Monday, December 31, 2012

January's Author of the Month

Welcome to 2013, all you fantabulous HCR lovers out there!

I hope you enjoyed my post for last months author...I personally think that author is the best. *wink*

I am SO totally excited to be featuring a very talented (and might I add hilarious and very faithful) author. Everybody, give it up for Margaret Brownley!!!!

When I discovered Margaret's books, I literally couldn't put them down.

Just sayin'...if you haven't read them yet then you are missing some great stories. I have reviews for all her "inspy" romances, so make sure you check those out as well!!!

Margaret has answered some fun questions for me, so I hope that you enjoy getting to know more about her!!

Also! If you want to be entered to win her new book, follow my blog (if you don't already...) and post this link on FB! You will have to leave me your email if you want to be notified of winning!!! Believe you me, you will want to win this'un!! (As you will see at the end of this post, there is ANOTHER different contest Margaret is doing, so make sure you read all the details to enter BOTH contests!!)

Tell us about yourself!  

First, let me say thank you, Amber, for inviting me to visit with your readers.
As for me, I was always a storyteller and constantly in trouble as a child for making up stories. The writer part was harder to acknowledge, partly because English was my least favorite subject.  My eighth grade teacher told me not to even think about being a writer. Diagram a sentence?  You gotta be kidding?

I might have spent the rest of my life scribbling in notebooks and writing amusing notes to my kids’ teachers had I not “volunteered” to edit my church newsletter. After I made the church picnic read like a Grisham novel, my former preacher took me aside and said, “Maybe God’s calling you to write fiction.”  And so that’s what I did.  I now have more than 25 novels to my credit, plus my first non-fiction book Grieving God’s Way: The Lasting Path to Hope and Healing was published in July.

On the personal side: My husband and I have three grown children.  As for hobbies, I like to herd cattle, chase down bad guys, and rob stages.  Wait at minute. That’s not me; that’s my characters!

What is your favorite novel of all time and why?

I don’t know that this was my favorite of all time, but the one that made a lasting impression on me was Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I was around nine when I read it and it was the first book that made me cry. I wanted to be a writer like Jo March.

What is your favorite scripture in the Bible?

I have to say Mark 10:27: “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.”  I gave you the King James’ version because that’s the Bible that’s handy in this historical writer’s office.

Your stories, are fun and fast paced! Where do you get your inspiration for your stories?

I get my ideas mostly from reading: An article in the National Enquirer about Avon ladies selling to Amazon natives inspired an older historical novel of mine.  I looked up Avon and discovered that the first Avon “lady” was a door-to-door book salesman.  He gave out perfume hoping to entice women to buy his books, but the perfume proved more popular.  Not only did this give me a great idea for a story but some good advice about what not to give away when promoting a book.  

The idea for my current Brides of Last Chance Ranch series came from the N.Y. Times archives:
In 1861 fifty ladies of the first Church of Milford in New York formed a society of old maids. It cost five dollars to join the group and members had to vow never to marry. The interest earned from the money paid for the annual dinner, with the principal going to the woman who remained unmarried the longest.

According to an article in the New York Times thirty years later in 1891 all but fifteen of the original fifty had married.  By then the prize money had risen to a thousand dollars.  I’ve not been able to find the winner’s name—and being a romantic I sincerely hope there wasn’t one— but the best part of being a writer is where real life fails, inspiration takes over.

How to Enter the HONK IF YOU LOVE BOOKS contest:
In WAITING FOR MORNING set in the Arizona Territory in 1896, Dr. Caleb Fairbanks introduces the residents of the Last Chance Ranch to his beloved "horseless carriage" named Bertha.  When Caleb and his backfiring Bertha incite gunfire from former dance hall girl, Molly Hatfield, the handsome doctor knows he's in for an adventure with the intriguing woman and her spirited wheelchair bound kid brother, Donny.
Share your memory of a car that played an important role in your life's story for a chance to win a $100 gas card. Email your story (no more than a couple of paragraphs) to  Contests ends January 31.

Margaret, thank you SO much for being my author of the month--this is a real treat and I KNOW people are going to love this new novel as much as all your others. Thank you for following God's path and blessing us all with your talents.

God Bless and Happy New Year!!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Snowflake Bride

Holy romantic tension, Batman!!

Book rating: Here a little, there a little

Ladies, let me tell ya, Jillian hart knows how to write a beautiful story. Her style is full of elegant prose, and like I said before, she can weave romantic tension worthy of Margaret Mitchell! The only thing I found to be a disappointment was the lack of excitement--which of course, being that I'm a drama queen, I must have in an HCR. *teehee*

And so, the absence of good old fashioned drama made the story drag s bit, which is the only reason I can't give it a higher rating. That being said, her other books like Calico Bride are loaded with excitement!!

In this sweet story, Ruby Ballard is looking for work to help her family's farm and serendipitously lands a job at the house of a man she's secretly in love with. Problem is, every girl in town is in love with the dashing Lorenzo and Ruby knows he will never be interested in a poor girl like her. (Can anyone say Cinderella?! That's what this story reminded me a way...)

Lorenzo (hello! love that name!) is SO debonair! Love him! He has been in love with Ruby since he first laid eyes on her, but she will hardly give him the time of day. However, he won't give up that easily, and he strives through the course of the book to "win her heart"...little does he know he already has!

If you prefer a slower pace, this will be right up your alley. I did think the characters were fun and completely lovable. You could easily read this in a day (if your kids don't ever get hungry...) and you will be swooning your way through the book, believe you me.

Happy Reading!
Buy it! (kindle edition)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Doctor in Petticoats

"Is there a Doctor in the house?!" (Eh hem. I'm sorry, I couldn't help myself...)

Book Rating: Up All Night'er

Aw. My friends, you can't go wrong with a Connealy book. You just can't. I mean, every story is different, and some are better than others, but every one has something about it you can enjoy.

This story is fun, fast and fabulous! Beth McClellan (you'll remember her from Petticoat Ranch) has just gone to school to become a nurse, but she likes to consider herself a doctor--and she's good enough to be one. When she crosses paths with a man named Alex Buchanan--a man who's running from his past--her healing skills take on a whole new meaning.

The protagonists in this story are enjoyable--though different. One thing I liked about this was actually the questions at the end. So if you read this book, read the questions at the end--it will give you good food for thought. One of the questions deals with Alex and what a troubled character he is and why it is that so many women want to help troubled men. Very thought provoking...

Anyway, I did think Alex was a bit too needy of a leading man for me. I prefer the strong, stable type (although with the obligatory weaknesses, etc). And Beth was great too, but I had a bit of a hard time relating to her for some reason. But don't let that stop you from reading it!

The thing I liked most was the side story about another McClellan girl, Mandy. So fun! I can't wait for her story!

Grab your Winchester, and a cup of warm cocoa and enjoy the excitement!

Happy Reading!
Buy it!

Friday, December 7, 2012

A Home in Drayton Valley

There’s a Ned for every Nelly.

Book Rating: Here a little, there a little

First of all, I want to thank Bethany House for sending me this book in exchange for my honest review. I always appreciate being a part of their blog tours.

As my opening comment suggests, there’s someone for everyone. In turn, I believe there is an author/book for every reader. Unfortunately, I do believe that Kim Vogel Sawyer and I are not a good match as far as reader/author are concerned. I have read only two of her other books, and even though I rated one pretty high, I think I am done reading her stories. But I don’t say that to discourage you. Because again, she might fit your style just swimmingly.

If you will read many of the other reviews about this book, you will find they are glowing. Honestly, I had a hard time finding many things that I liked about this book. But again, that’s just me I guess. And, I know you hear this from me all the time, but…I think I must have a serious disease when it comes to how I feel about a book’s cover… This cover didn’t help my preconceived notions about this story one iota. Of all the covers of HCR’s I’ve seen so far this is the one I liked the very least.

Tarsie Raines—the heroine in this story—loses her dearest friend on the way to Kansas and promises to care for her children…and her husband.  Pretty fun plot, although we’ve seen that before. Had the potential for fabulous romance. But for me it didn’t deliver. Tarsie wasn’t really a character that I enjoyed. She had a thick accent (as did many of the characters in this book) and for some reason that made me disconnect with her. I’ve read other books where characters had accents and it didn’t bother me, but her accent bothered me. I simply could not bond with her. I tried—I really did!

Also, the stories where mom’s die are always hard for me since I am a mom and the thought of dying when my kids are still so young is just too much for me, so that aspect I didn’t like. 

As for Joss—the leading man… how do I say this nicely…. I didn’t like him at all. He was coarse, and he drank a lot and didn’t care about his kids and was brash and mean at times... Yikes. For me, that’s not the kind of leading man I warm to. Of course, he turns around at the end, but for the most part I was discouraged at his behavior and it made me not care about what happened to him. Does that make sense? I understand that we like to see characters that are flawed, but in my opinion he was too flawed.

The gospel aspect of the story was strong, so if you are just looking for a great "historical christian" you may enjoy it.

I feel bad having to write such a review, but so it is.  If you have read any others of hers and love them, and think I ought to give it a try let me know! Otherwise, I will say "so long" to Vogel Sawyer.

Happy Reading!
Buy it!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Cowboy Christmas

This book is better than any Hallmark Christmas movie!! And that’s sayin’ somethin’, cuz I love Hallmark Christmas movies.

Book Rating: Best of the Best

Annie Talbot has been given the gift of singing, and she uses it to spread the word of God. But, when the new leaders of the traveling missionary troupe want her to sing bawdy tunes and wear inappropriate clothing, she runs away—and just in time! However, she fears her father—whom she hasn’t heard from—won’t be happy to see her.

As far as leading ladies are concerned, Annie is great. But, this is how I typically feel about all of Connealy’s characters. She is strong-willed and sweet. She believes in Christ and is always striving to do what is right. What’s not to like? Though I must say, she is so determined to do things her way--even though it puts her in danger--at times I felt like strangling her.

Now, Elijah Walker, the leading man, is fabulous. I can say—in all honesty—that he is my favorite leading man from all of her books. He’s rugged and tough, but tender when he needs to be. He is humble and recognizes when he needs to change, and does it. Plus, he's drop-dead handsome. Wow. The perfect man. *teehee * When Eli crosses paths with Annie, he gets a lot more than he bargained for—in a good way.

One thing I enjoy about Connealy’s books is that there’s always a great villain—or at least the conflict is VERY strong. I love that! The more drama the better (most of the time). That’s what keeps me reading! I know something even more fabulous and more exciting is just a few pages away. No wonder Connealy has won so many awards. She knows what she’s doing!

The Christmas element of the story wasn’t very strong until the last quarter of the book, but it’s so worth it, and if you don’t get misty eyed at the end I’ll eat my hat.

(P.S. This is the kind of book cover I like. No faces. It's creative and cute, but doesn't take away from my own interpretation of the characters.*big cheesy grin*)

Happy Reading!
Buy it!