

AJ Sullivan never wanted Shelby’s family homestead in the first place. His grandfather left it to him as punishment for not following his wishes, and he’s let it fall into ruin. AJ’s more than happy to unload it to this spitfire of a woman. But even after angry exchanges over the state of the house, he can’t get her off his mind.

Continue reading for an excerpt from Where She Belongs and for my thoughts on the book.

Continue reading

A Christmas Gift for Rose, by Tricia Goyer (With international giveaway!)

book coverRose turned her back on the man she loves after he assisted the Englisch during World War II—only to discover she’s an Englischer herself.

Born in the midst of the hardships of The Great Depression, Rose grew up in Berlin, Ohio, in the arms of a loving Amish family. But she is overwhelmed by self-doubt when she learns that she was born Englisch and abandoned when her family moved West in search of work.

Was she meant to be Amish or would she have been better off growing up with her own kind—Englischers? When the man she loves leaves her behind, Rose is certain he left for good. Yet Rose discovers sometimes our greatest gifts are the ones we fear.

It feels weird to be reading Christmas fiction in September, but the 2013 Christmas book season has already begun. I don’t read (or review) many of these seasonal titles, but I’ve reviewed two other Tricia Goyer titles this year, and was given the opportunity to read and review this one as well. A Christmas Gift for Rose is technically a novella. It also combines the two themes Goyer often includes in her books: World War II, and the Amish. I’m not sure I’ve seen this scenario before, but it does highlight some of the issues Amish communities faced during the war. The concept of abandoned children during The Great Depression is one I’d come across before, notably in Ann Gabhart’s Angel Sister, which makes me wonder how common such acts of desperation were.

Rose is a difficult character to work out. She’s often contradictory in her actions. She pushes Jonathan away and then gets annoyed when he doesn’t come to visit. She welcomes his advances and allows him to hope and then decides that they can’t be together. I felt sorry for Jonathan, who wants nothing more than to marry her and live in their Amish community for the rest of their lives. She has Englisch neighbors, but when Rose learns of her birth family her biggest concern is that she was born Englisch. But who knows how we would act if we were in her shoes?

This is a lovely little story that can be read in an afternoon. Curl up with a steaming mug of cocoa, on a day when the weather is bad, and lose yourself in 1940s Ohio. Just have a box of Kleenex nearby, because the ending is beautiful.

Thank you to Litfuse, Zondervan, and Tricia Goyer for my free review copy of A Christmas Gift for Rose, which I received in exchange for an honest review.

Read the first two chapters of A Christmas Gift for Rose

Publisher: Zondervan

Publication Date: 24 September 2013

Page Count: 192

Read more on:   Tricia Goyer’s Website   Zondervan’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Christianbook.com

Want to win my copy of A Christmas Gift for Rose?

The necessary stuff aka ‘the fine print’

  1. This contest is open to anyone in any country with a valid mailing address.
  2. Book will be mailed via USPS media mail with delivery confirmation if the winner is from the USA. Otherwise, the cheapest air mail method will be used but without the tracking.
  3. Your full name and mailing address will only be used to mail your prize. After I receive confirmation of delivery that information will be deleted. It will never be given or sold to a third party.
  4. You must be 18 or older to enter.
  5. This contest runs from Monday, 30 September, 2013 until 11:59 EDT on Sunday, 27 October, 2013. Entries submitted after this date will not be accepted. The winner will be announced via Twitter and Facebook.
  6. Comments left on this post are not considered entries and will not increase your chances of winning.

Sweet Mercy, by Ann Tatlock

book coverStunning coming-of-age drama set during the Great Depression and Prohibition

When Eve Marryat’s father is laid off from the Ford Motor Company in 1931, he is forced to support his family by leaving St. Paul, Minnesota, and moving back to his Ohio roots. Eve’s uncle Cyrus has invited the family to live and work at his Marryat Island Ballroom and Lodge.

Eve can’t wait to leave St. Paul, a notorious haven for gangsters. At seventeen, she considers her family to be “good people,” not lawbreakers like so many in her neighborhood. Thrilled to be moving to a “safe haven,” Eve soon forms an unlikely friendship with a strange young man named Link, blissfully unaware that her uncle’s lodge is anything but what it seems.

When the reality of her situation finally becomes clear, Eve is faced with a dilemma. Does she dare risk everything by exposing the man whose love and generosity is keeping her family from ruin? And when things turn dangerous, can she trust Link in spite of appearances?

Where is the line between good and bad? Can a person be both? When should you mind your own business or get involved in something you witness? These are the questions Eve is forced to confront one summer when her life is turned upside down. Eve is a supporter of Prohibition, even while she reluctantly acknowledges how badly the law has failed. For her, it’s a clear cut issue. Her definition of a good person is, “Someone who keeps the law,” and, therefore, all bootleggers and moonshiners are bad people who deserve to be in prison. It doesn’t matter if, in a time of the Great Depression, a person has turned to bootlegging in order to provide for their family. There are no shades of gray. No one can be both good and bad.

To be honest, I found Eve a difficult character to like. At times, she came across as terribly naïve while at others she sounded very self-righteous. When she said that good person was someone who kept the law, she reminded me of the Pharisees in the New Testament. But at seventeen – an age where many were finding their independence – she still went running to her parents like a child for so many things. That image wasn’t helped by the book cover, which looks like a young girl paddling in the water. I don’t want to say she’s a “goody-two-shoes,” but she’s certainly close to it. It’s apparent, to me at least, that she got this from her father. When she tells her father about an illegal bootlegging act she’s witnessed, he insists on taking it not only to his brother, but also the local chief of police. It soon becomes evident to both father and daughter that people aren’t always as they appear and it’s difficult to know who you can trust.

Sweet Mercy raises interesting questions and subjects that will make you think. Besides the good and bad issue, it also covers issues such as race and congenital disorders. There’s also a visit to a ‘Hooverville,’ where Eve learns what it’s like for some of the local homeless. Given my thoughts on Eve, you might conclude I wasn’t fond of this book. But sometimes, you don’t realize the impact a book can have you on until the end. That’s what I discovered when I got to the end of the book and the tears began rolling down my cheeks. This book had an emotional impact on me that I didn’t expect. That gives it high marks in my opinion.

Thank you to Bethany House for my free copy of Sweet Mercy, which I received in exchange for an honest review.

Read the Prologue and first two chapters

Author Q & A

Publisher: Bethany House (a division of Baker Publishing)

Publication Date: 01 May 2013

Page Count: 321

Read more on:   Ann Tatlock’s Website   Bethany House’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Christianbook.com