Book Review: A Phoenix First Must Burn edited by Patrice Caldwell

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on A Phoenix First Must Burn edited by Patrice Caldwell.

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Patrice Caldwell brings a collection of sixteen stories written by sixteen authors of color, all about black girl magic. Each story has fantasy or science fiction elements, and transports readers to alternative universes, Hispaniola in 1522, New Mexico in 1880, to a Middle-Eastern inspired fantasy world, as well as many others. Each character will have to fight against tyrannical rulers, or slave owners, or figure out a way to save the world from aliens. Readers will also come in contact with vampires, unicorns and mermaids. Some of the stories deal with family curses, or the ability to see how decisions will influence the future. Each story will take readers on an exciting journey that will leave them wanting more.

Since this review is on an anothlogy of each story, I will be providing a brief review of each story in the collection, as well as any themes that are discussed in the book. The first story is When Life Hands You Lemon Fruit Bombs by Amerie. This was an intersting science fiction story that takes readers on a bit of mind-trip towards the very end. It delas with the concepts of first contact, interplanetary wars and the birth of a civilaztion. One main theme in this story is that of compassion and humannes. Both Mae and Santos struggle with how the Nokira (the alien race) are treated, and they even set them free before the rest of the humans head back to earth. Mae often observes that there is something almost human about the Nokira, even if there might not be.

The second story in this collection is Gilded by Elizabeth Acevedo which takes place just before the slave revolts on Santa Domingo in 1522. There is an element of magical realism since the main character, Eula, has some sort of magic that allows her to manipulate metals. This is essentially a story about the fight for freedom, and will leave readers wanting more. The next story was Wherein Abigail Fields Recalls Her First Death and, subsequently, Her Best Life by Rebecca Roanhorse. This was a weird tale set in the Wild West, more specifically New Mexico in 1880. This particular story deals with seeking vengeance and making a deal with the devil, or in this case the spirits of the desert. It was really fast-paced and seemed to be over as soon as it began.

Story number four was The Rules of the Land by Alaya Dawn Johnson which was an interesting story about angry sea goddesses, deals made to save a country and the breaking of one’s oath. This story was a little confusing in a couple of places it felt like something important would take place but it was glossed over. The fifth story was A Hagiography of Starlight by Somaiya Doud. It is a Middle Eastern inspired tale about a girl who falls in love with a divine being and how her actions serve as a catalust for the events that will lead to the end of the world. This was a great short story that id a great job at explaining things and provided a great plot in 20+ pages, and the ending was very satisfying. The next story was Melie by Justina Ireland, an interesting fantasy story in which a young woman discovers that the High Sorcerer of the land is trying to creat a diversion within the kingdom in order to help another country invade it. It has a strogn theme of believing and advocating for oneself and it also has mermaids, dragons and unicorns.

The seventh story is The Goddess Provides by L. L. McKinley. All throughout this story the theme of hypocrisy is woven through fantasy tale, especialy since the goddess of this society empowers Akkia, who is considered a heathen, and tells her that the ones who are truly heathens are those who claim to be devout her but commit horrific acts in her name. It also includes a theme of betrayal and deceit when it turns ut her brother is still alive and is behind everything. The ninth story is Hearts Turned to Ash by Dhonielle Clayton which serves a cautionary tale about giving one’s heart away and making some the center of your universe and how the heartbreak feels awful. Although in this case, Etta’s heart is literally being turned to ash and she has to go visit a conjure woman to heal her. This was a magical realism that contained some influences of voodoo and hoodoo.

The next story in this anthology is Letting the Right One In by Patrice Caldwell whichc follows Ayanna who suffers from depression and is adjusting to life in a new town and is obsessed with vampires. One day she meets a black vampire and falls in love. It is ultimatey about feeling out of place in a new environment but eventually finding someone that make you feel like you belong. Tender-headed by Danny Lore was an interesting but weird story, but its main theme was ti take pride in what you do and to be kind. The next story was Kiss the Sun by Ibi Zoboi which is about a group of fire witches who feat on evil souls at night. It ends up becoming a story about a fight for pwoer which they think comes from having a lighter-skinned body, however it leads to some major discord amongst the group.

The twelfth story is The Actress by Danielle Paige abut Gamine who plays a witch on TV, but what happens when she discovers that she might actually be a witch? There is a lot of good build-up to Gamine’s discovery and there was also some indictions of the facts that she is indeed a witch. However, it does promote the trope of the main charcter not being like other girls, but it is exectued pretty well in this story. The next story is The Curse of Love by Ashley Woodfolk which is all about a family that is cursed to charming and beautiful, but they cannot fall love because when they do they immediately start aging and die. Therefore they try to guard themselves from finding love, but eventually they all succumb to love’s spell. All the Time in the World by Charlotte Nicole Davis follows Jordan, who discovers that she has the ability to make time stand still and it touchs on corporate greed and environmental issues and how people tend to care about a cause when it is affecting them directly. Another interesting feautre of this story is that it is told in the 2nd person.

The second to last story of this collection is The Witch’s Skin by Karen Strong which is an interesting mix of both fantasy and sci-fi about a witch that haunts an island and steals the souls of men. The main character, Nalah, wants to kill the witch because she killed her true love, however she discovers that the witch has been masquerading as her mother for seventeen years. The Boo Hag tells her that her life is a lie and that everyone on the island has been deceived by the Council. It also touches a little bit on misogny. The final story is Sequence by J. Marcelle Corrie in which there is a software that can help people see how certain decisions can affect their future. In this case we see Eden trying to decide whether to tell her crush that she likes her and we see the scenario where she does nothing and the one when she makes her move. The point being that even the smallest decisions can end up having an impact on our future and happiness.

Overall, I enjoyed most of the stories, although some of them had content that I don’t really like. I also wish some of them had been a bit longer, but I loved how each story was unique. 3.5/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Garrett Blog Tour and Giveaway


About the Book


Book: Garrett

Author: Izzy James

Genre: Christian Romance

Release date: November 27, 2020

Garrett Tyler thought he was leaving Ballard House for home, secure in the knowledge that love had finally won-out for his long-time friend Olivia. He steps out the door and into the past, 1769 to be exact. While finding his bearings Garrett stumbles upon a beautiful woman being attacked. He makes sure she gets home and because of his kindness, she allows him to stay in an outbuilding—even believing his time travel story—while he figures out how he will get back to his life in the future. The more time they spend together, the deeper friendship they build, but one thing is going to rip her world apart.

Mercy Hansford is a confidant, independent woman running her own tailor shoppe. Her world is shaken when she is brutally attacked after delivering one of her sought-after shirts. The consequences of this night could be more far-reaching than either of them can guess.

Should Mercy trust a man she barely knows?

Click here to get your copy!

My Thoughts

Garrett was an interesting, cute and quick read. I didn’t quite know what to expect when I picked it up, except that it involved time travel. However, while I liked the story, I did find it a bit confusing, especially the time travel aspect. But maybe there is more explanation in the first book in the series? 

I loved being transported to pre-American Revolution  Yorktown, Virginia with Garrett. I also liked getting to know Mercy, even in the midst of the trauma she has experienced. However, I did have a hard time buying that Mercy would fully understand Garrett’s explanation that he is from the future. I don’t know, I personally would probably be a lot more skeptical, but that’s just me! The ending also seemed kind of rushed, but again, maybe it wouldn’t have been if I’d read the previous book – Max- first. 

Overall, this was a quick and interesting read and I highly recommend it if you are looking for something short that combines both historical fiction and time travel. 3/5 Stars. 

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

About the Author

p-64Izzy James grew up in coastal Virginia. She lives there still with her fabulous husband in a house brimming with books.

More from Izzy

Why did I write Garrett?

While I was writing Max I was working through physical therapy prior to a lumbar fusion surgery. My physical therapist’s assistant was a young man named Garrett. He was intrigued that I was a writer and asked me if I would use his name in a book one day. So I had a name.

As I finished writing Max–who came forward in time from 1769–I started thinking about what it would be like for a young person of today to find himself back in 1769.

Garrett of the book bears no resemblance to Garrett of the physical therapy office! Garrett was fun to write. I hope you will enjoy reading it.

If you’d like to hear more about my books and be included in a monthly giveaway sign up for my newsletter.

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Both email and physical addresses are held sacred. They will never ber sold or used for anything but what you signed up for.

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 16

Britt Reads Fiction, November 16

Texas Book-aholic, November 17

Inklings and notions, November 18

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, November 18

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, November 19

By the Book, November 19

Simple Harvest Reads, November 20 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

For Him and My Family, November 20

deb’s Book Review, November 21

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 22

Kayem Reads, November 22

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, November 23

Connie’s History Classroom, November 24

Mary Hake, November 24

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 25

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, November 26

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, November 26

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, November 27

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, November 28

Pause for Tales, November 28

Connect in Fiction, November 29



To celebrate her tour, Izzy 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.

First Line Fridays #68 – Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Hello everyone,

Welcome to another installment of First Line Fridays hosted by Reading is My Superpower.

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

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“A long time ago, when all the grandfathers and grandmothers’ of today were little boys and little girls or very small babies, or perhaps not even born, Pa and Ma and Mary and Laura and Baby Carrie left their little house in the Big Woods of Wisconsin.”

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow.


The Ten Thousand Doors of January follows January Scaller who is an odd young woman who is the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke. She feels like one of the many artifacts that are apart of his collection. One day she discovers a strange book that has her name on it that tells the story of strange worlds and the doors between that exist. However, as she reads to book she discover more about her family and who she is and that Mr. Locke might not be who he seems to be.

I’ll be honest, I went into this without reading much of the synopsis because I wanted to be surprised and it ended up being different from what I had expected, but I loved it!

The title might not make sense at first, butt he more things come together the more they make sense. This book is not necessarily the story of a young woman who journeys to different lands, rather it is about a young woman who discovers that such doors exist and that she herself hails from a different world accessed by one of these doors. She also discovers that her guardian might know more than he lets on and there is a mysterious society that seems more sinister than they appear. To guide her, January discovers a book that was left for her called The Ten Thousand Doors, a treatise on the existence of these doorways to other worlds.

I loved the book within a book and that readers get to read The Ten Thousand Doors along with January, it was fascinating to learn what she was learning as she reads the book – it even included footnotes. I loved the themes of exploration, otherness, and belonging. It also explores the fear of chaos and being confronted by what we don’t know. It also gives a warning about corruption and absolute power ad control over the world, as well as those who are suspicious of that which is different.

January was a great character and I loved watching her journey unfold as she learns more about who she is, where she comes from and about the doors. It is interesting to watch her attitudes toward Mr. Locke, especially when he proves to be the villain. I also enjoyed getting to know Jane and her story, and Bad the dog.

Mr. Locke is an interesting character because he appears to care for her even though he treats her and shows her off like she is some artifact. He at first seems to care for her as a daughter, however it soon becomes apparent that he views her as an artifact, and/or a savage to be tamed by a “proper upbringing”. When she bucks against what he wishes her to be he decides to send her to an asylum. He also reminded me sometimes of Senator Palpatine in Star Wars Episodes II and III.

There were also several quotes that I really liked while I was reading the book:

“It’s a profoundly strange feeling to stumble across someone whose desires are shaped so closely to your own, like reaching toward your reflection in a mirror and finding warm flesh under your fingertips.” (p.91)

“‘Oh, my dear, don’t believe everything you read in the story papers. You people are always trying to invent reasons for things. Monsters only come for bad children, for loose women, for impious men. The truth is that the powerful come for the weak, whenever and wherever they like. Always have, always will.'” (p.161).

“I wonder sometimes how much evil is permitted to run unchecked simply because it would be rude to interrupt it.” (p.326).

The Ten Thousand Doors of January was really great, but I can also see why someone might not like it because it is flowery writing and very atmospheric. I wish we could get more of January’s story, especially after the end of this novel, but I also want this to stay a stand-alone. I am looking forward to reading more from Alix E. Harrow’s work. 4.5/5 Stars

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Bandana Acres: Hootin’ Goes Outside Blog Tour and Giveaway


About the Book


Book: Bandana Acres: Hootin Goes Outside

Author: Kathy J. Perry

Genre: Early Reader Chapter Book

Release date: November 1, 2018

How long will you be gone?

The barn owlets are hungry! Their mom, Hootin, must find a way to get more food. Can she trust her bandana buddies to take care of her babies during the storm?

Click here to get your copy!

My Thoughts 

I really liked Hootin’ Goes Outside, I though it was a great addition to the Bandana Acres series. I loved seeing Hootin’ have the courage to do what she needs to do for her baby owlets, while still making sure that they are safe. I also loved getting to revisit some of the characters in previous books, Ollie and Feebs. My only complaint is that it seemed really short, but then again, I forget that this book is for kids who are learning to read and growing their reading skills. I loved the illustrations, and I love the glossary that’s included in the back to help kids grow their vocabulary. I also love the questions at the end of the book to help kids comprehend and think through what they have just read. As always, this installment was a delight to read and I can’t wait to share these books with my future children someday! 

About the Author

p-61After My Parents Passed,

I re-evaluated what I was doing with my life and my contribution to others. A former classroom teacher and homeschool mom, I’ve always had a heart for educating kids.

In 2016 my daughter and I attended a local arts and crafts fair where I stumbled upon some cute children’s art and thought, “That’s what I can do! Write children’s books.”

I set my mission and started my own publishing company, Chickadee Words, LLC. I would do my best to affect our youth through wonderful stories full of timeless character struggles.

More from Kathy

Have you every known someone who thinks they’re the only ones that can do the job right? They’re the people who may be very good at what they do, but make poor managers because they don’t delegate or allow others to contribute.

This story is about a barn owl who has two owlets she must care for but her partner is lost for some unknown reason. She burdens herself with care and responsibility until her bandana buddies offer to help and show her she can be flexible.

Here’s one question in the “What If” part at the end of the book:

When you’re at school, are you sometimes afraid or embarrassed to ask a question when you don’t understand something and need help?

Special things about this book (and series) include:

  1. Proven easy-to-read font for early readers (Sassoon Primary)
  2. In full-color with original watercolor artwork.
  3. Leveled by Lexile and Fountas & Pinnell (F&P) for dialing in to your child’s reading level.
  4. Blue words are the character’s inside thoughts (rather than italics, which I thought would be harder to read). Kids enjoy the color. In fact, struggling readers love to read just the colored parts to start – and then want to continue reading! (Each book has its own color for this.)
  5. A glossary of newer words with definitions.
  6. A “What If” section for discussion with five questions about the story, and five questions of how the theme plays out in real life. (Parents and teachers love these books!)
  7. Hootin Goes Outside! is available in hardcover and softcover.

Help your kids learn to read with this fun story and cute watercolor illustrations. This early reader chapter book is perfect for ages 5-8 and can usually be read alone by 2nd or 3rd grades.

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 13

Texas Book-aholic, November 14

Blogging with Carol, November 14

Inklings and notions, November 15

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, November 16

For Him and My Family, November 16

deb’s Book Review, November 17

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 18

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, November 19

Vicky Sluiter, November 19

Older & Smarter?, November 20

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

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, November 21

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, November 22

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, November 23

Cats in the Cradle Blog, November 24

Mary Hake, November 24

Lights in a Dark World, November 25

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, November 26



To celebrate her tour, Kathy is giving away the grand prize package of $25 Amazon gift card, a softcover copy of the book, digital artwork with motivational phrase, and a custom Hoo-Rag covered with artwork from the Bandana Acres series!!

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

Road to Freedom Blog Tour and Giveaway


About the Book


Book: Road to Freedom

Author: Cheri Swalwell

Genre: Christian Woman’s Contemporary Fiction

Release date: October 5, 2021

Sometimes silence speaks louder than words.

Wynn and her best friend Addie have been inseparable since kindergarten. Growing up together in the same community, they shared activities, friends, and even the same job. But behind closed doors, their lives couldn’t be more different.

Zane has loved Wynn for four years. Yet Wynn is adamant she doesn’t need a boyfriend. After all, she will never get married. Ever. In an effort to uncover the why behind her ‘no,’ Zane discovers more than he expected.

When Wynn unlatches the door and allows Holly in as a mentor, will she learn trust is just like riding a bike and find the healing she so desperately needs?

Road to Freedom, Book 4 in The Redemption of Green Pines series continues to disclose the messiness of real life. Join Wynn and her friends as they discover how an encounter with God can bring freedom from fear, healing from pain, and the joy of belonging when we choose to let others into our lives, even, or especially, the messy parts.

Click here to get your copy!

My Thoughts

I had no idea what to expect when I picked up Road to Freedom. I had no idea that I would it in almost one sitting, and I had no idea I would have such strong feelings while reading it. Let me just say, Cheri Swalwell does a great job with tackling the issues that she does in this book. I think because it spoke to some of my own personal experiences, it was a little triggering, but I also felt seen and I felt like I could relate to Wynn to a certain extent!

Some of the strong feelings I had were towards Wynn’s family, especially her father. Just how he treats her and her mom was so jarring, but I think it was so because it was realistic and I have met people just like him, and have heard stories from people I’ve met where the men in the family are like this, hypocrites who care about appearances at church. There were times I wanted to throw my kindle against the wall when he was talking to her because of how horrible he was (I didn’t, no kindles were harmed in the making of this review). However, I also applaud the author for tackling the topic of unseen abuse, something which is frequently skipped because it is unseen and doesn’t leave any physical marks.

I also appreciated how the author tackles the topics of church, and different kinds of churches, especially those who are super legalistic, and the churches that are welcoming and teach about God as a loving father. I also liked the discussion about the Holy Spirit, this is a topic that I’ve been struggling with throughout the year. I do believe in the Holy Spirit, but there are some things that I’m still trying to figure out, like whether some gifts have actually have ceased (as I grew up being taught) or if they exist today, etc. Finding a church to go to has also been a struggle, and honestly reading about the church that Zane, Addie and Owen go to made me wish to find a church similar to it.

I liked getting to know Wynn and Zane and watching their relationship grow, especially as Zane finds out more about Wynn’s home life. There were times I got frustrated when Wynn would get upset with Zane and accuse him of being just like her father and would run away. But, I think the big reason that this struck a nerve is because I know I have a tendency to do that too, it’s something I am working on and I am thankful for my patient husband who is helping me work through the past trauma that makes me want to run or fight, but it is hard, and it takes time. I would love to read more about Wynn and Zane, and how Wynn continue to heals from the hurts of the past.

I also loved the other characters that we are introduced to, especially Holly and how she takes Wynn under her wing. I really need to go and read the previous books in this series, because it seems really great, and I want to get to know the people of Green Pine even more.

Overall, while Road to Freedom was a difficult book for me to read because of the emotions it brought up, it was really well written! Cheri Swalwell does a great job of capturing just how trauma can affect various aspects of a person’s life, but she also shows how healing can start to take place by the grace of God. I highly recommend it, however I do caution those recovering from trauma, especially emotional abuse, that it might be a little bit triggering, especially the first quarter of the book. But I still highly recommend it! 5/5 Stars.

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

About the Author


Cheri Swalwell is a Christ follower who thoroughly enjoys her calling to be a wife, mother, writer and speaker, in that order. Cheri loves to encourage people through her fiction series and many nonfiction books including devotionals, Bible studies, and compilation books. For a full list of books visit If you want to sign up to her newsletter to stay updated on all the latest news, you will also receive a free gift as her way of saying thanks for joining! To read one of her many articles on life from a Christian perspective, visit her blog at She loves to interact with her readers, so send her an email at You can “like” her on Facebook as well here or join Heart Speaks with Cheri Swalwell, a private Facebook group where we encourage each other and share life together.

More from Cheri

The Redemption of Green Pines is a series about community. We first meet Wynn and her friends in Journey Back Home when they attended youth group. While Pastor Jace and Holly remain a constant presence throughout all six books, Road to Freedom takes us deeper into the lives of four friends – Wynn, Addie, Zane and Owen, who graduated from youth group and began working for Holly’s catering business. They also babysit the Cooper kids from time to time and have become part of the family.

Since the beginning when we were introduced to Wynn, she carried around a secret she wouldn’t share with anyone, not even her best friend. Road to Freedom is Wynn’s journey of truly discovering who she is as a Daughter of the King, and learning how good it feels to live in freedom instead of burdened by other’s choices.

I hope you enjoy getting to know Wynn and her friends as much as I have!

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, November 11

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 12

Texas Book-aholic, November 13

Inklings and notions, November 14

CarpeDiem, November 15

For Him and My Family, November 15

deb’s Book Review, November 16

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 17

Pause for Tales, November 18

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, November 18

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, November 19

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, November 20

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, November 21

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, November 22

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 23

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, November 24



To celebrate her tour, Cheri is giving away the grand prize of a $20 Amazon gift card!!

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

Honor in the Mountain Refuge Blog Tour and Giveaway


About the Book


Book: Honor in the Mountain Refuge

Author: Misty Beller

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

Release date: November 9, 2021

This epic journey is his last chance to start a new life.

After being cast out of his Blackfoot village for his kindness to the Nez Perce captives, Chogan travels west in search of meaning for his life. Meaning that doesn’t require killing or torturing innocent people. Though the lovely face of Telípe, a Nez Perce woman, is imprinted on his heart, he avoids her village. She deserves a happy life with her husband and coming child.

With her husband dead and the birth of her babe imminent, Telípe’s reality looks nothing like she planned. She’s been forced to return to the village where she grew up and the chaos of her family’s lodge—with all her boisterous younger brothers. She desperately desires to start a new life for herself and the babe growing within her, but she can’t seem to climb above the mire of her past. When she stumbles into the brave who’d shown her kindness during her captivity, something ignites within her—a new hope.

Chogan’s determination to stay and help Telípe is thwarted by her people’s fear and hatred for his tribe—especially since he was among last winter’s kidnappers. It doesn’t matter that he did everything he could to keep her and her unborn child safe and comfortable during that awful event. But as a new predator threatens the safety of the village, Chogan determines to take down the massive wildcat that’s already injured several children—including one of Telípe’s younger brothers. When the danger escalates, Chogan is faced with an impossible choice. No matter which option he chooses, his life will never be the same—nor that of the woman he’s come to love.

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 to get your copy!

My Thoughts

I really liked Honor in the Mountain Refuge. I enjoyed getting to know Telipe and her tribe, as well as seeing some of the characters that I have met in some of the other books I have read in this series. I enjoyed learning a bit more about what daily life was probably like for the Nez Perce tribes, and the preparations that they had to make for the coming winter. 

I also enjoyed getting to know Chogan and how he looks out for Telipe’s welfare, as well as does what he can to earn the trust of her tribe. I liked watching the romance blossom between them, and I would love to see what happens to these two characters next. 

Overall, I really liked Honor in the Mountain Refuge and I am hoping to go back and read the couple of books that I haven’t yet read in this series, as well as read more of Misty M. Beller’s work in the future. 3.5/5 Stars. 

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

About the Author

p-14Misty 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 minor characters get their own story!

One of the things I love about writing in series is the chance for minor characters to become major characters, with fascinating lives and personalities of their own! The heroine in Honor in theMountain Refuge, Telipe, first appeared in Light in the Mountain Sky as Meksem’s little sister who was kidnapped by a band of Blackfoot warriors. Even when I’m the writer, characters often surprise me by doing things very differently than what I expected!

Telipe did exactly that in one of the final scenes of that previous book. When Meksem and her friends showed up to rescue Telipe and the other captives, Telipe actually braced herself in front of one of one of her Blackfoot captors, stopping anyone from injuring him. Why would she do that?

In that book, Telipe only says that the man had been kind to her when the other warriors were not. I knew there HAD to be more though.

I pray you enjoy learning Telipe’s story as much as I did, including how that Blackfoot brave she protected shows up again in the most unexpected of places!

Blog Stops

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, November 9

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 9

Texas Book-aholic, November 10

Inklings and notions, November 11

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, November 11

Splashes of Joy, November 12

For Him and My Family, November 12

lakesidelivingsite, November 13

deb’s Book Review, November 14

Jeanette’s Thoughts, November 14

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 15

Vicarious Living, November 16

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, November 16

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, November 17

For the Love of Literature, November 18

Connie’s History Classroom, November 18

Betti Mace, November 19

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, November 19

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, November 20

Blossoms and Blessings, November 20

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, November 21

Through the Fire blogs, November 21

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 22

Pause for Tales, November 22



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.

Shut the Front Door Blog Tour and Giveaway


About the Book


Book: Shut the Front Door

Author: L.M. Karen

Genre: Contemporary Christian Fiction

Release date: July 15, 2021

The zany story of an alpha male pursuing a headstrong woman and the hilarious entanglements that follow.

Maddy’s dating profile couldn’t be more together. Maddy, however, feels utterly not together when Derek is in the room. She thought living next to her best friend Brittany, (who happens to be married to her brother, Matt) would be the best move of her life; not realizing it came with the complication of Brittany’s older brother Derek. Their undeniable chemistry and passionate personalities make it hard for Maddy to continue ignoring his determined pursuit. This is a feel good romantic comedy with a hint of excitement.

Click here to get your copy!

My Thoughts 

I was looking forward to reading Shut the Front Door after reading LM Karen’s first book in this series, Summertime Lilies. I had really enjoyed the first installment and couldn’t wait to revisit these characters. However, I ended up not enjoying it, and I struggled to get through it. 

I liked the writing style and the setting of the novel, and of course I loved getting read about Matt, Brittany and Grady again. However, I did not love the romance between Derek and Maddy at all. Honestly it seemed unhealthy from the get go, especially when Derek, who is a detective, practically stalks Maddy on a date, he also constantly shows up at her house and comes in uninvited and unannounced, even before they start dating. I know part of that is on her for leaving the door unlocked, but at the same time…he knows better. It also seemed like he manipulated her into wanting to be in a relationship with her, and I couldn’t tell if she genuinely liked him, or if she was convinced that she liked him because of his “persistence” in pursuing her. I don’t know, I just found Derek’s initial pursuit of her to be borderline creepy and when they did get into a relationship I felt very uncomfortable. It just isn’t romantic. I do know that there are some things that Maddy did that weren’t great either, but they honestly pale in comparison to what Derek did. 

Overall, I did not like Shut the Front Door, which makes me sad because I was really looking forward to reading it. However, I just could not buy into the romance and I found it borderline toxic at times. 2.5/5 Stars. 

About the Author

LM Karen writes contemporary Christian fiction romance. As a longtime lover of words, she can generally be found behind her laptop or with a book in her hand. A graduate of Toccoa Falls College, her heart is in the mountains. She eventually made use of the voices in her head by putting them on the page.

More from LM Karen

I like writing characters who are flawed but are loved anyway. Who have maybe made a mess of things, or are consumed by fear, or have some growing to do, because isn’t that all of us? All of my characters get happy endings because as Christians we all get the happy ending. We are flawed, we are human, we are sinful, but we are loved. We are forgiven.

One of my favorite things about Maddy in Shut the Front Door is that she is fearless. She is bold and unapologetic about who she is. But even Maddy with all her confidence still has insecurities about being accepted, and just wants to be loved at the end of the day. She just wants to know that she will be received for all she is by the one person she loves the most. I think that’s a very relatable desire and what we all really want. One of my favorite things about Christian fiction is that we are reminded within the fun and sweeping nature of romance that we are always and eternally loved by God.

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 10

CarpeDiem, November 10

Texas Book-aholic, November 11

Genesis 5020, November 11

Inklings and notions, November 12

Living’ Lit, November 13

For Him and My Family, November 13

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 14

deb’s Book Review, November 15

Where Crisis & Christ Collide, November 15

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, November 16

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, November 17

Kayem Reads, November 17

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, November 18

Wishful Endings, November 18

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, November 19

By The Book, November 19

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, November 20

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 21

Remembrancy, November 21

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, November 22

Simple Harvest Reads , November 23 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, November 23



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

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

Behind Love’s Wall Blog Tour and Giveaway


About the Book


Book: Behind Love’s Wall

Author: Carrie Fancett Pagels

Genre: FICTION/ Christian/Romance

Release date: November 1, 2021

Two successful women, a hundred-and-twenty-years apart, build walls to protect their hearts. Modern-day Willa, a successful interior decorator, is chosen to consult for the Grand Hotel’s possible redesign. She discovers a journal detailing the struggles of a young woman, Lily—which reveals dark secrets. The renowned singer wasn’t who she pretended to be. As Willa reaches out to Lily’s descendant, a charismatic and prominent landscape artist, she lets down her guard. Should she share the journal with him, or once again erect a wall as she struggles to redesign both the Grand and her life?

Click here to get your copy!

My Thoughts 

I really enjoyed Behind Love’s Wall. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I loved the dual timelines set on Mackinac Island and the cast of characters that we get to follow. I should also mention that it is the first book I’ve read since the start of the pandemic that is set in 2020 (at least the present day plot) and, it was interesting, especially when reading about a place like Mackinac Island and the hotels there that no doubt suffered at the beginning of the pandemic. 

I enjoyed both storylines, however, I really enjoyed the 1895 storyline the most. It was very intriguing to read about how psychiatrists were viewed back then, as well as seeing some the early days of the eugenics movement, and also Pinkerton agents. I don’t know there was so much it covered, at it was fascinating to read. Don’t get me wrong, I also enjoyed the contemporary storyline, and I like how both are tied together in a way. My only wish is that we could have gotten more of Lily’s diary entries throughout the novel, but that’s just me and that is something I really like. 

I also enjoyed getting to know the characters, they were well fleshed out and I loved seeing what ends up happening to everyone, both past and present in the book. 

Overall, I really enjoyed Behind Love’s Wall and I hope to read more by the author in the future. I highly recommend this book for lovers of historical fiction and dual timelines. 4/5 Stars.

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


About the Author

p-50ECPA-bestselling author Carrie Fancett Pagels, Ph.D., is the award-winning author of over a dozen Christian historical romances. Twenty-five years as a psychologist didn’t “cure” her overactive imagination! A self-professed “history geek,” she resides with her family in the Historic Triangle of Virginia but grew up as a “Yooper” in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Carrie loves to read, bake, bead, and travel – but not all at the same time! You can connect with her at

More from Carrie

Why I Wrote This Novel

I got a chance to write another novel set on Mackinac Island!!!

I’m the author of over twenty published stories. I have many books, both novel and novella length, set at the Straits of Mackinac including Maggie Award winner and Romantic Times Top Pick My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island. In the summer, I go up to the area and I’m blessed to sign books at the Island Bookstore—sometimes hundreds of books which is such an amazing thing I can’t tell you! Now that MHBoMI is out of print, Barbour has been helping by doing limited print runs for while I am up there.

My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island was originally part of a full series that I pitched but it didn’t get picked up for all three stories. MHBoMI got picked up as part of the My Heart Belongs series that Barbour put out a few years ago. The second book in my original Brides of Mackinac series was heroine Sadie’s story, which was published as a novella “His Anchor” in First Love Forever collection. So I had two of my book babies delivered out into the world and Lily’s story sat there for a while.

In the Covid summer of 2020, I arrived in my home state of Michigan and over dinner with a close friend I learned that the folks at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island were having legal trouble with their previous long-time designed Carlton Varney suing them. I’d been disappointed that the Mussers, who’d owned the Grand for generations, had sold the hotel but this new development really bugged me. While I was in the Upper Peninsula, I finished an Indy book, Dogwood Plantation, which only figures since I often write my Michigan stories while I am in Virginia and vice versa! I knew the only other book I wanted to work on was to complete my Brides of Mackinac trilogy (not exactly since they aren’t all in one series!) with Lily’s story. I also had a manuscript about 70% done that was my very first contemporary Women’s Fiction novel. When my agent encouraged me to submit a Mackinac Island story set at the Grand Hotel to Barbour’s Doors to the Past series, I knew immediately that the only story for historical I wanted to write was Lily’s. That meant that I needed, for this dual-timeline series, a contemporary story. That wasn’t just a chance sharing at dinner—I believe the info about the lawsuit was meant to be passed on to me one of those God-incidences. My modern-day heroine then became an established resort designer who had a trunkful of issues just like Lily did.

Was I ever glad that I had finally written my first contemporary Women’s Fiction (Butterfly Cottage) because that skill set came in very handy in writing the modern-day 2020 story of Willa in Behind Love’s Wall! This was the most difficult novel to write that I have done so far as I write in character and going back and forth between the 1895 and 2020 timelines could be draining. I tried to write each character and setting on separate days but that couldn’t always be managed.

I pray that this story will touch readers’ hearts. I pray that someone, like the young waitress I meant on Mackinac Island who had been spiritually moved by My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island (she read her grandmother’s copy after her grandma passed away!), will read this book and feel that connection to our Maker. That’s what Christian Fiction is all about!

Blog Stops

Life of Literature, November 18

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 18

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, November 19

Cats in the Cradle Blog, November 19

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 19

Inklings and notions, November 20

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, November 20

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, November 21

For Him and My Family, November 21

Mary Hake, November 21

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, November 22

Texas Book-aholic, November 22

For the Love of Literature, November 22

deb’s Book Review, November 23

Betti Mace, November 23

Genesis 5020, November 23

Older & Smarter?, November 24

Remembrancy, November 24

Blossoms and Blessings, November 25

Stephanie’s life of determination, November 25

Connect in Fiction, November 25

Rebecca Tews, November 26

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 26

Through the fire blogs, November 27

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, November 27

Pause for Tales, November 27

Bigreadersite, November 28

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, November 28

Tell Tale Book Reviews, November 28

Connie’s History Classroom, November 29

Bizwings Blog, November 29

Labor Not in Vain, November 29

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, November 30

To Everything There Is A Season, November 30

Jeanette’s Thoughts, December 1

Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen, December 1

Where Faith and Books Meet, December 1



To celebrate her tour, Carrie is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

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

Sweet Summer Blog Tour and Giveaway


About the Book


Book: Sweet Summer

Author: Christina Sinisi

Genre: Christian Contemporary Romance

Release date: July 6, 2021

Shelby Marano is the youngest of three sisters and was always Daddy’s baby girl–until

her father was murdered. Ever since, she’s been running from anyone or anything that

could truly hurt her. Instead, she seeks calculated thrills that leave her exhilarated, but

when she’s caught outside during a summer storm, she quickly realizes not all adventures

are within her control.

Tyler Burgess offers her both refuge from the rain and a safe place to land.

Time spent with Tyler proves him to be much more than just a nerd in a history museum,

but what she finds out about him is a dealbreaker for her. As Shelby’s perfect little world

is threatened by family health issues and an unknown stalker, she learns the hard lesson

that no one can hide from the dangers of life. Can Shelby let her sisters, Tyler, and even

more importantly, God, show her in one Sweet Summer, that love is worth taking the


Click here to get your copy!

My Thoughts 

Sweet Summer was a cute, contemporary romance. I really enjoyed it, even though it ended up being somewhat different from what I was expecting. But I really liked that! 

I enjoyed getting to know both of the main characters, Shelby was spunky, and there were times I felt like she gave poor Tyler a bit of a hard time for no reason. It was also interesting see her relationship with her family, especially since it seems like they are somewhat estranged by her own doing. Tyler was a gem, however, I do think he needed to stand up for himself a bit, especially when it came to his brothers. Let’s just say there were a couple of times when he interacted with his brothers that I wanted to scream because of how selfish they were. However, they did serve as a good contrast for Tyler. I liked how we see him struggle with what the right thing to do is regarding his parents, and how that plays out. 

I also really liked the backdrop of Charleston, I’ve read a number of books set there, and I would love to visit it someday to experience it for myself! 

Overall, I really liked Sweet Summer, there were a couple of times when it seemed to get overdramatic, but I still enjoyed it and was hooked. I was rooting for the main characters the whole time and loved the ending. I highly recommend this for anyone looking for a clean, sweet romance book. I am looking forward to reading more of Christina Sinisi’s books in the future. 3.75/5 Stars. 

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

About the Author

p-46A member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, Christina Sinisi writes stories about families, both the broken and blessed. Her works include a semi-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest and the American Title IV Contest in which she appeared in the top ten in the Romantic Times magazine. Her published books include The Christmas Confusion and Sweet Summer, the first two books in the Summer Creek Series, as well as the Christmas On Ocracoke and the upcoming Why They Call it Falling. By day, she’s a psychology professor and lives in the Lowcountry of South Carolina with my husband, two grown children and Hemingway cat, Chessie.

More from Christina

In Sweet Summer, Tyler and Shelby play tourist in their hometown city (or at least, the city next to their small hometown of Summer Cree), Charleston, South Carolina. While Charleston has been labeled as one of the top tourist destinations in the world, the city and its surroundings hang on to some of the South’s special charm.

I am not a native Charlestonian, but am native to the South. I grew up in the mountains of Virginia where my family traces its roots back into the 1700s and a family farm. While there are many similarities between Fincastle, Virginia and Summer Creek, South Carolina (a mixture of real life towns Summerville and Goose Creek), there are also differences.

My husband and I moved here in pursuit of a job when my son turned one and he’s about to turn 28 so we have become very attached to the city. Since then, we’ve loved trying all the restaurants we can afford (or if our jobs are paying, can’t afford) in Charleston. The food is fantastic. The beaches are beautiful and the history is awe-inspiring.

One dish that we didn’t have in the mountains where I grew up is shrimp and grits. Makes sense, given that we only visited the beach one time during my childhood. There were creeks and lakes with their catfish and trout, but no shrimp.

You can buy shrimp at the farmer’s market and on the side of the road here in Charleston. I love the former and don’t trust the latter. Still, I pursue shrimp and grits around the LowCountry and up to Pawley’s Island. I don’t think I can share the real restaurant’s name here, but my favorites come from a restaurant on Pawley’s (just south of Myrtle Beach) and one on the Isle of Palms (next to Sullivan’s Island where Fort Moultrie is located next to Charleston). For legal reasons, I had to change the name in my book, but there’s only one little restaurant on a side road of the Isle of Palms with six different ways of preparing shrimp and grits.

My recipe comes from a completely different source…adapted from various recipes, including one of those Junior League cookbooks that raise money for charity. I love those books because of the homey, personal feel—and hope you enjoy the dish! *And the book!

Shrimp and Grits:


2 cups heavy cream

¼ lb. butter (1 stick)

2 cups water

1 cup grits

Salt and white pepper to taste

Heat cream and water to boil. Add butter, salt, and pepper. Slowly add grits and reduce heat. Cook 20 minutes, stirring every once in a while. OPTION: Add sharp cheddar cheese or crumbled bleu cheese and stir in to melt after the grits are cooked.

Note: If grits aren’t the right consistency after twenty minutes, continue to cook. I have tried this with varying amounts of liquid. The key is to be patient and stir to prevent lumps.


Take your choice: Blackened or Gumbo style.


2 lb. shrimp

Blackening seasoning


Canned or fresh shoepeg corn

Sliced onion

Saute shrimp and onion in butter. As you stir, sprinkle with desired amount of seasoning, depending on how much heat you prefer. Stir in corn at end to just heat. Spoon on top of grits.


OR Gumbo style:

Let’s be real. You can’t beat Zatarain’s gumbo mix.

2 lb. shrimp

Rope of Andouille sausage

Red bell pepper, diced

Onion, diced or sliced

Saute all ingredients to cook. Follow gumbo mix directions for sauce. Serve on top of grits.

By the way, no one said any of this was healthy! Live a little!

That’s part of the point of Sweet Summer. Even during life’s hardships, we need to find the little joys. God bless!

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 5

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, November 5

For Him and My Family, November 6

Texas Book-aholic, November 7

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, November 8

Inklings and notions, November 9

deb’s Book Review, November 10

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 11

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, November 12

Through the Fire blogs, November 12

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, November 13

Rebecca Tews, November 14

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, November 15

Remembrancy, November 16

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 17

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, November 18

Pause for Tales, November 18



To celebrate her tour, Christina is giving away a $50 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

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