Category: Mid-West America

Blog Book Tour | “The First Lady and the Rebel” by Susan Higginbotham (aka. #JorieReads more about the Civil War)

Posted Tuesday, 15 October, 2019 by jorielov , , , , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By:

I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours whereupon I am thankful to have been able to host such a diverse breadth of stories, authors and wonderful guest features since I became a hostess! HFVBTs is one of the very first touring companies I started working with as a 1st Year Book Blogger – uniting my love and passion with Historical Fiction and the lovely sub-genres inside which I love devouring.

It has been a wicked fantastical journey into the heart of the historic past, wherein I’ve been blessed truly by discovering new timescapes, new living realities of the persons who once lived (ie. Biographical Historical Fiction) inasmuch as itched my healthy appetite for Cosy Historical Mysteries! If there is a #HistRom out there it is generally a beloved favourite and I love soaking into a wicked wonderful work of Historical Fiction where you feel the beauty of the historic world, the depth of the characters and the joyfulness in which the historical novelists brought everything to light in such a lovingly diverse palette of portraiture of the eras we become time travellers through their stories.

I received a complimentary of “The First Lady and the Rebel” direct from the publisher Sourcebooks exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I wanted to read “The First Lady & the Rebel”:

I will say – when it comes to studying the Civil War, I am not the reader most would suspect would be interested. This stems from a bad experience of studying this era in high school – where the focus was askewed towards the Confederacy and excluded most of the context of the North’s position whilst it completely took out of proportion a lot of the crucial aspects of the war itself as  it related to Lincoln and his desire to end slavery.

There was a lot of frustrating moments for me realising that I had a full year of the Civil War ahead of me but without a lot of enjoyment to look forward to because it was all a regeneration of dates & facts; no biographical information on the persons involved, no stories in context or subtext and if it was outside the scope of the textbook, it simply did not exist. In other words, like a lot of structured education – my study of the Civil War was flawed. I was so discouraged by those semesters, I tabled any further research into Civil War History.

Although, being a reader of Historical Fiction – I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled for stories which might tuck me back into the folds of this war in a way where my studies failed to take me originally. When I read the premise of “The First Lady & the Rebel” – I thought, perhaps for once, I’ve found the story I wished I could have read in high school. Where there is a balance of focus between the North & South with both perspectives presented in equal measure & worth to each other and where the reader gains a keen insight into what fuelled the war itself and how important it is to remember what caused the division of the States due to how far reaching the end result has become to modern history.

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Blog Book Tour | “The First Lady and the Rebel” by Susan Higginbotham (aka. #JorieReads more about the Civil War)The First Lady and the Rebel
Subtitle: One North. One South. Two Todd Sisters Fighting to Shape Lincon's War.
by Susan Higginbotham
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

From the celebrated author Susan Higginbotham comes the incredible story of Lincoln’s First Lady

A Union’s First Lady

As the Civil War cracks the country in two, Mary Lincoln stands beside her husband praying for a swift Northern victory. But as the body count rises, Mary can’t help but fear each bloody gain. Because her beloved sister Emily is across party lines, fighting for the South, and Mary is at risk of losing both her country and her family in the tides of a brutal war.

A Confederate Rebel’s Wife

Emily Todd Helm has married the love of her life. But when her husband’s southern ties pull them into a war neither want to join, she must make a choice. Abandon the family she has built in the South or fight against the sister she has always loved best.

With a country’s legacy at stake, how will two sisters shape history?

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781492647089

Genres: Biographical Fiction, Feminist Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction, Historical Women's Fiction, Presidential Life & History, Southern Lit, War Drama


Published by Sourcebooks Landmark

on 1st October, 2019

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 386

Published by: Sourcebooks Landmark (@sbkslandmark)
an imprint of Sourcebooks (@Sourcebooks)

Converse via: #HistoricalFiction, #HistFic or #HistNov
and #MaryToddLincoln, #Lincoln, #CivilWarHistory or  #HFVBTBlogTours

Available Formats: Trade paperback and Ebook

Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Tuesday, 15 October, 2019 by jorielov in 19th Century, Abraham Lincoln, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Civil War era, Civil War History | era, Content Note, Fly in the Ointment, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Historical Romance, History, Literary Fiction, Mary Todd Lincoln, Mid-West America, Military Fiction, Presidential Life & History, Women's Fiction

Blog Book Tour | “Legacy of Mercy” (Book Two: Waves of Mercy) by Lynn Austin An #INSPY Historical Fiction, I had the pleasure of becoming introduced by the prequel “Waves of Mercy” ahead of reading the sequel on the blog tour!

Posted Wednesday, 24 October, 2018 by jorielov , , , , , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By: I started hosting with Prism Book Tours at the end of [2017], having noticed the badge on Tressa’s blog (Wishful Endings) whilst I was visiting as we would partake in the same blog tours and/or book blogosphere memes. I had to put the memes on hold for several months (until I started to resume them (with Top Ten Tuesday) in January 2018). When I enquiried about hosting for Prism, I found I liked the niche of authors and stories they were featuring regularly. I am unsure how many books I’ll review for them as most are offered digitally rather than in print but this happily marks one of the blog tours where I could receive a print book for review purposes. Oft-times you’ll find Prism Book Tours alighting on my blog through the series of guest features and spotlights with notes I’ll be hosting on behalf of their authors.

I received a complimentary copy of “Legacy of Mercy” direct from the publisher Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. The Digital Audiobook copy of the novel “Waves of Mercy” was inclusive of the audiobooks I am able to listen to due to my Scribd subscription. My ruminations on behalf of the audiobook (and the borrowed print edition from my local library) which serves as a prequel are being shared for my own edification and to help introduce my readers to the series overall whilst sharing my own journey in its discovery. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why I love reading INSPY Historical Fiction, especially Sagas:

I am a hybrid reader of both mainstream and INSPY Fiction – the kind of stories I love to read are reflective of my ardent passion for the collective works of Julie Lessman (which will start to be reflection on #JLASblog this coming Winter) wherein I discovered one of my favourite INSPY Historical saga writers! Her family within the original trilogy ‘Daughters of Boston’ became such a firm fixture of my heart and soul, I can’t wait to re-enter their lives starting inside the prequel this December wherein I finally get to read Marcy and Patrick’s courtship story! (A Light in the Window)

From there – I could aptly remember stories of my childhood which befit this category – even some one-offs such as Frontier Lady (which became a trilogy lateron) by Judith Pella were quite beloved (a series I dearly need to find second-hand if only to resume from whence I once left off) – whilst as a book blogger I’ve carved out a list of authors I am pursuing to read to curate a greater list of #mustread authors of both Historical and Contemporary INSPY Fiction.

This is why being a part of this blog tour was such a blessing – as I was hoping Ms Austin would become a new author I could continue to read and enjoy following – from a backlist and frontlist perspective of interest! As soon as I began reading Waves of Mercy, I recognised my instincts for finding a saga writer I could love was well founded!

The key reason I love reading sagas (especially of the historical past!) is the continuation of spending time with the characters! Of knitting out a well-rounded history of their families and of being able to stay with them as they grow, mature and move through the milestones of their lives! Oft-times sagas also embrace the next generations of their lives – through their children and grand-children – where each new story is an extension of the originals but moving deeper into their descendants and sometimes shifting backwards into their ancestors lives; depending on which way the writer wishes to take their focus.

I have an affinity of passion for serial fiction – this is why sagas are a wicked good fit for me! I have trouble parting with characters I feel especially close as a kindred spirit and being able to re-visit with them in latter installments if the best kind of joy I know as a reader! By extension, I also love this when it happens in motion pictures – such as the mini-series or tv serials on television or in motion pictures – a few which come to mind are the Love Comes Softly series, Avonlea, Anne with an E, Murdoch Mysteries (up til a certain season), Downton Abbey (up til a certain season), Legacy (prior to the final year), Dr Quinn Medicine Woman (prior to the final few seasons) and most adaptations based on Classical Literature. The one I never had the chance to see (as of yet) is Wind at my Back which is a Canadian series.

These are only a few of the ones I’ve appreciated over the years and I continuously find myself smitten by sagas in fiction – there is such a breadth of joy in seeing how the worlds are built and how the characters themselves become the touchstones of reading about our human condition whilst we sort out our lives as we live each day fully present and captured in the moments which become the memories we cherish in the future.

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Blog Book Tour | “Legacy of Mercy” (Book Two: Waves of Mercy) by Lynn Austin An #INSPY Historical Fiction, I had the pleasure of becoming introduced by the prequel “Waves of Mercy” ahead of reading the sequel on the blog tour!Waves of Mercy
Source: Scribd | Audiobook Subscription, Borrowed from local library
Narrator: Rachel Dulude

Haunted by the Unknowns of Their Pasts,
Two Women Search for Answers Along the Shores of Lake Michigan

Chicago socialite Anna Nicholson retreats to the Hotel Ottawa in Holland, Michigan, after breaking her engagement with her wealthy fiancé. Filled with questions about her newfound faith and troubled by a recurring nightmare, Anna finds solace in Derk Vander Veen, a seasonal hotel worker who plans to go into the ministry.

Prompted by a request from her son, Geesje de Jonge begins to sift through memories of emigrating from the Netherlands almost fifty years ago. As she writes them down for the Semi-Centennial anniversary of the town's settlement, her story takes on a life of its own as she honestly and painfully recalls her regrets, doubts, hardships, and joys. Her story captivates Derk, who sees similarities between Geesje and Anna, and wishes to bring the two together.

Past and present collide as Anna and Geesje seek clarity, but neither expects the revelations that await them.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-0764217616

ASIN: B01LYI8NFZ

Genres: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction


Published by Recorded Books

on 4th October, 2016

Format: Trade Paperback, Audiobook | Digital

Pages: 384

Length: 14 hours, 15 minutes (unabridged)

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Anna is terrified by her nightmares about being aboard a ship during rough weather crossing Lake Michigan from Chicago to the Michigan shore – to such an extent, that when she’s starting to experience this nightmare coming real to life it overtakes her sensibility to separate fantasy from reality. Her thoughts in turmoil over how her boyfriend and her separated – over a disagreement about a church and the beliefs therein are what brought her heart to be torn and spilt between letting go of the past and embracing the future. She was still tucked inside those moments they exchanged and the last fragments of her life she had lived in Chicago – all the while the storms continued to plague her anxieties and the manner in which she was about to arrive via the steamship which was a trial of nerves in of itself.

Despite her mother’s kind assurances and her faithfulness in prayer and the virtues of affirmative thoughts to carry you through the roughest of situations – not even her memories of sermons and easier times could dissuade herself from rolling through afflicted memories which caused her more discomfort. It wasn’t until her ship allowed her disembark did she first find her feet and heart able to ease out of their quaking displeasure to give way towards a calmer beginning on solid ground once more.

This first chapter of the novel I listened to via audiobook – wherein I found the narrator had a pleasant way of bringing Anna to life even though a few of her phrases and wordings felt a bit harder in tone than what was necessary, she aptly described how the churnings of a worried mind could inflict undue duress during a lake crossing aboard a ship which was cast against a difficult storm. I felt she brought Anna’s emotional state to life quite well and allowed us to peer into this young woman’s thoughts in such a way as to make us feel as if we were aboard this ship ourselves, standing near to Anna and observing her discomfort first-hand.

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We first become introduced to Geesje as she observes the changes in her town – from communication and lightning changes to simply the way people were approaching their lives. Although she’s still in her sixties, people have the tendency to treat her as modern people would treat the elderly – as if she is fragile and not with a lot of her youth still left to give a spring to her step – yet as you observe her directly, she’s a young sixty-something who loves life, even if the changes round her leave her a bit unsettled as she remembers a simpler time before the complications of industry and progress catapulted everyone forward. How well we can all stipulate the same even over the past thirty to forty years where technology has almost superseded our own lives.

The irony here is how where progress can inflict a nuance in some ways it allows for shortages in others – how ironic Geesje would find it that infrastructure (ie. roads, etc) are still an oversight of progress (left to be the last of priority) and how we’re a disposal society inasmuch as the one she observed in the late 1800s just ahead of the dawning of the 20th Century! She was commenting how in the Netherlands they reused their buildings, cherished their architectural designs and yet, in Holland, Michigan (where this story is set) they would prefer to demolish and rebuild forsaking the old for the new; the irony dear hearts is that our society today in the 21st Century has the same pattern of destruction and reconstruction!

I love how Geesje is a knitter! If only I could one day master the art and complexities of socks, I think I shall be a happier knitter! For now, I appreciate what I can stitch into prayer shawls and friendship shawls – though to be honest, I yearn to aspire to master Fair Isle knitting patterns as much as wearables inasmuch as expound into fibre artist and textile arts of all varieties, techniques and styles. Once your hands enjoy the tactical blissitude of yarn, you find yourself drawn further inside Old World Arts & Crafts – though, of course, what I was most curious over is the pattern she was knitting as the style wasn’t mentioned.

You feel for her, truly! She’s being asked to write about her exodus from the Netherlands and what inspired the journey to Michigan – her family emigrated to the States when she was seventeen, which brought back memories of my own relatives who made the journey from their European countries to the States (as I am only a few generations down from when my relatives crossed the Atlantic inasmuch as I enjoy being an Ancestry Sleuth alongside my Mum) – as she started to talk about her honest emotions and the conflicting ways she struggled against her faith and finally found reconciliation – you could tell the journey to a new country was not without its depths of strife and adversity. It had to be incredibly despairing for her and even my own relatives – as I am sure not every person in every family who made the trip overseas wished to leave their home countries – some perhaps, but all? Surely, not! It was a daunting prospect – leaving everything behind to risk a stake of claim to set down new roots elsewhere? You can just imagine how that would lead to a conflict in faith and prayer – of where you might even feel distanced from your spirituality rather than closer in the walk you always felt endured through your life’s path. Especially of course if the hardest part of reconcile were the circumstances you faced after you arrived – if tragedy struck or affliction of illness took away lives – how do you rally against the darkness to resume your walk in the Light?

This is the conflict Geesje is having now – of weighing how to best explain the past without revealling herself in such a way where she could lose favour with her neighbours, family and friends alike – as if being completely transparent about the journey and the settlement in a new country could somehow become a negative influence or muddled in such a way with emotional anguish as to paint her life’s story in a different light than it was previously viewed. This gave a deeper scope of insight into how everyone is at times hesitative to share portions of their story – of sharing the living truth of their own lives if it runs against what society or community perceive of a person’s life. Where strife and adversity afflict the memories, there are moments where it feels as if absence of disclosure is a better course than honesty; however, it isn’t the best way of leaving behind a historical artifact of the hours lived but a gentler course if you don’t want to erase someone elses perception of the past. It was interesting watching her work through her emotions and sort out her thoughts on the subject – seeing how she chose what was best for her and what might benefit the community of Holland.

Before we can resume Anna’s story, we must first experience Geesje’s through a series of flashbacks and recollective memories. As we move backwards into her childhood in the Netherlands we learn about how her family were Separatists from the main church striving to hold-fast to a living God and not to be confined by the rituals of change ordained by man taking them further away from the scriptures they lived by. For her family, their faith was their rock and foundation of how they approached living – they were tethered to their beliefs as it was as important as air, shelter and food. They believed so dearly strong in their faith their attempts to outwit their opposition and repressive tactics of those who felt they had no right to rebel against the status quo set them apart from most of their family members who despite holding their same thoughts on the subject were not as strong as they were to leave and seek a better place to live.

As your reading about Geesje’s family’s history it reflects back on the stories I’ve read during the World War eras – of how irregardless of which country of origin or which era in history you move back inside – there have been many instances of persecution and violence. The manner in which Austin approaches this realistic truth of Geesje’s past points towards her compassionate heart for writing convicting narrative rooted out of History itself and re-fuelled inside fiction to offer keen insight into lives which were once lived but perhaps are not as readily known as other stories oft-times gain the spotlight more often.

Anna has gone to Michigan to find recovery after her spilt with her ex and to heal a heart which is still in the process of understanding why relationships can splinter a person’s resolve. Her very first day at the hotel she runs into Geesje’s nephew (an adopted one by association and neighbourly love) Derk which didn’t surprise me as this is a close-knit community. I had a feeling this is the kind of place where most know each other quite well if not by reputation and regards to visitors or tourists, I would imagine they would readily separate a stranger from familiar community members rather quickly. Likewise, I was not surprised either when Derk started to mention how many ships have been lost on the Lake – as the Great Lakes are notorious for keeping their dead, especially shipbound souls as the Lakes hold many watery graves. Anna’s fears of drowning were not misguided whims – especially if you consider the song The Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald.

What perked my interest is learning Anna was adopted – as I love sourcing stories of adoption and foster care story-lines. It was revealled through her conversation with Derk who presumed she was from Holland or had family settled there due to how she appeared to be of Dutch ancestry. I could understand where he was coming from as people from similar origins have the tendency of taking on the same features of each other – from hair colour to eyes, as well as the features which make them stand out from others such as height or bone structure or even how they speak or use certain phrases in their speech. There are little hintings towards our origins without even realising we’re giving away clues to our present or past.

Due to my migraines and my eye injury this October, I wasn’t able to read this story in full – however, the first four chapters were so illuminating towards the arc and journey Anna and Geesje were taking I felt as if I could predict how their lives would start to intersect and unite! It was such a warm-hearted insight into both their lives – especially as it was revealled in this opening bridge of the novel what stirred so strongly inside Anna’s heart – why she felt lost inside her relationship with her fiance and why she ached to learn about her birth parents and the origins of her birth if not strictly the country of her origins. I knew after the fourth chapter I had enough insight to head into Legacy of Mercy as this was tracking into a beautifully lovely saga following in Anna’s footsteps and building on the foundation set forth within Waves of Mercy. At my leisure this Autumn or Winter, I would love to re-explore Waves of Mercy and seeing for myself how Geesje and Anna’s paths finally united, though I suspected I might learn a bit about this as I moved into reading Legacy of Mercy!

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Blog Book Tour | “Legacy of Mercy” (Book Two: Waves of Mercy) by Lynn Austin An #INSPY Historical Fiction, I had the pleasure of becoming introduced by the prequel “Waves of Mercy” ahead of reading the sequel on the blog tour!Legacy of Mercy
by Lynn Austin
Source: Publisher via Prism Book Tours
Narrator: Rachel Botchan, Stina Nielsen, Suzanne Toren, Amanda Leigh Cobb, Laura Knight Keating, Andrea Gallo

She Knew Her New Life Would Not Be Easy,
But Nothing Could Prepare Her For What Waits Ahead

Having returned to Chicago, young socialite Anna Nicholson can't seem to focus on her upcoming marriage. The new information she's learned about her birth mother continues to pull at her, and she hires Pinkerton detectives to help her discover the whole truth.

But as she meets people who once knew her mother and hears stories about the past, Anna soon discovers that some secrets are better left hidden. With pressure mounting to keep the past quiet, she discovers daily that her choice to seek God's purpose for her life isn't as simple as she had hoped.

When things are at their darkest, Anna knows she can turn to her grandmother, Geesje de Jonge, back in Holland, Michigan. Geesje's been helping new Dutch immigrants--including a teen with a troubled history--adjust to America. She only hopes that her wisdom can help all these young people through the turmoil they face.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-0764217630

Genres: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction


Published by Bethany House Publishers, Recorded Books

on 2nd October, 2018

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 400

Length: 12 hours and 17 minutes (unabridged)

Published by: Bethany House Publishers (@bethany_house)

an imprint of Baker Publishing Group

Formats Available: Trade Paperback, Audiobook and Ebook

Stories within the series Waves of Mercy:

Waves of Mercy by Lynn AustinLegacy of Mercy by Lynn Austin

Book One: Waves of Mercy (prequel) | Pub’d 4th October, 2016

Book Two: Legacy of Mercy

Converse via: #INSPYbooks, #INSPYHistFic, #INSPY or #HistRom

About Lynn Austin

Lynn Austin

Lynn Austin has sold more than one and a half million copies of her books worldwide. A former teacher who now writes and speaks full-time, she has won eight Christy Awards for her historical fiction. One of those novels, Hidden Places, has also been made into an Original Hallmark Channel movie. Lynn and her husband have raised three children and make their home in western Michigan.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Wednesday, 24 October, 2018 by jorielov in 19th Century, Adoption, Audiobook, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Christianity, Clever Turns of Phrase, Coming-Of Age, Epistolary Novel | Non-Fiction, Family Drama, Fathers and Daughters, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Historical Fiction, Immigrant Stories, Inheritance & Identity, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, INSPY Realistic Fiction | Non-Fiction, Intergenerational Saga, Knitting, Library Find, Life Shift, Local Libraries | Research Libraries, Marriage of Convenience, Mental Health, Mid-West America, Mother-Daughter Relationships, Motherhood | Parenthood, Non-traditional characters, Pinkerton Detective | Pinkerton Agency, Prism Book Tours, PTSD, Realistic Fiction, Romance Fiction, Second Chance Love, Self-Harm Practices, Small Towne Fiction, Story in Diary-Style Format, the Gilded Age, Widows & Widowers, Women's Fiction, Writing Style & Voice

Book Review | “Pieces of Granite” (Prequel, Coming Home series) by Brenda S. Anderson Jorie happily returns to a series that touched her heart!

Posted Friday, 22 July, 2016 by jorielov , , , 2 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I answered a call to become a member of Ms. Anderson’s Author Street Team which was posted on her blog in March 2014. She accepted me as part of her Street Team, whereby I am one of her early readers who has the opportunity to read her novels a bit ahead of their published release or just after their release date, whilst finding ways to talk about why I love reading her novels on my blog and Twitter feeds. I truly love championing her collective works as she’s writing wicked good INSPY fiction for today’s modern reader. I re-affirmed my commitment to her Street Team in July 2016, as I never truly left but my participation was on hold until this Summer. Most of my participation between 2014 and 2016 occurred on Twitter; you can still find my tweets threading through the twitterverse about the Coming Home series!

I received a complimentary copy of “Pieces of Granite” direct from the author herself, Brenda S. Anderson in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein

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Why I personally love reading the Coming Home series:

When Ms. Anderson says she writes ‘gritty fiction’ she is referring to the fact she likes to dig deeper than the superficial layering of telling a story. She likes to go directly into a character’s soul and walk of faith, rooting out their emotional and psychological stability or instability if the case might be, in order to best show the growth and spiritual awakening they need to embark towards. For some it is a spiritual renewal and for others, it’s an awakening because they never gave themselves the proper credit towards understanding God in the first place. She breathes honesty and raw emotions into the context of her stories, and her vision for her characters is realistic humility in recognition of everyman’s faults, fragilities, and sensitivities. She organically digs deeper to tell a more compelling and openly captivating story which pulls you in from page one and does not leave your heart even after the last page is turnt; the story fully absorbed and known. She is most definitely an emerging voice in Inspirational Fiction to keep an eye out for new releases and a finger-tap on interlocking book series!

She maintains the spirituality of Christianity in a gentle way of allowing you to oversee the character going through the motions of returning to a God-centered life which is cross-referenced by light commentary of scriptures and affirmations of God’s grace. It is through the lessons of her character’s actions that the greatest arc of spirituality is found.

-quoted from my review of Chain of Mercy

I realise Ms Anderson softens her approach to writing the tone within the Where the Heart Is series which follows publication after the Coming Home series – however, what personally tethered me to her writerly core of heart initially was how honest she was to write an emotionally raw and convicting story-line about wicked real characters who were struggling to find a bridge through adversities and life-changing moments erupting through their ordinary hours. They were in the midst of changing who they were internally as much as spiritually – re-awakening themselves to mercy and forgiveness.

Her cardinal approach to cut a slice of life affirmative fiction into our readerly hours is a lift of joy to me as a reader, as these are the kinds of stories I love to find within the realms of today’s Contemporary INSPY! I also love how she follows her heart, penning stories that are a firm step outside the box of where Inspirational Fiction has the tendency to become a bit too predictably stagnant and re-writes how all INSPY writers can find fuller freedom in painting a portraiture of our everyday world.

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The Coming Home series by Brenda S. Anderson

 Converse via: #ComingHomeSeries + #ChainOfMercy + #PiecesOfGranite

PREQUEL: Pieces of Granite | December 2014

BOOK 1: Chain of Mercy | April 2014 | (see Review)

BOOK 2: Memory Box Secrets | April 2015 | (Synopsis)

BOOK 3: Hungry for Home | September 2015 | (Synopsis)

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comWhen you first set out to write the Coming Home series did you envision each individual book in the series or has the series knitted together organically one story at a time?

Anderson responds: When I first started writing, I had no clue that I would end up with a four book series. Each book grew organically from the previous. I first wrote Chain of Mercy and realized that I actually had two stories in one, so that’s how Memory Box Secrets was born. The story expanded from there. Pieces of Granite came about because I kept hearing from agents and editors that female readers didn’t want to read a book about male issues, so I decided to create a story from the female perspective.

In Chain of Mercy, the hero (Richard) talks about a fight he’d had with his younger sister (Debbie), a rift he created when Debbie told him about her daughter having Down syndrome. I took Debbie’s story and expanded it. I wrote Finding Home because I left a few loose threads dangling at the end of Memory Box Secrets (that’s all the spoiler I’ll give!) I needed to address those threads properly.

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Read our full conversation

Read an Excerpt from Pieces of Granite

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On my two year absence on reviewing the Coming Home series:

I initially intended to read and review the books as they were releasing as an active member of the author’s Street Team, however, [2015] proved to be quite the difficult year for myself and my family. As previously reflected on my End of the Year Survey, 2015 – I even garnished a bit of a backlogue of reviews and titles I was seeking to read. I elected to focus on the stories I was able to read and remained hopeful the tides would turn to where I could reclaim the stories I was not yet able to greet against the page!

Thus, as 2016 started to unfold, I was hoping I could arrive inside a moment where I could lay heart and mind back inside this beautifully conceived Realistic INSPY series as my first reading of Chain of Mercy was such a powerful one, I was drawn immediately inside the vision Ms Anderson had for the series as a whole! I knew from that one reading, I would be forever grateful to be amongst the readers who not only sought out her collective works but could continue to find out what she drew together for these characters I had become so dearly attached too knowing more about!

It so happens, this Summer I felt was a renewing season for myself as a reader – where I could not only dig back inside the stories on my bookshelf I longed to soak inside but I could pull together stories on parallel themes that truly touch my spirit and heart as I am reading them. Be sure to watch for my upcoming reviews on behalf of stories of mumhood & alternative families: Claiming Noah by Amanda Ortlepp this July, followed closely by Ignoring Gravity by Sandra Danby, Dear Carolina by Kristy Woodson Harvey and Inconceivable by Tegan Wren in early August. As together with Pieces of Granite I am reflecting on all aspects of being a Mum and how family enters our lives whilst grounding us on a path that is a true blessing to be given.Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Notation on Cover Art: I personally love how Ms Anderson was able to get synchronicity and harmony with her cover art designs for the Coming Home series – she truly found designers who knew how to create a certain textural feel to the undercurrent thematic of the series but also, the level of hope within any story writ under the INSPY umbrella. I felt collectively they are an incredibly layered series creatively etched to mind through their covers and the choices wherein the story-lines are represented.

Book Review | “Pieces of Granite” (Prequel, Coming Home series) by Brenda S. Anderson Jorie happily returns to a series that touched her heart!Pieces of Granite
by Brenda S. Anderson
Illustrator/Cover Designer: Think-Cap Design Studios
Source: Direct from Author

A distressing diagnosis
A retreating husband
A prodigal brother
Debbie Verhoeven is not your typical woman.

• She sacrificed a counseling career to be a full-time mother
• She’d rather pound a nail than round steak
• Oprah? No way! Give her ESPN any day
• Nothing could be more stressful than scrap-booking

Nothing, except…
A distressing diagnosis,
A husband who is pulling away,
And two older brothers who refuse to get along
When the counselor is caught in the middle,
when she needs to be strong for those around her,
who is left to be strong for her?

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780986214707

Also by this author: Brenda S. Anderson (Author Interview: Coming Home Series), Chain of Mercy, Brenda S. Anderson (Author Q&A: Pieces of Granite)

Also in this series: Chain of Mercy


Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, INSPY Realistic Fiction, Motherhood | Parenthood, Realistic Fiction, Women's Fiction


Published by Vivant Press

Pages: 356

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Author Biography of Brenda S. Anderson

Brenda S. Anderson

Author Photo Credit: Portraits from the Heart

Brenda S. Anderson writes gritty and authentic, life-affirming fiction. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, and is currently President of the ACFW Minnesota chapter, MN-NICE. When not reading or writing, she enjoys music, theater, roller coasters, and baseball (Go Twins!), and she loves watching movies with her family. She resides in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area with her husband of 28 years, their three children, and one sassy cat.

Her debut novel, Chain of Mercy Book #1 in the Coming Home series, came out in April of 2014. Pieces of Granite the prequel to Chain of Mercy was a semi-finalist in the ACFW Genesis Awards released on November 18, 2014!

Official Author WebsitesSite | Twitter | Facebook | GoodReads | Pin(terest) Boards
Active in Book Blogosphere: Personal Blog
+ Guest Blogger @ Inkspirational Messages
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Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards Badge created by Jorie in Canva. Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

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Posted Friday, 22 July, 2016 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 21st Century, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Cover | Notation on Design, Book Review (non-blog tour), Bookmark slipped inside a Review Book, Brenda S. Anderson's Blog, Brothers and Sisters, Christianity, Clever Turns of Phrase, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Down Syndrome, Equality In Literature, Family Drama, Family Life, Indie Author, Indie Book Trade, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, INSPY Realistic Fiction | Non-Fiction, Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards, Life Shift, Mid-West America, Minnesota, Modern Day, Realistic Fiction, Self-Published Author, Siblings, Small Towne Fiction, Small Towne USA, Special Needs Children, Street Team for Author, Unexpected Pregnancy, Women's Fiction, Women's Health, Women's Right to Choose (Health Care Rights), Writing Style & Voice

Book Review | “Daughter of the Regiment” by Stephanie Grace Whitson

Posted Wednesday, 1 June, 2016 by jorielov , , , 3 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin.

Acquired Book By: I am a new reviewer for Hachette Books and their imprints, starting with FaithWords which is their INSPY (Inspirational Fiction) imprint of releases focusing on uplifting and spiritual stories which are a delight to read whilst engaging your mind in life affirming and heart-centered stories. I found Hachette via Edelweiss at the conclusion of [2015] and have been enthused to start reviewing for them, as I picked a small selection of stories I felt I would enjoy reading; three of which were from FaithWords.

I have been wanting to read the stories of Stephanie Grace Whitson for awhile, and felt this was a good author to start with as I become familiar with INSPY by FaithWords. Being an avid reader of Historical Fiction (including within the INSPY fiction market) I was delighted she focuses on this genre to tell her stories! I started my Whitson readings with “A Captain for Laura Rose” of which I loved!

I received a complimentary copy of “Daughter of the Regiment” direct from the publisher FaithWords (an imprint of Hachette Book Group Inc.) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why I love reading Stephanie Grace Whitson:

Ms Whitson writes with a gentleness and ease of manner whilst curating this lovely image of the historical past – this story takes place just after the Civil War during a time in America where everyone was in transition. Her narrative is happily guided by strong characters and a portrait of life in this new America being defined by those who returnt from war and those who were helping the war effort back home. One thing I appreciated most is seeing how everything smelt and felt to the character’s eyes – she truly eclipsed what I would imagine for myself about St. Louis and the Missouri River region – she’s so well in-tune with that lifestyle you could nearly hear the river lapping on shore!

My favourite INSPY writers are the gentle story-tellers who light a beautiful story with illuminated spirituality through a character’s actions and how their faith intercedes throughout their life choices. I appreciate the gentleness of these kinds of stories because they feel so very true to life – how faith affects our own spirit, mind and heart as we face our own adversities and joys. I like seeing characters who feel like a composite to a real person but also, of whom can show their vulnerabilities and are writ with an honest impression of how someone might react given a certain set of circumstances.

Ms Whitson is a delight to read – her story-telling voice is a joy because she encourages your steadfast attention at the smallest of details and gives a hearty measure to taking a leap of faith alongside her characters. She’s stitched a few life lessons into the background of her story whilst giving freedom to let her characters decide for themselves where they want to go with their lives; including how to adjust to conflict and consequence. This is the type of story-teller that makes being an INSPY reader such a delight of joy to read – as you find a heart-warming tale that lifts your spirit!

-quoted from my book review of A Captain for Laura Rose

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Book Review | “Daughter of the Regiment” by Stephanie Grace WhitsonDaughter of the Regiment
by Stephanie Grace Whitson
Source: Direct from Publisher

Irish immigrant Maggie Malone wants no part of the war. She'd rather let "the Americans" settle their differences-until her brothers join Missouri's Union Irish Brigade, and one of their names appears on a list of injured soldiers. Desperate for news, Maggie heads for Boonville, where the Federal army is camped. There she captures the attention of Sergeant John Coulter. When circumstances force Maggie to remain with the brigade, she discovers how capable she is of helping the men she comes to think of as "her boys." And while she doesn't see herself as someone a man would court, John Coulter is determined to convince her otherwise.

As the mistress of her brother's Missouri plantation, Elizabeth Blair has learned to play her part as the perfect hostess-and not to question her brother Walker's business affairs. When Walker helps organize the Wildwood Guard for the Confederacy, and offers his plantation as the Center of Operations, Libbie must gracefully manage a house with officers in residence and soldiers camped on the lawn. As the war draws ever closer to her doorstep, she must also find a way to protect the people who depend on her.

Despite being neighbors, Maggie and Libbie have led such different lives that they barely know one another-until war brings them together, and each woman discovers that both friendship and love can come from the unlikeliest of places.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781455529032

Also by this author: A Captain for Laura Rose

Genres: Historical Fiction, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Military Fiction, War Drama


Published by FaithWords

on 24th March, 2015

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 336

Published by: FaithWords (@FaithWords)
an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc. (@HachetteBooks) via Hachette Nashville

Formats Available: Trade Paperback and Ebook

Converse via: #StephanieGraceWhitson, #INSPYbooks, #ChristFict or #ChrisFic

& #INSPYfiction or #HistFic

About Stephanie Grace Whitson

STEPHANIE GRACE WHITSON is a bestselling inspirational author of over 20 books. She's a two-time Christy Award finalist and the winner of an RT Book Reviews Reviewer's Choice Award for Best Inspirational Romance.

When she's not writing, she enjoys taking long rides on her Honda Magna motorcycle named Kitty.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2016 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
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Posted Wednesday, 1 June, 2016 by jorielov in 19th Century, Ancestry & Genealogy, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Cover | Notation on Design, Book Review (non-blog tour), Civil War Era (1861-1865), Coming-Of Age, FaithWords, Historical Fiction, Immigrant Stories, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Irish Literature (Stories of the Irish), Mid-West America, Military Fiction, Missouri River, War Drama, Warfare & Power Realignment, Widows & Widowers