“A Fragile Hope” by Cynthia Ruchti

Cynthia Ruchti

Hope grows when seeds are planted-even in the muddy middle of life.
Josiah Chamberlain’s life’s work revolves around repairing other people’s marriages. When his own is threatened by his wife’s unexplained distance, and then threatened further when she’s unexpectedly plunged into an unending fog, Josiah finds his expertise, quick wit and clever quips are no match for a relationship that is clearly broken.
Feeling betrayed, confused, and ill-equipped for a crisis this crippling, he reexamines everything he knows about the fragility of hope and the strength of his faith and love. Love seems to have failed him. Will what’s left of his faith fail him, too? Or will it be the one thing that holds him together and sears through the impenetrable wall that separates them?
 Ruchti has written a sweetly dramatic story of forgiveness and love in her newest novel A Fragile Hope.  Josiah reads as fully realistic and completely clueless.  This combination works well as a vehicle for exploring the roles that we play in marriage.
Ruchti shares important insights about marriage throughout the story, but you’ll never feel preached at or taught.  Instead, I read the book in a single afternoon, never once picking up my phone or putting down the book – I read it straight through.  I was completely caught up in Josiah’s story:  his care of his wife, the trauma he endured as he struggled to figure out his wife’s actions, and the pain he felt as he reconciled those with the role he played in their marriage.  I thoroughly enjoyed these lessons, and Josiah’s insights would provide provocative discussions.
I can’t imagine writing an entire story in which one of the main character is unable to communicate, but Ruchti not only did so, but she knocked it out of the park. A Fragile Hope is quietly introspective.  It’s a journey through the lowest depths of marriage and the faith required to rebuilt it, and it’s one everyone should take along with Josiah.
 

 
About the author:
 
Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed in hope through her novels, novellas, nonfiction books, articles and devotionals, drawing from 33 years of on-air radio ministry. Ruchti has written more than 20 award-winning novels, novellas, nonfiction books and devotionals. Her books have received numerous awards and nominations, including the RT Reviewers’ Choice, ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year nominations, two Selah Awards, Christian Retailing’s BEST, was an ACFW Carol Award finalist and a Christy finalist, among other honors. Her latest release is the novel A Fragile Hope.
 
One of Ruchti’s greatest joys is helping other writers grow in their craft. To that end, she has served as worship and devotions staff and faculty for the Write-to-Publish conference and teaches at other writers’ conferences across the country and internationally as opportunities arise. She also serves as the professional relations liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers.
 
Ruchti speaks frequently for women’s groups and serves on her church’s worship team. She and her husband live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and five grandchildren.
Find out more about Cynthia at http://www.cynthiaruchti.com.
I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity.  All opinions are my own.

A Fragile Hope Cynthia Ruchti

“Her Secret” by Shelley Shepard Gray

Shelley Shepard Gray

After a stalker went too far, Hannah Hilty and her family had no choice but to leave the bustling Amish community where she grew up. Now she’s getting a fresh start in Hart County, Kentucky…if only she wasn’t too scared to take it. Hannah has become afraid to trust anyone-even Isaac, the friendly Amish man who lives next door. She wonders if she’ll ever return to the trusting, easy-going woman she once was.
 
For Isaac Troyer, the beautiful girl he teasingly called “The Recluse” confuses him like no other. When he learns of her past, he knows he’s misjudged her. However, he also understands the importance of being grateful for God’s gifts, and wonders if they will ever have anything in common. But as Hannah and Isaac slowly grow closer, they realize that there’s always more to someone than meets the eye.

 

Just as Hannah is finally settling into her new life, and perhaps finding a new love, more secrets are revealed and tragedy strikes. Now Hannah must decide if she should run again or dare to fight for the future she has found in Hart County.
 
Gray has nailed the stalker situation perfectly in her new book Her Secret.  From Hannah’s fears to reactions to changes in her environment, Gray describes the reactions of a stalker’s victim perfectly.
 
That realism is what made this book so exciting.  While the love story is fun, it was that combination along with the suspense of Hannah’s situation that kept the pages turning.  As someone who was stalked years ago – and still prefers to keep her back to the wall in a crowded room – I could totally relate to Hannah’s fears throughout the book.  I enjoyed the safe places and friends with which Hannah was surrounded, however, and that made Her Story a fun and suspenseful read.
 
I love the way that Gray reinvents each new series that she writes.  Her Amish books are typically touching; the historical fiction are suspenseful, but this was definitely a great combination of the two, and I love the way that Gray combines the realistic, dangerous situation with the Amish setting.  I hope that it’s not a situation that ever occurs for any Amish women, but it’s a very exciting concept.
 
I can’t wait to see where Gray is going with the next book in the series. 
 
 

 
About the author:
 
Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town’s bike trail.
 
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I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity.  All opinions are my own.

‘Home at Last” by Deborah Raney

Deborah Raney

Link Whitman has settled into the role of bachelor without ever intending to. Now he’s stuck in a dead-end job and, as the next Whitman wedding fast approaches, he is the last one standing. The pressure from his sisters’ efforts to play matchmaker is getting hard to bear as Link pulls extra shifts at work, and helps his parents at the Chicory Inn.
All her life, Shayla Michaels has felt as if she straddled two worlds. Her mother’s white family labeled her African American father with names Shayla didn’t repeat in polite-well, in any company. Her father’s family disapproved as well, though they eventually embraced Shayla as their own. After the death of her mother, and her brother Jerry’s incarceration, life has left Shayla’s father bitter, her niece, Portia, an orphan, and Shayla responsible for them all. She knows God loves them all, but why couldn’t people accept each other for what was on the inside? For their hearts?
Everything changes one icy morning when a child runs into the street and Link nearly hits her with his pickup. Soon he is falling in love with the little girl’s aunt, Shayla, the beautiful woman who runs Coffee’s On, the bakery in Langhorne. Can Shayla and Link overcome society’s view of their differences and find true love? Is there hope of changing the sometimes-ugly world around them into something better for them all?
 Home at Last is a fitting and exciting conclusion to the Chicory Inn series.  I loved the romance of the series and the real-life problems that fill it.  Home at Last wraps up most of the family issues and gives them a satisfactory conclusion.
It didn’t all happen the way that I expected, though.  I wasn’t far into this last book before I was sure that I knew how it was going to end.  I thought I had the perfect solution to each person’s problems, but Raney totally through me for a loop there.  While I had one main event right, the rest all had twists that I hadn’t foreseen.  Being surprised by a book is always a happy thing.
One of my favorite aspects of this series is the way that Raney weaves the stories of the family members together.  I love the way that each story begins in a book prior to the one that tells their story and then continues on into other books.  Lane and Shayla’s story was shorter than the others since this is the last book, but their ending is satisfying.
Raney tackled big issues with each book:  adoption, social/economic status, race, family, etc.  This last one, with racial tension running high through each page, takes the suspense to a whole ‘nother level.  She asks you to really put yourself into Shayla’s shoes and consider all aspects of the events happening to her.  I appreciate this honest appraisal of the racial tension plaguing our country and enjoy Lane’s desire to improve them.
I hope that Raney has a new series on deck.  I wouldn’t want to have to wait long for more of her work. 

About the author:
 
Deborah Raney‘s novels have won numerous awards including the RITA, National Readers’ Choice Award, HOLT Medallion, the Carol Award, and have three times been Christy Award finalists. She and her husband, Ken Raney have traded small-town life in Kansas-the setting of many of Deb’s novels-for life in the city of Wichita.
Find out more about Deborah at http://deborahraney.com.
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I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity,  All opinions are my own.

“The Elusive Miss Ellison” by Carolyn Miller

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Handsome appearance counts for naught unless matched by good character and actions.

That’s the firm opinion of not-so-meek minister’s daughter Lavinia Ellison. So even though all the other villagers of St. Hampton Heath are swooning over the newly returned seventh Earl of Hawkesbury, she is not impressed. If a man won’t take his responsibilities seriously and help those who are supposed to be able to depend on him, he deserves no respect from her. In Lavinia’s pretty, gray eyes, Nicholas Stamford is just as arrogant and reckless as his brother–who stole the most important person in Livvie’s world.

Nicholas is weighed down by his own guilt and responsibility, by the pain his careless brother caused, and by the legacy of war he’s just left. This quick visit home to St. Hampton Heath will be just long enough to ease a small part of that burden. Asking him to bother with the lives of the villagers when there’s already a bailiff on the job is simply too much to expect.

That is, until the hoydenish, intelligent, and very opinionated Miss Ellison challenges him to see past his pain and pride. With her angelic voice in his head, he may even be beginning to care. But his isn’t the only heart that needs to change.

These two lonely hearts may each have something the other needs. But with society’s opposition, ancestral obligations, and a shocking family secret, there may be too many obstacles in their way.

Carolyn Miller

If you’re a fan of Regency romance, you’ll love The Elusive Miss EllisonIt has it all – inter-class attraction, a poor village in need of attention, a faith journey by one unaware, slanderous gossip by the wealthy, drama, tragedy, and more.   I think Miller’s book would attract even those unfamiliar with this time period because of the great drama and repartee that lies within these pages.

I loved the descriptions.  From ball gowns to wild blossoms by the roadway, Miller set the backdrop to each scene well.  I could picture how it must look and loved the extra oomph that gave to the story.

Nicholas is a very complex character.  With much tragedy in his past and unwanted responsibility now sitting on his shoulders, he struggles to deal with it all, and yet he comes across as a now-honorable man, at least most of the time.  I found myself wanting him to fare well even when he wasn’t behaving well, and yet you could see the man that he could be. 

The best element to Miller’s writing, though, was the way that she wrote subtle mysteries into the story.  This wasn’t an ordinary historical romance; she fed you small pieces of backstory at unexpected times, often when you hadn’t been sure there was even more to tell.  I loved the way that more kept coming just when I wanted it.

There are more books coming soon in the Regency Brides series – I can’t wait to read them.

You can read other reviews on this bloggy hop here or purchase your own copy here.

 
About the author:
 
Carolyn Miller lives in New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and four children. A longtime lover of Regency romance, Carolyn’s novels have won a number of RWA and ACFW contests. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Australasian Christian Writers.
 
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I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity.  All opinions are my own.

 

“Still Life” by Dani Pettrey

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Dani Pettrey’s latest is out, and it’s a winner ….

Blacklisted in the photography business over a controversial shot, Avery Tate answered an ad for a crime scene photographer. She expected to be laughed at, but crime scene analyst Parker Mitchell hired her outright–and changed her life. But six months ago, when her feelings for Parker became too strong, she left his employ to sort out her heart.

Now, for the first time, Avery is facing the world that rejected her to attend the gallery opening of a photography exhibit and support her best friend, who modeled for the show. But the only image of her friend is a chilling photo of her posing as if dead–and the photographer insists he didn’t take the shot. Worse, her friend can’t be found. She immediately calls Parker for help. As Avery, Parker, and his friends in law enforcement dig into the mystery, they find themselves face-to-face with a relentless and deadly threat.

Pettrey’s latest work in the Chesapeake Valor series is an action-packed winner!  If you enjoy romantic stories that keep you on the edge of your seat, then Still Life is most definitely for you.  Between the danger that Avery faces as she tries to find her friend, the romantic tension between her and Parker, and morbid photos that keep popping up of dead beauties, you won’t be able to put Still Life down.

Avery is a fascinating main character to me.  With her rough background and gritty determination to overcome it, Avery’s journey to healing and love is a page-turner.  With Parker’s fun Irish accent, who wouldn’t be enthralled? 

I enjoyed the ties Pettrey created between Avery’s past and her present, between the art world and the real one.  As my daughter and I enjoy playing with our cameras and trying to get the ‘perfect’ shot – though only of things like flowers and butterflies – reading about real photographers and their work was a fascinating angle of the story.

Pettrey excels at building suspense, and part of that is the way that she adds suspects to the list and then sorts through them.  She keeps you guessing for much of the story while she drips details into your brain.  I was a good two-thirds of the way through the story before I had even a hope of pinpointing who the killer was, and even then I wasn’t sure I was right.  I love when an author can keep me guessing ’til the end!

If you’re a fan of Christian suspense fiction, hurry and get your hands on a copy of Still Life.  You won’t regret it.

I received a free copy of this book.  All opinions are my own.

 

“Conspiracy of Silence” by Ronie Kendig

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Four years after a tragic mission decimated his career and his team, Cole “Tox” Russell is persona non grata to the United States. And that’s fine–he just wants to be left alone. But when a dormant, centuries-old disease is unleashed, Tox is lured back into action.

Partnered with FBI agent Kasey Cortes, Tox has to pull together a team to begin a globe-spanning search for answers–and a cure. As their quest leads them from continent to continent, it slowly becomes clear they’re not just fighting a plague–but battling against an ancient secret society whose true goals remain hidden.

With time running out and opposition growing on every side, the key to everything may rest in an antique codex, the Crown of Jerusalem–but will Tox and his team be able to trust each other enough to break this century-spanning conspiracy of silence?

Conspiracy of Silence is the fastest paced thriller I’ve read in years!  I couldn’t put it down.  It’s a winner on so many levels – the growth and redemption of Tox, the Biblical artifact mystery, and the team that travels the world trying to save it.

I love that mix.  The combination of military action, good-versus-evil, and Biblical artifacts coming to light is exciting.  It’s like reading a paper version of the best kind of action-adventure movie, and if you’re a lover of books, what could be better?

The depth of character to Tox is exhilarating.  He’s a military man through-and-through, but the faith, regrets, and love interests add multiple facets to his character that make him a wonderful leading man.  You can’t help but cheer for him on all levels even when things are going his way. 

There is a prequel novella to this story.  It’s short but maintains the same high-octane level as this book.  It’s not necessary to read that story before this one, but it will help you to understand the attitudes of the characters in the early chapters.

This is the first Kendig book I’ve read, but it won’t be the last.  I loved this story.  If you’re a fan of Joel C. Rosenberg or other realistic action-adventure stories, you’ll definitely want to read Conspiracy of Silence.

I received a free copy of Conspiracy of SilenceAll opinions expressed here are my own.

“The Mark of the King” by Jocelyn Green

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After being imprisoned and branded for the death of her client, twenty-five-year-old midwife Julianne Chevalier trades her life sentence for exile to the fledgling 1720s French colony of Louisiana, where she hopes to be reunited with her brother, serving there as a soldier. To make the journey, though, women must be married, and Julianne is forced to wed a fellow convict.

When they arrive in New Orleans, there is no news of Benjamin, Julianne’s brother, and searching for answers proves dangerous. What is behind the mystery, and does military officer Marc-Paul Girard know more than he is letting on?

With her dreams of a new life shattered, Julianne must find her way in this dangerous, rugged land, despite never being able to escape the king’s mark on her shoulder that brands her a criminal beyond redemption.

Jocelyn Green has penned an epic new adventure saga in The Mark of the KingA fantastic and dramatic look at life in the French Louisiana colony in the early 1720s, I couldn’t put it down.

There were so many aspects of history that Green wrote into this book that I was completely unaware even existed; I didn’t realize that any part of North America was ever forcibly populated by criminals; that there were wars between the French and the local Native Americans long prior to the well-known French and Indian War; that New Orleans was a planned city, and much, much more.  Knowing that these true historical facts formed the basis of this story made it even more exciting.

Not that it wasn’t on its own.  Life was hard in New Orleans, and Julianne faced more than any one woman should ever have to endure.  I constantly wondered at her persistence and diligence, because I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have her outlook if I lived in her circumstances.  The humidity and mosquitos alone would have done me in!  Her faith and character are to be admired and can teach much.

I loved Green’s smooth writing style, too.  Each time I thought I had something figured out, due to words that stood out or perceived foreshadowing, the story swung into a new direction.  I never saw it coming, but the transitioning was smooth, and the details made it all fit perfectly as events unfolded.  That can’t be easy to do, but it makes for a fabulous story.

If you’re a fan of historical fiction of any kind, definitely give Green’s The Mark of the King a try.

Click here to see more reviews in this bloggy hop or here to purchase your own copy now.

 
 
Jocelyn Green inspires faith and courage as the award-winning author of ten books to date, including Wedded to War, a Christy Award finalist in 2013; Widow of Gettysburg; Yankee in Atlanta; and The 5 Love Languages Military Edition, which she coauthored with bestselling author Dr. Gary Chapman. A former military wife herself, her passion for military families informs all of her writing as well as her numerous speaking opportunities. Jocelyn graduated from Taylor University with a BA in English and now lives with her husband and two children in Iowa.
 
 
Want to win your own?  Check out Green’s giveaway!

Jocelyn Green

I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity.  All opinions are my own.

 

All Teens Should See “Alison’s Choice”

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Alison’s Choice is a full-length feature film that seeks to answer the question, “WWJS (what would Jesus say) to a young woman planning abortion?” 

As the story goes, young Alison (played by Chanel Marriott) finds herself pregnant by a dead-beat boyfriend. Feeling she has no other options Alison turns to abortion. There in the clinic’s waiting room, she encounters a cast of quirky characters, each with their own brand of wisdom and advice; a flamboyant counselor, a suburban mom, a heart-weary receptionist, an inner city counterpart… And more than anyone else, a gentle-faced janitor with mop “eternally” in hand.

The two begin to talk and it quickly becomes clear he is no mere janitor, but Jesus manifest (played by Bruce Marchiano of The Encounter and Gospel of Matthew). He’s come to plead for the life of her baby. 

With the clock ticking precious minutes away, He pours out His heart of care and compassion, His message unequivocal, “I love you, Alison, and I love your baby too.”  Suddenly a nurse appears, “Alison, we’re ready for you.”  What will Alison choose…

Alison’s Choice is a movie that every teen should see.  It makes a strong visual, moral, and emotional case for the importance of caring for babies, whether born or unborn.  The debate  between Alison and Jesus run through a myriad of different arguments, both for and against, the practice of abortion and will answer the questions commonly raised during any discussion of abortion.  That’s why it’s the perfect movie for teens to see; it will help them to understand more fully the entire issue.

The movie is not just scientific, though; it’s full of drama and emotion.  Alison has a most difficult decision in front of her, and the movie shows that clearly.  Other women are depicted with varying attitudes towards the practice, and the physical danger is not dismissed, nor are the possible future problems.

I feared that a movie about such an important topic would by dry, but humor was injected at appropriate times.  Those spurts of laughter kept the pace of the movie moving.

Alison’s Choice would be a great tool for youth groups or church events.  It could serve as a wonderful springboard for discussion and could open communication lines between generations.  I hope that many take advantage of this movie.

Don’t take my word for it, though – watch the trailer here for yourself.

There’s also a giveaway happening, and you could win a copy of the movie!  Enter here.

I received a free copy of this movie.  All opinions expressed are my own.

“Of Stillness and Storm” by Michele Phoenix

 

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“I felt torn between two worlds. Each with its own mystery. One more captivating than the other, but the other more real and breathing.”

It took Lauren and her husband ten years to achieve their dream—reaching primitive tribes in remote regions of Nepal. But while Sam treks into the Himalayas for weeks at a time, finding passion and purpose in his work among the needy, Lauren and Ryan stay behind, their daily reality more taxing than inspiring. For them, what started as a calling begins to feel like the family’s undoing.

At the peak of her isolation and disillusion, a friend from Lauren’s past enters her life again. But as her communication with Aidan intensifies, so does the tension of coping with the present while reengaging with the past. It’s thirteen-year-old Ryan who most keenly bears the brunt of her distraction.

Intimate and bold, Of Stillness and Storm weaves profound dilemmas into a tale of troubled love and honorable intentions gone awry.

Michele Phoenix

Of Stillness and Storm is a tough but valuable read for anyone who’s married, a parent, or supporting a missionary.  That grouping may sound random, but Phoenix does an fantastic job of penning a suspenseful and dramatic story that will appeal to readers on many levels.

As the mother of someone determined to go to do mission work in another country, it was hard to read about the deprivation this missionary family – even though some of that was by choice.  I’m glad that my daughter, while just as determined, is more reasonable than Sam!

The submission and obedience that Lauren brings to her marriage is something that sounds incredibly controversial, and yet in each instance it seems reasonable when you’re reading about it – until suddenly it doesn’t.  I love the opportunities that this book presents for deep discussions about marriage and parenting.

Phoenix is a gifted writer.  As difficult as aspects of this story were to read, I didn’t want to put it down – and finished it in a single evening.  She’s definitely a writer to follow.

To read other reviews in this bloggy hop, click hereTo purchase your own copy now, click here.

{More About Michele Phoenix}

Born in France to a Canadian father and an American mother, Michèle Phoenix is a consultant, writer and speaker with a heart for Third Culture Kids. She taught for 20 years at Black Forest Academy (Germany) before launching her own advocacy venture under Global Outreach Mission. Michèle travels globally to consult and teach on topics related to this unique people group. She loves good conversations, mischievous students, Marvel movies and paths to healing.

Find out more about Michele at http://michelephoenix.com.
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I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity.  The opinions are my own.

“Pursuing Gold” by Cynthia L. Simmons

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About Pursuing Gold:  With his father dead and his business partner incapacitated, Peter Chandler inherits the leadership of a bank in economic crisis. With only a newly-minted college degree and little experience, Peter joins his partner’s daughter, Mary Beth Roper, in a struggle to keep C&R Bank afloat while the Civil War rages around Chattanooga. Political pressure for unsecured loans of gold to the government stirs up trouble as tempers and prices rise. Their problems multiply when Mary Beth discovers counterfeit money with Peter’s forged signature. Can they find the forger before the bank fails? The two friends must pursue gold on behalf of their business, as they learn to pursue their heavenly Father to find hope and peace.

Cynthia L. Simmons

Simmons has sketched a tale of deceit, loss, and love in the midst of the chaos of the Civil War.  I’ve never before thought about how banks survived during wartime before the FDIC was backing them, but Simmons examines that reality in great detail in this new story.

I’ve always wondered about the details of how our country converted from metal coinage to paper money, and that idea is discussed a bit in the book.  I enjoyed reading about the Peter’s struggle to grow from his book education to becoming a wise business owner, especially during such a turbulent time. 

Simmons’ writing style is a bit more abrupt than I’m used to; there were many transitions between settings and characters, and while it may not be more than other stories, the distinct labeling made it feel like many.  Those transitions often came on the heels of a revelation or announcement for the main character of that section, and those big ideas were followed with little information about how that character felt.  I think that including those emotions, whether directly or indirectly, fills out the story; however, after a few chapters, I adjusted to Simmons’ style and enjoyed the story greatly.

While I felt I could point out the guilty culprit with some certainty throughout the story, I was never sure how the crime was being accomplished.  In the end, Simmons surprised me completely.  I wasn’t completely wrong about the guilty party, but the motivation came completely out of left field.  It’s a great thing when the author can keep me guessing until the very moment that the ending is revealed!

Simmons chose a very unique angle when creating this story. If you’re a fan of historical fiction, you should definitely give Pursuing Gold a try.

Click here to read other reviews on this bloggy hop or here to purchase your own copy now.

Cynthia L Simmons and her husband, Ray, have five children and reside in Atlanta. She has taught for over thirty years as a homeschool mother and Bible teacher. She’s a columnist for Leading Hearts Magazine and she directs Atlanta Christian Writing Conference. Cyndi has a heart for encouraging women in today’s crazy, upside-down world. She loves history and peppers her speaking and teaching with fascinating vignettes from the past. Her first book, “Struggles and Triumphs,” was nominated for 2008 Georgia Author of the Year. She co-founded Homeschool Answers and hosts Heart of the Matter Radio.

Find out more about Cynthia at http://clsimmons.com.

I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity.  The opinions expressed here are my own.