With You Always and Q&A with Jody Hedlund

A Riveting Look at the Orphan Train from Historical Novelist Jody Hedlund.
When a financial crisis in 1850s New York leaves three orphaned sisters nearly destitute, the oldest, Elise Neumann, knows she must take action. She’s had experience as a seamstress, and the New York Children’s Aid Society has established a special service: placing out seamstresses and trade girls. Even though Elise doesn’t want to leave her sisters for a job in Illinois, she realizes this may be their last chance. The son of one of New York City’s wealthiest entrepreneurs, Thornton Quincy faces a dilemma. His father is dying, and in order to decide which of his sons will inherit everything, he is requiring them to do two things in six months: build a sustainable town along the Illinois Central Railroad, and get married. Thornton is tired of standing in his twin brother’s shadow and is determined to win his father’s challenge. He doesn’t plan on meeting a feisty young woman on his way west, though.

With You Always

With You Always is the first installment of Jody Hedlund’s Orphan Train series and to be truthful is a great beginning. I had the privilege of being apart of Jody Hedlund’s influencer team for this book. For me personally, being an influencer for any author is hard because I never want to hurt the author’s feelings by not liking their books. Jody Hedlund does not have to worry though. I really liked this book. Everything about the book, the time period, the characters , and the plot was intriguing till the end. When I was reading this book, I could imagine each scene. Elise and Thornton are great main characters. I started this book thinking “Oh, I will be able to put this down, when I need to do other things,” but that was not the case. Every time I was interrupted, I was like, “No, I need to keep reading. Go away.” So last night, I was up really late reading and I finished the book. Hedlund did an excellent job with this book. A good book, to me, is a book that I cannot put down, and I could not put this book down.

I would recommend this book and cannot wait for the next two in this series. To readers who like historical fiction, this books is worth taking the time to read.


Title: With You Always

Author: Jody Hedlund

Author’s Website:

Reading Resolution 1. Read a book where the author is from your home state.

I received this book from the Bethany House Publishing of the Baker Publishing Group for this review.

This review is written in my own words and is my honest opinion.


Keep reading to read a few great questions that Jody Hedlund answered about her new book. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did!

Q: What is the inspiration behind your new Orphan Train series?

A: I have long been fascinated by the era of the Orphan Trains and the heart-wrenching stories of the homeless and helpless young orphans that were taken from the streets of New York City and other eastern cities and shipped West by the dozens. I was familiar with stories of those scared orphans who were placed out in what was thought to be a more wholesome, healthy environment of the newly settled Mid-Western states. Some of the orphans found happy endings and were adopted into loving families. Others experienced great abuse and heartache in their new homes. While stories of the orphans who rode the trains have been told—and rightly so—the stories of the women who were involved in the movement are not as well known. One of the things I particularly like to do when telling my stories, is focus on women who have been overlooked by the pages of history. I consider it a great privilege to be able to bring forgotten women to life for our modern generation. Thus, throughout this series, I’ll be focusing each book on a different aspect of the Orphan Train movement, particularly from the perspective of women who experienced riding the trains in one form or another.

 Q: What are you working on next?

 A: The second book in the orphan train series releases next summer in 2018. The story continues with Marianne Neumann. She gets involved in the orphan train movement as one of the placing agents and accompanies the orphans as they ride the trains west. I hope readers will enjoy Marianne’s story and also appreciate learning more about the orphan train movement from the eyes of the compassionate workers who tried to place the orphans into new homes.

Q: What special research did you do in writing With You Always?

 A: In the beginning phases of writing this series, I did a great deal of reading about the orphan train movement. In particular, I really loved Stephen O’Conor’s book, Orphan Trains, because he includes so many personal stories and details about real orphans, which are heart wrenching. I also read, A History of New York City to 1898, by Burrows and Wallace, which gave me great insights into the lives of immigrants, particularly immigrant women. Masses of foreigners were arriving into New York City on a daily basis, and the book gave a detailed look into their pathetic housing situation, the difficult working conditions, as well as gang problems and the underworld. Finally, another important aspect of the story that required a concentrated amount of research was the development of railroads. The mid-1800’s was an incredible period of growth for the railroad industry in the Mid-West. The new railroads aided the orphan train movement but also brought about the settlement of the Midwestern states, including Illinois, which is one of the settings of the book.

Q: An e-novella, An Awakened Heart, kicks off the series. What is the novella about, and is it a must-read in order to understand the series?

 A: An Awakened Heart is not a must-read in order to understand the series. But I do highly recommend reading it. (Plus it’s FREE, so you have nothing to lose by giving it a try!) The e-novella introduces a couple, Guy and Christine, who are both passionate about helping the poor immigrants crowded into the overflowing and dirty tenements of New York City. The novella shows their efforts to bring about change in the city, but also brings them together in a satisfying love story. The novella also introduces the three orphan sisters who will each become main characters for the three full-length novels in the series. It gives some of the background information on their situation, particularly how they become orphans, which I think readers will find helpful as well as informative.

Q: What do you hope readers take away from With You Always?

A: One of my hopes in telling this story is to leave readers with the reminder that God is walking with us in whatever dark valley we’re going through. Often, like Elise, we tend to pull away from God and let the bitterness of our circumstances drive us into a cave of isolation and self-blame and heartache. But God wants us to realize that even if we pull away from Him, He’s still there walking by our side, waiting for us to reach out our hand and grab a hold of Him. He never leaves us or forsakes us. He’s there waiting.

True to You

After a devastating heartbreak three years ago, genealogist and historical village owner Nora Bradford decided that burying her nose in her work and her books is far safer than romance in the here and now. Unlike Nora, former Navy SEAL John Lawson is a modern-day man, usually 100 percent focused on the present. However, when John, an adoptee, is diagnosed with an inherited condition, he’s forced to dig into the secrets of his ancestry. John enlists Nora’s help to uncover the identity of his birth mother, and as they work side-by-side, this pair of opposites begins to suspect that they just might be a perfect match.  But can their hope for a future survive their wounds from the past?

True to You

So, the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover” is something I do not follow. As soon has this book cover and the back of the book was released, I put this on my to read list. This is my first Becky Wade book that I have tried and I liked it. The main female lead Nora was very well written. Wade made her so realistic—to me at least. When I was reading this book, I kept thinking “I am just like her, except I do not have a handsome Navy SEAL.” I loved this quote: “She was bookish! She had no experience with holding eye contact with Navy SEALs. All the practice she put in with Mr. Darcy and Rochester and Adolphus didn’t seem to be holding her in good stead.” There were many other quotes in the book that were just as humorous. Within the first few chapters, Wade has her main female lead mention Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy and Richard Armitage has Mr. Thornton. That is when I knew the book was good.

The huge downfall is that there is not another book in this series published yet. I will be reading the next book as soon as it is released.

This book has its good parts, its sad parts, its romantic parts and its ups and downs but it had me reading way into the night. I would highly recommend this book to mature readers since it deals with sensitive issues that happens to each of their mothers. Since this is my first Becky Wade book, I am very pleased with my first impression of her books and am looking forward to seeing what comes out next!


Title: True to You

Author: Becky Wade

Author’s Website:

I received this book from the Bethany House Publishing of the Baker Publishing Group and Netgalley for this review.

Reading Resolution 55: Read a book that has a cover with your favorite color.

Reason Why: The girl on the cover is in a blue dress and to be honest dresses are my weakness.  So, I am using this book for this resolution because blue is one of my favorite colors (I have many favorite colors) and the girl is in a blue dress.

This review is written in my own words and is my honest opinion.


To Dance

Dancers are young when they first dream of dance. Siena was six — and her dreams kept skipping and leaping, circling and spinning, from airy runs along a beach near her home in Puerto Rico, to dance class in Boston, to her debut performance on stage with the New York City Ballet.

Twirl along with Siena as she shares her story in words with pictures by acclaimed illustrator Mark Siegel.

To Dance A Ballerina's Graphic Novel

This was a fun graphic novel about a young dancer. The illustrator, Mark Siegel, did an excellent job with the pictures. It showed the life of a young girl whose dream was to be a ballerina. Also, this a true story. I do not want to give anything away, but this is a slightly sad story as well.

I would recommend this graphic novel to any young dreamer whose dream is to dance. However, reading this book once was enough for me. I think this book should have a permanent place in any dance studio for young boys and girls to read this inspiring story. (I do believe that girls would enjoy it slightly more than boys since it is written in a girl’s perspective!)

Title: To Dance: A Ballerina’s Graphic Novel

Author: Siena Cherson Siegel

Illustrator: Mark Siegel

Reading Resolution 5: Read a graphic novel

This review is written in my own words and is my honest opinion.

The Lost Stone

Welcome to the Kingdom of Wrenly—a new chapter book series full of fantasy and adventure.

Meet Lucas, the eight year-old prince, and Clara, the daughter of the queen’s seamstress. Lucas is an only child who longs to make friends and go on adventures. Clara knows the kingdom well, so she and Lucas team up and explore the lands of Wrenly.

In The Lost Stone, Lucas and Clara search for Queen Tasha’s missing emerald. On their exciting adventure, they travel to all the main attractions of Wrenly: Primlox (the island of fairies), Burth (the island of trolls), Crestwood (the island of dragons), Hobsgrove (the island of wizards), and the beautiful Mermaid’s Cove. King Caleb has promised to reward the person who finds the precious stone, and Lucas and Clara are determined to search the entire kingdom until they find it!

With easy-to-read language and illustrations on almost every page, The Kingdom of Wrenly chapter books are perfect for beginning readers.

The Lost Stone

You are probably thinking that I read a strange assortment of books and I do. Any fellow librarians would understand why. I see and put away books from any genre and I usually end up heading home with a tall stack of books. Just a few days ago I brought home books from the teen section, the inspirational section, the non-fiction section, and the children’s section. This book was in that stack. Since it is meant for beginner’s readers, I read it within a few minutes. This book was a good book and I would recommend it to any young boy and girl who likes an adventure story about two friends searching for a lost jewel. It was an excellent story about friendship.

Here is an example of the illustration that are found in this book. Also, the front cover is another example of the art work. I thought all of the drawings were very well done.

The Kingdom of Wrenly.jpg

Title: The Lost Stone

Series: The Kingdom of Wrenly

Author: Jordan Quinn

Illustrator: Robert McPhillips

Reading Resolution 58: Read a book that is less than 200 pages.

This review is written in my own words and is my honest opinion.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Many daughters of Eve and sons of Adam, young and old, have taken the journey from the far away land of Spare Oom where eternal summer reigns around the bright city of War Drobe to take time to have tea in the land of Narnia, whether they have watched the movies or read C.S. Lewis’s famous books. So, it is my turn to share my thoughts and opinions of the time I spent in the land of Narnia.

For this review, I will be doing the same thing I did for my review of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I will be reviewing both the book written by C.S. Lewis and the movie created by Walt Disney Pictures and Walden Media.

The Wardrobe

Four adventurous siblings—Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie—step through a wardrobe door and into the land of Narnia, a land frozen in eternal winter and enslaved by the power of the White Witch. But when almost all hope is lost, the return of the Great Lion, Aslan, signals a great change . . . and a great sacrifice.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is the second book in C. S. Lewis’s classic fantasy series, which has been drawing readers of all ages into a magical land with unforgettable characters for over sixty years. This is a stand-alone read, but if you would like to explore more of the Narnian realm, pick up The Horse and His Boy, the third book in The Chronicles of Narnia.

the lion the witch and the wardrobe

            I recently watched the movie and that made me want to reread the book. Also, I remembered that I have a reading resolution that is Read a book that has been made into a movie. I read this book years ago and to be honest it was fun to pick up the very well-read and loved book. Even through C.S. Lewis wrote this book for young children, this book (and the whole series) can be read by all ages. Who wouldn’t like a story about a magical land known as Narnia, a talking lion called Aslan, and four children who are prophesied to be kings and queens over Narnia. Well, maybe you do or maybe you don’t, but when I was little I swallowed up books like this one. The Chronicles of Narnia was my stepping stone into the world of fantasy.

I am not usually a fan of abridged books but Focus on the Family Radio Theater did an excellent job on dramatizing this series. I would highly recommend it. For me, it has made long boring cars rides less boring.


             This was actually the first movie I went to see in theaters.

The movie was very well done. The movie has been out 12 years but I still like watching it. The actors and actresses did a good job playing their characters. My personal favorite part of the movie is the scenery. The producers did not ruin my imagination of Narnia but just brightened it.

I usually state my opinion whether I liked the movie or book better but for this one I actually am not going to. I like both the book and the movie and I think both were very well done.

I would recommend both the book and the movie.

To fans of The Chronicles of Narnia, which one did you like better, the movie or the book?


Book Title: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Movie Title: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Author: C. S. Lewis

Produced by: Walt Disney Pictures and Walden Media


Reading Resolution 26. Read a book that has been made into a movie.

This review is written in my own words and is my honest opinion.

A Noble Servant

She lost everything to an evil conspiracy . . . but that loss may just give her all she ever wanted. Since meeting Steffan, the Duke of Wolfberg, at Thornbeck Castle, Lady Magdalen has not been able to stop thinking about him. She knows—as a penniless lady with little to offer in terms of a dowry—she has no real hope of marrying such a highly-titled man, so it comes as a great surprise when she receives a letter from him, asking for her hand in marriage. But all is not what it seems at Wolfberg Castle. Steffan has been evicted by his scheming uncle, and his cousin has taken over the title of duke. Left for dead, Steffan is able to escape, and disguised as a shepherd, hopes to gain entry to the castle to claim the items that will prove he is the true Duke of Wolfberg. Journeying to the castle, Magdalen has no idea what awaits her, but she certainly did not expect her loyal maidservant to turn on her. Forcing Magdalen to trade places with her, the servant plans to marry the duke and force Magdalen to tend the geese. Without their respective titles—and the privileges that came with them—Steffan and Magdalen’s lives are adrift. If Lord Hazen discovers them, he will kill Steffan and force Magdalen to marry his own spoiled son—to insure the success of his evil plans. A Goose Girl retelling, with shades of The Prince and the Pauper.

A Noble Servant PIC

I am very pleased with this book!

This is the third book in the Thornbeck/ A Medieval Fairy Tale Series. I have read almost all of Melanie Dickerson’s books and for the most part I have been pleased with them all, including this one. I grew up being read fairy tales, so I like it very much that Dickerson’s books all include a retelling of a fairy tale. This book was a unique version of the story, the Goose Girl originally told by the Grimm Brothers. I would say Dickerson did a fine job with this retelling and made this story intriguing and fun.

Dickerson is one of those authors that you can read anytime, because her books are clean and have a good story line. That is why I like her books.

Title: A Noble Servant

Author: Melanie Dickerson

Author’s Website:

Reading Resolution 59: Read a fairy-tale retelling.

This review is written in my own words and is my honest opinion.

I received this book from Thomas Nelson Publishing Company through Netgalley for this review.


Read my review of The Beautiful Pretender, the second book in Thornbeck/ A Medieval Fairy Tale Series.

Against the Tide

Boston of 1891 is a city of hope and ambition, where mariners, merchants, and dreamers thrive in the cobblestone streets of America’s most historic city. Within the harbor of Boston’s naval shipyard, Lydia Pallas has become a trusted assistant to an Admiral in the U.S. Navy. Fluent in seven languages, she spends her days translating documents from all over the world.

Lydia’s remarkable language skills bring her to the attention of Alexander Banebridge, a mysterious man on a quest to rid the world of the scourge of opium. Only Lydia has the rare combination of language skills and courage he needs to advance his cause. A man as coolly analytical as he is relentless, Bane never bargained on falling in love with Lydia. As he battles the bittersweet love that grows between them, Bane’s mission will take Lydia away from everything—and everyone—she ever held dear.

Against the Tide

I read this book awhile back and I just reread it. I could read this book over and over again; it is that good. This book is one of my personal favorite inspirational fiction books of all time. I have not read all of Elizabeth Camden’s books but I have read, To the Farthest Shores and Lady of Bolton Hill. This one is my favorite, so far and since it is one of my all-time favorite books, Camden will have a hard time surpassing it.

The two main characters, Lydia and Bane, are on my list of favorite fictional couples. They were perfect and written exceptionally well. I read Lady of Bolton Hill first, but when I learned Camden wrote a book with Bane as the main character, I knew I would like the book and I did. Lydia had an interesting story of her own, but I don’t want to give away too much.

This book deals with the opium distribution that went on during the 1890s. It was sad to read that so many turned a blind eye to it and even fed it to young children.

This book is a novel but the character Bane is from the book, Lady of Bolton Hill. But he is the only character from either of the books. On Camden’s website, there is a page about Against the Tide. Camden included extra scenes and information about the book that is interesting to read about, if you have read the book. She explains why she did not make this book apart of a series. Which is really sad because I would love to read more about Lydia and Bane. Also, I think it would be awesome to read a book where the main characters (Lydia/Bane and Clara/Daniel) from both of the books (Lady of Bolton Hill and Against the Tide) meet, since Bane met and became friends with Clara in the book Lady of Bolton Hill. Also, at the end of Lady of Bolton Hill, Clara wanted to find Bane, and Daniel said he would find him for her. So, if you have not guessed, I think Elizabeth Camden should write a book where the characters meet!

If you cannot tell, I really like Against the Tide and I would recommend it.


Title: Against the Tide

Author: Elizabeth Camden

Author’s Website:

Reading Resolution 38: Reread your favorite book.

This review is written in my own words and is my honest opinion.