Friday, October 28, 2016

Check Out My New Post!

Check out my new post on the Daily Megaphone to get some recommendations on the perfect spooky films to watch this Halloween.  Happy reading!  


Suspenseful Thrillers
by Heather Snyder 





Thursday, October 27, 2016

Love, Lace, and Minor Alterations - My Review







V. Joy Palmer's book Love, Lace, and Minor Alterations is the perfect book to read on a rainy day with a cup of tea in hand.  Alongside its colorful characters, there are quick and quirky modern references to TV shows, films, and books that most readers would be familiar with--my favorites would have to include those referring to Gilmore Girls and all things coffee.  The story is set in New Hampshire, and the author mentions a few tourist spots that are located within this state, yet many of the towns and other details are inspired from Palmer's own personal experiences growing up in this region, which I think is fabulous.  Writing is all about the perspective one gains from life and its adventures. 

The main character, Isabel "Izze" Vez, who is a coffee addict, frequents her cousin's cafe, Whipped Cream, practically on a daily basis.  Thankfully for Izze, this establishment is located within walking distance to her own place of work, Ever After Bridal Boutique, where she holds a position as a bridal consultant.  The job may appear fluffy; however, Izze deals with emotional brides, nervous brides and their mothers, including bridezillas all day everyday.  Therefore, she must not only conquer the imperative assignment--find the perfect wedding gown--but she must also learn patience and self-control when it comes to working with brides and their emotional and sometimes bothersome friends and family.  Is she up to the task?

James Miles Clayton once worked at a successful company, but after gaining more insight regarding his chosen profession, he decides to take on the task of starting his own business.  Ironically, his first job is to manage the books for Ever After.  As he tries to untangle the financial mess of various accounts, in the hopes of making the store more profitable, change will be required.  Yet when Miles meets the staff at Ever After, he realizes one of the bridal consultants never takes her eyes off him.  He soon learns this curiosity stems from her own resentment toward him and not from any admiration on her part.  He never considered how much his suggestions in relation to running a bridal shop would upset her.  Will she ever learn to trust his judgment?    

As more and more changes are made, Izze continues to give into her feelings of contempt concerning Miles.  And Miles wonders if he will ever be able to convince Izze that these changes are for the best and that he only wants to look out for her welfare.  While Izze's feelings fluctuate throughout the text, she starts to learn to put her faith in God and not in man.  Only then will she be able to let go and let God take over the problems in her life.  He is the only One who can make beauty out of her mess.

The characters in this text are feisty and somewhat unpredictable, yet readers will be able to connect with them because they are so true to life.  Sometimes the storyline seems a bit over the top and a bit unbelievable--could a person like Izze really make so much out of nothing?  However, there are moments in life when someone does react instead of stopping to listen to another person's explanation.  As a reader, you are hoping each character will make better choices, but you eventually come to the conclusion that certain characters are immature--they need time to grow.  I love how Palmer includes the stories of their struggles, because ultimately she shows the reader that no matter who you are--with the Lord's help you can change and be the person He wants you to be.  As several characters move through a range of dilemmas, these difficulties take them back to the place they need to be--back into the presence and arms of a graceful Creator. 

I really enjoyed seeing characters grow in this manner, and I appreciated the Bible verses and references used to explain a person's struggles and victories.  In turn, the reader will be able to understand why particular Bible verses were so helpful to Izze, Miles, Cassandra, and Lily.  This manner of writing further solidifies the connection between the reader and the character--both creatures are flawed and in need of a Savior. 

If you want a book with a wonderful message and delightful characters, this is the book for you.  Each turn of the page will keep you guessing as you watch Izze wrestle with her own thoughts as she tries to make the best decisions each and every day regarding her work, her clients, her co-workers and roommates, and even dealing with Miles.  This charming story reminds the reader that despite the errors of mankind, grace and forgiveness are just around the corner.    

This review is my honest opinion. Thanks to Singing Librarian Books for my copy.
 






Genre: Christian, Contemporary, Romantic Comedy
Publisher: WhiteFire Publishing
Publication date: June 15, 2016
Number of pages: 300

Isabel “Izze” Vez, bridal consultant extraordinaire, has been helping brides find The Dress for years. She loves nothing more than helping make wedding dreams come true…but sometimes the happy endings grate on her. How many times can a girl discover someone else’s gown without dreaming of the day it’ll be her turn to wear one?

When James Miles Clayton walks into her life, he represents everything Izze can’t handle: change. He’s determined to bring the Ever After Bridal Boutique into the black…and to prove to Izze that she should give him a chance.

But if there’s anything Izze handles worse than change, it’s trust. She may have a few issues—fine, she knows she does. But will they keep getting in the way of any chance of her own Happily Ever After? She wants to trust God to give her those dreams of love and lace, but that’s going to require some…minor alterations.








V. Joy Palmer is an avid blogger and is co-founder of Snack Time Devotions. She is a youth leader at her church, and loves acting crazy and drinking coffee with the teens. When Joy isn’t urging the elves that live in her computer to write, she’s hanging out with her husband, their adorable baby girl, and their two socially awkward cats. This is her debut novel.







1. What do you want readers to take away from Love, Lace, and Minor Alterations?
I really hope readers know all the way to the core of their souls that they can trust God. Life, drama, and fear can make it so hard for us to fully trust Him, but God has beautiful plans for us. I love it when readers tell me how God used truth nuggets to touch their hearts. So I really, really just want God to touch your heart. That’s what makes me happiest. :)

2. What inspired the idea for Love, Lace, and Minor Alterations?
I’ve always been obsessed with weddings, and at the time, I was single and frustrated with the man who is now my husband. I started venting writing, and all of a sudden I just heard Izze in my head. The idea of a single woman in the wedding business who wanted to get married and was fed up with the leading man fascinated me.

3. What authors do you enjoy?  Are some of these that inspired your own writing?
I love SO MANY authors! And I will read pretty much any genre if there’s a romance in the story. However, some of my favorites who also inspired my writing would be Robin Jones Gunn, Erynn Mangum, Janice Thompson, Jenny B. Jones, and Lori Wick.

4. What is your current WIP (work in progress)?  What details from this project can you share with us?
All I can tell you about my current WIP is that while I love these character, I kind of want to shake them while sobbing hysterically. ;) Your worth in God and the things that define you are big themes.

5. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?  Did becoming an author ever cross your mind?
Well, there was that brief period where I wanted to be a bus driver…

I always loved telling stories, writing songs, and reading. I started and stopped writing several stories while growing up, never showing them to anyone. I filled notebook after notebook with songs I had written. I wanted to be a singer/songwriter, but fear held me back. However, God is awesome because He took that dream and helped me fully realize another dream. In my senior year of high school, I realized I actually liked writing assignments. They made me downright giddy. Yeah, I’m a weirdo, but that’s when I knew I wanted to be an author.

6. When you are not writing, what other hobbies do you enjoy?
Um, does eating chocolate or watching Gilmore Girls count as a hobby?

I love hanging out with my husband, and our baby girl keeps me bouncing and laughing all day. I’m also a youth leader at my church. I read as much as I possibly can and even review some books on my blog. 






A note from the author:
Hey guys! This is a snippet from one of my favorite scenes in Love, Lace, and Minor Alterations. I had so much fun writing this scene! This is when Izze and Miles meet for the first time. At a bookstore. Because who doesn’t want to meet the love of their life at the bookstore?

Izze is just trying to buy some books, but this rude guy (AKA Miles) keeps staring at her. She’s reading in the coffee shop in the bookstore, and Miles reappears. Izze wants you to know that she seriously considered throwing her coffee at him. ;) 

Snippet

I take a sip of my drink and open the first book.
Suddenly, a shadow falls over me.
I look up, and who do I see?
That’s right. Rude Guy.
“You’re sitting in my spot.”
“I beg your pardon.” My mouth hangs open.
“It’s perfectly fine. I’d just like my seat back.”
“Uh, no, I think you misunderstood me.”
He raises his eyebrows at me, and I notice his striking blue eyes for the first time. “You’re not going to move?”
“Yes. I mean no. I mean yes.”
His eyebrows creep higher at my stuttering.
I take a breath. “I mean you misunderstood when I said, ‘I beg your pardon.’ I meant it like, ‘I don’t understand what you’re talking about.’ So, no, I am not giving you the seat back because you were not sitting here. To answer your last question.”

His eyebrows have taken a flying leap to the moon by the time I finish. Which makes his rather gorgeous eyes that much more obvious. Oh, I really hate that I notice this.
“Okay.” He sets his coffee down and takes the seat across the table from me.
Bad. Bad. Very bad.
This isn’t going to end well. I can feel it in my bones.
“What are you doing?” I snarl. Politeness gone. Out comes Snot Face.
“I’m sitting.”
“I can see that, but why? This is my table. Go get your own.” My sneer would make any middle-school kid proud.
“Well, I say it’s my table, but you clearly think it’s your table. So you’re not going to budge. Correct?” He holds my gaze and nods when I don’t answer. “That’s what I thought.” He sips his coffee, sets it down, and folds his hands all lawyer-style as he waits for me to refute his logic.
Oh, I’ll refute it all right.
“I don’t know you. And I’m not sharing a table with someone I don’t know.” Ha! Take that.
“I’m James Miles Clayton, but my friends call me Miles. And this is my spot.” His smug grin reveals an even row of teeth. “And your name is?”
“None of your beeswax.” Great, now I’m reverting back to myself at age five.
“That was a good, mature comeback.” He smirks. “You don’t have to tell me your name, but it would sure go a long way in getting to know you.” His expression is somewhat charming. And insanely aggravating.
“You could be a stalker.”
“I assure you I’m not.”
“I’m sure that’s what all stalkers say. Especially when the restraining order is placed.”
“I sit at this table every time I come to this bookstore.”
“I bet the other tables would like to make your acquaintance. Share the joy.”
“I’m a one-table-for-life kind of man,” he shoots back.
“Look, you weren’t sitting here when I sat down. It looked like James had left the building.” I purposely don’t call him Miles because I am not his friend. This man is crazy.
His eyes sparkle. Uh-oh. “Now, why did you think I had left?”
“Um, because I didn’t see you.”
“If you didn’t see me, I would think you would have said something like you didn’t see me. You said it looked like I had left. Meaning you saw me. Possibly even watched me.”
“Uh…” Sigh. I cannot tell a lie. “Uh, I wasn’t watching for you. I saw you and ducked.”
“Why is that?” He leans forward.
“Because you were staring at me earlier. And that bugs me.”
He doesn’t deny staring at me. He just doesn’t address it.
“Did your mother ever teach you that staring is rude?” I ask.
“My mother raised me to be quite the gentleman.”

I snort. Like a lady. “On the contrary. Gentlemen don’t stare.”
James the Rude Guy shrugs. “Think what you’d like, but let’s get back to you. You were watching me after you ducked. To see if it was safe to sit or run.”
I refuse to comment. Hey, if he can do it, I can too.
He chuckles. “Looks like between the two of us, you’re the stalker.”
“I am not!”
Heads turn our way and someone shushes me. Great.
“I am not,” I say again, this time just above a whisper.
“That’s what they all say.”


“Argh!” My head drops to the table. “Can I please just have my table?”Might as well try polite desperation.
“Nope.”
I raise my head. “Why? Why sit here and bug me? Why not get another table?”
He looks me square in the eyes, and it almost takes my breath away. “Because I like this spot. And the company intrigues me.” He stands up. “But I’m afraid I have to go pay for this book. I hate reading a book in a coffee shop that I haven’t purchased yet. Until next time.” He winks and walks away.
This time I make sure he walks out the door.  

.



Saturday, October 8, 2016

New Books from Revell Publishers


*Mattie Schrock is no stranger to uprooting her life. Even as her father relocated her family from one Amish community to the next, she always managed to find a footing in their new homes. Now as the Schrock family plans to move west from Somerset County to a fledgling Amish settlement in Indiana, she looks forward to connecting with old friends who will be joining them from another Pennsylvania community--friends like Jacob Yoder, who has always held a special place in her heart.

Since Mattie last saw Jacob, they've both grown into different people with different dreams. Jacob yearns to settle down, but Mattie can't help but dream of what may lie over the western horizon. When a handsome Englisher tempts her to leave the Amish behind to search for adventure in the West, will her pledge to Jacob be the anchor that holds her secure?


Tender, poignant, and gentle, Mattie's Pledge offers you a glimpse into Amish life in the 1840s--and into the yearning heart of a character you'll not soon forget.



*Tabitha Brown refuses to be left behind in Missouri when her son makes the decision to strike out for Oregon--even if she has to hire her own wagon to join the party. After all, family ties are stronger than fear.

Along with her reluctant daughter and her ever-hopeful granddaughter, the intrepid Tabitha has her misgivings. The trials they face along the way will severely test her faith, courage, and ability to hope. With her family's survival on the line, she must make the ultimate sacrifice, plunging deeper into the wilderness to seek aid. What she couldn't know was how this frightening journey would impact how she understood her own life--and the greater part she had to play in history.

With her signature attention to detail and epic style, New York Times bestselling author Jane Kirkpatrick invites you to travel the deadly and enticing Oregon Trail. Based on actual events, This Road We Traveled inspires the pioneer in all of us.




*After a disastrous Middle East mission ends his six-year Army Ranger career, Finn McGregor needs some downtime. A peaceful month in the woods sounds like the perfect way to decompress. But peace isn't on the agenda once he crosses paths with publishing executive Dana Lewis, a neighbor who is nursing wounds of her own. Someone seems bent on disrupting her stay in the lakeside cabin she inherited from her grandfather. As Finn and Dana work together to discover who is behind the disquieting pranks, the incidents begin to take on a menacing tone. And when it becomes apparent Dana's foe may have deadly intent, Finn finds himself back in the thick of the action--ready or not.

Bestselling author and three-time RITA Award winner Irene Hannon draws readers into a web of psychological suspense where danger lurks in dark corners . . . and keeps them captive until the very last page.




*Restless and adventurous, Ruthie Stoltzfus is right on the cusp of leaving her Amish home. Secretly, she's earned her GED, saved her money--but she can't quite set her journey into motion. Just as everything falls into place, along comes Patrick Kelly.

Patrick is a young man on a journey of his own. He's come to Stoney Ridge to convert to the Amish and has given himself thirty days to learn the language, drive a buggy, and adapt to "everything Plain." Time is of the essence and every moment is to be cherished--especially the hours he spends with Ruthie, his Penn Dutch tutor.

Ruthie's next-door neighbor and cunning ex-boyfriend, Luke Schrock, is drawn to trouble like a moth to a flame. Rebellious, headstrong, defiant, Luke will do anything to win Ruthie back--and Patrick Kelly is in his way.

Bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher invites you back to Stoney Ridge for a story of dreams deferred--and the promise of hopes fulfilled.




*Dani Prescott can't believe the lie Brett Somers is trying to sell to the media. During an interview about the plane crash that killed his parents, he blamed Dani's mother. But the crash killed her as well. Vowing to restore her mother's reputation, Dani has been following Brett and taking photos, hoping to find something she can use to discredit him. But when she catches his eye instead, she quickly finds herself agreeing to a date. Brett knows this mystery girl is hiding something--but he's got his own secrets to keep. What will happen when he discovers who she really is?



*After years of vibrant city life in San Francisco, Lonnie Hull DuPont reluctantly trades her three-room apartment on Telegraph Hill for a farmhouse in Michigan. She immediately misses the rhythm and the pace of the city, and the isolation of country living has her longing for something more.

Enter Kit Kat, an obsessive-compulsive tortoiseshell, and Lucy, a playful Russian Blue who can nail a bat right out of the air. These stray cats arrive a year apart and each ask to move into the farmhouse--and ultimately DuPont's heart. From the hysterical process of getting two strange cats to like each other to the exciting years of watching those cats thrive--and inspire DuPont in the process--this book is the heartwarming story of how one woman's world would never be the same.




 *Each synopsis is from the back cover of each novel.





Friday, October 7, 2016

New Books from Love Inspired Historical - October Releases


*With a little girl to raise, widowed single father Dawson Marshall could sure use some help—he just didn't expect it to come from city girl Isabelle Redfield. Dawson has encountered city women before. He even married one. What if his little girl grows attached to Isabelle and the woman tires of ranch life just like his late wife did?

For heiress Isabelle, the fledgling Western town of Bella Creek, Montana, offers something more meaningful than her wealth: a chance to forge a useful life. But if she wants the townsfolk to value her for more than her money, she has to keep her identity hidden. A difficult feat, especially when it comes to the cynical cowboy whose sweet daughter she cares for after school. But will hiding the truth ruin her chance of earning Dawson's love? 




*Arriving in Texas, cowboy Jared Ivy discovers the grandfather he hardly remembers has passed away…and an unknown woman has claimed ownership of his family's newspaper. Jared has the will that proves he's the owner—but the sheriff refuses to enforce it. Instead, Jared must work with Mary Lou Ellison until a judge comes to town and rules in favor of the rightful heir.

Intrepid reporter Mary Lou has already lost her father figure. And she won't lose the Pine Haven Record—the legacy he left her—without a fight. But when she and Jared stop sparring long enough to investigate a story together, they become a force to be reckoned with. Will they let their battle over the Record get in the way of something even more newsworthy: true love? 




*Paid to accompany two orphaned siblings to their grandfather in Nebraska, Lily Winter is dismayed to discover the old man has gone missing. And when the children's inheritance makes them a target, buying protection is Lily's only option. Until a handsome gun-for-hire suggests another solution: marriage.

Undercover US Marshal Jake Elder can't reveal his true identity without blowing his mission. Nor can he leave the town's pretty new arrival unguarded. But while uncovering a plot against her charges is difficult and risky, falling for Lily is all too easy. Especially once their marriage in name only gives Jake a glimpse of how wonderful Christmas—and their future as a family—could be. 




*Convinced that Allison Ashworth deserves better, Sheriff Shane Timmons has always tried to remain aloof around his childhood companion. But with Allison in Gatlinburg for the holidays, insisting on caring for two motherless babies, Shane feels obliged to help her. How can he keep his distance when she and the children are quickly becoming the family he never dared to wish for?

As a girl, Allison was drawn to the wary yet handsome Shane, who never seemed to look her way. But in spending time with him and two sweet babies, she might yet find a chink in the confirmed bachelor's armor. Every shared moment gives Allison hope that this Christmas, her dreams of motherhood—and a life with Shane—may finally be coming true.




*Each synopsis is from the back cover of each novel.  


  


Thursday, October 6, 2016

New Books from Bethany House Publishers


*Having escaped Egypt with the other Hebrews during the Exodus, Shira is now living in freedom at the foot of Mt. Sinai, upon which rests the fiery glowing Cloud containing the shekinah glory of God. When the people disobey Yahweh and build a golden idol, the ensuing chaos gives Shira an unexpected opportunity to learn the arts of midwifery. Although her mother wishes for her to continue in the family weaving trade, Shira's gifts shine brightest when she assists with deliveries. In defiance of her mother, Shira pursues her heart's calling to become an apprentice midwife.

When a delivery goes horribly wrong, Shira finds herself bound to a man who betrayed her, the caretaker of three young children, and the target of a vengeful woman whose husband was killed by Shira's people, the Levites. As contention between the Hebrew tribes and the foreigners fans the flames of another dangerous rebellion, Shira will come face-to-face with the heartbreak of her past that she has kept hidden for so long. How can she let go of all that has defined her to accept the love she's denied herself and embrace who she truly is?




*Deborah MacCallister, head nurse at the Blessing hospital, has loved Toby Valders since her school days, but she's had enough of their on-again, off-again relationship. Toby truly cares for Deborah, but he's never felt like he could commit to marriage or a family. 

When Anton Genddarm, the new schoolteacher, comes to town, the young women of Blessing see a chance to force Toby's hand with a little strategic matchmaking. But real sparks fly between Deborah and Anton, and she finds herself in an even more complicated situation. The attention she gets from Anton makes Toby do some serious soul-searching, but is it too late? 


Then Deborah receives an invitation to study the latest advances in nursing at a hospital in Chicago, and she faces a hard choice. To leave or stay? Should she give up on the dream of Toby and accept the interest of Anton?
 



*Geesje de Jonge crossed the ocean at age seventeen with her parents and a small group of immigrants from the Netherlands to settle in the Michigan wilderness. Fifty years later, in 1897, she's asked to write a memoir of her early experiences as the town celebrates its anniversary. Reluctant at first, she soon uncovers memories and emotions hidden all these years, including the story of her one true love.

At the nearby Hotel Ottawa Resort on the shore of Lake Michigan, twenty-three-year-old Anna Nicholson is trying to ease the pain of a broken engagement to a wealthy Chicago banker. But her time of introspection is disturbed after a violent storm aboard a steamship stirs up memories of a childhood nightmare. As more memories and dreams surface, Anna begins to question who she is and whether she wants to return to her wealthy life in Chicago. When she befriends a young seminary student who is working at the hotel for the summer, she finds herself asking him all the questions that have been troubling her.


Neither Geesje nor Anna, who are different in every possible way, can foresee the life-altering surprises awaiting them before the summer ends.
 



*When Loni Ford is informed that she has inherited property in the Shetland Islands, she laughs. She wants nothing more than to sell it and be done with it. But when she arrives in the North Sea enclave, she is stunned to find that "the Cottage" is not at all what she expected, nor is David Tulloch, the man most of the islanders believe to be the rightful heir. 

The locals could hardly be more surprised that the heir is a woman--and an American. Loni, in turn, finds the islanders quaint and a bit behind the times. Expecting David to be as provincial as the rest of his clan, she discovers that there is far more to the man than meets the eye. And there is something about the peaceful atmosphere of the place--and the character of its most prominent citizen--that soon gets under her skin. 


Beneath the peaceful surface, however, change is threatening the island of Whale's Reef. David's cousin Hardy Tulloch, whose claim to the inheritance now in Loni's hands was backed by oil investors, has not been deterred in his aim to control the island. But his co-conspirators have plans of their own, plans that put Loni's very life in danger.



 *Each synopsis is from the back cover of each novel.