Friday, October 19, 2018

Book Review and Giveaway - A Duel for Christmas

Book Title: A Duel For Christmas

Author: Rosanne E. Lortz

Genre: Regency Romance, Romantic Suspense

Release date: October 1, 2018


After seven long years in Devon, Lady Maud Worlington returns to London to reclaim life on her own terms, but a nefarious shadow and the prospect of financial ruin dog her steps. An impulsive and unforgettable kiss under the mistletoe creates a connection with Geoffrey, the handsome, young Duke of Tilbury. Yet as pleasant as it is to have a suitor, Maud is not sure how a boy of one-and-twenty can prove an equal partner in life and the equal of all the forces mounted against her.

The Duke of Tilbury considers himself as adept at managing matters as he is at swordplay, but his beautiful new acquaintance Lady Worlington has other ideas about how to manage her complicated life. Intrigued by their stolen kiss, Geoffrey pursues Lady Worlington’s affections, only to be foiled by the lady’s own doubts, by rivals for her hand, and by a sudden death that affects both their families. When Jacob Pevensey, the investigator from Bow Street enters the scene, the duke becomes a prime suspect in the murder case. Truths are unearthed that Geoffrey would rather keep hidden, and the twelve days of Christmas race toward a perilous end.


Rosanne E. Lortz is a writer, editor, teacher, history-lover, and mom to four boys. She loves to read, sing, draw, compose, write, and create. Education is one of her passions, particularly a classical, liberal arts education. She has taught English composition and grammar, Latin, history, music, and various other subjects for ten years at both the elementary and secondary level and is currently the Director of Academics and Admissions at Paideia Classical Christian School in Gladstone, Oregon.

Rosanne’s first book, I Serve: A Novel of the Black Prince, released in 2009. This book explores the tumultuous landscape surrounding the Hundred Years’ War and the Black Death and is a tale of arms, of death, of love, and of honor. In 2015, Rosanne began her Pevensey mysteries, novels of romantic suspense set during the British Regency (with inspiration from medieval characters and events). The first three titles are: To Wed an Heiress, The Duke’s Last Hunt, and A Duel for Christmas.


I love books written in the Regency period and if you add a good mystery to the mix, I'm hooked. This book has this and more. This book is the third in the Pevensey Series but I was never lost as to what was going on.

The author draws you into the story slowly and introduces you to the characters in a way that you feel you know them. I love the detail she has through her writing, too, because I truly felt as though I were there with the characters living their story with them.

I enjoyed the interaction between Maud and Geoffrey. I found him to be quite entertaining and enjoyed seeing their relationship bloom.  I also liked how this was divided into the 12 days of Christmas and it s an enjoyable way to start reading for the Christmas season, although, it's a good read anytime of year.

When a character unexpectedly dies, enter the Detective Pevensey, who is quite entertaining, too. I enjoyed his part in the book and the mystery that comes with the death.

Overall, this is an enjoyable book.It's a lovely romantic mystery and I am giving it 4 out of 5 stars.

*This book was provided to me by Celebrate Lit. I received a copy of this book to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my observations while reading this book.


The year is 1120. The place is the English Channel. A ship puts off from the French port. The passengers have been drinking, far too heavily. A submerged rock shatters the hull of the ship. The vessel goes down into the watery depths, and with it the heir to the English throne.

This incident from Medieval history was the inspiration for my Regency novel, A Duel for Christmas. Set in the early 1800s, the novel has a dash of suspense, a few tablespoons of murder mystery, and a heaping cup of sweet romance all blended together to make the perfect holiday read.

Lady Maud Worlington has just returned to London, determined to reclaim life on her own terms, but when an impulsive and unforgettable kiss creates a connection with Geoffrey, the Duke of Tilbury, she must decide if he can prove an equal partner in life and the equal of all the forces mounted against her. A watery death, financial ruin, and a nefarious shadow from the past dog their steps as the Twelve Days of Christmas race toward a perilous end.


To celebrate her tour, Rosanne is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.


Just Commonly, October 13

Blogging With Carol, October 14

Remembrancy, October 14

Carpe Diem, October 15

Texas Book-aholic, October 17

All-of-a-kind Mom, October 18

Wishful Endings, October 18

More Of Him, October 19

Bibliophile Reviews, October 20

Lis Loves Reading, October 21

Mary Hake, October 22

Simple Harvest Reads, October 23 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)

Book by Book, October 23

Bigreadersite, October 25

Godly Book Reviews, October 26

Have A Wonderful Day, October 26

Blessings - Julie

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Counting Our Blessings - Linkup!

Hello friends! I feel so bad that I haven't been consistent with my weekly Counting Our Blessings Linkup. I have been so very busy working on things in my house. After 4 years of being in recovery mode from illness and surgeries made things get put on the back burner and now I'm working on getting everything back in order. It's a big job, let me tell you! I'm also still recovering from my last surgery and trying to get used to the strange feeling of the mesh over my hernia. I also still have days of pain so with all this, I have to just do what I can and rest when I need to.

Let's get started!

78.  I am so very thankful that I do have more energy and am able to work on my home again. Purging, organizing, moving stuff around. Because I can't lift more than 10 pounds, I am also very, very thankful for my husband and son who step up and help whenever I need it! I wouldn't get half of this done without them!

79.  I finished my Fall wreath! I am so pleased with it!

I have it above my stove. You can see the cute shelf my son made me and all my Pioneer Woman stuff. I'm a huge fan of hers and have so many of her things. My ceramic cactus is something I made years and years ago and I keep it lit all the time.

Here's a more closeup picture of the wreath. I'm so happy with it and it was great fun painting it!

80.  I am also trying to cross stitch more but I'm not stitching as much as I would like! I was hoping to have a lot more of my ornaments stitched up by Christmas so will need to get with it and do my nightly stitching again! I am almost done with my Gingerbread boy ornament and here he is.

I'm really just down to the back stitching and the beading. I love the beading part but not the back stitching part so much. I don't hate back stitching it's just not a favorite of mine. 😉 It has to be done, though!

81.  I also received the cutest gift from a book company that I work with. It's a t-shirt and a cute journal. I love what it says - Prose before Bros.

Many thanks to BookSpark for sending me this! I absolutely love it and it was such a fun surprise!

Now it's your turn to share your blessings!  Please share on the linkup below.

Blessings - Julie

Book Review & Giveaway - Lady of a Thousand Treasures

Welcome to Lady of a Thousand Treasures by Sandra Byrd Scavenger Blog Hunt with an awesome giveaway, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours! On each stop, there will be:

  • special content by the blogger, plus
  • a clue
  • then head back to the launch post on JustRead or straight to the main crossword puzzle to fill in the words and get the special phrase to enter the giveaway!

Before we begin, there’s a bit about Lady of a Thousand Treasures.


Title: Lady of a Thousand Treasures
Series: Victorian Ladies, Book 1
Author: Sandra Byrd
Publisher: Tyndale House
Release Date: October 9, 2018
Genre: Historical/Gothic Romance

Miss Eleanor Sheffield is a talented evaluator of antiquities, trained to know the difference between a genuine artifact and a fraud. But with her father’s passing and her uncle’s decline into dementia, the family business is at risk. In the Victorian era, unmarried Eleanor cannot run Sheffield Brothers alone.

The death of a longtime client, Baron Lydney, offers an unexpected complication when Eleanor is appointed the temporary trustee of the baron’s legendary collection. She must choose whether to donate the priceless treasures to a museum or allow them to pass to the baron’s only living son, Harry—the man who broke Eleanor’s heart.

Eleanor distrusts the baron’s motives and her own ability to be unbiased regarding Harry’s future. Harry claims to still love her and Eleanor yearns to believe him, but his mysterious comments and actions fuel her doubts. When she learns an Italian beauty accompanied him on his return to England, her lingering hope for a future with Harry dims.

With the threat of debtor’s prison closing in, Eleanor knows that donating the baron’s collection would win her favor among potential clients, saving Sheffield Brothers. But the more time she spends with Harry, the more her faith in him grows. Might Harry be worthy of his inheritance, and her heart, after all? As pressures mount and time runs out, Eleanor must decide whom she can trust—who in her life is false or true, brass or gold—and what is meant to be treasured.


After earning her first rejection at the age of thirteen, bestselling author Sandra Byrd has now published fifty books.

Sandra’s delighted to kick off her new historical romance series with Tyndale House Publishers, Victorian Ladies, with Lady of a Thousand Treasures. The three-book Victorian Ladies series follows her historically sound Gothic romances, Daughters of Hampshire, launched with the bestselling Mist of Midnight, which earned a coveted Editor’s Choice award from the Historical Novel Society. The second book, Bride of a Distant Isle, has been selected by Romantic Times as a Top Pick. The third in the series, A Lady in Disguise, was published in 2017. Check out her contemporary adult fiction debut, Let Them Eat Cake, which was a Christy Award finalist, as was her first historical novel, To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn. To Die For was also named a Library Journal Best Books Pick for 2011, and The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr was named a Library Journal Best Books Pick for 2012.

Sandra has published dozens of books for kids, tweens, and teens, including the bestselling The One Year Be-Tween You and God Devotions for Girls. She continued her work as a devotionalist, with The One Year Home and Garden Devotions, and The One Year Experiencing God’s Love Devotional.

Please visit to learn more or to invite Sandra to your book club via Skype.

CONTACT: website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram


This is such an enjoyable book, set in a favorite time period of mine - the Victorian era.

Eleanor Sheffield is a woman of complexities, as many of us are. She is sure of herself in some ways yet very vulnerable in others. I really liked that she was able to handle herself in so many ways and knew who she was as an antique evaluator.

The mysterious element to this story line is incredible. I never knew what would happen next as there were constant twists and turns. I never was sure who to trust and who not to trust, and along with me, the main character, Eleanor, had to determine the same thing as she decides who will be given the priceless collection of one of her father's longtime clients.

Each character in this book is complex and I felt like I was a part of the story. The author makes you care about the people in this book, including those you don't really like. I loved all the historical elements to this book and the little details that pulled you into the story.

I loved this book and had a hard time putting it down. It has everything I love when reading - good characters, a mystery, and detailed historical facts. It was one of the best stories I've read and I highly recommend it! I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

*This book was provided to me by JustRead Tours. I received a copy of this book to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my observations while reading this book.


Instructions: Head to every stop on the tour to collect a word to finish the crossword puzzle. Hint: You might want to print out the crossword puzzle (link below) and enter it everyday to make it easier.

Crossword Board:

Not a crossword puzzle fan? Just compile the clue words from each stop and enter it on the Rafflecopter entry.

This stops clue is: IN


(1) winner will receive:
  • a copy of Lady of a Thousand Treasures (print to US addresses OR ebook to international)
  • Cork coaster set of the British Isles (US Only)
  • "To The Lighthouse" diffuser made by Seawitch Candles in Cornwall, England. (US Only)
  • $10 Amazon gift card (open international)
Enter via the Rafflecopter giveaway below. Entry form will be live on the 19th once all clues are revealed. Clues for giveaway will begin at midnight October 15, 2018. Entries are opened at midnight on October 19, 2018 and lasts through 11:59pm October 22, 2018. Void where prohibited by law. Winners will be notified within a week of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

Be sure to stop on every stop on the Tour Schedule for all the clues to enter!


For the full tour schedule, click on the launch page


*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Book Review & Giveaway - A Tale of Two Hearts

Book Title: A Tale of two Cities

Author: Michelle Griep

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

Release date: September 1, 2018


Innkeeper’s daughter Mina Scott will do anything to escape the drudgery of her life. She saves every penny to attend a finishing school, dreaming of the day she’ll become a real lady—and catch the eye of William Barlow, a frequent guest at the inn.

William is a gentleman’s son, a charming rogue but penniless. However, his bachelor uncle will soon name an heir—either him or his puritanical cousin. In an effort to secure the inheritance, William gives his uncle the impression he’s married, which works until he’s invited to bring his wife for a visit.

William asks Mina to be his pretend bride, only until his uncle names an heir on Christmas Day. Mina is flattered and frustrated by the offer, for she wants a true relationship with William. Yet, she agrees. . .then wishes she hadn’t as she comes to love the old man. And when the truth is finally discovered, more than just money is lost.

Can two hearts survive such a deception?


Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She is the author of historical romances: The Captured Bride, The Innkeeper’s Daughter, 12 Days at Bleakly Manor, The Captive Heart, Brentwood’s Ward, A Heart Deceived, and Gallimore, but also leaped the historical fence into the realm of contemporary with the zany romantic mystery Out of the Frying Pan. If you’d like to keep up with her escapades, find her at or stalk her on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.


This is the second book in the Once Upon A Dicken's Christmas series, but it definitely stands alone and I was never lost at any time during this delightful read. It was a wonderful way to start my Christmas season reading!

I really enjoyed the character of Mina as I could relate to her love of reading. She is always looking for ways to improve herself and make her life in a way she would like. Of course, this can also lead to trouble as it does for her and Will, someone she likes very much.

Will has come to her father's Inn and she is smitten with him from the very start. When he asks her to pretend to be his bride, she jumps at the chance. From here we are taken into their complicated lie that leads them into one complication after another.

This is a story of romance set in the 1850's, so what's not to love? A story of redemption and faith makes it that more enjoyable. It was a lovely little book and I highly recommend it. I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

*This book was provided to me by Celebration Lit. I received a copy of this book to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my observations while reading this book.


To celebrate her tour, Michelle is giving away a grand prize of a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click HERE to enter.


-Victorian Christmas Foods
So, it’s September, and you know what that means? It’s back to school. Pumpkin spiced everything is just around the corner. And it’s nearly time for cardigans and colored leaves. But besides all these autumn staples, it’s also time to start thinking about Christmas, because it will be here before you know it. How about this year you plan ahead to serve some traditional Victorian food?

In my newest release, A Tale of Two Hearts, the heroine’s father is known for his annual oyster stew that he serves on Christmas Eve. Here’s a bit of the background on that tasty soup.

-Victorian Oyster Stew
Oysters have been savored in Britain since the days of the Romans. By Victorian times, industrialization cheapened oysters to the point of them becoming a staple of the poor man’s diet and were a frequent fare served in public houses. This, however, depleted their abundance, and by the mid 1800’s, the natural oyster beds became exhausted, making it harder to find good oysters. While other foods were served as well on Christmas Eve, oyster stew was as common as goose or turkey.

Another Victorian favorite that goes great on a crisp evening is good ol’ hot chocolate, though in Dickens’ England, it would’ve been called something else.

-Drinking Chocolate
What we now call cocoa or hot chocolate was called drinking chocolate in the mid 1800s. This beverage was a favorite among Victorian ladies. You can find recipes for it even from the Regency era (early 1800s) and here is one for you to make at home.

And last, but not least, who hasn’t heard of Christmas pudding? To our American ears, that sounds like a tasty dish that you’d eat with a spoon and slap a little whipped cream on top. Actually, it’s more like a fruit cake.

-Christmas Pudding
Christmas pudding is quite a production, one that begins well before Christmas Day. In fact, it begins on Stir-Up Sunday, the last Sunday before Advent (which is five weeks before Christmas). This is why when Mina, the heroine in A Tale of Two Hearts, returns home from dinner at Uncle Barlow’s, and though it’s not yet Christmas, she sees the pudding moulds on the kitchen table.

If these tastes and the accompanying smells still aren’t quite enough to get you in the Christmas spirit, then snatch yourself up a copy of the second book in the Once Upon a Dickens Christmas series. A Tale of Two Hearts is sure to get you in the mood.


Creating Romance, October 2

The Avid Reader, October 2

Genesis 5020, October 3

The Power of Words, October 3

Just Commonly, October 3

Baker Kella, October 3

Among the Reads, October 4

Fiction Aficionado, October 4

Godly Book Reviews, October 4

Inklings and Notions , October 4

Multifarious, October 6

Texas Book-aholic, October 6

Remembrancy, October 7

Splashes of Joy , October 7

Back Porch Reads, October 8

A Reader’s Brain, October 8

Simple Harvest Reads, October 9 (Guest Post from Mindy Houng)

Mary Hake, October 9

Carpe Diem, October 9

Britt Reads Fiction, October 10

Luv’N Lambert Life, October 10

By The Book, October 11

Book by Book, October 11

Bigreadersite, October 11

More Of Him, October 12

Pause for Tales, October 12

With a Joyful Noise, October 12

Have A Wonderful Day , October 12

Bibliophile Reviews, October 13

Vicky Sluiter, October 14

Daysong Reflections , October 14

Henry Happens, October 15

All-of-a-kind Mom, October 15

Blessings - Julie 

Friday, October 12, 2018

Book Review and Giveaway - Renewed

Book Title: Renewed

Author: Leigh Powers

Genre: Devotional

Release date: November, 2017


Ministry is a privilege, but it can also be a painful experience. Unrealistic expectations, church conflict, forced resignations, and our own struggles with burnout, loneliness, and insecurity can make church feel more like a place of wounding than a place of healing. How can wounded leaders find the courage to reject bitterness and keep loving the church?

Renewed is a forty-day devotional for women in ministry, ministry wives, and lay leaders who have been wounded by their congregations. You are not alone. God sees your pain. He knows your hurts. And he is waiting to bind up your broken heart. This forty-day journey into the healing love of Jesus will help you find the courage to stop hiding and start loving the church again.


Leigh Powers is passionate about helping women find hope and healing in God’s Word. A pastor’s wife and mother of three with fifteen years of full-time ministry experience, she is a freelance writer, Bible study and devotional author, and a graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. She blogs regularly at You can usually find her with either a book or knitting needles in her hand—and sometimes both.


This book really resonated with my heart. I have some tender wounds that have been caused by those in the church and, because we expect Christians to be kinder, the hurts inflicted by them seem to hurt worse than from others.

I love how the author is so real and honest about situations in her life. She doesn't try to soften her words but is totally open. I also love that she points us to the Word of God as a balm to our souls and also for wisdom for all situations. This is where our truth is found.

This book is written from a Pastor's wife point of view, but if you have been in any kind of leadership in the church, you are going to really relate to this lovely devotional. I found so much healing through her words and especially the questions for contemplation at the end of each day. There is also a table of contents that speaks specifically to situations that you may have need of wisdom about. I found this especially helpful because we all have things that are bothers us more than others and it was so nice to go right to that specific subject matter.

I love this book and I know that I will re-read it over and over again. It's the first book I've read that truly helped me in the area of hurts from the church people. If you've had the same experience, I hope that you will get your own copy. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

*This book was provided to me by Celebrate Lit. I received a copy of this book to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my observations while reading this book.


To celebrate her tour, Leigh is giving away a grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card!! Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click HERE TO ENTER GIVEAWAY.


I love ministry life. Several years ago, a young woman from Southeast Asia came to my English as a Second Language class for a year. Her English wasn’t very good, and I had to tug to get a word out of her. She came every week, but I wondered how much she was getting from the Bible stories we did during each class. At the end of the semester, I asked our class to share what they wanted to tell their friends and family when they went home. She looked up at me with big brown eyes. “I want to tell people about Jesus.”

Those are the ministry moments that thrill us. It is a privilege to help people find freedom in Christ, teach God’s word, worship with the congregation, and walk alongside people in their moments of joy or sorrow. On those days I can’t imagine choosing another life. Then there are days that make me want to hang it all up and go work at Wal-Mart. Days when anonymous letters get slipped under the office door. Days when you’re the brunt of gossip, when loneliness is like an ache in your bones, or when you start sending out resumes for new positions because you aren’t sure how much longer you’ll have the one you’ve got.

Ministry can be tough. Over the years I’ve met many women who have experienced the painful side of ministry. Church conflicts, forced resignations, depression, loneliness, feelings of inadequacy, and our own struggles with faith can take a toll. That painful side of ministry can make us start looking for an escape hatch.

I wrote Renewed in the middle of a difficult ministry season. It was a hard season, but it was also a season where Jesus showed up for me in an almost tangible way. At the same time, I was also hearing stories from other ministry wives and women in ministry that sounded all too familiar. I started putting words on the page, hoping that somehow God would use them to bring healing to other women in the same way he had brought healing to me. That outpouring of hurt, healing, and hope eventually became Renewed.

Some of you reading this are nodding along right now because you’ve been there too. You love the church, but you’ve seen how ugly it can be when we get it wrong. You’ve got wounds of your own, and sometimes you wonder if you can ever risk your heart again. If that’s you, I want you to know that there is hope. God has not abandoned you. God sees your hurt, he knows your pain, and he is waiting to bind up your broken spirit. He’s waiting. Turn to him, and may you find your spirit renewed.


Bibliophile Reviews, October 6

amandainpa, October 7

The Becca Files, October 8

Mary Hake, October 8

Genesis 5020, October 10

A Reader’s Brain, October 11

More Of Him, October 12

Godly Book Reviews, October 13

Carpe Diem, October 14

Kelly Harrel, October 15

Texas Book-aholic, October 16

Bigreadersite, October 17

Janices book reviews, October 18

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, October 19

Blessings - Julie