Of Wallflowers and Mysteries

What do you do when you are forced into society events in the Victorian era, but have only found yourself as a wallflower? You become a social page reporter. Having lost her mother at a young age, Permilia Griswold enjoyed traveling with her father owned mines. While Permilia enjoyed mining life and was interested in taking over the mines someday, her father wanted much more for her life; he wanted her to have a motherly influence who would encourage her to become a lady. After her father meets and marries Ida who is a society lady, Permilia finds herself forced into the life of the social elite… just one problem, she is forced into a society that doesn’t accept her for the quirky person she is and it is not long before she is deemed a wallflower.

Asher Rutherford is a self-made business man who owns his own clothing store. At his first meeting with Permilia, she is trying to haggle him down on the price of his ice skates to Central Park. When a ball brings them together again, Asher is unable to remember who this peculiar lady is, until someone sparks the memory; however, he is intrigued by her and finds himself drawn to her for a dance or two. Taken aback, Permilia reluctantly lets him sign her dance card for a dance she ends up not performing properly and writes the satire about herself in the social page for her next Miss Quill article. Even though she runs an accomplished column, nobody is aware of her pen name or that she writes the Miss Quill column because she fears it would bring disgrace to her family because the press is the enemy of the social elite.

While at the society ball, Permilia and her friend Gertrude find themselves wandering through the house and unexpectedly privy to two gentleman talking about doing away with Asher. As the ladies hear the gentlemen open the door, Permilia and Gertrude shove themselves into a dumbwaiter and maneuver into the kitchen. Permilia realizes all too late that her unique shoe is missing, but realizes she must tell Asher. Although Asher thinks that it is an exaggeration, he still can’t help but be cautious, especially since he is inexplicably drawn to this intriguing woman.

Once Permilia’s article is published about her and Asher, as well as several other articles elaborating on the amount of time Permilia and Asher spend together at the ball, her editor demands that there is more to the story and that he wants the first scoop on any engagement announcement for pair. Permilia assures her editor that they are not a couple, but desperate to get more publicity for the paper, he requests that she still make up some juicy tale. When Permilia states that she will not, she finds herself thrown out of the office without a job. She is not sure what her next move is to be, but she feels that she has a duty to watch out for Asher and investigate who is trying to murder him. On her way home, a boy comes and gives her a mysterious box which contains her missing shoe from the ball, as well as a strong admonition that if she does not leave town, her life will be in danger as well.

You will not want to miss reading Behind the Scenes by Jen Turano. Old fans, as well as new readers, to her books will enjoy her usual set of quirky characters, humor, and mystery, as well as the steady pace that comes when reading this book. I also enjoy the vocabulary that Jen uses in her novels. She is not afraid to use some of the less commonly used words, and they fit perfectly with her novels since most of them are written in the Victorian era. She does not disappoint from the first page to the very last sentence. This is a book that is suitable for any age reader, but will be more thoroughly enjoyed by the advanced reader who enjoys a comedy mystery.

For a preview of the novel or to purchase, please click here.

I received this book free courtesy of Bethany House Publisher’s Blogger Review Program in exchange for an honest review.

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Can love span the farthest shores

Being rescued from a childhood of hard knocks, Jenny Bennett had a deep-seated desired to help others; what better place for a lady with some grit, due to her past, to help others, than as an army nurse. While performing her nursing duties, she runs across a handsome sailor, Lieutenant Ryan Gallagher. For Jenny and Ryan, it is love at first site. From the get go they are inseparable and start dreaming of a future together, knowing the only thing that will separate them temporarily is the high chance that Ryan will be deployed. When the time to be deployed comes, Ryan parts promising to write Jenny frequently and giving her his deceased father’s wristwatch as a promise to come back home to her with a ring.

Jenny starts to write letters to Ryan and gets nothing in return from him. Each day, she checks the wounded or MIA soldiers lists to be sure that Ryan’s name does not appear on it and each day, she is relieved to know that he is still alive and accounted for. One day Jenny receives a note from Ryan that he cannot keep his commitment to her to marry and that she should move on with life. Devastated, Jenny puts her life into her work and caring for others that she loses her social life and does not have time to think on the feelings she felt for Ryan and the pain of the loss.

One day Jenny goes to the cafeteria and finds a little girl playing and the man that she calls “Daddy” looks like none other than Ryan, whom she has not seen in years. The gentleman seems to purposely avoid her however so she is left hurt and puzzling over what is going on. She proceeds to find Ryan’s house and confronts him about what is going on and why the little girl calls him “Daddy”. Ryan cannot seem to give Jenny a straight answer and this only frustrates Jenny even more. What Jenny does not know is that Ryan is still on a secret mission and cannot give out too much information so that way he does not give himself away, even though it risks everyone on break calling him a coward and deserter.

As Jenny is working one night, she overhears some soldiers threatening to turn him in for desserting his duties. Since Jenny still feels an allegiance and desire for Ryan, she feels the need to tell him that he is going to be turned in so that he can have a chance to defend himself. When she goes to confront him, he is sailing with a civilian in the middle of the day instead of working, which leaves her confused. What she doesn’t know is that the civilian Ryan is working with is Ryan’s chance to be relieved from his current mission and have any sort of life with Jenny. One big problem though, is that Ryan’s replacement is a drug addict and needs to be clean to be able to take Ryan’s place on the mission. Ryan believes Jenny is his best chance at helping with the issue, but can he get Jenny to agree to help him so they can live their happily ever after?

To the Farthest Shores by Elizabeth Camden is a captivating novel of love and duty that will have you turning each page. This is not a book that is suitable for younger readers. While it is a Christian based novel, it also deals with some adult topics, such as drug addiction. This is a fantastic novel and based on this book alone, I would enjoy reading more books from Elizabeth Camden.

For a preview of the novel or to purchase, please click here.

I received this book free courtesy of Bethany House Publisher’s Blogger Review Program in exchange for an honest review.

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A Cheery and Simple Coloring Devotional

Remember some of those Bible verses you learned in Sunday School as a child? How about taking some of those beloved verses and elaborating/meditating on them a little bit more, adding some joyful and cheery designs to color, and making them into a 28-day devotional? Words of Grace by Jacqui Grace and Dee Arnold does just that. This tender devotional delves into one treasured Bible verse per day and presents the reader with a fresh take on the verse and a new way to ponder over it and bask in God’s love that is shown in that verse.

Each verse and day is accompanied by a new design to color in that is related to that verse in some way. At the beginning of the devotional, they encourage you to read through the words and then take time to color in the page that goes with the daily devotional and “prayerfully consider (the verse’s) meaning in your life”. Each picture is intricate, yet simple enough that you can focus on spending time with God while you color and meditate. The pictures themselves are very springy/summery and cheery; many flowers and birds grace the pages, as well as some other aspects. Each picture is drawn around a phrase from the verse that you are able to color in as well.

If you have a small group you are looking to do a month long devotional with, this is a good book for that too. The devotions can be completed individually by members of the group and at the end of the week when everyone gets together, there are a few questions for group discussion and contemplation; which can also be used for individual reflection as well.

This is a devotional you will definitely want to pick up if you enjoy coloring and want to do devotions that cause you to slow down a bit and meditate on the verse for a little while. The coloring pages are not very difficult, but simple enough you can do whether you are a younger person, or a more experienced colorer who wants a devotional with a coloring accent. I recommend this devotional for anyone. It is like a bright spot of sunlight in the day.

For a preview of the devotional or to purchase, please click here.

I received this book free courtesy of Bethany House Publisher’s Blogger Review Program in exchange for an honest review.

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The Glory of the Messiah Coloring Book

Have you ever wanted to put the prophecies of the Old Testament on the same page as the New Testament fulfillment of those prophecies? Even better yet, how about see some of the Hebrew words of those prophecies written out on paper? Throw in some picture outlines (to color of course!) and that’s what makes “The Glory of the Messiah” adult coloring book by Susan Perlman and Shelley Skoropinski.

This coloring book is truly unique in the fact that it was written by Messianic Jewish authors. In case you haven’t heard of the Messianic Jewish movement, they are a group of people who practice a lot of the Jewish traditions, but have paired Old Testament Biblical/Torah prophecies with the New Testament Biblical fulfillment of those prophecies and have come to recognize that Jesus Christ is the long awaited Messiah that the Jews have been seeking.

Every 2 pages in this coloring book starts with a Hebrew word (written in Hebrew) at the top of the page and the English definition of the Hebrew word under that. Each of the words is linked to two verses from the Bible- one prophetic of who the Messiah would be, and one fulfillment of who Jesus Christ is. On the page opposite is a drawing to color in of something relating to the Hebrew word and Scripture that accompanies it. Each drawing is chock full of details to be colored in for those who enjoy coloring books with lots of detail.

The drawings are very detailed, but absolutely beautiful, although at times, some are a little abstract for my normal coloring preferences (I prefer a bit more cut and dried pictures). I really enjoyed the Scripture that accompanied each picture. I had not really taken the time to parallel the prophecies and fulfillment of the Messiah together, but seeing them on one page was really neat. The coloring book says it is primarily for adults in the fact that it is so detailed, but a child who enjoys coloring detail would really enjoy this coloring book as well.

For a preview of the novel or to purchase, please click here.

I received this book free courtesy of Bethany House Publisher’s Blogger Review Program in exchange for an honest review.

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Parenting Strategies for the Exhausted Parent!

Have you ever been to the point where your creative ideas for fun and discipline strategies as a parent have plumb ran out? Have you found yourself stuck in the same rut and routine of parenting as you have been doing for the last umpteen years; maybe even ones perhaps your parents did before you? Perhaps it is working, perhaps not, but even if you are just a parent looking to add more tricks to your book, you are going to want to pick up Quick Tips for Busy Families by Jay Payleitner! From cover to cover, this book will have you chuckling along with Jay on some of his tried parenting tips and techniques and calming you down for serious thought on what your parenting looks like in another tip.

With 144 separate tips, you will find a little bit of everything, from conquering boredom (or temper tantrums) on road trips, at the store, or even on strategies to teach your kid humility and how not to be a hypocrite (because heaven knows we all sometimes are). There are several tips just for fun, but for the more serious tips, Jay includes Scripture to back up some of his philosophies.

One of my favorite tips was Tip #74: The Job Jar. This tip recommends that instead of pulling a chore punishment off the top of your head in the spur of the moment when it is usually difficult to do, having a “Job Jar” where the kid can pick an extra chore to do as punishment. In the Job Jar, there are also to be slips that say “Grace. 1 Peter 4:8” and if the kid draws this, they are off the hook this time as an act of grace, but they still need to read 1 Peter 4:8. I thought this was a nice and simple way to relieve the parent of stress and also show the occasional act of grace to a child.

Another one of my favorite tips is “Tip 37: The Slurpee Solution”. This tip bases itself on how to control chaos and misbehavior on car trips. It suggests that saying “if you stop this behavior, we’ll get a treat” kind of rewards them for the bad behavior. Instead, Jay suggests if there is ruckus in the car, pull over to a gas station, excuse yourself and come out of the gas station with a small treat for yourself and take the time to enjoy it outside of the car by yourself. When you are done with the treat, he suggests getting back in the car and thanking the kids for being patient while you enjoy your treat and if they behave for awhile longer, that maybe you can stop again to get a treat for everyone in an hour or two.

Overall, this book is fantastic, and I highly recommend it. As a mom of 3 kids with a 4th on the way, I plan on using quite a few of these strategies in the years to come and this book will have a special place on my bookshelf. The great part about this book is that many of these tips can be used over and over again, and some tips even give you a few for one deal! If you are out of parenting ideas and want some good, fun ones, then this is the book you will want to pick up!

For a preview of the novel or to purchase, please click here.

I received this book free courtesy of Bethany House Publisher’s Blogger Review Program in exchange for an honest review.

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Chocked Full of Fun Trivia and Jokes

“Why does God love bald people? Because the Bible says God has the hairs on our head numbered, so bald people make his job easier.” (pg. 46, Bible Trivia, Jokes, & Fun Facts for Kids by Troy Schmidt) If you enjoyed that joke, you will enjoy so many more biblical jokes like that and trivia that are featured in Bible Trivia, Jokes, & Fun Facts for Kids by Troy Schmidt. Troy comes up with some clever and sometimes corny jokes that you will enjoy sharing with your children and even your own balding father. I know my children enjoyed the sometimes corny jokes and not only were all of them simply jokes, but some of them were actually also packed with facts, just said in a funny way that would make the facts stick in your mind.

In addition to the jokes, there is a lot of good trivia and facts about the Bible and it is put in a way that kids get it and they remember what it said. Troy explains the facts in a way that is very easy for children to understand and connect with and there was quite a bit of trivia in there that even I, as an adult, wasn’t really familiar with. You will find facts and trivia ranging from the first pages of the Old Testament to the last page of the New Testament. The trivia comes in Q&A form, did you know, matching and a variety of ways to keep any reader interested. There are even some questions to discuss as a family on what you thought about certain aspects in and of the Bible.

At the end, a message of Salvation is easily explained and spelled out for kids with biblical references. Troy realizes that a lot of kids like to be hands on when they are having fun learning, so he includes fill in the blanks throughout the book, but in the last few pages of the book, he includes a few blank pages and general instruction of some things for the kids to do in the back of the book. Kids are encouraged to write their own jokes and trivia and draw a sketch on their favorite Bible stories.

This was a great book to help kids (and adults) learn parts of the Bible in a fun way. I learned some new knowledge and I know my kids and husband did as well. I recommend this book to anyone who has some special children in their life, for their children or for themselves… or for anyone who just enjoys a few corny biblical jokes from time to time.

For a preview of the novel or to purchase, please click here.

I received this book free courtesy of Bethany House Publisher’s Blogger Review Program in exchange for an honest review.

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A Blast from the Late 90s Past

You may end up doing the Macarena by the time you are finished looking through this book. Or if you grew up in the 90’s, you may be having flashbacks to the late 90’s and all the awesome pop music that came along with it by the time you are done looking through or coloring That’s So ‘90s Pop! by Patrick Sullivan. Back to a time when the Backstreet Boys would “never break your heart” and *NSync “was all you ever wanted”. Before Britney Spears “did it again” and ended up in the paper numerous times for shaving her head or anything else; back when she claimed she was “not that innocent” when in reality she was still just the teenage princess of pop that was everyone’s sweetheart. You will be taken back to a simpler time and place, back when Surge and Fruit by the Foot were all the rage.

This Fill-In Activity book was an absolute blast to take me back to the past. I haven’t started coloring it yet, but I did flip through all the pages and checked out the trivia (most of which was common knowledge back in the late ‘90s) and I know that when I do start coloring, I will probably be taken back to my middle school years again. If you’re looking for a coloring book that encompasses a lot of the earlier ‘90s, this is not the one you’re looking for. A lot of the artists that were featured in this book had their hit songs from 1996 on to 1999. You won’t find New Kids on the Block or Marky Mark or MC Hammer or Tupac in here, but you will find BSB, Eminem, Avril Lavigne and 98 Degrees.

The artist/author does a great job of drawing the pictures of the artists so you can recognize them easily. Due to artist interpretations, their faces are a little more blockier than most of them are in real life, but it is still features great pages to color. If you enjoy late ‘90s music, grab your CD/tape player 5-disc changer boombox, a bag of 3D Doritos (if you can find them), and a can of Welch’s Grape Soda (maybe you’ll still find a code in the bottom!), pop in your favorite ‘90s mix tape and pick up this book so you can start coloring and thumbing through the trivia! Then call all your homies to find out “Whazzzzzzupppp” and invite them over to join in the fun!

To check out a preview of this book or order a copy, you can click here.

WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group provided this book to me for free in exchange for this honest review as part of their Blogging for Books program.


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