Friday, August 30, 2013

Governess of Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky

Worlds lie between the marketplaces of India and the halls of a magnificent country estate like Highland Hall. Will Julia be able to find her place when a governess is neither upstairs family nor downstairs help?

Missionary Julia Foster loves working alongside her parents, ministering and caring for young girls in India. But when the family must return to England due to illness, she readily accepts the burden for her parents’ financial support. Taking on a job at Highland Hall as governess, she quickly finds that teaching her four privileged, ill-mannered charges at a grand estate is more challenging than expected, and she isn’t sure what to make of the estate’s preoccupied master, Sir William Ramsey.

Widowed and left to care for his two young children and his deceased cousin Randolph’s two teenage girls, William is consumed with saving the estate from the financial ruin. The last thing he needs is any distraction coming from the kindhearted-yet-determined governess who seems to be quietly transforming his household with her persuasive personality, vibrant prayer life, and strong faith.

While both are tending past wounds and guarding fragile secrets, Julia and William are determined to do what it takes to save their families—common ground that proves fertile for unexpected feelings. But will William choose Julia’s steadfast heart and faith over the wealth and power he needs to secure Highland Hall’s future?

Amazing novel about love and forgiveness! If you love Downtown Abbey or Jane Austen than you should definitely pick this one up! Carrie Turansky has a winner on her hands.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Interview with Amber Stokes, author of Bleeding Heart

                  Several weeks ago I had the wonderful opportunity to interview Amber Stokes, the author of Bleeding Heart. You can purchase Bleeding Heart here. I "met" Amber on Twitter a few months ago and we became fast friends. I was able to score an ARC e-copy of Bleeding Heart and review it for the Bleeding Heart Blog Tour. Amber, truly, is a talented writer and I am so excited to read Forget Me Not coming Winter 2014. Once there is a cover for Forget Me Not, I will do another post about that. For now let's get to the interview. Enjoy!

                                             Amber Stokes Interview

Alyssa: First, tell us a little about yourself, background, etc.
Amber: Thank you so much for hosting me, Alyssa! It’s a pleasure. J

I graduated from college a little over a year ago, and since then I’ve started a freelance editing business and explored this crazy (but awesome!) world of self-publishing – and I’ve spent a lot of time with my family. I’m back home in Northern California, and I truly love it. So much inspiration for writers in this beautiful place!

What else? I blog at Seasons of Humility and The Borrowed Book (Mondays), and you can connect with me on Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest, too. I seriously spend a lot of time online – exciting, I know. J I love reading, quoting movies, and square dancing, on occasion.

Alyssa: Tell us about Bleeding Heart?
Amber: Bleeding Heart is a shorter inspirational historical romance novel (a little over 50,000 words) set in the late 19th century in the American West. Here’s the back cover copy:

Five bleeding hearts. One profound journey.

Summer 1886

Sally Clay’s livelihood has been snatched away, but in its place arises an opportunity to escape from her sordid past and an unrelenting, unwanted suitor. Boarding a train with a heartsick rancher and an enigmatic miner, she leaves Virginia City behind and heads to Northern California, waiting for the chance to make right what went wrong three long years before.

But the road to revenge is far from smooth. Sally soon learns that the jagged pieces of a broken heart can far too easily wound the hearts of others – and hers isn’t the only heart that’s broken. Tragedy and fear dog her steps as she flees from the redwood forests to the high desert and back again. Will her bleeding heart ever find a way and a place to heal?

A desperate soiled dove. Three men who come to care for her. One man determined to claim her.

All on a journey that will show them what true love really involves.

Alyssa: Why did you decide to write this story, what inspired it?
Amber: As I’ll explain in more detail a little later in this interview, Bleeding Heart is actually a sequel, so I decided to write this book because I wanted some characters from my first book, Forget Me Not, to have their own story. As far as the plot ideas? Once I had the title and the characters, they mingled with my own concerns about heartbreak and my desire to explore different definitions of love and sparked a story that took me and my characters down some painful paths…

Alyssa: Of all the characters in the story, which is your favorite? Who did you most enjoy creating?
Amber: Well, as most authors would probably say, I love all of my characters for different reasons. J But the one I most enjoyed creating? I suppose that would have to be Myghal. He snuck into my first book when I visited Virginia City one summer with my family and we took a tour of an archaeological dig. We learned that, on the top-level street (Virginia City was built on a hillside), there used to be a row of homes for Cornish miners. I think it’s fun to include little historical tidbits that make a story unique and interesting, so I thought, “I’ll add a Cornish character who will befriend my hero!” Little did I know then that he would take up his fiddle and dance his way into a bigger role in the story and into the next book, too. I gave him a strange accent and a bit of an attitude, but he gave back wisdom and understanding and a heart that was full of fun and music and even some sorrow of his own. I love the scenes he stole in BH, and I hope to write more of him soon!

Alyssa: I noticed Bleeding Heart is not like other Christian Historical Romances. It’s darker and very thought provoking unlike every other romance I have read. Why did you decide to take that path?
Amber: I guess you could say it started with Bleeding Heart’s prequel. Virginia City, Nevada captured my imagination back when I was in high school, but a 19th century mining town is certainly not a light and happy setting. Drinking, gambling, prostitution, the dangers of mining – by choosing Virginia City as a setting, I guess I set myself up for a darker story! But it was more than that…

In Forget Me Not, there were certain questions and themes I wanted to explore. I wanted to work through my frustrations, my uncertainties, my understanding of different things I believe, and writing those characters gave me a chance to do that.

So I finished the book after several years of off and on writing, and then I got feedback on it. There were some positive things said, and then there were some critical suggestions I needed to take into account (but I didn’t really want to hear at the time). Instead of editing FMN, I decided to write another story. Along came BH, which started out as a story about the spurned suitor from FMN and a secondary character – a soiled dove who had been in the story for one brief scene but had been a part of a lot of grief for my other characters. She intrigued me, so I made her the heroine of the sequel and decided to figure out her story. I created a villain to amp the tension, chose a title that fit with the flower theme I was going for, and then wrote – for about two years, also off and on like with FMN. Their story became a pouring out of my heart, of my fears and my longings and my hope. I wanted to know what would happen if things didn’t turn out the way my characters planned, if life gave them heartaches they had hoped never to face. Could there be healing? What would come of their faith? How would they feel, and where would they all end up? And, in the process of challenging my characters, I challenged myself. Perhaps it will challenge my readers, too, to think through some difficult things and find out what remains.

Alyssa: If you could go back and do it over, is there anything about your novel that you would change?
Amber: Wow – that’s an interesting question! And I’m pretty sure I know why you would ask it… I guess you could say I was actually given the chance to do just that. My editor expressed concern about Bleeding Heart being accepted by a traditional publisher, saying that I would have to start the story much later than I had. She made a valid suggestion, especially if I had been hoping to query the book. But it wouldn’t be the same story that way, and I had already planned on self-publishing by the time I sent the manuscript to her. While I did go through edits, I didn’t restructure the story. I think certain characters needed to be included and not glossed over, and I think there were things I needed to work through by letting the difficult plot aspects stay. 

Alyssa: Are you currently working on another story? If so, can you tell us anything about it.
Amber: I actually have a few ideas running around in my head right now! I’m hoping to finally edit Forget Me Not – something I just wasn’t ready to do when I finished the first draft a couple years ago – and then publish it as the prequel sometime this winter, perhaps January 2014. I also have plans to write a companion short story and a sequel to Bleeding Heart, which I hope to share later in 2014. J

Alyssa: Last question and it’s a fun one. Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
Amber: The Bible, first and foremost! Beyond that… I guess some of the first Christian fiction books I remember reading when I was in elementary school were “The Buccaneers” series by Linda Chaikin and the “Yukon Quest” series by Tracie Peterson. They showed me how intriguing and exciting and wonderful Christian fiction could be, and now it’s basically my passion and my “career.” J And, more recently, “The Hunger Games” series by Suzanne Collins really caused me to ponder important questions (and I used it as an example in several school papers my senior year of college, which was cool, LOL). There have been so many books, both inspirational and secular, that have blessed me over the years, and I’m so grateful for each one that caused me to think deeply, challenged me to grow, and encouraged me in my faith.

Alyssa: Thank you so much Amber for taking some time to let us get to know you and Bleeding Heart.

Amber: You’re very welcome! Thank YOU for letting me share with you and your readers!

Bleeding Heart Review + Giveaway

 Bleeding Heart Blog Tour + Giveaway

                          Title: Bleeding Heart
                          Author: Amber Stokes
                          Pages: 178
                          Publisher: Seasons of A Story
                          Release Date: July 26, 2013
                          Rating: 5 Stars

                                                             [About the Book]
                       Five bleeding hearts. One profound journey. 

Summer 1886

Sally Clay’s livelihood has been snatched away, but in its place arises an opportunity to escape from her sordid past and an unrelenting, unwanted suitor. Boarding a train with a heartsick rancher and an enigmatic miner, she leaves Virginia City behind and heads to Northern California, waiting for the chance to make right what went wrong three long years before.

But the road to revenge is far from smooth. Sally soon learns that the jagged pieces of a broken heart can far too easily wound the hearts of others – and hers isn’t the only heart that’s broken. Tragedy and fear dog her steps as she flees from the redwood forests to the high desert and back again. Will her bleeding heart ever find a way and a place to heal?

A desperate soiled dove. Three men who come to care for her. One man determined to claim her.

All on a journey that will show them what true love really involves.


                 Bleeding Heart is categorized as Historical Inspirational Romance which is mostly what I read in the first place anyway, but this isn't your grandmother's romance novel. Bleeding Heart delves into a world dealing with tragedy, death, love, anger, and forgiveness. I don't know about you, but I don't normally find all of these things together in a historical romance novel. Honestly, it was a refreshing read. A lot different from the novels I normally gravitate towards. Bleeding Heart actually reminds me of the Little House on the Prairie books and television show. The Little House series, novels and television, also dealt with issues that Bleeding Heart does and more. Which is a reason why I fell in love with this story, it deals with real issues that we all have to go through at one time or another. Bleeding Heart is for those who enjoy a light romance, all history buffs out there who enjoy a good western, and for Little House on the Prairie fans.

                      You can purchase the Kindle edition of Bleeding Heart here.

                                                  [About the Author]

             Amber Stokes has a Bachelor of Science degree in English and a passion for the written word - from blogging to writing poetry, short stories, and novels. After her brief time at college in Oregon, she is now back home among the redwoods of Northern California, living life one day at a time and pursuing her passion via freelance editing and self-publishing her debut novel, Bleeding Heart.

                                         Bleeding Heart Website


[NOTE]: This giveaway also includes a paperback copy of Bleeding Heart.

You can enter the rafflecopter giveaway here.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Dark Halo Blog Tour

         Blog Tour: Dark Halo by Shannon Dittemore + Giveaway

 Title: Dark Halo (Angel Eyes Trilogy #3)
 Author: Shannon Dittemore
  Pages: 320
  ISBN13: 9781401686390
  Publisher: Thomas Nelson
  Release Date: August 20, 2013
  My Rating: 5 Stars



                                                                *Book Synopsis*
::::One halo brought sight to Brielle. Another offers sweet relief from what she sees.

Brielle can't help but see the Celestial realm. Even without the halo, it's everywhere she looks. And with the heavens above Stratus ravaged by war, Brielle wishes for another gift, any gift. Because Jake is gone. The only boy she's ever loved has been taken by the demon, Damien--and she knows if she ever wants to see him again, she must fight.

But fighting is so hard when everything you see makes you afraid.

When she receives instructions from the Throne Room leading her to Jake, she unknowingly walks into a diabolical and heartbreaking trap. Then the Prince of Darkness himself offers Brielle a halo of his own making. With the dark halo, she won't have to see the fear and brokenness that surround her. She'll be free of that unbearable burden. And it comes with a promise: the guarantee of a life with Jake.

When confusing details about Jake's past emerge, and the battle above reaches a fever pitch, Brielle is forced to make a choice. Will she choose the dark halo and the ignorance that comes with it, or will she choose to live with her eyes wide open and trust the Creator's design--even if it means a future without Jake?

                                                               *My Review*
::::Well, the story is finally coming to a close. Book #3 of the Angel Eyes Trilogy ends our journey with Jake, Brielle. "Dark Halo" gives us once again a peek into "another" throne room, Satan's throne room where the Devil himself once finally appears and gives Brielle the opportunity to not see the celestial around her. We discover if she takes that chance or not. Will Brielle and Jake have a future together or be seperated forever. This story is an adventure through the supernatural and a story of love between people and God. I am so sad to see this story ending, I have really enjoyed this story unfold and how some of these characters have matured and changed for the better. For the better of God's glory. If the synopsis and my review have struck an interest in you I suggest you pick up a copy of "Dark Halo." I would suggest picking up "Angel Eyes" and "Broken Wings" so you know what is going on. This trilogy is definitely a keeper on my bookshelves and I hope that it is that for you as well.

                                          Books #1 & #2 of the Angel Eyes Trilogy

You can purchase the Angel Eyes Trilogy here.

You have TWO great giveaways to enter!!!
Enter the rafflecopter giveaway here.
Shannon Dittemore is also having a Live Twitter Chat August 27th at 6pm (Pacific) where she will be giving away a Kindle Fire HD and other prizes!  
Enter this giveaway here.

                                        About the Author
Shannon Dittemore is the author of the Angel Eyes Trilogy. She has an overactive imagination and a passion for truth. Her lifelong journey to combine the two is responsible for a stint at Portland Bible College, performances with local theater companies, and a focus on youth and young adult ministry. When she isn’t writing, she spends her days with her husband, Matt, imagining things unseen and chasing their two children around their home in Northern California.
ANGEL EYES was Shannon’s debut novel and the launch of a young adult supernatural trilogy. It was published in the summer of 2012 by Thomas Nelson. The sequel BROKEN WINGS hit shelves in February, 2013 and the final novel in the trilogy, DARK HALO, is now available for purchase. 

                                               Author Websites
                          Blog   Goodreads     Facebook     Twitter        Pinterest

                                               YA Bound Blog Tour Schedule click here.


Monday, August 19, 2013

Billy Graham in Quotes Book Review

     God Speaks His Word Straight Into The Hearts Of Men And Women.

The Word Of God Is Alive And Active Today In The Lives Of Millions.

With the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ as his singular focus, Billy Graham has faithfully, passionately, and unapologetically preached God's Word for more than seventy years. At the age of ninety-two, during an exclusive Fox News interview in 2010, Dr. Graham told Greta van Susteren, "I have a tremendous amount of hope for the future because of Jesus Christ."

In this stunning collection of quotes by Billy Graham comes a historic anthology covering seven decades of ministry, drawing from both his published and personal works. These pages are filled with hope, truth, and redemption and seek the hearts of a lost people who need God now more than ever.

"Today we are putting our hopes in materialism, in technological progress, and in freedom from moral absolutes. They have all failed. They have failed because they have been powerless to change the human heart."

Join Billy Graham as he seeks to bring God's Word to the heart of daily life. Reconnect and be drawn like never before. "Hearing Billy Graham express hope for the world gives me hope that my life can be worthwhile," comments one twenty-two-year-old. Arranged topically for easy reference, "Billy Graham in Quotes" provides insight on more than one hundred topics anchored in Scripture. This gifted evangelist takes the focus off of the messenger and shines the Light on the Message of God's Word.

"Earth's troubles fade in the light of heaven's hope.

This book is a collection of quotes from Billy Graham, a man I hold in high regard for and have much respect, on an array of subjects. From such subjects as marriage, abortion, faith, God, and the Bible. Billy Graham is an evangelist who through many decades has dedicated his life to preaching the Gospel without condemnation of people. Bringing the truth without making people feel inadequate. If you love Billy Graham, his sermons, or just a quote junkie this is a book for you.

Note:::: I received this book for free from Booksneeze for my honest opinion. I was not paid to give a positive review.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Favorite Reads of Summer 2013

              So, I have been reading a lot this summer and I mean a lot. I haven't read this much since I was in elementary school. And when I read so much during school it was because we were having a special reading program which we did every year. This morning a friend of mine Shannon Dittemore, author of the Angel Eyes Trilogy posted a question on Facebook. She asked, "What was the best book you read this summer?" So instinctively I answered with the name with two books I read this summer. After, I got to thinking about all the other books I read and decided I read quite a few great books. All of the novels I mention I highly recommend!

Anomaly by Krista McGee

Dark Halo by Shannon Dittemore
Bleeding Heart by Amber Stokes
The Duck Commander Family by Willie & Korie Robertson
And Finally.......
Happy, Happy, Happy by Phil Robertson

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Critical Pursuit Review

Brinna Caruso is always the cop called when a child goes missing. She understands this dynamic because she was once an abducted child. Although her partner is quite unusual, her partner is the four-legged search and rescue K-9 Hero. Soon, Brinna is assigned a human partner, Jack O'Reilly, who isn't sure if returning to work after his wife is killed is such a good idea. And Brinna isn't sure if she can trust Jack, who is struggling. But they must work together to catch the predator.

Critical Pursuit is a fast paced crime thriller by veteran police officer Janice Cantore, who served on the Long Beach Police Department for twenty-two years. It was an interesting read, although at times it was hard to read. Just because it does deal with such a heavy subject such as child abduction, and child predators. Other than that it was very well written, engaging, and didn't take very long to finish. If you are a fan of crime thrillers or even CBS procedural dramas you may want to pick up a copy of Critical Pursuit.


Janice Cantore was a police officer in Long Beach, California for 22 years. Janice is now retired and living in Southern California and writes full time.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Anomaly by Krista McGee Review

                               Anomaly by Krista McGee
Goodreads Synopsis:
Thalli has fifteen minutes and twenty-three seconds left to live. The toxic gas that will complete her annihilation is invading her bloodstream. But she is not afraid.

Thalli is different than others in The State. She feels things. She asks questions. And in the State, this is not tolerated. The Ten scientists who survived the nuclear war that destroyed the world above believe that emotion was at the core of what went wrong—and they have genetically removed it from the citizens they have since created. Thalli has kept her malformation secret from those who have monitored her for most of her life, but when she receives an ancient piece of music to record as her community’s assigned musician, she can no longer keep her emotions secreted away.

Seen as a threat to the harmony of her Pod, Thalli is taken to the Scientists for immediate annihilation. But before that can happen, Berk—her former Pod mate who is being groomed as a Scientist—steps in and persuades the Scientists to keep Thalli alive as a test subject.

The more time she spends in the Scientist’s Pod, the clearer it becomes that things are not as simple as she was programmed to believe. She hears stories of a Designer—stories that fill her mind with more questions: Who can she trust? What is this emotion called love? And what if she isn’t just an anomaly, but part of a greater design?

      I finally got to read Anomaly, and after finishing I can't believe I waited so long to read it. Krista nailed it! At first I wasn't sure if I would like this or not, because I don't read sci-fi/dystopian very much. But Krista has made me a fan. Krista has created such an interesting world, called The State.  And to be honest, I didn't care for Krista's last book, so I was very cautious when I opened Anomaly. Although I did love First Date! I love how Krista wove in Christianity, and Thalli's struggle to believe.  And can we just talk about the romance! It was so sweet and tender nothing unnecessary or inappropriate, so thank you Krista for great romantic story. There wasn't even a kiss between Thalli and Berk, so we're just going to have to wait for that. The character Berk, I love him, how he wants to protect Thalli and tries to help her while she is being "tested" on by the Scientists. Krista pretty much created the perfect man, at least in my opinion. Anomaly now has a permanent home on my bookshelf. I can't wait for Luminary (#2) to release in January.

      For fun here's a few quotes from the book that I love:
1. "Oh, Thalli. How do I define love? It is the Designer's greatest gift to us. It gives us a small glimpse of who he is, how he feels about us."
      -Conversation between Thalli and John.

2. "They fear those emotions because, unchecked, they can lead to other emotions---jealousy, anger, betrayal." "So they were right to create us without them?" Most of us. "No." John closes his eyes. "the solution is not to remove your feelings." "Then what is the solution." "The Designer is the solution."
      -Conversation between Thalli and John.

Oh, and something else. This is the first fiction book I have ever highlighted in. These quotes are just so good!

       Anomaly Series by Krista McGee

The Author

Monday, August 5, 2013

Bending Toward the Sun Review

Goodreads Synopsis:

Can the Divine Quilter stitch together the torn pieces of Emilie's heart?

Divided between the love of her father and the desires of her heart, Emilie Heinrich must rely on the love and wisdom of the women in her quilting circle for support. Since Emilie is dedicated to her education and to helping her father in his general store, she is convinced she doesn't have time for love. But when a childhood friend returns to St. Charles, Missouri, after serving in the Civil War, his smile and charm captures Emilie's eye and her heart.

Quaid McFarland has a gentleness and humor that causes Emilie to question her indifference toward romance. But her German father sees only one thing when he looks at the young man: an Irish teamster. And Johann Heinrich is not about to let such a man court his beloved daughter.

Her father's prejudices test Emilie's faith in God's ability to mend the patchwork pieces of her life. Will she be forced to choose between honoring her father and a future with a husband and family of her own?
This was such a beautiful quick read! It's only 128 pages so it won't take you very long to finish it, but once you get to the last page you will want it to continue. I wanted more! And for all you ladies there is a sweet romance, and the leading man, Quaid McFarland, is definitely swoon-worthy! ;)