Board Game Review: Disney Villainous

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on the board/card game Disney Villainous.

Amazon.com: Ravensburger Disney Villainous Strategy Board Game for Age 10 &  Up - 2019 TOTY Game of The Year Award Winner: Toys & Games
Taken from Amazon.

Villanous is a fun and creative board and card game created by Ravenburger. Players get to choose from six Disney villains: Maleficient, Ursula, Jafar, Prince John, the Queen of Hearts, and Captain Hook. Each player is trying to complete an objective for their specific villain before the other players, however, other players can interfere with thier progress by pciking a card from their fate deck and using it to stall their progress. The goal of the game is to complete your villain’s objective and become “the worst of them all.”

While game play can be confusing at first, Villainous is a lot of fun because each game is different, especially since you have the opportunity to play as a different Disney villain each time, which means you have different objective to complete.

This game is especially fun for fans of Disney, especially die-hard fans of the Disney villains. The artwork of the baords and the cards is gorgeous and the different actions that each villain has was very well-thought out. And it is a fun way to compete agaisnt your friends and/or family. It is also the perfect game that can be played between 2 players or more.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Dinah’s Dilemma Blog Tour and Giveaway

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About the Book

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Book: Dinah’s Dilemma

Author: Linda Shenton Matchett

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

Release date: August 15, 2020

Will she have to run from the past for the rest of her life?

Dinah Simpkins has no chance of making a good marriage. Her outlaw brothers and her father’s gambling addiction have ruined the family’s reputation. Then the Westward Home and Hearts Matrimonial Agency provides an opportunity for a fresh start. After Dinah arrives in Nebraska, she discovers her brothers played a part in the death of her prospective groom’s first wife.

As a former Pinkerton detective Nathan Childs knows when someone is lying. The bride sent by the matrimonial agency may be beautiful, but she’s definitely hiding something, and he has no intention of marrying her until he uncovers the truth. But an easier solution may be to send her packing. Then his young daughter goes missing. He and Dinah must put aside their mutual hurt and mistrust to find her.

Click here to get your copy!

My Thoughts 

I’ll be honest, I was nervous to pick up Dinah’s Dilemma because I have read books featuring mail-order brides in the past and haven’t enjoyed them. However, Dinah’s Dilemma was different and the author did a good job of puling me into the story and making me fully invested. In fact, I found myself starting and finishing this within 24 hours, which only happens if I have been hooked into the story in the first couple of chapters. 

I enjoyed reading about Mrs. Crenshaw’s mail-order bride services and how she seemingly matches Dinah and Nathan together, especially since he is a former Pinkerton agent, and her two brothers are outlaws. Also, as I was reading about the mail-order brides, I couldn’t help but notice some of the similarities between that and online dating (depending on which website you are using.) – which is how my husband and I met. However, it is still interesting that Mrs. Crenshaw would connect the two together. But then again she does seem to have knack for matching people together. 

I also enjoyed getting to know both Dinah and Nathan, although both have different thing they are dealing with. For Dinah, it is the fear of being spurned by Nathan, especially if he discovers who her brothers are, and so she keeps that a secret from him. Then Nathan is still grieving over the death of his first wife, and struggling with whether he can trust Dinah – especially since she seems to be hiding something from him. I loved getting to know Nathan’s 3 year old daughter, Florence, and watching her bond with Dinah. I also enjoyed watching the unconventional relationship between Nathan and Dinah unfold over the novel and how they had to overcome various obstacles together and learn to trust each other. 

Ultimately at the heart of this book is the importance of honesty and communication  in any relationship, especially marriage. 

Overall, I really enjoyed Dinah’s Dilemma, it was entertaining and had me hooked from beginning to end. I highly recommend it for fans of historical fiction, especially if you like stories about mail-order brides. I hope to read more from Linda Shenton Matchett in the future. 4/5 Stars. 

*I received a copy of this book from the author and Celebrate Lit in exchange for my honest review. 

 

About the Author

p-26Linda Shenton Matchett writes about ordinary people who did extraordinary things in days gone by. A volunteer docent and archivist for the Wright Museum of WWII, Linda is a former trustee for her local public library. She is a native of Baltimore, Maryland and was born a stone’s throw from Fort McHenry. Linda has lived in historic places all her life, and is now located in central New Hampshire where her favorite activities include exploring historic sites and immersing herself in the imaginary worlds created by other authors.

More from Linda

Dear Reader,

As a novelist, I write about ordinary people who did extraordinary things in days gone by. And to me, nothing is more extraordinary than leaving all that you know to travel a great distance (often thousands of miles) to marry a man you’ve never met. Don’t you agree?

During the initial settlement of the American West, the population was primarily composed of men. Men who went in search of gold, to seek new opportunities in farming and ranching, or to make a fresh start where land and resources seemed unlimited. Eventually, loneliness set in for those who were single, yet there was a dearth of suitable women to marry.

The conundrum for the men was how to meet and court a woman without leaving for fear of someone taking their land or claims. Some of the bachelors wrote home asking friends and family for referrals to single women who would make a good wife. Courtship would take place via correspondence until the couple decided they were suited to marry. The more common scenario was that of mail-order brides.

Ads were placed by the men in eastern newspapers. They would tell a bit about themselves and what traits they were seeking in a wife. Interested women would reply, and the advertiser would respond to the applicant he thought was a good fit. As with those men who wrote home to find a mate, the process was much the same with courtship occurring through letters.

Most of the time, the marriages went smoothly, with the couple falling in love, resulting in a long and happy relationship. However, there are stories of marriages that did not survive because of abandonment, abuse, death, or the discovery of a still-living spouse. A few incidents are recorded about mail-order brides whose groom paid her railway passage, only for her to marry someone else because he seemed a better prospect. Fortunately, those instances seem to make up a small percentage.

I hope you enjoy Dinah’s Dilemma: A Mail-Order Bride Romance.

Blessings,

Linda Shenton Matchett

Blog Stops

Blossoms and Blessings, September 14

Mary Hake, September 14

Labor Not in Vain, September 15

Texas Book-aholic, September 16

Inklings and notions, September 17

For Him and My Family, September 18

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 19

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, September 19

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 20

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 21

Connect in Fiction, September 22

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, September 22

deb’s Book Review, September 23

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 24

Vicky Sluiter, September 25

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, September 25

Connie’s History Classroom, September 26

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, September 27

Jeanette’s Thoughts, September 27

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Linda is giving away the grand prize package of a Book Journal, Floral Book Plates, Bookjigs Bookmark, a $25 Visa Gift Card, and an autographed paperback edition of Dinah’s Dilemma!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/11826/dinah-s-dilemma-celebration-tour-giveaway

The Watcher Blog Tour and Giveaway

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About the Book

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Book: The Watcher

Author: Sara Davison

Genre: Speculative Romantic Suspense

Release date: March 2021

Someone or something is watching Kathryn Ellison.

Kathryn thought she had buried memories of That Night for good—until Nick Lawson returns, reigniting her long-suppressed feelings for him. Seeing Nick has always reminded her too much of the horrible night that changed her life. As much as she wants to be with him, she wants even more to forget. When Nick unexpectedly shows up at her family ranch, Kathryn knows it is finally time to let go of the traumatic past that has held her captive for so long.

David Henley is a captive too—of the dark secret involving Kathryn, a secret he’s kept even from his wife. Now the truth is about to be revealed. And when it is, he could be stripped of everything in his life that matters to him.

A storm is brewing in the spiritual realm, and its effects reverberate through the natural world, summoning otherworldly Beings to the ranch. While Kathryn confronts the memories of That Night and struggles to let them go, she is not as alone in her home as she thinks.

As spiritual and temporal forces collide, Kathryn—and everyone she loves—is about to be caught in the crossfire.

Click here to get your copy!

My Thoughts 

The Watcher is an interesting and imaginative book. I’ll admit that when I first started reading it, I thought I wouldn’t like it because of the unique perspective it is told from. However, within the first few pages I was hooked and I could not put it down! It is unlike anything I have read before, even though the actual plot is set in the present and follows events that do happen, it’s the perspective that the story is told form that make it stand out!

The story is conveyed by a being, we’re not told what the being is until the very end, so I will not be revealing it. However, there are also other beings that represent the different emotions, feelings, etc. For example, some of the other beings include faith, courage, fear and despair. Again, it was really interesting and reminded me of some of the elements of Pilgrim’s Progress and The Screwtape Letters. However, after reading the author’s note that she had been inspired by The Book Thief (which is narrated by death), I could see some of that inspiration, and it just made it more unique. 

From this being’s perspective we learn more about Kathryn Ellison and how she is learning to live with the aftermath of That Night, as well as to let go of it in some ways so she can open her heart to love. I also loved that there is a story of redemption for one of her attackers, who through the events of that night is saved by God’s grace. 

I could gush more about this book, but I also want others to read and experience it for themselves because it is worth it! I am looking forward to reading more from Sara Davison in the future. 4.5/5 Stars. 

*I received a copy of this book from the author and Celebrate Lit in exchange for my honest review. 

About the Author

p-34Sara Davison is the author of three romantic suspense series—The Seven Trilogy, The Night Guardians, and The Rose Tattoo Trilogy, as well as the standalone, The Watcher. She has been a finalist for more than a dozen national writing awards, including Best New Canadian Christian author, a Carol, two Selahs, a Holt Medallion, and three Daphne du Maurier Awards for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. She is a Word and Cascade Award winner. She currently resides in Ontario, Canada with her husband Michael and their three children. The words on the mug she uses every morning pretty much sum up her life—I just want to sleep, drink coffee, and make stuff up. Get to know Sara better at www.saradavison.org and @sarajdavison.

More from Sara

The Watcher has taken me on an incredible journey over the last decade. After obtaining my degree in English literature, I longed to write a book. However, I found the idea of sitting down and actually writing one extremely daunting. So, I took every creative writing course, read every book on the subject, and attended every writing conference and seminar I could fine—basically doing everything except writing. Then one Easter Sunday morning, in church, the idea for an entire book—beginning, middle, ending, characters—came to me. Over the next five years, I wrote, rewrote, edited, polished, and got feedback on the book, until I felt it was nearly ready to submit to a publishing contest.

I say nearly because, while the feedback I had received was largely positive, it was still clear that something was missing. A month before the deadline to submit to the publishing contest, it occurred to me what that something was—the timeline. The novel read a bit like a sweeping epic novel that took place over twenty years. While that might work in some genres, it doesn’t play well in romantic suspense.

I had always been intrigued by the idea of a non-human narrator, and it occurred to me that could work with this book. That led me to the idea of using The Watcher, an unseen being in the spiritual realm, as my narrator. When I added in that being and numerous other beings, I was able to shorten the timeline of the book from twenty years to six days.

Of course, this required a major overhaul of the book. I closeted myself in my office for a month, only completing the story the day before the deadline for the contest. That meant I didn’t have an opportunity to show it to anyone or get feedback, so I had no idea whether the idea worked or if the story even made sense anymore.

The Watcher ended up winning the contest and was published in 2011. A decade and eight other published novels later, I got back the rights to my debut novel, polished it up, added several more chapters, and re-released it through Mountain Brook Ink in 2021.

As my first novel, my only (so-far) standalone, and the sole novel I have released that is speculative romantic suspense as opposed to contemporary romantic suspense, The Watcher holds a special place in my heart. As with all my books, my hope and prayer is that it will touch readers’ hearts and draw them closer to the God who has promised to never leave them or forsake them.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, September 16

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 17

Blogging With Carol, September 17

By the Book, September 17

Inklings and notions, September 18

Texas Book-aholic, September 19

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 20

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, September 21

For Him and My Family, September 21

deb’s Book Review, September 22

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, September 23

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, September 24

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 25

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 26

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, September 27

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, September 28

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, September 29

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Sara is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and a paperback copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/119f3/the-watcher-celebration-tour-giveaway

It’s Hockey Season Blog Tour and Giveaway

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About the Book

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Book: It’s Hockey Season

Author: Jayne J. Jones Beehler

Genre: JUVENILE FICTION / Sports & Recreation/Hockey

Release date: August 13, 2021

It’s Hockey Season tells the tale of two brothers, Blaine and Cullen, who love ice
hockey and each other. Cullen is the all-star team captain and his brother Blaine,
who has Down syndrome, is the team manager. Blaine is clearly the unsung hero
of the team; his leadership and unselfish actions speak louder than words. Young
readers are able to learn respect and a better understanding for the challenges
individuals with special needs face on a daily basis.

Click here to get your copy!

My Thoughts 

Even though I am not in the target demographic for It’s Hockey Season, I still really enjoyed it – especially as a somewhat new fan of hockey myself. I also loved that it promotes the message that hockey is for everyone!

First, I really liked the illustrations and they really complemented the story. While the story is simple, it is still good. I loved getting to know Blaine and Cullen and how Cullen sometimes has to be reminded just how important his brother’s role as team manager is. I also loved seeing Blaine’s interactions with the referees and the coach and how they treat him with dignity. I also found the Downs Syndrome representation throughout the book to be pretty well done. I loved that through Blaine – who has Downs Syndrome – the author shows how even though he does have challenges, he is still able to do a lot , and in some ways is a better leader than his bother, who is the team captain. 

Again, I really enjoyed this book, and I hope to get to read the other books in the series. I also appreciated that there was a glossary of hockey terms for those who don’t know them can look them up. Also the book was blurbed by several NHL players too! I can’t wait to pass this on to my future children. 

*I received a copy of this book from the author and Celebrate Lit in exchange for my honest review. 

About the Author

p-23Jayne J. Jones Beehler is a lifelong hockey fan who is also an advocate for children
with disabilities. She serves as a government and legislative affairs project
management consultant dealing with such issues as opioid addiction, juvenile
justice, foster care, higher education, and education reforms.

Jayne is a former history professor for Concordia University, where she was named
Political Science Professor of the Year in 2017. She holds a B.A. degree in Political
Science and a law degree from William Mitchell College of Law.

She serves as national legal advisor for the American Special Hockey Association
and is the founder of Margaret’s Missions, a chaperone travel program for people
with special needs.

Jayne resides with her husband and daughter in Wisconsin and Florida.

More from Jayne

“This book has great lessons for kids everywhere! I’m so happy my good friend Ann and the

American Special Hockey Association can be an inspiration for so many people!”

– Alex Ovechkin, Captain, Washington Capitals

 

“I’m a big fan of books that teach kids about hockey and more importantly about the value of

accepting those who may be different and working together as a team.

It’s important to lead by example and treat everyone with the same respect.”

– Claude Giroux, Captain, Philadelphia Flyers

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 11

Texas Book-aholic, September 12

Inklings and notions, September 13

The Space of Grace, September 13

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, September 14

For Him and My Family, September 15

Remembrancy, September 16

deb’s Book Review, September 17

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 18

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 19

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, September 20

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, September 21

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, September 22

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, September 23

Artistic Nobody, September 24 (Spotlight)

Author Adventure, September 24

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Jayne is giving away the grand prize package of a $20 Starbucks gift card and copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/11822/it-s-hockey-season-celebration-tour-giveaway

Twelve Weeks to Midnight Blue Blog Tour and Giveaway

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About the Book

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Book: Twelve Weeks to Midnight Blue

Author: Steve Searfoss

Genre: Fiction

Release date: January 26, 2020

Chance Sterling launches a pool cleaning business over the summer. Join Chance as he looks for new customers, discovers how much to charge them, recruits an employee, deals with difficult clients, and figures out how to make a profit. Oh, and his sister Addie wants in on the action too. Will they learn how to be business partners? He has twelve weeks to reach his goal. Will he make it? Only if he takes some chances.

KidVenture stories are business adventures where kids figure out how to market their company, understand risk, and negotiate. Each chapter ends with a challenge, including business decisions, ethical dilemmas and interpersonal conflict for young readers to wrestle with. As the story progresses, the characters track revenue, costs, profit margin, and other key metrics which are explained in simple, fun ways that tie into the story.

I am a Christian and a parent. My wife and I pay close attention to the books and media our four children consume, and try to make sure the content is edifying, just as Paul exhorts us in Philippians 4:8. I wanted to write a book that met that standard, and was also fun and engaging. KidVenture teaches kids the importance of hard work, of keeping your word and being trustworthy, and telling the truth, even when it means delivering bad news. As the story progresses, the protagonist understands that business is about more than making money as he appreciates the responsibility he has to his customers, his employee and his partner. How you treat people matters in tangible ways.

At the center of the story is a strong family. The two main characters are a brother and sister, who engage in their share of sibling rivalry, but also learn how to work together and forgive each other. At key junctures when they face big dilemmas, they turn to their parents for advice. The kids learn a healthy mix of independence, risk taking and learning through trial and error — balanced with knowing when to ask for help. All of this is presented in a way that is not preachy or hokey, but wrapped inside a story full of unexpected plot twists, witty banter and memorable characters.

Click here to get your copy!

My Thoughts 

While I am not in the target demographic, I do think that Twelve Weeks t Midnight Blue is a good book for kids to reach them the basics of starting their own business and the different decisions they will have to make such as taking risks, having expenses, etc. It also gets kids to think about what they do if they were in similar situations to Chance. 

I liked the narrative that the author chose to use to teach the kids the basics about business. I also appreciated that there are illustrations that show the different calculations that Chance has to do for the different principles he is learning about. I also liked the questions at the end of each chapter to make what Chance was learning more personal to them, as well as to get kids thinking about the different principles and ideas. 

However, I was not a huge fan of the characters. They were kind of one-dimensional. Also, I really did not like Chance’s dad, I get that he was trying to teach his kids about business and economics, but there were times he was too hard on them, and it just made him unlikable. 

Overall though it was a good book and I am interested to see what happens in the next volume of this series and what new business practices/lessons Chance learns. 

*I recevied a copy of the book from the author and Celebrate Lit in exchange for my honest review. 

About the Author

p-19I wrote my first KidVenture book after years of making up stories to teach my kids about business and economics. Whenever they’d ask how something works or why things were a certain way, I would say, “Let’s pretend you have a business that sells…” and off we’d go. What would start as a simple hypothetical to explain a concept would become an adventure spanning several days as my kids would come back with new questions which would spawn more plot twists. Rather than give them quick answers, I tried to create cliffhangers to get them to really think through an idea and make the experience as interactive as possible.

I try to bring that same spirit of fun, curiosity and challenge to each KidVenture book. That’s why every chapter ends with a dilemma and a set of questions. KidVenture books are fun for kids to read alone, and even more fun to read together and discuss. There are plenty of books where kids learn about being doctors and astronauts and firefighters. There are hardly any where they learn what it’s like to run small business. KidVenture is different. The companies the kids start are modest and simple, but the themes are serious and important.

I’m an entrepreneur who has started a half dozen or so businesses and have had my share of failures. My dad was an entrepreneur and as a kid I used to love asking him about his business and learning the ins and outs of what to do and not do. Mistakes make the best stories — and the best lessons. I wanted to write a business book that was realistic, where you get to see the characters stumble and wander and reset, the way entrepreneurs do in real life. Unlike most books and movies where business is portrayed as easy, where all you need is one good idea and the desire to be successful, the characters in KidVenture find that every day brings new problems to solve.

More from Steve

I am a Christian and a parent. My wife and I pay close attention to the books and
media our four children consume, and try to make sure the content is edifying,
just as Paul exhorts us in Philippians 4:8. I wanted to write a book that met that
standard, and was also fun and engaging. KidVenture teaches kids the importance
of hard work, of keeping your word and being trustworthy, and telling the truth,
even when it means delivering bad news. As the story progresses, the protagonist
understands that business is about more than making money as he appreciates
the responsibility he has to his customers, his employee and his partner. How you
treat people matters in tangible ways.

At the center of the story is a strong family. The two main characters are a
brother and sister, who engage in their share of sibling rivalry, but also learn how
to work together and forgive each other. At key junctures when they face big
dilemmas, they turn to their parents for advice. The kids learn a healthy mix of
independence, risk taking and learning through trial and error — balanced with
knowing when to ask for help. All of this is presented in a way that is not preachy
or hokey, but wrapped inside a story full of unexpected plot twists, witty banter
and memorable characters.

Blog Stops

Lots of Helpers, September 8

Cats in the Cradle Blog, September 8

Texas Book-aholic, September 9

For Him and My Family, September 10

Boondock Ramblings, September 10

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, September 11

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 12

Mary Hake, September 12

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, September 13

Inklings and notions, September 14

Blogging With Carol, September 14

deb’s Book Review, September 15

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, September 16

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 16

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, September 17

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 18

Splashes of Joy, September 18

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 19

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, September 20

Lights in a Dark World, September 20

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, September 21

Giveaway

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To celebrate his tour, Steve is giving away the grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/11817/twelve-weeks-to-midnight-blue-celebration-tour-giveaway

Long Shadows Blog Tour and Giveaway

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About the Book

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Book: Long Shadows

Author: Cathe Swanson

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Release date: April 6, 2021

Old sins cast long shadows.

Mona Vickers is forging a new life, building a safe and loving home for her girls far away from the ghosts of the past. She’ll do whatever it takes to make it work, including sending her girls to the Christian-based after school program despite her own lack of faith.

Roy Strough, Director of the Unity Plenkiss Community Center, wants to help the hardworking mother who’s captured his heart, but he’s already offended her pride once. Asking Mona to teach a class at the community center in exchange for tuition seems like the perfect solution.

Mona’s growing faith is put to the test by the shadows of her past. One of her students is caught up in an all-too-familiar human trafficking scheme, and a vengeance-bent stalker pushes Mona into hiding. She’s forced to decide if she can trust the powerful God she’s only beginning to know—as well as the charming man she’s beginning to love.

Dive into this gripping romantic suspense with compelling characters, intriguing twists, and an inspiring happily ever after.

 

Click here to get your copy!

My Thoughts

I can’t remember if I have read anything by Cathe Swanson before, so I’m going to assume that Long Shadows is the first work by her that I’ve read. I should also mention that I tend not to read romantic suspense – in the past it’s just not been something I’ve enjoyed. However, after reading Long Shadows, I think I have found a new favorite genre. 

I had no idea what to expect from Long Shadows, besides what was stated in the synopsis. However, I was intrigued by the fact that it deals with the topic of human trafficking – which is something I had some vague knowledge about, but I wanted to learn more. Also, I don’t know if I had read anything that covers this topic, if I have it has usually been glossed over in other works. My only complaint is that I had kind of hoped we had seen a little bit more of what happens to the girl who shows signs of being a trafficking victim, however, I also understand why the author chose not to, and in a lot of ways I am glad there wasn’t anything grittier. ( I know, I know, I just contradicted myself!). But the plot was really good and I found myself unable to put it down – especially once I got to the halfway point. I also loved the message of redemption and being a child of God that is woven throughout the novel. 

I liked getting to know the characters throughout the book, although Mona came off as pretty brusque at first. But as readers learn more about her and watch her development over the course of the novel, she becomes more likable and admirable. I also liked getting to know her daughters, and I hope to see them again in another book. I also enjoyed getting to know Roy and how he genuinely cares for everyone he comes into contact with, I also like his character development as he realizes he cant’s do it all and he needs to sometimes take a step back and listen. Phoebe was also a great characters, however it did feel like her point-of-view kind of got thrown in somewhat randomly, however I did like that we get to see her struggle with various things such as fatigue from constantly helping others. I really want to get to know her more and find out what happens to her, and it looks like I’ll get to because one of the next books in the series follows her. 

Overall, I really enjoyed Long Shadows and I hope to read more about these characters in the future. I am really looking forward to reading more of Cathe Swanson’s books in the future! 4/5 Stars. 

*I received a copy of the book from the author and Celebrate Lit in exchange for my honest review. 

About the Author

p-16After 40 years of wandering (but always in lovely places and not in a desert), Cathe Swanson has recently returned to her childhood home and family in Minnesota. In the summer, she and her husband enjoy spending time with their grandchildren and being outdoors, gardening, hiking, birdwatching, and kayaking. The long winters are perfect for writing books, playing games, reading, and indoor hobbies. Cathe’s been a quilter and teacher of quiltmaking for over 25 years and enjoys just about any kind of creative work, especially those involving fiber or paper.

Everything inspires new books! A lifelong love of quilting, Cathe’s Swedish heritage and an interest in genealogy led to The Glory Quilts series, and The Hope Again series is inspired by her life in the Midwest and experiences with the elderly, the military, and inner-city ministry. As a child of the sixties, she’s having fun writing about hippies and the Jesus People movement in the Serenity Hill series.

Cathe writes books with creative plots and engaging characters of all ages, to glorify God and entertain and bless readers. Her heartwarming stories will make you laugh and make you cry – and then make you laugh again.

More from Cathe

One of the best parts of being an author is that I’m able to create happy endings! I can right wrongs and fix a few of the world’s problems. I can rescue people (of course, I’m the one who puts them into danger in the first place, but…) and I can talk about hard topics in a third-person kind of way, with a fictional resolution. Happy endings don’t always happen in this world, but I try to make them work out in my stories.

We all need hope – especially those who find themselves in ongoing difficult situations – and that’s what I want to write into my Hope Again series. Long Shadows is Book 3 in the series. (It’s a standalone book, so you’ll enjoy it even if you’ve never read the others.) Except for the first one, Baggage Claim, all the Hope Again books are about the people – staff and guests – of the Unity Plenkiss Community Center.

The UPCC is a fictional Christian ministry – a composite of several real ones, all working hard to meet overwhelming needs with limited resources. It serves an older (fictional) Chicago neighborhood. Writing these books has let me bring awareness to that population – families in crisis, homeless and aging veterans, lonely elderly people, troubled youth… so many needs!

Roy Strough, the dashing hero of Long Shadows, is the director of food services, but he has big dreams – he’d like to expand the ministry of the UPCC to meet every need, heal every wound, fill every stomach, and tell everyone the Gospel. He wants it to be a real daytime homeless shelter, with laundry facilities, beds for nightshift workers, lockers, and more. (Me, too!)

Mona, the lovely heroine, is a more complex character. I put that poor woman through the wringer! She never got a break. The people she trusted – the only people she had – turned out to be evil betrayers, leaving her alone to raise four little girls without any support at all. She’s the hardest-working woman I’ve ever met! She’s strong, but being strong in our own strength isn’t enough. Mona needs Jesus. She needs hope.

Human trafficking isn’t the kind of problem I can solve and tack a happy ending onto, but I wanted to bring awareness to the way criminals use the Internet to recruit and groom their victims. Young, smart girls who’ve been using computers since they were toddlers often fail to see the dangers in their ordinary online world.

Book 4, Home Run, releases on September 21, and the last Unity Plenkiss book will be included in the 2021 Christmas Lights collection in October. You won’t want to miss them! Despite all the serious themes in the Hope Again books, they are also funny, heart-warming, and encouraging stories. They’ll make you laugh and make you cry… and then make you laugh again. I hope you enjoy Long Shadows and the rest of the Hope Again series.

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 10

Texas Book-aholic, September 11

Blossoms and Blessings, September 11

Inklings and notions, September 12

For Him and My Family, September 13

deb’s Book Review, September 14

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 15

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 16

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, September 17

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, September 18

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, September 19

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, September 20

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 21

Through the fire blogs, September 22

CarpeDiem, September 23

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, September 23

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Cathe is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon Gift Card and an autographed copy of Long Shadows!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/1181a/long-shadows-celebration-tour

Reflecting Gold Blog Tour and Giveaway

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About the Book

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Book: Reflecting Gold

Author: Cynthia L. Simmons

Genre: Mystery

Release date: June 2021

Peter and Mary Beth Chandler kept their Confederate bank on the gold standard. However, a Confederate officer asked for a loan. He insisted he should be able to repay in Confederate bank notes not backed by gold. If they refuse, he will label them traitors. Should the Chandlers change their loan requirements and risk losing the bank? The entire town questioned their loyalty, especially when the officer turned up dead. Will the Chandlers be court martialed or lose the bank? While facing an impossible situation, they seek God’s guidance and learn to reflect his love.

Click here to get your copy!

My Thoughts

My thoughts for Reflecting Gold are kind of mixed, on the one hand I liked reading about what life was like during the Civil War in a city like Chattanooga. But on the other hand, there were some parts that seemed to drag on, at least for me.

I liked learning about what life was like for bankers during this tumultuous time, especially those who were honest and weren’t affiliated with a particular side of the war. I appreciated that Peter did what he could to protect his institution, as well as his family, but doing so without violating his principles.

I also enjoyed getting to know some of the other characters, especially Ruth and Mary Beth. However, there were times she annoyed me with some of her reckless actions.

The writing style was interesting, I haven’t read a book before where each scene had a header as to where and when it was taking place. I both appreciated this, but also found it a bit odd at times.

Overall, Reflecting Gold was just okay. I liked it, but it wasn’t very memorable. However, I am interested in reading some of the author’s other works in the future. I also hope she writes a story about Jane Haskell! 3/5 Stars.

*I received a copy of the book from the author and Celebrate Lit in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author

p-13Cynthia L Simmons is the mother of five grown children, imperfect and down-to-earth, she uses her experience to model grace for all and speaks from the heart of a spiritual mom. Fond of times past, she writes both fiction and nonfiction while combining history and scripture to minister to moms of all ages. However, she has a special place in her heart for young moms and homeschool moms. While she loves writing—books, articles, devotions, and notes—Cynthia also enjoys traveling around the nation speaking to homeschool events, bookstores, libraries, and churches. Plus, conducts writing workshops, and leads retreats. She’s a huge fan of sugar, tea, orchids, purple, re-enactments, friends, and ballroom dancing with her husband. https://clsimmons.com

More from Cynthia

The same year my first book came out, my husband came down with encephalitis. In simple terms, his brain was infected. He’d been sick for several days with a mild headache and temperature, and our doctor thought he had the flu. One morning I watched him slide into the floor as a grand mal seizure ravaged his body. I remember thinking this couldn’t be happening. I’m a nurse, and I was reviewing his medical history in my mind. Seizures didn’t fit with anything on either side of his family, and I wanted to deny what I saw. Needless to say, our life changed dramatically for several years as we walked through dark times. My husband spent 11 days in intermediate intensive care and came home on IV medications. For several weeks he had partial seizures the doctors couldn’t control. However, I learned so much during that time, and I’ve shared lessons from that time. In Reflecting Gold, I demonstrate how we can reflect the beauty of God even in the middle of heartbreak.

Blog Stops

Through the Fire Blogs, September 9 (Author Interview)

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 9

Texas Book-aholic, September 10

Inklings and notions, September 11

For Him and My Family, September 12

deb’s Book Review, September 13

For the Love of Literature, September 14 (Author Interview)

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 15

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 16

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, September 17

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, September 18

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, September 19

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, September 20

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, September 21 (Author Interview)

Vicarious Living, September 21

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 22

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Cynthia is giving away the grand prize package of a $30 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/11818/reflecting-gold-celebration-tour-giveaway

Save the Date Collection Blog Tour and Giveaway

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About the Book

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Book: Save the Date

Author: Hallee Bridgeman (Author), Kari Trumbo (Author), T.K. Chapin (Author), Chautona Havig (Author), Shoshanna Gabriel (Author), Dori Harrell (Author), Liwen Y. Ho (Author), Lisa M. Prysock (Author), Camy Tang (Author), Jan Thompson (Author), Marion Ueckermann (Author), Jaycee Weaver (Author)

Genre: Contemporary Christian Romance

Release date: June 2021

Weddings for every season and occasion. Adventures, mishaps, and dream destinations—this collection has it all!
As our guest of honor, you’re cordially invited on a journey through twelve heartwarming and inspirational novellas that will take you from small-town America to romantic Paris, from the sunny shores of Hawaii to New Zealand. Office romances, friends-to-lovers, second chances, and more await you in these stories full of forgiveness, redemption, laughter, and love.
Say “I do” and claim your copy of this limited-time anthology by your favorite USA Today and bestselling Christian romance authors!
January Hope by Kari Trumbo
Clothing historian Cleo goes on the hunt for an 1880s fashion magazine wedding dress. Discovering it’s part of a museum collection, her biggest obstacle is handsome curator Lowel. Unfortunately, his no-touch policy just might put a stop to her hunt and her heart.
A Valentine for Veronica by Lisa Prysock
Veronica purchased her dream wedding dress though she’s single. When an encounter with a former peer—now a wedding magazine photojournalist—entices her into doing a special feature, the pressure is on to find a husband. Will Veronica’s pride be her downfall, or will her faith lead to love?
I Take You by Marion Ueckermann
Since childhood, Kaia has dreamed about her fairy-tale wedding. But when her father’s choices crush Kaia’s dreams, her fiancé is left scrambling for a solution to their dilemma. Kaia doesn’t want to delay their wedding, and neither does Leo. He’s waited a lifetime to make Kaia his wife.
Adoring April by Chautona Havig
Whoever heard of a church expecting an incoming minister to marry their only single member as a condition for employment? Legality aside, what kind of woman would possibly agree to such a crazy idea? What’ll it take for Jesse to go from avoiding April to adoring April?
A Change of a Dress by Hallee Bridgeman
Belle struggles to bury the past and grasp her elusive future. Scarred by an incredible act of heroism, combat veteran Vince longs to courageously walk the road less traveled as an army chaplain. The two unknowingly cross paths time and again until meeting changes everything.
Time for Me by Jan Thompson
When Sheryl tries to get a world-famous sculptor to display his artwork in her gallery, she doesn’t expect him to fall in love with her in this friends-to-more romance.
The Wedding Dress by T. K. Chapin
Alexa Anderson doesn’t want to wear her mother’s wedding dress when it’s time to marry the love of her life, Brad Jackson. Little does she know, the wedding dress has a story of its own to tell…
The Wedding Kimono by Camy Tang
A tomboy massage therapist and her boss discover a mysterious message hidden in her grandmother’s wedding kimono. Can her family legacy help her to see her inner beauty and open herself up to love?
One Vow for September by Liwen Ho
She’s a writer with an unconventional assignment, he’s the jaded coworker playing her husband; together they’re one odd couple about to find out how real love is.
Braver with You by Jaycee Weaver
She’d follow her childhood sweetheart anywhere, but first they’ll need all her courage and all his support to make it through the wedding their mothers have planned.
Grateful for You by Dori Harrell
Jeans-only Libby hasn’t spoken to lawman Jamie since she turned down his proposal. But when she sees a frothy gown in a store window, she knows he’s the guy for her. But winning him back might mean landing herself in jail.
Countdown to Her Cowboy’s Christmas Wedding by Shoshanna Gabriel
A handsome rancher. The girl next door. A childhood promise comes due that could change their lives… for better or worse. When their Christmas wedding preparations bring out painful memories of heartbreak, will Kate be able to forgive Jay—and herself—so they can finally be together?

Click here to get your copy!

My Thoughts

I had the privilege of being able to read 4 of the novellas from this collection for the purpose of this blog tour. Before I get started with individual reviews for each of the novellas, I would like to say that I enjoyed what I had read so far that I went and pre-ordered the collections so that I could read the rest of the amazing novellas in it.

January Hope by Kari Trumbo

I really connected with Cleo, especially with her fears. I am also somewhat a late bloomer when it comes to getting my license, and I am also nervous when I get behind the wheel, just not for the same reasons. I do feel like she did allow herself to be taken advantage of by others, especially her boss.

I also liked getting to know Lowell, however I felt that he pushed Cleo to much at times, but then again Cleo needed it. But then there is her boss … what a piece of work! He is an awful person who needs t get over himself.

Overall, I really liked this story. It was sweet and cute.

A Vow For September by Liwen Y. Ho

This was a cute story of work colleagues who have to pair up on a project for work – researching vow renewal ceremonies. I liked how both characters were older – in their forties – because I haven’t read a lot of romances with couples in that age bracket. I enjoyed getting to know both September and Tristan and watching their story unfold. I look forward to reading more works by Liwen Y. Ho in the future.

Braver With You by Jaycee Weaver

I enjoyed this story, although I found Ashley’s mother to be really controlling, however, once it’s revealed why she is a smother it makes sense.

I loved the relationship between Ashlyn and Conrad and how they strive to overcome the various obstacles in their way.

Overall, I really liked Braver With You and I hope to read more from Jaycee Weaver in the future.

Countdown to Her Cowboy’s Christmas Wedding by Soshanna Gabriel

I’ll admit that this was probably my least favorite novella of the four, however I still enjoyed it.

I did find that there was a lot of repetition, especially about their past and the On Rule. I also found the conflict concerning, especially Jay’s reaction – I felt like he acted immaturely. But then again, I don’t know, maybe his reaction is justified. I also found Kate a little bit too passive and stubborn at times, she could have been a little more assertive.

I still enjoyed the story overall, and I will definitely checkout more of Shoshanna Gabriel’s work in the future.

Overall, I really enjoyed this collection of novellas and I can’t wait to read the rest of them really soon! 4/5 Stars.

About the Authors

The authors of Save the Date joined together for this limited-time collection as an opportunity to bring their readers an excellent reading experience. From California to Kentucky, South Africa to Idaho and everywhere in between, these authors live and write the stories on their hearts to touch the hearts of their readers.

More from Chautona

Why One Epic Wedding Set Is about More Than “Just” Romance

“Oh, they say when you marry in June… you’re a bride all your life…”

When my kids were little, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was a favorite movie, although they used to call it “Dah-dah-dump-dum.” If you’ve never heard “Goin’ Courtin’” then that won’t make sense, but what can I say? Kids. Considering I had seven daughters, it’s no wonder that my kids loved that song sung by girls wearing pantaloons and camisoles the most. My boys never seemed to get that they were watching girls dancing around in their underwear. Much to my relief.

But you know, I’m a desert rat and not a fan of June weddings. Summer weddings are… HOT. I love outdoor weddings and receptions, and they’re miserable here in June, July, August, May… September… To be fair, there are maybe six whole weeks of the entire year that wouldn’t be—too hot, too cold, or just blasting with wind.

The authors of Save the Date all chose their months for different reasons. December, June, and February were obvious favorite choices, but I had three options that called to me. Either April, May, or June. Why? Well, my book title. I needed a woman’s name!

In this collection, you’ll find a couple of marriages of convenience, a friends-to-more, a destination wedding… you name it, we’ve got it. Each author has a meaningful story around the wedding dress, and through the course of each one, we have something especially beautiful.

Love.

I’m not speaking just of love between two characters. In sets like this, beautiful friendships are forged as we write, share, and celebrate. There’s a camaraderie that fills the group with every idea, every milestone, and every frustration.

You’ll also witness one more kind of love—love of craft. See, authors do the long, hard, sometimes tedious work of writing for a reason. We love the creation of characters, settings, and stories that weave all three into a picture that stirs the heart and feeds the soul. You could argue that they are a cheap imitation of the stories God writes on our lives, but because they are an offering to the Lord, they are also beautiful, rich, and a “sweet savor,” or so we hope.

We pray you’ll enjoy your time among the brides of Save the Date. We hope you’ll be blessed.

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 4

Texas Book-aholic, September 5

Inklings and notions, September 6

By the Book, September 6

For Him and My Family, September 7

deb’s Book Review, September 8

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 9

Back Porch Reads, September 9

Connect in Fiction, September 10

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, September 11

Jeanette’s Thoughts, September 11

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, September 12

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 13

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, September 14

CarpeDiem, September 14

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, September 15

She Lives To Read, September 16

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 16

Simple Harvest Reads, September 16 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, September 17

Giveaway

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To celebrate their tour, the Save the Date authors are giving away the grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/11816/save-the-date-celebration-tour-giveaway

Catch Me If You Can Blog Tour and Giveaway

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About the Book

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Book: Catch Me If You Can

Author: Carole Brown

Genre: Romantic Suspense with a touch of quirkiness

Release date: August 5, 2021

The big cat sat on the oversized rock, ears pointed toward the sky, every muscle taut, every sense at the ready.

“S-s-shut up and f-f-forget it. You’ve s-seen nothing and know nothing. I won’t warn you again. G-g-got it?”

The cat’s head swiveled, his ears twitching as if catching the hint of threat in the whisper. A soft hiss slid from his open mouth and reinforced the overtone of evil pressing in upon the scene. Within hours, lies and dark secrets are slithering all over the campground.

Coaxed into finding the animal killer at Jamieson’s Outfitters, Tara Layne, with her sidekick, Boet, is welcomed by a threatening whisper and the unfriendly eyes of a rugged and devastatingly handsome manager. Wesley Clarke, both interesting and frustrating, holds an attraction for Tara that is primitive and exasperating.

Intermingled with her search, Tara deals with her own heartbreaking buried secrets. When a strange old Native American probes into the recesses of her heart, he encourages her to face her bitter feelings.

As Tara closes in on her search, she finds herself—and Boet—the target of someone who’s determined to outrun and outsmart her. Someone determined not to get caught.

His theme:

Fun as fast as you can, you can’t catch me.

The question:

Can Tara run fast enough to catch this real live Gingerbread boy

before he decides to get rid of her and Boet?

Click here to get your copy!

My Thoughts 

I honestly didn’t know what to expect from Catch Me If You Can, except that it was related to the nursery rhyme/story of the Gingerbread Man and that it was a suspense/mystery. 

This was an interesting novel because it follows a PI trying to find an animal killer, but yet she learns some lessons along the way. Tara is stubborn, but also kind, and she has a good way of tracking clues. I like how throughout the book she confronted with the fact that she needs to let go of her anger over the murder of brother. I also liked getting to know her cat, Bot, which I loved the name (I grew up in South Africa where this was a common term), and I just love cats. 

I also enjoyed getting to know all the other characters that Tara comes into contact with, especially Jimbo. 

While I enjoyed the characters and the mystery, I must admit that, at least for the first part of the book, the writing seemed to be clunky. There seemed to be too much information thrown at the reader, and I often found myself a little bit lost at times. Some of the dialogue also seemed a little inauthentic to the characters. I don’t know, it just seemed confusing at times. However, about halfway through things improved and I started enjoying the book a lot more. But I did really like how we got some chapters from the suspect’s point-of-view, which added to the creep factor. Also, I loved how the author planted red herrings throughout the book as to who the culprit is. 

Overall, I liked Catch Me If You Can, it was a compelling suspense with some great characters. However, it did have some technical issues in the first half that made it hard for me to engage with the story, as well as some editing errors. But, I do hope to read more of Tara and Boet’s adventures soon, and I am excited to see what other cases they solve. 3.5/5 Stars. 

About the Author

p-7Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, Carole Brown enjoys mentoring beginning writers. An author of thirteen full-length, best selling and award winning books (with a novella in an anthology), she loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. She has found that the traveling and ministering has served her well in writing her novels. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?

More from Carol

Who doesn’t like a good book while nibbling on cookies and sipping your favorite drink?

Writing Catch Me If You Can, Book One of the Nursery Rhyme Series, was a fun endeavor. I can’t remember how I came up with the idea, but I do know it’s been interesting and a long-time coming. Both Tara Layne and Wesley Clarke have personal and spiritual issues to resolve which are more serious topics to address. So I knew definitely that I not only wanted to include those, plus suspense and romance, but also a bit of quirky-ness to the story.

What were the two quirky things that help make it special?

Tara Layne comes from a very special family. Her older brother, Tory, four years older than the twins: Tara and Tomas, and her grandfather, Poppy, an archeologist, who cared for them when their parents died. He raised them while on dig sites, teaching them and giving them a unique view of the world.

When Tory was murdered, while studying to follow in their grandfather’s footsteps, Tara, an elementary teacher, resigned and took the schooling she needed to be a detective because the authorities seemed unable to discover why Tory was murdered.

Her brothers were always pranksters, and after Tory died, Tomas bought her an expensive gift: A Savannah cat, sort of as a joke. But instead of being irritated at her nerdy computer brother, she fell in love with her cat and proceeded to name him Boet (An African name that means brotherly love). Boet not only hisses at those he’s not crazy about, but shows tolerance for those who he favors.

Here are some fun facts about a Savannah cat:

  1. Crossbred between a African Serval cat and a domestic cat.
  2. Many Savannah cats enjoy water.
  3. They are inquisitive and extremely intelligent.

The antagonist leaves Gingerbread cookie men at each site of the animal killings.

  1. Now that seems weird enough, but when you discover why and how the cookies play a part of his/her past, you’ll understand the title better and why the antagonist is so obsessed with these specific cookies.
  2. I’ve included a recipe below for your enjoyment! If you love gingerbread, these are sure to become a favorite!

Gingerbread Cookies

Ingredients

Cookies

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 large egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • additional flour for rolling out dough

Icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp milk
  • 2 tsp light corn syrup
  • 1/2 tsp extract of choice – lemon almond or vanilla

Instructions

Cookies

  • In a small bowl mix together baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger and cinnamon until well blended. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter, brown sugar, and eggs on medium speed until well blended.
  • Add molasses and vanilla and mix until well combined.
  • Gradually add in dry ingredients and mix until combined, but do not over-mix.
  • Wrap dough in plastic wrap and place into an airtight container or freezer style zipper bag, and place in refrigerator for at least two hours and up to 24 hours.
  • When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 deg. Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats ore parchment paper.
  • Let dough sit at room temperature for 5-15 minutes or however long is needed to make it pliable enough to divide in half. The time it takes will depend on how long it’s been chilling.
  • Place 1 portion of the dough on a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle additional flour over dough and gently roll dough out to approximately 1/4 – 1/3″ thick. The thicker the dough the softer the cookie will be. If dough sticks to rolling pin, sprinkle additional flour onto dough.
  • Cut out cookies with cookie cutter. Whatever scraps are left over after cutting out cookies can be rolled out and rolled out to cut out more cookies.
  • Place cookies on baking sheet approximately 1 1/2-inches apart.
  • Bake each sheet of cookies for 7-10 minutes until tops and edges are starting to firm up.
  • Remove baking sheet from oven transfer to a wire cooling rack. Allow to cool on baking sheet for ten minutes, then use a spatula to transfer cookies to another wire cooling rack to cool completely.
  • If desired, once cookies are completely cooled decorate.

Icing

  • In a medium size bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well to combine. For thicker icing, add more powdered sugar, one tablespoon at a time. For thinner icing, add more corn syrup, one teaspoon at a time. Place into a piping bag and pipe onto gingerbread cookies as desired.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, September 6

Pause for Tales, September 6

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, September 7

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 8

Inklings and notions, September 9

deb’s Book Review, September 10

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 11

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, September 12

Texas Book-aholic, September 13

For Him and My Family, September 14

Mary Hake, September 14

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, September 15

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 16

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, September 17

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 18

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, September 19

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Carole is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and signed copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/116c4/catch-me-if-you-can-celebration-tour-giveaway

Mini-Reviews #10

Hello everyone, 

Welcome to another installment of mini-reviews! Most of these books are ones that I was required to read for one of my grad. school classes. I liked some of them and others I didn’t. 

The Tea Dragon Tapestry by Katie O’Niell 

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This was a cute conclusion to the Tea Dragon series. I’m sad to see these characters go and I wish we could get more of them in the future. The story was great, and the artwork was fantastic! Thanks to Oni Press and Netgalley for providing me with an advanced copy in exchange for my honest review. 5/5 Stars.

Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block 

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This is a book I had to read for one of my classes last semester. It was jsut okay, I was confused most of the time. It is a magical realism story set in Los Angeles and everyone has weird names. I honestly would not have picked this up if it was not required reading for a class. 2/5 Stars. 

Witch Baby by Francesca Lia Block 

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Witch Baby is the sequel to Weetzie Bat, and this was also required reading for one of my grad school classes. It was slightly better than Weetzie Bat, probably because it is told from the perspective of Weetzie’s step-daughter. But again, I probably would not have picked this up if it wasn’t for class. 3/5 Stars. 

Chinese Handcuffs by Chris Crutcher 

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Chinese Handcuffs was another requried read for the same class, however I did enjoy this. It was definitely a hard book to read because it deals with suicide and sexual assault. I am definitely curious in checking out more of Chris Crutcher’s books in the future. 4/5 Stars.

Unwind by Neal Shusterman 

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This was also another book I read for class. It was a fascinating read but also seemed to it a little too close to home because I could see something like this potentially happening – I hope not, but it does seem viable. I liked learning more about this dystopian world where instead of abortion being legal, parents can choose to have their kids unwound between the ages 13-18. Unwinding is basically when every single body part is used as organ donations. It’s creepy, but really good. 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on The End We Start From by Megan Hunter. This originally was posted on a blog I had to keep for grad school, but for whatever reason it didn’t end up being posted here like the other reviews I did for school.

Set in London in the near future, a woman gives birth to a son as the waters start to flood the city. Soon after, she is forced to flee with her newborn and her husband to safety, however they soon discover that their safe place is not so safe anymore, and once again they are on the run. She eventually gets separated from her husband and she is forced to continue to flee to safety when the unrest starts to get out of hand. Along the way she makes friends with other survivors who are also just trying to keep their children safe and/or have no one else to depend on.

I chose this book because it sounded interesting, especially with a semi-apocalyptic event going on in a near future London. I was also curious to see how the woman survived during a time of upheaval, especially after giving birth and most of her loved ones disappearing from her.

The End We Start From was a really quick read, but it was also an intriguing read especially with the whole of London being flooded and people having to flee to what I am assuming is the English countryside. It was a quick paced story, however there were a few flaws that made me not enjoy it as much as I could have.

First, the fact that very little information is given about what is going on with the flooding of London and the unrest that happens afterwards. I know style-wise that the author probably decided that less is more, but when it comes to books like this, I prefer to be given as much information as possible so that I can better understand what is going on in the world of the novel. Second, we are never given the characters names, they are all referred to by the initials of their first names, although this was also pretty fascinating at the same time. However, I felt like it was hard to connect with the main character because so little information is given about her – we don’t even get an initial for her name like the other characters.

I did like the whole fleeing for survival and how the woman realizes that she needs to keep moving from place to place in order to protect her son. I also liked how near the end we see her trying to pick up the pieces of her former life which seems so foreign to her after having to be in search of safe dwelling places for several months. This book is good for those who like poetic writing, mild apocalyptic stories, and glimpses into a world ravaged by the effects of climate change. 3/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Always a Wedding Planner Blog Tour and Giveaway

 

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About the Books

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Book: Always a Wedding Planner

Author: RL Ashly, Leeann Betts, Toni Shiloh, Davalynn Spencer

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release date: June 1, 2021

This collection features four stories of wedding planners who are partners at Weddings by Design, located in Loveland, Colorado. Each novella will be about 30,000 words.

Can four contemporary wedding planners break the jinx of singledom, or are they destined to witness the weddings of others?

Business partners Felicity Edwards, Kiki Bell, Cassie Blackthorn, and another who has yet to be named are best of friends in Loveland, Colorado—a romantic wedding destination for many couples—and they work together to make every bride’s special day the most important of their lives.

But each of the women hides a secret from the others, one that threatens their business, their friendship, and their happiness.

Can they work out their differences, build on their strengths, and trust each other—and God—with their futures?

Click here to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

Since this is a collection of four novellas, I will review each novella and then give my thoughts of the book overall at the end. 

Finally A Sweetheart by Toni Shiloh 

This is the first story by Toni Shiloh that I have read and I really enjoyed it. It was a nice, sweet, cute read that is perfect for someone looking for a lighthearted story. The only thing I didn’t like about the story was the conflict, and that honestly has more to o with my personal preference than whether it was good or not. 

I enjoyed getting to know each of the characters, especially Will’s sister, Olivia, who isn’t afraid to say it how it is when it comes to Will. 

I also liked that it deals with a couple of heavy topics, I don’t want to say what they are because I do think they could be spoilers. 

Overall, a good romance and story and I am looking forward to reading more of Toni Shiloh’s works in the future. 4/5 Stars. 

Hemmed In by RL Ashly

Let me start by saying that Camilla is the absolute worst. She treats everything like some petty junior high drama, and is especially awful to main character, Kiki. 

This was a sweet story, however, the romance felt very rushed. I feel like Kiki and Bing barely got to know each other. But then again, every relationship is different and can be unconventional and there is nothing wrong with that. 

I really liked Kiki and how strong but gentle she was, especially where Camilla is concerned. And I liked Bing too, but I feel like he needed to step up more, especially with the Camilla situations, I felt like was too passive in most of his dealings with her. I did also like how he is referred to as a bachelor-until-the-rapture (probably because my dad jokes that he was one until he met my mom). 

Overall, this was another great first novella the author. I hope to read more from her in the future. 4/5 Stars. 

The Worst-Kept Secret by Leann Betts 

I did enjoy this story, however I found Cassie way too judgmental of Brady based on her assumptions. But Brady is also to blame because he doesn’t correct her until later on. However, it was fun to watch them eventually grow closer, but I would have liked to see more snapshots of their relationship before the epilogue. 

I could relate to Cassie a lot, especially since I am an introvert myself. So a lot of the times when she was sapped of energy I know what she was going through. Side note: Can they just fire Camilla already? 

Overall, I liked this novella, I loved getting something from Cassie’s perspective for a change and seeing her relationship with the other ladies at Weddings By Design. Also, is it just me or do they have issues with communication? I hope to read more by Leann Betts in the future. 4/5 Stars

Taste and See by Davalynn Spencer

This was a great conclusion to the collection. I enjoyed getting to know Saffron, although there were times I found her to be a little melodramatic – especially when Ty guesses that she has lost her sense of taste. I mean, I can understand why she was cared, but I think she should have also been honest with her friends/partners. It just felt like there was a lot of miscommunication between the four of them, but then again, I have never run my own business with friends so I don’t know. 

Overall, this was a great conclusion and I hope to read more of Davalynn Spencer’s work in the future. 4/5 Stars. 

As a whole, I enjoyed this collection of sweet, clean romances. I loved the concept of following four friends, who are also business partners running a wedding planner business. My only complain is that they seem to have a lot of miscommunication and trust issues with one another. I enjoyed reading novellas from three new-to-me authors and reading another one by Davalynn Spencer. I don’t know if we will ever see the characters again, but I would love to read more about their weddings. 4/5 Stars 

About the Authors

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Leeann Betts writes contemporary romantic suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical romantic suspense. Together she and Donna have published more than 30 novellas and full-length novels.

 

 

p-30R.L. ASHLY is a master seamstress with a Master of Arts degree in Literature (May, 2019). S, who is now pursuing a Ph.D. in Literature. A mother and grandmother, she is active in her local writing community, never says never to a home improvement task, and strives to one day write the Great American Novel.

RL Ashly writes on the run. She enjoys a good mystery with a complicated plot. Iced tea is her beverage of choice. Hemmed In is her first traditionally published novel.

 

p-28DAVALYNN SPENCER is a Publisher’s Weekly and ECPA bestselling author with novellas in three Barbour collections, The 12 Brides of Christmas, The 12 Brides of Summer, and The Cowboy’s Bride. She won the Will Rogers Gold Medallion for Inspirational Western Fiction and is the author of ten additional titles, both contemporary and historical. She blogs monthly for Christian Authors Network, Heroes, Heroines & History, contributes to the American Christian Fiction blog, and writes her own weekly inspirational blog. She appears on an area radio broadcast, Write Time Radio, and teaches writing workshops when not wrangling Blue the Cowdog and mouse detectors Annie and Oakley.

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Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Once she understood the powerful saving grace thanks to the love of Christ, she was moved to honor her Savior. She writes to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness.

Interview with the Authors

How did you become a writer?

Toni Shiloh: I took some creative writing classes while earning my bachelor’s degree and I caught the bug!

RL Ashly: In fifth grade, I was standing in the hallway of my elementary school and deep in conversation with my classmates. We were discussing writing and I told them that someday I would be a writer. That was my initial decision, but it would take a while and a bit of education before I could pursue a writing career.

Leeann Betts: I’m that kid in class who, when the teacher said, “Write a one-page story”, I wrote two or three pages, edge of paper to edge of paper. I loved telling stories. My parents called them ‘fibs’. In more recent years, I wondered if I had at least one book inside me that needed outing. So I sat down and tried. Messed up. Tried again. Finally, with the support of my husband who supported me and cheered me on, I finished the book, then went on to write many more.

Davalynn Spencer: I wrote my first story as an assignment from my sixth-grade teacher. That was all it took.

 

What is the most important thing God has taught you through your writing?

TS: That I can’t do this alone. I’ve been blessed with great critique partners, beta readers, readers overall. And of course a lot of other people who have helped in various ways.

RA: Persistence

LB: That He is the One who does the writing – all I do is transcribe the story. Before I write, I pray that I would do my part faithfully.

DS: My purpose is to proclaim Him and His faithfulness. Regardless of what happens in a character’s life or my own.

 

Writing has a lot of rejection. How do you deal with it?

TS: Chocolate! Lol, honestly I usually whine to my bff and pray. And maybe eat a piece of chocolate or two.

RA: Rejection or a closed door? The older I get, the more I understand a ‘no’ as not the right opportunity for me. A ‘no’ can certainly protect us from a frustrating situation that we might not understand at the time. That being said, rejection is hard. A strategy I find helpful is to let myself be discouraged, angry, or frustrated for a limited time period. All emotions need to be processed before I go to bed. Tomorrow is a new day, new adventures. I am a human and need to process like everyone else. But I have found setting time limits is healthy for me.

LB: Being a writer is much like being a follower of Jesus—there are people who love the story, and there are those who just don’t get it. In both cases, I just remind myself that they aren’t rejecting me—they are rejecting the Living Savior.

DS: Rejection can deteriorate into dejection if we allow it. Remembering that Christ too was rejected helps ease the sting. But so does remembering to keep going. Keep doing. Keep writing. Quitting is the enemy of obedience.

 

Who is your support for writing? Family? Writing group?

TS: My husband definitely supports me and then I have my circle of writing friends. They’ve been along for the majority of my writing career and have helped me become better with each book.

RA: Definitely my critique group. Leeann Betts is the leader, and the entire group are great cheerleaders.

LB: My husband is a huge support, as are my critique group, my writing friends, and my readers. I love hearing from readers, and always respond.

DS: I have many author friends and I enjoy spending time with them sharing commons struggles and victories.

 

Who are some of your favorite authors (either secular or Christian)?

TS: There are too many to name! I love all books by Sarah Monzon, Jaycee Weaver, Andrea Boyd, Becky Wade, Melissa Tagg, Ronie Kendig, Lynn Blackburn, etc.

RA: My biggest addiction is reading. I read whatever I can get my hands on including the cereal box. If I cannot read, then I will listen to an audio book. It is impossible to pick a favorite author. Everything from Socrates and Plato to Jane Austen and every contemporary writer on the planet right now.

LB: Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

DS: C.S. Lewis, Tamera Alexander, Laura Frantz, Louis L’Amour.

 

Do you have a favorite routine for writing?

TS: I put on my playlist that I create for each book then write. 🙂

RA: Rather than climb the walls in my house, I sit in parking lots and write my novels. Open space parks are nice too. Now that things are returning to more of a normal situation, it is easier for me to write at home. I keep my tablet and notepad in a bag for easy access. I haul that thing around everywhere I go. Then if a great idea pops into my head, I can jot it down on paper or electronically.

I do not really have a routine. Between work and chasing grandbabies, I need to write on the go. This way of writing would drive most people nuts. But it is the only way I can get things done. I catch a little bit of time on my lunch break, and before and after work.

LB: No routine, apart from praying to faithfully transcribe. I wish I could have something, like music, or candles. But I don’t.

DS: I sit down at my computer with a cup of coffee and jump right in. During the colder months of the year, I sit by the fire in my rocker and write on my laptop. With coffee close by.

 

Tell us about your most recent book. What inspired you?

TS: I actually just kind of brainstormed and let the character develop in my mind. 🙂

RA: Hemmed In is a story about a seamstress and a firefighter. As a professional seamstress, my world revolves around sewing. It was a natural choice to make the lead character a seamstress. My late uncles and aunts were the inspiration behind the story. My uncles stepped up to the plate, married my aunties, and became fathers to my cousins. They treated them as their own. The word ‘step’ did not refer to people. The only ‘step’ in their vocabularies were the ones outside leading to the front door. That left a lasting impression upon me.

LB: Worst-Kept Secret, my contribution to this collection, came as the result of a brainstorming session with my late writing friend, Darlene Franklin. We were coming up with ideas for collections. We started with “Always a Bridesmaid” then thought, “nah, that’s been done to death”. So “Always a Wedding Planner” came out, contemporary, which was a change, since the other collections were all historical. To create the heroine, I made her a lot like me. Introverted, afraid to disappoint, wanting to please.

DS: A Change of Scenery, Book 4 in the Canon City Chronicles series, focuses on the third generation of the Hutton family in 1911. Canon City was an early Hollywood, hosting movie makers of the silver screen. When I was a reporter for the newspaper in Canon City, I often visited the local History Center and Museum for stories from the past. Discovering so much intriguing movie history from this area led me to create characters around actual events and bring them to life in my Western-romance series.

 

Anything else you’d like to tell my readers?

TS: I hope you enjoy Always a Wedding Planner!

RA: I have a cat named Messy. She is better than any alarm clock. Woe to the human who does not get out of bed on time and put food in the dish.

LB: I am a Canadian by birth, American by choice (naturalized), and a patriot to my core.

DS: Nope, that’s it.

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 3

Inklings and notions, September 4

By The Book, September 4

For Him and My Family, September 5

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, September 5

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, September 6

Kayem Reads, September 6

Texas Book-aholic, September 7

lakesidelivingsite, September 8

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 8

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, September 9

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, September 10

She Lives To Read, September 10

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, September 11

deb’s Book Review, September 11

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 12

Labor Not in Vain, September 13

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 13

Splashes of Joy, September 14

Through the Fire Blogs, September 14

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, September 15

Pause for Tales, September 15

Simple Harvest Reads, September 16 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Giveaway

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To celebrate their tour, R.L., Toni, Leann and Davalynn are giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and a print copy of the book (US only)!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/116b7/always-a-wedding-planner-celebration-tour-giveaway

Six Degrees of Separation – Third Edition

Hello everyone,

Welcome to another edition of Six Degrees of Separation which is a meme/tag hosted by Kate W. @ booksaremyfavoriteandbest.

Basically each month a book is picked, and then it is up to participants to pick a book that is related to it. For example, it is by the same author, has a similar title, is about a similar subject matter, or even something like you got it at the same bookstore, etc. And you’re going to do it five times, and the goal is to have fun, but also to see how different your first book is from your sixth book, and see how you ended up with the last book. I know I probably haven’t done a great job with explaining this, if you would like a more thorough explanation, I encourage you to check out Kate’s post explaining the “rules.”

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The starting book is Second Place by Rachel Cusk. It sounds like an interesting book about art and relationships. I am interested in reading it eventually. The connection I decided to make with this book and the next one is the word “Second”.

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I chose Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson because it has the word “Second” as the first word in the title. This was a really good read about a teenager who is forced to face her past when her family goes back to the vacation house by the lake one last time before her father dies. It is has it’s lighthearted moments, but it also doesn’t shy away from dealing with hard topics either.

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For the next book, I decided to pick another one of Morgan Matson’s books, Save the Date. This is set over a few days when a family gets together for their sister’s wedding. Of course there is some chaos with last minute details, romance, and a family secret that comes out that could be devastating to our main character, Charlie.

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Going along with the theme of weddings, the next book is Once and For All by Sarah Dessen. This time our main character is the daughter of a wedding planner, who does not want to fall in love after experiencing heart break from her last relationship. While this book is light-hearted, in true Sarah Dessen fashion it also deals with some hard topics.

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Things We Once Held Dear by Ann Tatlock has the word in the title. I don’t know much about the book except it does jump between 1977 and 2005. I am definitely curious to read this one and find out what it is all about.

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For the next book I decided to go with another book by Ann Tatlock called Promises To Keep. I have read this one and I really enjoyed it. It is set during the Vietnam war, and follows a single mom and her family who have an unexpected house guest live with them, the old lady who previously lived in the house. It was charming and poignant, and I really enjoyed it.

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The last book I chose is Promises Unbroken by Kristina Hall, I read this one a couple months ago and really enjoyed it. It is mainly set in New York in the 1920s and follows a young woman who is looking for her sister who is believe to be dead, but she is convinced she is still alive. I really enjoyed it and if you want to read more of my thoughts click here to read my review. Also I chose this book because it has the word “Promises” in the title.

So how do you think I did with the six degrees of separation this month?

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.