Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Ashton Park by Murray Pura

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Ashton Park

(Harvest House Publishers - January 1, 2013)


Murray Pura


Murray Pura was born and raised in Manitoba, just north of Minnesota and the Dakotas. He has published several novels and short story collections in Canada, and has been short-listed for a number of awards. His first books to be published in the United States are the inspirational works Rooted and Streams (both by Zondervan in 2010). His first novel to debut in the USA is A Bride’s Flight from Virginia City, Montana (Barbour), which was released January 2012. The second, The Wings of Morning, will be published by Harvest House on February 1. Both of these novels center around the Amish of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.


For fans of the hugely popular Downton Abbey series, comes this equally enthralling story of the Danforth family of Ashton Park.
Among the green hills and trees of Lancashire, only a few miles from the sea, lies the beautiful and ancient estate of Ashton Park.
The year is 1916. The First World War has engulfed Europe and Sir William's and Lady Elizabeth's three sons are all in uniform--and their four daughters are involved in various pursuits of the heart and soul.

As the head of a strong Church of England family for generations, Sir William insists the Danforth estate hold morning devotions that include both family and staff. However, he is also an MP and away at Westminster in London whenever Parliament is sitting. During his long absences, Lady Elizabeth discreetly spends time in the company of the head cook of the manor, Mrs. Longstaff, who is her best friend and confidante. This friendship includes visits to a small Baptist church in Liverpool that exposes Lady Elizabeth to a less formal approach to Christian worship and preaching than she is used to and which she comes to enjoy.


This is the first of Murray Pura's books that I've read and I have to say I was quite impressed.

Angst and turmoil surround the Danforth's and not just in matters of love and loyalty. Timing this novel through a time of global crisis added another dimension to this engaging story. Add in the relationships of the Danforth children, with a number of them finding love outside the spectrum of the noble class, as well as a gentlemen's duel, and the drama of being a wanted man make for a dramatic and satisfying read.

I've not seen Downton Abbey, so I can't vouch for any similarities there, but I will say if you enjoy a book primarily set in the British Isles during a time of war, with drama and romance and unexpected twists, then this is a book you'll want to pick up. I was hooked from the very beginning and didn't want it to end. I'll be looking for book two, Beneath the Dover Sky, coming in August 2013.

My thanks to CFBA and Harvest House for generously providing a copy for review.

If you would like to read th first chapter of Ashton Park, go HERE.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Grace Given by Beth Shriver

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Grace Given

(Realms - January 8, 2013)


Beth Shriver


Childhood memories of her grandfather's ranch came alive as Beth wrote her first Amish story. Her parents grew up in the country, so she appreciates pastoral life and respects those who make a living off the land. She visits a nearby Amish community just south of Fort-Worth for an occasional church service or brunch with the bishop and his wife. And on the way home she stops at the community store to get some plum jam!

Beth received a degree in social work and psychology from the University of Nebraska. She worked as a caseworker for Boulder County Department of Social Services before starting a family. Beth and her husband, two children, along with two cats and a beagle live in Texas after moving from their first home in Colorado. She freelances for the local papers in her area and writes columns, devotionals for magazines, and novels in a variety of genres in both fiction and nonfiction. Beth is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Literary Agency.


“Never doubt in the darkness what God has shown you in the light.” —Amish Proverb

Elsie Kline can’t forgive her sister for leaving the community. Gideon Lapp helps Elsie through her bitterness by studying the Martyr’s Mirror book that is centuries old, describing their ancestors’ sacrifice for their faith. But he feels there is something more. When the community moved to Texas, they were not welcomed by some of the locals. They have told Katie and Elsie that harm will come to their community if don’t go back up north where they came from. Gideon stays by Elsie’s side as she learns to give grace and to humble herself to accept grace as well.

“Beth has a heart for helping others, whether through her nonfiction and fiction writing or in other capacities. It has been my pleasure to read and respond to her work during the past few years of knowing her.” —Leanna Ellis, Author of Facelift and Forsaken and winner of the National Readers Choice Award.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Grace Given, go HERE.

Mystery of the Heart by Jillian Kent

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Mystery of the Heart

(Realms - January 8, 2013)


Jillian Kent


Jillian Kent is a busy writer and the alter ego of Jill Nutter, a full-time counselor.

Jill spent the first semester of her senior year of college at Oxford studying British Literature, where she fell in love with England. During this season, she came to appreciate the written word, the rich imagery of romantic poetry like The Highwayman, and historical novels of many types, including Jane Austen and all things Regency.

Jill received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Bethany College in West Virginia, and her Masters Degree in Social Work from WVU, and she brings her fascination with different cultures and societies into her writing.

Jill has always been a romantic at heart, so readers will find a good dose of romance woven through each of her novels. Jill, her husband Randy, and children Katie and Meghan are animal lovers. They currently own two dogs, Boo-Boo and Bandit and a menagerie of cats, Lucky, Yuma, Snow, and Holden. Critters of all assortments make their appearance in her stories.


Lord Eden is intrigued when he discovers Lady Mercy Grayson’s secret, but how can he hope to gain her heart when he is forced to betray her?

Lady Mercy Grayson longs be a physician like her big brother, Devlin, Lord Ravensmoore. However, society would never tolerate a female physician, let alone one who is a noblewoman. So Mercy takes matters into her own hands, disguising herself as a man to get through medical school. But then a male colleague discovers her secret, which is only the beginning of Mercy’s problems that could destroy her dreams forever.

The Prince Regent is awaiting the return of Vincent St. Lyons, Lord Eden, whom he sent on a secret voyage to locate and bring back a relic that some believe possesses the power to heal. St. Lyons discovers Mercy washed up on England’s shore upon his return and agrees to give her safe passage to London aboard a ship of men practicing African Vodun. Both must face treacherous circumstances, difficult decisions, and a growing attraction to one another that could forever change the course of their lives.

As the final installment in the series, the theme of this book is God’s plans for our lives. “Whatever the hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might” (Eccles. 9:10).

If you would like to read the first chapter of Mystery of the Heart, go HERE.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Path of Freedom by Jennifer Hudson Taylor

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Path of Freedom

(Abingdon Press - January 2013)


Jennifer Hudson Taylor


Jennifer Hudson Taylor is an award winning author of historical Christian fiction set in Europe and the Carolinas and a speaker on topics of faith, writing and publishing. Her debut novel, Highland Blessings, won the 2011 Holt Medallion award for Best First Book. Jennifer's work has appeared in national publications, such as Guideposts, Heritage Quest Magazine, Romantic Times Book Reviews, and The Military Trader. She serves as the in-house Publicist at Hartline Literary Agency and co-owns Upon the Rock Publicist. Jennifer graduated from Elon University with a B.A. in Communications. When she isn't writing, she enjoys spending time with family, long walks, traveling, touring historical sites, hanging out at bookstores with coffee shops, genealogy, and reading.


2nd in the Quilts of Love series

When Quakers Flora Saferight and Bruce Millikan embark on the Underground Railroad, they agree to put their differences aside to save the lives of a pregnant slave couple. With only her mother’s quilt as a secret guide, the foursome follows the stitches through unknown treachery.

As they embark on their perilous journey, they hope and pray that their path is one of promise where love sustains them, courage builds faith, and forgiveness leads to freedom.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Path of Freedom, go HERE.

Watch the book trailer:

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Doctor to the Rescue by Cheryl Wyatt

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Doctor To The Rescue

(Love Inspired - December 18, 2012)


Cheryl Wyatt


Born Valentine’s Day on a Navy base, Cheryl Wyatt writes military romance. Her Steeple Hill debuts earned RT Top Picks plus #1 and #4 on eHarlequin's Top 10 Most-Blogged-About-Books, lists including NYT Bestsellers. Cheryl loves interacting with her readers and can be found almost daily on Facebook.

Word from the Author:
I do regular giveaways including a Kindle for every 250 people who join (aka "Like") my Facebook author page: and I'd LOVE for word to spread about that. We have a lot of fun there as I ask for frequent reader input on current books, with helpers being mentioned in the acknowledgments and fun stuff like that.


Combat doctor Ian Shupe returns home from overseas with his most important mission: to raise his little girl. But Ian's a single dad, and working at Eagle Point's trauma center means having to find child care. When bighearted, struggling lodge owner Bri Landis offers babysitting in exchange for construction work, Ian accepts. He vows to keep his emotional distance from Bri, yet can't deny that his daughter is blossoming under her tender care. But is he ready to believe that his heart's deepest prayer may finally be answered?


This is the first Cheryl Wyatt book for me and I can say I truly enjoyed it. I really enjoyed getting to know the characters in this book. Bri - trying to recover from an emotionally abusive relationship, Ian - a combat doc with a very busy work schedule trying to fit into another role of single dad, and Tia - Ian's young daughter just trying to find security and assurance with Ian after basically being abandoned by her mother. A lot of secondary characters niggled their way into my heart as well.

Cheryl does a really good job with the character's expressing their emotions. It was heart-wrenching to see that effect that Tia's mother has on her, and the clinginess and defiance attests well to the emotions she was going through. Bri and Ian's hesitance to really let themselves fall in love when you factor in Bri's prior abusive relationship and the traumatic divorce that Ian experiences.

I enjoyed this visit to Eagle Point immensely and plan to go back and read the first story in the series, The Doctor's Devotion, and I look forward to seeing what else Cheryl comes up with in this series.

My thanks to the author for generously providing a copy for review.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Doctor To The Rescue, go HERE.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Flight of the Earls by Michael K Reynolds

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Flight of the Earls

(B&H Books - January 1, 2013)


Michael Reynolds


Michael K. Reynolds is the writer and producer of Emmy and Telly Award-winning film campaigns and has more than two decades of experience in fiction, journalism, copywriting, and documentary production. He owns Global Studio, a marketing agency, and is also an active leader in church and business, speaking in both ministry and corporate settings. Michael lives with his wife and three children in Reno, Nevada.


It’s 1846 in Ireland. When her family’s small farm is struck by famine, Clare Hanley and her younger brother, Seamus, set out across the ocean to the Promised Land of America.

Five years prior, Clare’s older sister Margaret and her Uncle Tomas emigrated in similar fashion and were not to be heard from again. But Clare must face her fears as she lands in the coming-of-age city of New York. There she discovers love, adventure, tragedy, and a terrible secret which threatens to destroy her family and all she believes.

Flight of the Earls is the first book in a historical novel trilogy based on Irish immigration in the 1840s.


I've not quite finished this book, but I can tell you the story is truly captivating. Review will follow once I finish the book.

My thanks to CFBA and B&H Fiction for providing a copy for review.

If you'd like to read the first chapter of Flight of the Earls, go HERE.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Baker's Dozen (of sorts) ... My Top Picks for 2012

It's hard to believe that 2012 has come and gone, but I have great expectations for 2013. I set a goal for myself at the beginning of 2012 to read 10 books a month and I'm happy to say I met that goal...barely!

I have compiled my "Baker's Dozen" of favorite books for the year and if you feel so inclined, I'd love to know some of your favorites. I have listed the books in no particular order. A couple of authors were fortunate to get two books on my list, but I only included them under a single number in the count.

1. Cottage by the Sea by Robin Jones Gunn

A heart-wrenching tale that gripped my emotions, especially as I see my parents aging.

2. The Key on the Quilt by Stephanie Grace Whitson

I enjoyed how this story mingles the lives of women with starkly different circumstances who in many ways aren't that different at all.

3. Relentless Pursuit by Kathy Herman

The whole Secrets of Roux River Bayou series was excellent and is one of the best series I've read for quite some time. I fell in love with these characters and hated to see the series end.

4. His Steadfast Love by Golden Keyes Parsons

I love to read books from the Civil War era and found this book compelling from the very first page.

5. Inescapable by Nancy Mehl

Who can resist a story with "Prince Charming" in it? A serious story with a nice touch of humor in just the right places.

6. The Yellow Packard by Ace Collins

Boy, oh boy, does this car have a story to tell! Put your key in the ignition and let this book take you for a ride. I loved it from start to finish.

7. Accidentally Amish by Olivia Newport

A bit of an out-of-the-box Amish story with story lines set in both historical and contemporary times. I especially enjoyed the historical aspect as my ancestors embarked for America from Rotterdam in the 1700s, just as the Beiler's did.

8. Ashton Park by Murray Pura

I loved the saga of the Danforths of Lancashire as they faced love and war. I'm anxiously awaiting the next installment in this series.

9. A Merry Little Christmas by Anita Higman

I LOVE Christmas books, and I read several over the season. I loved the chemistry between Charlie and Franny, especially at their first meeting.

10. Her Restless Heart and The Heart's Journey by Barbara Cameron

I love the cousins in this series. Each one has her own personality and I enjoy the camaraderie between them. Book 3, Heart in Hand, can't get here fast enough!

11. Gone to Ground and Double Blind by Brandilyn Collins

Both were so compelling that I finished each of them in one day. That's almost unheard of for me.

12. By the Light of the Silvery Moon by Tricia Goyer/Queen of the Waves by Janice Thompson

I couldn't let the 100th anniversary of the Titanic sinking go by without reading a few books on the subject. I found both books to be both delightful and heart-wrenching at the same time.

And last but not least, 13 is Teardrop by Travis Thrasher. This short story is part of the 7 Hours series published by Tyndale House. Teardrop was a "keep you on the edge of your seat and confound you with an unexpected ending" kind of story. Loved it!

Have a blessed 2013 everyone...