Book Review and Giveaway: Hope in the Mountain River

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About the Book

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Book: Hope in the Mountain River

Author: Misty M. Beller

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

Release Date: March 31, 2020

This epic journey is not at all what she expected.

Joel Vargas can’t believe he’s lost his older brother in the wilds of the Rocky Mountains after surviving their harrowing voyage across the Atlantic. And he can’t shake the feeling that Adam—his only living relative—is in dire trouble. No matter what the cost, he and his band of friends won’t stop until Adam is found. He doesn’t have time to contend with the two Indian women who seem to be shadowing his every move.

After the devastating loss of her daughter and husband to a sickness that swept through their Nez Perce camp, Elan is desperate to find an escape from her grief. As she and her friend journey through the mountains toward the great river, a band of white men is the last thing she expects to find, especially as winter blows in full force.

When the dangers increase, accomplishing Joel’s mission becomes the only hope for all their survival. If the elements don’t consume them, Elan has a feeling life will never be the same for any of them.

From a USA Today bestselling author comes another epic journey through breathless landscapes and intense adventure.

Click here to get your copy.

My Thoughts

I’ll be honest, I was a little hesistant to start Hope in the Mountain River because I was worried it would suffer from the second book slump that sequels tend to fall into. However, I was pleasantly surprised and found myself gripped by this beautiful, fast-paced story – for the most part.  I think it also helped that even though this is a sequel to Freedom in the Mountain Wind, it isn’t a direct sequel in that we are following two different main characters, with the characters from the previous book in supporting roles.

I loved getting to know Joel more and his dogged determination to find his brother Adam, however there are also times when this determination gets him and his fellow travelers into trouble. There were times, especially in the latter half of the book his character didn’t seem to be fully developed. However, he is good and I love how he is empathetic towards others most of the time.

Then there is Elan, who I loved getting to know and watching her grow as she continues to work through the grief of losing her daughter and husband in an accident sometime before the opening of the story. I also loved her friendship with Meksem, and watching her friendship with the group of traveleres in Joels’s group, as well as Beaver Tail, who comes from an enemy tribe. I also loved watching her learn more about God and faith in Jesus Christ throughout the novel, and how the characters that she encounters during the novel.

Even though I enjoyed the novel, my only complaint is that the majority of the main storyline takes place in the first half of the book and then everything that happens in the second half of the book seems to be added simply for the sake of adding some extra tension to the story that seemed a little unnecessary. However, I still plan on reading more of Misty M. Beller’s books in the future and I hope that there is another installment in this series because I need to know what happens to these characters, even if they are supporting characters in the next book. 3.5/5 Stars.

About the Author

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Misty M. Beller is a USA Today bestselling author of romantic mountain stories, set on the 1800s frontier and woven with the truth of God’s love.

She was raised on a farm in South Carolina, so her Southern roots run deep. Growing up, her family was close, and they continue to keep that priority today. Her husband and children now add another dimension to her life, keeping her both grounded and crazy.

God has placed a desire in Misty’s heart to combine her love for Christian fiction and the simpler ranch life, writing historical novels that display God’s abundant love through the twists and turns in the lives of her characters.

More from Misty

I’ve always been a horse lover, and was blessed to grow up on a farm. My brother and I each had ponies of our own and rode hours each day. When we were old enough to graduate to full-size horses, we met neighbors who also had horses and loved to ride together. The two mares they rode had a mottled black and white spotted look, which I knew to be part of the Appaloosa breed. Through hears of riding together, I developed a deep appreciation for those two Appaloosa horses, as well as respect for the entire breed! Those two mares proved they could outrun and outlast any of the other horses in our riding group.

I’ve long wanted to include Appaloosas in one of my stories, especially since the breed was said to have begun in the Nez Perce tribe who lived just west of the Rocky Mountains. I’m so excited for you to meet Elan, the heroine in Hope in the Mountain River!

Elan and her friend are traveling through the Rockies on their Appaloosa horses, animals who can ride faster and longer than all the other horses in their group—even through the treacherous terrain of the Rocky Mountains!

I pray you love this story as much as I loved writing it. Enjoy a glimpse of the famous Appaloosa horse!

Blog Stops

Inklings and notions, March 31

Mary Hake, March 31

Through the Fire Blogs, April 1

deb’s Book Review, April 1

A Baker’s Perspective, April 2

Genesis 5020, April 2

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, April 2

Texas Book-aholic, April 3

Jeanette’s Thoughts, April 3

For the Love of Literature, April 4

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, April 4

Rebecca Tews, April 5

For Him and My Family, April 5

Blessed & Bookish, April 6

Splashes of Joy, April 6

Bigreadersite, April 6

Betti Mace, April 7

She Lives To Read, April 7

Book of Ruth Ann, April 8

Locks, Hooks and Books, April 8

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, April 8

Simple Harvest Reads, April 9 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, April 9

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, April 10

janicebookreviews, April 10

Blossoms and Blessings, April 11

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, April 11

Artistic Nobody, April 12 (Guest Reviewer Donna Cline)

Pause for Tales, April 12

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, April 13

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, April 13

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Misty is 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/f73b/hope-in-the-mountain-river-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

Book Review: The Brethren (Annie’s People #3) by Beverly Lewis

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on The Brethren by Beverly Lewis.

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***THIS REVIEW DOES INCLUDE SPOILERS!!!***

Well, I did it! I completed the Annie’s People series by Beverly Lewis! It only took me about ten years to do so. I felt like this was a good conclusion to the series, although I did feel like things were wrapped up really quickly. 


The Brethren picks up several days after the conclusion of The Englisher. Annie has been keeping her promise to her dad to stay away from art for six months, but she has also decided, after the concluding events of the last book, to leave her parents’ house and live with her shunned friend Esther. Meanwhile, Esther’s husband, Zeke, is in prison after turning himself in for the supposed death of his brother Isaac over 16 years ago, as well as trying to figure out why he is always so angry all the time, especially towards his wife and kids. And then there is Ben Martin, who has recently returned to his family’s home in Kentucky after living in Paradise Pennsylvania for several months, however when he returns he can’t help but feel a sort of emptiness, and not just from the fact that he is coming to terms with the facts that he and Annie will never be together. However, he then discovers the truth, he was adopted and his family kept it from him for over 15 years, with this new discovery, he decides to return to Pennsylvania to see if he can find any clues of who he was before he became Ben Martin. 


I’ll admit, it’s hard writing a review for the last book in the series without giving away spoilers, so I apologize that there are some, but it would be hard for me to fully express my thoughts without doing so. 


First off, Annie and her newfound independence, and her willingness to stand up to her father. But I also liked how the author shows how she struggles with leaving her faith and community, yet knows that she needs to do so in order to pursue her passion for art. Eventually she decides that her art is what her heart longs for most, and when her love, Ben, returns to town she decides to not be baptized into the Amish faith. However, there are some curve balls thrown her way that soon make her question her decision to leave her community, especially when she starts to help Ben uncover who he truly is. 


Ben is happy to be reunited with Annie, the girl who he hasn’t been able to stop thinking about ever since he returned to Kentucky. I did like seeing how Ben tries to process the information about his adoption, and then goes searching for answers about who he really is. It was interesting to see how Annie is the one who starts piecing everything together, but yet I found this part to be rushed and wish more time had been spent on it, especially on Annie developing her assumption about who he is and then Ben’s acceptance of that information. Without revealing too much, although this is still pretty revealing, it made sense as to who Ben truly is, and honestly it’s not very surprising.  I also liked seeing how he is soon received into the community of his childhood, even though Annie’s father, Preacher Jesse Zook, is not convinced and thinks that Ben is nothing but a charlatan. 


Then there is Louisa, I liked the little snippets that we got of her and her adjustment back to life in the “modern world” of Denver, however I felt like not enough time was spent on her, and in some ways I wish that there was a book that explores what happens to her next. There was even a major event that happens to her friend Courtney and that is just quietly swept away and never talked about again…I honestly would’ve liked more closure on what happens to her, on both of them. 


And then there is Annie’s father, who comes across as cantankerous and stuck in his ways, but who can blame him, especially since he is a leader in his community. He has to deal with Esther’s claim of salvation, her husband’s Zeke confession of supposedly killing his younger brother Isaac, his daughter’s seemingly close defection from the community for the sake of her art, one of his son’s running a driving business and courting an Englisher, and then there is Ben Martin, who to him is like gum stuck on his shoe. Although he seems to treat Ben unfairly, in some ways it makes sense, especially since he is protective of his daughter, but at the same time there were definitely times when he could have showed more grace to him. 


And finally, seeing Esther’s story as she deals with her husband being gone for an extended amount of time gives her an opportunity to fully embrace her new faith without his constant sneers and jabs. And well then, there is Zeke has he comes to terms with the fact that he might not necessarily be responsible for his brother’s death or disappearance, but also facing the hard reality of how he has treated his wife and kids up until this point. 


Overall, as I mentioned before this was a satisfying conclusion to the story, although it did seemed rushed. I also wish some care had been given when dealing with the Amish and domestic abuse…”care” is probably the wrong word, rather I wish there had been more discussion about this even though there hadn’t been much. And it all seemed one sided. I’ll be sad to leave this cast of characters behind, but it ends on a high note that readers know that these characters go on to leave peacful and full lives, while still facing hardship along the way. 3.75/5 Stars

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: The Englisher (Annie’s People #2) by Beverly Lewis

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on The Englisher by Beverly Lewis.

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***WARNING DO NOT READ THIS REVIEW IF YOU ARE PLANNING ON READING THIS SERIES – UNLESS YOU LIKE SPOILERS***
 
According to Goodreads I had read this book before, however, I have absolutely no recollection of reading it, so maybe I accidentally marked as read? Either that or I just can’t remember reading it at all…but I guess that kind of makes sense since I’ve read a lot of books since I was a freshman in high school (or was I in 8th grade?). The main reason why I don’t think I read it though is that I only ever remember checking out The Preacher’s Daughter and I remember not being able to find the second or third book in the series. Oh well, I digress, at least this time I know I have read it, and this review will serve as proof later on that I read…and this time it actually is marked on Goodreads.
 
Okay, enough of me trying to decide whether or not I actually read this book, now it’s time for the review. The Englisher picks up a couple weeks after the close of The Preacher’s Daughter, Annie has been commanded by her preacher father that she needs to try and give up her art for at least six months and that she needs to start taking the baptism classes that are required in order to join the Amish fellowship. Even though it’s hard, she is willing to do it. Meanwhile, Englisher Ben Martin desperately tries to get her attention, even though she is not allowed to date outside the Amish faith, but eventually she gives in, even though she knows that she will have to keep their relationship a secret.
 
Annie’s friend Louisa is still staying with the Zooks and she has come to appreciate the Amish way of life, however when a friend of her’s from Denver visits, she starts to realize that there are some unresolved issues that she still needs to deal with in Denver before she can find true peace. To further add to her decision to go back to the “modern world”, a young Amish man shows his interest and declares his love for her, and although she has some attraction towards him, she still doesn’t know if she is ready to give up a life of modern conveniences. At the same time, Annie’s close friend, Esther has sought solace with a local Mennonite family, fleeing from her abusive husband, however her husband, Zeke will not rest until his wife and children are forced back into his home by the Preacher Zook. But Zeke is also facing the demons of the past, mainly with the kidnapping of his younger brother, Isaac, many years ago and how his parents blamed him for his brother’s disappearance.
 
A lot happens in this book, however, I will say that I was disappointed that the first 100 pages of this book takes place over two days, not that there is anything particularly wrong with this, but just that it made for a slow start to book. Once it moved past the events of those initial two days it actually gained my interest a lot more.
 
I felt like the characters were developed a lot more in this novel, I liked how Louisa has grown as a character and is starting find peace from the chaos she endured when she was still living in Denver. However, she also comes to the realization that in order to continue finding true peace and contentment she might need to go back and face her parents and deal with some unresolved issues. I also enjoyed getting to know Essie a bit more and how she strives to rise above her situation and grow in her new faith even though it is frowned upon by the brethren, and the twist in the end concerning her husband, Zeke, was interesting and I am looking forward to seeing what happens with that situation in the next book.
 
Annie also grows as a character, although I feel like there wasn’t a whole lot of focus on her “growing pains” as she tries to live life without her artwork, but yet also fights her growing feelings for Ben Martin, the young Englisher working for her cousin Irvin. Ultimately through this relationship she also discovers some steps she needs to take in order to truly discover who she is as an individual. And then there is Ben Martin, who feels drawn to the community in Paradise, however he doesn’t know why. As he continues to put down roots in the community, he discovers that there are things that he knows, especially about Amish culture, which doesn’t make sense since he was brought up in the English world. It was also interesting to see his developing relationship with Annie, although what happens near the close of the book is a little confusing, but I guess book 3 will explain why he ends up moving back to Kentucky.
 
Overall, I really enjoyed this book, I was more invested in the storyline than I had been with the first book. I’ll admit that I almost  gave up on this series after reading the first book – which wasn’t bad, but it hadn’t been great either – but I’m glad I didn’t. I am looking forward to what happens in the next and final installment of this series, The Brethren, and what happens to the cast of characters whose stories have captured my interest and I need to know how everything gets resolved! 4/5 Stars.
 
Happy Reading,
 
Janelle L. C.

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Blog Tour and Giveaway: Forks in the Road

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About the Book

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Book:  Forks in the Road

Author: Tamera Lynn Kraft

Genre:  Christian Western

Release Date: October 15, 2019

Orphans, Outlaws, and Redemption in the Old West!

(Looking for a prairie romance? Don’t look here!)

A classic Western tale of Joshua and Jonathan Jackson, brothers orphaned during the Civil War. They needed someone to give them a chance, but the war-torn countryside and people had little to spare.

After the war, the teen brothers headed West to find their fortunes and escape their past. Instead, they found a hard land and nobody willing to lend a hand. At every fork in the road, fear, grief, or pain prompted them to choose the wrong path.

By the time they were grown men, they had traveled so far into trouble, there was no way out except prison or death. They had one chance for redemption. Would they take it?

If you’ve read LOST IN THE STORM, you met Jed Jackson – this is the story of what happened to Jed and his brothers.

Click here to get your copy!

My Thoughts

I really enjoyed this story of showing how even when it seems that our lives have spiraled out of control, we are not beyond the Lord’s mercy and grace. Even though not everyone will fall into a spiral of sin to the extent of Jonathan and Joshua, but again it shows that even the “worst” of sinners is still worthy of redemption. I also liked how throughout the story we see that even the smallest decision to make the wrong choice can lead to things getting out of control and even marring one’s conscience to reason between what is right and wrong. But even when the conscience is seared, there is still hope for redemption, and that is ultimately what Forks in the Road is about, as well as how eventually we need to be willing to face the consequences of our sins.

Tamera Lynn Kraft is really good at conveying a tale that is intriguing, while also delivering a message of hope and redemption, even when it seems like things are too far gone. One of the only issues that I had with this novel is that there were times when it seemed to lag in the middle, however besides that it was really good, and I was captivated from the very first page! 4/5 Stars.

About the Author

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Award winning author Tamera Lynn Kraft has always loved adventures. She loves to write historical fiction set in the United States because there are so many stories in American history. There are strong elements of faith, romance, suspense and adventure in her stories. Alice’s NotionsRed Sky Over AmericaLost in the StormResurrection of Hope, and Soldier’s Heart are among her published works.

Tamera been married for 40 years to the love of her life, Rick, and has two married adult children and three grandchildren. She has been a children’s pastor for over 20 years. She is the leader of a ministry called Revival Fire for Kids where she mentors other children’s leaders, teaches workshops, and is a children’s ministry consultant and children’s evangelist and has written children’s church curriculum. She is a recipient of the 2007 National Children’s Leaders Association Shepherd’s Cup for lifetime achievement in children’s ministry.

More from Tamera

I have always loved westerns. As a child, I remember watching shows on television like Gunsmoke, Bonanza, Maverick, Big Valley, Alias Smith and Jones, and many others. I also loved the great western movies such as High Noon, The Quaker and the Bad Man, Three Godfathers, and Stagecoach. My favorite were the stories with an element of redemption in them. There is no better redemptive story than a man’s man out on the trail realizing he needs God.

Three Godfathers with John Wayne is my favorite movie. I first watched it when I came home from the hospital after giving birth to my first child. John Wayne plays an outlaw who, with his two friends, robs a bank and escapes into the desert. The outlaws happen on a wagon where a woman is giving birth. She dies shortly after. They have a choice. Either they risk their lives and freedom saving the child, or they leave the child to die and get away with the loot. I highly recommend it.

When I decided to write Forks in the Road, I wanted to capture that redemptive spirit in many western novels. Joshua and Jonathan are brothers who were orphaned at the ages of 10 and 12 when Quantrill’s raiders ravaged Lawrence, Kansas. They headed west to make it on their own, but at every fork in the road, they made wrong choices. They grew up and became outlaws, but they never became hardened or callous toward others. Even so, God had a plan of redemption for them. Would they take it?

Blog Stops

For the Love of Literature, March 9

Through the Fire Blogs, March 10

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, March 11

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, March 12

Wishful Endings, March 12 (Author Interview)

Texas Book-aholic, March 13

Inklings and notions, March 14

For Him and My Family, March 15

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, March 16

deb’s Book Review, March 17

Betti Mace, March 18

Bigreadersite, March 19

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, March 20

My Devotional Thoughts, March 20 (Author Interview)

Jeanette’s Thoughts, March 21

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, March 22

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Tamera is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card & copy of Forks in the Road!!

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/f6d7/forks-in-the-road-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

Blog Tour: An Amish Picnic

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About the Book

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Book: An Amish Picnic

Author: Amy Clipston, Kelly Irvin, Kathleen Fuller, and Vannetta Chapman

Genre: Amish; Christian Romance

Release Date: March 3, 2020

From bestselling authors in the Amish genre come four sweet stories about picnics and romance.

Baskets of Sunshine by Amy Clipston

Kevin Weaver has lived with his brother’s family since his parents passed away when he was young, but he craves a home and family to call his own. Freeman Kurtz owns a successful brick mason business, and Kevin takes the job as Freeman’s apprentice to pursue his own financial freedom.

Phoebe Kurtz is helping her sister with her booth at the marketplace when she notices Kevin, her father’s employee. Their friendship grows, but Kevin is convinced that the difference in their ages makes a relationship between them impossible. Amidst summer outings, Kevin and Phoebe must decide if taking a chance on love is worth the risk.

Candlelight Sweethearts by Kelly Irvin

Esther Marie Shrock loves her job at Valley Grocery Store where she’s worked for four years. Despite a stutter that has plagued her since childhood, she thrives filling orders from a steady stream of customers. Still, at 25, she and her family wonder if romance is in her future.

Jasper Cotter isn’t good with people, but he’s found himself obligated to take over day-to-day operations of the family owned grocery store—a store he doesn’t have the first clue how to run. Thrown together, Esther Marie and Jasper don’t exactly see eye to eye. One night, the store loses power, and the candles aren’t the only things shooting off sparks. Esther Marie and Jasper are suddenly forced to discover common ground when it matters most, and they might be surprised with love along the way.

Reeling in Love by Kathleen Fuller

Nina Stoll and Ira Yoder are just friends. Just friends and fishing buddies. Every Saturday afternoon, they have a picnic at their favorite fishing hole and see who can out fish the other. Until Nina starts to wonder if there’s more.

Her plans to share her feelings go awry, and circumstances seem destined to keep Nina and Ira apart. With both Nina and Ira confused and hurting, it’s going to take courage, some help from the community matchmakers, and a little bit of divine intervention for Nina and Ira to realize they’re each other’s perfect catch.

Picnics and Prospects by Vannetta Chapman

Faith Troyer is claustrophobic, and David Lapp builds tiny houses. They went on a date years ago with disastrous results. Now that they’re in their late twenties, their families and friends are beginning to wonder if either will ever find that special someone. When a picnic outing is diverted by the discovery of a package of letters dating back to the 1970s, they take it upon themselves to find answers to a mystery that causes them to rethink their past and consider their future.

Click here to get your copy!

About the Author

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Amy Clipston is the award-winning and bestselling author of the Kauffman Amish Bakery, Hearts of Lancaster Grand Hotel, Amish Heirloom, Amish Homestead, and Amish Marketplace series. Her novels have hit multiple bestseller lists including CBD, CBA, and ECPA. Amy holds a degree in communication from Virginia Wesleyan University and works full-time for the City of Charlotte, NC. Amy lives in North Carolina with her husband, two sons, and four spoiled rotten cats. Visit her online at AmyClipston.com; Facebook: AmyClipstonBooks; Twitter: @AmyClipston; Instagram: @amy_clipston.

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Kelly Irvin is the bestselling author of the Every Amish Season and Amish of Bee County series. The Beekeeper’s Son received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, who called it a “beautifully woven masterpiece.” The two-time Carol Award finalist is a former newspaper reporter and retired public relations professional. Kelly lives in Texas with her husband, photographer Tim Irvin. They have two children, three grandchildren, and two cats. In her spare time, she likes to read books by her favorite authors. Visit her online at KellyIrvin.com; Instagram: kelly_irvin; Facebook: Kelly.Irvin.Author; Twitter: @Kelly_S_Irvin.

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With over a million copies sold, Kathleen Fuller is the author of several bestselling novels, including the Hearts of Middlefield novels, the Middlefield Family novels, the Amish of Birch Creek series, and the Amish Letters series as well as a middle-grade Amish series, the Mysteries of Middlefield. Visit her online at KathleenFuller.com; Instagram: kf_booksandhooks; Facebook: WriterKathleenFuller; Twitter: @TheKatJam.

 

 

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Vannetta Chapman writes inspirational fiction full of grace. She is the author of sixteen novels, including the Pebble Creek Amish series, The Shipshewana Amish Mystery series, and Anna’s Healing, a 2016 Christy Award finalist. Vannetta is a Carol award winner and has also received more than two dozen awards from Romance Writers of America chapter groups. She was a teacher for fifteen years and currently resides in the Texas hill country. Visit Vannetta online: VannettaChapman.com, Twitter: @VannettaChapman, Facebook: VannettaChapmanBooks.

Read an Excerpt

Read an excerpt here. 

Blog Stops

The Power of Words, March 6

Batya’s Bits, March 6

The Avid Reader, March 6

Older & Smarter?, March 7

For Him and My Family, March 7

For the Love of Literature, March 8

Bigreadersite, March 8

Texas Book-aholic, March 9

deb’s Book Review, March 9

Quiet Quilter, March 10

Through the Fire Blogs, March 10

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, March 11

Girls in White Dresses, March 11

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, March 11

Inklings and notions, March 12

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, March 12

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, March 13

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, March 13

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, March 14

The Collaborative Press, March 14

Splashes of Joy, March 15

janicesbookreviews, March 15

She Lives To Read, March 16

Jeanette’s Thoughts, March 16

Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner, March 16

Blossoms and Blessings, March 17

Books, Life, and Chrst, March 17

Artistic Nobody, March 18 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Southern Gal Loves to Read, March 18

EmpowerMoms, March 18

Locks, Hooks and Books, March 19

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, March 19

 

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Journey to Twilight

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About the Book

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Book: Journey to Twilight

Author: Charmayne Hafen

Genre: Action Adventure Christian Fantasy for intermediate grade students

Release Date: November 1, 2019

Sam and Lorna’s bike challenge becomes far more than a neighborhood race in this action-adventure fantasy for middle-schoolers. Riding over a cairn at sunset, Lorna surfaces in Twilight, where she is given three impossible tasks to complete before her heart’s desire is granted.

Story Line: Avid fifth-grade mountain biker, Lorna Thompson, moves to Arizona after her parents’ divorce. Unpacking boxes, Lorna begins seeking a way to fit into the neighborhood crowd when a girl named Ally knocks on her front door.

Splashing in the pool at Ally’s house, Lorna learns about the Crestwood Challenge, a bike race created by a scar-faced neighborhood legend, Samuel Black. She hears herself boasting that she can take on Sam Black in his own race and win. Lorna’s words quickly come back to bite her.

Although none of the kids will root for the new girl, an ancient cairn opens to the Land of Twilight giving Lorna an opportunity to win anything her heart desires.

Illustrations are by award-winning artist, Brianna Osaseri.

Thematic: Fantasy ages 9-12; Female protagonist dealing with parents’ divorce finds confidence and friendship in conflict and opportunity; Celtic; Jamaican; Multi-racial; Action-Adventure; coming of age fantasy for pre-teens with some paranormal, mystical places and events.

Click here to get your copy!

My Thoughts

Journey to Twilight was not what I was expecting. I honestly was expecting something in the similar vein of The Chronicles of Narnia but it wasn’t, and in some ways I was let down by that fact. The concept of the land of Twilight was interesting, but I honestly wanted more about that world than a story set in the “real world.” Again, maybe that is just me and maybe I had too high of an expectation of this book.

Overall, I did enjoy getting to know Lorna and even Sam. Their friendship was interesting, especially when it seems to develop into more, but I also felt they were a little too young for that, but then again, I remember having crushes at that age. I appreciated seeing Lorna’s struggles with her absent father, I think the author did a really good job of showing the dynamics of the relationship between the two of them. I also appreciated the theme that appears at the end of the book of sacrificing for others, even if it means we can’t have what we want.

One of my biggest complaints is that this book is really short! It’s only about 110 pages, and while it is targeted for 9-12 year-old readers, the fact that it has a fantasy element too it means it should have been longer. I would have loved more descriptions about the land of Twilight except for the small snippets that we are given throughout the novel. Also, I didn’t really like the whole concept of everything being upside down in this land, I also found it confusing…I wish there had been more illustrations of Lorna in Twilight than of her in the real world because I think that would have helped me to get a better of picture of what it actually looks like, especially since the actual descriptions were really brief.

Overall, Journey to Twilight  was an okay read for me, I personally feel like there is a lot more that could have been included in this novel, but I also know that the sequel is already out and that the last book is coming out soon, so maybe what is shared about Twilight in this novel will hopefully be expanded upon in the next two books. 2.5/5 Stars.

About the Author

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Charmayne Hafen is a graduate of John Brown University and has her masters in counseling from the Denver Seminary. She’s not only gifted in creative writing, but uses skills in organization, facilitation, and administration in the company she and her husband started 18 years ago.
Her love of Celtic mythology inspired her to write her debut chapter book, Journey to Twilight, for ages 9-12. In 2011, she lost her younger brother, and she dedicates this first book to Tim. When she’s not writing, Charmayne is running counseling groups for adults and a therapeutic photography group for children. She has run a grief support group for several years. She is a member of a novel book club, and she is an avid fan of the author, Stephen Lawhead.
She has written several short stories for children, teens, and adults, as well as the current fantasy series, The Land Of Twilight, being published in 2020 by Capture Books.

The first book, Journey To Twilight, is about the heartfelt needs and choices of a child of divorce. It also wrestles with what it is like to be a newcomer in a town and school.

Charmayne relates personally to these themes as a child of divorce who moved consistently throughout her elementary and middle school years. She believes stories can provide not only a way of escape for kids, but also teach them how to handle difficult issues. As the characters in The Land Of Twilight struggle through different challenges, they come to understand that life requires more than what we do with what can be seen. To truly live, there must be faith in what has not yet come, in what is unseen.

 

Charmayne has a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism and psychology as well as a Master of Arts degree in counseling. She lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband John and her two chihuahuas, Pepe and Frida.

More from Charmayne

Welcome to Journey To Twilight, the first book in the Land Of Twilight Trilogy, where Lorna and her friend, Sam, begin a journey that will lead them to discover the true meaning of friendship and faith.
In a world that can only be accessed by what is known in Celtic mythology as a cairn, Lorna is shocked to find herself in the Land of Twilight where the real adventure begins. She must learn some important lessons in her quest to have one wish granted and Sam is part of her greatest challenge.
The adventure continues in Return To Twilight, where Lorna meets a new girl that proves to be a bad influence. She and Sam are at odds and things aren’t the way they were back in sixth grade. Middle school is an entirely different scene. Faith becomes a central theme in this book along with the ongoing exploration of friendship. Can Sam help Lorna remember her faith with the help of Twilight?
Trouble In Twilight, the third book in the Land Of Twilight trilogy, will be published early next year. This has been my most challenging book to write as the characters travel through time to discover the basis of faith and the philosophy at work against faith in the Savior. The Land of Twilight is in jeopardy and it’s up to Sam and Lorna to help restore what is slowly fading away.
It is my hope that my readers will come away from this trilogy with a deeper appreciation for the power of faith and friendship. I pray it will lead many to faith in the Savior and be an enjoyable ride in the process. Thank you for the opportunity to discuss these important topics and the stories that shed new light.

Blog Stops

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, February 27

Texas Book-aholic, February 28

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 29

Blossoms and Blessings, March 1 (Author Interview)

Inklings and notions, March 2

For Him and My Family, March 3

Aryn the Libraryan 📚, March 4

For the Love of Literature, March 5 (Author Interview)

deb’s Book Review, March 6

Just the Write Escape, March 7

Artistic Nobody, March 8 (Author Interview)

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, March 8

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, March 9

Blogging With Carol, March 10

Wishful Endings, March 11 (Author Interview)

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Charmayne is giving away the grand prize of silver bicycle necklace like you suggested along with a signed hard cover copy of both books!!

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/f6d3/journey-to-twilight-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Yours, Mine and Forever

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About the Book

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Book: Yours, Mine, & Forever

Author: Joanne Markey

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: September 7, 2019

Whoever said the course of true love never runs smooth knew their business.

Especially motherly love.

Still, with adoption success just waiting for ink and paper to appear, Norah can focus on more exciting things, like Christmas, and figuring out how this marriage thing is going to work out! However, never underestimate the craftiness of an antagonist old woman determined to get her own way—or rather, stop Norah from getting hers. If it means resorting to underhanded means to ensure she comes out on top, then so be it. All it takes is a word in the right ear, a nudge here, a wink there, and the natural course of gossip and slander will do the rest.

When the dust clears, Norah’s heart is in tatters and her fledgling relationship is in ruins… Or is it? Will her hero’s patience wear thin, and is Norah’s faith strong enough to see her through whatever comes her way?

Click here for your copy.

My Thoughts

Honestly, I was a little bit confused at first when I started reading Yours, Mine and Forever because it picks up almost immediately after the events of Dreaming of More, which I still need to read. However, after the first few chapters I got caught up to speed and had a better idea of what was going on. It was a good story line, although there were times when the writing felt a little bit choppy because it seemed to jump ahead a few days, or move to a different location with the same characters.

The characters were really good, Norah was a great character and I enjoyed watching her grow throughout the novel, even though it only  takes place over several weeks. I also liked Clay and how he encouraged her to remember God’s will and sovereignty. Her brother was a little much at times, but I can also see why he was. And then, even though she is a minor character, Octavia…wow, she is awful! She is such a horrible character, but yet she believes she runs the town. However, I love how her relations stand up to her and tell her how bitter and twisted she is…I still don’t fully understand why she had an issue with Norah in the first place, except for maybe that she is prejudiced towards those who did not have a stable upbringing or who come to turn the status quo upside down.

Overall, it was a good novel, with a few pacing issues. But I still enjoyed it and I hope to read more of Joanne Markey’s books in he future. 3.5/5 Stars.

About the Author

Yours3Originally from Australia, Joanne now lives in Ohio with her husband and seven children where she spends her days writing, wrangling children, and trying to determine which phrases originated in which country because she uses them all interchangeably, thereby continually confusing herself as much as those around her.

More from Joanne

When people find out I’m an Aussie living in the US and that I’ve written books, they immediately assume my books are set in Australia. I’m sorry to disappoint anyone, but, no, they’re not. You see, after almost 19 years of living in the US I’ve lost touch with the culture I was raised in. Things are done differently here than they are over there, and I’ve gotten used to this life.
When I moved halfway around the world, iPads, smart phones, and the like weren’t even a thing. The internet over there (in the places I lived) was something you knew about, but not everyone was online. My family didn’t even own a computer. When you went to town you lost cell phone coverage about 20 kms out. We lived in the bush, which technically falls between the coast and the outback. Not far enough from the coast to be “outback”, but far enough there wasn’t a town worth mentioning in any direction for a good two hour drive (roughly 170km, if memory serves me correct). So yeah, we lived out bush and while it’s hard to imagine a world without the electronics we depend on so much today, the Australia I know, the life I remember, had none of them. And I’m pretty sure things have changed since then!
That’s one major issue standing between me and writing books set in Australia. Another is the language. Half the time I find it almost impossible to remember where a phrase originated. I’m not talking about the “fair dinkums” or the “g’days”, they’re easy to identify. Its the little phrases, the ones that are so ingrained in my thinking I can’t identify their origin. At least, not until every person in the room looks at me like I’ve lost my mind. I figure it out pretty quickly after that and usually have to scramble to translate to something they understand. Agreeing with someone by uttering a simple “yes” is a wee bit more effective here than the “too right!” I might use with my family.
Try adding in the whole dropping the R thing Aussies have a habit of doing, and then the clear pronunciation of the R which is pretty common among the people I know here…and yeah, it can get confusing. “Far” is a bad one. Simple word. I never stop to think about how I’m saying it, so part of the time I’ll drop the R without realizing I’ve done so. Then I’ll hear myself say “fah”, so I’ll quickly tack on the R… and it can become an issue.
Some expats might not have an issue with speech, this is just one problem I run into quite often so I ran with it in my book. Anyone who’s read the book will know who I’m talking about. Multiple languages, speech confusion especially when emotional. It’s a thing. Not everyone deals with it, but me… yeah. Sigh.
But that doesn’t mean I’ve turned my back on everything I once knew. My husband and our kids love a good damper, Aussie meat pies, and Vegemite. They turn their noses up at pavlova (where, oh, where did I go wrong?!), but little did I know when we bought some of my favorite Aussie music that it would become their favorite too. I love where I live now, but I also have a great fondness for the country I left behind, and my family too, of course. They all live over there. And this story… it originated in Australia.
I was looking for a something to write for NaNo in 2018 and my Mum had a dream to share, so she gave me the idea and I ran with it. I changed bits here and there—the setting, most of the story actually!—and finished it up mid-December of 2018. I sat on it for about six months, finally got around to sending it to an editor. And then two weeks before I hit publish, a friend heard how long it was and asked if I’d ever thought about splitting the story in two.
No, I hadn’t, but after hashing it out with my editor, we decided it was a good idea. Dreaming of More became the first half, and Yours, Mine, & Forever was born.
However, giving Dreaming an end meant I’d sort of wrapped up the main storyline I’d used in the entire 135,000 word manuscript. I needed something else because I hadn’t added the bow to the top of the package and without that, Dreaming kind of fell flat. It needed another book… So back to the editor I went and at 2am one morning we started brainstorming. Before I knew what was happening I was in the middle of rewriting the entire book. I didn’t need to follow the same storyline and because the slate had been cleared, I could add in whatever I wanted. So I did.
My friend apologized—she hadn’t meant for me to rewrite the entire book—but no apology was necessary. I loved being able to change things. New characters made it more fun and, as my youngest son would say, I got to add “all the stuffs”. The only thing I refused to change was the ending. I had to keep that because it was the one thing my Mum remembered the best from her dream. For her sake, I kept it. If you want to know what that ending is… it comes after all the other pages in the book. But if you skip over them, you’ll miss all the stuffs and they’re what make the ending worthwhile.

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Joanne is giving away the grand prize package of signed copies of Dreaming of More, Yours, Mine, & Forever, and Christmas Rose!!

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/f623/yours-mine

 

Reading Experiment #4: Read a read-a-like per book

Hello everyone,

Today I am going to share with you all the last reading experiment that I am planning doing throughout the rest of 2020. This experiment is fairly simple, for almost every book that I read, I am going to read a read-a-like that is suggested by Goodreads or NoveList. For example:

I am planning on reading The Stars We Steal by Alexa Donne, a read-a-like that was suggested by NoveList is American Royals by Katherine McGee.

I have several other read-a-likes I am planning on reading in the month of February. However, I have a few exceptions for this experiment.

  1. I am reading read-a-likes starting with the books I am reading right now (Well Met by Jen DeLuca and Past Forward Volume 1 by Chautona Havig) and the books I am planning on reading. I do not need to read a read-a-like for any of the books I’ve already read this year.
  2. I do not have to read a read-a-like for books from the other experiments, unless I absolutely want to.
  3. I do not have to read a read-a-like for a read-a-like.
  4. I do not have to read a read-a-like for any of the books I am reading for the blog tours I am apart of.
  5. I can DNF any of the read-a-likes.

Here is a mini-TBR of the books I am already planning on reading:

  • Legacy Lane by Robin Lee Hatcher 1093751
    • Read-a-like: Promises to Keep by Ann Tatlock 8794263
  • The Stars We Steal by Alexa Donne40950392
    • Read-a-like: American Royals by Katharine McGee43744300
  • Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey 40969415
    • Read-a-like: The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary 41150287._sy475_
  • A Town Called Ruby Prairie by Anette Smith33627817._sx318_
    • Read-a-like: The Rest of Her Life by Laura Moriarty 2067339

There are many others, but I am looking forward to seeing where this experiment takes me over the next few months!

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

 

 

 

Reading Experiment #3: Following the Read-a-like Trail

Hello everyone,

Welcome to another installment in my series of reading experiments that I am planning on doing throughout the rest of the year (and, let’s be honest, even into next year!). For this experiment I am doing what I like to call following the read-a-like trail for one particular book. In order t come up with this list I used a database available at my library called NoveList (by the way, this is in no way sponsored by them!) which is a databse in which you can search for books, and if you search for a particular title, often it will provide read-a-likes within the record.

Well, I decided to choose a title, and then to read the first book that showed up on the read-a-like list.

And then for that book, I would read the first book on the list for that title, unless it was a title I had already read, or, as I discovered as I created this list, if I had already read the book for this challenge. In that case, I just choose the next book on the list. And so it continues, I decided to limit my list to 15 books because I discovered that following the “trail” could go on for a very long time (I think I eventually got to about 50 books and was still going!). Just a note before we get started, I did notice that the read-a-like list for each book seemed to change after a week, and it seems to do so weekly, and this might due to some sort of algorithm that NoveList has, so if you try to do it for the same book I used as my starting point, you might get a different list than what I have.

Here are the books I’m planning on reading for the experiment and in order!

  1. Amish Front Porch Stories by Wanda E. Brunstetter, Jean Brunstetter and Richelle Brunstetter44025202._sy475_
  2. The Tinderbox by Beverly Lewis40392221
  3. A Place at Our Table by Amy Clipston34460508._sy475_
  4. Promise Lodge by Charlotte Hubbard25810160
  5. A Son’s Vow by Shelley Shepard Gray25817106
  6. Written in Love by Kathleen Fuller41022043
  7. Lydia’s Charm by Wanda E. Brunstetter7947769
  8. When the Heart Cries by Cindy Woodsmall201104._sy475_
  9. A Cousin’s Promise by Wanda E. Brunstetter5055957._sy475_
  10. Courting Cate by Leslie Gould13777891
  11. The Imposter by Suzanne Woods Fisher25178167
  12. The Store Keeper’s Daughter by Wanda E. Brunstetter136967._sy475_
  13. The Road Home by Beverly Lewis35138320
  14. Summer of Secrets by Charlotte Hubbard12938035
  15. The Journey by Wanda E. Brunstetter8565320._sy475_

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Blog Tour: The Fifth Avenue Writers’ Society

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About the Book

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Book: The Fifth Avenue Story Society

Author: Rachel Hauck

Genre: Contemporary Romance/ Women’s Fiction

Release Date: February 4, 2020

An invitation to join The Fifth Avenue Story Society gives five New York strangers a chance to rewrite their own stories.

Executive assistant Lexa is eager for a much-deserved promotion, but her boss is determined to keep her underemployed.

Literature professor Jett is dealing with a broken heart, as well as a nagging suspicion his literary idol, Gordon Phipps Roth, might be a fraud.

Uber driver Chuck just wants a second chance with his kids.

Aging widower Ed is eager to write the true story of his incredible marriage.

Coral, queen of the cosmetics industry, has broken her engagement and is on the verge of losing her great grandmother’s multimillion-dollar empire.

When all five New Yorkers receive an anonymous, mysterious invitation to the Fifth Avenue Story Society, they suspect they’re victims of a practical joke. No one knows who sent the invitations or why. No one has heard of the literary society. And no one is prepared to bear their deepest secrets to a roomful of strangers.

Yet curiosity and loneliness bring them back week after week to the old library. And it’s there they discover the stories of their hearts, and the kind of friendship and love that heals their souls.

Get your copy of the book here.

My Thoughts

This is a hard book to review not because it was bad, rather it was really good, but some of the elements that I really loved about it are kind of spoilery, but I am going to try my best!

The Fifth Avenue Story Society was a poignant read and covered a couple of hard topics, but it did so in a great way. The best way to summarize this book is that even though the truth is hard to admit and share it will set you free. Several of the main characters are struggling to come to terms with the truth of certain events in their past and over the course of the novel they are forced to work through it.

I really enjoyed the premise of how each of the five characters received an invitation to be a part of the story society, however none of the characters really had much in common with each other, except for Jett and Lexa who had previously been married. I loved seeing the different relationships that were developed over the course of the novel. Another thing I really liked about this book is how each of the characters is struggling with their own inner demons, or even with the dreams of what they wish their lives had been.

One last thing I would like to say is that I really liked the whole idea of a society that seems to have no point, but rather the point is to face certain truths and how to move on from that point. In some ways I think it shows how God works in mysterious ways.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Fifth Avenue Story Society, in fact I think it will make my list of top 10 books of 2020, but who knows. I’m looking forward to reading more of Rachel Hauck’s works in the future. 4/5 Stars.

About the Author

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Rachel Hauck is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA TODAY bestselling author of The Wedding Dress, which was also named Inspirational Novel of the Year by Romantic Times and was a RITA finalist. Rachel lives in central Florida with her husband and pet and writes from her ivory tower. Visit her online at RachelHauck.com; Facebook: RachelHauck; Twitter: @RachelHauck; Instagram: @rachelhauck.

Read an Excerpt

Read an excerpt here. 

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, February 10

The Avid Reader, February 10

Livin’ Lit, February 10

Genesis 5020, February 10

Locks, Hooks and Books, February 10

The Power of Words, February 11

A Baker’s Perspective, February 11

Rebecca Tews, February 11

All-of-a-kind Mom, February 11

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 11

Older & Smarter?, February 12

Seasons of Opportunities, February 12

Texas Book-aholic, February 12

Inklings and notions, February 12

deb’s Book Review, February 12

My Devotional Thoughts, February 13

Just the Write Escape, February 13

For Him and My Family, February 13

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, February 13

CarpeDiem, February 13

Remembrancy, February 14

Christian Bookaholic, February 14

Connect in Fiction, February 14

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 14

April Hayman, Author, February 14

Robin’s Nest, February 15

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, February 15

Britt Reads Fiction, February 15

Just Your Average reviews, February 15

Blogging With Carol, February 15

Batya’s Bits, February 16

Bigreadersite, February 16

A Reader’s Brain, February 16

Worthy2Read, February 16

Stories By Gina, February 16

Back Porch Reads, February 17

janicesbookreviews, February 17

Literary Reflections Book Blog, February 17

Inside the Wong Mind, February 17

Mary Hake, February 17

Through the fire blogs, February 18

Mia Reads, February 18

Baker Kella, February 18

EmpowerMoms, February 18

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, February 18

Maureen’s Musings, February 19

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, February 19

Coast and Anchor, February 19

Spoken from the Heart, February 19

SPLASHES of Joy, February 19

She Lives to Read, February 20

By The Book, February 20

Wishful Endings, February 20

Moments, February 20

Simple Harvest Reads, February 20 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Andrea Christenson, February 21

Tell Tale Book Reviews, February 21

Pause for Tales, February 21

For The Love of Books, February 21

Lis Loves Reading, February 21

Reader’s Cozy Corner, February 22

Hallie Reads, February 22

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, February 22

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, February 22

To Everything There Is A Season, February 22

Godly Book Reviews, February 23

Daysong Reflections, February 23

SusanLovesBooks, February 23

Lights in a Dark World, February 23

 

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Waltz in the Wilderness

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About the Book

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Book: Waltz in the Wilderness

Author: Kathleen Denly

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

Release Date: February 4, 2020

She’s desperate to find her missing father. His conscience demands he risk all to help.

Eliza Brooks is haunted by her role in her mother’s death, so she’ll do anything to find her missing pa—even if it means sneaking aboard a southbound ship. When those meant to protect her abandon and betray her instead, a family friend’s unexpected assistance is a blessing she can’t refuse.

Daniel Clarke came to California to make his fortune, and a stable job as a San Francisco carpenter has earned him more than most have scraped from the local goldfields. But it’s been four years since he left Massachusetts and his fiancé is impatient for his return. Bound for home at last, Daniel Clarke finds his heart and plans challenged by a tenacious young woman with haunted eyes. Though every word he utters seems to offend her, he is determined to see her safely returned to her father. Even if that means risking his fragile engagement.

When disaster befalls them in the remote wilderness of the Southern California mountains, true feelings are revealed, and both must face heart-rending decisions. But how to decide when every choice before them leads to someone getting hurt?

Click here for your copy!

My Thoughts

This book surprised me, I think because I went into it as blind as I could. In fact, by the time I picked it up to read it, I had forgotten what it was about, except for the fact that it was in the 1800s and in California. However, I’m not disappointed by that fact because I really enjoyed Waltz in the Wilderness.

I loved the setting of San Francisco and then the wilderness of California during the Gold Rush. I also enjoyed learning about the different customs from that era, especially when it comes to a you woman having to have a chaperone – most novels touch on this, but I felt like I learned more about it. It was also interesting to see how something as simple as a woman showing her ankles was considered scandalous back then.

Eliza was a great character however, there were times I wanted to slap some sense into her, especially when she makes decisions that put her life in jeopardy. But I also do admire her dogged determination to find out what happened to her father, even though he seemingly abandoned her several years before. I also appreciate how she tries to keep from ruining Daniel’s reputation, especially since he’s engaged. Another thing I liked about Eliza is that she is a reader and seems to delight in the works of Charles Dickens.

Then there  is Daniel Clarke, who is a real gentleman. Even though he knows his actions throughout the novel might ruin his reputation, he also realizes that he can’t leave Eliza to wander the wilderness on her own. Throughout their journey he remains honorable. However, every character has their flaws, and Daniel’s was that he was infuriating when he keeps reminding Eliza about propriety but not fully understanding why find her father is so important.

I also enjoyed the side story following Daniel’s fiancee, Alice and her brother Richard as they run away from a terrible situation. Even though they were unlikable at times, they were only human, especially since Richard is trying to do the right thing for his sister.

I really want to discuss some of the side characters, especially some of the more odious ones, but I fear that to do so would give away spoilers and I don’t want to do that because this is definitely a book that needs to be read!

Overall, I really enjoyed Waltz in the Wilderness, it was a really interesting premise and well-written. I am looking forward to reading more of Kathleen Denly’s books in the future. 4/5 Stars.

About the Author

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Kathleen Denly lives in sunny Southern California with her loving husband, four young children, and two cats. As a member of the adoption and foster community, children in need are a cause dear to her heart and she finds they make frequent appearances in her stories. When she isn’t writing, researching, or caring for children, Kathleen spends her time reading, visiting historical sites, hiking, and crafting.

More from Kathleen

As Valentine’s Day nears, stories of how couples met seem to be everywhere. Many of those stories share a common element: “The second I saw him/her, I just knew I would marry him/her.”

Every time I read or hear these stories, I chuckle. Not because I don’t believe them but because it reminds me of my own meet-cute.

“Not my type.”

These were the first words to enter my mind when I met the man who would later become my husband. In hindsight, they are hilarious because I know that God worked things out for our good. After more than eighteen years of marriage, I can honestly say that I am more in love with my husband than ever.

However, just a few months prior to meeting my husband, I’d suffered a terrible breakup with another man whom I thought had been considering proposing to me. I had no idea the breakup was coming and that left me devastated and confused. The truths we learn in hindsight don’t help much when we’re in the midst of such circumstances. When we think we know the future before us and something happens to upend those plans it can feel as though our world has turned upside down.

This is what happens to Eliza Brooks in the first chapter of my novel, Waltz in the Wilderness. Though not romantic in nature, a major shift occurs in her world that leaves her feeling betrayed and disoriented. She’s still struggling to right her world when Daniel Clarke enters her life in the worst way possible. Misunderstanding leads to a humiliating confrontation that sets these two at odds with one another before they have a chance to truly get to know each other. Fortunately for Eliza and Daniel, God works their foolishness for good just as He did in my own true love story.

This Valentine’s Day, whatever your romantic relationship status, remember that you are not alone. You are loved. And the God of all the universe loves you and has a plan for you—plans to prosper you and bring you hope.

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” ~ Proverbs 3:5-6

Blog Stops

A Baker’s Perspective, February 5

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, February 5

Pause for Tales, February 5

Texas Book-aholic, February 6

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 6

Older & Smarter?, February 7

deb’s Book Review, February 7

Reflections From My Bookshelves, February 8

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, February 8

Locks, Hooks and Books, February 9

The Christian Fiction Girl, February 9

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, February 9

Betti Mace, February 10

Through the Fire Blogs, February 10

Inklings and notions, February 11

Robin’s Nest, February 11

Remembrancy, February 12

For Him and My Family, February 12

My Devotional Thoughts, February 12

Maureen’s Musings, February 13

For the Love of Literature, February 13

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 14

Jeanette’s Thoughts, February 14

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, February 15

Blossoms and Blessings, February 15

Bigreadersite, February 15

Emily Yager, February 16

Blogging With Carol, February 16

Mia Reads, February 16

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impression, February 17

Janicesbookreviews, February 17

SPLASHES of Joy, February 18

Hallie Reads, February 18

Connie’s History Classroom, February 18

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Kathleen is giving away the grand prize package of a NEW Kindle Fire HD8, Proverbs 3:5 Paperback Lined Journal, Romans 8:28 Leather Bookmark, Proverbs 3:5 mug, and an Antique Silverplated Spoon made by 1847 Rogers Bros!!

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/f5b6/waltz-in-the-wilderness-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

Blog Tour and Giveaway: A Girl’s Guide to the Outback

Outback1

About the Book

Outback2Book: A Girl’s Guide to the Outback

Author: Jessica Kate

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: January 28, 2020

How far will a girl go to win back a guy she can’t stand? This funny, sweet, and romantic story proves that opposites do attract—and that God has a sense of humor.

Samuel Payton is a passionate youth pastor in Virginia, but below the surface, he’s still recovering from the blow of a failed business and insecurities he can’t shake. His coworker, start-up expert Kimberly Foster, is brilliant, fearless, and capable, but years of personal rejection have left her defensive and longing for a family. Two people have never been more at odds—or more attracted to one another. And every day at work, the sparks sure do fly.

When Kimberly’s ambitious plans for Sam’s ministry butt up against his risk-averse nature, Sam decides that obligations to family trump his work for the church. He quits the ministry and heads home to Australia to help his sister, Jules, save her struggling farm. As Kimberly’s grand plans flounder, she is forced to face the truth: that no one can replace Sam. Together they strike up a deal: If Kimberly comes to work on Jules’s dairy farm and lends her business brains to their endeavor, then maybe—just maybe—Sam will reconsider his future with the church.

As Kimberly tries her hand at Australian farm life, she learns more about herself than she could’ve ever expected. Meanwhile Sam is forced to re-evaluate this spunky woman he thought he already knew. As foes slowly morph into friends, they wonder if they might be something even more. But when disaster strikes the farm, will Sam find it within himself to take a risk that could lead to love? And will Kimberly trust God with her future?

Click here to get your copy.

My Thoughts

I’m going to be honest and start off by saying that I almost put this book down after the first few pages after I read the following line, “Kimberly’s uterus did a backflip of approval.” when the main character sees her boss in  a Captain America costume. I’m no prude, but that line rubbed me the wrong way for a couple of reasons: 1) I personally feel like this is a poor way to describe being attracted to someone; and 2) it doesn’t seem like something that is appropriate for a Christian romance novel. And then there was a description of Kimberly from Sam’s point-of-view that seemed more lustful than just mere attraction. However, after the first two chapters it seemed to get better and I didn’t cringe as much. For the most part it was an okay story, however about halfway through the story started to lag, but once I got passed the 70% mark it picked up again.

Now I feel like I’ve spent enough time focusing on the negatives, it’s time to talk about some of the things I liked about this book.

First, I liked how this book is set mainly in Australia. I enjoyed getting to know a little bit more about the culture and the slang. I think I enjoyed reading about the different kinds of foods, especially discovering that there are a few brand names of food that are available in South Africa (where I grew up).

I also liked how we see both Sam and Kimberly struggle with self-doubt ad trying to figure out their purpose in life. I personally think there were times when Sam was too hard on Kimberly and often shot her down without listening to her ideas and how she came up with them.

I also liked the relationship between Sam’s sister (her name escapes me right now) and Mick and seeing both of them wrestle with past hurts.

However there were times when the plot seemed repetitive and I think that’s why I eventually felt like it dragged on.

Overall, this was an okay read there were quite a few things I didn’t like. The plot was good, but also dragged at times. The main romance seemed to more lust-filled for about half the novel than I would’ve liked, but it was still okay. 2.5/5 Stars.

About the Author

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Australian author Jessica Kate writes inspirational romances with wit, sass, and grit. Jessica is a screenwriting groupie, cohost of the StoryNerds vlog and podcasts, and her favorite place to be—apart from Mum and Dad’s back deck—is a theme park. She has traveled North America and Australia, and samples her favorite pasta wherever she goes—but the best (so far) is still the place around the corner from her corporate day job as a training developer. She loves watching sitcoms with her housemates and being a leader in a new church plant. Visit her online at jessicakatewriting.com; Instagram: jessicakatewriting; Facebook: jessicakatewriting; Twitter: @JessicaKate05.

Exclusive Excerpt

Click here to read an exclusive excerpt of the book!

Blog Stops

Among the Reads, February 3

Just the Write Escape, February 3

Through the Fire Blogs, February 3

Robin’s Nest, February 4

Hebrews 12 Endurance, February 4

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, February 5

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, February 5

Genesis 5020, February 6

Wishful Endings, February 6

Texas Book-aholic, February 7

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, February 7

Batya’s Bits, February 8

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 8

For Him and My Family, February 9

deb’s Book Review, February 9

Inklings and notions, February 10

Inside the Wong Mind, February 10

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 11

Kat’s Corner Books, February 11

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, February 12

Hallie Reads, February 12

Reflections From My Bookshelves, February 13

Mary Hake, February 13

Moments, February 14

Stories By Gina, February 14

Christian Chick’s Thoughts, February 15

Britt Reads Fiction, February 15

Pause for Tales, February 16

With a Joyful Noise, February 16

 

Library Haul #18

Hello everyone,

If you’ve been a long time follower of my blog, you know that I am a huge advocate of libraries. It’s been a while since I posted a library haul, so I thought it was about time for another one. I have 14 books to share with you today, I have no idea if I will get to all of these books, but I am hoping to get through most of them over the next few weeks. Here are the books that I checked out:

  • The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden25489134._sx318_
  • A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman18774964
  • The Red Address Book by Sofia Lundberg 40543116._sy475_
  • The Alice Network by Kate Quinn32051912
  • How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell 352262._sx318_
  • The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman 42379022._sy475_
  • The Secret Guests by Benjamin Black 45186564._sy475_
  • The Phantom Tollbooth by Norman Juster 378._sx318_
  • Girls Like Me by Lola St. Vil 28114572
  • The Night Country by Melissa Albert 43565384
  • Window on the Bay by Debbie Macomber 42584174._sx318_
  • To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers 43190272
  • The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes 43925876._sx318_
  • Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes 40514431._sy475_

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Reading Experiment #2: Wonderland Creek Read-a-likes

Hello everyone,

Today I’m excited to tell you about another reading experiment that I am embarking on this year, along with a couple others! So Wonderland Creek is one of my favorite books, but  I’ll also admit that it’s been about six years since the last time I read it, so it is definitely time for a re-read. I also wanted to re-read it because it seems very similar to The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes (I haven’t read it yet, this is based on the synopsis) and I thought it would be interesting to read both of them to see the similarities. However, I also figured, why not try and read a bunch of read-a-likes to Wonderland Creek this year? So that’s what I’m going to do!

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In order to get this list of read-a-likes (which includes The Giver of Stars), I used a database that was available through my local library called NoveList, which is a great resource if you are looking for read-a-likes. However, in order to use it, your local library needs to be subscribed to this database and you do have to have a library card. Also, I noticed that the lists seem to change for certain books every few days…it happened for this book as well as a few others that I checked out, so just a word of warning that if you look up the list that I compiled, there is the chance that it might be slightly different than what I have right now.

My plan is to read at least one or two of the books on this list – except for this month, where I am going to re-read Wonderland Creek and read The Giver of Stars because there is a waitlist for The Giver of Stars. I am planning on keeping a log as I read all of these books, and I will also probably have reviews up for all of them in the future.

Here are the books that I am planning on reading through out this reading experiment:

 

The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes

43925876._sx318_

Prayers for Sale by Sandra Dallas

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The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows

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The Quilter’s Homecoming by Jennifer Chiaverini

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The Patient One by Shelley Shepard Gray

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The Year of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg

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The Homestead by Linda Byler

31213269

Rainwater by Sandra Brown

6668592._sy475_

The Edge of Town by Dorothy Garlock

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Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

With You Here by Sarah Monzon Promo Blast

Hello everyone,

Today I’m bringing you a Promo Blast for With You Here by Sarah Monzon!

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Before I share my thought, here is a little bit more about the book.

About the Book

Holy Roman Empire, 1527
In the wake of Martin Luther’s religious reforms, Princess Christyne von Heidelbraum is compelled by her sense of duty to help ease the burden of her people. When she stumbles upon a dying man in the woods, she vows to aid him—even when she discovers the arrow shot in his leg was put there by a heretic hunter. With both her physical and spiritual well-being in danger, she must choose between conscience or adhering to the laws of the Empire.

Present Day
Doubting her calling to become a hospital chaplain, Amber Carrington takes time off from her theology studies to volunteer with refugees in Germany. Working with children, making a difference, reconnecting with the conviction that once drove her—these were her expectations. An instant attraction to a professional soccer player wasn’t a part of the plan…and she can’t let him distract her from her purpose.
As a new Christian, Seth Marshall is determined to put his popularity as a world-renowned footballer to good use. Unfortunately, old habits and public opinions are hard to overcome. When he falls hard and fast for Amber Carrington, his former life—and her no-dating policy—may block his perfect shot for the woman he loves.

Click here to grab your copy.

My Thoughts 

When I started reading With You Here I didn’t realize it was the last book in a series – the Carrington Family series – however, it can be read as a stand-alone because each book follows a different sibling of the Carrington family. Even though there are mentions of events that happened in the previous books, they are not necessary to have read before reading this installment in the series.

As seen in the description above, With You Here  follows a dual timeline, the first being set in 1527 during the Reformation in Germany. I liked following Christyne as she learns more about the Gospel through Lorenz, and what the reformers taught and how they were persecuted by not just the Roman Catholic Church, but even by some of the leaders with in the Reformation movement. I am definitely interested in learning more about this time period.

The story set in the present day was alright, although there a couple of times I did roll my eyes at the romance, especially when Amber seems to be drooling over Seth’s muscles, I don’t know it just something I disliked and it seemed to make Amber a little bit hypocritical. However, I did like how she was someone who struggled with being an effective servant for the Lord because she doesn’t have a testimony where she was saved from an awful situation, e.g. drugs, etc. I can relate to this because like Amber, I grew up in a Christian home and was saved sometime during my growing up years. However, like Amber learns in the novel, I know that the Lord can still use me in the way he so chooses.

I also liked getting to know Seth and how he strives to live  a life that is pleasing to the Lord, even if it is contrary to the kind of life that his job seems to require from him – a famous soccer player. However, there were also a couple of times I did find him to be a little bit too pushy with Amber.

One other thing that I appreciated learning a little more about while reading With You Here was about some of the things that the Syrian refugees have experienced. I think no matter what your view on immigration is, it can be agreed upon that what people from countries like Syria experience is awful, and most of us here in the U.S. are extremely blessed.

Overall, I liked With You Here,  but there were also a few things that bugged me throughout the book, however, I am definitely interested in reading the other books in this series in the near future. 3/5 Stars.

About the Author

Sarahmonzon2

A Carol award finalist and Selah award winner, Sarah Monzon is a stay-at-home mom who makes up imaginary friends to have adult conversations with (otherwise known as writing novels). As a navy chaplain’s wife, she resides wherever the military happens to station her family and enjoys exploring the beauty of the world around her.

 

Links to Sarah Monzon’s Social Media

www.facebook.com/sarahmonzonwrites

www.instagram.com/sarahmonzonwrites

www.twitter.com/monzonwrites

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Freedom in the Mountain Wind

MountainWind1

 

About the Book

MountainWind2

Book: Freedom in the Mountain Wind

Author: Misty M. Beller

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

Release Date: January 14, 2020

The last epic journey before her life changes forever.

Susanna Wilkins will do anything to make her father’s final dream come true, including trek along the path Lewis and Clark explored into the untamed wilds of the Rocky Mountains. Every mile is more crucial now that lung cancer is stealing Pa’s last days faster than she can come to terms with losing him. The journey becomes harder than she ever expected, but paddling upriver through fierce rapids and fighting hungry grizzlies isn’t what terrifies her the most.

Beaver Tail endured more than he can stand from the women in his Blackfoot camp, but the last disaster gave him the final shove he needed to join this band of brothers searching for one of their group who’s gone missing. The last thing he expected was to find a white woman and her sick father stranded at the base of massive waterfall. His plan is to help them carry their oversize canoe and supplies, then leave them to their strange mission. Yet, the more he learns about the pair, the more he realizes his life is about to be derailed—again.

From a USA Today bestselling author comes another epic journey through breathless landscapes and adventure so intense, lives will never be the same.

Click here for your copy.

My Thoughts

When I picked this up, I’ll be honest that I barely knew anything about it, which is probably a good thing. I was in for a surprise, and a treat. But before I get into everything that I enjoyed about this book, let me first mention the couple of things that I didn’t like. 

Firstly, I felt like the romance seemed to happen too quickly, and it seemed to be based mostly on infatuation, i.e. Beaver Tail’s strong arm muscles and muscular frame. Second, although this book is categorized as Christian fiction, I felt like the only references to God were when it seemed to be the source of conflict as to why the main couple couldn’t be together – because they would be “unequally yoked”. Not that I disagreed with that, but it just seemed convenient, but I’ll admit that I could be wrong, especially since I was partially jetlagged when read it. 

Okay, now onto everything I enjoyed about the book. The plot was interesting, I liked the idea of a father and daughter going on a journey together before it’s too late. Especially since their adventure is following the journey of Lewis and Clark. There are also elements of the story that were sad and even made me cry a couple times. 

I loved getting to know the characters. Sussanna was lovely, although she was a little bit of a flat character. Beaver Tail was alright, but I didn’t like that we never really find out why he is wary of women at first. It’s mentioned briefly, but that doesn’t really fully explain everything that happened in his past. All the other characters introduced were good, but they were also flat in some ways. 

Overall, I did enjoy Freedom in the Mountain Wind, it was fast-paced and held my interest throughout the novel. However, while the plot was interesting, the characters were and we don’t get to know much else about them besides what we’re given at face-value. 3/5 Stars. 

I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher and Celebrate Lit in exchange for my honest opinion. 

About the Author

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Misty M. Beller is a USA Today bestselling author of romantic mountain stories, set on the 1800s frontier and woven with the truth of God’s love.

She was raised on a farm in South Carolina, so her Southern roots run deep. Growing up, her family was close, and they continue to keep that priority today. Her husband and children now add another dimension to her life, keeping her both grounded and crazy.

God has placed a desire in Misty’s heart to combine her love for Christian fiction and the simpler ranch life, writing historical novels that display God’s abundant love through the twists and turns in the lives of her characters.

More from Misty

When God Directs a Google Search…

I’m a history lover, but you may have guessed that since I write historical romance stories. 😊 Most of my books are set in the Rocky Mountains during the mid-1800s, but as I began brainstorming ideas for this new series, my heart became drawn earlier to the earlier part of the century—a time period with which I wasn’t quite as familiar with the history.

I love when God orchestrates even the most mundane part of our lives, including Google searches! During one particular search (I can’t even remember what I was originally looking for), I stumbled across part of a journal entry from the Lewis and Clark expedition, which trekked across Montana during the time period I was looking into. I’d forgotten that expedition had even entered the territory that would later become Montana, but now I was fascinated.

After finding an audiobook of the abridged journals of Lewis and Clark, I happily listened to almost 19 hours of fascinating stories from the Corp of Exploration’s journey up the Missouri River and across the mountains to the Pacific Ocean, then back mostly the over the same path they’d come. The stories the men told were so amazing, and the detail of their trials so absorbing, I’ve actually re-listened to the audiobook twice! Many of the true tales wouldn’t be believable in fiction, but as I listened, my mind formed the premise for Freedom in the Mountain Wind: a father/daughter duo who sets out almost two decades after Lewis and Clark’s journey, determined to retrace the steps of that famous expedition.

I hope you enjoy this story as much as I loved writing it! And whether you’re a history lover or not, I pray that you too will be touched by this “epic journey through breathless landscapes and adventure so intense, lives will never be the same.”

Blog Stops

 

Simple Harvest Reads, January 15 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Daysong Reflections, January 15

My Devotional Thoughts, January 15

Genesis 5020, January 16

Blossoms and Blessings, January 16

Connect in Fiction, January 17

SPLASHES of Joy, January 17

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, January 17

Emily Yager, January 18

Deanne’s Book Thoughts, January 18

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, January 18

A Baker’s Perspective, January 19

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, January 19

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 20

Jeanette’s Thoughts, January 20

Mary Hake, January 20

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, January 21

Wishful Endings, January 21

All-of-a-kind Mom, January 21

Pause for Tales, January 22

Bigreadersite, January 22

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, January 22

Through the Fire Blogs, January 23

Betti Mace, January 23

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, January 23

Older & Smarter?, January 24

For the Love of Literature, January 24

Locks, Hooks and Books, January 25

Rebecca Tews, January 25

For Him and My Family, January 25

She Lives to Read, January 26

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 26

Inklings and notions, January 26

Blessed & Bookish, January 27

janicesbookreviews, January 27

deb’s Book Review, January 27

Texas Book-aholic, January 28

Hook Me In A Book, January 28

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Misty is 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/f49e/freedom-in-the-mountain-wind-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

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Mini-Reviews #3

Hello everyone,

Today I have a bunch of mini-reviews for books that I received from publishers on Netgalley over the last year or so. Since most of them are picture books, the reviews are short and sweet and there was no way I could write a full length review. Without further ado, here are the mini-reviews.

Quinn’s Promise Rock by Christie Thomas

This was a cute story that uses gorgeous artwork and animals to convey important concepts about God that little ones might have a hard time understanding. Through the plot of Quinn asking her dad about what would happen if she was ever separated from him, he uses it as a teaching opportunity to tell her about God’s faithfulness and that He is always with her no matter what. 4/5 Stars

Owl Love You by Matthew Heiroux and Wednesday Kirwan

Wow, this was a gorgeous picture book. First, the illustrations were fantastic from cover to cover and everything in between. The story of an owlet asking his mom what would happen in various scenarios and her response of how she will take care of him no matter what was beautiful. I liked the play on words when the owlet asked a questions it started with “Hoo’ll” instead of who and the mother’s response always started with “Owl” instead of I’ll, it added something a little extra to this great story. 4/5 Stars

ABC What Can She Be? by Jessica Ford

A great book that not only aids in teaching the alphabet, but also informs little girls of the kinds of jobs that are available to them. This book goes through a wide array of careers and even ends by saying that there are even more careers beyond what is mentioned in the books and that the only limitation is their imagination.4/5 Stars.

A Hundred Kisses Before Bedtime by Mack van Gangeldonk

A cute book about a little chick who gives goodnight kisses to all his animal friends before going to bed. 4/5 Stars

Ozy and Millie by Dana Simpson

I really liked this collection of comic strip by Dana Simpson. They were cute and funny, and even though the target audience is kids, I think adults will also appreciate a lot of the humor in this collection. I also appreciated that there was a glossary of words and terms that were used in the book that kids might not understand because it allows them to have a better understanding of what is being discussed, which was one of my worries when I saw some of those words/terms appear in the comic strips. 4/5 Stars.

Book Love by Debbie Tung

As an avid bookworm I really enjoyed this collection of comics about the perils and triumphs of booklovers. Each of these comics was really relatable and it was almost as if someone had gone inside my head and drawn every thought that I have had pertaining to books. A must read for all bookworms! 5/5 Stars.

The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart

This was a touching story that deals with coming to terms with grief and tragedy. I liked that we got to follow Coyote and her dad as they travel non-stop across the continental U.S. as a result of the death of her mom and sisters five years before the book’s opening. It was also interesting to see that that was how her dad tried to deal with the grief he felt, going so far as to change his and his daughter’s names so that there were very few reminders of his past. I also liked how Coyote had to come terms with the same kind of grief with trying to retrieve the memory box that she had buried with her mom and sisters, and that along the way both her and her father start to make strides in the healing process. I also liked getting to know all the different characters that joined Coyote and Rodeo on their journey and I would love to find out what happened to each of them after the end of the book. 4/5 Stars.

Sincerely, Harriet by Sarah Winifred Searle

This was a quick graphic novel that tells the story of Harriet, who is adjusting to her new life in Chicago as well as coping with having a chronic illness. A lot of the struggles and growth that she goes through over the course of the story is one that many will find relatable, especially when it comes to feeling alone. Sincerely, Harriet is definitely a good addition for any collections. 4/5 Stars

Who is My Neighbor? by Amy-Jill Levine and Sandy Eisenberg Sasso

Who Is My Neighbor? is a great retelling of the Parable of the Good Samaritan. The authors did a good job of simplifying the story, but yet they still kept some of the important details that make it recognizable to those that are familiar with the original. I loved the use of two different colors to show the differences between the two different groups, again, this was a simple way to convey the basics of this story. This will be a great story for parents to read to their children. 4/5 Stars.

Unicorn Day by Diana Murray

This is a fun book that all lovers of unicorns will enjoy! It also teaches the importance of being friends with those who are different as well. I think this will be a perfect book for storytime. 4/5 Stars.

The Golden Acorn by Katy Hudson

The Golden Acorn is a beautifully illustrated picture book about the importance of friendship, and how team work and looking out for your friends is more important than winning. Everyone can relate to this story on some level, and it would definitely be a perfect story to read at bedtime, and even during storytime at the library. 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

 

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Book Review: The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo.

The Tale of Despereaux is definitely a children’s classic in the making, it is a fairy tale set in a far away kingdom, but it doesn’t follow the usual formula of the typical fairy tale, but it is still a fairy tale nonetheless. My first introduction to this story was back when the movie came out in 2008 – which by the way is a really good adaptation of the book and I highly recommend it! 

The Tale of Despereaux follows Despereaux Tilling, a young mouse who refuses to act like one, instead of eating the books in the library, he prefers to read them, and instead of looking for crumbs he prefers to listen to the world around him. And then he befriends the lonely and sad Princess Pea, a human princess that he instantly falls in love with, and when another mouse sees him, he is instantly brought before the mouse council where is fate is decided. Meanwhile, the Princess longs for a friend, and she also longs for soup which her father banned from the kingdom just after her mother died. Along with soup, her father also made rats illegal. When a mischievous rat and a not-so-bright servant girl plot a nefarious plan against the princess, it is up to Despereaux to save her, but he’s only a mouse – how can a mouse save a princess? 

I reread The Tale of Despereaux for the book club I lead at work for school aged children, and I loved every moment of it! This is a book I can see myself rereading often, especially when I have kids of my own someday. Even though it is a modern fairy tale, it is also a great introduction to the fantasy genre, and it has a great message of hope and not being held down by people’s misconceptions. It also encourages readers to dream, and to not be hindered by those things that society would say is a set-back or obstacle, rather they are encouraged to overcome such things. Another aspect of the story that I liked was the contrast between light and darkness, good and bad, but yet that there is redemption even for those who at first appear to be bad. I think something else that I really liked about this story was the fact that even the “good guys” weren’t fully good, rather we see their human side, for instance we see that the Princess Pea, even though she is sweet, she has a tendency to also act mean towards others. 

I really liked the characters, Despereaux is a sweetheart, Roscuro is an interesting villain, Miggery Sow serves as the comic relief and bumbling fool, although readers will have sympathy towards her, especially since she has sort of a tragic back story, and then there is the Princess Pea who has known so much sorrow in her life. All them make up a great work of fiction that both children and adults can enjoy! 

Overall, this is a fantastic read, and I highly recommend it for kids, especially those who are hungry for fantasy, but might not be old enough yet to conquer something like The Hobbit. I really want to read more of Kate DiCamillo’s works soon, because she is a fantastic storyteller! And I think that a rewatch of the movie is definitely in order. 5/5 Stars. 

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

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