Jane of Austin

Just a few years after their father’s business scandal shatters their lives, Jane and Celia Woodward find themselves forced out of their San Francisco tea shop. The last thing Jane wants is to leave their beloved shop on Valencia Street, but when Celia insists on a move to Austin, Texas, the sisters pack up their kid sister Margot and Jane’s tea plants, determined to start over yet again.
 But life in Austin isn’t all sweet tea and breakfast tacos. Their unusual living situation is challenging and unspoken words begin to fester between Jane and Celia. When Jane meets and falls for up-and-coming musician Sean Willis, the chasm grows deeper.
While Sean seems to charm everyone in his path, one person is immune – retired Marine Captain Callum Beckett. Callum never meant to leave the military, but the twin losses of his father and his left leg have returned him to the place he least expected—Texas. 
In this modern spin on the Austen classic, Sense and Sensibility, the Woodward sisters must contend with new ingredients in unfamiliar kitchens, a dash of heartbreak, and the fragile hope that maybe home isn’t so far away.

Jane of Austin

Are you looking for a good book to sit down and read with a cup of tea or a tall glass of iced tea? Well stop right here, this is the book for you. This is an enjoyable retelling of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, that will have you reading cover to cover.

This book had me intrigued the very moment I saw the front cover and continued intriguing me tell the last page of the book. This is my first time reading anything Hillary Manton Lodge has written and I am pleased to say my first impression of her writing is good. I liked that Lodge switched point of views every few chapters. It kept me up to date with the two main characters. One of the big reasons I liked this book so much is because the sisters were so “human” like. For example, the was a scene in the book were the sisters are picking what music to listen to for their car ride to Austin, Texas. Those were the scenes in the book that made me see myself and my sisters in the story. I usually find contemporary fiction cheesy, but this book was fun and I recommend this book as a great, clean, contemporary book.

I am not sure if her other books have this but every few chapters there were recipes at the end of them. Each recipes that were in the book were mentioned in the book. I thought that was fun.

This is a good read for any Jane Austen fan, like myself. To Hillary Manton Lodge, I would have to say bravo for a well written story. Jane Austen, if she was living in this time period, would like this book very much.

I highly recommend this book!

 

Title: Jane of Austin

Author: Hillary Manton Lodge

Author’s Website: http://www.hillarymantonlodge.com/

Reading Resolution 29: Read a book that has a title that makes you go, “Hmm”.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

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

The Writing Desk

Tenley Roth’s first book was a runaway bestseller. Now that her second book is due, she’s locked in fear. Can she repeat her earlier success or is she a fraud who has run out of inspiration? With pressure mounting from her publisher, Tenley is weighted with writer’s block. But when her estranged mother calls asking Tenley to help her through chemotherapy, she packs up for Florida where she meets handsome furniture designer Jonas Sullivan and discovers the story her heart’s been missing. A century earlier, another woman wrote at the same desk with hopes and fears of her own. Born during the Gilded Age, Birdie Shehorn is the daughter of the old money Knickerbockers. Under the strict control of her mother, her every move is decided ahead of time, even whom she’ll marry. But Birdie has dreams she doesn’t know how to realize. She wants to tell stories, write novels, make an impact on the world. When she discovers her mother has taken extreme measures to manipulate her future, she must choose between submission and security or forging a brand new way all on her own. Tenley and Birdie are from two very different worlds, but fate has bound them together in a way time cannot erase.

The Writing Desk

Okay, well I have read Rachel Hauck’s A Royal Wedding Series and enjoyed them but this story did not draw me in like those books. I would have to say I was confused most of the story and Tenley the main character was (in my own opinion) a selfish adult, who acted like a child. I was confused during the switches of point of view for Tenley and Birdie. I liked reading about Birdie better that Tenley.

The book had huge potential, since the plot and idea of the book was interesting, but it did not meet my expectations for a Rachel Hauck book.

I will probably give this book another chance, when the library gets a copy but as of right now, I would not recommend this book.

 

Title: The Writing Desk

Author: Rachel Hauck

Auhtor’s Website: http://www.rachelhauck.com/

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

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

 

Under a Summer Sky

High school art teacher Nicole Anderson is looking forward to a relaxing summer in Savannah, house-sitting and managing an art gallery for a family friend. The house is luxurious in a way that only old money could make it, and the gallery promises interesting days in a gorgeous setting. Yet it isn’t long before her ideal summer turns into more than she bargained for: a snooty gallery employee who’s determined to force her out, a displaced adolescent roosting in the attic, and two of Nicole’s close childhood friends–who also happen to be brothers–vying for her attention.
With a backdrop of a beautiful historical city, incredible architecture, and even an alleged ghost or two, combined with the opportunity for romance . . . anything can happen!
Under a Summer Sky
What a book! This book was really good and I liked it very much. Nicole was a great main character. There was only a few times I was angry at her but those were minor scenes. I liked one brother over the other. I don’t want to give any thing away but I was extremely happy when Nicole ended up with the brother I liked.
There were a few down falls in this book but nothing major. For example, Nicole sometimes just left her work place during work hours to help customers look at other art galleries or go to their houses to pick out paintings that would go with the house. That part had me cringing because I would never just get up and leave while I was on the job, getting paid. That was unrealistic to me. Other than those details, I liked the story.
I would absolutely recommend this book, especially for a summer time read.
Title: Under a Summer Sky
Author: Melody Carlson
Author’s Website: http://www.melodycarlson.com/

I received this book from the Revell Division of the Baker Publishing Group for this review.

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

Summer Reading

build a better world

Today I have spent many hours face painting for Summer Reading Kickoff at my local library. I work at the library, so I always look forward to the start of Summer Reading. I think it is great that libraries try to get people of all ages to read for fun. Seeing people (especially children) get excited about reading book is my favorite thing about working at a library.   Adult Poster

Have you ever signed up for Summer Reading at your library. If you have not, why don’t you give it a try? You won’t regret it. It is a fun challenge to do, whether it is with your children, friends, family members, or just by yourself.

Go to your local library and sign up!

If you have already signed up for your local library’s Summer Reading program, then what is your favorite part of Summer Reading?

The pictures in this post are this years theme.

 

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: http://jodyhedlund.com/

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: http://beckywade.com/home/

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.

 

Trusting Grace

All of her life, Grace Bidwell has longed for a loving husband and children, but now the chances of her dreams coming true are looking slim. Widowed and caring for her elderly father, she struggles to maintain her late husband’s ranch, until she places an ad for a hired hand. Robert Frasier arrives in town with three pitiful, bedraggled children who have nothing but the tattered clothes on their backs and a load of hurt, pride, and anger. Believing this is divine intervention in her life, Grace welcomes them with open arms. As feelings grow between her and Robert, Grace will have to convince him that she is a woman who can be trusted with his heart. Readers will be swept away into 1860s Montana’s lush Gallatin Valley, nestled among towering mountains and proud pines, in this emotional conclusion to the Virtues and Vices of the Old West series.

Trusting Grace

This book, for me, had high potential, but the further I read into the book the more I was disappointed. Do not get me wrong. The book had a good story plot but the whole book was lacking…and, to put it bluntly, boring.

The one part in the book that made me mad was when Robert would not tell the reason he was seen with a different woman. He told Grace to trust him but he was the one being unreasonable. Grace had already lost her first husband, so she had the right to be a little sensitive. He should have just told her the truth when she asked the first time.

Ultimately, I did not enjoy this book very much. It may be just me who does not like this type of writing style. I am not saying anything negative about Maggie Brendan and may even read another book of hers because I do not believe in first impressions. I think every author deserves a second chance! (Yes, I am thinking of Pride and Prejudice as I write this!)

 

Title:  Trusting Grace

Author: Maggie Brendan

Author’s Website: http://www.maggiebrendan.com/

I received this book from the Revell Division of the Baker Publishing Group for this review.

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