An April Bride by Lenora Worth ~ A Contemporary Fiction Book Review



An April Bride
A Year of Weddings, Book 5
Lenora Worth
Contemporary Fiction

About the book:

A year's worth of novellas from twelve inspirational romance authors. 
Happily ever after guaranteed.

A charming wedding novella set in the spring. What will happen when love and wedding plans come together this April?

War changes everything . . . even their love.

Bride-to-be Stella Carson can't wait to marry her longtime sweetheart Marshall Henderson. But Marshall has been away serving his country and has suffered a head wound. After being diagnosed with post-traumatic disorder, he has distanced himself from Stella, asking her not to visit him in the Washington, D.C. hospital. Marshall returns to Louisiana just four weeks before the wedding, but as the big day draws near, Stella wonders if the man she's loved for most of her life has become someone else.

Can true love conquer all for Stella and Marshall? Even the tragedy of war?

My thoughts:

It is so difficult when someone you love goes off to war. But sometimes it is even harder when they come home. Stella has been patiently waiting for Marshall to finish his tour of duty after which they will be married. Right before Marshall was set to leave the war zone he and his group of soldiers were hit with an IED. The impact killed several of Marshall's buddies and gave him a head injury that has resulted in memory loss.

Once he arrives home he is determined to press on with the wedding. But as it gets closer and closer the idea of Marshall not remembering Stella begins to put up more and more barriers between the two. Can they really build a life together when Marshall doesn't remember where their story began?

War has such far reaching effects and this little novella delves into the results of PTSD and head injuries. I enjoyed this story and liked the story line that was the basis. However I thought that it would have been better told in a longer format. Many of the angst that the characters had seemed to be shallow and self-serving because the story had to move along. Either way it still made me stop and think about how those facing such a trauma without a faith in God could have even a glimmer of hope. For a quick read that will cause you to ponder what it would be like to loose all memory of those you love pick this novella up.




A Year of Weddings Series

A September Bride by Kathryn Springer
An October Bride by Katie Ganshert
A November Bride by Beth K. Vogt




First Blush by Rebeca Seitz ~ A Contemporary Novella Review



Naples series, Book 1
Rebeca Seitz
Contemporary Fiction/Novella

About the novella:

From the author of the Sisters, Ink series 
comes a fun new novella about finding your way…at the beach. 

Elizabeth Bakersfield may live in the gorgeous town of Naples, Florida, but she is not the thirty-year-old she envisioned. Her husband left with a Miami Dolphins cheerleader. Her job prospects are nil. The rent is due. Her best friend is living a thousand miles away, building a career in NYC. And her closest companion is the cockatiel Johnny Carson.

The job front starts looking up when she’s offered the position of caretaker of Ganderley’s – a library, kind of. Elizabeth’s job is to loan out the priceless antiques and cars amassed by the widowed Ganderley sisters. Easy, right? Sign things out, get them back in two weeks. And, if she runs into trouble, there’s the gorgeous Ganderley nephew with the British accent, Nicholas Harrington, waiting in the wings with help.

But Elizabeth is about to learn first-hand that possessions – and gorgeous Brits - bring their own kind of drama. If she doesn’t figure out how to sidestep it, her job (not to mention the start of a new life) might be over before it ever really began.

My thoughts:

I picked up First Blush to read on a rainy Sunday afternoon and was immediately transported to the warm sandy beaches of Naples, Florida.  I enjoyed spending a bit of time getting to know the witty yet jaded Elizabeth Bakersfield. She is such a delightful square peg in a sea of round holes. She has 'one of those' mommas that you just wonder why you are still so intimidated by at the age of thirty! 

When Elizabeth is returning a vase to Ganderley's we are introduced the the delightfully eccentric sisters that run the place. They quickly bring Elizabeth on board to run the place while they do a bit of jet setting. My only disappoint was that they were gone so quickly that we really didn't get to enjoy them to the fullest.

During her first day of running the business on her own she meets the oh so handsome Nicholas Harrington. Nicholas is a distant relative to the Ganderley sisters and helps with the business. But there is something mysterious about him. It leaves you wondering, who is he really? 

The author, Rebeca Seitz, has an amazing way with words! The story and the characters drew me in but before I knew it it was over. The upside of a great novella is that the story is by necessity fast paced and quickly gets to the meat of the story. First Blush meets all of those criteria. The downside of a great novella is that they are over before you are ready to let the story go. In this case there are several loose threads that need to be finished to satisfy me. According to the listing on Goodreads, this is just the first of a series. I pray that is so because I need more of this intriguing story!

The Pelican Bride by Beth White ~ An Historical Romance Book Review



Gulf Coast Chronicles, Book 1
Beth White
Historical Romance

Back of the book: 

She's come to the New World to escape a perilous past. 
But has it followed her to these far shores?

It is 1704 when Frenchwoman Geneviève Gaillain and her sister board the frigate Pélican bound for the distant Louisiana colony. Both have promised to marry one of the rough men toiling in this strange new world in order to escape suffering in the old. Geneviève knows life won't be easy, but at least here she can establish a home and family without fear of persecution for her outlawed religious beliefs.

When she falls in love with Tristan Lanier, an expatriate cartographer-turned-farmer whose checkered past is shrouded in mystery, Geneviève realizes that even in this land of liberty one is not guaranteed peace. Trouble is brewing outside the fort between the French colonists and the native people surrounding them. And an even more sinister enemy may lurk within. Could the secret Geneviève harbors mean the undoing of the colony itself?

Gulf Coast native Beth White brings vividly to life the hot, sultry South in this luscious, layered tale.

READ AN EXCERPT

My thoughts:

In this twenty-first century world of ours it is hard to imagine crossing an ocean to marry someone we've never met and live in a place we know nothing about. The teenage girls known as the Pelican Brides did just that. Many of them came to escape poverty or persecution in France. The journey to what is now Mobile, Alabama took three months and many didn't even make it to Louisiane. Once there they were met with conditions that were not as promised. The men they had to choose from were not exactly what they had expected either.

In The Pelican Bride we follow this journey with Geneviève Gaillain and her younger sister. The story begins just as they land at Massacre Island in Mobile Bay. The first man Geneviève meets is Tristan Lanier. He is rugged and handsome but is dead set against marrying. Geneviève is amused by him but is sure that there are better prospects to be had. 

After only a short time at Fort Louis the pressure begins for each of the young women to find a spouse. If they do not choose soon the support from the Crown will be withdrawn and the unmarried women will be left to fend for themselves. Geneviève doesn't like any of the prospects so she becomes determined to make a way to provide for herself and her sister. She is a trained pastry chef and plans to use those skills to earn a living.

The New World has many factions that are looking to conquer and settle this wilderness. The tension between the French, British, Spanish and Native Americans is a constant backdrop to everyday life. The harsh conditions and climate add another dimension to the act of building a colony that will grow and prosper.

This novel had two of my favorite elements. The first is that this is a title from an author unknown to me. I'm very excited to discover her work and looking forward to reading what she has already written and eagerly anticipating what is coming next in this series. The second thing that I enjoyed was reading about a time frame that isn't widely covered in historical fiction. We owe so much to these brave men and women for helping to establish the country we have today. Beth White did a fabulous job of mixing fascinating facts with fictionalized characters to showcase a point in history that would ultimately change the landscape of the world. 

Connect with the author:

Photo Credit: © Wendy Wilson Photography








Making Happy: The Art and Science of a Happy Marriage by Drs. Les & Leslie Parrott ~ A Marriage Book Review



Drs. Les & Leslie Parrott
Nonfiction/Marriage

Back of the book:

Marriage doesn't make you happy.
You make your marriage happy. But how?

Discover the six counter-intuitive dials to turn right now in your relationship. These are proven happiness boosters. And let's face it, knowing how to make happiness--the deep and abiding joy of feeling good together--isn't always easy for time-starved and sleep-deprived couples. Making Happy will change all that by:
  • Instantly making your relationship 25 percent happier.
  • Countering the effects of taking each other for granted so you can notice even more things you appreciate about each other.
  • Knowing the easy way to ensure your partner is happier today than yesterday.
Relationship experts Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott bring all the relevant research together in Making Happy and show you how to elevate happiness in your relationship. It's easier than you think.

Includes an immensely practical three-week Happiness Plan.

My thoughts:

In Making Happy, Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott mix research and personal experience to teach the average couple how to bring more happiness into their marriage. The first couple of chapters are pretty heavily peppered with stats and studies that lean towards the clinical. Once you get to chapter three you begin to see the practical and yes simple applications to use in your marriage.

The book focuses on six happiness boosters that you will learn to apply to your marriage relationship. In order to find out where you are at in your relationship there are several little quizzes scattered throughout. I thought they were very interesting and helped solidify what was being discussed. 

At the very end of the book is a Twenty-One-Day Happiness Plan. Each of the days has an activity that will enhance what you have just read. There are also links for additional resources to use during this twenty-one day period. 

This book would of course make a good study for any married couple. It would help those that are a bit unhappy in their marriage and it would affirm those that are quite happy in their marriage. I also think it would make a great small group study. While there is a section on marital sex, I didn't find it to be cringe worthy so I think you could easily do this with a few other couples. 

Connect with the authors:










Disney Frozen Matching Game from Wonder Forge ~ A Review and Giveaway

If your kiddos are like most American children, they have gone totally crazy for Disney Frozen. I know it is all the rage at our house. I'm thinking it is total payback for making my family watch The Little Mermaid over and over and over.

I don't mind my kids watching a video now and then but I don't want them to be glued to the TV. So to lure them away and get them using some of their brain cells we play board games at our house. When we received the Disney Frozen Matching Game from Wonder Forge it was game on! 



The game comes with three different sets of tiles that can be used separately or all together. Once I broke them apart I put them in three separate baggies inside the box. I don't know about your house, but at our house there are days when the kids need some "self time" and it is handy to have them separate this way. I just pull out a baggie for each kid and send them to different areas to play quietly by themselves. 


We have a two-year-old that thinks he's as big as everyone else. The blessing of this game is that it is versatile enough that I can sit and play a matching game with just him. We just use one of the packs of 12 tiles and he has so much fun. It is very manageable for him and gives him a great sense of accomplishment. 


When the older kiddo wants to play we use more of the tiles. When the two kids are playing we usually use two packs of tiles. But when friends are over we use all 72 of the tiles. I really love that this game is so adaptable to the many needs of our family. Did I happen to mention that it is portable and it uses NO BATTERIES?!! 

All the major retailers are carrying this game so go grab your family a copy. It is Springtime and you know that there are going to be rainy afternoons in your future. This is a guaranteed sanity savor!


The wonderful people at Wonder Forge have partnered with us to giveaway a copy of Disney Frozen Matching Game to one of our readers. If you would like a chance at winning for your family just use the Rafflecopter form below. The giveaway is open to all U.S. residents that are 18 and older.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A Pinterest Scavenger Hunt for A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexander


Join me for a Pinterest Scavenger Hunt and win 1 of 7 copies of USA Today bestselling author Tamera Alexanders newest novel, A Beauty So Rare, the second standalone novel in the Belmont Mansion series. 

The questions are posted below and the giveaway runs through Sunday night, April 27. The answers to the questions can be found on Tamera'sPinterest page. Not on Pinterest? Doesnt matter. You can still participate and find the answers by using this link. 

Your answers must be submitted to TameraAlexander@ymail.com (numbered 1 - 6) by Sunday, April 27, midnight Central to be entered into a drawing to win one of seven copies of A Beauty So Rare, the second standalone novel in the Belmont Mansion series. 

Questions for the Pinterest Scavenger Hunt

    1.     On the ABeauty So Rare board, find the pin that shares the seamstress who sewed the dress on the cover of A Beauty So Rare (featuring the heroine, Eleanor Braddock) and *click the pin* to discover what the seamstresss most challenging part of making the pink dress was. 

    2.    On the ALasting Impression board, find the pin where Tamera shares about the desert seasons in her life––those times that helped her write about a certain relationship in her novel, A Beauty So Rare. *Click the pin* to learn what specific relationship Tamera mentions in that blog. Its the relationship between which two people?

    3.    On the My Novels board, find the pin where Tamera shares about the inspiration behind A Beauty So Rare. *Click it* and watch the video to learn the true history that ties the Belmont Mansion (the setting of A Lasting Impression and A Beauty So Rare) to the real Insane Asylum that existed in Nashville in the 19th century.

    4.    On the Recipes from mynovels board, what's the recipe from A Beauty So Rare thats posted about most often on that board (doesn't necessarily have the most re-pins)? It's also a favorite of Eleanor's.

    5.    On the My Loves board, find the pin that references Easter weekend then *click it* to learn what kind of fish Tamera caught this past weekend.

    6.    On the My Novels board, find the pin for the book trailer for A Beauty So Rare, then *click it* to watch the video. What is it that Aunt Adelicia is determined to find for Eleanor?

7. BONUS: LIKE Tamera's Facebook Page for an extra chance to win.

In your email, remember to number your answers from 1 to 6, like this:
1. Answer 
2. Answer
3. Answer
4. Answer
5. Answer
6. Answer

Hope you have fun with it!


Note: Pinterest is not sponsoring this promotion nor are they formally affiliated with it. 

Love Comes Calling by Siri Mitchell ~ An Historical Fiction Book Review



Siri Mitchell
Historical Fiction

About the book:

A girl WITH THE BEST OF INTENTIONS.
A heart SET ON HOLLYWOOD.
AN empty POCKETBOOK.

WHEN A LOOK-ALIKE FRIEND asks Ellis Eton to fill in for her as a telephone operator, Ellis jumps at the chance. For her, the job will provide not only acting practice but the funds to get Ellis a start in the movies. She's tired of always being a disappointment to her traditional Boston family, and though she can't deny the way he makes her head spin, she knows she's not good enough for Griffin Phillips, either. It's simple: avoid Griff's attentions, work, and get paid. But in typical Ellis fashion, her simple plan spirals out of control when she overhears a menacing phone call . . . with her very own Griff as the target.

With an endearing heroine as her lead, Siri Mitchell takes readers on a 
madcap tale of love and discovering one's true desires!

READ AN EXCERPT!

My thoughts:

If you are looking for an unpredictable read with a hot mess of a heroine, look no further! Love Comes Calling introduces us to the well meaning but always in a pickle, Ellis Eton. The story takes place in the roaring 20s during prohibition. Ellis is from a well to do Boston family that tends to be appalled by her behavior. Her mother is just sure that if Ellis would apply herself and try harder she would be more successful. 

Ellis is determined to escape from her family's expectations and disappointments and make her way to Hollywood where she is sure to be an instant success. But before she can set her plans in motion she makes a promise to a friend that will actually enable her to begin her journey. While Ellis is secretly filling in for her friend Janie as a telephone operator she inadvertently overhears a conversation that puts Griff, her beloved neighbor, in danger.

What's a girl to do except save the handsome and ever so patient Griff from imminent doom? Of course with Ellis in charge of the saving, something is bound to go awry! I loved the relationship between Ellis and Griff. Every girl everywhere deserves a Griff in their life. 

This book will make you laugh and sigh and think. In her intriguing way Siri Mitchell leads the reader to contemplate whether or not we can legislate morality. Prepare to be entertained as well as educated about a time in our country's history that looked like a rip roaring time of fun but had some very dark undertones. 

Connect with the author:








He Is Risen ~ He Is Risen Indeed!


After the Sabbath, as the first light of the new week dawned, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to keep vigil at the tomb. Suddenly the earth reeled and rocked under their feet as God’s angel came down from heaven, came right up to where they were standing. He rolled back the stone and then sat on it. Shafts of lightning blazed from him. His garments shimmered snow-white. The guards at the tomb were scared to death. They were so frightened, they couldn’t move.

The angel spoke to the women: “There is nothing to fear here. I know you’re looking for Jesus, the One they nailed to the cross. He is not here. He was raised, just as he said. Come and look at the place where he was placed.

“Now, get on your way quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He is risen from the dead. He is going on ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there.’ That’s the message.

~ Matthew 28:1-7 (The Message)



Up From The Grave He Arose
(Low in the Grave He Lay)

Robert Lowry 1826-1899

Low in the grave He lay, Jesus my Savior,
Waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord!

Up from the grave He arose;
with a mighty triumph o'er His foes;
He arose a victor from the dark domain,
and He lives forever, with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Vainly they watch His bed, Jesus my Savior,
Vainly they seal the dead, Jesus my Lord!

Up from the grave He arose;
with a mighty triumph o'er His foes;
He arose a victor from the dark domain,
and He lives forever, with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Death cannot keep its prey, Jesus my Savior;
He tore the bars away, Jesus my Lord!

Up from the grave He arose;
with a mighty triumph o'er His foes;
He arose a victor from the dark domain,
and He lives forever, with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!



From all of us at Rambles of a SAHM . . . we wish you the most blessed of Easter's this year. May God Himself reveal to you the power of trusting in His risen Son. Hallelujah! What a Savior!





 




A Look Behind the Making of the Cover for A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexander

Meet the Woman 
Behind the Cover Dress 
by Tamera Alexander

Have you ever wanted to meet the woman who sewed the dress on a novel cover? Then please allow me to introduce you to Beth Schoenherr, the ever-so-talented seamstress who sewed Eleanor Braddocks dress for the cover of A Beauty So Rare.

Im thrilled that Beth was willing to share about her experience in making the dress, and I love the behind-the-scenes glimpses she shares. I hope you will, too!

Tamera: Where did inspiration for the dress for A Beauty So Rare come from (both the style and color)?

Beth: The style, of course, was determined by the post–Civil War timing of the story.

I believe the cover designer and editors talked about a garden setting and felt pink would look lovely against the backdrop of the green foliage and other flowers, which it does! I then had the fun of finding the right shade of pink to keep it a believable color for the time. Hot pink or neon pink, of course, would never do!

Tamera: Um, no. LOL! Not even Adelicia Acklen could have coerced Eleanor into neon pink! ; )

Tamera: Have you made dresses for photo shoots before?

Beth: I started doing period costumes for men, women, and children in amateur theater in 1999 and then had opportunities in the following years to progress to working in the costume shop of a professional theater. This is my first costume for a photo shoot, however.

Tamera: How cool, Beth. I’m so grateful for your work on this dress. Well done!

Tamera: Do you have an appreciation for period clothing? And if yes, what’s your favorite style of women’s dresses from history?

Beth: I do enjoy period clothing. I don’t think I can pick one favorite style though. I just enjoy the various and changing silhouettes and fabrics throughout the history of fashion.

Tamera: Understandable. I have many "favorites," too!

Check out all those tucks and pleats . . .
can you say time consuming?!!
Tamera: What’s the most challenging dress you’ve created for a cover (and what was most challenging about it)? Also, what has been your most challenging sewing project in general?

Beth: As I mentioned, this is the first dress I have made for a cover. It has been really fun and exciting to create this dress from scratch and then see it on the cover of this book. A new experience I had when making this dress was the cartridge pleats at the back of the skirt. The pattern called for the front and side pieces of the skirt to be pleated to fit into the waistband and left only a five-inch opening in the back of the waistband. Then I had to fit the 50-inch-wide piece of fabric for the back part of the skirt into that five-inch opening. I thought, “There is no way I’m going to get that much fabric into that little space.” But the cartridge pleats worked fabulously at neatly pleating 50” down to 5”.

The most challenging costume I worked on was a waistcoat designed and then cut out by someone else and given to me to sew. Not a single piece matched up in size to its coordinating piece. There was no extra fabric to work with so I had to just rework the pieces I had while making sure the finished garment would still fit the actor it was designed for. Definitely a “make it work” project!

Finally, probably the most thrilling dress I got to make was the first complete dress for a play at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. Many of my costumes prior to that had to be remakes of existing dresses or costumes due to tight budgets. But I was graciously given the opportunity to sew, from start to finish, the schoolteacher dress in Little House on the Prairie: The Musical, which premiered at the Guthrie and then went on to tour nationally. It was so exciting to see the professionally-designed dress come together step-by-step and then to see it on stage.

Tamera: Wow, Beth, I bet that was a rewarding experience with Little House on the Prairie: the Musical. Congratulations! I’ve always admired people who know how to sew, and sew well!

Thank you for sharing your talent and time with us––and with the cover of my latest novel.

Now For A Look At The Photo Shoot








For more "behind the scenes" glimpses from the photo shoot for A Beauty So Rare, visitTamera's blog.







What Follows After by Dan Walsh ~ A Contemporary Fiction Book Review



Dan Walsh
Contemporary Fiction

Back of the book:

In 1962, life was simple, the world made sense, and all families were happy. And when they weren't, everyone knew you were supposed to pretend.

For the past year, Scott and Gina Harrison have been living a lie. While they show up at family get-togethers in the same car, they've actually been separated for over a year. To keep up the charade, they've even instructed their sons, Colt and Timmy, to lie--to their grandparents, their teachers, and their friends.

Colt, for one, has had enough, so he hatches a plan. He and his little brother will run away from their Florida home, head for their aunt's house in Georgia, and refuse to come home until their parents get back together. But when things go terribly, terribly wrong, Scott and Gina must come to grips with years of neglect and mistrust in order to recover their beloved sons, their love for one another, and their marriage.

In this emotional story, bestselling author Dan Walsh takes you on a journey to rediscover the things that matter most in life--love, truth, and family. With profound insight into the heart of a hurting child, he reminds us that a time will come to look back on hard times and smile, because we'll know that what follows after . . . is not what we expected at all.

My thoughts:

This is one of the hardest Contemporary Fiction books that I have read in a long time. The first part of the book depicts a child abduction and it is terrifying. The time frame is 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The normal protocol for searching for a stolen child is all derailed in the light of the national crisis. Dan Walsh does a masterful job of reminding us how different things were then. No GPS tracking on buses, no cell phones, no Amber alerts. All those things we take for granted now were absent then. In my mind I kept thinking why don't they just . . . then I would remember that technology wasn't available.

While the story line of the missing child had my heart racing, the plight of the parents left me cold. I don't want to give away plot lines so I will just say their strategies for finding their missing child just didn't make sense. And to top it off their focusing on their marital relationship in the midst of this disaster just seemed out of place. I really enjoy the writing of Dan Walsh but this just felt like two separate stories that just didn't quite fit together. Nevertheless I will continue to read his work because he really is a great story teller. This just didn't happen to be my favorite. 

Connect with the author:

Photo Credit: © Dan Davis Photography








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