Friday, January 29, 2016

Review: 12 Brides of Summer Collection

12 Brides of Summer Collection #2 is a three novella collection in one book. Each story has a summer setting. All the stories can stand on their own and they are quick reads.

A Bride Rides Herd by Mary Connealy has ties to previous book families - Belle and Silas from The Husband Tree. The bride is not Belle, it is her daughter Betsy. I love Connealy stories! They humorous and heartwarming. I always feel they are too short. This story was way too short for my liking! It also made me want to re-read all her previous stories, too!

Time Period: Montana
Location: 1894

The Fourth of July Bride by Amanda Cabot writes a story about a fictitious proposal that turns into a real proposal of marriage. I think that theme is fun to read about and enjoy for a quick read.

Time Period: 1886
Location: Cheyenne, Wyoming Territory, USA

The Summer Harvest Bride by Maureen Lang features a gal who needs to decide between two very different men. One is a traveler who comes to town and captures her attention, while the other is one that has grown up and plans to stay in their town. This novella also weaves in a mystery as well as a town building project of a mill.

Time Period: 1851
Location: Finchville, Illinois, USA

Reviewed from a NetGalley copy. Thank you, Shiloh Run Studios and Barbour Publishing!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

January YA Reads

I'm mad for Madly, speechless for Soundless, and leery of A Thousand Nights.

Madly by Amy Alward is the first book of in the new series, Potion. It was a mix between modern living and fairy tale themes. A magic potion goes horribly wrong and the kingdom announces a hunt for the cure. It's a race against time and ingredients. Will synthetics work or are all natural items only work? Can hunters work together or will their tear each other apart?

What a great adventure! The mix of old and new was fascinating. The alchemist details of different ingredients all over the text were delightful to uncover. Friendship and family ties are tested. I cannot wait for the next book in the series!


Soundless by Michelle Mead is a standalone novel. An entire village is deaf. They communicate by sign language and painted news. Years have passed by and now the people are slowly loosing their sight as well. Something needs to change or everyone will be lost. Unexpectedly, Fei begins to hear. With a new sense, she can save her town!

I thought this story was fascinating. I loved the descriptions of sound. It's something I've never thought about describing sounds beyond the sound my car is making or the occasional "did you hear that?" I also liked the quickness of the book. It's a shorter story than the usual YA novel and it's was refreshing to read something in a couple hours.


A Thousand Nights by E. K. Johnston is a new twist on the title of an old tale A Thousand and One Nights. The king continues to seek a wife because he's killed 300 of them. There is something inside of him that has taken over. A sister takes a stand when the king comes to her village. She wants to save her sister from such a terrible and brief life.

This was an okay story for me. The thing living inside the king is a demon that tortures him and feeds off his people and his past wives. There is an energy from his new wife that battles him and gives strength to his people. It's a battle of good over evil, smallgods and demons. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Review: A Refuge at Highland Hall

A Refuge at Highland Hall is available! This new novel is book three in Carrie Turansky's Edwardian Brides series.  The Governess of Highland Hall is book one and shares the story of governess Julia Foster and Highland Hall master Sir William Ramsy. Book two, The Daughter of Highland Hall, shares the story of governess Julia's former charge Katherine (Kate) Ramsey and Julia's brother, Jonathan Foster. The characters of book three focuses on another former charge of Julia's, Penelope (Penny) Ramsey with a side story of Lydia Chambers, Penny and Kate's lady's maid.

I would recommend reading the previous books before diving into A Refuge at Highland Hall. The Ramsy family has expanded with marriages as well as with friends, family, and servants. If you've previously read the books, but it's been a while, Turansky kindly shares a cast of characters list at the beginning of the book! I'll admit it's been a while since I last read a Highland Hall book. I started reading book three and it took little time to get reacquainted with everyone.

World War I has begun. Dr. Jon and his family are living in London when bombs are dropped. To keep his family safe, he sends them to Highland Hall. Everyone packs up to go except Dr. Jon who needs to stay and care for the soldiers in town. Before everyone leaves, Dr. Jon brought home a soldier friend, Alexander Goodwin. Alex is determined to be a pilot (a dangerous job that has slim survival rates). Penny is drawn to Alex and offers to write while he is away.

Turansky wrote a very compelling story. She captured the fear, longing, and faith of a vast array of characters - soldiers, sweethearts, prisoners, children, adults, elderly, and young. I was quite impressed. She wove two main storylines together as well as kept the other members in the family active. The cast of characters is two pages, but don't let that deter you from reading A Refuge at Highland Hall. It's good to hear about all the members of this tight knit family. I would like to hear more about the Foster / Ramsey families. I hope Turansky continues writing!

Time Period: Edwardian/WWI, 1915
Location: London, England

Thank you, Blogging for Books for this review copy! I enjoyed it!
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Author: Undaunted Hope

Undaunted Hope is book three in the series Beacons of Hope by Jody Hedlund. It was released on January 5, 2016. On January 8, 2016, Helund shared the cover for the next book, Forever Safe! Stop by her website to take a look. In celebration of book three, here's a little Q & A with Jody about Undaunted Hope and her lighthouse series. Enjoy!

1. How did you come up with the idea for Undaunted Hope?

For this third book in my Michigan lighthouse series, I wanted to pick a location that was different than the other books. The first two books, Love Unexpected and Hearts Made Whole, are set in the "Mitten" of Michigan. So to add variety to the series, I decided to place Undaunted Hope in the Upper Peninsula on Lake Superior.

In doing my research of Michigan lighthouses, I learned that there are lighthouses dotted all over the coast of Lake Superior since it was such a treacherous lake to traverse and an important place for steamers due to the rich natural resources that were available. As I studied the various lighthouses, I finally landed upon Eagle Harbor Lighthouse in the Keweenau Peninsula because not only was the area rich in resources, but it was rich in history and the makings of a really great story!

2. Each of your lighthouse books is set at a real lighthouse that once existed in Michigan or still does exist. Tell us a little about the lighthouse in this third book.

Yes, my first lighthouse book (Love Unexpected) is set at Presque Isle which is on Lake Huron on the north eastern side of the state. The second book (Hearts Made Whole) is set at Windmill Point Lighthouse that once existed on Lake St. Clair near Detroit.

Undaunted Hope is set at Eagle Harbor Lighthouse which is in the far north of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. In fact, it's about as far north as you can go in Michigan. During the mining boom in the Upper Peninsula, Eagle Harbor saw a rapid increase in the commerce in the area with ships arriving to supply miners as well as load up the valuable copper that was being mined. Due to the dangers of a rocky ledge in the harbor, the Eagle Harbor Lighthouse was established in 1851 to guide ships safely to and from the docks in the harbor.

3. What special research did you do in writing Undaunted Hope?

As I wrote this third book in the Beacon's of Hope Lighthouse Series, I had the wonderful privilege of visiting Eagle Harbor and the lighthouse that serves as the setting for this book. In fact, I was able to stay for a whole week in the assistant keeper's cottage that now sits next to the lighthouse.

The large covered front porch of the assistant keeper's house overlooked Eagle Harbor and Lake Superior, so it was a gorgeous view! Every morning I woke up to the sound of the crashing waves and every evening I watched the sunset. It was one of the most beautiful, peaceful places I've ever stayed.

Not only did I get to do in-depth research on the lighthouse (and walk around inside it as many times as I wanted!), but I also was able to research the entire area taking lots of pictures of the lake, flowers, wildlife, and the numerous waterfalls throughout the peninsula. It's a remote wilderness area of Michigan, sparsely populated, and cold! I visited at the end of June and brought short sleeve shirts. I had to wear sweatshirts almost every day instead.

4. The heroines in the first two books actually live in lighthouses. In Undaunted Hope, the heroine is a school teacher. Why did you decide for her to be a school teacher instead of a light keeper?

As I researched the area and the Keweenau Peninsula, I came across the diary of a real school teacher, Henry Hobart, who lived and taught in Clifton which was just a few miles down the road from Eagle Harbor. He wrote a detailed account of his life as a school teacher to the mining children.

I loved reading his diary and learning about all he experienced, especially those unique things that came with being in such a remote area of Michigan and living among the mining community.

I used many of Hobart's experiences in Undaunted Hope. For example, he boarded with a Cornish family, the Rawlings, and Mr. Rawlings was a prominent mine engineer and mechanic. So I had Tessa board with this particular family. Hobart faced many hardships like bedbugs, lice, scarlet fever, the harsh winter, and much more. So again, I had Tessa experience many of those same things.

Eagle Harbor itself has an old one-room school house now known as the Rathbone School House. While it's no longer in use and serves as a museum, during my research trip I was able to visit it. I used it as the inspiration for the school house in this book.

5. The location of Undaunted Hope is in the Keweenaw Peninsula of upper Michigan. Tell us a little bit about what makes this setting unique.

The Keweenaw Peninsula is known as "Copper County" because it has a rich vein of copper running down the center of the peninsula. In the 1800's early explorers to the region discovered the copper. And by the mid 1800's miners and their families were flocking to the numerous towns that formed around the mines.

Due to the decline of the copper mining industry in England at approximately the same time as the mining boom in Michigan's UP, many Cornish immigrants came to the Keweenau Peninsula to continue mining. To this day, the Cornish have left a heritage in the area including homemade famous "Pasties" that can be found at most local restaurants. These were the hot meat pies that miners would carry in their pockets down into the mines to eat for their midday meals.

The bustling copper mining community was a rough and wild area that resembled the Old West. If the danger from the mines wasn't enough, the residents also faced incredibly harsh winters where they were cut off from supplies from the lower part of Michigan.

Nowadays, except for a few tourist towns, the area is a graveyard of ghost towns and abandoned mines. During my research trip, I was able to walk deep underground in one of those old mines and get a firsthand look at just how dark, damp, and dangerous the mining life was.

6. This is now the sixth book that you've written with a Michigan setting. What draws you to write stories set in Michigan?

I've lived in central Michigan for the past sixteen years. All but one of my five children have been born in Michigan, and this is where I've raised my family. So Michigan definitely has a special place in my heart.

Not only has it been a wonderful place to raise a family, but it's also a beautiful state. Michigan is a peninsula and is bordered by 4 of the 5 Great Lakes, giving it approximately 3,200 miles of shoreline which is the most of any state except Alaska. Michigan not only has lots of beaches and sand dunes and hiking trails and state parks, but it also is home to the most lighthouses.

Aside from the beauty of the state (which makes for very picturesque book settings!), Michigan has a rich history due to the lumber and mining era that attracted many settlers to the state, but also attracted plenty of colorful and dangerous characters as well.

All that to say, Michigan is full of wonderful, interesting, and fascinating stories of real life people. I've only begun to touch on some of those people, and I hope that I'll be able to bring more of them to life in the future.

7. In your other lighthouse books, the heroines are inspired by real women keepers. Did you use a real light keeper as part of the inspiration for the heroine in Undaunted Hope?

Most of us gravitate toward the stories that glamorize lighthouse life and honor the women who served in them. That's only natural. And I hope in my other two books in this series, I give those women the laud due to them.

However, I didn't want to neglect the women who served in lighthouses whose experiences weren't quite as glamorous, who served even though they disliked the duty. One woman in particular inspired this book. Her name was Cecelia Carlson McLean who was married to keeper Alexander McLean who served at various lighthouses around Lake Superior. When she was interviewed later in her life, Cecelia was very forthright in stating that she hated lighthouses, that they were lonely places, and that she'd had to sacrifice a great deal to live in them. She claimed that if she had to do it over, she wouldn't choose life in a lighthouse.

Of course her story made me think about the many hardships that light keeping entailed, especially for women–the extreme isolation, the lack of luxury, and the constant threat of danger. So out of Cecelia's hardships, I created Tessa and tried to imagine the underlying motivations for what might cause someone to hate lighthouses. Although I had Tessa work through some of her fears and dislike of lighthouses, I'm sure most women like Cecelia took their resentment of lighthouses with them to the grave.

8. Do you base the villain in Undaunted Hope on a real Michigan criminal as you do in previous books? If so, who did you pick this time?

The villain, Percival Updegraff, is based on a real rogue from Michigan history, Albert Molitor. Molitor lived in Rogers City and ruled as "king" over his wilderness lumbering community. He controlled who was hired and fired. He had a company store and held a monopoly on all food and merchandise.

He was also a sexual predator. Since he had so much control over the people who worked for him, if he took interest in a woman, he would walk into the woman's house and order her into bed. If she refused or resisted, he'd fire her husband and force the family to leave the company owned home.

He "ruled" this way until the people in the community finally revolted. They held secret meetings to plan to overthrow him. And while it took a couple of attempts, they attempted to assassinate him. He was mortally wounded and eventually died which finally freed the town of his cruelty.

9. What have you enjoyed most in writing this lighthouse series?

Over the past couple of years of writing this series, I've thoroughly enjoyed getting to visit numerous lighthouses throughout the state. Not only have I attempted to visit the lighthouses that are used as settings for the books, but I've also been inspired to visit many others. Every time I do, I learn a little bit more about how lighthouses were operated and have come to realize that they're all so unique.

During the past summer of 2015 I toured several lighthouses including: Tawas Point Lighthouse, St. Joseph Lighthouses, and Mackinac City Lighthouse.

Each time I climb a tower, reach the top, and gaze out at the spectacular view, I'm always amazed by the beauty. I never tire of the experience and can completely understand the fascination so many people have with lighthouses. I think I caught the "lighthouse bug" and will forever be visiting them!

10. What do you hope readers take away from Undaunted Hope?

I pray that this story will encourage readers with renewed hope. Just like Tessa, I hope that readers will find the strength to face their fears. We all have things that frighten us, and many times we find it easier to run away from those things that scare us. Sometimes, however, God calls us to walk directly into that thing we fear most. He wants us to know that during those times, he's there walking right beside us and that he'll help us come out on the other side stronger as a result. 


Thank you, Jody! It was great to hear about lighthouses as well as more insight about your story Undaunted Hope. I'm looking forward to reading your next installment in Beacons of Hope: Forever Safe.

If you'd like to connect with Jody Hedlund, here's a few places you can connect with her:

Facebook : Author Jody Hedlund
Twitter : @JodyHedlund
Website :
Pinterest :

Monday, January 18, 2016

Review: Undaunted Hope

Undaunted Hope is the third book in the series Beacons of Hope by Jody Hedlund. The first book, Love Unexpected, was published in December of 2014.  A few months later (June 2015), book two became available, Hearts Made Whole. I am so impressed with the quickness of author Jody Hedlund!

Miss Pippi Reads reviews Undaunted Hope by Jody Hedlund
The Beacons of Hope is a series tied together with the themes of lighthouses, love, Michigan, and faith. Book one was about Emma Chambers and her brother Ryan. Book two was about Ryan and Caroline Taylor and her siblings. Book three features Caroline's sister Tessa Taylor.

Tessa's past decisions (which you can read more about in Hearts Made Whole) brought her heartache and a bad reputation. Tessa took a job teaching in Michigan's Upper Pennisula to begin anew and escape life in a lighthouse. Yet running from one heartache and lead to more heartache.

Tessa needs to fight to keep her position as teacher. She wants to remove herself from lighthouse life, but two bachelor brothers who run the lighthouse seek her heart. She also wants to fight the power of the town's controller Percival Updegraff.

Undaunted Hope is an excellent installment in the Beacons of Hope series. Hedlund takes you to another part of Michigan, as well as, another area in the Great Lakes. Tessa's strong personality from book two was wonderfully expanded upon in book three. I wanted to hear more and I definitely got it! Tessa got tangled into a whole new world that is dark and dangerous. Updegraff runs the town and his way is the only way. Tessa's a fighter. She wants to fight and inspire others to fight and give themselves (and their families) a better life. (As I read, I wanted to join the fight, too.)

Tessa's story was fantastic! It reminds me of a verse from the book of John, "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." There are moments of shock, sadness, and fear, but the strong will overcome. God does not turn away from his children. He does not gives us a spirit of fear. God give us power and love.

I am looking forward to Jody Hedlund's next book in the Beacons of Hope series. The driftwood cross that was given to each character has been shared again. This time, it was given back to the family who originally owned the cross. I cannot wait to hear what will happen next!

Time Period: 1871
Location: Eagle Harbor, Michigan, USA

Reviewed from a complimentary copy. Thank you, Jody Hedlund and Bethany House!

Title: Undaunted Hope
Series: Book 3, Beacons of Hope
Author: Jody Hedlund
ISBN: 9780764212390

Friday, January 15, 2016

Review: At Love's Bidding

The Wimplegates own and operate an auction house in Boston, MA. During a recent auction, an unauthorized painting gets sold and sent away. To save the family's reputation and business, Miranda travels with her grandfather to Missouri in hopes of finding the painting and saving their family.

Miss Pippi Reads reviews At Love's Bidding by Regina Jennings
Regina Jennings has created a clever and memorable story. It brought to mind the delightful uniqueness of Full Steam Ahead by Karen Witemeyer. Both stories were written around occupations that are unfamiliar to me. I love reading! It's such a fun way to learn about the world!

Jennings pits a city auction house alongside a country auction house. The rules, rhythms, and stock are vastly different! The Wimplegates auction "priceless artifacts" that are described as "treasures." The Ozark auction house that Grandfather purchased in hopes of finding the painting (as well as other unknown treasures) is a "sale barn" with livestock. The hilarity of overcoming and understanding a new auction house is a fantastic part of the story, but the book also goes in-depth.

Jennings writes about families. Families are wonderful and complicated. The Wimplegates, Ballentines, and LeBlancs are the main families in the story. They want to heal relationships, care for one family members, and right wrongs. Relationships are not easy and each family shares their high and lows as the novel progresses. It was very well written with love, drama, hurt, healing, and faith.

At Love's Bidding is book two in Jennings' series Ozark Mountain Romance. Book one is
Book cover of With This Ring?A Most Inconvenient Marriage published in January 2015. The books are tied together and the characters from book one appear in the book two, but if you haven't read book one you can jump into book two right away and enjoy it. Book three in the Ozark Mountain Romance series is also available! Book three is a novella available in the book With this Ring? I can't wait to read it!

Time Period: 1873
Location: Boston, Massachusetts and Pine Gap, Missouri USA

Reviewed from a complimentary copy. Thank you, Regina Jennings and Bethany House!

Title: At Love's Bidding
Series: Book 2, Ozark Mountain Romance
Author: Regina Jennings
ISBN: 97800764211416

Monday, January 11, 2016

Review: Q&A a Day for Creatives

If you're looking to grab a a little bit of time to capture a moment or kickstart your creativity, the Q & A series is fantastic! I'm currently working through Q&A a Day for five years. I haven't finished an entire year yet, but the excitement is building.

In Q&A a Day for Creatives, they share a new format and creative prompts. Instead of a small book that you can tuck into a nightstand drawer, desk, or bag, the for Creatives version is notebook size. Each page is has four squares for each day, so creatives can go through the book for four years. They can see their ideas, styles, and mediums change. Such a fantastic idea!

The thick notebook stays open very well and the pages have a nice smoothness and thickness. This is a book that can give creatives a breath of creative air or inspire new artists to consistently practice, practice, practice. I have a plan to give some Q&A books away to some of my close friends and family.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

Title: Q&A a Day for Creatives
Publisher: Potter Style
ISBN: 9780804186407
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