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Monday, September 3, 2012

Blog Tour - Made the Grade: Return to Willow Lake by Susan Wiggs | Interview & Review

Today I'm turning my blog over to Susan Wiggs, who I interviewed about her latest novel "Return to Willow Lake," which is the 9th book in her Lakeshore Chronicles Series!!



My Q&A with Susan Wiggs :

Jess : Who or what was your inspiration to begin writing?

Susan : There was never a time when I wasn’t writing. Even as a toddler, I used to dictate stories to my mom. Evidence here: early writings. I think people are born storytellers. Most grow up and get sensible jobs, but some of us never get over it.

Jess : Tell us a bit about your Lakeshore Chronicles Series.

Susan : It’s an unending series of books about the lives and loves of the Bellamy family. The setting is a nostalgic town in the Catskills, on the shores of Willow Lake. It’s become so real to me that the new book, "Return to Willow Lake," features endpapers with maps.

Jess : Which of your characters would you most & least like to invite to dinner, from which book and why?

Susan : Fun question! I would most like to invite Zach Alger from "Return to Willow Lake" to dinner, because he is total eye candy and he would make an awesome video of the experience. I’d least like to meet up with Zach’s father, Matthew, because he’s a total douchebag. Fortunately, Zach did a better job raising himself.

Jess : Please describe your heroine, from "Return to Willow Lake," in one to two sentences.

Susan : Sonnet Romano is smart, driven, loyal and romantically confused. She’s also a wonderful daughter to her mom at a time when her mom really needs her. And she can’t seem to stop thinking about this guy she’s not supposed to even like....

Jess : If "Return to Willow Lake" were to be made into a film, who do you see playing the main characters and why?

Susan : Sonnet looks a bit like Alicia Keys. She would be played by a lovely mixed race actress...And Zach, hmm...somebody tall, blonde and yummy. I’m open to suggestions.


Jess : In regards to "Return to Willow Lake," if you could write it all over again, would you change anything about it?

Susan : Gosh, no. I rewrote it so many times, my head would explode! If you find a typo while reading it, well, I’d change that.

Jess : How many books have you written? Which is your favorite and why?

Susan : I stopped counting after forty. So, probably fortysomething? My favorite is the NEXT one because I’m so excited to be writing it. Of my published books, "Return to Willow Lake" is my fave, because I just felt so close to the characters and their situation. I’ve never been in that situation, but I felt it very deeply.

Jess : Do you have any other projects in the works? If so, can you share a little of your current work with us?

Susan : I’m finishing up "The Apple Orchard," the first Bella Vista Cooking School novel which takes place in Archangel, in Sonoma County, California. It will be out next May. After that, I’m going to tackle Logan’s story in the Lakeshore Chronicles.



About the Author :

Using blunt scissors, pages from a Big Chief tablet, a borrowed stapler and a Number Two pencil, Susan Wiggs self-published her first novel at the age of eight. "A Book About Some Bad Kids" [I still have this-CL] was based on the true-life adventures of Susan and her siblings, and the first printing of one copy was a complete sell-out.

Due to her brother's extreme reaction to that first prodigious effort, Susan went underground with her craft, entertaining her friends and offending her siblings with anonymously-written stories of virtuous sisters and the brothers who torment them. The first romance she ever read was "Shanna" by the incomparable Kathleen Woodiwiss, which she devoured while slumped behind a college vector analysis textbook. Armed with degrees from SFA and Harvard, and toting a crate of "keeper" books by Woodiwiss, Roberta Gellis, Laurie McBain, Rosemary Rogers, Jennifer Blake, Bertrice Small and anything with the words "flaming" and "ecstasy" in the title, she became a math teacher, just to prove to the world that she did have a left brain.

Late one night, she finished the book she was reading and was confronted with a reader's worst nightmare—She was wide awake, and there wasn't a thing in the house she wanted to read. Figuring this was the universe's way of taking away her excuses, she picked up a Big Chief tablet and a Number Two pencil, and began writing her novel with the working title, "A Book About Some Bad Adults." Actually, that was a bad book about some adults, but Susan persevered, learning her craft the way skydiving is learned—by taking a blind leap and hoping the chute will open.

Her first book was published (without the use of blunt scissors and a stapler) by Zebra in 1987, and since then she has been published by Avon, Tor, HarperCollins, Harlequin, Warner and Mira Books. Unable to completely abandon her beloved teaching profession, Susan is a frequent workshop leader and speaker at writers' conferences, including the literary institution Fields End and the legendary Maui Writers Conference. Her novel "The Charm School" was voted one of RWA's Favorite Books of the Year. She is the proud recipient of three RITA awards for "Lakeside Cottage," "Lord of the Night" and "The Mistress," and is often a finalist for the prestigious award. Her books appear regularly on numerous "Best Of" lists.

Susan enjoys many hobbies, including sitting in the hot tub while talking to her mother on the phone, kickboxing, cleaning the can opener, sculpting with butter and growing her hair. She lives on an island in the Pacific Northwest with her family.




- This is an ARC book - Available Formats through Amazon.com: Hardcover - Pages: 311; Kindle Edition - File Size: 487 KB; Audiobook - Unabridged | Expected Release Date: August 28, 2012 | Publisher: Mira Books | Obtained: NetGalley

"Return to Willow Lake" [The Lakeshore Chronicles, Book 9] by Susan Wiggs

My Book Summary : Sonnet has always been the type of person who likes to plan out her life then strive to achieve her goals as quickly as she can. However, when she finds out that her mother (who's in her 40's) is unexpectedly pregnant and that the pregnancy has some high-risk complications Sonnet puts her life plans and goals on hold and moves back to her hometown of Avalon to support her mother through this tough process. Nevertheless, just because she back home doesn't mean she doesn't need to work, especially since she gave up her high-powered job in the city to be there. Therefore, she becomes the Casting and Location Coordinator for the town's latest reality show called Big Girl, Small Town, and working with her once best friend Zach.

Zach is a good guy who had grown up in a crappy home. However, Sonnet's mother always made him feel welcome throughout Sonnet and his friendship and that hasn't changed over the years. It does get complicated though after Sonnet and he share an unexpected sparks-flying night together, especially afterwards when Sonnet wants to forget about it and go back to being friends again.

Now with Sonnet working on the Big Girl, Small Town with him they try working through their feelings while dealing with the intense situations around them. Can they work through everything to finally realize what they truly want for themselves in life and love? Or will they find that it would be better to be apart for good?

My Book Review : 3.5 out of 5 stars, this is a moving charming novel. About the lengths, those will go to for the ones they love. I loved stepping back into Susan Wiggs' Lakeshore Chronicles world and catching up with all of these characters! However, I truly enjoyed reading about Nina's struggles, Nina's triumphs, Sonnet finding herself throughout this whole novel, the budding romance between Zach and Sonnet, and how no matter what happened between Sonnet and Zach they always were their for each other in the end. The town wraps you up and makes you want to read more!!

With that being said, I really hated Sonnet's father and the way she tried to please him at all costs. I mean I know where she was coming from since I was raised by a single mother for most of my life so I understand her need to show her worth to her father. However, when her father doesn't appreciate her efforts or thinks that only the path he picks is the correct one for her, then I really just don't like the man. Nevertheless, I like that throughout this novel Sonnet works out her issues with her father and comes to her own conclusions about him in the end.

In addition, I wish the epilogue had more!! I'm happy with the way it ended, who ended up with who, and how everything turned out. However, it leads you up to what you'll be expected to see and then it stops. =0(

Anyway ...

Overall, I enjoyed this novel. I would recommend it and the Lakeshore Chronicles series to anyone who likes contemporary romances!!

Author's Novel Extras : Read an excerpt | Reading Guide | Booklist LURVE | dedication page | shout out to Library Journal

Author's Series Extras : When life gives you lemons... | How many books are in the Lakeshore Chronicles? | “It’s a Wonderful List” | reading to music | series or single title? | “Walk away.” | ‘fessing up | from today’s front page | cover art debate | just a taste | for reading groups | my grandma, the maniac | oopsie Daisy | fair enough question | women’s fiction | Daisy+Logan+Julian

Author's Book Trailer :

Author's Series Interview(s) :

Book Teaser(s) :
Zach thanked him and hung up, looking around the bakery at the coffee drinkers, the tourists and locals, the little kids smearing their hands on the glass cases, the old guys with their crossword puzzles. These people had no idea that the world had just shifted for him. Finally the dream was coming into reach. He'd been trying to get a break forever, sending out his portfolio of digital clips, emailing them into what seemed like a black hole of digital ether. He'd been networking through people in the business who were at least six degrees away from West Coast and New York producers. Each award he won, each scrap of recognition, hoisted him another rung up the ladder, but until now, nothing had materialized.
The opportunity was still so new, he had only the sketchiest idea of what was in store for him next. ~ within Chapter 4
"Tell you what," she said to the shaking boy. "Let's go together. You and me. What do you say?"
"What good's that going to do? Then we'll both die."
"Nobody's going to die. You saw everybody take a turn and they loved it. Come on, I'm scared, too, but I still want to do it."
"You're not scared. I heard you telling Salt over there that you couldn't wait to take a turn."
"Salt?"
"That's what we call him." Andre jerked a thumb in Zach's direction. "'Cause the two of you are salt and pepper."
She felt her cheeks heat up. She didn't want to be pepper to Zach's salt. "Never mind that. Let's do this thing." ~ within Chapter 12
For more information on this book, series, and/or any other books by Susan, then please check out her website.



Find Susan Wiggs :

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Blog Tour - Feasted On: A Wedding at the Orange Blossom Inn by Shelley Shepard Gray | Review & 5-Book Giveaway(s)

Today I'm turning my blog over to Shelley Shepard Gray, with a review of her recent release "A Wedding at the Orange Blossom Inn," which happens to be the THIRD BOOK in her Amish Brides of Pinecraft Series!!

ALSO -- Be sure to sign up for this tour's GIVEAWAY(s) (listed below)!! [Blog Tour will run from September 15 - 30, 2015 | Giveaway ends on September 30, 2015]



- This is an ARC book - Available Formats through Amazon.com: Paperback - Pages: 288; Library Binding - Pages: 500; Kindle Edition - File Size: 1576 KB; Audio CD - Unabridged | Expected Release Date: September 15, 2015 | Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers : Avon Books : Inspire | Obtained: Litfuse Publicity Group / edelweiss

"A Wedding at the Orange Blossom Inn" [Amish Brides of Pinecraft Series, Book 3] by Shelley Shepard Gray (aka Shelley Gray)

Author's Book Description : Beloved bestselling author Shelley Shepard Gray returns with the third book in her Amish Brides of Pinecraft series—a story of second chances for two young single parents…and the wedding that brings them together.

Emma Keim was heartbroken when her husband Sanford passed away, leaving her to raise three young daughters alone. In the years since, her relatives have made it no secret that they expect Emma to remain a widow, mourning Sanford indefinitely. But when she meets Jay Hilty—a widower with three young sons of his own—Emma is delighted to have a new friend who understands her struggles. And it doesn’t hurt that he’s also handsome and kind. Still, Emma is dismayed that her family is so opposed to their friendship—and the idea of it ever becoming anything more. She honors her husband’s memory every day, but is she destined to be alone forever?

Jay knows that few people his age understand what it’s like to lose a spouse, and Emma’s gentleness with his boys stirs something in his heart that’s been quiet for far too long. But when Jay’s oldest son becomes engaged to a local woman, suddenly Jay, Emma, and their children are swept up in wedding preparations. Witnessing his son’s joy, Jay wonders if it’s time for him to move forward, too, and find happiness again.

Jay wants to court Emma in earnest, but Emma’s relatives remain troubled by the prospect of her moving on. Once again, love has come to Pinecraft. But can these two parties of four become a happy, healthy family of eight?

My Book Review : 4.5 out of 5 stars! Over a year ago, Jay’s wife passed away, so now he and his sons move to Pinecraft, Florida to make a new life for themselves. While waiting for their new home to be ready Jay meets Emma, an Amish mother of three little girls who is a widower too, who is chasing after her naughty beagle. Has fate/God set them on a path to meet and become something more? Or will moving forward be too hard for them and those around them?

It started and ended with a mischievous dog, named Frankie. He gets into EVERYTHING when it comes to getting the food he wants, and because he’s adorable he gets away with it more than he should. However, if it wasn’t for Frankie’s antics it’s doubtful that Jay and Emma would have gotten as close as they did. Their relationship grows quickly in this novel but I love how it was all handled and the calming effect they have for one another. I could definitely read more about these two if I had the chance. The love that they show for one another and their unique situation kept reminding me of the 1968 version of “Yours, Mine, and Ours,” even though there is a lot more children in the movie.

The other major relationship that comes together in this novel is between Ben, Jay’s eldest son, and Tricia, Beverly’s—the manager of the Orange Blossom Inn—niece. They have a bit of a whirlwind romance but it’s very sweet. Also, I thought it was cute how their relationship grew from a sort of friendship into romance.

Lastly, this novel is the first out of the series to truly update you on all previous main characters! It was fun to see how everyone was up too.

I HIGHLY recommend this novel and series to those looking for an entertainingly sweet contemporary Amish romance!

Purchase This Book and/or The Other Books From It's Series Here : IndieBound (Paperback) : The Promise of Palm Grove (Book 1) | IndieBound (Paperback) : The Proposal At Siesta Key (Book 2) | IndieBound (Paperback) : A Wish on Gardenia Street (Novella 1) | IndieBound (Paperback) : A Christmas Bride in Pinecraft (Book 4) | IndieBound (MP3 CD) : The Promise of Palm Grove (Book 1) | IndieBound (MP3 CD) : The Proposal At Siesta Key (Book 2) | IndieBound (MP3 CD) : A Christmas Bride in Pinecraft (Book 4) | IndieBound (Library Binding, Large Print) : The Promise of Palm Grove (Book 1) | IndieBound (Library Binding, Large Print) : The Proposal At Siesta Key (Book 2) | IndieBound (Library Binding, Large Print) : A Christmas Bride in Pinecraft (Book 4) | Kobo (e-Book) : The Promise of Palm Grove (Book 1) | Kobo (e-Book) : The Proposal At Siesta Key (Book 2) | Kobo (e-Book) : A Wish on Gardenia Street (Novella 1) | Kobo (e-Book) : A Christmas Bride in Pinecraft (Book 4) | Alibris (Paperback) : The Promise of Palm Grove (Book 1) | Amazon.com (e-Book) : The Promise of Palm Grove (Book 1) | Amazon.com (e-Book) : The Proposal At Siesta Key (Book 2) | Amazon.com (e-Book) : A Wish on Gardenia Street (Novella 1) | Amazon.com (e-Book) : A Christmas Bride in Pinecraft (Book 4)


IndieBound (Paperback) : A Wedding at the Orange Blossom Inn (Book 3)

IndieBound (MP3 CD) : A Wedding at the Orange Blossom Inn (Book 3)

IndieBound (Library Binding, Large Print) : A Wedding at the Orange Blossom Inn (Book 3)

Kobo (e-Book) : A Wedding at the Orange Blossom Inn (Book 3)


My Previous Review(s) for this Series : Book 1 | Book 2

My Previous Review(s) for this Author : Hidden | Joyful

My Previous Mention(s) of this Author's Books/Characters : Best Book Couples -- Happy Valentine's Day 2015 | Second Sentence Saturday: The Proposal At Siesta Key

Author's Novel Extras : Pinterest: A WEDDING AT THE ORANGE BLOSSOM INN | A Wedding at the Orange Blossom Inn - Overview


So happy to be joining my friends over at Amish Wisdom this week! My husband is still shaking his head about the three things I'm passionate about. : )
Posted by Shelley Shepard Gray on Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Author's Series Extras : Pinterest: THE PROMISE OF PALM GROVE | The Promise of Palm Grove - Overview | Pinterest: THE PROPOSAL AT SIESTA KEY | The Proposal At Siesta Key - Overview | Pinterest: A Wish on Gardenia Street | A Wish on Gardenia Street - Overview | Introducing the Bride Blog | Bride Blog: Perfect Proposals | A Visit to NYC | Bride Blog: Engagements | A Glimpse Behind the Scenes: Cover Art by Gail Dubov

Book Teaser(s) :

A WEDDING AT THE ORANGE BLOSSOM INN by Shelley Shepard Gray -- Read my #bookreview, #blogtour, & #giveaway here:...

Posted by From Me to You - Video, Photography, & Book Reviews on Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A WEDDING AT THE ORANGE BLOSSOM INN by Shelley Shepard Gray -- Read my #bookreview, #blogtour, & #giveaway here:...

Posted by From Me to You - Video, Photography, & Book Reviews on Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Book Preview :
For more information on this book, series, and/or any other books by Shelley, then please check out her website.



About the Author :

Since 2000, Shelley has sold over forty novels to numerous publishers, including HarperCollins, Harlequin, and Abingdon Press. She has been interviewed by NPR, and her books have been highlighted in numerous publications, including USA Today and The Wall Street Journal.

Under the name Shelley Shepard Gray, Shelley writes Amish romances for HarperCollins’ inspirational line, Avon Inspire. Her recent novel, "The Protector," the final book in her "Families of Honor" series, hit the New York Times List, and her previous novel in the same series, "The Survivor," appeared on the USA Today bestseller list. Shelley has won the prestigious Holt Medallion for her books, "Forgiven" and "Grace," and her novels have been chosen as Alternate Selections for the Doubleday/Literary Guild Book Club. Her first novel with Avon Inspire, "Hidden," was an Inspirational Reader's Choice finalist.

Shelley also writes historical, western inspirational romances for Abingdon Press as Shelley Gray. Her first novel with Abingdon, "A Texan’s Promise," was released in October 2011 and has earned glowing reviews.

In addition to her writing as Shelley Shepard Gray, Shelley has written a dozen novels for Harlequin American Romance under the pseudonym Shelley Galloway. Her first novel with Harlequin, "Cinderella Christmas," reached number six on the Waldenbooks Bestseller list, and her second book for the American Romance line, Simple Gifts, won RT Magazine’s Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Harlequin American Romance of 2006.

Her written essays have appeared on CNN.com

Before writing romances, Shelley lived in Texas and Colorado, where she taught school and earned both her bachelor's and master's degrees in education. She now lives in southern Ohio and writes full time. Shelley is married, the mother of two children in college, and is an active member of her church. She serves on committees, volunteers in the church office, and currently leads a Bible study group, and she looks forward to the opportunity to continue to write novels that showcase her Christian ideals.

When she's not writing, Shelley often attends conferences and reader retreats in order to give workshops and publicize her work. She’s attended RWA’s national conference six times, the ACFW conference and Romantic Times Magazine's annual conference as well as traveled to New Jersey, Birmingham, and Tennessee to attend local conferences.

Shelley is a member of RWA’s Published Author chapter, ACFW, and the Faith Hope and Love Chapter of RWA. Please visit www.shelleyshepardgray.com to learn more about Shelley and her books.




Giveaway(s)!! :

When widow Emma’s family opposes her new friendship with widower Jay, she begins to wonder if she’ll be alone forever. Don't miss Shelley Shepard Gray's third book, "A Wedding at the Orange Blossom Inn," in the Amish Brides of Pinecraft series! A wedding brings together two young widowed parents, and once again, love has come to Pinecraft. But can these two parties of four become a happy, healthy family of eight?

Enter to win a copy of A Wedding at the Orange Blossom Inn—five winners will be chosen! Click the image below to enter to win. The winners will be announced October 1 on Shelley’s blog!

orangeblossom-400

ALSO -- Be sure to check out Litfuse's other Blog Tour Reviews for this novel!!



Find Shelley Shepard Gray :

Monday, April 29, 2013

Idolizing In: The Smythe-Smith Quartet Series, Book 2

Format: Paperback | Pages: 373 | Release Date: May 2012 | Publisher: Avon Books | Obtained: My Mom (previously read it and thought I might like it)

"A Night Like This" [The Smythe-Smith Quartet Series, Book 2] by Julia Quinn (aka JQ)

My Book Summary : After three years of being in exile to escape being killed at his friend's father's request, Lord Winstead--Daniel--is finally able to return to England. However, being on the run and always looking over your shoulder does keep one on edge and it's a good thing in Daniel's case because it seems that not all of his troubles are finished once he returns. Nevertheless, he finds it hard to become too frightened once he meets the lovely Anne, his cousin's Governess, who has some secrets of her own. Now if Anne can only open up to Daniel about her past and her fears they might be able to stop the madman after her (and kind of after Daniel now too) before it's too late...

My Book Review : 5 out of 5 stars! This is hilariously energetic novel keeps you on your toes while encouraging you to fall in love with its compelling cast of characters! I loved Daniel & Anne! Their story was one I did not completely expect yet it kept me riveted the whole way through. If only there was more! =0)

And the secondary characters! Good god! They made this novel full of twists I never saw coming, and so very fun to read!

About the Characters:
• Anne: Because of an accident--that happened eight years ago--when she was 16-years-old she has been "on the run" in a way ever since. Currently works as The Pleinsworths' (Harriet, Elizabeth, & Frances) governess. Likes her job and employers. Is immediately drawn to Daniel, has to fight with herself to stay within certain propriety.

• Daniel: He's the Earl of Winstead. Had a duel with one of his close friends when they were both drunk and being dumb. Accidentally wounded his friend in the leg during the duel, and because of that he was on fled from England and stayed away for three years after his friend's father announced that he wanted him dead. Once he is allowed back home, he meets Anne and is instantly attracted to her wanting to find out everything about her. Forced to perform in an unusual play and go back to "school" just so he can hang out with and get to know Anne better. Is very sweet, charming, and chivalrous when he goes about his own way of courting Anne.

• Marcus: He's the Earl of Chatteris. Engaged to Lady Honoria. Daniel's best friend.

• Honoria: Daniel's younger sister. Engaged to Marcus.

• Hugh: The second son of the Marquess of Ramsgate. A close friend of Daniel's. Is the one who wanted to duel with Daniel when he believe Daniel was cheating at cards, and ended up with a bad leg because of it. Told Daniel that he could come back to England after getting his father to call off his father's death wish.

• Harriet: Is fifteen-years-old. Believes herself to be an amazing play write, but usually comes up with more unusual dramatic pieces of work then anything.

• Frances: Youngest of the Pleinsworths siblings at ten-years-old. Likes unicorns and likes to pretend she is one.

There are more characters of course but those ones stand out the most for me. =0)

I recommend this novel to anyone who likes humorously dramatic historical romances!

My Previous Review(s) for this Author : Ten Things I Love About You

My Previous Mention(s) of this Author's Books/Characters : Blog Tour - Made the Grade: The Reluctant Marquess by Maggi Andersen | Guest Post, Review, & Giveaway | Feasted On: Eloisa's Fairy Tales Series, Book 4 | Best Book Couples -- Happy Valentine's Day 2013

Author's Novel Extras : A Night Like This - Overview, Inside the Story, Awards & Achievements, Excerpt, and Connecting Books | The Romancing Of Julia Quinn: A Night Like This? Author Talks Genre, Critics? Downton Abbey?

Author's Series Extras : Find out more about...The Smythe-Smith Quartet | Just Like Heaven - Overview, Watch the Video, Inside the Story, Awards & Achievements, Excerpt, and Connecting Books | JQ has a limited quantity of Just Like Heaven magnets to give away.

Book Teaser(s) :
"Do you know my sister?" he asked, sounding terribly tired. "Oh, of course you do. You were playing with her."
"Your sister is Lady Honoria?" It did seem prudent to verify.
He nodded. "I am Winstead."
"Yes, of course. I had been informed of your pending return." She stretched out another awkward smile, but it did little to set her at ease. "Lady Honoria is most amiable and kind. I am very happy for her."
"She's a terrible musician."
"She was the best violinist on the stage," Anne said with complete honesty.
He laughed loudly at that. ~ within Chapter 2
Then Elizabeth came, bearing a tray of cakes and sweets, and finally Harriet, who carried with her a small sheaf of paper---her current opus, Henry VIII and the Unicorn of Doom.
"I'm not certain Frances is going to be appeased by an evil unicorn," Anne told her.
Harriett looked up with one arched brow. "She did not specify that it must be a good unicorn."
Anne grimaced. "You're going to have a battle on your hands, that's all I'm going to say on the matter."
Harriet shrugged, then said, "I'm going to begin in act two. Act one is a complete disaster. I've had to rip it completely apart."
"Because of the unicorn?"
"No," Harriet said with a grimace. "I got the order of the wives wrong. It's divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, widowed."
"How cheerful."
Harriet gave her a bit of a look, then said, "I switched one of the divorces with a beheading."
"May I give you a bit of advice?" Anne said.
Harriet looked up.
"Don't ever let anyone hear you say that out of context." ~ within Chapter 14
For more information on this book, series, and/or any other books by Julia, then please check out her website.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Blog Tour - Idolizing In: The Promise of Palm Grove by Shelley Shepard Gray | Review & Novel Giveaways

Today I'm turning my blog over to Shelley Shepard Gray, with a review of her recent release "The Promise of Palm Grove," which happens to be the FIRST BOOK in her Amish Brides of Pinecraft Series!!

ALSO -- Be sure to sign up for this tour's GIVEAWAY(s) (listed below)!! [Blog Tour will run from March 9 - 27, 2015 | Giveaway ends on March 29, 2015]



- This is an ARC book - Available Formats through Amazon.com: Paperback - Pages: 288; Library Binding - Pages: 288; Kindle Edition - File Size: 3195 KB | Expected Release Date: January 27, 2015 | Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers : Avon Books : Inspire | Obtained: Litfuse Publicity Group / edelweiss

"The Promise of Palm Grove" [Amish Brides of Pinecraft Series, Book 1] by Shelley Shepard Gray (aka Shelley Gray)

Author's Book Description : A young Amish woman finds herself torn between the man she’s pledged to wed and the man her heart desires in this heartwarming story of chance, duty, and choice in the face of love—the first volume in the beloved New York Times bestselling author’s new Amish Brides of Pinecraft series.

Amish bride-to-be Leona is thrilled to be in Florida, on a mini-vacation in the pretty town of Pinecraft. Her girlfriends think she’s happy because she’s away from the stress of wedding planning. They have no idea that Leona’s real joy is in being away from her fiancĂ©.

Edmund is a good man, and will make a decent husband . . . just not for Leona. The more time she spends with him and his overbearing ways, the less she wants to be his wife. Her cousins are sure Edmund is the right man for her-and their certainty makes Leona begin to doubt herself. But when a chance encounter with a wayward cat brings her face-to-face with a handsome, fun-loving Amish man named Zachary Kauffman, Leona’s faced with two vastly different futures.

Leona must decide: Does she follow the path set out before her? Or take a chance with only the promise of what could be to guide her?

My Book Review : 5 out of 5 stars!! Leona (Le)—an Amish woman who is unsure if her fiancĂ© is really the right man for her—takes a vacation to Pinecraft with her two best friends and meets a man who changes her perspective for the future.

This engaging novel keeps you wanting more from the very beginning. Even though its plot was based around Leona and Zack (Zachariah/Zachary), with their budding friendship turned romance, it also brings you into the lives of Beverly (an older Mennonite woman who runs an Bed & Breakfast) and Effie (Zack’s Amish little sister who is dealing with Perthes disease) to give you an even broader perspective on the town itself. I enjoyed it all! Beverly deals with a new owner for her Bed & Breakfast and everything that revolves around that is intriguing I can’t wait to see where it goes. Although Effie’s life is a rough one, I liked how sweet and heartwarming she was while learning about first crushes and boys.

Yet, Zack—with his generously sweet ways—and Leona made this a novel I didn’t want to put down. I liked their relationship very much. I could not get enough and hope that we’ll find out more about them as this series progresses!

I HIGHLY recommend this novel to those who enjoy Amish and/or Christian romances!

Purchase This Book and/or The Other Books From It's Series Here : IndieBound (Paperback) : The Promise of Palm Grove (Book 1) | Kobo (e-Book) : The Promise of Palm Grove (Book 1) | Alibris (Paperback) : The Promise of Palm Grove (Book 1)


My Previous Review(s) for this Author : Hidden | Joyful

My Previous Mention(s) of this Author's Books/Characters : Best Book Couples -- Happy Valentine's Day 2015

Author's Novel Extras : The Promise of Palm Grove - Overview | Introducing the Bride Blog | Bride Blog: Perfect Proposals

Author's Series Extras : A Visit to NYC | Bride Blog: Engagements

Book Teaser(s) :
"Have a seat, Zachary," his father said, his voice a bit firmer.
Zack sat because it didn't matter how old he was, he was still his father's son.
As did his mother, though she didn't look half as serious as his father did. Instead, she looked like she was holding back a grin.
Because he didn't dare roll his eyes, he folded his arms over his chest and looked steadily from one parent to the other. "Let's get this over with, then. What do you want to know?"
"Zachary, stop being coy," his mother chided. "Tell us about this girl you are taken with."
"I'm not being coy. There's nothing to tell. Her name is Leona. She's about my age, though I haven't asked her specifically yet. She's from Ohio and she's here on vacation with her girlfriends. She's blond and she's very pretty. And that's about all I know about her. Effie shouldn't have been telling tales about me."
"She wasn't telling tales. But she did say that she likes Leona," his mother said. "Very much so."
"I'm not surprised about that. Leona is a likable person."
His mother's tentative smile transformed into a delighted grin. "Zachary! This is so wonderful-gut! I've never seen you so smitten." ~ within Chapter 10
The pull he felt toward her was so strong, Zack was pretty sure he'd drop everything in order to see her again, and soon. Even if it meant calling in Violet or Karl to help with Effie so he could make that happen.
She looked at her palm again, closed it into a fist, then started walking.
The wrong way.
He darted forward, rested both hands on her shoulders, and turned her around. "This way, Leona," he murmured. "Go four blocks up until you see the cross street, then turn right."
"Okay."
"Sure?" He really needed to go. But he really didn't want to spend the rest of his evening worrying about her wandering up and down the streets of Pinecraft.
"I'm sure." Giving him a tremulous smile, she murmured, "Danke, Zack. Today was . . . well, it was wonderful."
"Yeah," he said. "Now keep walking forward and then turn right."
She giggled.
And he thought about that giggle the whole time he ran home, making it to Effie's stop just in time to see the bus turn the corner and pull forward. ~ within Chapter 17

THE PROMISE OF PALM GROVE by Shelley Shepard Gray
Posted by From Me to You - Video, Photography, & Book Reviews on Wednesday, March 25, 2015
For more information on this book, series, and/or any other books by Shelley, then please check out her website.



About the Author :

I grew up in Houston, Texas, went to Colorado for college, and after living in Arizona, Dallas, and Denver, we moved to southern Ohio about ten years ago.

I’ve always thought of myself as a very hard worker, but not ‘great’ at anything. I’ve obtained a bachelor’s and master’s degree...but I never was a gifted student. I took years of ballet and dance, but I never was anywhere near the star of any recital. I love to cook, but I’m certainly not close to being gourmet…and finally I love to write books, but I’ve certainly read far better authors.

Maybe you are a little bit like me. I’ve been married for almost twenty years and have raised two kids. I try to exercise but really should put on my tennis shoes a whole lot more. I’m not a great housekeeper, I hate to drive in the snow, and I don’t think I’ve ever won a Monopoly game. However, I am the best wife and mother I know how to be.

Isn’t it wonderful to know that in God’s eyes that is okay? That from His point of view, we are all exceptional? I treasure that knowledge and am always so thankful for my faith. His faith in me makes me stand a little straighter, smile a little bit more, and be so very grateful for every gift He’s given me.

I started writing about the Amish because their way of life appealed to me. I wanted to write stories about regular. likeable people in extraordinary situations-and who just happened to be Amish.

Getting the opportunity to write Inspirational novels is truly gratifying. With every book, I feel my faith grows stronger. And that makes me feel very special indeed.




Giveaway(s)!! :

Don't miss Shelley Shepard Gray's new series, Amish Brides of Pinecraft, and the first book in the series, "The Promise of Palm Grove!" Romantic Times said, "Vibrant descriptions and details bring the plot to life in this heartwarming tale of new beginnings and renewal." Does Leona follow the path set out before her? Or take a chance with only the promise of what could be to guide her?

Enter to win a copy of The Promise of Palm Grove—five winners will be chosen! The winners will be announced March 30 on Shelley's blog!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

ALSO -- Be sure to check out Litfuse's other Blog Tour Reviews for this novel!!



Find Shelley Shepard Gray :

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Made the Grade: Just Imagine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Format: Paperback | Pages: 372 | Release Date: September 2001 | Publisher: Avon Books

"Just Imagine" by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

My Book Summary : This is a historic romance book that was set in a time period right after the American Civil War (also known as the War Between the States) happened. A time where the south was still smarting at being told what they could do with their property/possessions. Also, it was time where women had no rights unless they were single/spinsters.

For Kit (Katharine Louise) she was an eighteen-year-old girl from South Carolina, who has lost all of her family and just found out that a Mr. Baron Cain just got ownership of her family's plantation (Risen Glory). She is more tomboy then debutante. Also, she plans on killing Mr. Cain if it the last thing she does. So, she takes a train to New York City, finds Cain's residence, and plans on tracking his moves to find the best opportunity. However, she doesn't expect to get caught on her first night of hiding on his property by Cain himself! She decides to say she was looking for a job, and with her appearance -- looking like a fourteen-year-old boy, she gets hired as Cain's new stable boy.

Kit only has a week before she needs to leave so she tries to do what she told (for the most part), even if her mouth (with all the cussing, etc) gets away from her. But soon both of them are in for a shock -- Cain finds out that he's the owner of Risen Glory, that his stable boy is actually an eighteen-year-old girl with plans to murder him, but they both find that along with the plantation he has become the guardian of Kit until she turns 23 years old and can gain her inheritance or she marries (which she has no intention in ever doing).

So now instead of killing him, since Kit decides she just can't do that, she plans to do everything within her power to get her beloved home back from this handsome and dangerous man. What links will both of them go to keep their pride at all costs? Read to find out ...

My Book Review : 3 out of 5 stars! I don't read many historical romances (or if I do most are set in England, not America), but for the setting I feel this book was very cute and true to that time period ... while sticking to how this author writes her stories best! I was kind of disappointed with how the characters played out the situations ... and the ending felt a little too rushed. But all in all since from what I've read this was the authors first books, I would recommend it to anyone who is a fan of hers like I am! =0)

My Previous Review(s) for this Author : Ain't She Sweet | What I Did for Love | Nobody's Baby But Mine | Honey Moon | Dream a Little Dream | Lady Be Good

Book Teaser(s) :
He told himself this was for her own good. She was willful and stubborn, a danger to herself. Whether he liked it or not, he was her guardian, which meant he had a responsibility to guide her.
But he didn't feel like a guardian. He felt like a man who was losing a struggle with himself.
"Go away!"
He twisted the knob and let himself in.
She stood by the window, the last of the sunlight casting her exquisite face into shadow. She was a wild, beautiful creature, and she tempted him beyond bearing. ~ within Chapter 11
For more information on this book, series, and/or any other books by Susan, then please check out her website.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Made the Grade: Lady Be Good by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Format: Hardcover | Pages: 465 | Release Date: February 1999 | Publisher: Avon Books

"Lady Be Good" by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

My Book Summary : Kenny is going through some bad luck recently ... first his manager gets caught using his money in illegal drug dealings, because of what his manager did the PGA commissioner (Dallie Beaudine - who's also a friend) tells him that he will be suspended from the golf tour (including the Masters) for two weeks (hoping he'll straighten out his life), then he gets into a fist fight with a news anchor -- and even though the news anchor threw the first punch -- Kenny takes the blame, and now for the next two weeks during his suspension Kenny needs to cater to Lady Emma Wells-Finch (a friend of Dallie's wife Francesca from England) while she's visiting Texas. What could go wrong??

Well, just about anything and everything for Kenny ... especially when Emma tells him that during her time in Texas she needs (and wants) to do her best in ruining her reputation, just when he's trying his best to clean his own reputation up. Will Kenny be able to control this new little (wannabe) hell raiser before he loses everything?? Or will he be a victim of her charm and get more than he bargained for?

My Book Review : 3 out of 5 stars! I loved "Fancy Pants" -- I was so excited to read this story ("Lady Be Good") since it takes the main characters from "Fancy Pants" and made them secondary characters in this one ..... and when it's done right just makes it all the better! Lady Emma and Kenny have a good relationship and I love reading the chemistry between them. However, I think the end was a little rushed for me. But I did like how their final argument played out!! If you are a fan of Susan Elizabeth Phillips' books (and have read "Fancy Pants") then I highly recommend reading this one! Especially with "Call Me Irresistible" coming out in early 2011, which is about Ted's love life (who's the child from the main characters of "Fancy Pants" and play a secondary role in this book too).

My Previous Review(s) for this Author : Ain't She Sweet | What I Did for Love | Nobody's Baby But Mine | Honey Moon | Dream a Little Dream

Book Teaser(s) :
"Don't you ever do anything like that again!"
She had to launch a counterattack, but she was too depleted to muster the right words. He pushed her inside the car and was still steaming as he got in himself.
"We almost did it! Right there in the middle of the busiest street in Wynette, Texas!" The Caddy shot out of its parking space. "Another few seconds, your skirt would have been up around waist and my pants would have been unzipped, and don't you try to deny it. Damn it Emma! I told you yesterday that I wasn't going to let anything keep me from getting back on the tour, but apparently you weren't listening. Or maybe you forgot that this happens to be the commissioner's hometown and everybody knows him." ~ within Chapter 11
For more information on this book, series, and/or any other books by Susan, then please check out her website.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Made the Grade: Chicago Stars Series, Book 3

Format: Hardcover | Pages: 374 | Release Date: 1997 | Publisher: Avon Books

"Nobody's Baby But Mine" [Chicago Stars Series, Book 3] by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

My Book Summary : Dr. Jane Darlington really wants to have a baby, and on her birthday she makes up her mind to do just that. She plans on seducing Calvin (Cal) Bonner, the Chicago Stars' quarterback, to be her "sperm donor" ... since she wants to have a baby but it can't be just any man. The "sperm donor" type she has in mind won't be quick witted and the more she watches Cal on TV doing an interview she can't help but think she's choosing wisely, specially with that Southern drawl.

The seduction goes as planned .... and a while after she PREGNANT! YAY! But her plans change when someone spills her plans and her pregnancy to Cal and he is determined to be in his child's life ..... along with getting revenge for what she has done to him.

Now for the woman who just wanted a baby .... without having the "sperm donor" in the picture and wanting it without any legal, financial, or custody situation from Cal ..... she now finds herself in a mess of trouble, married to Cal so the baby won't be born legitimate (even though the plan is to divorce when the baby is born), and living with Cal in his hometown of Salvation, North Carolina.

What else could go wrong? How about finding out that Cal isn't as dim-witted as she suspected, so much so that he actually graduated college at the top grades. Or how about the fact that she has to make sure that everyone hates her so when they get a divorce no one will be sorry to see her go ....

What will she do to get through this mess??

My Book Review : 3.5 out of 5 stars. I love this series! And by reading the description at first I wasn't sure I would like it. However, I was happily mistaken! "Nobody's Baby But Mine" was sweet, funny, fast paced, and just a plan ol' great read!! It definitely lived up to the mark of all of the other books in this series I've read!

My Previous Review(s) for this Author : Ain't She Sweet | What I Did for Love

Book Teaser :
""I've met a lot of women who were liars, but you take the cake. Admit it, Professor. I turn you on so much you can hardly stand it. If I put my mind to it, I could have you naked and begging in thirty seconds flat."
"There's nothing more pathetic than an aging man boasting of his flagging sexual prowess."
"Flagging!"
She watched a slow flush spread across his cheekbones and knew she'd really done it. She'd pushed him past his limit, and now she absolutely had to shut up. "Don't worry, Cal. Somewhere there's a woman who'll care enough to take her time with you."
The flush spread to his ears.
She patted his chest. "And if that doesn't work, I've heard they're doing wonders with implants.""
~ within Chapter 10
For more information on this book, series and/or any other books by Susan, then please check out her website.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Blog Tour - Feasted On: The Proposal At Siesta Key by Shelley Shepard Gray | Review & 5-Book Giveaway(s)

Today I'm turning my blog over to Shelley Shepard Gray, with a review of her recent release "The Proposal At Siesta Key," which happens to be the SECOND BOOK in her Amish Brides of Pinecraft Series!!

ALSO -- Be sure to sign up for this tour's GIVEAWAY(s) (listed below)!! [Blog Tour will run from May 26 - June 12, 2015 | Giveaway ends on June 12, 2015]



- This is an ARC book - Available Formats through Amazon.com: Paperback - Pages: 288; Library Binding - Pages: 500; Kindle Edition - File Size: 2320 KB; Audiobook - Unabridged | Expected Release Date: May 12, 2015 | Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers : Avon Books : Inspire | Obtained: Litfuse Publicity Group / edelweiss

"The Proposal At Siesta Key" [Amish Brides of Pinecraft Series, Book 2] by Shelley Shepard Gray (aka Shelley Gray)

Author's Book Description : A young Amish woman, yearning for freedom, crosses paths with a handsome Mennonite celebrity in a deeply moving tale of friendship and self-discovery—the second installment in the unforgettable New York Times bestselling author’s new Amish Brides of Pinecraft series.

Penny Troyer rarely disobeys her parents. In the years since her sister’s tragic death, they’ve wanted nothing more than to keep her safe…even if it means never leaving the house.

But tonight, she’s bending the rules because Michael Knoxx, the most famous member of The Knoxx Family Singers, a traveling Mennonite Evangelical family —is scheduled to speak. Penny has heard of Michael—how he lost part of his leg in a terrible accident and uses the experience to inspire others—and knows she must meet him. So, for the first time ever, Penny stands up to her parents and goes out on her own.

Though he speaks about living life to the fullest, Michael knows he needs to take his own advice. Life on the road is grueling and Michael wants to slow down, to rest…to perhaps meet someone who sees him as a man, not just a celebrity. So when a twist of fate allows him the chance to stay a little longer in Pinecraft, Michael knows God is showing him a new path, especially when he discovers how much he and Penny Troyer have in common.

But new friendships can’t stop time. Soon, Michael’s time in Pinecraft will be over and he’ll be back on the road. Her time with Michael has brought her happiness, but will she be able to follow her heart? Or will she be faced with the one thing she’s sure she’ll never have the courage to do?

My Book Review : 4 out of 5 stars!! Ever since her sister was murdered about twelve years ago, Penny (Pen) has lived a sheltered life a life that has recently been stifling. She is now ready to “spread her wings” so-to-speak and defy her parents’ wishes enough to make her way in the world. As Penny grows into her new life, she meets Michael, an evangelist who tours with his family to speak about the Lord and to share his story of struggle and triumph. During Michael’s time in Pinecraft Penny and he grow close, as close as “friends” could be, but once Michael’s time comes to an end will they be able to take their budding relationship and turn it into something more? Or is just being friends all they’ll be able to agree too?

I LOVED how this novel embellished on Beverly & Eric’s story from “The Promise of Palm Grove” (Book 1) while still centering on Penny & Michael’s romance. I really enjoyed seeing where the previous characters’ lives were going while getting to read about a new mix of characters too! Penny & Michael are an uplifting because of how their relationship naturally grew from how they meet, to their “working relationship,” to them falling for one another. Especially with how they help each other come to terms with the “cards they were dealt with” and inspire to make new experiences for themselves so they won’t have any regrets in their futures. It was just so sweet I could not get enough. Yet, I hate to say it, it was also so sweet that I kept waiting for another “shoe to drop” because of how nicely everything does wrap up for them. Thankfully, though, it doesn’t and I got to be swept away in their enchanting tale.

The epilogue also has a nice build up for the following novel in this series, which will be interesting to see as to where it’ll lead us next. While keeping the readers happy (me especially) as it gives you a better wrap up on Michael & Penny’s romance then I felt “The Promise of Palm Grove” (Book 1) did with Leona & Zack in that “where are they now” kind of way.

I HIGHLY recommend this series and this novel to those looking for a sweet Christian/Amish romance!

Purchase This Book and/or The Other Books From It's Series Here : IndieBound (Paperback) : The Promise of Palm Grove (Book 1) | IndieBound (Paperback) : The Proposal At Siesta Key (Book 2) | IndieBound (MP3 CD) : The Promise of Palm Grove (Book 1) | IndieBound (MP3 CD) : The Proposal At Siesta Key (Book 2) | IndieBound (Library Binding, Large Print) : The Promise of Palm Grove (Book 1) | IndieBound (Library Binding, Large Print) : The Proposal At Siesta Key (Book 2) | Kobo (e-Book) : The Promise of Palm Grove (Book 1) | Kobo (e-Book) : The Proposal At Siesta Key (Book 2) | Alibris (Paperback) : The Promise of Palm Grove (Book 1)


My Previous Review(s) for this Series : Book 1

My Previous Review(s) for this Author : Hidden | Joyful

My Previous Mention(s) of this Author's Books/Characters : Best Book Couples -- Happy Valentine's Day 2015

Author's Novel Extras : Pinterest: THE PROPOSAL AT SIESTA KEY | The Proposal At Siesta Key - Overview

Author's Series Extras : Pinterest: THE PROMISE OF PALM GROVE | The Promise of Palm Grove - Overview | Introducing the Bride Blog | Bride Blog: Perfect Proposals | A Visit to NYC | Bride Blog: Engagements

Book Teaser(s) :

THE PROPOSAL AT SIESTA KEY by Shelley Shepard Gray -- MY REVIEW WILL BE POSTED ON MAY 27TH IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE LITFUSE PUBLICITY GROUP'S BLOG TOUR.
Posted by From Me to You - Video, Photography, & Book Reviews on Sunday, May 24, 2015
"Tricia, don't be a worrywart," he said in a breezy way, which was strangely appealing. "I'm feeling much better. And since you're neither my nurse nor my mother, I have no concerns about where you think I am supposed to be."
"You know, it's no wonder you speak on stage," she said sarcastically. "You certainly like to make your point."
He grinned. "Loud and clear." ~ within Chapter 21

THE PROPOSAL AT SIESTA KEY by Shelley Shepard Gray -- MY REVIEW WILL BE POSTED ON MAY 27TH IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE LITFUSE PUBLICITY GROUP'S BLOG TOUR.
Posted by From Me to You - Video, Photography, & Book Reviews on Sunday, May 24, 2015
"I liked her description of you the best, Bev," he said as he spooned up a bite of chocolate chip.
"Oh? How did she describe me?"
His lips twitched. "As a 'green-eyed goddess of the kitchen.'" ~ within Chapter 25
For more information on this book, series, and/or any other books by Shelley, then please check out her website.



About the Author :

I grew up in Houston, Texas, went to Colorado for college, and after living in Arizona, Dallas, and Denver, we moved to southern Ohio about ten years ago.

I’ve always thought of myself as a very hard worker, but not ‘great’ at anything. I’ve obtained a bachelor’s and master’s degree...but I never was a gifted student. I took years of ballet and dance, but I never was anywhere near the star of any recital. I love to cook, but I’m certainly not close to being gourmet…and finally I love to write books, but I’ve certainly read far better authors.

Maybe you are a little bit like me. I’ve been married for almost twenty years and have raised two kids. I try to exercise but really should put on my tennis shoes a whole lot more. I’m not a great housekeeper, I hate to drive in the snow, and I don’t think I’ve ever won a Monopoly game. However, I am the best wife and mother I know how to be.

Isn’t it wonderful to know that in God’s eyes that is okay? That from His point of view, we are all exceptional? I treasure that knowledge and am always so thankful for my faith. His faith in me makes me stand a little straighter, smile a little bit more, and be so very grateful for every gift He’s given me.

I started writing about the Amish because their way of life appealed to me. I wanted to write stories about regular. likeable people in extraordinary situations-and who just happened to be Amish.

Getting the opportunity to write Inspirational novels is truly gratifying. With every book, I feel my faith grows stronger. And that makes me feel very special indeed.




Giveaway(s)!! :

Don't miss Shelley Shepard Gray's newest series, Amish Brides of Pinecraft, and the second book in the series "The Proposal At Siesta Key!" “Shelley Shepard Gray brings readers into the Amish world with style and grace,” says Romantic Times Bookclub. Penny’s time with Michael has brought her happiness, but will she be able to follow her heart? Or will she be faced with the one thing she’s sure she’ll never have the courage to do?

Enter to win a copy of The Proposal at Siesta Key—five winners will be chosen! The winners will be announced June 15 on Shelley's blog!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

ALSO -- Be sure to check out Litfuse's other Blog Tour Reviews for this novel!!



Find Shelley Shepard Gray :

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