Songs of the Shenandoah by Michael Reynolds

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Songs of the Shenandoah
B&H Books (January 1, 2014)
 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Michael K. Reynolds is a writer with more than two decades of experience in crafting fiction, non-fiction, journalism, copywriting and documentary production. He is the author of a series of Irish historical novels published by B&H Publishing Group. These highly acclaimed books are available in bookstores and libraries across the nation and beyond.

Michael is the writer and producer of an Emmy and Telly award-winning series of documentaries titled, Crystal Darkness. These thirty minute anti-meth films have been heavily promoted and broadcast in cities and states throughout the United States and Mexico. They have been viewed collectedly by more than 10 million people and the message has reached more than 30 million to date.

He also has wide experience as a speaker and on-air personality and has been interviewed on a variety of newspapers, radio stations and televisions networks throughout the nation.

Michael earned his B.A. in Creative Writing from the University of California, San Diego and lives in Reno with his wife and three children. He is active in marketplace, marriage, small group and men’s ministries as a leader and speaker.

Learn more about Michael and his books on his Website.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

At the onset of the Civil War, Seamus heeds his wife’s wishes to return to her beloved family farm in the South, where he takes a post as chaplain for General Stonewall Jackson’s brigade. As Seamus ministers to the troops, his sister Clare ministers in a different way—by being a powerful voice in the Northern cause toward freeing the slaves. All this while their youngest brother Davin, who became wealthy during the Gold Rush, struggles to find love and identity in a fallen world. It’s a clash of loyalties and beliefs that threaten the entire family, each of them trying to hear God’s encouragement in the midst of the tragedy of war. The dramatic conclusion to the acclaimed Heirs of Ireland Series.
If you would like to read the first chapter of Songs of the Shenandoah, go HERE.

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MY REVIEW:

I am thankful that I have had the privilege to read and review all three volumes of Michael Reynolds’ Heirs of Ireland series. To be honest I probably would not have taken more than one glance in the bookstore because of their covers – probably because I am a woman and I tend to be a visual person. The covers, while historically accurate, did not attract me in the least. Perhaps they would be more appealing to male readers. However, once I began to read each of these books, I immediately recognized an author with a tremendous talent for telling a great tale.

Songs of the Shenandoah continues the saga of the Irish immigrant Hanley family. In this final book, younger brother Davin has returned to New York, Seamus and his wife have taken up residence at her family plantation in the South just in time for the Civil War, and Clare and her husband are fighting a losing battle trying to keep his family newspaper alive. In this story of courage and sacrifice, the reader will find a little intrigue, plenty of action, and a bit of romance, but mostly a story that will linger in the memory long after the last page is read and the book is closed. Within these pages are found more than just the rudimentary facts about the War Between the States. Real human experience and emotions are related as brothers find themselves on opposite sides of the battle, Irish volunteers for the Union Army find themselves expendable, and freed slaves in the North are persecuted because of their skin color.

At first I thought Songs of the Shenandoah was too long but by its end, I wanted to keep reading. The entire Heirs of Ireland series is a must read for history buffs, especially those who enjoy reading about Irish immigrants and/or the Civil War. Personally I believe that the entire series could make a film to rival even Gone With the Wind.

Snapshot by Lis Wiehl



MY REVIEW:

Starting with a real life snapshot taken by her father when she was a child, Lis Wiehl has written an electrifying story about a murder for which the wrong man has been imprisoned for fifty years. His impending execution brings federal prosecutor Lisa Waldren and her estranged retired FBI father together  to make an effort to find enough evidence to stop the execution. Although “Snapshot” is a novel, it is filled with a wealth of historical facts from the years following the assassination of J.F.K. as well as some valuable insight into the effect those turbulent years had on the people who lived through them, especially the black victims of racism.

I especially enjoyed reading along as  Lisa and her father tracked down each clue with the assistance of others who were drawn into the tale as it proceeded. The character development was excellent and the plot was well paced and kept me invested in the story until the very end. Although it was not constantly filled with action and danger, a very real sense of tension pervaded the narrative as it built to a dramatic confrontation near the end.

“Snapshot” is an exciting tale made all the more enjoyable after reading the author’s notes at the end and viewing the video clip found on youtube.com where the author describes the inspiration for this book.

This book was provided for review by Thomas Nelson Publisher’s BookSneeze program.



ABOUT THE BOOK:
SnapshotTwo little girls, frozen in black and white. One picture worth killing for.

Federal prosecutor Lisa Waldren’s estranged father wants her to investigate a cold case from his FBI days. Lisa nearly refuses, even though a wrongly convicted man faces execution for murder. Then her father reveals a photograph: a little white girl playing alongside a little black girl at a rally in 1965 where the shooting of a civil rights leader took place. She recognizes herself in the photo.

She was there.

Lisa agrees to help, resolved to boldly seek answers she’s skirted for decades. What she discovers are layers of deception, both personal and professional, reaching as high as the head of the FBI. Possibly even the president.

And though Lisa and the other girl may have escaped the 1965 shooting physically unharmed, her little friend, now grown, bears the scars of it. All because of the color of her skin. As Lisa and her father get closer to the truth, the real killer turns the hunt around.

The author discusses the inspiration for “Snapshot”:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lis WiehlLis Wiehl is one of the nation’s most prominent trial lawyers and highly regarded commentators. Currently, she is the legal analyst and reporter on the Fox News Channel and Bill O’Reilly’s sparring partner in the weekly “Is It Legal?” segment on The O’Reilly Factor. Prior to that she was O’Reilly’s co-host on the nationally syndicated show The Radio Factor. She is also a Professor of Law at New York Law School. Her column “Lis on Law” appears weekly on FoxNews.com.

Prior to joining Fox News Channel in New York City, Wiehl served as a legal analyst and reporter for NBC News and NPR’s All Things Considered. Before that, Wiehl served as a Federal Prosecutor in the United States Attorney’s office.

Wiehl earned her Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School and her Master of Arts in Literature from the University of Queensland.

Wiehl is also the author of The 51% Minority, which won the 2008 award for Books for a Better Life in the motivational category, and Winning Every Time.

She lives with her husband and two children in New York.

The Governess of Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky



MY REVIEW:

“The Governess of Highland Hall” is one of those regency period novels that feature a romance between a governess and her titled and rich employer. However, it did not seem to me to be dull or formulaic at all but fresh and even whimsical at times.

The book’s heroine Julia has spent most of her life on the mission field with her parents but her father’s health has forced their return to England and their financial state has led Julia to take a position as governess to the children and wards of William Ramsey on a neighboring estate. As expected an attraction develops between Julia and William despite the fact that it just isn’t proper and would make the Ramsey family laughingstocks among the other gentry. Julia is a very principled and outspoken young woman who often crosses the lines set by her position in the Ramsey household. Her loving nature quickly endears her to the Ramsey children and most of the staff as well as William’s sister. In contrast William is a bit tedious and uninteresting at first with his dependence on the opinions of others and the burdens he carries from his recently inherited and formerly mismanaged estate.

The plot moves along at a steady pace and includes a few surprises along the way. The children are a fun and amusing addition to the story and the reader might even find more than one romance in progress before the end. I particularly liked the fact that both Julia and William spoke freely of their faith and that the Lord’s will was an important consideration in their lives. I enjoyed reading about both sides of the estate  – both the staff and their employers.

“The Governess of Highland Hall” is a book to be savored and I recommend it to historical fiction buffs, especially those who are fans of the Regency era.

This book was provided for review by the Waterbrook Multnomah Blogging for Books program.



ABOUT THE BOOK:

The Governess Of Highland HallWorlds lie between the marketplaces of India and the halls of a magnificent country estate like Highland Hall. Will Julia be able to find her place when a governess is neither upstairs family nor downstairs help?
 
Missionary Julia Foster loves working alongside her parents, ministering and caring for young girls in India. But when the family must return to England due to illness, she readily accepts the burden for her parents’ financial support. Taking on a job at Highland Hall as governess, she quickly finds that teaching her four privileged, ill-mannered charges at a grand estate is more challenging than expected, and she isn’t sure what to make of the estate’s preoccupied master, Sir William Ramsey.

Widowed and left to care for his two young children and his deceased cousin Randolph’s two teenage girls, William is consumed with saving the estate from the financial ruin. The last thing he needs is any distraction coming from the kindhearted-yet-determined governess who seems to be quietly transforming his household with her persuasive personality, vibrant prayer life, and strong faith.

While both are tending past wounds and guarding fragile secrets, Julia and William are determined to do what it takes to save their families—common ground that proves fertile for unexpected feelings. But will William choose Julia’s steadfast heart and faith over the wealth and power he needs to secure Highland Hall’s future?

Click HERE to download chapter one of The Governess of Highland Hall.

Praise for The Governess of Highland Hall

“There is much to like about Carrie Turansky’s The Governess of Highland Hall: a sweet noble heroine, a proud yet vulnerable hero, and a Downton Abbey–inspired setting. Endearing supporting characters and two romances add to the pleasure. Fans of Christian fiction and Downton Abbey will enjoy this story!”
—Julie Klassen, best-selling author of The Tutor’s Daughter

“I admit I’m a Downton Abbey junkie. Thankfully, I got my fix with Carrie Turansky’s delightful new novel. Everything about this book breathes upstairs-downstairs, and I was swept away into the world of Highland Hall—the language, the customs, the clothes, the drama, the romance, oh, the romance! Absolutely charming, if I do say so myself!”
—Susan May Warren, RITA and Christy Award winner and best-selling novelist of Duchess

“Prim and wonderful, The Governess of Highland Hall is an exquisitely woven Downton Abbey tapestry, proper and perfectly of English nobility and their servants. With the utmost sensitivity and skill, Carrie Turansky has penned a breathless Edwardian love story not to be missed!”
—Julie Lessman, award-winning author of the Daughters of Boston and Winds of Change series

“In The Governess of Highland Hall, Carrie Turansky blends a compelling heroine standing on the precipice of class divide with a magnificent Edwardian country estate in danger of ruin. She mixes well with an unforgettable cast of characters. The result is a beautifully written, faith-filled romance—the first in a series not to be missed.”
—Cathy Gohlke, Christy Award–winning author of Promise Me This and Band of Sisters

“Fans of sweet romance will delight in The Governess of Highland Hall, set on a majestic estate of old, where love blossoms both upstairs and down in Edwardian England. Author Carrie Turansky has woven a tender and uplifting tale with a heartwarming message.”
—Joanne Bischof, award-winning author of the Cadence of Grace series

“With its engaging cast of characters, a setting reminiscent of Downton Abbey, and a storyline that celebrates faith, family, and friendship, The Governess of Highland Hall is more than a historical romance. It’s a book that’s sure to delight Carrie Turansky’s current fans and bring her many more.”
—Amanda Cabot, best-selling author of Christmas Roses

The Governess of Highland Hall is a deeply emotional story of learning to submit to God’s will. Fans of Downton Abbey will enjoy the Edwardian time period, the English traditions, and the upstairs-below-stairs intrigue. The characters are richly developed, Turansky’s prose lyrical. I enjoyed my stay at Highland Hall!”
—Beth White, Carol Award–winning author of Controlling Interest and The Pelican Bride (coming in April 2014)

The Governess of Highland Hall is a delightful journey to Edwardian England with a cast of colorful characters and plot twists at every turn. With a nice mix of upstairs-downstairs drama and a spunky heroine, Carrie Turansky weaves a tale that will enchant Downton Abbey aficionados. Lovely and heartfelt.”
—Carla Stewart, award-winning author of Chasing Lilacs and Sweet Dreams

The Governess of Highland Hall
 is as delightful as an English high tea, replete with an endearing cast of characters living on a grand English estate and flavored with memories of India. Carrie Turansky lends a lovely, fresh voice to a fascinating era!
—Laura Frantz, Author of Love’s Reckoning

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Carrie TuranskyCarrie Turansky is the award-winning author of nearly a dozen novels and novellas, including Snowflake Sweethearts and Along Came Love. She has won the ACFW Carol Award, the Crystal Globe Award and the International Digital Award. She lives in central New Jersey with her husband, Scott, who is a pastor, counselor and the author of several parenting books.

No One To Trust by Lynette Eason



MY REVIEW:

I have read and enjoyed books by Lynette Eason since I read her first ones published through Love Inspired Suspense and have been happy to see her branch out into the larger format novels published by Revell, a division of the Baker Publishing Group. As an avid reader who enjoys a good romantic suspense, it has been gratifying to follow Lynette as she has fine tuned her craft during the past several years.

“No One to Trust” lives up to the description on Lynette’s website Infinite Suspense. It truly had me on the edge of my seat as I experienced the terror and confusion right along with heroine Summer Abernathy as she found herself suddenly caught up in a real life nightmare. With her own life threatened as well as the lives of family and friends at risk, Summer was forced to trust her husband who was not the man she thought she had married. Angry and afraid, Summer’s feelings toward Kyle were torn between love and hate.

The plot is a wild and crazy ride with danger on every side and many twists and surprises. And the plot is not all that is “twisted”. With a husband Summer no longer trusts, members of “the mob” after them, and even the uncertainty about the men assigned to keep them safe, the title”No One to Trust” is quite apt. Characters are well rounded with more than one who is not at all likeable. I did like the fact that even Summer was not a perfect heroine due to her lack of understanding and sympathy toward her husband’s secrets. In my opinion, flawed characters generally make better reading. Yet despite her flaws, Summer was a loyal friend determined to risk her own life to protect those she cared about.

“No One to Trust” is one of my favorites to date by Lynette Eason. I cannot wait for the next installment of the Hidden Identity series.

 

 

This book was provided for review by
Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.



ABOUT THE BOOK:
No One To TrustShe doesn’t know who she’s running from–and the man she loves may be someone else entirely

Summer Abernathy wakes up one morning to find her husband missing, three men in her home intent on finding him, and the life she’s been living based on a lie. Which Kyle Abernathy did she marry? The computer programmer she met in line at the bank? Or the one who was apparently using that image as a cover?

The search for her husband–and answers–takes Summer ever deeper into a world of organized crime where people are used one moment and discarded the next. And with her deepest relationship of trust already shattered, Summer doesn’t know who to believe.

Always thrilling, bestselling author Lynette Eason outdoes herself in this taut, breakneck story of lies, loyalties, and love that will have you up all night to discover the truth hidden in the shadows.

Read an excerpt from No One To Trust HERE.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lynette EasonLynette Eason is the bestselling author of the Women of Justice series and the Deadly Reunions series. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. She has a master’s degree in education from Converse College and she lives in South Carolina. Find out more about Lynette and her books HERE.

Carolina Gold by Dorothy Love



MY REVIEW:

“Carolina Gold” is exactly the kind of story I have come to expect from Dorothy Love. With her eloquent words Dorothy has painted a captivating yet poignant picture of life following the war between the states. Her well-rounded characters practically step off the page and readers will find themselves sympathizing with their plight.

When Charlotte Fraser returns to her family plantation following the death of her father, she is determined to fulfill her promise to keep the plantation going by continuing to raise their prized Carolina Gold rice. She quickly discovers that nothing remains of the life she once knew. Her once rich and powerful neighbors are struggling to survive and many have left the area. The slaves the rice growers depended on to produce their crop have been freed and they too are struggling to survive in their new environment. Charlotte reluctantly agrees to teach the two daughters of her new neighbor Nicholas Betancourt and grows to care for his family despite a potential threat to her own security.

“Carolina Gold” is a testament to the strength and tenacity of the human spirit as it documents the lives of Charlotte and Nicolas in their efforts to rebuild their homes and lives from the rubble of war and the loss of their former way of life. Each of them discovers an inner strength and their true calling from the Lord as they work together with other friends and neighbors to survive.

I thoroughly enjoyed “Carolina Gold”.  My only complaint is that it ended much too soon.

 

This book was provided for review by LitFuse Publicity.



ABOUT THE BOOK:

Carolina GoldThe war is over, but her struggle is just beginning.

Charlotte Fraser returns to her late father’s once-flourishing rice plantation on the Waccamaw River, determined to continue growing the special kind of rice known as Carolina Gold. But Fairhaven Plantation is in ruins, the bondsmen are free, and money is scarce.

To make ends meet, Charlotte reluctantly accepts a position as tutor to the young daughters of Nicholas Betancourt, heir to the neighboring Willowood Plantation. Then Nick’s quest to prove his ownership of Willowood sends Charlotte on a dangerous journey that reveals an old family mystery—and threatens all that she holds dear.

Inspired by the life of a 19th century woman rice planter, Carolina Gold continues Dorothy Love’s winning tradition of weaving together mystery, romance, and rich historical detail, bringing to life the story of one young woman’s struggle to restore her ruined world.

Purchase a copy HERE.

Learn more at Dorothy’s website.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Dorothy LoveA former journalist, free-lance writer and college professor, Dorothy Love explores the intersection of history and human relationships to create novels that speak to the hearts of women everywhere. She is the author of the acclaimed Hickory Ridge novels set in her native state of Tennessee. After earning a masters degree and Ph.D, she authored dozens of magazine articles before breaking into book publishing with a number of award-winning novels for preteens and young adults. The Hickory Ridge series marked her adult fiction debut. Currently she is working on several stand-alone historical novels set in the South.
When she isn’t busy writing or researching her next book, Love enjoys hiking, traveling, and hanging out with her husband Ron and their rambunctious golden retriever. The Loves make their home in the Texas hill country.

Find out more about Dorothy at her website.