30 September 2014

Review of Elizabeth Camden's "With Every Breath" - Will Make Best of 2014 List

With Every Breath By Elizabeth Camden

Bethany House (July, 2014)

Was Holding My Breath Till the End!
By Carrie Fancett Pagels
Kate Livingston and Trevor McDonough are two super competitive people who are meant to be together. High school rivals, his performance on a contest costs Kate a scholarship that she believes would have made her dreams come true. Wealthy Trevor could have afforded to have gone to school without any assistance which only intensifies Kate's dislike of the brooding teenager.  Fast forward about a decade. Widowed Kate is working in a boring clerical position when a medical researcher offers her the chance to engage in meaningful work.

What a surprise to find that her new employer will be Trevor, who is now using another name. He's still a prickly pear and Kate doesn't put up with a lot of his nonsense. He respects her. Their romance is the glue that holds this book together.

Kate's family owns a lovely rooming house for upper scale Washington D.C. tenants, including senators and their families. Wonderful cast of characters added a richness to the plot.

The secondary characters and subplots are all masterfully presented.  Wonderful story about the difficulties in treating tuberculosis in the 19th century. Very sad stuff but handled beautifully. I've grown up reading about t.b. and what it can do to you as it was a scourge even a few decades before I was born.

Highly recommend. Oh, and I loved the dog who adopted Trevor! I think he helped him more than the doctor helped the pet.

This book will make "best of" lists for 2014 I feel sure, including mine which it will definitely be on.  The pacing and the plot are seamless. And wonderful job of HEA ending that makes you want to read her next book. I'd love to read more about the characters in this story and wish it was part of a series.

I received my copy through NetGalley but this book is worth paying full price for. When you are done reading you will sigh in satisfaction over the excellent read!

Giveaway: We're giving away a copy of this book or any of Elizabeth's novels this week, winner's choice.  Leave a comment.

28 September 2014

Love One Another by Elizabeth Camden

Author Elizabeth Camden

Above all, love one another.

Thanks for asking me back, Carrie. I always love the insight I get from your author interviews. Instead of talking about handling a major crisis, I want to celebrate one of the simplest of biblical verses, and one that has brought me great comfort over the past year.

1 Peter 4:8  Above all, love one another deeply.

If I were the type of person to get a tattoo, this is the phrase I would use! It is beautiful in its simplicity, yet so powerful and all-encompassing in its message.

I have two step-daughters who are recent college graduates. I am afraid they have drunk deeply from the well of victim-mentality and the tendency to demonize those from the opposite side of their political viewpoint. This is a sadly common phenomenon on college campuses (I know, I’m a college professor in my day job!) I think this attitude is terribly destructive, and I’ve been urging them to try to extend compassion not only to people they agree with, or deem “worthy” of compassion, but to everyone.  Yes, that includes the jerk who whistles rude catcalls as they walk past a construction site. We don’t know what his story is, what weakness, insecurities, boredom, or poor parenting he came from. Jesus’s command to love one another includes that construction worker.

This phrase was with me as I wrote With Every Breath, which features a number of secondary characters who suffer from tuberculosis, a once fatal and highly contagious disease. In the 19th century it was common to blame TB victims for their plight, as they were often the poor, the prostitutes, and the people living in inner city slums. Yes, the command extends to them as well.

It is difficult to watch the news these days that is filled with so much political turmoil, racial incidents that spiral out of control, wife abuse, etc. Above all, love one another deeply!  This does not mean you must approve of the actions, but anger and demonizing the opposition has not been working to well in solving the incidents I am referring to. Step back, take a breath, and try to understand the other side. They may be wrong. In many cases, they certainly are…but it is hard to truly solve these problems without trying to understand our fellow man. (I hear my step-daughters angrily objecting to that turn of phrase. Fellow man! How sexist! Yes….but I’m a writer and the poetry of language means something to me…. I ask my beautiful, talented, but angry young daughters to understand my need for poetic license.) 

Above all, love one another!  This is the first phrase I think of when I’ve run into frustrations over the past year, be it from a snide insurance adjuster, problems at work, or a student angry at a grade I’ve assigned. Above all, love one another.

Honestly…one of these day, if I ever get that tattoo…..

Mini Bio: Elizabeth Camden is a professor and research librarian at a small college in central Florida. Her novel Against the Tide won the coveted RITA and Christy Award. She has also written four nonfiction history books for the academic market. It was her ongoing fascination with history and love of literature have led her to write inspirational fiction. Elizabeth lives with her husband near Orlando, Florida.

She regularly posts about the joys of the book world at http://elizabethcamden.com/blog

Her books are available at all online stores, as well as Christian bookstores and most brick and mortar major bookstores.

 Giveaway: We're giving away a copy of Elizabeth's latest release or choice of any of her books to one commenter this week. Come back and check the upper right hand corner of the blog to see if you have won (allow up to ten days.)

25 September 2014

Diana Flowers Reviews Love's Fortune By Laura Frantz

Revell, Sept. 9, 2014

Reviewed By Diana Flowers
~5 stars~*****
 Fabulous Fiction By Frantz!
From the wooded, primitive hills of Kentucky to the industrial city of Pittsburgh comes a sweeping saga of the affluent Ballantynes -- and of the beloved Rowena "Wren" Ballantyne, who finds herself caught between both worlds.
Wren loves her simple life in Kentucky; crafting fiddles, dulcimers, and violins with her father, Ansel Ballantyne, and roaming the countryside in her mismatched clothing. But when Ansel receives a summons to return home to Pennsylvania because his father is ill, Wren's world is turned upside down. Entering high society means new dances to learn, ball gowns, corsets, and proper etiquette, and poor Wren longs for home. She is befriended by the rugged, James Sackett, a steamship pilot for Ballantyne Shipping, but it is the wealthy and irresistible, Malachi Cameron, who has his heart set on making Wren his bride. Will Wren choose her beloved Kentucky over the forbidden love of two handsome men? -- one of whom harbors a dangerous secret, and the other with a woman from his past waiting in the wings...
Laura Frantz has written another masterpiece -- destined to be an award winner! Not simply a story of balls and frippery, Ms. Frantz delves into the covert and dangerous world of aiding fugitive slaves, and seedy characters who will stop at nothing to obtain wealth. The romantic tension was exquisite torment (sigh), and the author's writing skills were unsurpassable. Wren was one of the most genuine "down to earth" young women, and I so fell in love with her character from page one. The only regret I have concerning this magnificent novel is saying "goodbye" to the Ballantynes...who leave behind a legacy of wealth, wisdom, and most of all -- love. 


 This book may be purchased through Amazon, CBD, and your local bookstore.

TWO BOOK GIVEAWAY -- one from Laura and the other from OWG! A copy of any one of the Ballantyne Legacy books in your choice of format! Leave a comment to enter. 
*Leave your email or check back in winners column either Sunday or Monday to see if you have won!*


23 September 2014

Noela Nancarrow reviews Love's Fortune by Laura Frantz

Love's Fortune

Love’s Fortune (The Ballantyne Legacy Book #3)
Revell (September 9, 2014)

Reviewed by Noela Nancarrow
~5 Stars~ *****

A tale you'll never want to leave..

Mesmerizing. Breathtaking. Sublime. Synonymous with all of author Laura Frantz’s novels; ‘Love’s Fortune’ is a story painted with eloquent, luscious prose. The haunting echoes of dulcet tones sweep throughout the pages, enticing the reader to savor every exquisite morsel. With such incomparable writing, and the richly crafted, enthralling characters within, I daresay you may find yourself wishing, like myself, that this book never arrives at the end.

The enchanting and innocent character of Wren Ballantyne infiltrates your heart almost as soon as you meet her. Innocent and devoid of pretentiousness, how will this flower of Cane Run, Kentucky with her southern drawl, calloused hands, and tanned skin, ever make it in the harsh and unforgiving world of the 1850’s Pennsylvania high society? Her wealthy and prominent Ballantyne relatives are mostly accepting, but the harsh appraisal and cold manner of others has Wren longing to flee back to the hills and hollows of Kentucky.

The dashing, perfectly-polished gentleman James Sackett, first meets the beautiful Ballantyne heir, Wren, aboard the steamship he was piloting as he transports her father and Wren to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Stalwart and serious, and committed in his job as the Ballantyne’s most valued river pilot, James’ unyielding veneer is almost undone by the guileless homespun charm of the enchanting Wren. This battle within continues as he is given the responsibility of being Wren’s escort in her coming out in society. He can never allow her to know of his secret affection; his questionable heritage is at odds with the Ballantyne name and the grim danger that pursues him because of his abolitionist dealings is something he won’t submit her to. Can he truly count on her being safe, and how will James’ heart endure watching her being courted by others?

The legacy that the patriarch Silas Ballantyne has established is vast and far-reaching. Though boasting an impressive line of steamships and an industry of ironworks that have made the Ballantyne’s incredibly wealthy and prominent in society, their most enduring legacy would have to be family, love, commitment to God, and their clandestine endeavors of aiding fugitive slaves. In this final installment of The Ballantyne Legacy, we unearth the layers that make up Silas’ granddaughter Wren, including her Nancarrow heritage; we meet the swarthy, rugged, and charismatic Malachi Cameron; and we regrettably close the chapter on one of the most enrapturing ‘book’ families I've ever read about! 

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You can purchase this wonderful book at these places: Amazon, CBD, BAM, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, and your local bookstore.

GIVEAWAY: A copy of any of the Ballantyne Legacy books in your choice of format! Leave a comment to enter. 
Leave your email or check back in winners column either Sunday or Monday to see if you have won!

21 September 2014

Where is Carrie Fancett Pagels This Week?

Author Carrie Fancett Pagels

Besides being here on the OWG blog this week, I'm also visiting on Debbie Lynne Costello's blog Sword and the Spirit on Monday and on Friday I have a guest post at Heroes, Heroines and History (HHH blog).  There will be giveaways on both blogs.
The Fruitcake Challenge by Carrie Fancett Pagels, Book 3Christmas Traditions Series

Last week, I guest posted on the ACFW blog and my novella, The Fruitcake Challenge, was reviewed on two blogs: Diana Montgomery's Teatime Reviews and Robin Wilson's Books You Can Feel Good About.

Giveaway: Copy of Carrie's new novella and a set of A Cup of Christmas Cheer (Guidepost Books, 2013) hardcover books (which includes Carrie's short story in book one, Tales of Faith and Family for the Holidays:  "Snowed In: A Northwoods Christmas") will be given away to someone who comments on this post and on the other two posts this week. Answer this question: In Carrie's short story last year in the Guidepost Books' collection, the heroine Eliza (renamed Elsie by the editor) had something in common with Josephine Christy, the heroine in The Fruitcake Challenge.  What was it?

18 September 2014

A Bride in Store by Melissa Jagears -- Reviewed by Carrie Fancett Pagels

A Bride in Store by Melissa Jagears
A Bride In Store
Bethany House Publishers (August, 2014)

5 Stars *****

Sweet Story with Rich Layers!

Eliza Cantrell, the daughter of a Eastern businessman, arrives in Kansas only to be robbed on the train enroute. She has come as a mail-order bride, bringing funds to assist the mercantile owner of what is primarily a men's shop. But her intended isn't even in town when she arrives. Instead Eliza begins helping William Stanton, her husband-to-be's business partner at the store. Except William doesn't seem to know much about business at all. He wants to be a doctor. Not only that but he is generous to a fault, failing to charge for services and goods. Will Eliza marry the man who sent for her? Will William find a way to attend medical school? Their sweet romance affects everything!

Bibliotherapy elements: Robbery and attack with injury so there is some PTSD, abandonment by her family, self concept issues, sexism against a woman being a business owner, honesty in relationships, and more! This novel has lots of lovely layers of meaningfulness. Not a light fluffy mail order bride story!  

Available for purchase at AmazonCBDBarnes & NobleBook DepositoryBAM, etc.

GIVEAWAYWe're giving away a copy of either of Melissa's novels this week, choice of format (international winners, ebook only unless available through the Book Depository. Leave a comment to enter.

*Check back in the Winners column on the top right hand side of the blog after Saturday.

16 September 2014

Noela Nancarrow reviews A BRIDE IN STORE by Melissa Jagears

A Bride In Store
A Bride In Store
Bethany House Publishers (August 26, 2014)

Reviewed by Noela Nancarrow
5 Stars *****

Surprises in Store

An enterprising and engaging historical romance set in 1881; ‘A Bride in Store’ delivers with interest! Author Melissa Jagears pens a story with a generous supply of intrigue and romance guaranteed to satisfy every customer. Betwixt the pages, you’ll encounter appealing, realistically-flawed characters, searching for approval from others as well as themselves and God. Come join these endearing personalities on their journey in discovering truths that will eventually free them to find love, contentment, and God’s will.

The business-savvy Eliza Cantrell leaves Pennsylvania a week early feeling excited and eager to start a whole new life in Kansas as a mail-order bride to a general-store owner. She didn't count on getting viciously robbed on the train trip there, nor finding Axel, her groom-to-be, out of town when she arrived. Keeping herself busy until her fiancĂ© returns, she works on improving the store’s sales alongside Axel's not-so-business-savvy partner, William Stanton. Eliza is frustrated at William, herself, and her treacherous feelings. Yet she stubbornly refuses to give up her dreams, because she knows they don’t include a man like William - whose aspirations differ so vastly from her own.

Any wonder William doesn't run the store at huge profit; he’s way too kind-hearted and generous!  Obviously his passion is not in business, but it IS in doctoring, and William longs to save enough to afford medical school. That’s not working out too good for him though. It doesn't help that he’s finding it increasingly difficult to concentrate and work beside Eliza, but his errant thoughts refuse to stay off the straight-talking, smart, and pretty lady working in his store. Unfortunately Eliza is promised to another, and that fact is driving him crazy!

Life is never straightforward, and this is true for this surprisingly unpredictable story also. How can Eliza’s and William’s paths ever connect when they are going in two completely different directions? ‘A Bride in Store’ is a pilgrimage of seeking God’s will, of self-discovery, and of sacrifice and love. Beautifully penned, it is a heart-warming treat for the romantic soul that enjoys seeing God work all things together to give us new dreams and directions when ours go astray! 

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Available for purchase at Amazon, CBD, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, BAM, etc

GIVEAWAY: We're giving away a copy of either of Melissa's novels this week, choice of format (international winners, ebook only unless available through the Book Depository. Leave a comment to enter!

*Leave your email or check back in the Winners column at the top right hand side.

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