28 August 2014

Handcarved Christmas: Review of Cynthia Hickey's Christmas Traditions Novella

Christmas Traditions Series

This is our first OWG review of novellas in the Christmas Traditions series, which Carrie is participating in. Cynthia Hickey, the lead author, has the first release "Handcarved Christmas" which I loved so much I read it all in one night!!!

REVIEW
Handcarved Christmas (Christmas Traditions Novella) By Cynthia Hickey, reviewed by Carrie Fancett Pagels.  

Five Stars *****

Handcarved Christmas by Cynthia Hickey

It’s 1880 in Montana and mail order bride, Laura Worth, arrives looking for her intended—Ben Cooper. Except that Ben never sent for a bride. His brother sent for a wife for him, as a Christmas present. And Laura arrives at their home looking prettier than any gift he’s ever received.  Lot’s of romantic tension in this wonderful Christian novella, part of the Christmas Traditions series.

Ben’s brother, Sam, leaves the couple alone for a few days, for privacy’s sake, but Ben is thoughtfully attempting to “court” his new wife and give her time to settle into the small home. He returns, and Sam and Ben quickly add on another room to the cabin, despite the cold weather and snow.

Laura is one of many children whereas Ben and Sam have only had one another. Laura is in a situation where she must marry so that she is not a drain on her family. Cynthia does a nice job of weaving this in without bogging down the story with this sad aspect of the heroine’s life.

Ben wants to make Christmas special for his bride because Laura’s Christmas tradition has literally been shattered. The Irish nativity set she transported with her out West was broken. So he spends a lot of time in solitude in the barn, working on a new set to carry on the tradition. Laura wants to make Christmas special for her husband, too, and give him the gift of her love as his wife. She’s not quite sure what to do about the fact that Ben hasn’t accepted her, fully, as his wife in the eyes of the law and God. But Laura comes up with a solution (or, rather Cynthia writes a solution) that might have readers reaching for their husbands after they’ve finished the novella!

Put aside an evening to enjoy this novella all in one night, like I did. You won't want to put it down.

Available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. At only 99 cents, this novella is a bargain. Don't miss out while it is still sale priced!

Giveaway: We're giving away a copy of this ebook to one commenter.


26 August 2014

Noela Nancarrow reviews THE HESITANT HEIRESS by Dawn Crandall

The Hesitant Heiress

The Hesitant Heiress (Everstone Chronicles #1)
Whitaker House (August 1, 2014)

Reviewed by Noela Nancarrow
5 Stars *****


Dawn Crandall’s debut novel 'The Hesitant Heiress' has swept its way into my heart with its stellar ensemble of compelling characters and a deeply charming and captivating romance! With a writing style that’s reminiscent to the classic Jane Eyre, this tale is written in first person point of view and captures its period to perfection. Normally I shy away from reading books told in first person, but any uncertainties I initially had were quickly quelled by Dawn's superb writing!

I was easily drawn into Amaryllis Brigham’s world as she is reluctantly immersed into the distinguished society of Boston in 1890. Bereft of any other family and having been unceremoniously kicked out of the Boston Conservatory of Music, twenty-five year old Amaryllis takes up her wealthy Aunt Claudine’s offer of residency. Amaryllis longs to found a music academy in her own hometown but it seems the only way she can now attain that goal is to marry within the year to inherit her grandmother’s fortune. Amaryllis wishes to reject that idea and strives to make her dreams come true other ways… without a husband. Can she reach her goals on her own and find contentment? Or will she allow a ghost from her past by the name of Bram Everstone, whom she discovered was the one behind her dismissal, continue to extract her peace and affect her life?

Nathan, the charming and enigmatic son of Bram Everstone, arrives back in Boston with Amaryllis’ cousin Lawry, in his father’s private rail-car. Having seen a younger photo of Amaryllis and hearing so much about her from Lawry, Nathan is curious though unprepared when he sees this beguiling young woman waiting at the train station. He endeavors to get to know the beautiful yet confusing Amaryllis, though finds it near impossible to understand her or to climb her carefully constructed walls of self-protectiveness. Will he be able to cause her self-made fortress to crumble enough to allow him access to her heart?

Unanswered questions teased me throughout the story, but as the tale unraveled they were all answered satisfactorily! Mysteries, misunderstandings, and even murder, all added intriguing and exciting layers to ‘The Hesitant Heiress’. And when Amaryllis wasn't exasperating me with her lack of perception, I found the interactions between her and Nathan intensely intoxicating. The story’s finale was one of the best endings I've ever read. Suffused with compelling drama and tension, it was thrilling while bristling with romantic tension. Well done Dawn Crandall!

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THE HESITANT HEIRESS BLOG TOUR

As part of her book launch, Dawn is taking part in a blog tour featuring interviews, book reviews and giveaways. She’s giving away a prize pack every weekend for the six weeks of the blog tour and one larger prize pack at the end. Each of YOU who comments on any post will be entered into the drawing for that specific week, and then also for the end of the tour Grand Prize–all of which will be announced on this blog. Many of the blogger’s posting in the blog tour are also giving away a digital copy of The Hesitant Heiress.

THE FIVE WEEKLY PRIZE PACKS: a $10 Amazon Gift Card, an eBook of The Hesitant Heiress, a mug with all three book covers and a moleskin journal.

THE GRAND PRIZE (at the end of week six): a Kindle Fire, a $10 Amazon Gift Card, an eBook of The Hesitant Heiress, a mug with all three book covers and a moleskin journal.

_______________

Available for purchase at Amazon; CBD; and Barnes & Noble


  • Giveaway: We're giving away a copy of Dawn's book this week.  Leave a comment to enter. Winners are posted in the upper right hand corner of the blog and must email us to claim their prize.

24 August 2014

Interview with Dawn Crandall, by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Author Dawn Crandall

Dawn Crandall is the author of The Hesitant Heiress, book one of The Everstone Chronicles series. I met Dawn through ACFW and through our mutual agent, Joyce Hart, CEO of Hartline Literary Agency.

Dawn, welcome to Overcoming With God. We appreciate your willingness to share your testimony of overcoming with our readers.  
Thank you so much for having me on your wonderful blog! I do love sharing how God has overcome in my life through many situations.

Would you tell us about one of the most difficult things in your life you have had to overcome, with God’s help? (transparency appreciated!)
I don’t want to trivialize anything that anyone else may have had to go through which is much more difficult than my lot, but I feel as though I’ve had quite a few difficult things to overcome to get me to the place I am in life. They all seemed to work together throughout the years though, and although I would have preferred things to work out a little differently, I am very grateful for all I have now. 

First off, I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder in high school. It made sense why I’d never been able to get very good grades in school… but because it was discovered so late (because I didn’t generally speak to anyone much before this point in my life), I had a very strong sense that I would never be good at anything. Becoming a Christian soon after this diagnosis helped me a lot with this lowly view of myself, and I even ended up going to Taylor University and majoring in Christian Education. I’d always wanted to write a book, but even after graduating college I did not feel that I would be any good at it. So I didn’t write. 

And then in my late twenties, God brought my husband into my life. We married, and soon after, he found out about this secret desire of mine to write a book. I guess all I really needed was to believe in someone’s belief in me. That had always been difficult too. But writing a book is not a simple thing, and I just could not get anything going. It was as if my creativity was completely blocked, and I could only get half way there. By this time, I was in my early thirties, and my husband and I felt that we should start a family. This is where things get tricky. I stopped taking the medication that helped with my ADD because I wanted to get pregnant. Suddenly a million ideas flooded my mind, and I felt like I could start plotting a novel… basically because I was allowed to let myself daydream. I still wanted babies more than to write, but because I didn’t have babies, reading everything the CBA published in the historical romance genre for a few years and studying those books was what I focused on. I spent about three years doing that while working full time, and then my husband encouraged me to stop working to focus on writing. I think he could tell I needed something to keep my mind off of the fact that I wasn’t getting pregnant. I still hadn’t actually written anything much, just some scenes which I had no idea what to do with. To make a long story short, my husband sent me to the 2011 ACFW conference a year later and came home with two partial proposal requests from agents. They both offered to represent me based on those partial proposals within the week of my sending them. My one and only proposal started making the rounds and ended up taking about eighteen months to land a three book contract. Fortunately, I’d written most of the rest of the series while I was waiting! By this time, I’d convinced myself that I didn’t need babies, because I had my books. I still wasn’t doing anything to prevent from having babies, but after seven years, I had quit hoping. It’s sad, but I again felt that there was something wrong with me, that I obviously wouldn’t be a good mom, or God would allow me to be one. It was just easier to not hope, so I didn’t. 

HOWEVER, just as my agent and I were getting those good leads from my publisher last summer…. that is when I got pregnant. The Hesitant Heiress released when my son was eighteen weeks old. He’ll be seven months old when the second one (The Bound Heart) releases in November and ten months old when the third one (The Captive Imposter) releases next February. 

I’ve been a little bit of a mess ever since getting pregnant a year ago, because for some reason, while I was pregnant, my creativity was blocked in a very similar way it was while I’d been taking the medication for ADD. I’m not sure how this is supposed to all work together for my good yet, because I feel like I’m running around like a chicken with its head cut off. I’m still working on revising book three… but now that I can “think like a writer” again... I don’t have the time! Because I have a baby! It’s all a little backwards to me, but I’m not complaining! God’s done some pretty amazing things in my life lately! I’m just being forced to overcome this next challenge with more faith and trust than I ever remember mustering up in my entire life before now. Learning to write again with a little man hanging out with me and also demanding my time and attention away from my characters and plot while already having to function around having ADD… Yeah, I pretty much have to ask God to help me get anything done every single day. It’s not fun all the time, but it’s worth it.  

Disability friendliness: Is this latest release available in audio format or do you have any other works available on audio?  Do your e-books have audio capability? Do you have any in large print?  
Unfortunately not at this time. Whitaker House has The Hesitant Heiress released as only an eBook at the moment. It is everyone’s hope that it is able to come out in paperback and even audio next spring.
CFP: We'll be praying so, Dawn! 

Thank you, for agreeing to answer these questions!
You are very welcome! I am honored to have a place on your blog! 

THE HESITANT HEIRESS BLOG TOUR

As part of her book launch, Dawn is taking part in a blog tour featuring interviews, book reviews and giveaways. She’s giving away a prize pack every weekend for the six weeks of the blog tour and one larger prize pack at the end. Each of YOU who comments on any post will be entered into the drawing for that specific week, and then also for the end of the tour Grand Prize–all of which will be announced on this blog. Many of the blogger’s posting in the blog tour are also giving away a digital copy of The Hesitant Heiress.

THE FIVE WEEKLY PRIZE PACKS: a $10 Amazon Gift Card, an eBook of The Hesitant Heiress, a mug with all three book covers and a moleskin journal.

THE GRAND PRIZE (at the end of week six): a Kindle Fire, a $10 Amazon Gift Card, an eBook of The Hesitant Heiress, a mug with all three book covers and a moleskin journal.

CONNECT WITH DAWN

Book Review Blog: APassionforPages.blogspot.com 
Email: dawncrandallwritesfirst@gmail.com
Twitter: @dawnwritesfirst

READ THE FIRST CHAPTER FREE!!! {link} http://whpub.whitakerhouse.com/dawncrandall/heiress.html

{About The Hesitant Heiress}
After being unjustly expelled from the Boston Conservatory of Music, Amaryllis Brigham sees her dreams of founding a music academy disappearing before her very eyes. Now the only way to achieve her goal comes with high stakes for someone set on avoiding men as much as possible: marry within the year to inherit her grandmother’s fortune. Amaryllis reluctantly takes part in her aunt’s society, intent on getting to the west coast on her own… and without a husband.
Despite her own misgivings, she soon finds herself falling in love with the most unlikely of men, Nathan Everstone, whose father not only had a part in her expulsion, but whose ominous presence has haunted her dreams for a decade since her mother’s tragic death. Nathan turns out to be much more than he seems and everything she never knew she wanted. But just as everything Amaryllis has recently hoped for comes to fruition, it all falls apart when she finds that the real culprit who has been managing her life isn't who she thought at all.

{About Dawn Crandall}
A graduate of Taylor University with a degree in Christian Education, and a former bookseller at Barnes & Noble, Dawn Crandall didn’t begin writing until 2010 when her husband found out about her long-buried dream of writing a book. Without a doubt about someday becoming traditionally published, he encouraged her to quit working in order to focus on writing The Hesitant Heiress. It didn’t take her long to realize that writing books was what she was made to do. Dawn is represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary.
Apart from writing books, Dawn is also a first-time mom to a precious little boy (born March 2014) and also serves with her husband in a pre-marriage mentor program at their local church in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Dawn is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, secretary for the Indiana ACFW Chapter (Hoosier Ink), and associate member of the Great Lakes ACFW Chapter.
The Everstone Chronicles is Dawn’s first series with Whitaker House. All three books composing the series were semifinalists in ACFW’s prestigious Genesis Writing Contest, the third book going on to become a finalist in 2013.

GIVEAWAY: A copy of Dawn's debut novel. Leave a comment.


Happy Birthday TERESA S. MATHEWS!

Teresa and Carlton

Teresa's son's - Joshua & Daniel

Noela has compiled a lovely photo collage for Teresa's birthday, with help from Marian. Aren't these pictures lovely?

Celebrate this beautiful mother and wife's birthday with Teresa's wonderful family!






HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

Teresa's beloved dog Millie
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Making melodies unto the Lord



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Teresa, here is your deserted island! Expect lots of visitors tho!


She may need to fight off  pirate rogues!


This one may not be fought off :)      


Birthday balloons for the birthday girl!



Teresa, we hope you have a very blessed birthday as we share in your day with lots of love and laughter and cake!! We love and appreciate you so much, and thank you for your wonderful reviews and your treasured friendship!
From the OWG Angels and all our friends! 
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My friend, Christy Zumbrun, is a professional cake baker, and here's a pretty one she made a few years back.  Where is Teresa's 40 layer cake, you wonderum, we sure wouldn't want the birthday girl to make her own cake now, would we? Or maybe we could, but that's a secret! 


Here's a little rhyme for our poetess:
Most violets are purple,
And many roses are red,
If you think I can bake a 40 layer cake,
You are out of your head!

How do you like that, Teresa?!!!


Sit down and enjoy a cup of hot tea or we'll pour you some lemonade. This little teapot has its own teacup on the bottom. One of our followers won this cute combo last year. Who doesn't like pink and hearts?



Some birthday flowers for Teresa's birthday
picture by Carrie Fancett Pagels






While you are visiting with us, enjoy the pretty flowers and inhale their lovely scent! 
I bet all your prayers to God for healing for Teresa's husband, Carlton, are like sweet incense to our Lord.








GIVEAWAY: We are giving away a copy of any book that Teresa has reviewed. Winner's choice of format (international winner ebook only or paperback available through the Book Depository.)

Leave your words of blessing and encouragement for Teresa!

22 August 2014

Raising a Son and Transitioning to College - by Jen Turano

Author Jen Turano

From a very early age, I knew that the one thing I wanted to be in this life was a mom.  While my friends were dreaming about becoming doctors, lawyers, and other high-powered career ladies, I really only dreamed about taking care of a little one, a girl if I’m being honest, and a girl who’d love to have her hair done, nails painted, and would enjoy shopping with her mom and then going out to lunch.

Funny how things don’t always go as planned, but funny how God gives you exactly what you never dreamed of, but something that turns out to be one of the best things in your life.

Dominic, my one and only child, came into the world eighteen years ago, and from that moment, I was given my very own version of a Denise the Menace.  Trouble should have been his middle name, and there wasn’t a child-proof devise that could hold him back.  Toilets turned into his own private little ponds, stuffed with star wars characters and whatever else he seemed to have on hand, which meant the plumber soon became one of my best friends.

Some called my son strong-willed, but quite frankly, I thought of him, and not always fondly, as a complete terror.  He was incredibly independent, had his own ideas about everything, and I do believe, when he got his tongue stuck to a frozen pole, that I looked up at the sky (as I was trying to figure out how to get him unstuck since we were out in the middle of nowhere) and said, “Really, God….a frozen pole?”  God, I’ve come to believe, obviously has a great sense of humor, and had to have been grinning down at me on that particular day.
Dom Turano

Dom wasn’t exactly keen to get his hair done, or have his nails painted, so I spent the years of his childhood trekking through streams, looking for frogs, building traps to catch that pesky Easter bunny, and far too often, sinking up past my knees in mud when he’d get it into his head to investigate places like swamps and beaver dams – I don’t recommend investigating beaver dams – turns out that the mud surrounding the dams is somewhat like quicksand, and the white shorts I had on the day Dom sunk in that sand will never be the same.

But, all the mischief, trouble, and scary experiences aside, I was given the opportunity to be a mom to a boy who has now grown into an extraordinary young man.  That sense of independence he embraced from such an early age has allowed him to experience the world as I was never brave enough to do.  He loves pulling all types of different people together to experience new adventures, and even though those adventures give me heart palpitation, he’s living his life on his terms and enjoying every minute of it.

I sent him off this week for his first year of college, and I have to say, this new adventure he’s undertaking has been incredibly difficult for me.  He knows not a soul at this college, which worries my mother’s heart to no end, and I cried the entire way home after telling him goodbye.  But, God gave me this wonderful, strong, hard-headed boy to raise, and in doing so, He allowed me an opportunity to grow as well and experience life as I would have never experienced it without Dom , (although…I’m not sure I needed the experience of being thrown out of the raft into raging waters because we had to try out a stretch of “super cool” rapids.)
Dominic Turano, Senior picture


I’m now traveling on a new adventure of my own, along with my husband of twenty-five years.  We don’t know where that adventure will lead us, but when Dom sent me a text this morning, telling me he’d organized a group of guys to go long-boarding last night, and then asked if I thought he should shave before a meeting he has today, I realized that everything will be okay.  I’m still Dom’s mom, he still needs me just a little, if only to give him that great shaving advice, and God will watch over my son for me.  I  have to believe He knew exactly what He was doing when He sent me Dominic – a rough and tumble little boy who will always be the love of my life, and who is now a young man I’m incredibly proud to call my son. 


Giveaway: We have a paperback copy of Jen's novel "A Talent for Trouble" (which I consider a perfect "10"!) as an extra giveaway this week (USA only.)

21 August 2014

Teresa S. Mathews Reviews A Match of Wits by Jen Turano

A Match of Wits by Jen Turano

Bethany House Publishers July 2014

Reviewed by Teresa S. Mathews 

5 Stars*****

Jen Turano has once again piqued my interest and tickled my funny bone with this delicious tale of Agatha Watson and Zayne Beckett. If you have read any of the previous books in this series you will remember Agatha and Zayne and you will perhaps remember Agatha is an outstanding reporter with a penchant for getting into the most awkward and even more so, dangerous circumstances. So the story unfolds with Agatha far from her beautiful home in New York, roaming the Wild West with two bodyguards who are trying to keep at bay the person or persons that want Agatha dead.

Agatha, no matter how hard she tries not to, will find trouble or maybe it's the other way around; but this time it just wasn't her fault. Who would have dreamed she would have been accosted by the cutest little temperamental piggy ever? Not wanting the little dear to be sent to a place that makes bacon out of temperamental little piggies, Agatha rescues Matilda and throughout the whole book she kept me in stitches with her antics!!

When Agatha runs into a unruly, disheveled mountain man, she is shocked beyond belief to discover it's her old friend Zayne Beckett. After hearing his story Agatha is determined she is going to help him get back on the right track, even if Zayne doesn't want to be bothered. As only she can do, Agatha talks Zayne into going back home. She decides to accompany him even if it means she is making it easier for the person that is stalking her. 


Once they get home the fun really begins between these two, especially when Zayne tries to play matchmaker and find the ideal suitor for Agatha. Will Zayne finally realize that this crazy, high strung, zany woman is his perfect match or will her enemy succeed in doing away with her before he has the chance?

When I hear the name Jen Turano mentioned it brings a huge smile to my face. I have been a fan of Ms. Turano since I read the very first book in this Ladies of Distinction series. To my delight they have just gotten better and better; and how that can possibly be is beyond me when A Change of Fortune was sheer perfection in my humble opinion. If you haven't read one of her books you should grab one and get started. You might want to read them in order because all the young ladies in this series are acquaintances. Thank you Jen for another absolutely marvelous and uplifting read. 


***Thanks to the Publisher, Bethany House and to Net Galley for providing me a copy of this in exchange for my honest opinion.***

You may purchase this and other of Jen's books at AmazonCBD, and Barnes and Noble and your local bookstore. 

GIVEAWAY: We will be giving away a copy of one of Jen's books this week, Winners choice of book and format. International winner ebook only or paperback if available through Book Depository. Leave a comment to be entered and email address if new to OWG. 

19 August 2014

Review of Jen Turano's "A Match of Wits," by Carrie Fancett Pagels

A Match of Wits by Jen Turano

Jen Turano delivers again in this witty book!  Agatha Watson, having been sent West with a body guard (Spoiler alert: two body guards!) hasn't seen Zayne Beckett in two years. Although she had strong feelings for him, he was engaged to another woman. Agatha sends back articles to New York, for the newspaper but someone there is trying to kill her. She comes across a filthy mountain man, who turns out to be Zayne, with a serious leg injury that has left him with a limp. She determines to get him back home, and does.

Zayne was dumped by his fiancee. He doesn't want to go home, but when he and Agatha and the guards are attacked at his mine, he heads back East with his old friend, Agatha. As will the other Jen Turano novels there are enough shenanigans to keep the reader continuously turning those pages forward.

Very entertaining. A little different from the previous books in that there is much more dialogue and far less description of the various settings.

Bibliotherapy: Accept who you are, as God made you. Also, Zayne has succumbed to addictive behavior, which he overcomes. He has to cope with and learn to overcome a serious injury, also. This was nicely done.

Disclaimer: I read this as a NetGalley download and am under no requirement to post a positive review.

Giveaway: Choice of Jen Turano book and choice of format (ebook only or paperback if available through Book Depository for international.)

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