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Category Archives: Book Nerd

Recommendations and reviews and all things bookish

Celebrating New Releases

Mistletoe Memories: Six New Inspirational Holiday Romances

boxed-setThis past week the Mistletoe Memories bundle released and I couldn’t be more excited to share this group of stories with you. Myself and five other multi-published authors joined together to bring you six never before published novellas about love at Christmastime. The best part: right now you can snag this bundle for only 99 cents. I’m serious. You can’t beat that deal.

And I’m even more excited to share this with you because my story in the collection – It Was You – launches my new King’s Cove series. Expect to see two more King’s Cove novellas releasing before the end of the year!

The Ranger’s Texas Proposalrangers-texas-proposal

Last year my editor at Love Inspired called me, offering the chance to write a series with five other authors and I jumped at the opportunity. The Ranger’s Texas Proposal is the second book in the Lone Star Cowboy League: Boy’s Ranch series (but can be read as a stand alone). It’s the story of a hunky Texas Ranger and a tough, pregnant widow. I loved writing these characters and really fell in love with them. This one’s a tear-jerker with a warm ending. I can’t wait for it to hit the store shelves!

Small-Town Girl 

Small-Town Girl FrontSmall-Town Girl released in August and it’s really special because it was my fifth book published by Love Inspired. It is the fourth book in the Goose Harbor series and follows newcomer, Kendall Mayes, as she tries to chart out a new future and avoid relationships along the way. That is, until she meets the handsome loner Brice Daniels. This book has already received a lot of great reviews and so many of you have contacted me privately letting me know how much this story meant to you. Small-Town Girl was also recommended on the USA Today Happy Ever After blog by the wonderful Serena Chase: “Highly recommended for fans of inspirational and sweet romance, this is a story that offers many sigh-worthy moments …”

Thanks for reading! -jess

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Just Keep Writing

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Supposedly it’s spring in Chicago right now but you wouldn’t know that by the snow flurries happening outside my window. But that’s part of the charm of living here – the weather keeps us on our toes. Days go by without the sun and then one day it’ll be green out and the flowers will be there, waiting for us.

My writing career has a lot in common with Chicago weather – bright spots speckled between a lot of clouds. A lot of waiting. A lot of hoping and praying. A lot of telling myself to keep my head down, ignore the snow storms and just keep writing.

just keep writing

And spring arrives, as it always does. For me that means I have book news to share with you. The fruits of months and months of head down, just keep writing.

Small-Town Girl will be the fourth book in the Goose Harbor series, it releases August 2016 and is available for pre-order right now. I can’t share the cover for Small-Town Girl yet (but I’ve seen it and let me tell you … it’s GORGEOUS!). Here’s the blurb:

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Her Small-Town Guy 

Goose Harbor, Michigan, is the perfect place for Kendall Mayes to start over and open her date-planning business. When she encounters handsome loner Brice Daniels, who is struggling to keep the shipping business he runs going, she sees an opportunity. A weekly sunset cruise catering to couples and tourists will keep their dealings strictly business. Kendall has had enough of failed romances, and Brice is too burned by love to give it another chance. But despite their reservations, they soon let down their walls. Yet when Kendall’s silent business partner is revealed to be Brice’s longtime enemy, staying together might be next to impossible.

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At the end of last year I was invited to join a group of five other authors to work on a continuity series together. Love Inspired, my publisher, planned the series and the six books will release in back-to-back months from October 2016 through March 2017. It’s called the Lone Star Cowboy League: Boys Ranch series and builds off of Love Inspired’s original Lone Star Cowboy League series. My book is the second in the series, set to release November 2016 and I couldn’t be more excited to put this one into your hands! The book is called The Ranger’s Texas Proposal. It’s about a Texas Ranger named Heath who pulled at my heartstrings from the moment I got him onto the page.

And today I found out the title for my fifth Goose Harbor book – Apple Orchard Bride. It will release January 2017. I have a feeling the cover for this one is going to be so pretty. I mean – an apple orchard and a wedding!

For those keeping track, that’s three books releasing in a six month period which is craziness in the publishing industry. I’m beyond blessed and excited. These books are my flowers after a long, dark winter and the breakneck release schedule is a reminder that “no matter what, just keep writing” is the best writing career advice I was ever given.

#IndieBooksBeSeen Secret Santa Giveaway

If you’re a frequent user of social media I hope you’ve gotten a chance to see the #IndieBooksBeSeen tag. #IndieBooksBeSeen is an authors-helping-authors movement to help shine light on the indie book industry and assist readers in discovering new authors and books. Want to join the fun? Go onto Twitter and search #IndieBooksBeSeen and find your next read. My friend Mark Shaw started the #IndieBooksBeSeen movement and is kind of a big deal now 🙂

A bunch of the authors involved in #IndieBooksBeSeen got together and said…know what would make the world amazing? FREE BOOKS! So we joined together to host an epic Secret Santa Giveaway. Winners will receive a personalized paperback copy of one of the books (open to the US, Canada, and the UK). You can see all the books being offered by clicking hereWe’re using Rafflecopter to make things easy. Best part? There are 74 ways to enter.

The weatherman says we’re heading into a painful winter, so be prepared. A few good books will get you through to spring!

Happy Reading!

Jess

Celebrating a New Book!

Celebrating a New Book!

Today I’m handing out party hats and slicing the cake (oh, it’s totally okay to eat cake at before noon!) to celebrate my latest book which released this week! My newsletter subscribers are already having a lot of fun. I announced the release on my newsletter on Tuesday morning and gave them an opportunity to enter to win signed copies of both the new book Searching for Home and The Widower’s Second ChanceIf you don’t want to miss out on upcoming fun, make sure to stop by my website and sign up to receive future updates first. You’ll find the “Join Jessica’s Mailing List” box on the front page.

I also wanted to let you guys know that you may start to see some construction dust on my blog very soon. In the coming months my author website and my blog will both be revamped (design wise) and joined on one complete site. Won’t that be nice? I sure hope so.

But let’s get to the good stuff…a new book!

Searching for Home – Spies of Chicago, Book One

for websiteShe thought a dead relative ruined her life, but discovering his story will save it instead.

When the story of Whitney’s long-dead anarchist ancestor, Lewis Ingram, makes front-page news, she must find a way to exonerate her relative, or risk losing everything–her mayoral-candidate boyfriend and her job at a local magazine. Aided by Nate, a volunteer at the Chicago Historical Foundation, she digs in, determined to find a positive spin on the situation. But what awaits her isn’t spin at all. It’s truth–and it will change her life.

In the world of 1886, Ellen Ingram and James Kent didn’t intend to get caught in the middle of an anarchist spy ring. Ellen was content to leave all such intrigue to her brother, Lewis Ingram. But as the political climate in Chicago changes, Ellen and James have no choice. In the midst of the famous Haymarket Riot, both realize that they must live the life God created them for, not the one dictated by society.

Two generations encounter the same truth–and neither will ever be the same.

A Review for Destined for Doon

Destined for Doon by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon

 If you’ve been around my blog for any length of time, you know I love three things with equal tenacity: Young Adult fiction, Romance, and the Fantasy genre. Wouldn’t you know Destined for Doon has all three? Moreover, it doesn’t disappoint. At all.

DoonDestined for Doon is the second book in a four book series inspired by the musical Brigadoon. In the first book, Doon, we see best friends Veronica and Mackenna (Kenna) travel to Scotland and discover the magical, locked away land of Doon—complete with two handsome princes waiting for them, of course. 🙂

Did I mention I loved the first book in this series? I did, immensely. Well, I’m always a little afraid to read sequels—not because I don’t want more of the stories, I always do—but because usually they don’t live up to the magic felt while reading the first book. Well, that was not true with Destined for Doon, actually **leans closer and whispers** I liked it BETTER than the first book. I know—crazy, right?

Honest moment: Kenna wasn’t my favorite character in book one. I just didn’t get her reluctance when it came to love (the authors wrote her beautifully, it’s just my personal thing) so I was worried that I wouldn’t be as into the second book because the bulk of it follows Kenna’s story. Boy, was I wrong. Kenna won me over and then some. She’s strong and doesn’t always have a filter and feels deeply. She’s a good role model and lends strength to Veronica who desperately needs to believe in herself more (trusting that’ll come in the next two books).

And Duncan. Can we please talk about Prince Duncan (Kenna’s romantic interest) a little? Duncan has been my favorite character since he walked onto the page in book one. Many of my friends like Prince Jamie (Veronica’s romantic interest) better, but I’ve never been one for the moody, mysterious man. I’d rather have a heart on his sleeve, loyal to a fault, Duncan any day.Destined for Doon

The romantic tension and angst needed in a YA book is so well done in this one. I have no clue how the authors’ craft these things so seamlessly and believably—I wish I could sit down with Carey and Lorie for lessons in this to strengthen my own YA writing.

Both Carey and Lorie are skilled authors, their writing complements each other well. The setting of Doon comes alive. As someone who has never traveled to Scotland, the book transports me there and fills in all the gaps with beautiful description.

Beyond the romance, the conflict and mystery in this book are very good and kept me as a reader guessing how exactly Veronica and Kenna could possibly overcoming the thing that is threatening to destroy the entire kingdom of Doon and everyone who lives there. High stakes—yeah, I pulled a heart-pounding all nighter because I couldn’t put turn the pages fast enough for the last 120 pages. Man alive. These women know how to craft a story. I have said that already, haven’t I?

Lastly, I really appreciate that the authors take the chance to show two teen girls in an uplifting friendship. Kenna and Veronica always have each other’s’ backs. Their first instinct is to encourage and challenge each other. And they are constantly risking all for the other. When so many YA books only show girls gossiping and hurting each other, it’s refreshing to see the bond for friendship in the Doon series.

I am avidly awaiting the next installment and am considering bribing Carey and Lorie with cookies and musical tickets in order to read book three w-a-y ahead of time. Thankfully, we have two more books to look forward to. More adventures. More Doon. And more Duncan.

read the book

Jess

A Review for The Butterfly and the Violin

The Butterfly and the Violin – by Kristy Cambron

I’m going to be honest—I usually pass right by any book that I think will be depressing or things that cover heavy subject matters. I get enough real life shock value in my day job; I don’t need it during my relaxing time when I’m reading. Going off of that, you’re probably confused as to why I’m recommending a book that centers around Auschwitz—but The Butterfly and the Violin is brimming with hope and holds a story as breathtakingly beautiful as it’s cover.

The book follows both a contemporary and a historical storyline. Sometimes a book that has both can feel jarring when we transition to a different time period, but Cambron expertly weaves the two together. Both characters are written uniquely and I cared about both heroines.The Butterfly and the Violin

Sera James is an art gallery owner in Manhattan. As a young girl she saw a painting of a woman with a shaved head playing a violin and the image has stayed with her, haunting her into adulthood. When she has the opportunity to locate a copy of the painting, Sera jumps at the chance and heads to California where her life becomes entangled with a man who wants the painting as well.

I found Sera to be a realistic character who I enjoyed. Scars from Sera’s past threaten her hope for a relationship with William. Is he worth trusting? Sera’s past tells her most men aren’t.

Adele Von Bron has become Austria’s darling as a violin prodigy, but when she is caught attempting to help Jews escape during the Nazi reign, her prestige, nor her father’s high position, can save her from being sent to the concentration camp. Adele is broken and alone and finds the only way to save herself is to join the orchestra which plays for the laborers and at the whim of the Nazis. Adele proves to be remarkably brave—her story touched me deeply.

The historical sections are powerful, heartbreaking, and full of every emotion available. Cambron does a good job of showing us the horrors of the concentration camp without becoming gory or gruesome. Historical details in this book were so well researched. I had no idea there were orchestras or art in the midst of all of this.

One of the things I appreciated the most is that a story that could have been a downer, was instead stamped with hope on every single page. There is friendship that saves, romantic love offering new chances, and the eternal love of God that gives a future.

This story is deeply spiritual at its core containing messages about pushing beyond our mistakes, clinging to God even when evil is all around you, and urges you to see the beauty in every day of life.

The Butterfly and the Violin is a must read (and I just checked, its only $3.99 for Kindle right now!). It’s one of those stories that brands itself on your heart, coming back into your thoughts for years afterwards.

Jess

I’m Alive! An Update and Review of The Hesitant Heiress to Prove it!

Widowers Second ChanceI’ve been hopelessly absent from blogging and I’m very sorry about that fact. Truth be known, I really enjoy posting things for you and would like to get into a more regular schedule. I’m currently trying to figure out what that looks like, and what sort of content would serve you all best.

What have I been doing? Besides working at my day job and playing with a very giggly 20 month old, I’ve been writing. My latest Love Inspired book, The Widower’s Second Chance, released in August—it launches a new series called Goose Harbor which follows the lives of people who live on the sandy shores of a tourist community on Lake Michigan.

My next book with Phantom Ship Press will release in October. Searching for Home launches a three book series called Spies of Chicago that follows both a historical and contemporary storyline. Isn’t the cover gorgeous? And then at the end of November a historical Christmas novella titled Hear on Christmas Morning will release.

SearchingHome_CVR

Other than that I’ve been catching up on one of my favorite activities—reading. Let me tell you, I’ve found some AMAZING books in the last few months and discovered some authors that went directly onto my pre-order every book they ever write list. With that in mind I’m going to post a book review/recommendation every day this week.

The Hesitant Heiress by Dawn Crandall

 If I could give this book more than 5 stars, I would. It’s easily the best historical fiction I’ve read in many years (and I’m a 100+ book a year reader). The second I finished The Hesitant Heiress, I wanted to start rereading it and I’ve been thinking about the characters long after finishing it because they are so well written they felt like real people.

The main character, Amaryllis Brigham, has lived a lonely life and would rather spend time with books and music than with people. The day her mother died is wrapped up in mystery and she hasn’t had much contact with her father since she was whisked away to a boarding school straight from the funeral. Adding to that is an over-riding sense that every terrible event in her life has been influenced by Bram Everstone—the man who once loved her mother.

Upon her grandmother’s death Amaryllis learns that she’s set to inherit a fortune as long as she marries within the year—something she’s not willing to consider. The story opens with Amaryllis being expelled from the Boston Conservatory of Music, which leads her to living with her well-to-do aunt in Boston, forcing her to attend parties and hob-nob with those in high society.

Amaryllis meets Nathan Everstone and sparks fly before they even exchange their first words. Nathan is a hero worth cheering on. A man who is both dreamy, yet believable—yes, I said dreamy. Nathan doesn’t give up easily and yet completely respects the space Amaryllis needs. Their love story is beautiful, full of tension, and kept me reading late into the early morning hours.

The Hesitant HeiressPoor Amaryllis can’t trust that Nathan loves her though because a misunderstanding leads her to believe that her aunt asked Nathan to pay attention to her. That—and he’s the son of her greatest enemy.

The Hesitant Heiress is told in first person, which I love. I wish more inspirational fiction—especially historicals—were written like this. It often felt like I was reading a contemporary of the book Rebecca or Jane Eyre (two of my all-time favorites). It’s that good. Seriously.

Crandall is masterful at crafting characters who have believable motivations. I completely understood why Amaryllis thought and acted and reacted the way she did to everything because I felt her past hurts and the lies about herself she believed so deeply.

As an author, I can usually guess most twists and turns that are going to happen in a story because that’s how my mind works when I dive into a plot—but with this book I was able to turn that off and just be along for the ride. That’s high praise because I can so rarely engage with a book on that level. I have to adore the book and characters to do that, but Crandall made that easy for me. She’s now on my preorder-every-single-thing-she-every-writes list. There were elements of mystery and plot twists in the book that I didn’t initially see coming.

Crandall expertly drew me into the Gilded Age setting with well researched details and authentic dialogue. I felt like I was there. She also didn’t fall into a mistake that many historical writers make of too much detail—sometimes that’s just as distracting.

More than anything, I can’t get Crandall’s characters out of my head. Amaryllis and Nathan are real. They live and breathe on the page and will do so in your heart and mind long after you’re done. Happily, the next two books of the series are releasing quickly so we all don’t have to wait long for the rest of the stories!

I can’t recommend The Hesitant Heiress highly enough. It deserves far more than 5 stars.

**I bought this book with my own hard earned money and am reviewing it because I think everyone should read it**

Jess