Monday, December 30, 2013

A Match Made in Texas

To novella, or not to novella, that is the question.

Hopefully, I have the answer.

Book Rating: Up All Night'er

OK. I've read several novellas now and I'm developing quite a strong opinion about them. *oh dear* But before I divulge that, let me talk about this particular collection as a whole.

It's nice to see these authors that we love getting together to write shorter stories with a similar theme. I thought that was fun. I enjoyed seeing Neill, especially, since I'm always a HUGE fan of Karen's. The plots of the various novellas were enjoyable with varying degrees of excitement and drama, and it was a very easy read.

Do I recommend this book? Absolutely....
Will you be sorry you bought it? No way....

*do you sense a "but" coming?*

But (there it is!) for me, these stories didn't feel natural--or they didn't feel like they flowed naturally out of the authors brains like a lot of the novels we read. For me--and this might just be me--I sensed the publisher in the background saying something like, "Hey, we've got an idea for a novella collection we want you to be a part of and we want to do it this way." Do you know what I mean? Maybe I'm just being way too picky. This is the real reason why I've shied away from these collections in the first place, and now my fears are realized. THIS IS JUST MY OPINION. There are tons of raving reviews about these types of collections, so obviously there's a real market for them. For me it's a no-go.

Now, as for my overall opinion of novellas generally.... I'm not a fan. They are delightful little stories, but that's it. They don't stick with me, they don't have meat. In fact, sometimes I read them and think, "Shoot! Why didn't they make this into a full novel, it would have been great!" And I just end up feeling jipped. Has that ever happened to you?

In the end, yes, this book does deserve my second highest rating, but that's all. And will I be tempted to pick up any more novellas or novella collections? I don't think so. *frown*

If you read this, let me know what you think and if you LOVE novellas, tell me why!

*Thank you to Bethany House for my free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review*

Happy Reading!
Buy it!

The Wyoming Heir

Let's just take a moment here to absorb the utter masculinity of Luke Hayes. Seriously. He made this book for me.

Book Rating: Up All Night'er

This was my first taste of Naomi's writing and let's just say--it WON'T be my last. Her ability to get into the characters head and make their emotions and feelings tangible to the reader is fabulous. I couldn't get enough.

Luke Hayes is ready to pick up his little sister from school and take her home--that's all. And he does NOT want to get roped into anything else, but he can't help it when the school's mathematics teacher Elizabeth Wells needs his help. How can he say no to someone so beautiful--and so determined?

Elizabeth wants nothing more then to save her beloved girl's school from closing. But her unlikely supporter and ally makes it hard for her to focus--what with his dashing looks and rugged cowboy appeal. Will he stay and make all her dreams come true, or will he leave and break her heart?

You can't wait to read it, can you?! LOL For me, there was PLENTY of delicious drama and heavy tension--which you don't often find in LIH, I've found. The plot was intriguing and all the characters enjoyable. There was even a twist that I didn't see coming. Love that!!!

If you are looking for a great read to start off the new year, this is the one!! It makes its official debut January 1--so order it now!!!

Great work, Naomi!! Can't wait to read more from you!

Happy Reading!
Buy it!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

December's Author of the Month

Welcome to the last month of the year! Can you believe it's already here? (*teehee*, that rhymes!) Another year past--full of both joys and sorrows. And no matter the height nor depth of the peaks and valleys, Christ has been with each of us every step of the way.

As you may recall, last year I focused on Christ for the month of December, and I think I need to make it a tradition. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the Author and Finisher of our faith, and it seems only fitting that we should focus our attentions on Him.

Are we not all beggars? Are we not all subject to sin and the frailties that come with being human? Of course we are. None of us can measure up. Not without Christ. He was born--and died--so that we can live again. Because of His infinite atonement, this mortal shall take on a glorious immortality. We will be able to live with Him in the eternities, singing endless praises to His glorious name in numberless concourses of angels.

Christ gave us a gift we can never repay. He has saved us from hell! As I consider this unfathomable gift, I wonder, what gift will I give to my Savior this Christmas? I believe the best way to show my love, is to serve others. Isn't that what Christ's life was all about? When we enter the waters of baptism we take upon ourselves the name of Christ and promise to do good in all times, in all things, and in all places. I must be Christ's hands here on earth, every day of my life, and show His love by my actions. Its not always easy, but He will be with me--I know it.

I want to bare my testimony that I know God lives, that He loves us and that He will come again in great glory. When I stand before my Savior at the judgement bar, I hope He will say, "Come unto me, ye blessed. There is a place prepared for you in the mansions of my Father."

Thank you all for being such a blessing in my life.

May you always remember your worth in the sight of The One who was born for you.

God bless you and Merry Christmas!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Monthly Recap: November

You are probably thinking, "Monthly recap? What recap, Amber, I haven't seen anything from you for an entire month!" Ehhhhhhh, it's true, I know. This is the first month in over a year where I had almost no time for reading--and I mean NO time. Without going into detail about how everyone was sick, sick and more sick . . . I will gladly discuss the two ADORABLE novellas that carried me through this month of bad colds and flus.

(PS, don't forget I'm doing this post in conjunction with the delightful Naomi Rawlings over at Inspirational Romance Ratings. She's got REALLY fabulous stuff there, and her site is another great resource for those looking for clean romance. You can check out her monthly recap here.)

First, one day after cleaning up, well, I won't tell you what I was cleaning-up . . . I was ready for some ME time. My FABULOUS historical author friend, Carrie Francett Pagles has written a simply delightful novella that is sure to make you say "awww" numerous times. I know I did! Reading this story, set at Shirley Plantation in VA, is like stepping back in time! And if you enjoy history like I do, that's HUGE! The hero, Matthew Scott (let's take a moment to savor the utter masculinity of that awesome name . . .) is wonderful and the heroine, Angelina, is so endearing. Both of them have secrets, both have strong feelings for one another. But in a time of war when their worlds are unraveling, can they really come together and find true love?!
I've got you at the edge of your seat, right??!! Well, Carrie will do that to you, too--you won't want to miss her WONDERFUL novella, Return to Shirley Plantation.

Book Rating: Up All Night'er

Then, late one evening when the house was finally quiet, I was desperate for a good romance, but knew I didn't have time to get into a BIG story. Enter, Melissa Jagears. It was as if I could hear her whispering, "Hey, Amber, you haven't read my novella yet, right? Now's the time!" And boy, Melissa, were you right! It was just the escape I needed! Loaded with enough tension to keep even this drama queen happy, Love By The Letter is no doubt a MUST read.
Dex is a hero you love right away. Rugged on the outside and all-the-right-kinds-of mushy on the inside, I dare you not to fall in love with him. I knew I adored him in A Bride For Keeps and it was wonderful to see him and the marvelous Rachel fall in love in their own story.
If you need something short and sweet and completely delightful, PLEASE read this. The only problem with it is, I seriously could have enjoyed 300 more pages!!

Book Rating: Best of the Best

So ladies, I know this month's recap is not loaded with books, but these two novellas are beyond wonderful, written by two extremely talented authors. I know you will enjoy these!! If you've already read them, you HAVE to tell me what you thought about them.

God bless you and have a blessed Thanksgiving!
Happy Reading!

Monday, November 11, 2013



I am sure that by now you have heard about the great giveaway/contest that my dear friend Julie Lessman in doing for her fabulous Christmas novel A LIGHT IN THE WINDOW. But if not, I am here to remedy that!!! You can thank me later. (I accept chocolate and books... *wink*)

You can find all the information you need on her latest Journal Jots entry, and you can hop over there right now to check out the DETAILS!!

But, I MUST share this great book trailer... and I must admit I did get a little sneak preview of this and let's just say, it made me want to go back and read it all over again!

Make sure you enter and PLEASE, don't forget that A LIGHT IN THE WINDOW is only .99 cents right now for the ebook!!! What a deal!! But it is ALSO available as a paperback, so if you are like me and LOVE the feel of a good old-fashioned book in your hands, you are in luck!

With no further ado, enjoy the video. (Then, go get a copy of the book and ENJOY yourself even more!!)

Monday, November 4, 2013

Elusive Hope Giveaway and MaryLu Tyndall interview!!

Wowy-kazowy!! How lucky are we?! I feel so blessed to have MaryLu Tyndall with us today! Her latest book ELUSIVE HOPE is to die for. All you need to do is eat a cup of Death By Chocolate ice cream while you read this book, and you'll be dead for sure--in a good way! *wink, giggle*

If you haven't already read my review, you can find it here. And, I recommend you stop everything and do that now, then come back and finish the interview. Don't worry, we'll wait for you.

(Cue elevator music...)

Back? OK, let's begin!

Heeeeeeeeer's the interview!

Hi MaryLu! First, your hero and heroine are each very feisty and strong willed, yet they each have something very heavy they carry inside. How do you come up with such in-depth characters and what's your secret for bringing them to life?

I really believe that a writer has to have gone through a lot of their own personal trials in order to create characters who have deep internal flaws and struggle to overcome them. I often asked God why He gave me such a difficult childhood and then why did he give me such a LONG leash when I reached adulthood?  Thank God He finally yanked on that leash or I'd be over the cliff right now.  Yet, now that I'm an author, I see some purpose in all the pain. I am able to relate to many of the struggles I put my characters through. I suppose that's why, to many of my readers, my characters seem so real and end up becoming more like friends than fictional people.   Plus, I'm pretty feisty and strong-willed myself!  Just ask my husband. :-)

When you write, are there a lot of scenes that never make it to the book? Do you keep those scenes to use later or do you scrap them?  

It depends on the book. Some books I've kept every scene, others definitely needed some trimming here and there.  If I had to cut a scene in order to lower word count (which I often have to do because I'm rather verbose!) or because  it doesn't further the plot of the story, etc, and NOT because it's terrible writing, then I usually keep it. If I just didn't like the scene or thought it was poorly written, I scrap it. I don't want it turning up later after I'm dead in some English professor's class as an example of how not to write. LOL

What's your favorite part about seeing your book get published? 

There are so many different phases about the process that I love. One of my favorite parts is getting a first glimpse of the cover!  The cover is normally the first visual of my characters and story, the first resurrection from the pages into reality. If I have a video book trailer made, I also love watching it for the first time!   I guess my next favorite part is holding the book in my hands. It never seems real until you get those first copies in the mail. But my favorite part of all is getting emails from readers who write to tell me how the book impacted them, how it made them think differently, or brought them closer to God. Those emails are the best! And they give me the impetus to keep moving forward in this crazy business.

LOVE that insight, don't you, ladies?! Thank you VERY much, MaryLu--its such a thrill to get to know more about you, your characters and what its like to publish a book.

And the moment you've all been waiting for--the GIVEAWAY!! (The crowd is on their feet, erupting in cheers!) MaryLu has graciously offered to giveaway a copy of ELUSIVE HOPE, so if you would like to be entered, make sure you follow this blog and/or my FB page and leave a comment below with your email  address. IE: historicalchristianreview (at) gmail (dot) com

I'd love to know what your favorite Tyndall book is. Hands down, mine is ELUSIVE HOPE.

God bless you all and Happy Reading!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Monthly recap: What I read...

This is so much fun! When author Naomi Rawlings contacted me about doing a blog post together every month, and sharing a recap of what we read, I was tickled pink! 

Starting now, at the end of every month I'm going to do a quick post about all the books I read and the ratings I gave them. I will ALSO include a link to Naomi's website so you can go over there and see what she read! Sweet, huh? I have had a blast getting to know Naomi! And (this is so awesome) I'm going to feature her in January as my author of the month! You're gonna love her I know it!

Her website is Inspirational Romance Ratings, and you can twinkle on over there by clicking here. It's a fabulous website, by the way, and she reviews Christian books in several genres, so that's cool!!

So, here's my list:
(And... for those of you unfamiliar with my rating system, you can read about it here.) Let me know what you think about this new venture! I'm excited and I hope you enjoy it also!!

Elusive Hope
Rating: Best of the Best (in my top 5)

The Miner's Lady
Rating: Here a little, there a little

Gun Powder Tea
Rating: Up All Night'er

The Wedding Journey
Rating: Here a little, there a little

Sisters of Mercy Flats
Rating: Meh

Monday, October 28, 2013

Elusive Hope

Me at page 1: Holy crud, I already love this.

Me at page 64: Whaaaaaat? Ok. This is BEYOND amazing and I haven't even gotten a hundred pages in.

Me at page 190: I'm creeped out (in a good way, of course--fun mystery)! What's going on in this crazy jungle?! Can't go to sleep yet...must keep reading!

Me at page 245: AHHHHH! This could not be more gripping. Seriously!

Me at the end: I'm ready to start reading it all over again. It is now in my TOP FIVE!

MaryLu, this is your best yet and even though I LOVED everything about it, I must say: You had me at Hayden.

Book Rating: Best of the Best

As you know, I've read a lot of books--not as many as you have perhaps, but I've done my fair share. I've rated a lot of books in my highest category and I've gushed about lots of novels. But PLEASE, please understand that I cannot find words enough to express how INTENSELY I love this story. It had all the right elements, and I seriously could not put it down. For me, this is MaryLu's best and without a doubt it is in my TOP FIVE!!

Magnolia is not your typical heroine--and I loved that! I found her to be deep and complex, even though on the surface she seemed shallow and self centered. She grew so much and I loved watching her learn about herself and also how she understood more about Christ and how He sees each of us. You don't get this kind of leading lady very often and I just adored her.

Hayden (swoon!) is just about perfect. Rugged, dashingly handsome, street smart, cunning and witty. He is on a mission to find his father and nothing is going to stop him. I loved getting in Hayden's head and watching as he struggled to understand what he was dealing with--internally and externally. But even more than that, I LOVED how he was always jumping to her rescue!! *sigh* He changes much like Magnolia (though in different ways) and I found that as they fought, and struggled and as their passion grew--I just loved them more and more.

Never a dull moment--so much excitment! And OH, the romance! Plenty of great kisses in this one!!

Sometimes you can really enjoy a book--love it even, but there might be a part or two that didn't really grip ya. Not so here, ladies. I savored every word.

PLEASE get yourself a copy of this and make it pronto, capiche? You'll have to let me know what you think of it when you are done. I KNOW you will love it.

Happy Reading!
Buy it!

My Hope Is Found and Interview with Joanne Bischof

I am SO excited about today's post! (Can you hear my gleeful squeal?) I have been looking forward to this for WEEKS!!! Joanne has become such a dear friend, and I am THRILLED to be able to do with post with her today.

By now you are likely familiar with the sleep-stealing, heart-tugging, life-giving series by Christy nominated author Joanne Bischof.

If you still have not read them--or at least haven't yet read book three, I will refrain from giving too much information away and simply say-- "Go read it!!" *hehehe* You might lose an entire night's sleep, but you'll thank me later. Believe me.

My review of MY HOPE IS FOUND can be read here. (Quick recap: the book is amazing, not unlike the first two. I hear you humming in agreement. *big grin*) I really can't say enough about how marvelous this entire series is and about Joanne's talents as an author. She truly uses God's gift to share His light and love--

I'm THRILLED to have Joanne on today! She was kind enough to answer some of my questions in a video!! YAY! How fabulous, right?

She's also offered to do a giveaway, so after you've watched the video, post a comment and tell me what you thought was most interesting! Remember, to be entered you must follow my blog and/or FB page and leave your email address. As always, I will do the drawing a week from today. (Nov. 4)

Thank you again SO much, Joanne! It is a pleasure to have you here and I wish you all the best with your marvelous books.

Happy Reading!!!

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Miner's Lady

A ridiculously beautiful cover. My self-esteem dropped a few notches--OK, it was like ten notches--when I glimpsed the more-than-gorgeous girl on the cover. Yet, the story itself, unfortunately, really didn't capture me.

Book Rating: Here a little, there a little

This story followed a very similar theme as in book two of the series, The Quarryman's Daughter. Two families feuding, tragedy at the mine, etc. I suppose it would have been fine if I hadn't read book two, but this idea/plot seemed a bit old for that reason. Also, I don't know what it was, but the Italian family thing didn't do much for me either. Which is weird, cuz I love all-things Italy.

Chantel is a kind, sweet girl and when her younger sister Isabella falls in love with the son of the Calarco family, she agrees to help her sister spend time with Orlando. However, after an incident with Dante--the other Calarco son, Chantel isn't sure what to do. She can't deny the attraction between them--but two relationships between the Panetta's and the Calarco's can only mean trouble.

For me, there simply wasn't enough romance. Bummer, I know. The Christian element was there, and very strong as in all of Tracie's books, but again, it just wasn't the plot for me.

You know I am huge fan on Tracie Peterson and even though this particular story didn't tickle my fancy, that doesn't mean you won't like it. She's a great author and I plan on reading more of her books for sure.

Have you read this? What did you think--am I off my rocker?

~~Thank you to Bethany House for my free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.~~

Happy Reading!
Buy it!

Gunpowder Tea

I *heart* Margaret Brownley!!

Book Rating: Up All Night'er

There's no such thing as an unlikeable Brownley book. I see you nodding your head--you know what I'm talkin' about!

In this conclusion to her BRIDES OF LAST CHANCE RANCH series, Brownley orchestrates a truly fun and engaging story that is reeeaaallly hard to put down.

Seriously, this author knows how to do romance! I knew going into this that there would be plenty of kisses and romantic tension to keep me happy--love that!!

Miranda Hunt is a skilled detective and assumes the name Annie Beckman to try and catch the Phantom--a notorious train robber--who is believed to be somewhere near the Last Chance Ranch. Little does she know that the handsome Mr. Branch is also an undercover detective on the trail of the same outlaw. If only Miranda can keep her mind on her work, and away from the handsome, intriguing and ever-mysterious ranch hand...

What a great plot! Very unique and kept me interested throughout the story. Quick, wit-filled dialogue and excellent Christian theme. I recommend this highly! And the really fun part is that you get to see the other characters here and there as well, which I LOVE! The only problem is... I never read book two!! I gotta get on Amazon...

Everything is so well intertwined--I really can't say enough about it. When you read it, you'll have to let me know what you think!

Happy Reading!
Buy it!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Two Reviews Are Better Than One

Good evening, ladies!

I've been doing a bunch of reading lately--is that any surprise?! *wink* And I would like to devote this post to two books I've finished in the past week.

The Wedding Journey

Book Rating: Here a little, there a little

I thought this little LIH was very cute. If you are needing a quick read, lots of adorable romance and a fun setting, this has it. However, for me the heroine was a bit too blunt and at times naive for my taste. (But the hero sure seemed to like it! *teehee*) Cheryl St. John is a talented writer, conveys the emotions and situations very skillfully, but her style really wasn't my cup of tea.
All of that being said, its a sweet story and I would recommend reading it.
(Buy it!)

The next story, however . . .

Sisters of Mercy Flats

Book Rating: Meh. . .

It has been a V-HERY long time since I've rated a book in my lowest category. And, as you know I really don't like to do it. This little story had a lot going for it, but in the end, well, I found everything completely lacking.
The heroine Abigail, in my opinion, had nothing going for her and I hate to lay blame at her door, but I must--she did this story in, in my opinion. I suppose the author was trying to create a relationship between the hero and heroine that was full of jocular sparring, but I didn't see it. As for the hero, he had too many issues (that were mentioned too late in the book) for me to relate to him.
It was a quick read, very short and very fast. There was some good adventure, but it was tainted by Abigail's tedious personality.
Again this is all my own opinion.

Feeling adventurous? (Pun intended *teehee*)
Buy it!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

October's Author of the Month

Fall is finally here! 

Welcome to October's Author of the Month post! Grab yourself a mug of some delicious apple cider or hot chocolate--something fall-worthy--and get ready for fun!

I'm thrilled to be able to feature Robin Lee Hatcher, a fabulous author who has written dozens upon dozens of books, both historical and contemporary. Her latest historical romance BELOVED is out and ready to get into your pretty little hands! (I've read the first few pages, and WOW, its amazing. I can't wait to read the whole thing!)

And to whet your appetite for her latest book, Robin has offered to giveaway the first TWO books in the series, BELONGING and BETRAYAL! How fabulous is that?! To enter, you must be a follower of my blog and/or FB page and leave a comment with your email address. I will be choosing a winner one week from today!

But before I continue with the interview let me say a big THANK YOU to Melissa Jagears, who was featured last month. She is just delightful and her debut novel, A BRIDE FOR KEEPS was excellent . . .  make sure you read it-- or else! *wink*

OK! Let's get on with the interview!!

Tell us about Robin! We'd love to get to know you more. If you want, please include something silly or funny that we might not know about you. :)

I began writing my first novel in 1981, and it was published in January of 1984. Since then, I have written 71 novels and novellas. I wrote 30 books for the general mass market, and then I began writing stories that were faith-based. I served for five years on the board of directors of Romance Writers of America, including two years as their president. I have lived in Idaho all my life and have a deep love for my state and its history, which is why I set most of my books here in Idaho, whether they are contemporary or historical stories. In my non-writing world, I'm a wife, mom, and grandma.

Had you always wanted to be a writer? When was it that you really knew God was leading you to write?

Although I was always writing, no, I did not always want to be a writer. I wanted to be a movie star. Since that would have meant being on a diet for the rest of my life, I think I chose the right profession.  It was frustration with the ending of a novel that caused me to want to try to write a book. I didn't really do it with publication in mind. I just wanted to see if I could do it.

You have written so many wonderful books. Do you have a one that stands out as a favorite, or one that is extra special to you--and why?

All of my books are special to me in one way or another. The two most often named as readers' favorites are The Forgiving Hour and Ribbon of Years. The protagonist in Ribbon of Years, Miriam, was inspired by my mother, so her story is special to me. And my most fun characters to write about were Katie and Ben in Catching Katie and Cleo and Sherwood in Fit To Be Tied.

If you had three wishes (frivolous or serious...) what would they be?

I'm going to sound like a contestant in a beauty pageant, but I would have to start off with (1) world peace. It grieves my heart, the troubles in our nation and around the world. Come, Lord Jesus!

(2) To get to write fiction right up to the very end of my life.

(3) To suddenly love to cook. (There's a plaque on my refrigerator that says: "I only have this kitchen because it came with the house." Enough said.)

Lastly, what are your "top three" historical Christian romance books?

I hate this question because I have many, many author friends who have written many, many wonderful books. Thus any list of three could change (with the exception of book #1) depending upon the day and my mood and how good my memory is.

1) REDEEMING LOVE by Francine Rivers
2) A VOICE ON THE WIND by Francine Rivers
3) TO WHISPER HER NAME by Tamera Alexander

YAY! Wasn't that great? I just love getting to know these wonderful Christian ladies, who are so willing to share their gifts with us. Thanks, Robin! It's been an honor to have you. God bless you and keep writing, cuz we will certainly keep reading!! *big grin*

Now, don't forget to enter the giveaway!! This series is amazing and you won't want to miss it!

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Bride for Keeps

Thanks to Melissa, once I started this book I couldn't stop. I blame her for my unkempt house and for my poor children who had to scrounge in the couch cushions for left-over Cheerios on which to subsist, while I sat completely engrossed and oblivious to everything else.

That's how good this book is.

So prepare your family before starting this novel, and you'll be much better off than I was.

Book Rating: Up All Night'er

I just finished this book two minutes ago and though after a long day my eyes are aching and my head begging to rest, I must write this review now!! Sorry head, you'll just have to wait.

I was giddy while reading this. Just ask my husband. I got so engrossed in the characters and their drama-filled lives (yes, drama--you know how I love my drama) I couldn't focus on anything else. It was fabulous. I mean, isn't that what you want from a book?

Everett Cline has been jilted too many times to get his hopes up that this mail-order-bride will actually stay--and marry him. Julia Lockwood is trying to escape a difficult past, filled with pain. But she isn't sure if this marriage of convince is the answer. If its not, she's got to keep running.

The plot is sweet and flows effortlessly. I must admit that there were some things that happened that I did not see coming. And there were other things that I expected to happen, that never did. The romantic tension is CRAZY! In fact, I will admit that I yelled at the book, just once, because I could not believe that girl didn't just let it go and realize what kind of man she had!!! (I'm still not quite over it, can you tell?) And, let's face it, I would have liked another kiss or two mingled throughout, but the wait is well worth it, let me tell ya!

I dare you to try and put this book down.
Double dog dare you.
Oh, yea?
 I'll triple dog dare you.
*teehee wink*

Happy Reading!
Buy it!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Love's Awakening

Remember when you went to that really expensive French restaurant and had real creme brulee for the first time? Heaven! Remember that other time you watched ROMAN HOLIDAY and were pretty sure it was the best movie ever made? Yea, I remember that too.

Well, this book is like that! Only better, because there are no calories--and let's face it any book is always better than a movie.

Book Rating: Best of the Best

Oh, be still my heart. This book is like the creme brulee of fiction--so exceedingly delectable you won't be the same after reading it. Laura's writing is incomparable. I was transported back in time by her prose. The way she puts together a scene and the words she uses to describe people, settings and emotions will seep into your bones, making the story come magically alive.

Ellie is the daughter of Silas (take a moment to catch your breath, ladies) and Eden Ballantyne and she is SUCH a breath of fresh air. I enjoy most heroines I read about, but Ellie was so sweet and strong without being over-the-top. She seemed real. And I LOVE that.

Now as for Jack, you'll have to excuse me if I blush a bit. *eh hem*  He is SO rugged and there is something about a reformed rogue that is just so appealing, isn't there?!

These two characters have known each other since childhood, and their families are anything but friends. So when Ellie decides to teach Jack's younger sister, a firestorm hinging around the families' rivalry and their need to hide something vital and desperate, begins to rain down!! Its all so marvelous, you will be sucked in and won't be able to stop! . . .  Kind of like creme brulee. *teehee* (OK, I'll stop with the food analogy)

There you have it, my friends. I can't say more though I COULD say more, I just don't want to give too much away. So go read it. And enjoy every delicious, mouth-watering word, knowing that you won't gain a single ounce. *wink*

~~Thank you to Revell for my free copy of this book, in exchange for my honest review~~

Happy Reading!
Buy it!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Costume Party Giveaway!! (Are you interested in WINNING three awesome books?)

I LOVE dressing up, do you?

You are invited to a costume party! YIPPEE!!

Please come dressed as your FAVORITE heroine from your FAVORITE HCR. If you can get your hubby or boyfriend to tag along, come dressed as your FAVORITE COUPLE!! Tell me who you would dress-up as, what novel they are from and why they are your FAVORITE! (OK, I'll stop emphasizing that word now... *teehee*)

To be entered you must follow my blog OR my FB page.

PLEASE tell your friends! I will keep this giveaway open for TWO WEEKS, so there is lots of time to enter!

What's the prize you ask!?! I will be giving ONE lucky winner THREE fabulous books...but you'll have to stay tuned to find out which ones. *wink*

As for me, I'll be dressing as Constance from A BRIDE MOST BEGRUDGING and my husband will be going as Drew. *sigh*

It's gonna be awesome, can't wait to see you there!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Rebellious Heart

REBELLIOUS HEART, where have you been all my life?!

Book Rating: Best of the Best

I'm pretty sure I haven't ever rated a Hedlund book anything other than a Best of the Best. This is another winner no doubt!!

Here are the TOP FIVE reasons you will love this book:

5: Location, location, location! 
Who can't like pre-RevWar Boston? I mean, really. Talk about endless opportunities for fabulous conflict, right?

4: Character love!
There is something wonderful about this story's characters and the way they are all intertwined. There was no character I didn't really care for, which you sometimes find in even the most delectable novels. Ben and Susanna are marvelous together and their chemistry is so thick you can feel it coming off the pages.

3: Romance 101-501
Jody does it right. She has "romance" figured out from the basic essential components to the minutia that makes your mouth water. I LOVE the scenes in this book where Ben and Susanna are together, because no matter what is happening you feel their attraction growing.

2: History
I am obsessed with all things colonial and have been since I was young. OK, so I'm a nerd, so what. *wink* This story brought to life the colonial era in a way that made you feel the salty air from the beach and smell the apple tansey as it cooked. Jody claims she isn't an expert, but she could'a fooled me. *wink again*

1: Your story ain't nothin' if it ain't got plot:
I thought the plot of this story was beautifully complex and yet I never felt overwhelmed by it as can happen sometimes if there is too much going on. Simply marvelous!! Everything had a purpose--and oh, the drama! Bless my heart, I love intrigue and excitement and drama. A lot!! The spiritual nature of it was lovely as well, and I promise you will not be disappointed on that point either.
It was all there and so magically intertwined, I know you will LOVE this story as much as I did.

Thanks, Jody, for another masterfully written story. *smile*

Happy Reading!
Buy it!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

September's Author of the Month: Melissa Jagears

Welcome to September!! I have to admit that this has always been my very favorite month of the year. I love the weather--warm, yet not too warm, and there are no holidays (not that there's anything wrong with holiday's per se...) to make things super hectic or busy. September is the unsung hero of the year as far as I'm concerned.

Before I introduce our NEW and OUTSTANDING AUTHOR, let me say a big thank you to Joan Hochstetler who I hosted last month. She is fabulous--thanks Joan!

And now, for this month...

I have gotten to know this wonderful new author, whose book A BRIDE FOR KEEPS releases October 1, and I couldn't wait to tell you about her!! Put your hands together for MELISSA JAGEARS!!! Seriously, I think Melissa is a blast (hilarious sense of humor) and her novel is marvelous. You are going to love getting to know her.

Enjoy the interview!!

Tell us about Melissa! 

I'm the most unromantic romance author possibly ever. I dislike celebrating holidays, especially Valentines' day.

I never had a boyfriend....I couldn't make myself use the word "boyfriend" with my husband (the only guy I ever dated) because it seemed such a silly word for an almost 30 year old and it was just odd to think I had one. So when he pressed me for exactly what he was to me, I said he could be my "secret boyfriend" if he had to be something, but he couldn't ever call himself that. :P I'm sure that was tons sillier, but I just couldn't say that word with a straight face. Thankfully the word "fiance" took over um....5 months later. (I had to go look up dates, told you I was unromantic.)

How long have you been writing? What inspired you to be an author?

I'd occasionally had story ideas pop into my head and I'd write it on a slip of paper and throw it in a box, but I never wrote beyond what was necessary. As an English teacher, I recall being very uncomfortable grading my students' creative writing assignments because I wasn't qualified if I never wrote it myself. (Probably the easiest A's my students received.)

When we had children, we decided I'd stay home. After a year of patty-cake and endless diaper washing, I needed some kind of academic exercise because my brain felt like it was atrophying!  So I pulled out that box of ideas and decided to try my hand at writing fiction.

That would be about 4 years ago. I've written 6 novels and 1 novella so far.

What scripture or scripture story give you the most comfort, guidance in your life?

Comfort: John 10:29 - "My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand." Guidance: 1 Timothy 4:6-16, my Bible's heading calls this section "A Good Minister's Discipline."

If you had three wishes what would they be? (they can be serious or frivolous....doesn't matter!)

A housekeeper/cook, a mortgage free home, more talent than I have

What are your top three historical Christian romance books?

Hmmmm, ....I'm a chronic rereader, so in a crazy world where you were never allowed to read a book more than once, the ones I'd be most upset over never being able to reread would be: A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers, To Win Her Heart by Karen Witemeyer, Who Brings Forth the Wind by Lori Wick

Thank you SO much, Melissa! I know readers are going to FLIP about your book, Melissa, and about your novella. Just a word about that novella, ladies-- LOVE BY THE LETTER--is free right now, so click on that link and you can get it ASAP!! Melissa, it was a pleasure to interview you and get to know you better. I can't wait for readers to devour your story and THANK YOU for following your heart and sharing your talents with us. God bless!!

Yes, yes, readers--I know what you're thinking, "So is there gonna be a giveaway?!" Right-o, there is! Leave a comment and your email (you must follow my blog or FB page to be entered) and I will put your hat in the drawing! It's going to be awesome! I'll choose the winner one week from today!

God bless you all and have a wonderful September!

Happy Reading!!!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Rebellious Heart and Jody Hedlund Interview

Good Morning!!!

I am THRILLED to be able to introduce this fabulous story to all you lovely, lovely ladies. *wink* As you know, Jody Hedlund is absolutely one of my favorite authors, as well as being simply a marvelous woman who shines with the light of Christ. 

Her latest release REBELLIOUS HEART (it's available Set. 15, but of course you can PRE-ORDER it right now...jus' sayin'...) is a story that will stay with you forever, just as all her others have done.

The Revolutionary era has always been one of my favorites so when I heard Jody had written a story set in Boston in the 1760's I just about flipped! I asked Jody a few questions about her latest story, and now that I know more, I love it more--and I know you will, too! 

But you may be asking, "So, Amber--have you read it? Where's your review?" 
Answer: No. I haven't read it yet, BUT my influencer copy is coming soon and believe you me--when I get it I will be reading it immediately and writing my review just as quick. *grin*

OK, one last thing...did someone say GIVEAWAY?!?! That's right, my friends, Jody is giving away a copy of REBELLIOUS HEART-- so do yourself a favor and enter! You must be a follower of my blog or FB page, comment and leave your email address if you want to be entered to win. Easy-peasy, right?

Heeeeere's the interview!....

What prompted you to write a story in this era?

I was really interested in writing another story inspired by a famous couple from history similar to my books, The Preacher's Bride and The Doctor's Lady. So I compiled a list of various couples that I thought had unique courtships and fascinating lives.

During the course of my research, I came across several biographies regarding John and Abigail Adams. As I read more about them, I realized that the stories about how they met and courted would make a wonderful book, especially because they faced numerous obstacles in their quest for love.

As most history buffs know, John and Abigail Adams went on to have a wonderful marriage full of love and friendship. They penned numerous letters to one another during their lifetime. And although much has been recorded of their marriage, very little has been written about their early days and courtship. I thought it would be fascinating to bring them to life for our modern generation.

What did you love most about these characters as you were writing them?
I loved getting to explore some of the issues of the colonial era.Both Susanna and Ben are facing discrimination, but each on a different level. Susanna faces discrimination because she's a woman and Ben because of his lower social status. I loved being able to wrestle through some of the issues they dealt with as a result of the discrimination.

I also enjoyed delving into some of the Pre-Revolutionary War tension that was beginning to escalate at that time. Ben is already involved in the unrest. But Susanna is determined to obey her God-ordained authorities, even if she doesn't always agree.

Of course, as the story unfolds both are challenged beyond what they think they can endure, and they both have to make life-threatening choices. It was exciting to see these characters grow throughout the story.

What message do you hope people will take away from this story?

It’s my hope that readers will walk away encouraged by the sweet relationship of this famous couple. Even more than that, I hope readers will take courage from their compassion, bravery, and willingness to stand against tyranny for God’s higher laws of justice and mercy.

THANK YOU SO MUCH, JODY! I am so happy you were willing to take the time to answer my questions. God bless you as you share your special gifts with us, we love you!

Happy Reading!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

My Hope is Found

You wanted it. You waited for it....and actually, you are still waiting for it, BUT your patience will soon be rewarded, and oh, what a reward it is!

Book Rating: Up All Night'er

MY HOPE IS FOUND is SOOOOOO-ho-ho-ho good! Literally, I read it in one sitting. I was up until the wee hours of the morning, but it was way worth it.

If you have read the first two books then you know about the delicious drama, romance and intrigue that Joanne has so craftily woven and you are simply gagging to know the rest! This book delivers on every account. Though I must say, I could have done with another kiss or two and especially a epilogue at the end, but that's just me.

In book two a new character was introduced--Toby. (I can hear you swooning from here! He's so dreamy, I know.) After the heartache that Lonnie has endured, she begins to think he might be the one to heal her heart--if only she could forget Gideon. Raise your hand if you are on "team Toby". OK, now raise your hand if you are on team Gideon. LOL Sweet! Seems like its about 50/50! *teehee* The tensions mount in book three and I simply cannot give anything away, because I know you will want to find out for yourself who she chooses....

I think Joanne did a great job of showing the growth of the characters. At the beginning of book one I really could feel Lonnie's innocence, immaturity (as in young), and lack of self confidence. And now, she's much wiser and has grown so much. This goes for all the characters. I think that was one of my favorite things about this story. I got so attached to these characters, its hard to say good-bye to them.

Well, I could go on, but I imagine it will just make you all the more impatient so I'll be quiet for now. BUT, this is not the last you will hear about this book!!! We've got some really fun things coming up as the release gets closer, so I'll keep you posted! This book releases Oct 15, by the way. So if you want, you can make a paper chain to help you count down the days.

Happy reading! (or in this case...happy waiting... LOL Don't hate me. *wink*)
Buy it!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


I must say that this book was quite a pleasant surprise.

Book Rating: Up All Night'er

It's no secret that I'm a BIG Hatcher fan. Her novels are always sweet and full of inspiration.  This novel was no different, and it got me really excited for the last book of the series which comes out in the next several months, I think. (There's a few pages of Beloved--the next book--at the back of this book, and I was SO hooked!! I have a feeling this will be my favorite of all Hatcher's series....)

The two main characters, Hugh and Julia are marvelous! Their struggles were very real, and I loved the romance. Though I have to admit--and this might just be me--but, I REALLY wanted more drama! LOL (Have you heard me say that before?) More kisses, more danger, etc. That being said, I still think you will love this!

Hugh Brennan is trying to hide a difficult past as he searches for his lost sisters. On his way to Boise he stumbles upon a young widow who needs some help on her ranch. Julia tries not to let her heart be stolen by this dashing and somewhat mysterious stranger. He is very kind and attentive, yet her previous marriage was so hard she cannot allow herself to trust another man again.

Oh, I highly, HIGHLY recommend this! The end will touch your heart, and you will be gagging for the next book, believe you me!

Happy Reading!
Buy it!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

August's Author of the Month: Joan Hochstetler

Good Morning, Ladies, and Happy August!

Summer is in full-swing and if you are like me, you're baking in the heat and giving thanks for AC! *teehee*

It was such an honor to feature Tracie Peterson last month and I hope you were able to read her little interview and get to know her better. I just love her!!! Don't forget she has another book coming out soon...but I'll keep you posted on the release date, don't worry.

I couldn't be more thrilled about this month's author! Joan Hochstetler is a WONDERFUL author and if you haven't read any of her amazing novels, well now's your chance! *wink*

I've just reviewed DAUGHTER OF LIBERTY, a book that I truly loved, and Joan has graciously offered to do a giveaway!!! So, if you want to be entered, please comment below with your email address and I'll put your name in the hat.

Well, let's get on with it, shall we? Enjoy the interview!

Tell us about you!! Please include something funny/silly about yourself if you want!

I’m the daughter of Mennonite farmers and grew up on a farm near Kokomo, Indiana. I was a voracious reader from the time I made friends with Dick and Jane, but strangely enough as a young person I never had any ambition whatsoever to be a writer. I don’t recall writing any fiction at all. I really wanted to be an artist, but instead I got married and had babies, and life happened.

Then in 1977 I had this dream. Seriously! I had a dream one night that was so intriguing it kept haunting me. I finally decided that if I was going to make any sense of it, I was going to have to figure out who the characters were and what their story was, and the only logical way to do that was to write it all down. That turned into my epic medieval tragedy, which I swear I will get published someday! Anyway, that was the beginning of my life of adventure, intrigue, war, and romance.

What got me started writing about the American colonial period was The Scarlet Pimpernel, a fabulous TV movie from 1982 starring Anthony Andrews and Jane Seymour. It was set during the French Revolution. I absolutely ADORED it and knew immediately that I had to write my own version of the story. Alas, I wasn’t in the least interested in the French Revolution, and anyway there was no reason to duplicate that setting. Luckily we had our own Revolution, and my hero turned out to be a girl. And so the saga began . . .

So far 4 volumes of my American Patriot Series have been released, and I’ve also published one contemporary novel, One Holy Night, which was the Christian Small Publishers 2009 Book of the Year. It’s set to release in a new edition in October with a gorgeous new cover.

In my everyday persona, I’m an author, a professional editor, the publisher of a small press, Sheaf House Publishers, and the wife of a retired United Methodist pastor. I live in Elkhart, Indiana, and I have three daughters, four grandchildren, and five step-grandchildren.

Have you always had a passion for history? What draws you to this time period?

Passion . . . not so much when I was young. I doubt most kids are that interested in the past; they’re pretty much in the here and now. But in high school I enjoyed history and social studies, and that interest really took off in college.

I was raised in the Mennonite Church, and faith, family, church, and community are very important to Amish and Mennonites. The Hochstetler family has an especially interesting history that’s well known in the community and is regularly recounted. You’ll find a summary on my author website at In 1757, during the French and Indian War, my ancestors were caught up in one of the last Indian attacks on the border settlements in Pennsylvania. Three family members were killed, and three were carried off into captivity and returned some years later. That had a powerful impact on my life and interests, and, in fact, a distant cousin Bob Hostetler, a well-known author, and I are writing a fictional version of our ancestors’ story that we’re hoping to release by the first of the year. It’s a truly inspiring story.

That’s what first drew my attention to the colonial era, though my greatest area of interest has become the American Revolution. I love to do research and to learn about the lives of people in earlier times, and then bring the past to life for readers, especially for those who think they hate history. One of my greatest rewards is when I get feedback from readers who loved my books and mention that they never enjoyed history in school, but that my stories brought the era to life for them. I love that! That’s exactly what I’m trying to do.

My greatest concern, though, is that knowledge of our history and the values and principles our nation was founded on is eroding at an alarming rate, which doesn’t bode well for our future. I hope through this series to spark a greater understanding of and appreciation for our Founding era and the heroic men and women who sacrificed so much to bring this nation to birth.

What is your favorite scripture story and why?

Of all the wonderful, inspiring stories the Bible contains, the story of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection touches me the most deeply. It reminds me how much my sins cost Him, and how very much God loves me to make such an incredible sacrifice for my salvation. There’s no more beautiful story in any book that exists.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three historical christian romance books would you take with you?

Oh, that’s a really hard question! There are so many good ones. Well, I’m going to go for 3 I haven’t read yet by authors whose work I especially enjoy. First would be Laura Frantz’s Love’s Awakening, Book 2 of the Ballantyne Legacy Series, which releases in September. I’ve read book 1 and can’t wait to read the upcoming volumes in the series.

Second would be new author Lori Benton’s sophomore novel, The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn, which comes out in April 2014. Her debut novel, Burning Sky, comes out this month, and it’s excellent! One of my all-time favorite historical novels is Siri Mitchell’s A Heart Most Worthy, and I love all her contemporary romances too. So my third choice would be She Walks in Beauty, which has gotten excellent reviews, and which I haven’t had the chance to read yet.

These ought to keep my mind off the burning desert sands while I’m a castaway!

Your characters are very strong and yet they have struggles like we all do. How do you create living/breathing characters?

A lot of what my characters go through relates in some way to my own struggles over the years and those of people close to me, and what I’ve learned in the process. That’s probably true for most authors; to a great extent we write out of personal experience. The truth is that it takes some living to get to the point where you’ve suffered enough of the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, as Hamlet put it, before you develop the maturity to interpret life on a profound level. In other words, you have to get old. As the saying goes, sadder but wiser. It’s the rare young person who has that kind of insight, though there are the occasional prodigies—or perhaps they’re just daring enough to get their heads well bloodied early on and draw the connections!

Writing a long series, such as my American Patriot Series, allows you to get deeply into your characters, to know their histories, what shaped them, and the hidden depths of their personalities even outside the scope of the story. I have a great advantage in developing my characters because I’m setting them in the midst of the real events and people of the American Revolution. I simply allow them to interact with what’s going on around them in the natural way they would as individuals. Once you get to know your characters very well, it becomes relatively easy to discern how they would react, what actions they would initiate, and what their emotional responses would be. But not always. Sometimes they surprise me, and I love that!

Bio and contact info

An award-winning author and professional editor, J. M. Hochstetler is the daughter of Mennonite farmers, a graduate of Indiana University, and a lifelong student of history. She is the author of the American Patriot Series, the only comprehensive historical fiction series on the American Revolution. Her contemporary novel, One Holy Night, was the Christian Small Publishers 2009 Book of the Year and a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Carol Award. She is also the publisher and editorial director of Sheaf House Publishers.

Her books are available on, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Koorong, and other online retailers and can be ordered in bookstores. They can also be ordered from Sheaf House at or readers can contact her directly at

You’ll also find her on Facebook at

How fun was that?! I love all the in-depth information you shared, Joan--thank you SO much for being on my blog this month!! I can't wait for people to get to know you like I have! You are truly making a difference with your stories in a time when this country really needs to be inspired and reminded of how great America is, and the rich history we share. Thank you again!

If you want to be entered to win Joan's first book DAUGHTER OF LIBERTY, don't forget to comment! God bless you all!

Happy Reading!!!