The Pretender by Ta’Mara Hanscom Review and Giveaway

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Synopsis: Set in South Dakota in 1975, where eighteen-year-olds could order 3.2 beer in a bar, and loaded guns were kept under the counter.

Frankie Valli sang “My Eyes Adored You,” and American soldiers returning from Vietnam struggled with their new reality.
It’s within this tumultuous season of American history that Tillie Caselli meets Noah Hansen, and they are never the same again. Their lives were mysteriously intertwined-and had been for many years-yet they had no idea.
From the moment they met, Tillie and Noah wanted to spend the rest of their lives together, but a deliberate omission will keep them apart—and that same omission will be responsible for the escape of a murderer, and a bride’s deception.
About the authors:
 

Born and raised in South Dakota, Ta`Mara loves to write about the Great Plains and the beauty and people of Italia. While her husband and children manage their two pizza ristoranti, Ta`Mara works full time on The Caselli Family Series, and ministers to women. It is Ta`Mara s prayer that as the readers explore the truths in these volumes, they will come away with a new perspective on love, forgiveness, obedience, and God’s plan for marriage
Find out more about Ta’Mara at https://www.tamarahanscombooks.com.

 

 

My Thoughts: I have mixed feelings about this book. The first 1/3 was 5 stars…the romance was perfect and warmed my heart but the middle and end became a bit frustrating and left me feeling unsatisfied. This is the first book in a series, so I know that the story is far from over but some of the decisions made by the characters really made me sad.

This story follows Noah and Tillie, who have a whirlwind romance when they meet but then, after a misunderstanding, lose each other and move on (but keep each other in their hearts). In a lot of ways, the story reminded me of the movie, “The Notebook”. Noah has a great transformation throughout the story and I love how he grows and matures. Tillie was a bit frustrating to me at times…she’s the only girl and the baby of an Italian family and was a bit selfish and immature at times.

I loved the concept of Blackguards and Knights and although I wouldn’t necessarily use those words, I would love to impart this lesson to my daughter for when she chooses a life mate.

I also loved the strong family dynamics that were weaved throughout the story. The Casellis are the definition of a close-knit family and our world needs more families like that. The bar is set very high for the men Tillie can date and I appreciated the overprotective nature of her older brothers.

Overall, this was a good story and I’m glad to have read it. I just need to pick up the next one to find out what will happen next!

My Rating: 3 stars

I received a copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity Group to review.

Join Ta’Mara in celebrating the release of the second printing and new covers by entering to win her $75 prize basket giveaway!

One grand prize winner will receive:

  • A copy of The Pretender
  • A $75 Amazon gift card
  • A decorative box containing measuring cups, ten recipes from the book, a potholder, a kitchen towel, pepper and salt grinders, kitchen utensils, and an olive oil dispenser

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on October 11. The winner will be announced October 12 on the Litfuse blog.

 

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Abiding Mercy by Ruth Reid Review

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Synopsis: When doing the right thing will only lead to more heartache, how do you know what you are supposed to do? 

Sixteen-year-old Faith has worked full time in her parents’ Amish restaurant since she finished eighth grade. She loves her Amish community–and the recent romantic attentions of her longtime friend, Gideon. When her sister seems to be getting too friendly with Englischers, and her parents are in a buggy accident, Faith only wants to escape into her dream of joining the church and getting married.

But then a local newspaper runs a story about a child named Adriana who was kidnapped fifteen years earlier, and everything Faith has held true comes into question.

Suddenly the community Faith has known her whole life seems unreal. Can she even trust her own family? And how will she ever find home again if she no longer belongs in the world she knows best?

My Thoughts: I was an avid reader of Amish fiction in the early 2000s…I would eagerly check books out of my church library and devour them that afternoon. After reading most of the Amish books that the library had in stock, I became burned out on Amish fiction. I went through a big reading slump and stopped reading for a while.

It has been about 15 years since I read an Amish fiction story so I decided to revisit the genre. I love the innocence that is found in these stories, it’s a peaceful way of life and it’s a great way to escape from the hustle and bustle of the “Englisch” world.

Abiding Mercy was an enjoyable story…it follows Faith, who works with her sister at the restaurant owned by her parents. There are some secrets to Faith’s past that are revealed later and her world is turned upside down.

I loved Faith, she was a kind, gentle spirit with a good heart. Her love interest, Gideon, was also a very likable character. Their relationship was adorable. I also enjoyed Olivia’s character…she was flawed, which I appreciate because I think sometimes we tend to forget that the Amish are human and sinful just like us.

The story was good but the pacing tended to be a bit too slow for my taste. The main turning point doesn’t occur until about the last 75 pages of the story, so all the while, I kept wondering when it was going to happen (because it’s described in the synopsis).

This is book one in a series or trilogy but it easily could have been a standalone. Everything wrapped up well in the end, but I am curious to see where the story will go from here.

Overall, I definitely recommend this book if you’re looking for a sweet story with a bit of love and drama.

My Rating: 3 and a half stars

I received this book from Booklook Bloggers for review.

Cynthia Ruchti’s ‘A Fragile Hope’ Blog Tour and Giveaway

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About the book:
Hope grows when seeds are planted-even in the muddy middle of life.
Josiah Chamberlain’s life’s work revolves around repairing other people’s marriages. When his own is threatened by his wife’s unexplained distance, and then threatened further when she’s unexpectedly plunged into an unending fog, Josiah finds his expertise, quick wit and clever quips are no match for a relationship that is clearly broken.
Feeling betrayed, confused, and ill-equipped for a crisis this crippling, he reexamines everything he knows about the fragility of hope and the strength of his faith and love. Love seems to have failed him. Will what’s left of his faith fail him, too? Or will it be the one thing that holds him together and sears through the impenetrable wall that separates them?
 

About the author:
Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed in hope through her novels, novellas, nonfiction books, articles and devotionals, drawing from 33 years of on-air radio ministry. Ruchti has written more than 20 award-winning novels, novellas, nonfiction books and devotionals. Her books have received numerous awards and nominations, including the RT Reviewers’ Choice, ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year nominations, two Selah Awards, Christian Retailing’s BEST, was an ACFW Carol Award finalist and a Christy finalist, among other honors. Her latest release is the novel A Fragile Hope.
One of Ruchti’s greatest joys is helping other writers grow in their craft. To that end, she has served as worship and devotions staff and faculty for the Write-to-Publish conference and teaches at other writers’ conferences across the country and internationally as opportunities arise. She also serves as the professional relations liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers.
Ruchti speaks frequently for women’s groups and serves on her church’s worship team. She and her husband live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and five grandchildren.
Find out more about Cynthia at http://www.cynthiaruchti.com.
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My Thoughts: This story was very thought provoking and introspective. It follows Josiah, who gives marriage advice for a living but his own marriage needs a lot of repair. He learns some very difficult lessons throughout the book and grows and develops as a person.

I enjoyed the story overall, the beginning and the ending were very interesting but it got a bit slow in the middle. It was a very realistic picture of what a person in Josiah’s position probably goes through. The romance in this book was beautiful. I prefer romance stories that revolve around marriages and this one was very well done.

The character development was very rich…I found myself going from frustration and anger towards a character to admiration and respect.

I highly recommend this book to people who like a good romance story with a rich plot.

My Rating: 4 stars

I received this book from Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

Celebrate the release of A Fragile Hope by entering to win Cynthia’s Sign of Hope Giveaway!

One grand prize winner will receive:

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on May 3. The winner will be announced May 4 on the Litfuse blog.

God Bless Us Every One by Eva Marie Everson Review

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About the book:

Charlene Dixon—called Charlie by family and friends—is devastated at the recent loss of her job. 
For the last five years, the twenty-seven-year-old has blossomed as the activities director of an exclusive all-girls school. But when a misunderstanding with the headmistress leads to a pink slip right before the holidays, Charlie packs up her dreams and returns to her grandmother, Sis, who raised Charlie as her own in the mountains of North Carolina.

When Charlie arrives—broken and confused—Sis immediately puts her granddaughter to work behind the scenes of the local school’s Christmas play, A Christmas Carol. Charlie prickles at working with Dustin Kennedy, the drama teacher and her old crush from schooldays, but is even more put out at that the choice of the Dickens’ classic for the holiday performance. When she discovers her estranged father’s involvement her world turns on its head once more. But when Sis and Dustin encourage her to take a deeper look at the story behind A Christmas Carol, Charlie learns about trust, faith, and forgiveness and the needs of people in their own community.

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/2bUfaqD

About the author:
 
 
Eva Marie Everson is an award-winning speaker and author of The Road to Testament, Things Left Unspoken, This Fine Life, Chasing Sunsets, Waiting for Sunrise, Slow Moon Rising, and The Potluck Club series (with Linda Evans Shepherd). She is the president of Word Weavers International, Inc., a member of AWSA, ACFW, RWA, the director of Florida Christian Writer’s Conference, and the contest director for Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer’s Conference. She and her husband make their home in Casselberry, Florida.
My Thoughts: I love the cover of this book…it was the main reason I wanted to read it. The story focuses on Charlie, who has hit a rough patch, and is returning to her hometown for Thanksgiving. Her path crosses with her old crush and a romance ensues. It also revolves around an upcoming production of A Christmas Carol. The main story parallels Charles Dickens’ life (the main character’s name is Charlie and she and Charles Dickens both have strained relationships with their fathers, named John).
I found the background information about Charles Dickens interesting but the parallels to the main story seemed a bit too coincidental.
The characters were not very developed and the romance moved very fast. I also found that the main character was over-dramatic about  certain situations.
I liked the theme of forgiveness and the overall message of the story.
Overall, this was a good Christmas story but it wasn’t as enjoyable as I was hoping it would be.
I received this book from Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for an honest review.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch Review

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Goodreads Synopsis: “Are you happy with your life?” Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious. Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits. Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”

In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable–something impossible.

Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.

My Thoughts: Wow!!! This book blew my mind! A fun adventure from the first page to the last, my jaw dropped several times while reading this. There were many unexpected moments that I never saw coming. This is the kind of story you want to go into blindly because the revelations make it amazing.

This is the epitome of a thought provoking book…I can’t stop thinking of the plot and all of the things that are presented in the story.

The protagonist, Jason, is very likable and I was rooting for him throughout the story. His wife Daniela was a bit less well known…you only saw her through Jason’s eyes but it was clear how much he adored her.

I appreciated that the author didn’t need to use gore or vulgarity to make the story impactful.

This story crosses several genres…science fiction, suspense, mystery, thriller, romance, and even has some horror aspects. I truly believe that this is the kind of book that would appeal to a large audience of readers.

This book was amazing and I recommend it to everyone. It will live on my favorites list.

My Rating: 5 stars

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

 

The Things we Knew by Catherine West Review

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Goodreads Synopsis: After her mother’s death twelve years ago, Lynette Carlisle watched her close-knit family unravel. One by one, her four older siblings left their Nantucket home and never returned. All seem to harbor animosity toward their father, silently blaming him for their mother’s death. Nobody will talk about that dreadful day, and Lynette can’t remember a bit of it.

But when next-door neighbor Nicholas Cooper returns to Nantucket, he brings the past with him. Once her brother’s best friend and Lynette’s first crush, Nick seems to hiding things from her. Lynette wonders what he knows about the day her mother died and hopes he might help her remember the things she can’t.

But Nick has no intention of telling Lynette the truth. Besides the damage it might cause his own family, he doesn’t want to risk harming the fragile friendship between him and the woman he once thought of as a kid sister.

As their father’s failing health and financial concerns bring the Carlisle siblings home, secrets begin to surface—secrets that will either restore their shattered relationships or separate the siblings forever. But pulling up anchor on the past propels them into the perfect storm, powerful enough to make them question all they ever believed in.

My Thoughts: This book had mystery and romance as well as some coming of age aspects to it. Set on Nantucket, the story centers around a family with secrets and some skeletons that are coming out of the closet.

I connected a lot to the main character, Lynette…she is the youngest sibling and is treated as such…her siblings left her to take care of her ailing father and they sometimes treat her as though she is still a child. As the “baby of the family”, I found myself agreeing wholeheartedly with some of the feelings Lynette was experiencing.

The secrets are slowly revealed as the story progresses. The pacing is good, the story progressed at a pace that made me want to keep reading.

I love the setting of Nantucket, it’s a very unique place and the type of small community where word gets around fast.

The romance in this book was done very well…there was no inst-love. It was presented in a very realistic way and was very sweet.

Overall, this was a great book. I was surprised by how gritty it was, but in a good way. It would make a great beach read.

My Rating: 4 stars

I received this book from Booklook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.

The Ringmaster’s Wife by Kristy Cambron Review

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About the book:

The Ringmaster’s Wife (Thomas Nelson, June 2016)

An ounce of courage. A split-second leap of faith. Together, they propel two young women to chase a new life—one that’s reimagined from what they might have become.

In turn-of-the-century America, a young girl dreams of a world that stretches beyond the confines of a quiet life on the family farm. With little more than her wit and a cigar box of treasures to call her own, Mable steps away from all she knows, seeking the limitless marvels of the Chicago World’s Fair. There, a chance encounter triggers her destiny—a life with a famed showman by the name of John Ringling.

A quarter of a century later, Lady Rosamund Easling of Yorkshire, England, boards a ship to America as a last adventure before her life is planned out for her. There, the twenties are roaring, and the rich and famous gather at opulent, Gatsby-esque parties in the grandest ballrooms the country has to offer. The Jazz Age has arrived, and with it, the golden era of the American circus, whose queen is none other than the enigmatic Mable Ringling.

When Rosamund’s path crosses with Mable’s and the Ringlings’ glittering world, she makes the life-altering decision to leave behind a comfortable future of estates and propriety, instead choosing the nomadic life of a trick rider in the Ringling Brothers’ circus.

A novel that is at once captivating, deeply poignant, and swirling with exquisite historical details of a bygone world, The Ringmaster’s Wife will escort readers into the center ring, with its bright lights, exotic animals, and a dazzling performance that can only be described as the greatest show on earth!

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/28JxcaK

About the author:
 
 

Kristy Cambron fancies life as a vintage-inspired storyteller. Her second novel, A Sparrow in Terezin, was named Library Journal Reviews’ “Pick of the Month (Christian Fiction)” for February 2015.

Cambron is an art/design manager at TheGROVEstory.com storytelling ministry. She holds a degree in art history from Indiana University and has nearly 15 years of experience in instructional design and communications for a Fortune-100 company. She lives in Indiana with her husband and three football-loving sons, where she can probably be bribed with a coconut mocha latte and a good Christian fiction read.

My Thoughts: I have always been a fan of circus stories…something about the circus setting is a lot of fun to read about. This story is loosely based around Mabel Ringling’s life but the main focus is on the fictional characters of Rosamund Easling and Caleb, a worker at the Ringling Brothers circus. The author paints the picture of the story very vividly. I felt like I was transported to the circus while I was reading…this is definitely a great book to escape into.

The characters were well developed. I liked learning about the real people of Mabel and John Ringling but the fictional characters also felt very real. There was some mystery and suspense to the story that added to my enjoyment. There was a moment in the story that really warmed my heart. The pacing was great, it was hard to put down.

My only problem with the story was that the plot was very similar to a movie that I’ve seen. I can’t mention the movie as it would give a lot away. I was a bit disappointed by the similarities because it became a bit predictable.

Overall, this was a great story, definitely one that I’ll revisit in the future when I’m in the mood for a trip to the circus.

My Rating: 4 stars

I received this book from Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for an honest review.