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Book Review: The Farmer’s Daughter

Lisa Howeler’s novels never fail to leave my heart full and my spirit a little more hopeful. Enjoy my full review and grab a copy for yourself below!

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Molly Tanner is restless. After coming home to live and work on her parents’ dairy farm, life now seems to be passing her by.

She longs for something more, but every day is full of the same things: stubborn cows, an even more stubborn farm hand, Alex Stone, and the growing fear that her family’s life and legacy on the farm isn’t sustainable any longer.

So, Molly Tanner will have to decide…

Is it possible to find something new in the midst of familiar things, and can old fears truly be washed away by enduring love?

Every time I read a book by Lisa Howeler, I meet characters who are surprisingly real, who struggle with issues that hit close to home. The Farmer’s Daughter is no exception.

This is a poignant story of preserving legacy, believing for the impossible when all hope seems out of reach, and learning to trust that it’s still possible to find love that endures and is true.

If you’ve ever struggled to see your own worth or receive God’s grace, pick up this book. It will leave you feeling a little more whole and a lot more hopeful by story’s end.

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You can connect with Lisa on Instagram and her blog, Boondock Ramblings!

The Farmer’s Daughter is available on Amazon, along with all of Lisa’s other novels! You can read my review of her book, A New Beginning, here.

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Wishing you a weekend full of wonderful reads,

Alexandria

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Book Review: The Palmer Girl

I had the opportunity to read this really wonderful novel by Dawn Klinge! You can read my full review (and find links to purchase) below!

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Elizabeth Nordeman is looking for purpose.

After the tragic loss of her brother, Elizabeth and her family have temporarily relocated to the Palmer Hotel in Chicago, where they hope to find healing and a fresh start.

For Elizabeth, this means proving to her father that she is worthy of, one day, running his company, Nordeman Insurance. Searching for a way to showcase her keen mind for business, she embarks on an endeavor of her own that provides her with independence, along with an unexpected chance to find forgiveness and an enduring love.

But regret and misgivings continue to haunt Elizabeth, and it remains to be seen whether or not she will allow her new life in Chicago to flourish and bloom.

Dawn Klinge has crafted an endearing and important tale of love, new beginnings, and grace. With a beautifully depicted historical setting and rich descriptions that leave you longing to step inside the Palmer Hotel for yourself, this story not only delights, but also provides hope and ignites a passionate determination to pursue your God-given calling. If you’re longing for a novel with an engaging plot and a female protagonist you can’t help but cheer for, The Palmer Girl is the book you should be reading right now.

I volunatarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book, which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.

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You can find The Palmer Girl on Bookshop, a fantastic site that allows you to support independent booksellers with every purchase! It’s also available on Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

Follow Dawn Klinge on her website, Goodreads, and Facebook!

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What are you reading this weekend? I’d love to hear your recommendations!

Alexandria

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Interview with Lisa R. Howeler

Welcome to the third week of Author Spotlight Month!

It was such a joy to interview Lisa! Below, she shares more about what inspired her story, A New Beginning, what resting in the Father’s love looks like for her, and what to do when you’re caught in a creative slump.

Read on!

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Lisa Robinson-Howeler is a writer and photographer from Northeastern Pennsylvania, where she lives with her husband and two children. She is a former small-town newspaper reporter who decided to write her first novel in 2019. Her fiction focuses on issues of personal failings and triumphs, romance, and personal growth through faith and life lessons. Lisa has had her writing and photography featured in newspapers, magazines, and online nationally and internationally. In addition to being a new novelist, she is a blogger and a homeschooling mother.

What inspired you to write a story that deals with forgiving yourself and finding freedom from your past?

The inspiration for A Story to Tell, the first book I wrote, was my great-grandmother and great-grandfather’s story. A New Beginning is a sequel to A Story to Tell. In other words, A New Beginning was still inspired by my great- grandmother and great-grandfather’s story. 

 My great-grandmother sort of “ran off” with my great-grandfather around 1910 and got married, but I didn’t really want to write a book based in the early 1900s so I moved the story up to the 1950s and, of course, changed the story slightly. I kept the names of my great-grandparents in a way. Blanche was my great-grandmother’s name, but my great-grandfather was Howard. In the book, the characters are Blanche and Hank.

In real life, Blanche moved away from her hometown to live with Howard about an hour away. They were only married a couple of months when Blanche became pregnant. She returned to her family when my grandfather was about a year old and not long after she divorced my great-grandfather and my grandfather was given my great-grandmother’s maiden name. No one in the family was allowed to talk about my great-grandfather Howard and for much of my life that was still the way it was, even though Howard did make contact with my grandfather to try to make some sort of amends after my great-grandmother passed away.

As I got older, and after hearing this story a few times, I started to wonder what Howard had done that made Blanche leave him and eventually divorce him. I also started to wonder what it had been like for Blanche in the aftermath of it all – if she was able to forgive herself for running away with Howard, for trusting someone that family lore says wasn’t very nice or trustworthy, and then having a child with him. Or was it more of a struggle for her to forgive Howard for whatever he had done? And as she worked through those struggles, did she also wonder if she would ever find happiness, or love, again?

In my books, Howard’s character, Hank, is abusive and an adulterer. In real life, I don’t know that Howard was abusive, but family legend says he was an alcoholic and a womanizer and most likely an adulterer. So, while I pondered Blanche’s life and the role of forgiveness for her, I also began to ponder the fact that my grandfather was eventually able to forgive his father, in a way, by at least talking to him before he died. There were redemption and forgiveness all over the story of my great-grandparents, mixed in with what had to have been a lot of bitterness for betrayal, broken hearts, and rejection. 

That same redemption and forgiveness have been peppered throughout my own life as well. These are subjects that have been conquered for me in some ways and are a work in progress in others.

(An aside: While researching for the first book, I also learned that my great-grandfather ran away with his nephew’s wife shortly after divorcing my great-grandmother and that woman abandoned her husband and daughter to be with him. Even more betrayal, yes, but even more opportunity for redemption and forgiveness I hope came for them all before they passed away.)

Shame and regret are weapons that the enemy so often uses against us. What helps you rest in God’s love and forgiveness?

This is a hard one for me in some ways because I don’t always trust in God’s love and forgiveness. Isn’t that awful? I know that I have been taught he forgives us and sees us as his child, no matter what we do, but when I make a mistake, I will dwell on that over and over. There are times I struggle to forgive myself almost more than I struggle to forgive others. I am quicker to make an excuse to understand why someone else acted the way they did than I am to understand why I acted the way I did. If that makes sense. 

What helps me remember that Christ loves me as I am, though, is the very fact he died on the cross for me – for us. He died not because I was perfect, but because he is. When God looks at us he doesn’t see our mistakes – he sees Christ. God also sees his child, who he loves, and who he grieves for when he sees us make mistakes.

Many people dream of writing a book but are held back by the fear of not being good enough. What encouragement would you offer them?

First, don’t look at it as writing a book. Look at as writing a chapter. Then another. Then another. Then another until your story is done and you have a book. It’s such a daunting task when you think you are writing “a whole book.” I shared chapters for my first book on my blog and my readers wanted to know what happened next so I just kept writing the story for them. Before I knew it, I had a book completed. It wasn’t the best book ever written and I’d love to rewrite that first book someday, but it was a book and it was a story I wrote. I knew I wanted to try it again. 

 I definitely don’t feel good enough, but one thing I’ve reminded myself is that every reader has different tastes, likes, interests so what I’m writing may not be one reader’s “cup of tea” while it will be exactly what another reader enjoys. Plus, I remember the saying “practice makes perfect.” The more I do this whole “writing a book” thing, my hope is I’ll keep getting better. Will I ever be an award-winning author? I don’t know and I’m not worried about that. I’m simply having fun telling stories. The bottom line of this whole writing thing for me is to have fun. I worked for 14 years as a newspaper reporter. It’s what my degree is in. By the end, writing wasn’t fun anymore. I was also a photographer after I left newspapers and tried to make a career of it. It killed my love of photography for a few years. Once I gave up on the idea that I needed to make money from either of those things, I loved them again. 

Life is so short. You never know what will happen if you simply sit down and just start writing. My main advice is to not look at writing as a way to make money, but as a way to share what you want to share – whether a story or encouragement or advice. Whatever it is, your goal should be connecting with people more than connecting with a paycheck because it’s never guaranteed you will be paid, or at least paid well, for what you write. 

If you find yourself in a creative slump, what helps you get out of it and find inspiration?

Creative slumps happen often to me. For writing slumps, I either read a well-written book or watch a well-made movie. I need a good story to ignite ideas for my own stories. And sometimes I even watch a bad movie or read a not-so-great book to remind me what I don’t want to create. 

Sometimes during those slumps, I walk away from whatever piece I’m working on for a while to give my brain some time to detox and recover. Then there are other times I keep writing through the slump. Whatever I’m writing during that time may be awful, but I hope that I will eventually write myself out of the slump. 

Talking to people is another way I pull myself out of a slump. I’m a people watcher and there are times something I see or hear in real life will trigger an idea for a future story.

Can readers hope to see another book that focuses on Blanche’s story? Are there any projects that you’re currently working on that you’d like to share with readers?

I do have plans for another book that will be a branch off from Blanche’s story. It is going to be called Related by Blood and will focus on Blanche’s son Jackson and his relationship with his biological father Hank. 

I’ve also started a story that will either be a novella or a full-length novel about Lily, who is mentioned in A New Beginning. The book will simply be called Lily and will be a little more challenging to write and read (for some) than some of my books because it will deal with difficult subjects like child abuse, teenage pregnancy, and addiction. 

I just published a novella dealing with rekindling the passion in marriage called Rekindle and it is currently available on Amazon and Kindle, as well as through Kindle Unlimited. I hope to have it available through other sellers this winter as I figure out how to offer books places other than Amazon. The book focuses on Liam and Maddie Grant who are in the midst of a divorce when they are forced into quarantine after Liam comes in contact with someone who has a rare virus (yes, I wrote this during the onset of the COVID situation). The book also follows the story of Liam’s brother Matt, a United States Senator, who is also forced into quarantine and begins to think about how much he has neglected his marriage and family to pursue his political career. This book may be the basis for a future series, but I haven’t decided that for sure yet.  I’m also in the middle of writing The Farmer’s Daughter, the first in a series. The book should be out sometime in February 2021. It is about Molly Tanner, a 26-year old woman who is still living on her family’s farm but wonders if she should start her own life by leaving the farm and finding out what else is out there in the world for her. While the book does include a romantic element, it also follows the story of the Tanner family, who is fighting to keep their family farm and store from going under during hard economic times.

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I can’t wait to read more of Lisa’s books. She is a truly talented writer, and you won’t want to miss any of her novels!

You can grab a copy of A New Beginning and Rekindle on Amazon!

And be sure to follow Lisa’s blog, so you don’t miss any updates on current projects & future releases. You can also follow her on Instagram and Goodreads.

Next week is the final week of Author Spotlight Month (already!), and I’ll be sharing an interview with Niki Florica!

Until then,

Alexandria

Book Review: A New Beginning

Welcome to the third week of Author Spotlight Month!

Today, I have the absolute joy of introducing you to Lisa R. Howeler and her novel, A New Beginning.

Check out my full review below!

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Blanche Robbins is lost in her past.

After fleeing an abusive marriage and returning to her hometown with her son, Jackson, it seems that the broken pieces of her life could be repaired.

But her worst memories keep taunting Blanche, reminding her of all the reasons that freedom and a fresh chance at love are out of reach for her.

Her friends and family, however – not to mention newcomer, J.T. Wainwright – are far from content to let her settle for defeat.

A fresh wind is blowing for Blanche Robbins, promising to change everything, if only she’ll let it.

Lisa R. Howeler has crafted something truly stunning: a story that boldly confronts shame and refuses to let it have the final say.

If you have ever felt shame or regret, if you have ever believed you are unworthy of a new beginning, please read this book. This is a truly important story of grief eclipsed by joy, of regret defeated by redemption.

A New Beginning is one of those books that you’ll want to read again and again, just so you can soak in the wonderful truth it holds: there is an unconquerable Love that knows every moment of your past and promises you a new beginning that you won’t want to miss one moment of.

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A New Beginning is available on Amazon and you can also add it on Goodreads!

Please consider leaving a review once you’ve finished reading. Reviews are one of the best ways you can support authors!

In a couple of days, I’ll be sharing my interview with Lisa!

Until then,

Alexandria

Book Review: Carousel Dreams

Can you hear the music, reader? The melody spins in time with the horses, inviting you to step into four carousel dreams sure to entertain and delight with their lighthearted romance and historic ties to, perhaps, the most nostalgic of all carnival rides.

Carousel Dreams is a whirlwind book, bringing together four stories that are unconnected in all respects except one: each features a historic carousel and the couples that are brought together by their connections to it. Each story celebrates love stories that, while not without their difficulties, are pure and true. While reading, I was impressed by each author’s ability to set the stage so deftly and craft meaningful story lines. That being said, the stories, with A Carousel Wedding being the exception, left me wanting deeper character development and a richer historical backdrop.

All things considered, Carousel Dreams is the perfect summertime read, lighthearted and inspiring. While the stories could have had more depth, the characters remain real: flawed, hopeful, torn, courageous, and all the more relatable because of it. In its own unique way, each story will encourage readers to take risks, remain faithful, and hold onto hope.

Can you hear the music, reader? Step aboard the carousel, quickly now, before the music fades.