Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Egypt's Sister


Egypt's Sister:
A Novel of Cleopatra

The Silent Years
Angela Hunt
(Bethany House Publishers)
ISBN: 9780764219320
July 2017/384 pages/$15.99

You Don't Know Her Name. The World Remembers Only Her Greatest Friend: Cleopatra.

Raised together in the Alexandrian palace, Chava, the Hebrew daughter of the royal tutor, and Urbi, an Egyptian princess, become as close as sisters--and rivals with their dreams of greatness. When Urbi unexpectedly ascends the throne as Queen Cleopatra, Chava believes their bond is strong enough to survive. But absolute power has a way of changing everything.

The ultimate betrayal rips Chava from everything she's ever known and sends her to the lowest rung of Roman society where she must choose between love and honor, between her own desires and God's will for her life, if she hopes to rise again.


Read an excerpt.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

The author of more than 100 published books and with nearly 5 million copies of her books sold worldwide, Angela Hunt is the New York Times bestselling author of The Note, The Nativity Story, and Esther: Royal Beauty. Romantic Times Book Club presented Angela with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. In 2008, Angela completed her PhD in Biblical Studies in Theology. She and her husband live in Florida with their mastiffs. She can be found online at www.angelahuntbooks.com.


MY THOUGHTS

I'm not a fan of ancient history settings and stories, but anything by Angela Hunt is a must-read for me. True to form, she swept me into the story and held my attention throughout the novel. Hunt seamlessly intertwines fact and fiction in this captivating tale of friendship, power, and faith. Her impeccable research add depth and rich historical detail without dragging the story down or making it read like a textbook. Set in the intertestamental period, also known as the Silent Years, the time between the Old and New Testaments when God did not speak to his people through prophets, Egypt's Sister is a reminder that God is always present even when He is silent. I completely loved this novel and couldn't set it aside until the last page was turned. Don't miss this fascinating story!


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book free from Baker/Bethany House for a blog tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Q&A WITH ANGELA HUNT

1. Why did you decide to write about Cleopatra, of all people? She’s not exactly a biblical character.

I chose to write about Cleopatra—and in the first book, no less—because people are familiar with her history. She lived and reigned thirty years before the birth of Christ, so I knew she’d be a good introduction to this period. Plus, she’s fascinating.

2. Few Christian novelists have written about the intertestamental period. What drew you to that era?

I would always rather do something new, because I love learning new things myself. I had never read any Christian novels set in this period, and I knew very little about the time, so I knew it’d be a challenge. I love challenges.

3. What, if anything, did you learn about Egypt and Rome that surprised you?

I learned lots of surprising things. First, I learned that Cleopatra and her royal forebears weren’t Egyptian—they were Macedonian Greeks, descended from Alexander the Great. They lived in Alexandria and spoke, dressed, and behaved according to Greek traditions and customs, not Egyptian. Second, I was surprised by the many similarities between our government and the Roman system.

4. Chava, your heroine, hears the voice of God speaking to her in her youth. Did you write from experience? Has something similar ever happened to you?

Yes. Though I did not hear God speak audibly, I felt Him speak to me as a teenager, and He gave me a promise that was fulfilled, even though at the time everything seemed against that possibility. So when the same thing happened to Chava, I was writing from experience.

5. What parallels do you see between the ancient Romans and contemporary American society?

The more secular the United States becomes, the more like the Romans we become. The chief difference between our two systems is that America was founded by Christian people who sought religious freedom. The Romans celebrated religious freedom, too, but they were pagans, with a god for everything. Our system of morality is based upon Judeo-Christian principles, but the Romans had no such foundation. The more we abandon our foundational principles, the more like the Romans we become.

6. What’s up next for The Silent Years series?

The next book in the series, Judah’s Wife, goes back to the time of the Maccabees when Judea and the Jews were living under the heavy hand of the Seleucids and all the world had gone over to Greek thinking, speaking, and living. Just as many Christians find it challenging to live in an increasingly secular world, so the Jews found it difficult to live as religious Jews under the heavy Hellenistic influence.

Many thanks to Angela Hunt and Bethany house Publishers for providing this Q&A!


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Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Heart on the Line


Heart on the Line
Ladies of Harper's Station #2
Karen Witmeyer
(Bethany House Publishers)
ISBN: 9780764212826
June 2017/336 pages/$15.99

When Danger Arrives, It's More Than Just Her Heart on the Line

Grace Mallory is tired of hiding. She hungers for a normal life, perhaps even a suitor like two of her friends in Harper's Station have found. But when the man she believes responsible for her father's death discovers her whereabouts, survival takes priority.

Amos Bledsoe prefers bicycles to horses and private conversations over the telegraph wire to social gatherings with young ladies who see him as nothing more than an oddity. His fellow telegrapher, the mysterious Miss G, has been the ideal companion. For months, their friendship--dare he believe, courtship?--over the wire has fed his hope that he has finally found the woman God intends for him. However, when he intercepts an ominous message and discovers her life is in peril, Amos must shed the cocoon of his quiet nature to become the hero Grace requires.


Read an excerpt.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Winner of the HOLT Medallion and the Carol Award and a finalist for the RITA and Christy Award, bestselling author Karen Witemeyer writes historical romance to give the world more happily-ever-afters. Karen makes her home in Texas, with her husband and three children. Learn more about Karen and her books at www.karenwitemeyer.com.




MY THOUGHTS

Karen Witemeyer is one of my favorite authors, and not just because she's here in the Lone Star State! Heart on the Line is an absolute delight and among my favorites of hers. What a great premise: two telegraph operators who become friends through dashes and dots, the precursor to today's internet romances! And I love that the hero isn't a swashbuckling hero but a more diminutive - dare I say nerdy? - fellow who prefers brains over brawn. Add in the setting of the "No Men Allowed" Harper's Station (well, except for the Sheriff) plus encroaching danger, and the result is an engaging story that is impossible to set aside! Witemeyer weaves amusing moments among the tense, and I alternately chuckled and held my breath. Don't miss Heart on the Line, and grab the first book, No Other Will Do while you're at it!


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book free from Baker/Bethany House for a blog tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



Q&A WITH KAREN WITEMEYER

1. Amos Bledsoe is not your usual Western hero, preferring bicycles to horses and depending on brains rather than brawn to win the day. What inspired you to create such a quirky, atypical hero?

I love rugged, alpha-male heroes, but they tend to dominate the romance genre. I wanted to switch things up a bit and remind readers that sweet, caring guys can be swoon-worthy too. Maybe it ties in to the fact that my own hero in real life is a bike-riding computer nerd. His passionate love for me and our family, his devotion to God, his kind demeanor, and his dry sense of humor make him my ideal man. So when I started crafting Amos, I followed the same pattern. As a telegraph operator, Amos is a nineteenth-century technology nerd. He’s smart, kind, funny, and sacrifices himself for those he loves without regret. A true hero in every sense of the word.

2. In Heart on the Line, Grace and Amos strike up a friendship over the telegraph line that turns romantic, a situation eerily reflective of today’s online dating culture. Was it your intention to parrot the modern world in your historical story?

No. When I started crafting Grace and Amos’s story, I just wanted to tell a fun historical romance appropriate for the late 1800s. Yet as I wrote, I recognized the similarities to online dating in our contemporary world. It reminded me of the movie You’ve Got Mail, where two rivals secretly fall in love via email. Or the older movie version, The Shop Around the Corner, where Jimmy Stewart unknowing courts a female coworker through heartfelt letters. The same questions arise in this 1890s telegraph scenario. Can Amos trust that Grace is the sweet young woman she hinted at being, or is she a middle-aged harridan with five kids having a laugh at the naïve telegrapher’s expense? Is he the gentleman he seems, or is he a malicious stalker? Then there’s the awkward first face-to-face meeting. It opens space for humor, for misunderstandings, and best of all, it creates room for true love to cut through the superficial level of physical attraction to the hearts of the people involved.

3. What inspired this story of telegraph love?

The inspiration for Heart on the Line came way back in 2011 when I was doing research on telegraph communication for another book. I stumbled upon a novel written in 1879 by female telegraph operator Ella Cheever Thayer, called Wired Love.

Apparently many operators were women in the late nineteenth century, and they were often identified as such by the delicacy of their “sounding” on the wires. The hero in Miss Thayer’s novel, Clem Stanwood, knows right away that the operator at the “B m” station is female.

Nattie Rogers is intrigued by the mysterious “C” at the “X n” station and seeks out conversations that soon turn flirtatious. These two telegraph operators fall in love over the wire without ever laying eyes on one another.

There is one scene about halfway through the book that served as my inspiration for Heart on the Line. A case of mistaken identity has scared Nattie off, but Mr. Stanwood arranges a visit to her boardinghouse, and while sitting amongst others in the parlor, he begins tapping out code with his pencil against a marble tabletop. Nattie recognizes her call name, takes up a pair of scissors, and drums out her answer. They carry on an entire conversation this way with no one else in the parlor suspecting their actions are anything more than idle tapping. Until, that is, Mr. Stanwood reveals himself to be the real “C.”

Nattie jumps to her feet and exclaims aloud, “What do you mean? It cannot be possible!” Hysterical!

Of course, everyone else in the room thinks she’s lost her mind, except the hero, who crosses the room to take her hand. Aww…

In Heart on the Line, I had a great deal of fun creating situations where my two telegraph operators communicated through coded tapping without anyone else being able to understand the significance of their private conversations. It just goes to show that you never know when a random research trail will lead to the perfect plot for a new book.

4. Will we see more stories about the ladies of Harper’s Station in the future?

Yes, there will be one more story to finish off this series. The final installment will be a novella that features the young Irishwoman Claire Nevin, who came to Harper’s Station as a runaway mail-order bride. Claire has been apprenticing with the local midwife and learning the healing arts, which allows her to play a significant role in the secondary plotline for Heart on the Line. However, it’s not until her past thrusts itself back into her life in The Love Knot that she finds emotional healing for the broken heart that has plagued her for too long. Claire’s story will appear in the collection entitled Hearts Entwined coming in January.


Many thanks to Karen Witemeyer and Bethany House Publishers for providing this Q&A!




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Monday, July 3, 2017

On Love's Gentle Shore


On Love's Gentle Shore
Prince Edward Island Dreams
Liz Johnson
(Revell)
ISBN: 978-0800724511
July 2017/336 pages/$15.99

Natalie O'Ryan had no plans to return to Prince Edward Island. But when her fiancé books their wedding in her hometown and schedules a summer at Rose's Red Door Inn, she sets out to plan the perfect wedding. Yet she can't possibly plan for a run-in with Justin Kane--the best friend she left behind all those years ago after promising to stay.

Justin has never forgotten Natalie. He'd been prepared to follow her off the island until tragedy struck, leaving him to run the family dairy farm. He's done the best he can with the life that was thrust upon him--but with Natalie back in the picture, he begins to realize just how much joy he's been missing.

After Natalie's reception venue falls through, she must scramble to find an alternative, and the only option seems to be a barn on Justin's property. As they work together to get the dilapidated building ready for the party, Natalie and Justin may discover that there is more between them than broken promises and an old friendship.


Read an excerpt.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Liz Johnson fell in love with Prince Edward Island the first time she set foot on it. When she's not plotting her next trip to the island, she works as director of marketing for a Christian radio network. She is the author of several novels including The Red Door Inn and Where Two Hearts Meet, a New York Times bestselling novella, and a handful of short stories. She makes her home in Tucson, Arizona.


MY THOUGHTS

Liz Johnson brings her Prince Edward Island Dreams series to a satisfying conclusion with this final novel, although I hate saying goodbye to this delightul community! I've been enchanted by Prince Edward Island since reading Anne of Green Gables as a child, and Johnson has only increased my desire to visit this charming province. Don't let the fact that it is the end of a series dissuade you from reading this On Love's Gentle Shore. It stands alone, although you don't want to miss the first two books! Once again, I was mesmerized by the setting, the characters, and the story, and I was loath to set the book aside until I had read the final page. Add this book and series to your summer reading list!


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Baker/Revell Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND DREAMS
Click each cover for my review!




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Sunday, July 2, 2017

Freedom's Price


Freedom's Price
Keys of Promise #3
Christine Johnson
(Revell)
ISBN: 978-0800723521
June 2017/336 pages/$14.99

Sometimes the hardest step to take is the first step forward

When Englishwoman Catherine Haynes loses both her father and her home in 1856, she decides to cross the Atlantic to find her American mother's family in Louisiana. She enlists the help of Tom Worthington, a dashing Key West man who makes his living salvaging wrecked ships.

When Catherine arrives at the plantation, she finds that her family has left it in the care of a manager--who's let it fall into disrepair. Torn between returning to Key West with Tom and beginning the hard work of restoring the plantation, Catherine soon finds herself snared in a plot to steal her inheritance. When an incredible secret comes to light, both she and Tom will face a choice: grip their dreams ever tighter or step forward in faith--even if it costs them everything.


Read an excerpt.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Christine Johnson is the author of Love's Rescue and Honor Redeemed, as well as several books for Steeple Hill and Love Inspired. She was twice named a finalist for Romance Writers of America's Golden Heart Award. When not writing, she loves to hike and explore God's majestic creation. These days, she and her husband, a Great Lakes ship pilot, split their time between northern Michigan and the Florida Keys.


MY THOUGHTS

Prepare for adventure on land and at sea when you open the pages of this book! Christine Johnson swept me away with her vivid setting and characters. I was captivated by this story, particularly by Catherine's courage, perseverance, and spunk. Packed with danger, intrigue, and romance Freedom's Price is the perfect beach read with the sound of waves as the backdrop. Don't miss this can't-put-down novel!


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book free from Baker/Revell Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”




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Saturday, July 1, 2017

ACFW New Releases - July 2017

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:


On Love's Gentle Shore by Liz Johnson -- When Natalie O’Ryan’s fiancé books their wedding in her hometown, Natalie didn’t know the only reception venue available would be an old barn belonging to Justin Kane--the best friend she left behind all those years ago after promising to stay. As they work together to get the dilapidated building ready for the party, Natalie and Justin discover the groundwork for forgiveness--and that there may be more than an old friendship between them. (Contemporary Romance from Revell - A Division of Baker Publishing Group)


Their Ranch Reunion by Mindy Obenhaus -- Single mom Carly Wagner is surprised to learn she'll have to share ownership of the home she's inherited with her first love—and first heartbreak—Andrew Stephens. The man who fled their tiny Western town is back and standing in the way of her dreams to expand her B and B. Now a successful businessman, Andrew has eight weeks to buy Carly out. But Carly's too stubborn to persuade—and too beautiful to ignore. When fire ravages her inn and she and her daughter move in to their shared property, Andrew's in over his head. Time is running out and Andrew must decide: leave and chase another deal...or stay and chase Carly's heart. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])


Time and Tide by Kristen Terrette -- Recovering from addiction and a near death experience, Chad moves to Moanna Island, a small island close to Savannah off the Atlantic coast, to begin a job with his family’s real estate empire, a job he was supposed to have taken years ago. Free-spirited Ryan Mason is a Moanna local girl from a blue-collar family. She’s dropped her own dreams to help her father care for her schizophrenic brother. When Chad and Ryan meet at the rehabilitation center where her brother lives, feelings develop between them. Can their crazy worlds ever fit together once he learns her secret and she finds out he is the sole heir to the Cusher Empire? (Contemporary from Hartwood Publishing Group)


Just Look Up by Courtney Walsh -- When a workaholic interior designer returns to her hometown to check on her brother’s welfare, she reconnects with a soldier, secretly in love with her, over a renovation project that will help the struggling town. (Contemporary Romance from Tyndale House)

Cozy Mystery:


A Tempting Taste of Mystery by Elizabeth Ludwig -- Judging a pie contest leads Cheryl Cooper and friends into mayhem and mystery after someone begins methodically sabotaging the entries. (Cozy Mystery from Guideposts Publications)


Over Maya Dead Body by Sandra Orchard -- FBI Special Agent Serena Jones arrives on Martha's Vineyard with her family, ready for a little bit of R&R and a whole lot of reminiscing as they celebrate the engagement of an old family friend. But crime doesn't take a vacation, and she's soon entangled in an investigation of a suspicious death tied to an antiquities smuggling ring.When her investigation propels her into danger, Serena must stay the course and solve this case before anyone else dies. But just how is she supposed to do that when the two men in her life arrive on the scene, bringing with them plenty of romantic complications--and even a secret or two? (Cozy Mystery from Revell [Baker])


Historical Romance:



The American Conquest (Window to the Heart Sage, Book 3) by Jenna Brandt -- Margaret must leave behind her title and wealth in Europe in order to escape and start a new life in the Colorado Territory. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)


Of Rags and Riches Romance Collection by Susanne Dietze, Michelle Griep, Anne Love, Gabrielle Meyer, Natalie Monk, Jennifer Uhlarik, Erica Vetsch, Jaime Jo Wright, and Kathleen Y'Barbo -- Journey along in nine historical romances with those whose lives are transformed by the opulence, growth, and great changes taking place in America’s Gilded Age. Nine couples meet during these exhilarating times and work to build a future together through fighting for social reform, celebrating new opportunities for leisure activities, taking advantage of economic growth and new inventions, and more. Watch as these romances develop and legacies of faith and love are formed. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)


A Rebel in My House by Sandra Merville Hart -- Promises can be impossible to keep--especially when a Confederate soldier trapped behind enemy lines looks to a Gettysburg seamstress for help. (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)


A Match for Melissa by Susan Karsten -- Wanting a godly husband, Melissa's only choice is to follow her father's wishes, even when doing so may not achieve the desires of her heart. (Historical Romance from Prism Book Group [Pelican]).


My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island by Carrie Fancett Pagels -- Moor your heart on Mackinac Island along with resident sweetheart Maude Welling, an heiress trying to prove her worth by working incognito as a maid at the Grand Hotel. Meet Ben Steffans, a journalist posing as a wealthy industrialist who has come to the island to uncover a story about impoverished men pursuing heiresses at the famed hotel. Will a growing love between Maude and Ben be scuttled when truths are revealed in this Gilded Age romance? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)


Salvation by the Sea by Kristen Reed -- Life has been anything but easy for Muirigan thanks to a series of life-altering calamities, but she's found peace with her new, understated life by the sea. However, the maid's past comes back to haunt her when she saves the shipwrecked Prince Halvard one morning. Failing to recognize one of his dearest childhood friends, the prince invites Muirigan to live at court as a reward for her valiant heroism. As the two reconnect, something deeper than friendship blossoms, but will their newfound affection survive when Muirigan’s lies are revealed and Halvard learns the truth about what has befallen since their tragic separation? (Historical Romance, Independently Published)


Romantic Suspense:


Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble -- As a 911 dispatcher, Dana Newell takes pride in being calm in tough circumstances. In addition to her emotionally-charged career, she’s faced enough emergencies in her own life. She recently escaped her abusive fiancé to move to tranquil Rock Harbor where she hopes life will be more peaceful. But the idyllic town hides more danger and secrets than it first appeared. Dana is continually drawn to her new friend Boone, who has scars inside and out. Then she answers a call at her job only to hear a friend’s desperate screams on the other end. Soon the pain in her past collides with the mysteries of her new home—and threatens to keep her from the future she’s always wanted. (Romantic Suspense from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Thomas Nelson and Zondervan])


Speculative:


The Genesis Tree by Heather L.L. FitzGerald -- Deception is rampant, the enemy is subtle, and love dares to tug at Sadie’s heart amid the turmoil that forces her and her family back to the Tethered World below. (Speculative/Contemporary Fantasy from Mountain Brook Ink)



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