Top Ten Tuesday

I don’t often join in on the Top Ten Tuesday, though I think it’s an awesome feature since it’s my normal day to post a new review. But, today’s topic of top ten reads so far this year is one that’s been percolating in my brain anyway. So unlike my friend Carrie at Reading is my Super Power, I was excited! These are all books I’ve read this year, regardless of print date, and pulls from either print or audio books. Also to help narrow it down since I read a copious amount, these are all full-length novels (no novellas) and they are all ones I’ve either purchased or am on the street team for (as opposed to library or friend borrows).

  hearontheline   Behind The Scenes   LizzyJane  berry-on-top   stilllife   uncommoncourtshipcover   True to you   rescueme  chili slaw dogs   ever after

There you go! I hope you find some new reads. There are many more books I’m really looking forward to this year. Stay tuned!

Heart on the Line

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Made by @melissag823.

defaultToday I am reviewing a super fun book! Karen Witemeyer is one of my favorite authors for good reason and her newest release, Heart on the Line, reinforces that notion. One of my favorite things about this book is it’s geekiness. Not even sure if that’s a word (I’m sure a grammar geek will let me know). So many heroes and heroine seem to be all of the ideals manhood/womanhood wrapped up into one. You know, ruggedly hansom and the perfect mix between brooding and charming, or slender, but with curves in all the right places? Not for the focus of this story. Instead, they are both telegraph operators! And, they LOVE IT (Fun link of Karen’s about “online” dating). It makes me think that if they were visiting my house, they’d hop right into a game of Settlers of Catan with the the hubs and I.

hearonthelineGrace Mallory is tired of running, of hiding. But when an old friend sends an after-hours telegraph transmission warning Grace that the man who has hunted her for nearly a year has discovered her location, she fears she has no choice. She can’t let the villain she believes responsible for her father’s death release his wrath in Harper’s Station, the town that has sheltered her and blessed her with the dearest friends she’s ever known.

Amos Bledsoe prefers bicycles to horses and private conversations over the telegraph wire to social gatherings with young ladies who see him as nothing more than an oddity. His telegraph companion, the mysterious Miss G, listens eagerly to his ramblings every night and delights him with tales all her own. For months, their friendship–dare he believe, courtship?–has fed his hope that he has finally found the woman God intended for him. Yet when he takes the next step to meet her in person, he discovers her life is in peril, and Amos must decide if he can shed the cocoon of his quiet nature to become the hero Grace requires.

My Review

There are so many good things about this book, I’m not sure were to start or that you’ll read long enough for me to list them. As I mentioned above, this book was very refreshing with it’s less than “ideal” hero in Amos Bledsoe with his glasses, bike riding, and self-described unmanly physique. But what Amos doesn’t have in appearance he makes up for in heart, and that ladies, is what we ultimately fall in love with. My husband is much closer to Amos then all the ruggedly handsome heroes I read about and I think that makes Amos all the more attractive to me; men with patient constant hearts. Amos proves himself worthy of Grace’s trust by being patient and sticking around no matter what.

My heart hurts for Grace and all she’s experienced. We’ve glimpsed Grace in two previous Harper’s Station stories and I knew her back story couldn’t be a pleasant one. She is slow to trust, but through Amos’ steadiness and God’s quiet prodding, Grace learns the true meaning of her name.

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Image by @redheadzee.

What’s not mentioned in the descriptions is the sub-story that happens throughout the book with Helen, which I found delightful. Helen struggles with very real fear, an emotion that I frequently battle that is sometimes overwhelming. I am super proud of this girl and she inspires me to also loose the chains fear holds over my life.

The geeky side of me wants to learn Morse Code so I can tell if all of the dashes and dots are correct, but I trust that Karen has done her homework. I also may want to sew up a pair of bicycle bloomers.

(…and…as regulations require… I have received a copy of this book from the Publisher for promotional purposes. All opinions are truthfully my own!)

There are many great quotes in this book, hence all of the photos included in this post, but I’ll close out with my favorite. I think it’s self explanatory.

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Image by Brandy!

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A Song Unheard Cover Reveal

A Name UnknownTuesday has come a day late this week! What?! You think I’m crazy? I’m not. Saved this week’s post for today as we have a special announcement. Roseanna White is revealing her newest cover for the second book in the Shadows Over England series! The first book, A Name Unknown, comes out in July. Early on I helped Roseanna out with a small research task and I am totally geeky over that fact. I don’t know if any of it was helpful or made it in the final cut, but the sheer fact that I could help might have put a little swagger in my step. I am super excited to be part of the street team, so you bet you’ll be hearing more. Roseanna is fantastic about connecting with her readers, so make sure to subscribe to her awesome blog/newsletter and find her on Facebook. Without further ado…

A Song Unheard

Willa Forsythe is both a violin prodigy and top-notch thief, which makes her the perfect choice for a crucial task at the outset of World War I—to steal a cypher from a famous violinist currently in Wales.

Lukas De Wilde has enjoyed the life of fame he’s won—until now, when being recognized nearly gets him killed. Everyone wants the key to his father’s work as a cryptologist. And Lukas fears that his mother and sister, who have vanished in the wake of the German invasion of Belgium, will pay the price. The only light he finds is meeting the intriguing Willa Forsythe.

But danger presses in from every side, and Willa knows what Lukas doesn’t—that she must betray him and find that cypher, or her own family will pay the price as surely as his has.

The Cover

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Love it! The red dress is sure to pop out on shelves and I like having an idea of a face to put with a name. It also fits so well with the first book’s cover, don’t you think?

ASU with ANU 3D

Be sure to add both of these on Goodreads and your pre-order!

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Sprouts of Love with Author Valerie Comer

Romance Grows AVHappy Tuesday, ya’ll! Today we’re chatting with Valerie Comer. Valerie is known for her local fresh food focus and sweet romances. Her band new book, Sprouts of Love, is part of the A Garden Grown Romance series. It was kicked off with a fantastic collection of stories by six authors called Romance Grows in Arcadia Valley. There was a lot of collaboration by the authors to make a little fictional world in a corner of Idaho. I am amazes at how well all of the different series work so well together, even as each author continues dependently. Since cats are know for their curiosity, it only made sense to ask Valerie to join us here today!

Sprouts of Love:

Sprouts Of LoveCan love sprout amid a tsunami of vegetables?

Single mom Evelyn Felton takes on another part-time job managing a greenhouse and garden project for Grace Fellowship. Formerly homeless, she’s thrilled to offer truckloads of fresh produce to the Arcadia Valley food bank.

If only Ben Kujak weren’t running Corinna’s Cupboard singlehandedly, he’d be delighted to be on the receiving end. But Evelyn and her dynamo daughter, Maisie, won’t take no for an answer, even if it means restructuring Ben’s charity.

Soon Ben finds himself wishing they’d transform his personal life, too, but can true love sprout when their pasts collide with the present?

Interview

Valerie- Thanks for joining us here today! We like to ask all of our authors a couple fun questions to start off with:

  1. Open your text message app. What are the first 10 words that come up automatically?

Valerie: The girls in that evening are so cute I can’t…

Kat: You can tell you have grandgirls!

  1. Here’s at Kat’s Corner books, we’re fans of cats, but love all pets. Do you have a pet? If so, what and what’s their name?

Valerie: Three animals — a dog and two cats — currently share my husband and me. Brody is a black Lab cross (crossed with something unknown and large!) who’s nine years old and is not the smartest thing on four legs. Even hubby  says that, and he’s the dog person! Coonie and Moxie are tortoiseshell littermates who are seven and a half years old. They’re a good trio, between them. They get along well and keep us company.

And now on to the book!

  1. This series started off with a collaboration of a set of novellas. I imagine that an immense amount of coordination was required. I even saw one of the authors post that some of you have never met (at least until that trip). Can you tell us a little about the process?

Valerie: There’s a fair bit going on behind the scenes in our Facebook group and in our shared Dropbox folder, for sure. We started brainstorming early in 2016, creating our setting and divvying up the parts we each wanted to write about.

I’ve met two of the other authors in person, and the other three only online. The internet makes it so easy to work together and to become true friends with people we’ve never met!

  1. As each of the authors continue forward in the series, how much do you all still collaborate or check-in? While all the series happen in the same town, they’re very different and kind of exist in their own world. Do you all try to refer to each other’s stories?

Valerie: We check into our Facebook group often. Someone is posting at least once or twice a week, perhaps with a timeline question or a “would your character say this” question. We are all reading each other’s work, so as things go along, I think you’ll find increased mixing from when the first few authors were working more in a vacuum.

We agreed early on to keep our smaller series focused on our own characters and themes, and only bring in someone else’s characters for flavor. At the same time, the characters may attend the same church (we’ve created three) or dine at the same restaurants or go to the same park or events. I love how the town of Arcadia Valley is filling out a little with each new story!

  1. I know that you have a passion for “real” food and that is an important aspect for all your stories. I know I’ve learned a lot from them. For those who may not understand the concept, can you describe it in a few sentences and tell us why/how it’s so important to you?

Valerie: As a culture, we’re quite selfish. We tend not to think about the results of our choices that often – the workers who harvest sprayed vegetables, the child slave labor that goes into much of today’s cocoa production, the big corporations that care more for their bottom dollar than any person’s health and welfare. We willingly gobble up empty chemical calories with little regard for our own bodies or the moral implications!

Am I perfect? Not by a long shot. Sometimes tiredness and thrift play a role in the food choices I make, too. But I truly believe that we who are residents of first world countries need to learn to think beyond ourselves for the betterment of our own bodies, our communities, people around the world, and the environment.

Yeah, I’ve got an entire soapbox, but I’ll get off now. 😉

  1. I also believe in the importance of real food, but struggle to implement it living the middle of the city (though I do cherish my three small community garden plots). For some, it seems far out of reach. If there were one or two things that they could implement today, what would they be?

Valerie: I think the first thing is just being aware. Look at the labels on your food… not just on the boxes and packages but even on your fruits and vegetables. What country did they come from? Are there other alternatives from closer to home? What’s actually in season?

I recommend frequenting your local farmers market or a food co-op if you can. Talk to your farmers and growers. Learn what actually grows in your area. Fresh produce picked at the peak of ripeness may turn your picky kids into fans of vegetables.

  1. Sprouts of Love deals with an issue that many try not to think about: homelessness, and even more so homeless women and children. What was the inspiration behind this theme?

Valerie: I honestly don’t know the answer to that. It’s the second time homelessness has been central to one of my novels — the other was Berry on Top, released in February 2016. I’ve never been homeless or close to it, and I’ve never worked at a shelter or anything like that.

All I can say is God probably wanted to teach me empathy. I don’t plot my story details out prior to writing, so sometimes what happens on the page is just as much a surprise to me as it is to the readers!

  1. If there’s one lesson you’d like readers to walk away with after reading this story, what is it?

Valerie: We’re so quick to judge other people for the way they are and the choices they make. In the story, characters are judged because they’ve been homeless… or because they have a beautiful home. There are other judgments, too, against parents who do literally anything for their children, and others who abandon their kids.

So maybe the takeaway is not to judge, not even the big things that are so obviously wrong. Each person makes decisions based on their history and current circumstances. We need to give grace and come alongside people who are hurting, not heap condemnation on their heads.

You know, I hadn’t really thought about that before with this book. Good question.

What an insightful interview. Thank you so much! I really look forward to following all of the Arcadia Valley series.

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Author Bio

Valerie-Comer-150x150Valerie Comer’s life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary Christian romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie grows much of her own food and is active in the local foods movement as well as her church. She only hopes her imaginary friends enjoy their happily-ever-afters as much as she does hers, shared with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters.

Valerie is a USA Today bestselling author and a two-time Word Award winner. She writes engaging characters, strong communities, and deep faith laced with humor into her green clean romances.

Connect with Valerie! 

http://valeriecomer.com

http://arcadiavalleyromance.com

http://inspyromance.com

http://twitter.com/valeriecomer

https://www.pinterest.com/valeriecomer/garden-grown-romances-set-in-arcadia-valley-idaho/

https://www.pinterest.com/valeriecomer/arcadia-valley-romance/

 

Becky Wade’s ‘True to You’ Prize Pack and $100 Giveaway

Do opposites really attract? John and Nora might just be the perfect match. Find out in True to You, book one in Becky Wade’s new series! Genealogist and historical village owner Nora Bradford has decided that burying her nose in her work and her books is far safer than romance in the here and now. Former Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient John Lawson is a modern-day man, usually 100 percent focused on the present. But when he’s diagnosed with an inherited condition, he’s forced to dig into the secrets of his past and his adoption as an infant, enlisting Nora to help him uncover the identity of his birth mother. Finding the answers they’re seeking will test the limits of their identity, their faith, and their devotion to one another.

My Thoughts

I have long been a Becky Wade fan. That said, long time readers will notice that this is a very different style from our beloved Porter series. But, what is consistent is Becky’s trademark romance and solid story line. What is different in this story is how long the main characters fight their attraction. While sometimes this can be frustrating in a story,  Becky does a great job of progressing the romance and tension, as well as giving us a realistic perspective on two people falling in love but trying not to; they have real struggles, real problems, real feelings. I loved this aspect of the book as so often the feelings of attraction that we struggle with in real life relationships is glossed over in Christian romance. I wish I could visit Mayfair, but since it’s unfortunately make believe, I’ll have to settle with adding all of Washington to my travel list.

As a lover of history, frequent researcher, and adoption advocate, this story line contains many elements that I thoroughly enjoyed. I think many readers will be able to relate to John’s search for his birth parents or Nora’s introverted book loving, generous nature. There’s also a fun quiz that Bethany House has put together to see which Becky Wade heroine you are most like. I got Willow; I’ll take the supermodel!

I can’t wait to read Willow’s and Britt’s story.

I received a copy of True to You from Litfuse  for promotional purposes. All opinions expressed are purely my own.

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Celebrate the launch of Becky Wade’s new series by entering to win a fabulous prize pack and $100 cash card from Litfuse!

One grand prize winner will receive:

  • A copy of True to You
  • A $100 Visa cash card
  • A prize pack hand-picked by Becky

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on May 30. The winner will be announced May 31 on the Litfuse blog.

Behind the Scenes – Giveaway/Interview

Behind The Scenes For anyone who hasn’t heard, Jen Turano has a new book out called Behind the Scenes! That is always a happy event for me as I read to escape and for entertainment and I can ALWAYS count on Jen for both. Her newest series features wallflowers during the Gilded Age and is called “Apart From the Crowd.” I am so excited to have Jen on the blog today for an interview, plus, Jen has graciously agreed to give away a copy of Behind the Scenes to a lucky reader! Keep reading for Jen’s interview, my thoughts, and to enter the giveaway.

 

Miss Permilia Griswold, the wallflower behind “The Quill” gossip column, knows everything that goes on in the ballrooms of New York. When she overhears a threat against the estimable Mr. Asher Rutherford, she’s determined to warn him. Away from society’s spotlight, Asher and Permilia discover there’s more going on behind the scenes than they anticipated.

 

Jen has joined us for an interview. We like to start all authors out with a couple fun questions.

1. Open your text message app. What are the first 10 words that come up automatically?

Jen: I don’t have a text message app – texting is just on my phone😊

Kat: Don’t feel bad, my hubs still has what everyone refers to as a “dumb phone.”

2. Here are Kat’s Corner Books we’re partial to cats, but love pets of any kind. Do you have a pet?

Jen: I do not have a pet.  My Australian Cattle Dog, Sasha, died last year.  She was fifteen, lived a great life, was a great companion, but I don’t think I’ll get another dog for a few years. 

Kat: So sad. It’s always hard to lose a member of our family.

Now onto book questions!

3. Many of your readers know that you’re working your way through the Gilded Age, but I must confess, other than the late 1800’s, I don’t really know what that means. Can you give us a little summary?

So the Gilded Age – cliff note version.  Right after the Civil War, and because of the advances within industry, gentlemen began making fortunes at an unprecedented rate.  Because taxes were not paid on a lot of that newly acquired money, conspicuous consumption became the norm for the privileged in the country.  Mansions were built without a care to cost, wardrobes were acquired for every season, most high society ladies traveling to Paris to shop from Worth, and established society members had to work incredibly hard to prevent the newly rich, and as they thought of them, uncouth industrialist, from entering their hallowed circles. Rules did begin to relax when the fortunes being made were so large they could not be ignored, and with that relaxation came incredibly ridiculous society events and a disregard for common sense, something that helped bring an end to the Gilded Age, right around the start of World War I and the passing of income tax laws which had these very wealthy Americans no longer able to keep every cent they made. 

 

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I was so excited when I recieved my copy! Yes, that is my very messy desk.

4. I know that you enjoy contemporary stories as well (a là Finding Margo), how did you pick the Gilded Age for your series?

 

When I first tried my hand at writing historical, I wrote Regency, although I had absolutely no success procuring the interest of a publisher, but I did manage to snag an agent with a Regency story I wrote titled “A Marriage of Inconvenience.” While she was shopping that book around, we discussed what I should write next, and she suggested setting a story in America since she’d been successful placing quite a few of her clients with American-set stories.  Since I’m all about high society, I knew I wouldn’t be good at a Western, so got a friend of mine who is a research librarian to pull a bunch of books in different American eras, finding myself enthralled with the Gilded Age.  It’s a fascinating period in time, overlooked in my humble opinion, and since it does stretch all the way up until World War I, I have plenty of fodder for my stories.  I’m looking forward to doing a series about working women in industry, but that will be a few years from now.   

5. As a researcher myself, I know that you can come across some really…interesting…stories and photos. Can you share a unique one? (You can’t use any that are in the book. 😉)

One of the most disturbing stories I’ve come across is that of Eve Nesbit. She was the most photographed woman of the era, becoming famous at the ripe-old age of sixteen.  Men took advantage of her, especially Stanford White.  He was a famous architect of the day and designed Madison Square Garden.  Eve and Stanford were involved with each other for years, but he was already married, and disturbingly enough, he seemed to have a propensity of taking young girls under his wing.  As Eve began to age, he lost some of his fascination with her, which is when she decided to marry Mr. Harry Thaw.  Unfortunately, Harry was an incredibly jealous man, and he hated the idea she’d been involved with Stanford White. On a hot afternoon in 1906, while enjoying a performance at the Madison Square Garden rooftop theater, Henry shot Stanford at point blank range, killing him. All the sordid details of Eve’s past with Stanford came out at trial, and the rest of her life was spent under a cloud of scandal, with Henry spending eight years after his murder trial committed to an asylum.  They never lived as husband and wife again.  When he died in the 1940’s, Henry left Eve $10,000 – the same amount he left a waitress he barely knew.

 

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Eve Nesbit (photo provided by Jen Turano)

 

6. If there’s one lesson you’d like readers to walk away with after reading this story, what is it?

I don’t really expect readers to walk away with a lesson from my stories.  What I’m hoping is that they’ll be entertained by my characters and will have found a brief respite from any problems they may be facing. 

Kat: This is exactly why I love reading your books. Though, I feel like I do always walk away from something. Your characters always have such a great perspective on faith and insight on life and God without getting preachy. It’s just part of who they are. I want to be more like that.

My Thoughts

 

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Best didication ever.

We first met Asher and Permilia in the (free!) prequel novel At Your Request, in January. I was intermediately intrigued by the interaction between these two characters and could not wait to read their story. Jen is known for her strong female leads who ahead of their time and Permilia is exactly that. And Asher. He is just so sweet. Unlike many of the heroes in Jen’s book, Asher is smitten from the start and steadily pursues Permilia, which is a refreshing storyline in Jen’s novels, and isn’t a rugged “manly man.” Though his pursuit of the title is quite humorous.

 

Readers often put pressure on their favorite authors to churn out another story they love, and Behind the Scenes is another classic Jen Turano story without getting repetitive of earlier stories. It is an absolute delight that I will reread for several years to come.

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Giveaway

Jen has graciously agreed to giveaway a print copy of Behind The Scenes! Click on the link below to enter. Due to shipping costs and international regulations, this giveaway is open to US mailing addresses only. Giveaway is subject to Kat’s Corner Books’s giveaway policies which can be found on the Disclosure and Policies page. The winner will be announced next week. Giveaway open until midnight on 5/15/2017.

Enter via the Rafflecopter form here.