First Line Fridays: Searching for You

Welcome to First Line Friday’s hosted by Hoarding Books.

Today I’m excited to be featuring Searching for You by Jody Hedlund. Searching for You is a story that you will want for your “keeper” shelf. A story that you will want to pull out and read again. Jody Hedlund takes readers on a heartfelt journey through the pages of this book. I felt like I was right in the story with the characters. CLICK HERE to read my full review!

SearchingForYou

New York City
September 1859

          Sophie Neumann nuzzled her nose against Danny’s chest.

 

  Searching for You (Orphan Train #3)

 

Now it’s your turn!

Grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first line. To see what First Lines others are sharing this week head over to Hoarding Books.

First Line Fridays hosted by Hoarding Books

SearchingForYou.quote4

 

Searching For You (Orphan Train #3) by Jody Hedlund

Synopsis:

Despite years on the run, Sophie Neumann is determined to care for two young children. She won’t abandon them the way she thinks her older sisters abandoned her. But times are growing desperate, and when she falls in with the wrong crowd and witnesses a crime, she realizes fleeing 1850s New York is her only option.

Disappearing with her two young charges into a group of orphans heading west by train, Sophie hopes to find safety and a happy life. When the train stops in Illinois for the first placement of orphans, Sophie faces the most difficult choice of her life.

Reinhold Weiss has finally purchased his own small farm. With mounting debts, a harvest to bring in, and past scars that haunt him, he’s in no position to give his heart away . . . but can he say no when his long-lost friend shows up on a nearby train pleading for his help?

My Thoughts:

I have been looking forward to reading Sophie’s story. It wasn’t easy to wait, but oh so very worth it! Jody Hedlund takes readers on a heartfelt journey through the pages of this book. I felt like I was right in the story with the characters. My heart broke for Sophie and cheered for her breakthroughs and successes!

Even at her young age, Sophie had a mother’s heart and a deep love for the two children, Nicholas and Olivia, that were left in her care. She made some very tough choices and sacrificed much to ensure that Nicholas and Olivia were safe and that they had someone to love them.  Sophie carried with her a big hurt and misunderstanding. She often blamed God for the hardships she has faced, and her feelings of being abandoned by God. Sophie grows a lot during this story and it was a beautiful thing to be a part of!

At its core, this story takes a deep, soul-searching look at the inadequacies that we all feel in ourselves at one point or another. Through the eyes of the characters, we can learn that the inadequacies are lies. We need to know who we are in God and trust in His plan for our lives.

One of my favorite lines from this story reminds us that, “Sometimes God allows us to sink down in our own misery until we reach a low place where we’re finally ready to look up and reach out for Him.”

Searching for You is a story that you will want for your “keeper” shelf. A story that you will want to pull out and read again. There is so much to love about this story! Multifaceted characters, a deep, heart-warming plot, with page-turning delights. Start to finish, this story wove itself around my heart!

(I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. I am not required to write a positive review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.)

Favorite Quote:

SearchingForYou.quote1

About the Author:

JodyHedlundWinner of the 2016 Christian Book Award and finalist for the Christy Awards, best-selling author Jody Hedlund writes inspirational historical romances for both youth and adults.

Jody lives in central Michigan with her husband, five busy children, and five spoiled cats. Although Jody prefers to experience daring and dangerous adventures through her characters rather than in real life, she’s learned that a calm existence is simply not meant to be (at least in this phase of her life!).

When she’s not penning another of her page-turning stories, she loves to spend her time reading, especially when it also involves consuming coffee and chocolate.  You can find Jody at the following locations:

Web Page // Facebook // Twitter // Goodreads // Pinterest

  Searching for You (Orphan Train #3)

Don’t miss the other books in this collection:

     An Awakened Heart (Orphan Train Novella)

   With You Always (Orphan Train #1)

Together Forever (Orphan Train #2)

SearchingForYou.quote3

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First Line Fridays: The Hope of Azure Springs

Welcome to First Line Friday’s hosted by Hoarding Books.

Today I’m excited to be featuring The Hope of Azure Springs by Rachel Fordham! This wonderful, heart-warming story is sure to not only entertain but to also keep your attention!  I found myself invested in these characters right from the beginning! CLICK HERE to read my full review!

TheHopeOfAzureSprings

Azure Springs, Iowa 1881

               “She dead?”
     Em heard a man’s voice from somewhere above her. A strange thumping pulsed through her with each word he spoke. Her throat burned, screaming for water, but she could not cry out.

 

I hope that you get the opportunity to pick up a copy of this wonderful book to enjoy for yourselves!

 

Now it’s your turn!

Grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first line. To see what First Lines others are sharing this week head over to Hoarding Books.

First Line Fridays hosted by Hoarding Books

 

The Hope of Azure Springs by Rachel Fordham

Synopsis:

Seven years ago, orphaned and alone, Em finally arrived at a new home in Iowa after riding the orphan train. But secrets from her past haunt her, and her new life in the Western wilderness is a rough one. When her guardian is shot and killed, Em, now nineteen, finally has the chance to search for her long-lost sister, but she won’t be able to do it alone.

For Azure Springs Sheriff Caleb Reynolds, securing justice for the waifish and injured Em is just part of his job. He’s determined to solve every case put before him in order to impress his parents and make a name for himself. Caleb expects to succeed. What he doesn’t expect is the hold this strange young woman will have on his heart.

Debut author Rachel Fordham invites historical romance readers to the charming town of Azure Springs, Iowa, where the people care deeply for one another and, sometimes, even fall in love.

My Thoughts:

It has taken me a few days to clear the book euphoria in order to write this review. From the very first page, until the very last words at the end of the story, I found myself blissfully swept away on a current of words. Poignant and filled with emotion, this story is one that is sure to linger with you long after you’ve put the story down.

From a young age, Em has felt that she didn’t measure up, that she lacked in beauty and worthiness. She has been passed over, and flat-out ignored for so long that she doesn’t even realize her own worth. Em is an excellent story-teller and has a big heart for children. She likes to help others, she sees a need and she seeks to fill it. She doesn’t hold a grudge and is quick to forgive. Only by accepting who she is in God will she begin to find her own inner beauty.

Sheriff Caleb Reynolds is charming and outgoing. He’s your typical youngest child, seeking to please others. Caleb more than any other character in this story, grows the most. It is fun to watch his progression as he realizes that all he had thought as truth was sorely lacking. But will he realize what true beauty is before its too late?

This story has multiple layers to enjoy. Moments of laughter, and moments that will have you holding your breath and wondering what will happen next. Have a few tissues ready also, because like me, your emotions might just overflow.

I recommend this fantastic story to one and all, especially if you enjoy mid-western prairie, early american, historical romance. I give this wonderful story 5 enthusiastic stars and encourage you to pick-up a copy to enjoy!

(I receive complimentary books for review from publishers, publicists, and/or authors, including Netgalley. I am not required to write positive reviews. The opinions I have expressed are my own.)

 

Favorite Quote:

About the Author:

RachelFordham Rachel Fordham has long been fascinated by all things historical or in the words of her children “old stuff”. Often the historical trivia she discovers is woven into her children’s bedtime tales. Despite her love for good stories she didn’t attempt writing a novel until her husband challenged her to do so (and now she’s so glad he did). Since that time she’s often been found typing or researching while her youngest child naps or frantically writing plot twists while she waits in the school pick-up line. In addition to her passion for storytelling she enjoys reading, being outdoors and seeing new places. Rachel lives with her husband and children on an island in Washington state.

Web Page // Goodreads // Facebook //

Pre-order your copy today!

The Hope of Azure Springs

 

Author Interview: Rachel Fordham

Greetings reader friends! I’m super excited to have Rachel Fordham visiting with us today! I’m thrilled to be able to introduce you to Rachel. Over the past few months, we’ve chatted several times. Rachel has a big heart for children, and families and she has a exceptional talent for weaving together words into a beautiful story that dances across your imagination and pulls you in.

RachelFordham Rachel Fordham has long been fascinated by all things historical or in the words of her children “old stuff”. Often the historical trivia she discovers is woven into her children’s bedtime tales. Despite her love for good stories she didn’t attempt writing a novel until her husband challenged her to do so (and now she’s so glad he did). Since that time she’s often been found typing or researching while her youngest child naps or frantically writing plot twists while she waits in the school pick-up line. In addition to her passion for storytelling she enjoys reading, being outdoors and seeing new places. Rachel lives with her husband and children on an island in Washington state.

Web Page // Goodreads // Facebook //

BONUS: Rachel is offering a FREE ebook; visit her webpage for more details!

For those who haven’t yet heard of Rachel’s book, The Hope of Azure Springs, let’s take a look at what this story is about.

The Hope of Azure Springs 

TheHopeOfAzureSpringsSeven years ago, orphaned and alone, Em finally arrived at a new home in Iowa after riding the orphan train. But secrets from her past haunt her, and her new life in the Western wilderness is a rough one. When her guardian is shot and killed, Em, now nineteen, finally has the chance to search for her long-lost sister, but she won’t be able to do it alone.

For Azure Springs Sheriff Caleb Reynolds, securing justice for the waifish and injured Em is just part of his job. He’s determined to solve every case put before him in order to impress his parents and make a name for himself. Caleb expects to succeed. What he doesn’t expect is the hold this strange young woman will have on his heart.

Debut author Rachel Fordham invites historical romance readers to the charming town of Azure Springs, Iowa, where the people care deeply for one another and, sometimes, even fall in love.

CLICK HERE to add to The Hope of Azure Springs to your Goodreads List

 

Q:  Are you a coffee or tea drinker?

Rachel:  Neither. I am about as boring as they come. I prefer water and I don’t even like it too cold. I want to be able to take a huge drink and not burn or freeze my throat.

 

Q:  What is your favorite dessert?

 Rachel:  I’m currently trying to break my sugar addiction but with little success. I LOVE all treats. My favorite is anything homemade. Maybe because I like baking. I love the smells and the process. I love baking with my kids. A really well-made chocolate chip cookies are a favorite (hmmm…I might actually like the dough better).

 

Q:  What would be your dream vacation?

Rachel:  In the past, I would have said Jerusalem or Italy. Some exotic destination. The older I’ve gotten my dreams have changed a little. I’d love to go live somewhere else long enough to really know the people and help out if I could.

We do have a family goal to see all fifty states and are getting pretty close.

 

Q:  If they were to make a movie of The Hope of Azure Springs, who would you choose to play the hero & heroine?

Rachel:   That is so hard. I doubt anyone would fit with the characters I’ve created in my head. Maybe readers of this post can help.

Em is often described as plain (some townspeople call her much worse). She has stringy yellow hair. She is thin and freckled with a scar up one of her arms. That’s her physical description but we’d need to find an actor that when we first see her we don’t think much of her but then as we get to know her we realize that they are possessing true beauty. The kind that is often overlooked initially but that is pure and shines past any outer shell.

Caleb is the type of man you’d stop and stare at. He’s a sheriff and rugged with dark hair and usually a little scruff on his face. Pretty much he’s your classic heart-throb with a bit of country flair. His personality though is a man that comes across as all seriousness but underneath is a man with feelings and worries of his own.

 

 

Q:  Where did your inspiration for The Hope of Azure Springs come from?

 Rachel:   I have always had a soft spot in my heart for orphans and foster children. When I heard about the orphan trains I wanted to build a story around that. It grew from there!

 

Q:  Did you have a favorite character while writing The Hope of Azure Springs?

Rachel:   Margaret is a character that started out just being a plot device and ended up being a woman I’d love to live next door to and pick her brain for wisdom and laugh with. I adored her!

 

 

Q:  Did anything surprise you during your research for The Hope of Azure Springs?

Rachel:   When researching orphan trains I realized there were a lot of experiences. Some were beautiful stories of lost children finding homes and families. Others found homes where there was no comfort. They were neglected and abused. I tried to write a book that showed both sides of this piece of history. More than anything I realized these train riders were real people and I wanted to tell that story.

 

 

Q:  What book are you currently working on and how long till we can read more?!

Rachel:   My next book with Revell is due out in 2019. It’s not a sequel but does pass through Azure Springs so we get to revisit some of the same people (yay!). It begins at the Dead Letter Office in Washington DC. I have always loved letters and so this was not only fun to research but fun to write. What would you do with a letter that comes into your hands, speaks to your soul but isn’t meant for you?

 

Pre-order your copy today!

The Hope of Azure Springs

First Line Fridays: Together Forever

Welcome to First Line Friday’s hosted by Hoarding Books.

This week I’m featuring Together Forever (Orphan Train #2) by Jody Hedlund. This delightful story is sure to find a place in your heart. With vivid characters that stay with you long after you’ve finished the last page, you won’t want to miss out on this latest story from Jody Hedlund. CLICK HERE to read my review.

TogetherForever

New York City
June 1858

Marianne Neumann’s fingers were shaking so hard she could barely pry open the first record book.

 

Now it’s your turn!

Grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first line. To see what First Lines others are sharing this week head over to Hoarding Books.

First Line Fridays hosted by Hoarding Books

 

Together Forever (Orphan Train #2) by Jody Hedlund

Synopsis:

Marianne Neumann has one goal in life: to find her lost younger sister, Sophie. When Marianne takes a job as a placing agent with the Children’s Aid Society in 1858 New York, she not only hopes to give children a better life but seeks to discover whether Sophie ended up leaving the city on an orphan train.

Andrew Brady, her fellow agent on her first placing trip, is a former schoolteacher who has an easy way with the children–firm but tender and funny. Underneath his handsome charm, though, seems to linger a grief that won’t go away–and a secret from his past that he keeps hidden. As the two team up placing orphans amid small railroad towns in Illinois, they find themselves growing ever closer . . . until a shocking tragedy threatens to upend all their work and change one of their lives forever.

My Thoughts:

From the first chapter until the last page, I was completely enveloped in the lives of these characters. At one point I found myself talking to the characters, wishing they could only hear me. These characters are sure to find their way into your heart.

Marianne has made some mistakes, and more often than not it seems that she has to learn the hard way. Maybe it was the older sister in me, but I couldn’t help but want to give her advice and see her succeed.

Andrew (Drew) Brady is quite the charmer, but behind his debonair front lies a world of hurts and a secret past. Will he be able to overcome the past to grasp the future that God has planned for him?

I absolutely loved the children. Each one brought his or her own unique personality. I wanted to reach in and hug them!

I give this story 5 stars and highly recommend that you find a copy to enjoy!. I’m eagerly looking forward to reading the next story in this series!

(I receive complimentary books for review from publishers, publicists, and/or authors, including Netgalley. I am not required to write positive reviews. The opinions I have expressed are my own.)

Favorite Quote:

About the Author:

JodyHedlund Winner of the 2016 Christian Book Award and finalist for the Christy Awards, best-selling author Jody Hedlund writes inspirational historical romances for both youth and adults.

Jody lives in central Michigan with her husband, five busy children, and five spoiled cats. Although Jody prefers to experience daring and dangerous adventures through her characters rather than in real life, she’s learned that a calm existence is simply not meant to be (at least in this phase of her life!).

When she’s not penning another of her page-turning stories, she loves to spend her time reading, especially when it also involves consuming coffee and chocolate.  You can find Jody at the following locations:

Web Page // Facebook // Twitter // Goodreads // Pinterest

 Together Forever (Orphan Train #2)

Don’t miss the other books in this collection:

   With You Always (Orphan Train #1)

     An Awakened Heart (Orphan Train Novella)

With You Always (Orphan Train #1) by: Jody Hedlund

A Riveting Look at the Orphan Train from Historical Novelist Jody Hedlund

Synopsis:

When a financial crisis in 1850s New York leaves three orphaned sisters nearly destitute, the oldest, Elise Neumann, knows she must take action. She’s had experience as a seamstress, and the New York Children’s Aid Society has established a special service: placing out seamstresses and trade girls. Even though Elise doesn’t want to leave her sisters for a job in Illinois, she realizes this may be their last chance.

The son of one of New York City’s wealthiest entrepreneurs, Thornton Quincy faces a dilemma. His father is dying, and in order to decide which of his sons will inherit everything, he is requiring them to do two things in six months: build a sustainable town along the Illinois Central Railroad, and get married. Thornton is tired of standing in his twin brother’s shadow and is determined to win his father’s challenge. He doesn’t plan on meeting a feisty young woman on his way west, though.

My Review:

I was completely immersed in Elise’s story. Jody writes with such depth of feeling, my heart physically ached with Elise at the loss of her mother, and separation of her family, and soared with rejoicing in her successes. There were moments of holding my breath with anticipation and at times I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough to discover the outcome. I enjoyed Elise’s wit and sarcasm. I love how she pushes those around her to do better, and to become more than they thought they could.

I felt like I was living the story with Elise & Thornton; even the secondary characters were complex and realistic. Fanny, Marianne, Reinhold, Sophie, Mr. & Mrs. Gray, I loved them all (okay, *spoiler alert* so maybe I didn’t love Mr. Hewitt, but every story needs a good villain).  I didn’t want the story to end! Do yourself a favor, and purchase a copy of this wonderful book.

(I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher in exchange for my review. I am not required to write positive reviews. The opinions expressed are my own.)

Favorite Quote:

“She’d expected time and distance to ease the burning in her chest. But it never went away. Sometimes, like in the quiet of the night, the burning seared as if someone had taken a hot knife and carved his name in her heart.”

About the Author:

JodyHedlund

Winner of the 2016 Christian Book Award and finalist for the Christy Awards, best-selling author Jody Hedlund writes inspirational historical romances for both youth and adults.

Jody lives in central Michigan with her husband, five busy children, and five spoiled cats. Although Jody prefers to experience daring and dangerous adventures through her characters rather than in real life, she’s learned that a calm existence is simply not meant to be (at least in this phase of her life!).

When she’s not penning another of her page-turning stories, she loves to spend her time reading, especially when it also involves consuming coffee and chocolate.  You can find Jody at the following locations:

Web Page // Facebook // Twitter // Goodreads // Pinterest

     With You Always (Orphan Train #1)

     An Awakened Heart (Orphan Train Novella)

I’d love to hear from you.

Everyone has a story. Recently I’ve enjoyed discovering stories from relatives about my great-great grandparents. Do you have an interesting family story to share?

An Awakened Heart (An Orphan Train Novella) by: Jody Hedlund

Synopsis:

Trying to heal the ache she feels in her empty life, wealthy Christine Pendleton decides to volunteer at Centre Street Chapel. Ministering to one of the most deprived parts of New York City, the chapel aims at making a difference in the lives of the impoverished immigrants flooding the city. After seeing firsthand the hopelessness of the poor women and orphans, Christine is convinced more can be done to help them.

Guy Bedell has been serving at the chapel and pouring his heart out for the people he’s grown to care about. When Christine begins to challenge his methods and offers a new vision for reaching out to the community, can he trust that perhaps God has bigger plans in store for him–plans that may include this feisty socialite?

 

My Review:

An Awakened Heart is a fantastic introduction into the new series by Jody Hedlund.  I have always enjoyed Orphan Train stories, pair that with Jody Hedlund’s writing and you have a solid gold story!

Traveling into the poorest neighborhoods of New York city thru the eyes of Christine Pendleton, my heart broke for the impoverished immigrants. I cheered her efforts and enjoyed the budding love story between her and Guy Bedell.

I am looking forward to reading With You Always set to release this June!  You won’t want to miss reading this fantastic introduction to the Orphan Train series.

I downloaded the free kindle version of An Awakened Heart from Amazon. I am not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have shared are my own.

 

Favorite Quote:

“But they were trapped like moths in a lantern globe. No matter how frantically they beat their wings, they had no place to fly.”

 

About the Author:

JodyHedlundWinner of the 2016 Christian Book Award for fiction and Christy Award for historical romance, best-selling author Jody Hedlund writes inspirational historical romances for both youth and adults.

Jody lives in central Michigan with her husband, five busy children, and five spoiled cats. Although Jody prefers to experience daring and dangerous adventures through her characters rather than in real life, she’s learned that a calm existence is simply not meant to be (at least in this phase of her life!).

When she’s not penning another of her page-turning stories, she loves to spend her time reading, especially when it also involves consuming coffee and chocolate.

Web Page // Facebook // Twitter // Goodreads // Pinterest

 

 With You Always (Orphan Train #1) Available for pre-order from Amazon. Release date: June 6, 2017

 An Awakened Heart (Orphan Train Novella)  Free on Amazon for the Kindle.

I’d love to connect with you.

Have you read books about the Orphan Train? What was your favorite?