Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Zimmerman Restoration Trilogy continues.....When Grace Sings


Title: When Grace Sings (The Zimmerman Restoration Trilogy Book #2)
Author: Kim Vogel Sawyer
Website: http://kimvogelsawyer.com/
Pages:  352
Year:  2015
Publisher:  WaterBrook Press
My Rating: 5+ stars
Wow!  The story line continues with Alexa starting a bed and breakfast business inside her grandmother’s home while her mother returned to Indiana. Now with weather getting colder having guests is a major concern for Alexa as she strikes out to prove her calling.  In Chicago a reporter is attempting to finagle his boss into letting him visit the small community of “Plain” people with the hopes of digging up dirt on the inhabitants.  What the Briley the reporter didn’t expect was that the very need of his heart was going to be exposed.
When I read book one in the series titles When Mercy Rains, I was hooked and couldn’t wait for the next installment to be published. Now that I just finished book two it is hard to wait until the third and final novel is released!  In this story more of Lexa’s past is revealed along with learning who really can meet and exceed her hearts desires.
The relationships between various characters keep the pages turning long into the night for me like this book.  The issues of adoption and parents making mistakes and when learning redeeming the relationship affected which encourages readers with hope when at last the turn the final page.  Kim Vogel Sawyer’s novels grapple with some tough issues and bring a Christ like view of the issues pointing to Him being the ultimate source for everything we need, want or desire.
Restoration is an excellent subtitle to the tales and show readers that with Christ all things are possible!   I hope you will dive into When Mercy Rains and When Grace Sings so that like me you can eagerly look forward to the third book of the series to see how the author ties loose ends in the book together.  For those like me who aren’t major fans of Amish or Mennonite novels I hope you read this series at it focuses more on the various situations and internal wrestling going on than on making the plain people appear more than what they are, people.
Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
 Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/ .  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457


Murder Tightly Knit (An Amish Village Mystery)



Title:  Murder Tightly Knit (An Amish Village Mystery #2)
Author:  Vannetta Chapman
Pages:  368
Year:  2014
Publisher:  Zondervan
Amber Bowman is still the manager at the Amish Village, but since her marriage a couple of months ago has begun to spend more time with her husband and less time on the job.  After last spring’s murder on the property, she hopes the fall and winter months will be quieter.  That quickly changes when there is a murder close by and one of her employees begins acting frightened.  Then, that employee vanishes.  Amber views herself and her employees as a family, so she is very concerned over the missing employee.  She begins asking questions about the murder victim and his relationship to the missing person.  The more she digs, the more questions she has.  Amber and Hannah have formed a friendship, so they meet to discuss the murder and those potentially involved.  Jesse’s older brother, Andrew, returns to the community suddenly on the very day of the murder after being away for over a year.  Andrew is elusive as to where he has been, why he is back and how long he is going to stay.  Is Jesse’s brother involved in the murder?
I found this a charming and delightful mystery because of the setting and Amish characters as well as the romances involved.  I really am enjoying Amber’s newfound love and marriage with Tate as it happened later in life for her.  Jesse and Hannah’s relationship is so sweet!  These are characters that readers can just warm right up to.  The faith that is exemplified is encouraging to read about.  Even though the evil in life intrudes in to the lives of these people with the murder of one of their own, they band together in resolving to find the guilty person and bring them to justice.  I look forward to the third book in the series, Murder Freshly Baked, due to be released in June 2015.
My rating is 5 stars.
Disclosure of Material Connection:  The views expressed are my opinions.  Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/.  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457

Monday, March 30, 2015

Too Many to Jail



Title:  Too Many to Jail (The Story of Iran’s New Christians)
Author:  Mark Bradley
Pages:  304
Year:  12/2014
Publisher:  Monarch
My Rating:  5 stars
The moment I encountered the book I sensed the Spirit telling me that we will learn of things never told on TV and that’s important!  Why?  Too many of us rely on the news to inform us of what is going on and going no further to investigate or research, digging for what isn’t being told to the audience.  Does that mean we shouldn’t watch the news?  No, absolutely not!  However, what I propose the Spirit wants believers to do is look outside the box, go beyond what is reported in order to know what God is doing and how we can be a part of His work.
With Mark’s book, readers can begin to understand, visualize and pray effectively for what is occurring in the Middle East.  There is also at the end of the book an extensive bibliography to aid us in pursuing understanding and seeing both the persecution and growth unfold.  There is also a website that posts updates, www.iran30.org  and can be easily accessed and shared.
Ever hear or read Fox’s Book of Martyrs?  Here is a defined scope of a people, nation and explosion of those who are coming to Christ.  The field is fertile, being watered with the blood of some and grown by that same blood along with those who bravely face each day knowing they could be the next to be jailed or killed.
Included are two helpful appendices, one is The History of Christianity in Iran before 1979 and A List of Aggressive Acts Towards Christians in Iran.  If you have ever read the Old Testament, one observation that stands out is how the ancient civilizations lived life that was tightly knitted to their beliefs.  To them, the defeat of the people was the defeat of that cultures god(s).
The main challenge we today must understand is that our beliefs aren’t separated into various “activities” or actions.  We live, breath and speak what we really believe and if that belief is in the One True God, may our lives like those in Iran be just as bold, willing and hungry to see His face no matter the cost!
Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/ .  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Halo Found Hope























Title:  Halo Found Hope
Author:  Helo Matzelle
Website:  http://halofoundhope.com/
Pages:  228
Year:  10/2014
Publisher:  Dog Ear Publishing
My Rating:  4 stars
Being a sibling of someone who went through three brain surgeries, one of which was an emergency to save her life, naturally I was drawn to hear a testimony of what God had done in this story.  Hope seems to flourish amidst a soil of trial, trouble and tears.  Halo Found Hope is one such memoir that reminds us of that fact stated previously.
Helo shares transparently a large part of her journey from a healthy, active, vibrant woman with many responsibilities to a woman hoping to see her children grow up.  The type of tumor Helo had happens once in a couple of million discovered tumors.  She shares her heart with readers, and the effect it had on her husband, children and others.  Helo has a new normal for her life that was birthed from the removal and substantial rehab she had to endure.
Yet the book isn’t just about her trials, it is more about what God revealed to her.  How God revealed  He was teaching her through the many months of hard work to get self-sufficient to a degree.  Helo learned about whom she is and how God communicates His truth to her every day.  Helo is a woman who is a witness to what God does, not just at the moment of trial but every day we live here on our journey towards home.
There are parts to her story I cannot relate to physically, but the heart to know God more is one I truly relate with daily.  Proverbs 16:9 came to my mind as I read the memoir, and it says, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”  So it is with Helo and is true of all who seek God.
Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/ .  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457



Saturday, March 28, 2015

Daughters of the Regiment


Title:  Daughters of the Regiment
Author:  Stephanie Grace Whitson
Website:  http://stephaniewhitson.com/new/index.htm
Pages:  336
Year:  2015
Publisher:  FaithWords
My Rating:  5 stars
The Irish Brigade was fighting on the side of the Union in Missouri when Maggie Malone receives news that one of her brothers is injured.  Not having heard from either brother, Maggie takes it upon herself to go find the regiment and see what the real story is regarding her brother plus tell him of what occurred on their family farm.
Libby is a southern lady yet her behavior, attitude and more set her apart from other southern belles.  Libby is under the care of her brother who treats her like he is a task master than an older brother.  With the battle happening right outside her front door, a peculiar friendship is birthed and romances begin to bloom.
At the end of the work of fiction, the author shares what happened to the real people who lived at that time and through that battle.  I was captured by the history and setting of the tale from the first moment I started reading until I reached the ending.  I had never read anything prior by the author, Stephanie Grace Whitson, but I can tell you I will be reading more of her novels in the near future.
The story is written with heart and stirs emotions of readers.  The action is easy to picture in the mind with the way the author describes what is happening.  Before encountering the book, I hadn’t known anything about the Daughters of the Regiment or about the women who once earned the title.  The author did a spectacular amount of research considering her scope was on a small area, time frame and battle.  Such a tremendous amount of virtue and courage these women must have shown, and are a gleaming example to all today!
Indie Bound: http://bit.ly/1zFz8bI
Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
 Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/ .  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457


Friday, March 27, 2015

Learn About the Novel "Daughter of the regiment" & Author Stephanie Grace Whitson



BEST-SELLING AUTHOR STEPHANIE GRACE WHITSON PAINTS COMPELLING PICTURE OF WOMEN DIVIDED BY THE CIVIL WAR IN NEW TITLE DAUGHTER OF THE REGIMENT

“Whitson celebrates the strong but unknown heroines who marched off to war with their men, as well as those who maintained the home front in this Civil War-era inspirational...Based on true events, [Daughter of the Regiment] will capture the hearts of historical fiction fans.” —Publishers Weekly

“Whitson explores the atypical subject of different women’s roles during the Civil War. The author’s gift for multi-dimensional characters and tight plotting shines through. Romance, family drama, immigrants and dueling factions in the same town add action and intrigue.” –RT Times

Nashville, TN, March, 2015—During the American Civil War, thousands of women organized to join the war efforts, turning their attention from household to battle in support of the soldiers. In her new novel, Daughter of the Regiment, Stephanie Grace Whitson describes this tumultuous time in history through life-threatening encounters and action-filled romance, sweeping readers into the world of Irish immigrant Maggie Malone and her privileged neighbor, Elizabeth Blair.

Inspired by women known as “vivandièeres” or “daughters of the regiment,” Whitson studied a number of women in both the Union and the Confederate armies who earned the title. Although "daughters" were probably initially seen as a kind of mascot, "guardian angel," or nurse, the realities of war expanded their roles. Daughters of the Regiment did much more than carry water and tend the wounded. Some rallied their men to fight, and some carried the regimental colors on the march and in the field. Others took part in battles.
Seeing how integral women were in the conflict [moved me]. One period newspaper article [I read] was seeking the identity of a deceased soldier who was discovered to be a woman only after she died on the battlefield. Women loyal to the Confederacy and accused of helping "the enemy" were actually imprisoned in St. Louis. There were so many fascinating, diverse stories,” Whitson said. “They were extraordinary women and they deserve to be remembered.”

The book’s cover art is based on a historic dress in the Smithsonian Institute’s costume collection. FaithWords worked with a costume designer who used the original for inspiration and created a historically accurate garment for the cover model to wear during the cover shoot.

Whitson’s extensive historical research led her to choose the setting of Missouri—a border state in the war and a hotbed of division, with both pro-Union and pro-Confederacy sympathies. This riveting tale of two women caught in the crossfire represents the complexity of tensions and humanity when opposing sides of war clash.

DAUGHTER OF THE REGIMENT demonstrates that we all have potential for determination and courage in times of uncertainty and will appeal to American history buffs, inspirational romance readers, and fiction audiences alike.

Review copies, hi-res images, and author interviews are available upon request.
Pub date: March 24, 2015 | 978-1-4555-2903-2| 336 Pages | $15 | Trade Paperback Original |Available wherever books are sold.


MEET-THE-AUTHOR


Saturday, April 11 at 2:00 p.m. @ Barnes & Noble Southpointe Pavilions (Lincoln, NE)
Friday, April 17 @ 11:00 a.m. @ Crete Public Library (Crete, NE)
Program lecture ‘Women in the Civil War: From Homefront to Battlefield’
April 24-25, Panel & keynote address @ Wordsowers Christian Writer's Group Conference (Omaha, NE)
Tuesday, April 28 at 7:00 p.m. @ Wisner Heritage Museum (Wisner, NE)
Program lecture ‘Women in the Civil War: From Homefront to Battlefield’
Saturday, May 2, time TBA @ Chapters Book Store (Seward, NE)
Thursday, June 11 at 7:00 p.m.  @ Lexington Public Library with Plum Creek Quilt Guild (Lexington, NE)
Program lecture ‘Women in the Civil War: From Homefront to Battlefield’
Additional events TBA.

DAUGHTER OF THE REGIMENT: A Novel by Stephanie Grace Whitson
Faithwords | Hachette Book Group
March 24, 2015 | 978-1-4555-2903-2
336 Pages | $15 | Trade Paperback Original

About the Author: Stephanie Grace Whitson is the author of over twenty-seven titles. A frequent ECPA bestseller, Whitson is a RT Book Reviews Reviewers’ Choice Winner and a two-time Christy Award finalist. When she isn’t writing, speaking, or trying to keep up with her five grown children and perfect grandchildren, she loves to take long distance rides aboard her Honda Magna motorcycle named Kitty. Her church and the International Quilt Study Center and Museum take up the rest of her free time. She received her Master of Arts degree in history in 2012. Stephanie and her husband reside in southeastern Nebraska.

About the Book: Maggie Malone inevitably experiences the effects of war firsthand—first, with her brothers joining the Missouri Irish Brigade and again when a group of unknown bandits attack her farm. Desperate to hear news from her brothers, Maggie sets off to find them at the Federal Army camp. There, she quickly captures the admiration of Sergeant John “Colt” Coulter, who immediately notices her skill and dedication. When circumstances require that Maggie remain with the brigade, she discovers that there’s a lot a good woman can do to help the brave men she comes to think of as “her boys.”

As the hostess of an acclaimed Missouri plantation, Miss Libbie Blair has learned to play her part and remain uninvolved in the business affairs and political aspirations of her brother, Walker. When his endeavors lead him to organize the “Wildwood Guard,” a group of locals in support of the Confederacy, Libbie must gracefully manage the house with officers camped out on the lawn. With war drawing closer to her doorstep, she must find a way to protect those who depend on her.

When military maneuvers and a subsequent battle bring the Irish Brigade (and Maggie) to Wildwood Grove, Libbie's home is commandeered as a field hospital. The two women whose brothers have fought on opposite sides of the same battle come face to face while tending the wounded in the aftermath of a battle won by Union troops.


Author Questionnaire

1.       Why did you pick Missouri as the setting for your book?
I've lived in Nebraska since 1975, but I have many connections to Missouri and have made the trip "home" to southern Illinois dozens of times. Finally, I took time to investigate one of those interstate signs. It mentioned a Confederate Cemetery in Missouri. The idea that there were plantations worked by slaves a short drive east of Kansas City astonished me when I first followed those signs. I had no idea that Missouri had been such a hotbed of division during the Civil War. As one author wrote, "The Civil War came early and stayed late" in Missouri—it was a slave state that never joined the Confederacy. Missouri had two separate governments at one time—one pro-Union, one pro-Confederacy.

2.       Any interesting discoveries along the way?
Dozens. One that stands out resulted from an exhibit called “Missouri in the Civil War” at the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis. The curators did a superb job of showing how integral women were in the conflict. They even included a period newspaper article seeking the identity of a deceased soldier—discovered to be a woman after her death in battle. Women loyal to the Confederacy and accused of helping "the enemy" were actually imprisoned in St. Louis. I discovered countless fascinating and diverse stories about women from all walks of life.

3.       What inspired you to write this novel?
Reading about the real Daughters of the Regiment. Their heroism. One replaced a fallen color-bearer and stood throughout the battle with the colors held high so that her regiment knew who was where in the heat of battle. After a battle, one's skirt was riddled with bullet holes. She’d carried on, calmly tending the wounded with bullets whistling about her. Men wrote about these women with affection and respect. One earned a pension for her service, and another is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. They were extraordinary women, and they deserve to be remembered.

4.       How did the cover shoot come about?
There is an original vivandièeres costume in the collection at the Smithsonian Institution. (The word vivandièeres comes from the women who were important in the French army during the Crimean war.)  FaithWords worked with a costume designer who used the original for inspiration and created a historically accurate garment for the cover model to wear during the cover shoot. It's a stunning piece made of soft, dark blue wool—very faithful to what a Daughter of the Regiment might actually have worn, complete with the shorter skirt that is pictured in so many period photographs and drawings (not all of these are military women, some are just in bloomers, but there are still some that are obviously military).
5.       What about the timeliness of the book?
On the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War and Women’s History Month, it is only fitting to laud the role women played. They worked in munitions factories, organized fundraising events to feed the hungry wives and children of soldiers who were off fighting, collected thousands of quilts to keep soldiers warm (neither government was prepare for the


magnitude of the war and neither was able to supply their troops adequately), made countless shirts and "drawers," knitted socks and destroyed household towels and garments to make bandages. They took up the farm work in the men's absence, delivered clandestine letters (and were imprisoned for it), and supported "the cause" in every way imaginable.  Such rich stories from real history are better stories than anything I could ever make up!

6.       Tell us about the crossover between your quilting experience and Civil War research.

Quilting is a multi-billion dollar industry in America, and many of those women do love the history and stories about the women who made antique quilts.

Antique textiles in general and quilts in particular have been a topic of personal study for decades. I've taken several classes in dating both antique quilts and fabric history from recognized experts in the field. I volunteer at the International Quilt Study Center and Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska. Researching the real stories behind antique quilts has inspired more than one of my historical novels, and I always enjoy being able to include some tidbit of quilt history in a story. The interest is high for this topic, as evidenced by the many Civil War exhibits at state history museums and historical societies, not the least of which is the American Textile History Museum’s Homefront and Battlefield: Quilts & Context in the Civil War, which premiered in June, 2012, and which tours across the U.S. through 2015.
I give a program titled “Women in the Civil War: From Homefront to Battlefield” that includes information about quilts gathered and made for soldiers, ladies' aid societies established to benefit the troops, and the Sanitary Fairs conducted to raise money for the cause. Women's production of textiles was a vital part of the war effort for both North and South.