Archive | October 2012


Review of “A Light in the Window”

Barb Shelton

My reading began with high anticipation as eighteen year old Marceline (Marcy) Murphy stood on the front porch of the O’Rourke home nervously preparing to ring the doorbell. Five long years had passed since Marcy and her family had left Boston for New York where her father had taken a new job as a vice president for Reading Railroad, and subsequently lost due to the worldwide economic depression in 1893, costing him and thousands their jobs. Marcy’s family returned to Boston in hopes of new beginning. How could she predict what heartache lay ahead? She and her family would need to lean on their faith in God to see them through.

Marcy’s best friend Julie (Jewels) O’Rourke lived behind those doors with her large family and the memory of Julie’s older brother Sam made her hands clammy. Hmm, I thought as I read. Sweet memories of Sam? Wasn’t her love interest……? Marcy’s thought leads us into the story, “A Light in the Window” and promptly caught my attention. I still puzzled over Marcy’s romantic thoughts about Sam when she…..oh never mind…just keep on reading.

Among the many fans of Julie’s writing, I had been waiting for her story about the young couple who started this saga of the O’Connor family. Having read all of the previous books in Daughters of Boston and Winds of Change; both series about the O’Connor children, my curiosity about the couple that sired them didn’t end. Finally, Julie Lessman is telling how it all began. This had to be good!

As I continued reading, Jewels opened the O’Rourke front door to an anxious grown up Marcy and enthusiastically noticed the beauty her best friend had become. Jewels commented that Marcy would certainly turn heads during their senior year, especially her brother Sam’s.

The best friends begin to reminisce, giggling and talking about the old crowd…mentioning Sam and his best friend Patrick often. Marcy grimaced at the recalling of what she already knew about Patrick – considering him the rogue of all rogues and thinking him to be the cause of Sam’s unruly shenanigans. She kept her opinion of Patrick to herself because Jewels had a wild crush on him, as did other girls. Their conversation brought up the St. Mary’s church Christmas play fund raiser for the soup kitchen, and Marcy eagerly told Jewels that she had already talked to Sister Francine and got the job to spearhead the fundraiser. She also volunteered Jewels to be the pianist and her assistant in directing the play performance. Marcy was pleased with her selection of the play. It was something old she found that was significant regarding a true Irish tradition at Christmas. At this point, she had no idea of the real meaning that would evolve into her life forever.

Marcy believed that a solid marriage needed commitment and faith in God. It was her heart’s desire to have such a marriage. She recently developed mistrust toward the opposite sex from traumatic revelations of adultery and unfaithfulness before returning to Boston. She thinks she knows Sam and has hope that he will be the love of her life, even though she is aware of his oat sowing. She feels her prayers can change him. Marcy is an only child and looks to the O’Rourke’s as being the ideal family and wants desperately to be a part of them. She considers Patrick a devious rogue and rover, causing her mixed emotions as she gets to know him. What Marcy eventually comes to learn of her parents and family surprises her.

Patrick has been disliked and misunderstood by his father all his life. His father, a hypocrite controls his family through physical, emotional, and verbal abuse. Despite his upbringing, Patrick is a young man with refined values that are not fully developed yet, until he sees Marcy again for the first time after five years. He questions himself and begins to seek the real meaning of his life with the desire to be better.

The scene with Sam and Patrick hiding in a confessional at St Mary’s drinking the sacristy wine from the bottle and smoking shows the audaciousness of youth in a humorous and predictable way. Of course, they get caught! Father Fitzgibbons is not shocked and handles the situation thoughtfully while assigning a consequence to the boys that leads into the gist of the story and from thereon we are hooked.

Julie Lessman’s writing is always a great mix of high emotion, clashes of right and wrong, forgiveness, past and present hurts, secrets, guilt, shame, fun, humor, family stresses, life decisions, love and lust – the good, the bad and the ugly, dishonesty, thievery, hypocrisy, dreams and always God’s love and the human struggle to entrust their hearts Him. Her script is divinely developed around the evidence that she has researched the time period extensively as to history, fashions in style, education, religion, morals, courting, and human behavior which is primarily the same from generation to generation. She writes such beautiful and easily comprehended word pictures that are vivid to the imagination throughout her story. Ms. Lessman has no qualms at expressing belief in the plans that God has for each individual.

The characters are all mostly lovable, with a couple of deterrents there, yet each one is unique and vital to the story. You will meet the children that perform in the play and learn their life struggles. Julie Lessman has no lack of imagination in creating the right character(s) for every situation. The surprising compassion and involvement of one character in the youngster’s lives is heartwarming and tender. It brings a bit of a tear to the eye.

Here is where I will leave my review of Julie Lessman’s book. As always, after I have finished reading a Julie Lessman novel, I discover I have learned much from her words in relation to my own life. Some of my personal damaged emotions begin to heal and my faith in God has rooted deeper. Recently I told Julie “Your talent overwhelms me….how do you do that?” She answered, “LOL … my so-called “talent” overwhelms me too, and I have NO earthly idea how I do it except by the grace of God – just like you!! :)” There, by the grace of God, we write.




Kindle Fire Contest!!

Review Contest!!

A Light in the Window Facebook Giveaways!!

A.) KINDLE FIRE CONTEST1st place with the most points wins a Kindle Fire (or equivalent gift card). If more than one top entrant with equivalent points, winner will be selected via random drawing.

Next three runners-up receive signed printed manuscript of A Light in the Window or $20 gift card.

There will be a random drawing for those with even just one point (with extra entry for each point accrued) for a signed manuscript of A Light in the Window or $20 gift card.


1.)   ORDER A Light in the Window (5 points in contest) at Amazon NOW or Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords on November 9.

 2.)   GET SOMEONE ELSE TO ORDER A Light in the Window (2 points per order).

 3.)   SHARE this contest page on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, Goodreads, wherever (2 points per 1-time share each).

 4.)  “LIKE” the book on Amazon and B&N or get someone else to do so (1 pt. per LIKE).

 5.)   E-MAIL ME through the “Contact Julie” tab of   this website to let me know which of the points above you have done, and I will enter you in the contest. NOTE: Kindle winner MAY be required to show proof of purchase via the Amazon Order Confirmation number listed on their confirmation e-mail from Amazon.

Contest ends December 31, 2012 and winner will be announced here on the Contest page and in my January 4th Journal Jot.

B.) REVIEW CONTEST: Publisher’s Weekly states that good reviews are critical to an author’s success!! 1st place (the most points accrued for good reviews posted) wins a character named after them in Love at Any Cost (release date April 1, 2013), a $50 gift card and signed copy of Love at Any Cost.

Runner-up wins a bit character named after them and signed copy of Love at Any Cost.

Random drawing for those with even just one point (with extra entries for every point accrued) for a signed copy of Love at Any Cost.


1.)  POST A BRIEF, POSITIVE REVIEW for A Love Surrendered at AmazonBarnes &, other online bookseller, personal blog, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Shelfari, etc. (1 point per each review posted.)

2.)  CLICK THE “LIKE” BUTTON for A Love Surrendered on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. (1 point per LIKE).

3.) E-MAIL ME through the “Contact Julie” tab of this website to let me know where you have posted the reviews and the links to each review.

NOTE: This contest is to promote reviews for A Love Surrendered, but if you are a new reader who has NEVER posted a review for any of my books before, you may do so and accrue points that way as well. However, I regret I cannot count reviews posted in the past for my books as part of one of my prior contests. Winners will be announced in my next newsletter scheduled to mail in FEBRUARY so make sure you are signed up for it via theNewsletter tab of this website.

C.) A LIGHT IN THE WINDOW FACEBOOK GIVEAWAYS:  Join me on FacebookNovember 1 – 30 for fun trivia and tips on making Christmas memorable for your family and those you love. The discussion takes place on my author page each day, where I’ll be giving away FIVE copies of A Light in the Window over the course of the month, either e-book or signed printed manuscript, so I hope you’ll be a part. Here’s the link and hope to see you there!




WOW!  Thanks for sharing Julie, I’m very excited!  I’ve read ALL of your books and feel like part of the O’Connor family…except I’m not Irish! LOL!  I have read your awesome “A Light in the Window” and have posted my review. I’ve already decided that this is another five star read.  So – friends, followers and visitors – go for it… will be blessed for sure.









for writers, authors, bloggers, readers and book sites to post information about blogs, books, reviewers, publishers and their websites.


our interests and activities regarding our page title. Geared to Christian content – we encourage those of any faith or beliefs to join in the sharing. Only God knows where our seeds might be planted.

Hello Out There!!

Anyone who is an author, blogger, writer, reader or anyone interested in books…..are welcome to join my new page just for you.  ABWRB is a great sharing spot and please be encouraged to like and begin sharing all your news and posting information.

That’s me in the profile pic for the time being, but as we get moving…we can come up with something significant of this new place. I am a writer, blogger and book reviewer, but hoping to write a book or books soon. Please come….and begin sharing about yourself and your creations.

Blessings & Hugs,

Barb Shelton












So – click this to see who won



October has arrived!!  

The month of turning leaves to gold and bright blue skies; chillier days and football, for some – dressing in costumes for a certain day…and for me…and my husband Jack… October means turning another year older AND on the same day, none the less!!  LOL  Today I want to share with you my review from my column, Just Sayin…, from The Wordsmith Journal Magazine.  Hope you enjoy it, and please feel free to make comments and give some feedback….for now….read on…..

A SR Perspective 

Hello and Welcome to our SR Perspective page where our SR ReviewerBarb Shelton will post her opinion/review of the books she reads. 

This month is  A Love Surrendered  by Julie Lessman


A Love Surrendered

Winds of Change, #3

She’s hoping to find her first true love. He’s hoping to forget his.

Will her secret come between them?

Orphaned in Iowa, Annie Kennedy has moved to Boston and is embracing the city life, with a new name and wide open future. When she gets involved with a fast crowd at Ocean Pier—one that includes the handsome Steven O’Connor—she is pulled deeper and deeper into a world of rule breakers and mischief makers. She finds herself drawn to Steven and the whole O’Connor family. But a secret Annie is keeping has the power to destroy her best-laid plans.

Will Steven ever see her as more than a sweet country girl who needs protecting? And will he break her heart when he finds out who she really is?

With heart-pounding romance, intense family drama, and the emotional twists and turns Julie Lessman fans have come to expect, A Love Surrendered will ignite your senses and inspire your spirit.


Time:  1932, Boston, Ma.  Prohibition was about to be repealed by the 18th Amendment.  Some concerns of that era…prohibition, politics, war and as in any year, belief in God.  The young crowd wanted good times and were expert lawbreakers to do so.  Times were hard….and that’s not exactly what Julie Lessman’s story is about…but difficult times there were.

A Love Surrendered is the third book in the Winds of Change Series.  It is the continuation of the O’Connor family saga through each of the 7 children born to Patrick and Marcy O’Connor.  Stories previously began with the Daughters of Boston Series.  The children – whose stories update naturally through each novel are: Faith, married to Collin McGuire; Charity, married to Mitch Dennehy; Lizzie, married to John Brady; Sean, married to Emma; Katie, married to Luke McGee: and Steven, the youngest and still single.  A foster daughter, Gabe (Gabriella Dawn), has appeared in Marcy and Patrick’s lives through the romance and marriage of Katie and Luke McGee in A Hope Undaunted.  This reader has enjoyed the pleasure of devouring each one of these books, except for Sean and Emma’s story which will be rectified soon.

To begin, I am including some of the summary from the back of the book to familiarize my followers with the gist of the story.  I add that this is Steven O’Connor’s story – and it is wonderful! A Love Surrendered – The very best of Julie Lessman’s writings so far in my estimation.  Julie’s stories touch my very soul in that I personally relate to many of the problems and struggles, blessings of God’s grace, and surprise events that occur without warning in this story as well as real life.

The love interest involves sisters – but that’s all I’ll reveal about that.  Steven is a Federal Agent as is his best friend Joe, which leads to much tension and comedy among the book characters.  One leading character is a natural at drawing others to Christ – which I feel is the most important factor in all relationships, real or imagined.

Orphaned in Iowa, Annie Kennedy moves to Boston to stay with her spinster aunt.  She gets involved with a fast crowd at Ocean Pier – one that includes the handsome Steven O’Connor – she is pulled quickly into a world of rule breakers and mischief makers.  Annie, actually Susannah Grace Kennedy, longs for romance to fill the void left by her parents’ death. But when she falls hard for Steven O’Connor, the man who broke an engagement to her sister, Annie is worried. Will he break her heart too when he discovers who she really is? With heart-pounding romance, intense family drama, and emotional twists and turns, each page and chapter leads to faster page turns as the story bends and shapes.

Julie’s creative use of similes and metaphors paint a vivid picture in my mind of the action in each scene.  Playing as a movie in my head, her words exploded my imagination wide open. She describes each story character in detail – from a tic in the jaw to the color of the hair on a man’s chest.

Ms Lessman has perfected the art of writing around and through a “steamy” romantic scene of passion and desire without relying on heavy emphasis of “overwriting” actions as might a secular novelist.  Smut and profanity is not found in Julie’s books. Her words don’t prompt embarrassment and shock over titillating phrases – much more educational than four letter words blatantly shouting from the page.  Julie seems to train your focus as a bystander. As a reader, I appreciated the non-explanation of spice and ginger in love scenes; my imagination works just fine in that category.

Ms. Lessman’s natural spirit of humor, effectively used in tight places, never backs the script in a corner without an opening for resolve.  She is brilliantly funny and I laughed, cried, snorted and hungered for more.  Speaking of tears reminds me of the deep emotions Julie’s story emitted from my subconscious memories, oh so many.  My throat in a constant lump, caused easy tears and prayers to emanate from my consciousness.

The expressions Julie inserts…”Sweet Saints,” “Knickers in a Knot,” “bees knees.” among others were familiar to me…although I faintly admit it.  Did they wear Keds back in 1932?  What are Sardines, Ghost Game and a couple of other unknown games kids played?   The music and movies are quite nostalgic to my early years of childhood. Even the pets had great names…Mr. Grumpy, the Basset Hound that belonged to Annie and Glory;   Cats….ah, guess you’ll need to read the book to find out.  LOL

The O’Connor grandchildren grab your heart instantaneously – and there is always one mischievous kid in the bunch that makes the others all appear angelic.  Of course, food fights and everyone loves coming to grandparents house to be pampered with their special love.

When God created Julie, he must have added teacher or preacher of His truth and Word to her genes.  Her first name could well be “Charisma” sparkling with glitz and glitter on the cover of her books.  She pulls the reader in with such light that sparks fly from every page in the name of Jesus.  I wish Julie would write an advice book for teens, young adults and even the seniors about God’s will regarding romance, engagement and marriage.

A Love Surrendered is everything Julie Lessman’s many fans have been waiting for and it ends on promises to come.  Thank you, God, for sending Julie to our time and place.  I’m so thankful we are friends, and speaking for myself, I adore you, sister Julie Lessman

A Love Surrendered is available now at Amazon for KindleAudio, and Paperback. Also available @B&N!


Check out books 1 & 2 in the “Winds of Change” series!


In this new series, an award-winning author delivers another highly charged romance set in Boston in the summer of 1929.



A young woman healing from a broken past catches the eye of a confirmed bachelor in this sizzling historical romance set in New England in 1931.

 *To purchase copy simply click on the cover or link!*

Authors, email for details on how to have your book reviewed by Barb! 


Meet our SR Reviewer ~ Barb Shelton!


Barb is married to Jack Shelton, a retired military officer and lives in Arlington, Texas. Having been married for thirty seven years, Barb and Jack share eight children between them, (His, Mine, Ours); 19 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. Barb was born and raised in Enterprise, Kansas. She is musically inclined and is a retired churchmusic director. A former Weight Watcher lecturer, she has had many interesting and unusual jobs, including working for a private detective, defense attorney, office manager for a video production company and administrative assistant to two different pastors. She is involved in volunteer and church activities, and describes herself as creative, friendly and can talk with anyone.

“I am a Christian and love to spread God’s love and enjoy making others smile and lift up their day.” She wishes to write a book one day. “I’ve been through several soap operas in my lifetime and lived to tell about them.” Barb is the writer of two blogs, Passing it Forward and Blessed by Grace, both of which she invites you to drop by to visit one day.


Our goal at The Wordsmith Journal Magazine is to introduce readers to authors of books with a strong moral message. Primarily Christian based, we do not adhere to any particular denomination, nor do we question the integrity or worship of our readers, interview candidates, sponsors, columnists, reviewers, or authors who advertise with us.We understand reading is subjective and what one person deems sweet, clean, cozy or inspirational, another will not. Please know we do not read nor endorse every book advertised in our magazine but trust that the author understands our goal and his or herwork fits the desires of our readers.