Tuesday, January 7, 2020

The Amish Marriage Bargain by Marie E. Bast Book Review and Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

Will a baby girl bring them together at last?
She’ll do anything for her niece…Even marry the man who broke her heart.
Nothing can keep May Bender in her Amish hometown—except caring for her baby niece. But the bishop insists that May also marry her widowed brother-in-law, Thad Hochstedler—the beau who jilted her to wed her sister. Can May risk her heart long enough to learn the real reason for Thad’s first marriage…and possibly rediscover their love?
Book: The Amish Marriage Bargain
Author: Marie E. Bast
Genre: Amish    Release Date: December 17, 2019

Marie E. Bast wrote a beautiful story about May making a promise to her dying sister, April she and a bargain made strictly so she can be a mother to her tiny daughter and help save their family farm. May's solution to the finacial problesm were very clever. 

May is faced with the decision to accept her aunt's offer to work in her Indiana bakery or marry Thad. She also wanted to keep her promise to her sister, April to take care of her daughter Leah. No question about it she wanted deeply to take care of Leah, but then she would have to deal with Thad and his family. Thad's mother treated her poorly and made her feel incompetent. May and Thad dated and was really in love with each other in the past only to be jilted when he married her sister April instead. After her sister, April passed away Thad inherited the family farm where May was living as she helped care for his daughter, Leah. Now she is left with the decision on what to do. 

We see the struggles of the small dairy farmers trying to survive from the government USDA regulations. This allowed us to see a creative side of May as she came up with a variety of ideas of making cheese as a way to save their family far. Thad was involved in a local diary farmer association. 

The lead characters are relatable. They are hard working. 
May is strong with a business sense who can think beyond the norm. She always felt inferior to her sister.  Throughout the book we see May having a kind heart and deeply loves her neice, Leah.  She is having the hardest time forgiving Thad for marring her sister. Thad didn't know how to treat woemn right and made some big mistakes. he did the best to provide for his family and tried to show May kindness in hopes of winning her heart back. Even though he was dense I still like him.  

Marie E. Bast did a great job of adding conflict and a variety of situations to keep the story interesting and not a repeat of other Amish Romance novels. I know they are in in Amish country, but the diaglogue didn't sound natural to me. Marie E. Bast highlighted many customs of the Amish and items in the Ordnung. There are many Amish rules I don't agree with especially rules for the women. 

There were times in the story something would happen then Bast would include, "as was the custom with the Amish" which was unnecessary and took me away from the story at times. The theme of the book is to letting go and forgive. Throughout the book it had a mystery romance feel to it.  It is your typcial Amish romance novel, but it was a nice read. 

I received a copy from CelebrateLit. The comments and impressions are my own. 

Marie E. Bast is a Publishers Weekly bestselling author. Her stories whisper words of hope and healing through complex characters and twisting plots. She enjoys writing Amish, contemporary and historical stories. Married for twenty-eight years, Marie and her husband have two grown sons and one daughter. When she’s not writing, she’s walking, golfing, gardening or spending time with her family. Visit her website at MarieBastAuthor.com or follower her on social media.
Check out her blog: Click Here 

More from Marie

Did you know that until as late as the twentieth century, marriage was never based on love?
In fact, the institution of marriage predates recorded history. But in ancient biblical times, the reasons for marriage are numerous. The kings, nobility, wealthy, and aristocratic families used arranged marriages to ensure loyalty between kingdoms, which forced a united bound and ensured the integrity of their inheritance and the family wealth.
Arranged marriages, marriages of convenience, and marriage bargains were practical to keep property and kingdoms intact and in the family line. But these marriage contracts also spilled over into the commoners’ lives. In times of poverty, a daughter was only another mouth to feed and therefore a burden on the family. That fueled the arranged marriages where the groom gave the family money, animals, or some other commodity in exchange for the marriage.
Also, arranged marriages were instrumental for women over the age of 30 who were unwed. Even in the nineteenth century, many women would find that a marriage of convenience was the way to go. Often, a widower needed a mother and housekeeper for his family, and sometimes a woman without means to support herself would readily accept a marriage of convenience. Even today, some cultures still use arranged marriages.
But one of the most unique marriage of convenience is the marriage bargain, and that is the central theme to my newest book, The Amish Marriage Bargain, which releases in book form December 17, 2019, and eBook January 1, 2020. The marriage bargain is the specific negotiation of the terms of the agreement regarding a particular situation and often included land.
After her sister dies, May Bender will do anything for her niece…Even marry the man who broke her heart. But like the days of old, the bargain goes deeper than that.


To celebrate her tour, Marie is giving away to four winners each a $25 Amazon card will also receive a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! 

The Power of Words, January 2
The Avid Reader, January 3
Texas Book-aholic, January 4
Vicky Sluiter, January 4
Mary Hake, January 4
Among the Reads, January 6
Betti Mace, January 6
Older & Smarter?, January 7
Batya’s Bits, January 7
janicesbookreviews, January 8
Hallie Reads, January 8
Bigreadersite, January 10
She Lives to Read, January 11
Quiet Quilter, January 12
Pause for Tales, January 12
EmpowerMoms, January 14
Splashes of Joy , January 15

Friday, January 3, 2020

Focused Backstory by Carol Alwood Book Review and Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

About the Book

Learn how to write characters readers will love. 
Has an industry professional told you not to dump character history at the beginning of your story? If so, you aren’t alone. But what’s the solution to this common advice? Most writers take the time to design interesting characters with troubled pasts. They long for readers to care about the characters’ lives. However, the sad truth is on page one, readers don’t care—yet. That’s why industry gurus tell writers to stop overusing character history, also called backstory, at the beginning of stories. Have you ever wondered… How to use backstory correctly? What are the ways other writers successfully incorporate backstory into their work? Do tools exist to help writers better plan stories so the backstory isn’t such a problem? In Focused Backstory: The Key to Writing Deep Character Journeys, you’ll find answers to these questions and more. You’ll learn how to avoid the dreaded info-dump and instead, harness curiosity so readers keep turning pages. This resource breaks down focused backstory into simple pieces to use flexibly in any story no matter what genre or length. Worksheets, tables, questionnaires, and templates will help you plan an engaging story with deep characters. Examples from popular stories will help you understand this method.
You’ll learn how to
• design a character around a troubled past.
• create additional characters around the main character.
• weave interesting sub-plots within a characters’ journey toward healing.
• design proper obstacles that interfere with characters’ goals.
• guide readers’ emotions so they have a satisfying reading experience.
No matter what kind of writer you are, if you take the time to analyze the use of backstory, it will enhance your style. Focused Backstory: The Key to Writing Deep Character Journeys is the missing gadget in your writing tool kit.

Book:  Focused Backstory
Author: Carol Alwood
Genre: Non-fiction, writing resource
Release Date: June 26, 2019


As a filmmaker, story writer and blogger I was so excited to read  "Focused Backstory" by Carol Alwood. 

Carol Alwood has taken her years of experience in writing and beautifully created a great writing resource. "Focused Backstory" concentrates more on fictional writing, but most of the concepts can be brought to other types of media writing including short stories, screenplays, plays, memoir, biographies, news articles,, and so much more. Her book is full of illustrated charts, worksheets, and exercises that help guide you in building your characters' backstories in a systematic way.  The book identifies five backstories and the eleven elements that constitute them, branching out from there and building on how to compose a story with engaging characters. She does a fantastic job of using movies, book and tv show to make her concepts easy to understand. 

The structure of the book is very helpful. Each chapter tells you what it's going to cover, then covers it. Within each chapter, she puts in tables for ready reference, templates, worksheets and bullet lists and stick-figure illustrations. At the end of the chapter it summaries it to help you focus on what was the most important information. 

Not only does she talk about character development but also advice regarding plot, subplots, motivation, conflict and other important novel-writing elements. Throughout the book she includes tips on creating secondary characters, giving characters goals and obstacles all while developing character arcs. Alwood does a great job explaining how to elicit reader emotions too. 

Whether or not you are an aspiring or an experienced writer, you will find "Focused Backstory"  is worth the read. 

I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit but was not under any obligation to write a review. All opinions are strictly mine.


Carol Alwood has an unending passion for fiction, and she can’t think of a better way to spend her life than writing books for young adults and teaching about techniques she has learned along the way. With a Master of Education, experience as a content editor, and over a decade of establishing and working with critique groups, she is an excellent resource. An award-winning author, Carol finds joy in helping writers find the right tools to plan, draft and revise their novels so they can achieve excellence in storytelling.

Twitter: @AlwoodCarol

Website: https://www.carolalwood.com/

More from Carol

Focused Backstory resulted from a personal quest to please industry critics who suggested I keep character history out of the first pages of my novels. My initial questions to this advice were: What? Why? I searched for resources to figure out how to write a more powerful beginning without relying on the past but found little help. On a mission to find answers, I studied popular books, television and movies to abstract what made stories work and — boom! I found it! We can break down backstory into simple pieces to use flexibly in any story without compromising artistry. This book provides definitions, examples, worksheets, templates, and comics to help writers study the art of using powerful character histories to keep readers turning pages. I’m so excited to offer this resource and hope it will empower your writing as it has mine.


To celebrate her tour, Carol is giving away the grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! 


Holly Jo Morris, December 28
janicesbookreviews, December 29
CarpeDiem, December 29
Jacquelyn Lynn, December 29
Mary Hake, December 30
Blogging With Carol, December 31
All-of-a-kind Mom, December 31
Genesis 5020, January 1
Pause for Tales, January 1
Emily Yager, January 3
Remembrancy, January 4
A Reader’s Brain, January 5
Sara Jane Jacobs, January 5
Godly Book Reviews, January 6
A Diva’s Heart, January 8
Artistic Nobody, January 9
Texas Book-aholic, January 10
Stories By Gina, January 10
Click here to get your copy.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The Wedding Dress Christmas By Rachel Hauck Book Review and Giveaway


December covers quaint Heart’s Bend, Tennessee with a blanket of white and the glitter of Christmas lights.
For JoJo Castle there’s no place like home. It’s her safe place. Her one-time love of adventure ended when life in the big city shattered her hopes and dreams. Now that she’s returned to Hearts Bend, she never wants to leave again.
Buck Mathews, the biggest country singing sensation in decades, has the world on a string – his guitar strings, to be exact. However, when news of his mother’s illness sends him back to Hearts Bend for the holiday season, he remembers how good it can be to live among family and friends.
Working with her cousin Haley in The Wedding Shop, JoJo has no aspirations of love. Leaving home, surrendering her heart again, is just too risky.
When she runs into her friend and high school crush Buck Mathews, she discovers Love might have other plans for her[BV1] .
Buck’s career is on the verge of a momentous leap. But seeing JoJo awakens feelings he’d buried long ago. Falling in love is easy, but winning her heart will take more than one of his melodic tunes and clever lyrics.
JoJo and Buck want opposite things for their lives, leaving no room for compromise. Can love, especially the kind that touches hearts at Christmastime, overcome her fears and his quest for greatness?
When a very special gown – the wedding dress – begins to make its presence known, JoJo and Buck’s hearts bend in a way neither ever thought possible.
 Click here to get your copy.
Book:  The Wedding Dress Christmas
Author: Rachel Hauck
Genre: Romance, Christmas
Release Date: October 22, 2019

"The Wedding Dress Christmas" is a contemporary romance book from Rachel Hauck's "The Wedding Dress series." This series takes you into the legend and history of a special wedding dress designed and sewn in 1912 in Birmingham AL by an African American seamstress which endured 108 years in multiple brides each with their own stories. It is full of Devine presence. 

"The Wedding Dress Christmas" takes us into the lives of JoJo Castle and Buck Mathew. JoJo leaves Dallas to come back to her hometown from a successful public relations career to help her cousin, Haley,  run her bridal shop. 

JoJo has no aspirations of love until her highschool crush, Buck Mathew returns to his hometown to take care of his mother who is suffering from cancer. Buck is a country music sensation. After seeing each other their emotions comes back up. With the help of the very special wedding dress helps draw up some Christmas Magic and Miracles.  

I love the way Rachel Hauck made the wedding dress feels like a character and not just a dress. 
The pacing is well done. Throughout the book, there are some tough topics and real-life situations. There is also a lot of humor as well. The characters feel real and retable. We feel their insecurities, disappointments, fears and their hopes. The chemistry between the hero and heroine are well done. JoJo is a confident, strong and successful woman. Buck is a gentleman and a swoon-worthy country music singer. It expands on the fear of love and rejection.

The pacing was well done, especially for a novella. It didn't rush the storyline it allowed you time to get to know the characters and situations.  According to other readers who have read the other "The Wedding Series" books said some of the characters from the previous books are revisited in this book. 

Hauck made a magical inspiring heartwarming book. It had a beautiful satisfying ending.  It has lots of Christmas magic full of uplifting. I can see this being made into a Hallmark Christmas movie. I highly recommend this fun heartwarming holiday season book. 

I recieved this copy of the book from the publisher via Celebrate Lit Tour. These are my opinions and solely mine  I wasn't obligated to make a positive or negative review. .


Rachel Hauck is an award-winning, New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author.
Her book The Wedding Dress was named Inspirational Novel of the Year by Romantic Times Book Reviews. She is a double RITA finalist and a Christy and Carol Award Winner.
Her book, Once Upon A Prince, first in the Royal Wedding Series, was filmed for an Original Hallmark movie.
Rachel has been awarded the prestigious Career Achievement Award for her body of original work by Romantic Times Book Reviews.
A member of the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers, she teaches workshops and leads worship at the annual conference. She is a past Mentor of The Year.
At home, she’s a wife, writer, worship leader and works out at the gym semi-enthusiastically.
A graduate of Ohio State University (Go Bucks!) with a degree in Journalism, she’s a former sorority girl and a devoted Ohio State football fan. Her bucket list is to stand on the sidelines with Ryan Day.
She lives in sunny central Florida with her husband and ornery cat.

More From Rachel

Hello Royal Rockstar Readers!
I’m thrilled to share The Wedding Dress Christmas with you. I’ve heard from so many how much The Wedding Dress has touched them, and as I noodled over new story ideas, my thoughts drifted toward the wedding dress and Christmas. What’s more romantic than a Christmas wedding?
This novella is set in Hearts Bend, Tennessee, the fictional town ofThe Wedding Chapel and The Wedding Shop. Even if you’ve never read one of books inThe Wedding Collection, you’ll enjoy this story, the mystery of the dress, and the women whose lives it changed.
I love weddings. They remind us of the purity and the hope of love, the power of commitment. Something powerful is released when two people pledge to spend their lives together, loving and serving one another in both good and bad times. Every wedding I attend reminds me of the vows I made to my husband and I sign up all over again.
Stories are a powerful reflection of life. Yes, fictional stories are often told with wild hyperbole, but that’s what makes them fun to read.
I also love wedding stories because they remind us of God’s love for us, and that one day there will be the grandest wedding of them all. Isn’t it wonderful that God planned a wedding before He created the earth?
In The Wedding Dress Christmas, JoJo and Buck have their issues, but love proves strong enough to conquer them all.
Thanks for going on this little tour with me and The Wedding Dress Christmas.


To celebrate her tour, Rachel is giving away a print copy of the book and a Visa gift card for $25. Swag!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! 

Blog Stops

The Avid Reader, December 18
Livin’ Lit, December 18
Robin’s Nest, December 18
By The Book, December 19
Wishful Endings, December 19
All-of-a-kind Mom, December 19
Among the Reads, December 20
Genesis 5020, December 20
Life as Lanhams, December 20
Daysong Reflections, December 21
Bigreadersite, December 21
Simple Harvest Reads, December 22 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)
Remembrancy, December 22
Britt Reads Fiction, December 22
She Lives to Read, December 23
Empowermoms, December 23
Inside the Wong Mind, December 23
Mia Reads Blog, December 23
Splashes of Joy, December 24
Christian Bookaholic, December 24
Hallie Reads, December 24
Jeanette’s Thoughts, December 25
Blogging With Carol, December 25
For Him and My Family, December 26
Hebrews 12 Endurance, December 26
Mamma Loves Books, December 27
Betti Mace, December 28
Batya’s Bits, December 28
Quiet Quilter, December 29
janicesbookreviews, December 29
A Reader’s Brain, December 30
Inklings and notions, December 30
Texas Book-aholic, December 30
Carla Loves to Read, December 30
Back Porch Reads, December 31
CarpeDiem, December 31

The Amish Marriage Bargain by Marie E. Bast Book Review and Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

ABOUT THE BOOK Will a baby girl bring them together at last? She’ll do anything for her niece…Even marry the man who broke her heart....


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