Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Review of Miriam's Song by Jill Eileen Smith

About the Book ~  

She has prayed for deliverance from Egypt.

But perhaps the greatest liberation happens within the heart.

From the very beginning, Miriam has lived in her younger brother's shadow. Thrust into the role of protective older sister before Moses was even born, she will grow up into a woman who not only keeps her family's secret but bears the burden of leading a new nation.

In her mind, she knows that she is serving both her God and her people. But in her heart, Miriam yearns for more. She longs to experience the privileges Moses has--to talk with God face-to-face. But when God finally does speak directly to her, the outcome is not at all what she expects.

With her impeccable research and keen eye for detail, bestselling author Jill Eileen Smith offers this epic novel to fill in the gaps in Miriam's story, following her from childhood to motherhood, obscurity to notoriety, and yearning to fulfillment as she learns that what God promises He provides--in His own perfect timing.

For more information about Jill Eileen Smith and her books, check out her website here

My Thoughts ~ 

If you've been craving a story driven, fictional account of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and the lives of Aaron, Moses and Miriam, then check out Miriam's Song by Jill Eileen Smith!

The story covers Miriam's life from the time she is five years old to her death. While she is the central character, other points of view are also included in the story. The end result was the story of Moses largely told through the eyes of those around him. I appreciated the author's desire to be true to the Biblical account in this fictional account. However, the time jumps made it difficult for me to be enveloped by the story.

While the characters weren't soul mates for my bookish heart, I also appreciated how the author tried to give us flawed characters because many of these characters are based on real, flawed people. This takes our heroes of faith off of a pedestal of perfection that they were never meant to occupy, helping to shift focus off of religious law and onto our relationship with God. This is illustrated throughout the story in subtle but impactful ways.

Three Stars ~ Miriam's Song by Jill Eileen Smith is an imaginative look at the lives of Aaron, Moses, and Miriam. Miriam's Song is a standalone story, but the author has a backlist of other titles for readers to peruse.

Disclaimer ~ In accordance with FTC regulations, I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I was not compensated, nor was a positive review required. All opinions expressed are my own.

See you next time, and God bless you guys!!!

Hugs!

~V. Joy Palmer

V. Joy Palmer loves to write romantic and comedic stories that proclaim God’s deep love for us. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and an avid blogger. In her spare time, Joy loves to sing (especially Disney songs), drink large quantities of coffee, and take flowery photos for Bookstagram. When Joy isn’t fighting with fictional people, she’s hanging out with her husband and their adorable little girl. Connect with Joy via www.vjoypalmer.com!


Thursday, March 11, 2021

Interview with Author Gail Kittleson

Today we're going to pry into the private life chat with fellow author Gail Kittleson! 

Virtual or not, we are all friends here. Since we are all friends, you should know that one of my favorite things to do is talk with my friends at coffee shops and browse the bookstores. Yes, plural. After all, books and yummy drinks are the perfect combination! So consider this our virtual coffee shop. I'll wait a second for you to get your warm drink and a fuzzy blanket before we chat with Gail. <3

When Gail's not steeped in World War II historical research, writing, or editing, you'll find her reading for fun, gardening, or enjoying her grandchildren in Northern Iowa. She delights in interacting with readers who fall in love with her characters.

Gail Kittleson taught college expository writing and ESL before writing women’s historical fiction. From northern Iowa, she facilitates writing workshops and women’s retreats, and enjoys the Arizona Ponderosa forest in winter.

Connect with Gail Kittleson on her website, Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, Instagram, and BookBub!

Interview ~

This may be the most important question I ask -- no pressure or anything, LOL!

*drum roll*

What are you drinking in our virtual coffee house? Coffee? Tea? Hot chocolate? something else altogether?

Tea…a steaming cup hits the spot just about any time. My heroines feel the same, especially those living through WWII, when tea was rationed. Imagine how much a cup of tea came to mean back then. My pioneer heroine loves tea, too—what a coincidence! 

Love when our characters have pieces of us in them! If you could order anything in the world to eat (we can dream, can't we?), what would it be?

I think a crusty salmon filet with sweet potato fries and a fresh salad.

Yum! Where is your favorite place to write, and why is that your favorite place? 

Whether I’m in Iowa or Arizona, as long as I have my laptop, my office, the living room or the front porch—any of the above.

Sounds wonderful! Do you have an odd habit that is only explained by your bookish, writer tendencies? Safe space. You're among friends. ;-)

Mmm…maybe letting time slip by, forgetting to eat or do housework? I don’t see these as so odd, but they’re definitely connected to my writing.

I can relate to that! What inspired you to write Secondhand Sunsets

We spend the worst of the winter in the Arizona mountains, under the Mogollon Rim. This area has such intriguing geography, and right away, we noticed there is really no sunset or sunrise, because of the Rim right above us. But we do see the sun “rise” on the western side, across the canyon, and in the evening, sometimes there’s an incredibly rosy hue to the eastern side. That’s a reflection of the sunset. These aspects of our setting are so different from my native Iowa, where everything is flat, that this aspect plays a significant role in the life of my heroine.

In addition, I became interested in the Native Americans who once lived here, plus the weather extremes. At the time I started this novel, the Civil War era/pioneer times interested me, also. Because this area is so isolated, I began to imagine a young woman living here with virtually no contact with anyone but her husband. And his value system left a lot to be desired . . .

That is so cool! What led you to write in this genre? 

I hadn’t yet become addicted to the WWII era, for one thing. I may have thought “pioneer” stories would be the easiest for me to write—at least, I kept trying. I left several other pioneer manuscripts by the wayside, but this one just wouldn’t leave me alone. And it needed SO MUCH help!!

Love when a story won't leave you alone! What message do you hope to convey to your readers?

No matter how convoluted our lives become, the complications our bad decision lead to, or the extent of the shame we feel, our God never forsakes us.

Amen! Can you tell us a little about your next project(s)? 

I’ve written a Texas Hill Country novel—WWII. It’s unique in that the hero emigrates from England before the war, so he sees things through British eyes. Also, I have a cozy WWII mystery just about ready for submission.

These sound amazing! Do you have a favorite Bible verse or story that inspires you on a soul level?

I love the story of the woman who touches Jesus’ robe to be healed of her hemorrhaging. Her need is met beyond her wildest dreams—including the shame that accompanied her physical agony. Isn’t it wonderful that we often receive more than we realize we need?

Such a powerful example of God's love! What are you currently reading? Inquiring minds -- mine -- want to know! ;-)

I just finished Prayers For Sale by Sandra Dallas. I don’t often read a book twice, but this one was just as powerful the second time through. Next, I might tackle Victor Davis Hanson’s Carnage and Culture. Not light reading!

Nice! Thank you so much for hanging with us, Gail!


Check out Secondhand Sunsets by Gail Kittleson!



Available on Amazon, Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Kobo, Apple Books

and Google Play Books!


Thanks for hanging with us today! See you next time, and God bless you guys!!!

Hugs!

~V. Joy Palmer

V. Joy Palmer loves to write romantic and comedic stories that proclaim God’s deep love for us. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and an avid blogger. In her spare time, Joy loves to sing (especially Disney songs), drink large quantities of coffee, and take flowery photos for Bookstagram. When Joy isn’t fighting with fictional people, she’s hanging out with her husband and their adorable little girl. Connect with Joy via www.vjoypalmer.com!

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Review of A Dance in Donegal by Jennifer Deibel


About the Book ~

All her life, Boston-born Moira Doherty has relished her mother's descriptions of the Emerald Isle. When her mother dies unexpectedly in the summer of 1920, Moira is compelled to fulfill her dying wish--that she become the teacher in Ballymann, the beloved village in Donegal, Ireland, she's heard so much about.

After an arduous voyage, Moira begins a challenging new job in an unfamiliar and ancient country. Though a few locals offer a warm welcome, others are distanced by superstition and suspicion. Rumors about Moira's mother are unspoken in her presence but threaten to derail everything she's journeyed to Ballymann to do. Moira must rely on the kindness of a handful of friends--and the strength of Sean, an unsettlingly handsome thatcher who keeps popping up unannounced--as she seeks to navigate a life she'd never dreamed of . . . but perhaps was meant to live.

For more information about Jennifer Deibel and her books, check out her website here!

My Thoughts ~

You'll want to dance a jig after reading A Dance in Donegal by Jennifer Deibel!

The most delightful part of A Dance in Donegal is how it was like classic Christian historical romance meets Leap Year -- one of my favorite romcoms! The initial conflict between the hero (a sarcastic yet charming Irishman) and the heroine (an American with little knowledge of the Irish way of life) tugged a smile to my lips. Additionally, the romantic word paintings of Irish culture, language, and landscape only hinted at the alluring depths of the author's knowledge of Ireland. Truly grand! Add in a dash of mystery and plenty of conflict, and your eyes will be dancing through the pages! 

A Dance in Donegal surprised me, taking unexpected turns in the storyline. However, I was touched by how the author blended these twists and turns into not only a concise plot but also a striking spiritual message! While I didn't end up in love with the characters, Moira's spiritual journey was as arresting as the descriptive landscape surrounding her. After confronting the worst in herself, Moira faces the consequences of following God's call for her life -- the good, bad, and the ugly. This proved to be a glorious stage for God's redemptive grace, a soul stirring reminder of how God works in our lives!

Four Stars ~ A Dance in Donegal by Jennifer Deibel is a sweeping romance with depth! A Dance in Donegal is a standalone story, but I'm looking forward to reading the author's next sweeping Irish romance. However, please be aware that there is sexual abuse and sexual harassment in A Dance in Donegal that could be triggering.

Disclaimer ~ In accordance with FTC regulations, I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I was not compensated, nor was a positive review required. All opinions expressed are my own.

See you next time, and God bless you guys!!!

Hugs!

~V. Joy Palmer

V. Joy Palmer loves to write romantic and comedic stories that proclaim God’s deep love for us. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and an avid blogger. In her spare time, Joy loves to sing (especially Disney songs), drink large quantities of coffee, and take flowery photos for Bookstagram. When Joy isn’t fighting with fictional people, she’s hanging out with her husband and their adorable little girl. Connect with Joy via www.vjoypalmer.com!

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Review of Network of Deceit by Tom Threadgill

About the Book ~

She's following her instincts. They're following her every move.

After her rescue of nearly fifty kidnapped children made international headlines, Amara Alvarez gets what she's worked for: a transfer to San Antonio's Homicide Division. But reality sets in quickly when her first case, the suspicious death of a teenager at a crowded local water park, plunges her life into chaos.

As the investigation moves forward, Amara finds herself stalked online by cybercriminals who uncover her personal life in frightening detail. With few leads, she's forced to resort to unconventional methods to find the killer and prevent her first murder investigation from ending up in the cold case files.

Tom Threadgill is back with another riveting page-turner featuring the detective who is willing to put everything on the line to see justice served and lives protected.

For more information about Tom Threadgill and his books, check out his website here!

My Thoughts ~

Detective Amara Alvarez is back in Network of Deceit by Tom Threadgill! You will be flipping the pages late into the night with this one!

As Amara adjusts to life as a bona fide homicide detective, she's essentially relearning key aspects of what it means to be a good cop. I thoroughly enjoyed this fresh approach to the typical cop story. Additionally, I think the author's writing style is what sets Network of Deceit apart in the suspense genre. The author doesn't skip every mundane detail in the investigation. The result is not boredom, rather total immersion into the building investigation, mystery, and action. Amara's mind is also always moving, processing, and thinking. Not only do I love this in fiction, I find it so refreshingly authentic in crafting a realistic character! 

Network of Deceit held many surprises! First and foremost, the suspenseful plot itself. While the answers to the homicide investigation broke my heart, the suspense and mystery were excellently crafted and included truly surprising twists!  Furthermore, the spiritual message is subtle, yet very thought provoking. The struggle of how we balance our time with our responsibilities -- and the guilt that often accompanies this struggle -- as well as the line of right and wrong in a world that needs justice will stick with readers long after that last page.

Four Stars ~ Network of Deceit by Tom Threadgill is a thrilling, excellently crafted suspense! Network of Deceit is the second book featuring Detective Amara Alvarez, but the mystery can be read as a standalone. However, please be aware that there is a breast cancer thread that could be a possible trigger to readers.

Disclaimer ~ In accordance with FTC regulations, I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I was not compensated, nor was a positive review required. All opinions expressed are my own.

See you next time, and God bless you guys!!!

Hugs!

~V. Joy Palmer

V. Joy Palmer loves to write romantic and comedic stories that proclaim God’s deep love for us. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and an avid blogger. In her spare time, Joy loves to sing (especially Disney songs), drink large quantities of coffee, and take flowery photos for Bookstagram. When Joy isn’t fighting with fictional people, she’s hanging out with her husband and their adorable little girl. Connect with Joy via www.vjoypalmer.com!

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Shadows of the White City by Jocelyn Green

 


About the Book ~

She promised a dying father she would keep his daughter safe.
She can't fail now.

The one thing Sylvie Townsend wants most is what she feared she would never have--a family of her own. But taking in Polish immigrant Rose Dabrowski to raise and love quells those fears--until seventeen-year-old Rose goes missing at the World's Fair, and Sylvie's life unravels.

With nowhere else to turn, Sylvie seeks help from her boarder and Rose's violin instructor, Kristof Bartok. Fluent in several languages, his skills are vital to helping Sylvie navigate the immigrant and international communities where their investigation leads.

From the glittering architecture of the Fair to the dark houses of Chicago's poorest neighborhoods, they're taken on a search that points to Rose's long-lost family. Is Sylvie willing to let the girl go? And as Kristof and Sylvie grow closer, can she reconcile her craving for control with her yearning to belong?

For more information about Jocelyn Green and her books, check out her website here!

My Thoughts ~

Shadows of the White City by Jocelyn Green is every bit evocative as it is romantic!

The World's Fair stunned as the backdrop to the mystery and romance that comprised Shadows of the White City! I haven't read enough fiction set in the midst of The World's Fair. The author's attention to the historical details -- from the whimsey to the fantastical to the innovative --  gave my imagination a delightful excursion!

I greatly enjoyed the depth that the author layered into the characters, especially the multiple lies and wounds that the characters had to overcome. I found this to be so true to the human experience! While I didn't end up in love with the characters, Sylvie and Kristof's respective journeys and personal growth as they individually accepted that they needed to let go and trust God was wonderful. However, the most striking spiritual truth (for me!) proved to be how families can be born or chosen, but they are no less family -- a deeply moving message!

Three Stars ~ Shadows of the White City by Jocelyn Green will sweep readers into another world! Shadows of the White City is the second book in The Windy City Saga. The story can be read as a standalone, but the details of the past and character connections will be richer if the first book has been read.

Disclaimer ~ In accordance with FTC regulations, I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I was not compensated, nor was a positive review required. All opinions expressed are my own.

See you next time, and God bless you guys!!!

Hugs!

~V. Joy Palmer

V. Joy Palmer loves to write romantic and comedic stories that proclaim God’s deep love for us. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and an avid blogger. In her spare time, Joy loves to sing (especially Disney songs), drink large quantities of coffee, and take flowery photos for Bookstagram. When Joy isn’t fighting with fictional people, she’s hanging out with her husband and their adorable little girl. Connect with Joy via www.vjoypalmer.com!

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Review of Tidewater Bride by Laura Frantz


About the Book ~ 

They're both too busy for love . . . but love is not too busy for them.

Selah Hopewell seems to be the only woman in Virginia Colony who has no wish to wed. True, there are too many men and far too few women in James Towne. But Selah already has her hands full assisting her father in the family's shop. And now she is in charge of an incoming ship of tobacco brides who must be looked after as they sort through their many suitors.

Xander Renick is perhaps the most eligible tobacco lord in the settlement. His lands are vast, his crops are prized, and his position as a mediator between the colonists and the powerful Powhatan nation surrounding them makes him indispensable. But Xander is already wedded to his business and still grieves the loss of his wife.

Can two fiercely independent people find happiness and fulfillment on their own? Or will they discover that what they've been missing in life has been right in front of them all along?

For more information about Laura Frantz and her books, check out her website here!

My Thoughts ~ 

Tidewater Bride by Laura Frantz has the makings of a fairytale classic!

I'm one of those people who reads the author's note at the end of the book before I start reading the story. Because of that, I went into Tidewater Bride knowing how much Pocahontas and John Rolfe inspired this tale. The author's phenomenal talent at immersing the reader into the era is uncanny! From speech to dress to description, every detail surrounding this fictional James Towne scream authenticity. The romance between Selah and Xander proved to be exceptionally compelling because it was seeped with historical details. In fact, I prefer this happy ending to the one in the history books AND the Disney version I grew up with -- and I usually prefer Disney's take on a story!

Though framed in the trials and hardships of the era, I found Tidewater Bride to be a beacon of God's unchanging truths that are so desperately needed in today's world! Watching Selah and Xander navigate the unfortunate reality that evil lurks in any corner was agonizing; however, watching God bring those things to light was glorious! Selah and Xander's story proudly trumpets that God is in control, and the Gospel is for all.

Four Stars ~ Tidewater Bride by Laura Frantz will charm readers with its whimsical reimagining of history! Tidewater Bride is a standalone, but the author has other titles in her backlist for readers to enjoy!

Disclaimer ~ In accordance with FTC regulations, I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I was not compensated, nor was a positive review required. All opinions expressed are my own.

See you next time, and God bless you guys!!!

Hugs!

~V. Joy Palmer

V. Joy Palmer loves to write romantic and comedic stories that proclaim God’s deep love for us. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and an avid blogger. In her spare time, Joy loves to sing (especially Disney songs), drink large quantities of coffee, and take flowery photos for Bookstagram. When Joy isn’t fighting with fictional people, she’s hanging out with her husband and their adorable little girl. Connect with Joy via www.vjoypalmer.com!

Friday, January 29, 2021

Review of A Cowboy for Keeps by Jody Hedlund


About the Book ~ 

Greta Nilsson's trip west to save her ailing little sister, Astrid, could not have gone more wrong. First, bandits hold up her stagecoach, stealing all her money. Then, upon arriving in Fairplay, Colorado, she learns the man she was betrothed to as a mail-order bride has died. Homeless, penniless, and jobless, Greta and her sister are worse off than when they started.

Wyatt McQuaid is struggling to get his new ranch up and running and is in town to purchase cattle when the mayor proposes the most unlikely of bargains. He'll invest in a herd of cattle for Wyatt's ranch if Wyatt agrees to help the town become more respectable by marrying and starting a family with Greta. But when old insecurities and surprising revelations arise, can a union born out of desperation survive?

For more information about Jody Hedlund and her books, check out her website here!

My Thoughts ~ 

A Cowboy for Keeps by Jody Hedlund is destined to be on the keeper shelf (or library if you're like me) of fans of Jody Hedlund and cowboy lovers alike! 

There's something about a cowboy-loaded romance that is equal parts idyllic and perilous, and A Cowboy for Keeps is no exception! From the sweeping fields to mail-order brides to danger on every side, A Cowboy for Keeps is loaded with everything a reader craves in a good western.

The author has a real talent for writing romance, attraction, and all the Godly things that entails in a way that is both sizzling and God-honoring -- just as God always intended it! While the romance in A Cowboy for Keeps between Greta and Wyatt is definitely attraction at first sight, it's not love at first sight. The love builds over time, though a fair amount of that deepening connection is alluded to happening off the page. 

I loved the deep, realistic, all-encompassing way the author wrote the manipulative lies that shaped and dictated Greta and Wyatt's lives! From the subtle to the tragic, the lies the couple had to overcome before they could truly come together as one were heart wrenching with its exceptional accuracy. Ultimately, Greta and Wyatt's victories offer a profound message of hope to their readers, showing the freedom one can take back as they start weeding out the lies from their souls.

Four Stars ~ A Cowboy for Keeps by Jody Hedlund is a keeper! A Cowboy for Keeps is the first book in the author's new Colorado Cowboys Series, and I'm looking forward to reading the next book! 

Disclaimer ~ In accordance with FTC regulations, I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I was not compensated, nor was a positive review required. All opinions expressed are my own.

See you next time, and God bless you guys!!!

Hugs!

~V. Joy Palmer

V. Joy Palmer loves to write romantic and comedic stories that proclaim God’s deep love for us. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and an avid blogger. In her spare time, Joy loves to sing (especially Disney songs), drink large quantities of coffee, and take flowery photos for Bookstagram. When Joy isn’t fighting with fictional people, she’s hanging out with her husband and their adorable little girl. Connect with Joy via www.vjoypalmer.com!