Friday, September 30, 2016

Book review: A Heart Most Certain

A Heart Most Certain, by Melissa Jagears

This book was such a delightful read!  Here's the review I wrote for it:

When the author asked if I'd be willing to be an influencer for her new book, I jumped at the chance...because I'd already loved the novella set in this town, and I really liked Lydia and her fascination for books.  

It was a delightful moment to get this in the mail and realize what sort of enjoyment I was in for!  I'd just gotten it started, though, when a sickness and death in the family brought my intelligent-reader brain to a halt.  There was no way I could create a nice, reasoned now, this is embarrassingly late!  

I savored so many details in this story.  My favorite part was Lydia's passion for good reading, something I obviously share with her.  I was very impressed that Jagears didn't only include known classics of today (which is an author pet peeve of mine, as it is unrealistic) but mentioned others such as Laura Jean Libbey, a popular writer of the day who is mostly forgotten today.  +1 for that detail!

The little working details were all there, too, careful as worldbuilding in a fantasy (which, indeed, does share many characteristics of a recreation of a historical world).  Lydia's good dresses were handmedowns; many of her gowns show careful mending.  This in particular is delightfully refreshing, as many heroines are portrayed with lavish and perfect wardrobes.  For certain scenes, the horses and carriages/conveyances are mentioned, with a few words of why certain styles are suited to rich men/poor men/etc.

Well, then...the hero.  I suppose if you've read the back cover, you're pretty sure who he turns out to be.  The town's most famous miser is a hero in disguise, only--best part--he doesn't think he really is.  A fine man content to hide his qualities under a disguise?  One who prefers to help fallen women than to hurt them or censure them?  Well, it makes for good reading.

I'll stop here, lest I betray too much of the content...but I love it, and if you enjoy history, or just-right romance, or a good bit of page-turning suspense, be sure to give this book a try!

Thanks to the author for my free copy.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Making a group work

About three months ago, I took the plunge and started my own group on Goodreads.  I wanted a place to talk about the older novels I read, and it seemed that there weren't a lot of groups that even talked about public domain novels at all, much less regularly.  I'm in a Christian fiction group that I love dearly, and wanted the same feel when talking about some other loves, the forgotten novels of the late 1800s and early 1900s.  

I'd put it off for awhile, not sure how many other people would be interested.  But I ended up emailing some friends to see if anyone was interested, and with a group of five people who were, I decided to go ahead and start it.

Above is one of the pictures I took for the design.  There are many beautiful pictures available online, but I did not have time to research the copyright status of each one, so I decided to take my own.  It was fun and simple to play around with books!  I couldn't quite get the angle I wanted just with books, but adding the teacup gave it a special little zing, and I added it happily.

So, three months in, I am having lots of fun.  My friends were very helpful giving tips and helping get some good books on the bookshelf.  There are now over 25 members, and so far it hasn't been more than a couple of days between activity.

It does require some time investment, naturally.  I set up several pages and spent a number of hours putting suggestive posts in, to give an idea of what each section was for.  It's so rewarding, though, to see people beginning to invest their personality, instead of just following mine!  

All said, I'm really glad I started the group, and so pleased with the people who have supported it and posted and brought it a step closer to being a thriving literary group like I hoped to find.  Thanks so much, guys!  Every single post, every book added to a shelf, warms my heart!  :)

Thursday, May 19, 2016

May Musings

A dogwood from 

April and May have been very busy months for me.  I did Camp NaNo in April (this time I had a "cabin" with friends...much more fun!) and completed my modest goal of 10,000 words just under the wire.  

Reading has suffered some, but I've compensated this month by trying out some Librivox books more seriously than before.  I give any narrator about five minutes, and if it's enjoyable I listen on; if not, I've decided to give myself full permission to move on to the next one.  It's been a good way to get some stories heard while busy filing, etc.

On the last week of April, after much vacillation about whether or not to do it, I started my own group on Goodreads.  I called it "Vintage Gems" and it's all about the older books I've loved for so long.  Today the eighteenth member asked to join!  I'm so excited to see what comes of it.

Monday, February 1, 2016

What I'm Reading: With This Ring

Excuse me while I gush a bit. I thought this was going to be four novellas from some of my favorite authors. I had no clue that each story is connected to other series/books that I loved! It's officially my second five-star rating of the year.

Karen Witemeyer's comes first. For those of you who loved her latest, "A Worthy Pursuit," this is the tale of "Dead-Eye Dan" Daniel Barrett of one-time dime-novel notoriety and his boss's daughter Marietta. She is thoroughly smitten with him and is certain that she'll lose him forever if he leaves for his new ranch without her winning his heart. If you've read the book, you have a pretty good inkling of what he thinks of her, but there's a reason he can't speak of it. This short story tells their tale and is interspersed with hilarious excerpts from the Dead-Eye Dan dime novel.

Second comes Regina Jennings's. It's connected to the Ozark Mountain series and focuses on Josiah Huckabee, now all grown up and no longer quite so much a daredevil. I've devoured both books in the series and have promptly shared them with my sister, so it was a delight to find these familiar scenes again and meet the spunky Katie Ellen, who is quite sure she has something to prove to the world, and will be outdone neither by the mysterious guest nor by Josiah's eagerness to protect her.

Third is Mary Connealy's. This is connected to two series, Trouble in Texas and Kincaid Brides. Big John Conroy infuriates a villain who had planned on marrying Audra Kincaid's younger sister by stealing the lady in question right out of town, and the two (John and Carrie) flee into the night with Carrie's young brother in tow. While I often have felt that Connealy's strength is not in the novella form, this one was actually quite good, and I enjoyed the tale.

Last, definitely not least, comes Melissa Jagears's. Charlotte, better known as Charlie, has to save her parents' failing ranch after her father dies, her mother loses her grip on reality, and a ruthless neighbor sabotages her ranch in an attempt to get her land. She is ready to make a deal with the devil's family to save her home for her mother...until Harrison Gray rides back into her life just ahead of a tornado. His glasses get broken, and she ends up helping him teach until the new pair comes in...but can they understand each other in time? This story is connected to the upcoming Teaville Moral Society books, and introduces Lydia King—heroine of the first book, according to the synopsis. I definitely will be looking forward to August, when I can find out what happens to Lydia, and if she finds her Mr. Darcy!

Many thanks for my copy, provided by Melissa Jagears and Bethany House in exchange for my influence in promoting it. That is an exchange I am very happy to make!With This Ring on Goodreads

Catching up on things...

So, this year I managed to complete NaNoWriMo for the first time ever!  It was a delightful moment when I uploaded my work and got my badge.  Of course, the story is far from finished, but it is taking shape nicely.  It also is a new genre for me, so I am feeling the delights of stretching my wings a bit.  More on that later.

Christmas was quite busy, with a hurried trip to visit family out of state.  I also had the chance to meet a friend at my favorite used-bookstore, the Flagship location of Half Price Books, and take advantage of the after-Christmas sale.  I found two boxes of books, many of which are vintage novels, and some of those with the original dust jackets.  I have to add about fifteen of them to Goodreads' database on my own, so that gives you a sense of how rare they are.  And, of course, I have already read several of them.  This week's gem from the box was "A Daughter of Fife" by Amelia Huddleston Barr.

Check out each "What I'm Reading" post for favorite reads and reviews that I'm doing.  For more of what I'm reading, check out my Goodreads account at:

Last week I attended the state Evangelism conference and heard some fabulous preaching.  I intend to share some notes on what I've heard in the next few weeks.  It does my heart good to see pastors going down to the altar and praying!!