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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

soul's cry FB banner copy

About the Book

Title: Soul’s Cry
Author: Cara Luecht
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: June 15, 2017
Ione has everything she’d wanted with her busy shop filled to the brim with sumptuous fabrics, gossiping debutants, and a neatly increasing profit margin. Not to mention the unexpected attention of a man who doesn’t know her past.
And then the letter dropped from the mail slot onto to lush carpet. He was back. And the abuse, the shame, rushes in, reminding her of how unworthy she really is.
Miriam also has everything she’d wanted—and with a baby on the way, for the first time in her life, she has everything to lose. When she’d been alone, the future had held promise, but now with her life full, it also holds fear.
Unwilling to risk a vision of loss, Miriam stops painting what will be…right before Ione needs it most.
Click here to purchase your copy

About the Author

140223_132100ph(2)Award winning author, Cara Luecht, lives in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin with her husband, David, and their children. In addition to freelance writing and marketing, Cara works as an English Instructor for a local college. Cara graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Wisconsin and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Currently, Cara is studying for a Masters of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary.

Guest post from Cara Luecht

The moment you realize how subtle racism can be.
As someone of Northern European ancestry, I approach this topic with caution and with the knowledge that I can never fully understand racism in America from a personal perspective. That being said, part of me knows that unless white America owns up to the problems that still exist, they will never go away, or if they do, they will not go away because of what I have done. I don’t want to be on the right side of history as a spectator.
Writing Soul’s Cry was daunting, because the main character in this part of the trilogy is African American. I’ll tackle the challenges with that in another blog. For now, I want to talk about one simple example of ongoing racism.
A few months ago, my publisher contacted me looking for inspiration pictures for the cover. The picture I had pinned to my desktop for Ione was from the 1800s, and heaven-only-knows how I would find permission to use it. Besides, it was in black-and-white, and we needed something that would go well with the other covers in the trilogy.
Ione’s Inspiration Picture
I went to the popular sites that cover designers use to look for modern pictures of women, in Victorian Era clothes, who had the smart, determined expression I’d imagined for Ione.
I found a bunch of models–problem is, they were all white.
I then typed in “African American Victorian Woman.” One picture. And she was dressed as a burlesque dancer. Nice. I tried “Black woman in 1890,” a bit miffed that I had to use the term “Black” rather than “African American”—nothing. I got desperate, rolled my eyes, and even attempted the archaic “Negro woman in 1890” in hopes of getting something…nothing.
I tried other sites. I found the same problem.
I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised—when you think of a high-society Victorian woman, does an African American face come to mind?
This doesn’t match up with the truth, though. In the late Victorian era, there was a thriving, influential, African American community in Chicago as well as many other major cities. While there were indeed crowded ghetto areas, the “Black Elite” prospered in the medical and legal professions.
Unfortunately, we rarely hear of these remarkable people who moved beyond the place society had deemed was theirs, who built on the humble foundation of literacy, who pushed innovation forward, who served on boards and cultural societies, and who worked to pull their families out of the devastation of slavery and the Civil War.
It is uncomfortable to admit, but the picture that comes to mind when thinking of an African American in the late 1800s has more in common with slaves than with a prosperous, thriving community.
And since poor African Americans outnumbered wealthy ones, I suppose one could make the argument that this reflected how a majority of African Americans lived. And that would be true…
…but it would also be true for whites. One of my grandfathers was born in an Iowa coal town. Another, into the dustbowl conditions of North Dakota. In fact, if I look back in my own history, almost every one of my ancestors lived in poverty.
So why is it that when I think about a Victorian Era woman, the picture that comes to mind looks like someone from the set of Meet Me In St. Louis.
And here’s the twist…because the picture of the woman in my mind looks a bit like me (in that we are both white), her poise, the no-nonsense posture and expression…it makes me feel a bit of pride—even though I have no real connection with her. The fact is, I can look at these old pictures and see in her the determination I hope to have. I want to live up to this woman’s expectations. As crazy as it sounds, when I look at these pictures, I feel pride in a heritage I do not own. My family was in poverty, but because of these pictures, I can identify with affluence. Prosperity does not feel like a foreign concept.
Now imagine that every picture of a white woman I saw as representative of my past looked haggard, tired, and hopeless.
I’ll leave the implications for you to puzzle out.


I found the book to be quite eerily dark at times with the two main characters regretting past mistakes. The author does a good job of allowing us to feel the struggles both Miriam and Ione have. I was quickly intrigued with Ione. She seemed to be scared of being recognized by someone from her past. She has a past like most of us do, but she feels hers is so bad she can never be forgiven. I liked that she was an owner of a dress shop and was very well liked by many. Her attention to detail made her shop very successful. I could picture the beautiful fabric as she sewed with grace. Ione has made a new life for herself, but lurking in the darkness is evil waiting to harm her.

Miriam is a woman who is gifted as a painter. Her paintings are beautiful and she feels alive when she lets herself immerse in her work. As she waits for the birth of her child, she starts to feel a bit lost at times. I loved the mysterious passageways that several characters found themselves wandering in. Miriam almost seems to find solace during her time of exploring the winding hallways. She can sense someone watching her, but can’t convince others of her concerns.

The mystery throughout the book is well written and does add a level of intense drama to the story. I couldn’t wait to see how the story ends, and I was very pleased with the outcome. The author does a good job of keeping readers glued to the story with a heartstopping event that could hurt many people. Both Ione and Miriam are relatable because like many of us, we want to be accepted. The past kept Ione from believing in herself but with God’s forgiveness we can learn to hold our head up and know we are loved.

I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion.

Blog Stops

Blogging With Carol, January 24
Simple Harvest Reads, January 24 (Guest Post from Mindy Houng)
allofakindmom, January 25
Pursuing StacieJanuary 26
A Reader’s Brain, January 27
BigreadersiteJanuary 28
Bibliophile Reviews, January 29
A Greater YesJanuary 30
margaret kazmierczak, January 30 (Interview)
Texas Book-aholic, January 31
Janices book reviewsFebruary 2
Carpe Diem, February 4


To celebrate her tour, Cara is giving away a grand prize of signed copies of the entire series!!
Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!


One of the reasons I love reading books by this author is because with a few words I am swep away to another place. Her vivid description of the setting takes my breath away. She is an excellent writer and I fall in love with the characters each time. I loved the story and wanted to sit down with Jennie and hold her hand. She had kept a dark secret for many years. Not every marriage is perfect but Jennie’s was like living a nightmare. Her fear of doing something wrong kept her on egg shells. Now that she has seven children to raise on her own, what will she do? Can she continue to scrape by, or will she follow what the church thinks she needs to do? 

One of the things I found so fascinating was learning the difference between Anabaptist and Mennonites. There are many things the Mennonites allow, that the Anabaptist don’t. I loved how the author brings Nathan into the story. He is a good man, but I’m not sure he can get Jennie’s attention. They come from different backgrounds and for Jennie she doesn’t want to go against her church. He wants to make roots in the community, but devastating news may change that. What will Nathan decide?

Leo is the kind of man who would make a great husband. He is a good hard working man. He is very quiet and hard to talk to though. Many people have talked to him about his guilt over his father’s death. Leo feels responsible and he will have to lean on God to heal him. I loved the turmoil that Jennie and Leo are going through. They each have guilt that is overwhelming them. For Jennie , will she learn to trust another man, or stay in her own raising her children? Can Leo learn to forgive himself ?

The story is like a walk through the countryside with beautiful things waiting to be explored. It can bring you new adventure and give you a sense of peace while allowing God to heal hearts. I loved this story and wanted it to not end. I loved this quote from the story ,”It’s a sign of overwhelming pride when a man thinks he’s the only one who can do God’s work.”

I received a copy of this book from the author. The review is my own opinion.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Ain't Misbehaving FB Cover copy

About the Book

00 Final Front
Title: Ain’t Misbehaving
Author: Marji Laine
Genre: Contemporary Inspirational Fiction
Release Date: January 16, 2017
True, Annalee’s crime amounted to very little, but not in terms of community service hours. Her probation officer encouraged her with a promise of an easy job in an air conditioned downtown environment. She didn’t expect her role to be little better than a janitor at an after-school day care in the worst area of town. Through laughter and a few tears, Annalee finds out that some lessons are learned the hard way, and some seep into the soul unnoticed.
Carlton Whelen hides behind the nickname of CJ so people won’t treat him like the wealthy son of the Whelen Foundation director. Working at the foundations after-school program delights him and annoys his business-oriented father. When a gorgeous prima donna is assigned to his team, he not only cringes at her mistakes, but also has to avoid the attraction that builds from the first time he sees her.

About the Author

Marji LaineMarji Laine has completed seventeen years of homeschooling with the surreal notion that
she’ll now have time on her hands. But that’s unlikely. Her publishing company, Write Integrity Press, keeps her extremely busy. In her spare time, she teaches a high school and college Bible Study, leads a Sunday morning high school fellowship group, directs a children’s choir, and sings in her church’s adult choir.
She enjoys road trips with her family and friends, photography, scrapbooking, and participating in musical theater. Her favorite past time is game night with her family and her kids’ extended collection of friends.

Guest Post from Marji Laine

AIN’T MISBEHAVING delves into the depth of life from the perspective of a shallow, sheltered woman. Annalee Chambers has been raised to pay attention to all aspects of society, particularly the appearance of success. Being cultured and socially-educated, she’s not really prepared to work in one of the poorest sections of town. And she’s really not expecting to find such joy intertwined with such poverty.
Having my story set in my hometown has some fun aspects. I got to handpick the homes for the main characters and the locations for the after-school program. And even now when I drive past some of those places, I get all excited about the story again.

Photo by Andreas Praefcke via Wikimedia Commons

For instance, I chose a particular building downtown to be CJ’s (the hero’s) condo. It’s in One Arts Plaza. This condo was for sale when I was writing the book so I was able to download actual pictures of the place including the view from its southeast facing patio. You’ll laugh, but I don’t drive by that building without looking up to the 18th floor and half expecting to see CJ standing there.
AIN’T MISBEHAVING goes much deeper than only the setting, though. It was written a number of years ago, so many that I barely remembered the storyline. But when I started editing, I was moved to tears again and again. These characters are so real, and I would love to meet them!
I hope you’ll enjoy AIN’T MISBEHAVING and watch for Annalee and CJ to have an extra special cameo part in Book 2 of the Dallas Duets, PUTTIN’ ON THE RITZ.


I haven’t read a book from this author before and I found her writing style to be sassy, straight forward and exceptional character development. Right away I knew this book would help me look at people differently. Can I see a show of hands of those who have judged someone before because of the way they dressed? How about those who think rich people are all stuck up? Yes I can say that ugly little thing called jealousy and deception has played a part in how I perceive people. This is the perfect book to have your eyes and heart open as the author takes a seemingly weathly young woman and places her in a place she has never been before. 

I loved how Annalee found herself doing community service at an after school program for children. She has lived a very pampered and sheltered life. Will the time she spends at the after school program change her attitude? Can she open her heart to these children and show them love and acceptance? I really like Annalee and her determination to stick it out even though some volunteers didn’t quite like her. The story is well written and I fell in love with the children. There are some tender moments that brought tears to my eyes. CJ has his hands full keeping an eye on Annalee. He wants her to be able to do her community service so she doesn’t have to do jail time. CJ is very humble and doesn’t want Annalee to find out who he really is. What will happen when the truth comes out? Will Annalee feel betrayed?

The dynamics between Annalee and her parents are very intriguing. Why does Annalee feel so inadequate around her mother? Annalee is slowly learning how to accept God’s love, but it is hard since her mother seems to always criticize her. I loved how the author focuses on Annalee’s relationship with God. The story also focuses on the threat of the after school program shutting down. Can Annalee and CJ find a way to save it? It’s clear that Annalee loves being with the children. Will her plans help safe the place, or will someone close it down? Don’t miss this wonderful book that deals with jealousy, acceptance, secrets, and finding God’s plan for your life. 

I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion.

Blog Stops

Janices book reviewsJanuary 27
Remembrancy, January 28
Mary Hake, January 28
Inklings and NotionsJanuary 29
Texas Book-aholicJanuary 30
Carpe Diem, January 31
Multifarious, February 2
Daysong ReflectionsFebruary 2
Bibliophile Reviews, February 3
Power of Words, February 4 (spotlight)
A Greater YesFebruary 5
Reading is my Super Power, February 5 (Interview)
margaret kazmierczak, February 6 (interview)
Simple Harvest Reads, February 7 (Guest review from Mindy Houng)
BigreadersiteFebruary 8
Pursuing StacieFebruary 9


To celebrate her tour, Marji is giving away a grand prize of Dallas chocolates, Texas snack box, and a packet of Bluebonnet seeds!!
Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

Monday, January 29, 2018


When I started the book I had two thoughts pop in my head. One was the saying, “You can never go home again,” and the other is “There is no place like home.” I know once I left home, I never wanted to return. There was nothing for me and I wandered lost in the world for many years. Hannah has come home to help out and I could feel her stomach as it did somersaults walking into her parents home. She has been gone for a long time and not everyone will be happy to see her. Can she regain the trust of her dat? Will the community welcome her home, or shun her until she asks for forgiveness? 

It had to be a culture shock for her son Brandon. He must think he has traveled back in time, as he realizes there are no modern conveniences. His appearance will shock a few but he does have a stubbornness to him which I found to be endearing. Brandon has a lot to deal with and maybe by playing it cool he can hide in the background. The author knows how to write stories that tug on your heart and I wanted to hug Hannah and Brandon.

Aaron is a hard working man who has been in love with Hannah for a long time. He sure was surprised to see Hannah come home. I could feel the tension between the two when they first see each other. How would you feel if you ran into someone from your past? Can Aaron forgive Hannah from leaving him so long ago? Things have really changed in Aaron’s life and Hannah will have to make some hard decisions. 

I loved how the story was about second chances and forgiveness. Hannah has walked away from her faith and will have a hard time allowing herself to heal. I was in for a big shock in the story and never saw it coming. The author is a master storyteller with wonderful characters and a theme that whispers of grace and compassion. I am honored that I read a book that captured real problems with answers that came from prayer and family. Can you really go home again? Find out in this first in the series from an author that keeps me coming back for more books from her. 

I received a copy of this book from the author. The review is my own opinion.