Friday, November 18, 2011

House Of Hope | Elizabeth Gifford | Book Review & Blog Tour

House Of Hope
Elizabeth Gifford

One couple’s powerful ministry to some of China’s most vulnerable children. 
Robin and Joyce Hill lived in a gated community in Beijing. Their family’s life was marked by luxury and the security of Robin's job as an engineer. Then one day, as members of their church, they had a chance to tour a state-run orphanage. Haunted by the needs of the children they saw there, for the next four years they tried to help the institute in meaningful ways.

In 1998 the Hills planned to leave China, but instead felt a sudden call from God on their lives. They left their gated community--reserved for only non-Chinese residents--moved their family into a small apartment miles outside of Beijing and immediately began to take in foster children.

They took in any child, but especially those that needed extra care—terminally ill children that couldn't receive care elsewhere, and those that needed complicated and expensive surgeries that the Hills soon began to coordinate and sometimes pay for out of their own savings.

What began as Hope Foster Home is now New Hope Foundation. As they continue their work, the Hills enjoy support from major corporations and high-profile philanthropists as well as the trust of the Chinese authorities. The Hills' story is an inspiring example of God's care and provision for those whom society does not value. Learn more about Hope Foster Homes here:
This story is a very moving one, and I couldn't put it down. Robyn and Joyce Hill lead extraordinary lives, and because of their faith and devotion, thousands of Chinese babies are alive today who would otherwise have perished. What a legacy! I highly recommend this book to anyone with a heart for children, and for service to God.
"I strongly support Robin and Joyce Hill's New Hope Foundation which is saving so many orphan lives in China. Read this amazing story of God's grace and accept the challenge to make a difference!"
--Steven Curtis Chapman

"I had the privilege of going to China and witnessing the work that God is doing through Robin and Joyce Hill. They are wonderful servants of God who lovingly care for the 'least of these.' I hope that many will read this book and consider their example."
--Francis Chan, author of Crazy Love
You can read what other reviewers are saying about House Of Hope here.
Elisabeth Gifford is a journalist who has written for the London Times and the Independent Newspapers. She lives in Kingston, England, and teaches children with dyslexia.

You can buy this book for only $11.19 here!
The publisher is sponsoring a $50 "GET / GIVE" GIVEAWAY: One winner will receive a $50 gift certificate for themselves AND $50 will be given in the winner's name to Hope Foster Home!

To enter all you have to do is send a tweet (using #HFH) about The House of Hope or share about it on Facebook!
If you tweet they'll capture your entry when you use #HFH. If you share it on Facebook or your blog, just email them and let them know ( Easy!


I received a free copy of this book for the purpose of providing an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Author Interview | Jody Hedlund | The Doctor's Lady

Jody Hedlund, Author

What prompted you to begin writing? Is it something you have always wanted to do, or did the interest come later?
Like many writers, I’ve been writing since my childhood days. I always loved telling stories. When I was in junior high, I entered my first writing contest for a Biblical fiction story. And when I won, I realized God had indeed gifted me. I think that was when I became more serious about wanting to be a writer when I grew up.

However, as I began my college years, I quickly realized that creative writing wasn’t a career track that would help pay the bills. For a time, God moved me into social work. I went on to get my masters and was thankful for the experiences and opportunities I had during those years of helping underprivileged people.

Do you ever get writer's block? How do you work your way past it?
No, fortunately, I rarely get writer’s block. I give myself a daily word count of how much I need to write, and I stick to it as best as I can. Whatever amount I miss one day, I try to make up on another day of that week. Having the daily/weekly goals helps keep me going even when I’m not in the mood.

However, if I ever get into a slump, I put in my earbuds and listen to music. The steady rhythm helps me block out distractions, inspires me, and often evokes strong emotions deep inside me.

What was the very first story you ever wrote? Was it ever published?
The first story I wrote was probably in first grade in a spiral notebook. And of course, it’s long gone in the trash! But as far as my adulthood writing career, I wrote five novels that are collecting dust in a closet. They were my practice books, the books that helped me grow and become the writer I am today.

What inspired you to write The Doctor's Lady?


This book is inspired by the true life story of Narcissa Whitman, the first white woman to brave the dangers of overland trail and travel west. In 1836, she married Dr. Whitman, and then the next day left her childhood home and would never return for the purpose of starting a mission among the Nez Perce natives.

It was my hope in this story to bring Narcissa Whitman to life. This heroic woman has often been ignored and at times even disparaged. In reality, she exuded incredible courage to attempt a trip many proclaimed foolishly dangerous. It was called an “unheard-of-journey for females.” Because of her willingness to brave the unknown, she led the way for the many women who would follow in her footsteps in what would later become known as the Oregon Trail.

What is your favorite part of the writing process? Your least favorite?
As a writer, I love telling stories. I especially like the feeling that comes as I near the end of the book when everything looks hopeless, the characters are in big trouble, and somehow I’m able to wrap up the book in a satisfying way. I call it the first-draft love affair! I fall absolutely and madly in love with the story and think it’s the best thing I’ve ever written. 

I struggle the most during the editing phase of each of my books. The love affair that started during the first draft comes to an end. I fall out of love with my books. By the last edit—called the Galley Review—I finally reach a point where I loathe the book, think it’s the worst thing I’ve ever written, and wish I could just throw it away. 

What advice would you give to someone who wants to write an historical novel?
Write a couple of books first and unleash your creativity. Then start reading books that explain how to write. Study techniques, practice them, and keep writing.

Of course, writing historicals requires more research than novels set in contemporary times. I plan in six to eight weeks of research before I begin writing the novel. I try to get a feel for the time period and learn as much as I can about the setting, plot points, etc. Once I start writing, I try not to let research questions distract me. I may look things up occasionally, but usually I mark issues that need further research and then I go back to them later during editing.

So, what's next? Will you write another historical novel?
In 2012, Unending Devotion, my next historical romance releases. I’m really excited about this story because it’s set in my home state of Michigan. It takes place during the 1880’s at a time in history when the lumber era was at its height. Although the story isn’t inspired by a true person the way my first two books have been, I do include several real people, particularly a real villain by the name of James Carr who was notorious in central Michigan for his violence and for introducing white slavery into the state.

The heroine of the story is a young woman, Lily Young, who is looking for her sister who’s caught up into the degradation of lumber camp life. While Lily searches for her missing sister, she fights against the evil that runs rampant around her, and she fights not to lose her heart to the lumber baron who turns a blind eye to the lawlessness of the lumber business.

Where can reader’s find you?
I hang out on Facebook here: Author Jody Hedlund

I also love to chat on Twitter: @JodyHedlund

My home base is at my website:

I love the "About" section all of your books include...
Jody Hedlund is an award-winning historical romance novelist and author of the best-selling book, The Preacher's Bride. She received a bachelor’s degree from Taylor University and a master’s from the University of Wisconsin, both in Social Work. Currently she makes her home in Michigan with her husband and five busy children. Her second book, The Doctor’s Lady released in September 2011
Thank you so much for joining us, here at Little Bit Of Wondeful, and for helping us to get to know you a little better!

Jody will be watching the comments section on this post, so if you have any questions for her, you can ask them here, or "like" her Facebook page and chat her up there. I hope you enjoyed this interview as much as I did! Don't forget to enter to win a copy of her brand new book, The Doctor's Wife, and read all about it here!

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Doctor's Lady | Jody Hedlund | Book Review & Giveaway

This giveaway is closed. Congrats to the winner, Kimberly Ferland!

The Doctor's Lady
Jody Hedlund
Bethany House Publishers
378 pages


Priscilla White KNEW God wanted her
to be a missionary. NOT A WIFE.
Then, the missionary board declares
THE ONLY WAY she can serve
is to be MARRIED.
Now, married IN NAME ONLY,
her epic journey west will test
her spirit...and the new
LONGINGS of her heart. 
~ from the back cover.


The Doctor's Lady is the fictionalized story of Marcus and Narcissa Whitman, a young missionary couple who traveled to Oregon country in 1836 to start a mission among the native Nez Perce. The Whitmans traveled with the Spaldings - a pastor and his wife - and Narcissa and Eliza Spalding are famous for being the first two white women to cross the Continental Divide and make it all the way to the far west. Narcissa wrote a very detailed diary, and drawing on those writings as well as the various historical accounts of their life, Jody Hedlund has constructed a vivid picture of the life of this incredible woman and her companions. In order to breathe life into her characters, Hedlund fictionalized the account just enough to speculate on what is not fully known, and gave the characters new names (Marcus and Narcissa Whitman become Eli and Priscilla Earnest); even so, this book is highly accurate as verified by Narcissa's diary.


From the very first chapter, to the final page, The Doctor's Lady is mesmerizing. Priscilla's faith as she marries a man she does not know so that she can serve God on the mission field is staggering, as is the faith of the man she marries, Eli Earnest. These two, so different and yet so alike, do not at first seem like they could ever have more than a superficial, even business-like relationship, but watching them grow together through the rigors and trials of the trail West makes you yearn for more for them than the distant arrangement upon which they agreed when they obeyed the American Missions Board and got married in order to serve as missionaries. Jody Hedlund proves her merits as an author in this incredible story as she masterfully depicts the harsh life on the Oregon Trail, and all of the twists and turns of two lives drawn together by the Master. I highly recommend this book!


You can own your own copy of The Doctor's Lady for only $10.19 at!
Want to know more about this incredible author? Check back on Wednesday (November 16, 2011) to read an exclusive interview with Jody Hedlund, here on Little Bit Of Wonderful!
Want to win a free copy of The Doctor's Lady, right here on Little Bit Of Wonderful? The incredible author, Jody Hedlund, is offering one of my readers their own copy of this amazing book! All you have to do is enter via the Rafflecopter widget below (only entries received via the widget will count - comments are for blog lovin' only), and check back here (and in your email inbox) in two weeks to see if you are the lucky winner! This giveaway is open to residents of the United States, only.


I received a free copy of this book for the purpose of providing an honest review. All words and thoughts are my own.


Don't miss my interview with this amazing author! Jody shares some thoughts with us here.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Old & The Stupid (Dogs, That Is)

So, we have a problem with our dog-putting-out routine. When Nick's parents bought this house, we all thought, "Hey, cool! Poor Ty (the old dog) has been chained all her life, and how she gets a fenced yard! Boy, will she love this!" Butters (the stupid dog) spent the first year of his life in a fenced yard, so we were excited about the fence for him, too, as he hasn't taken well to being chained when outside. Fenced yard = awesome! Right?

Not so much.

The old dog turns out to be an escape artist. A really fat, slow, farty escape artist. Anyway, she's not allowed outside by herself for more than the time it takes to do her business anymore, because if left unattended and without imminent bodily functions to take care of, she somehow worms under the fence and runs away. The stupid dog is either too tall or long (or just dumb) to escape the same way, so he just follows her around the yard, frantically bouncing from one side of her to the other (and occasionally on her) and barks when she finally escapes.

After being assaulted by doggy gastric odors this afternoon, we threw both dogs into the backyard to do their business, and hopefully become less disgusting (ha). Mere minutes later, I braved the cold wind that is currently blowing our nice neat leaf piles back onto the yard, and called for Ty to come inside. Nothing happened. A quick (and shivery) glance around the yard confirmed what fatty's failure to appear had suggested - the old dog had once again slipped the fence.

"I'm not chasing her," was met with equally disinterested declarations from around the kitchen table - she's old, but she knows where she lives, bless her little geriatric heart, and we all knew she'd eventually get bored or hungry and come home. I was just settling into the rocker and trying to come up with something to blog about when I saw Ty through the front window, busy decorating the fire hydrant on the corner. Crap. Now that I knew where she was, I couldn't very well ignore her, and out the front door we went, calling her name (mostly) and pointing at the house (just in case she thought we were telling her to go next door). Cindy shooed her up the front steps, and all appeared to be ending well, when the stupid dog seized his chance at freedom and zipped between my legs and out the front door, vaulting the old dog, and skittered across the street and into the neighbors' front yard.

Unfortunately, you can't let the stupid dog just run around the neighborhood until he gets bored and comes home. For one thing, his attention span is so short, he never gets bored, and he's really really fast. For another, he doesn't know where he lives. What, you thought we call him the stupid dog because it's cute?

After shooing my barefoot, winter cold-riddled husband back into the house (and retrieving the piece of ham he'd had the foresight to snag out of the refrigerator instead of donning footwear), I followed the stupid dog down the block, waving the ham in the air, and yelling such gems as "Here, puppy puppy puppy..." and "Get over here, you fuzzy little waste of space!" Eventually he made the mistake of stopping to pee on a bush, then running up onto an enclosed porch, and I was able to get close enough to make him aware of the (nasty, wet) ham in my hand, and from there it was just a matter of keeping the ham high enough in the air that he couldn't snap it out of my hand. Did I mention that Butters runs like a drunken sailor? Well, when a piece of (disgusting, greasy) cold ham is floating a measly six feet off the ground, he doesn't so much run as bounce like some sort of demented, spring-loaded, carnivorous rabbit. It's a lot of fun.

We made it back to our own front door in one piece, and I gave him the ham (more to get it off of me than to be nice). The best part of returning the stupid dog to the house after he runs away is how he seems to have no idea he's done something wrong until we're on the front step. But as that screen door begins to swing open, he suddenly realizes he's outside without a leash, and his mommy is really pissed. Tail between the legs, ears back, big gold eyes beseeching me to spare his oh-so-miserable life... It's hard to keep a straight face and just say "Bad dog! No running away!"

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Lasting Impression | Tamera Alexander | Book Review & Blog Tour

A Lasting Impression
Tamera Alexander
Bethany House Publishers
426 pages


A fake. A forger. More than anything, Claire Laurent longs for the chance to live an authentic life, to become the woman she wants to be. And she'll be given that choice. But will it come at too costly a price?

Claire Laurent's greatest aspiration is to paint something that will bring her acclaim. Yet her father insists she work as a copyist. A forger. When she's forced to flee from New Orleans to Nashville only a year after the War Between the States has ended, her path collides with attorney Sutton Monroe. She considers him a godsend for not turning her in to the authorities. But after he later refuses to come to her aid, Claire fears she's sorely misjudged the man. Finding herself among the elite of Nashville's society, Claire believes her dream to create a lasting impression in the world of art is within reach--but only if her fraudulent past remains hidden.

The Federal Army has destroyed Sutton's home and confiscated his land, and threatens to destroy his family's honor. His determination to reclaim what belongs to him and to right a grievous wrong reveals a truth that may cost him more than he ever imagined--as well as the woman he loves.Set at Nashville's historic Belmont Mansion, a stunning antebellum manor built by Mrs. Adelicia Acklen, A Lasting Impression is a sweeping love story about a nation mending after war, the redemption of those wounded, and the courage of a man and woman to see themselves--and each other--for who they really are.


When I first picked up this book, I was genuinely worried that I held in my hand a cheesy romance novel with a Christian bent. Boy, was I wrong! A Lasting Impression is the fascinating story of a young woman forced to forge art by her father, who takes the first opportunity after her mother's death to flee and begin a new life in a world where honesty is valued higher than money. But the past does not die, and Claire eventually has to face up to her roots and accept the consequences. Sutton, the young many in the story, must also learn from his past - that who you are is not tied to what you own or what others think of you, but that our identities are determined by the choices we make each day, and by who God says we are. Claire and Sutton cross paths in a comical accident, and choose to walk away more than a little pleased to see the other go, only to be thrown into each others daily lives when Claire takes a job in the home of Sutton's employer and friend. Not only do they have to learn to get along, but they must also learn to trust each other - something that does not come easy to either.

I loved reading A Lasting Impression, and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves historical fiction. This story has certainly left an impression on me, that will last through many, many rereads!


Tamera Alexander is a best-selling novelist whose deeply drawn characters, thought-provoking plots, and poignant prose resonate with readers. Having lived in Colorado for seventeen years, she and her husband now make their home in Nashville Tennessee, along with their two adult children who live near by. And don't forget Jack, their precious--and precocious--silky terrier.

For more information please visit


You can buy your own copy of A Lasting Impression for only $9.22 by visiting this link!


Kindle Fire Giveaway and Facebook Party from Tamera Alexander!

While Tamera and her book,  A Lasting Impression, are traveling across the country virtually (with a few international stops as well!), she will be hosting a Kindle Fire Giveaway (11/4 - 11/15) and preparing for a lavish Southern-Style Facebook Party (11/15) (dripping with hospitality, of course). She will be giving away Southern Food Baskets, books, and an array of other fabulous freebies! Don't miss a minute of the fun. Swoon!

Read what the reviewers are saying here.

One grand prize winner will receive:

  • A Brand New Kindle Fire (shipped as soon as it releases)
  • A copy of A Lasting Impression and 3 other special books Tamera wants you to have (for Kindle)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends at noon on November 15th. Winner will be announced at A Lasting Impression Facebook Party on the 15th. Tamera will be wrapping up the A Lasting Impression celebration with an author chat and giving away Southern Food Baskets (Loveless Cafe Food Baskets, books, Amazon & Starbucks gift certificates, and copies of Christy Jordan's Southern Plate cookbook), six gift certificates to Starbucks and, and copies of A Lasting Impression! So grab your copy of A Lasting Impression (it's okay if you don't have one yet- you might win one!) and join Tamera on the evening of November 15th for an author chat, a trivia contest (How
much do you know about the 1860's?) and lots of Southern-inspired giveaways (complete listing here).

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER. Hope to see you on the 15th!


I received a free copy of this book for the purpose of providing an honest review. All opinions and words in my review are my own.