Thursday, September 21, 2017

Review (+ Tour GIVEAWAY): All of You



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About the Book

Book title: All of You   
Author: Sarah Monzon  
Release date: May 15, 2017  
Genre: Dual-timeline/Contemporary Romance  

Maryland, Present Day

Jacquelyn Rogers can rebuild anything…except the shambles of her past. A restorer of vintage planes, she’s worked hard to earn the reputation of being one of the guys. The last thing she needs is a former Navy pilot fighting his own inner demons stepping in to defend her from dangers she thought she’d outrun long ago. Some battles must be fought alone. 

After a freak accident severs Lieutenant Michael “Finch” Carrington’s dreams, as well as two limbs, he’s left with nothing but a fragile faith and a duty-bound promise to watch out for his friend’s baby sister. A promise she insists is as unnecessary as it is unappreciated. But when she turns the tables and begins to weld together the broken parts of his life, it may be his heart that is in need of protection. 

England, 1944 

With the world at war yet again, Alice Galloway rejects her father’s traditional expectations and offers her piloting expertise to the Air Transport Auxiliary. She may be a woman in a man’s world, but when she overhears key intelligence, she must find the strength to transcend boundaries and her own fears. Or countless people may die. 

Sometimes the past reaches forward to bring hope to the future.


My Thoughts

Sarah Monzon writes my type of book – poignant and spiritually uplifting, with rich characterization. Two great leading men also! I enjoyed All of You so very much and, although it stands alone, I want to read previous books by this author very soon.

I’m particularly fond of dual timelines when they’re well crafted, as is the case here, and I was equally invested in both stories, although I connected most with Jackie and Michael. Monzon is a talented writer, easily conveying vivid images and emotions that pulled me into the story.

I loved that Jackie and Michael aren’t your typical lead characters. Jackie, who restores vintage planes, has a low self-image. “Guys didn’t look past the wrench and blowtorch she wielded daily, the unflattering mechanic coveralls that made up her wardrobe, or the layers of grease that covered nearly every inch of her skin.” I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a double amputee cast as the hero – but let me tell you, he lacks for nothing! But it’s a different story emotionally, as you would expect. “It was ironic that he, a sailor, was drowning in the sea of an unknown future.” Great relationship and chemistry between these two.

The connection of Alice and Henry’s storyline isn’t obvious at first, but I knew it had to be and enjoyed trying to figure it out. One of my favorite parts was being able to feel the excitement of D-Day, a day when “the fight may just be beginning, but it is the start that will bring forth the end.”

Most stories where a character faces an unimaginable difficulty or heartbreak results in a loss of faith, or at least doubt or a questioning of God. Michael struggled both physically and emotionally as everything that he identified with and worked for was wiped away, but his core faith was never shaken. I think that really hits at where we live, challenging and encouraging us at the same time as we deal with our trials. While never overpowering, faith plays an important part in this book, leaving me with much to reflect upon.

I thoroughly enjoyed All of You and look forward to much more from Sarah Monzon.

Highly recommended.

I was provided a free e-copy of this book through Celebrate Lit. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.


About the Author

Sarah Monzon is a Navy chaplain’s wife and a stay at home mom to the two cutest littles in the world. Playing pretend all day with them isn’t enough, she spends the evenings after their heads hit the pillow to create her own imaginary characters. When she isn’t in the world of make believe, she can be found in the pine forests of western Washington taking care of her family, fostering friendships, and enjoying all the adventures each day brings. 

Her debut novel, The Isaac Project, skyrocketed to Amazon bestseller status while her Sophomore book, Finders Keepers, won the 2017 Selah award for contemporary romance.



Guest Post from Sarah Monzon

I’m so excited to be here today and getting this opportunity to hang out with y’all in this virtual world. If you are anything like me, you devour books faster than my son drinks orange juice (and he really loves orange juice!). Because of that, it is sometimes hard to come across a book with a unique premise or a message that you haven’t seen incorporated a thousand times before. As a writer, I always try to bring something fresh to the table. 

In the first book of the Carrington Family Series, Finders Keepers, neither of my characters were Christians. What? No Christians in a Christian fiction novel? Most Christian fiction books usually have at least one or both main characters a Christians. Don’t worry, they both found their way to Jesus. With All of You, however, I wanted to take yet an even different approach. 

I’ve ready lots of books where the main character is angry or upset with God for such-and-such thing that happened in his/her life (I’ve even written a character like that), but I hadn’t really read a story about a character that, no matter what life threw at him/her, he/she was going to trust in God no matter what. As a life-long Christian, this is a message I can identify with. The “If not, He is still good” resonation that is sometimes harder to hold on to in the midst of pain and struggles. 

So, as with all my books, I hope the freshness of the story and the realness of my characters will inspire and uplift you as you travel along with them on their journey. God Bless.


Giveaway


To celebrate her tour, Sarah is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!! Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!





Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Review + Double GIVEAWAY: Cat Got Your Secrets




Cat Got Your Secrets
By Julie Chase
Kitty Couture Mystery #3
Crooked Lane Books, 2017


Summary

Lacy Marie Crocker has settled into a comfortable groove back home in New Orleans, and with Valentine’s Day right around the corner, she’s busier than ever running a thriving pet boutique, helping her mother organize the upcoming National Pet Pageant, and untangling her complicated love life. But when delivering a king-sized order of dreidel-shaped doggy biscuits for a Saint Berdoodle’s bark-mitzvah, Lacy stumbles into yet another murder scene—and the last person to see the victim alive was her own father.

It’s up to Lacy to clear her dad’s name from the suspect list before Detective Jack Oliver has to cage him for good. But just when she starts pawing at the truth, she receives a threatening letter from a mysterious blackmailer bent on silencing her with her own secrets. And Lacy’s not the only one with bones in her closet.


My thoughts

I simply adore Julie Chase’s Kitty Couture series, and Cat Got Your Secrets just might be my favorite yet. Either the series keeps getting better, or I’ve come to enjoy characters who are familiar by now. But whatever the reason, this witty, well-written story that’s filled with southern charm provided a great reading experience.


Art by Diane Millsap
New Orleans’s Garden District, known for its stately historic homes and wealthy residents, is a fascinating backdrop for the action that centers around Lacy and her Furry Godmother pet boutique and bakery. I love my pets, but when it comes to the couture designs that Lacy creates for her high-end customers, I just have to roll my eyes. Fun to read about, though!

Lacy might not be the smartest fictional detective I've met, but she cares about her family and leads from the heart as she tries to clear her father’s name. Detective Jack Oliver is a favorite of mine … financially secure through inherited family wealth, but loves police work. The romantic tension and witty dialogue between them is wonderful. Lacy actually has two love interests, but let me just say that if Jack doesn’t win fair lady, I’ll be terribly disappointed.


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A socialite without a grapevine was like a cat
without an attitude. Nonexistent.
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Strong, appealing secondary characters add richness to the story, such as Lacy’s best friend and also their family employee who used to be her nanny. Lacy’s mother cares about her, but she’s a controlling figure who worries about appearances, and I’m on the fence as to how I feel about her. And then there’s Penelope, the cat. I can just see her riding the automatic vacuum cleaner around the shop!

The murder plot is well crafted. Rarely am I able to solve the murder’s identity; I just enjoy going along for the entertaining ride. The dry wit and some laugh-out-loud scenes are a strength of the story. This is also a clean read with no profanity or anything graphic. Thank you for that, Julie Chase!

Another creative touch that I loved are the quotes at the beginning of each chapter, helpful “tips” from Furry Godmother with a hint of what’s to come. Here’s two of my favorites …


If you want something done right, do it yourself.
Just don’t get caught.

Everyone deserves the royal treatment, even the jesters.

I loved Cat Got Your Secrets and hope the series continues for a good while.

Highly recommended.

I was provided a free copy of this book through Great Escapes Tours. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.


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Julie Chase is a mystery-loving pet enthusiast who hopes to make readers smile. She lives in rural Ohio with her husband and three spunky children.

Julie is a member of the International Thriller Writers, Romance Writers of America, and Sisters in Crime. She is represented by Jill Marsal of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. Julie also writes as Julie Anne Lindsey. Learn more about Julie Anne Lindsey here.

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GIVEAWAY #1

Julie is graciously offering print copies of two cozy mysteries from the Patience Price series, written as Julie Anne Lindsey:  Murder by the Seaside and Murder in Real Time.



To enter, please click on this link and share my Facebook post, then let me know by leaving a comment here. E-mail address required.



GIVEAWAY #2




Friday, September 15, 2017

Spotlight (+ Tour GIVEAWAY): Still Waters




Still Waters
By Lindsey P. Brackett
Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, 2017

Genre: Adult, Christian, Contemporary, Fiction


Summary

When her beloved grandmother requests one last summer at Still Waters, the family cottage on Edisto Beach, Cora Anne returns to a place that haunts her with loss and tempts her with forgiveness.

Peace means reconciling her family and her Edisto memories. But acceptance may mean loving the man determined to preserve a past she'd rather forget.



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Award-winning writer Lindsey P. Brackett once taught middle grades literature, but now she writes her own works in the midst of motherhood. A blogger since 2010, she has published articles and short stories in a variety of print and online publications including Thriving Family, Country Extra, HomeLife, Northeast Georgia Living, Splickety Prime, Splickety Love, and Southern Writers Magazine Best Short Fiction 2015. Lindsey serves as Editor of Web Content for the Splickety Publishing Group, and she writes a popular column for several North Georgia newspapers.

As a mother of four chaotic kids, her home is always full of wet towels, lost library books, and strong coffee. Her love of family ties and southern places prompted her debut novel, Still Waters, inspired by her own love of Edisto summers and peach ice cream. Connect with her at http://www.lindseypbrackett.com.




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10 Behind the Scenes Facts about Still Waters

  • My grandparents actually met on a back road in Colleton County in the 1940’s. She was lost and he was bundling pine straw to sell. So that story inside the story is true.
  • McConkey’s Jungle Shack—and they’re not kidding about the shack part—really does have the best fish tacos on the coast.
  • Late in the book I reference a story about soldiers mistaking a loggerhead turtle for an enemy when the beach was being used as a lookout during WWII. This really happened and you can read about it in Nell Graydon’s Tales of Edisto, which I used for both reference and inspiration.
  • We drive a blue minivan and it’s kind of well-known because the paint job was bad (thanks Honda) and we’ve never spend the money to fix it. So my best friend begged me to put the blue van in the story. It’s there, when Cora Anne and Nan stop at King’s Market, complete with a passel of kids. (I have four of those.)
  • King’s Market has the best key lime pie. For real.
  • My cousin Heather and I were born 18 hours apart, and our moms are sisters. Yes, she inspired Hannah. We spent (and still do sometimes) many weeks on Edisto with her family growing up. Our favorite thing was to hunt for sharks teeth and snail shells so we could make necklaces with our grandmother.
  • The book is set in 2006 because I wanted a time period before social media’s invasion and before BiLo bought out the Piggly Wiggly. Edistonians are not coming around. They still call their only grocery store The Pig.
  • The Edisto Island Open Land Trust is a gem I stumbled upon while researching what made the most sense for Tennessee’s philanthropic spirit. The EIOLT was the perfect fit since it’s all about preservation of the Island’s natural beauty, while empowering home owners to still be able to afford family property that’s been passed down for generations. The executive director, John, drank coffee with me one morning at the Edisto Coffee Shop and told me so much valuable information.
  • Botany Bay (and that’s the Botany sentinel tree on my cover) was nearly destroyed by Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Edisto took the brunt of the storm’s hit and the eye passed over the island. The entire first row of houses were left standing in water since the beach was pushed inland. But the community there is strong and resilient. They’ve been rebuilding and regrouping. The beaches will never look the same, but as my mama says, “That’s nature. And life. Storms come and you have to deal with the aftermath.” Or, as Tennessee puts it in the story, “Sometimes a storm’s what clears out the junk…”
  • Edisto Beach still has a video store, probably the last one left in the country. It’s also one of two places in the town to get ice cream—unless you’re sitting on your own porch enjoying the ocean breeze and listening for the churn to slow down.


GIVEAWAY

Please click on this link and share my Facebook post, then leave a comment here. If you enjoy southern fiction, do you have a favorite book or author?



Three winners will be drawn on Sept 26 …

Winner #1: Print copy of Still Waters + swag (US only)
Winner #2: E-copy of Still Waters
Winner #3: $10 gift card to Amazon or B&N


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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Review (+ Tour GIVEAWAY): A Christmas Peril




A Christmas Peril
By J. A. Hennrikus
A Theater Cop Mystery #1
Midnight Ink, 2017


Summary

When Edwina “Sully” Sullivan’s life imploded, she left behind her job on the police force and her unfaithful husband to start a new life as the general manager of her hometown theater, the Cliffside Theater Company. For five years, she focused on budgets instead of crimes and kept the Cliffside running alongside its mercurial artistic director.

But when her best friend is arrested for killing his father, the rich and powerful Peter Whitehall, no one is looking for another suspect. So, in between keeping A Christmas Carol on budget and Scrooge sober, Sully dusts off her investigative skills to find a killer. Her two lives collide when her ex-husband gets on the suspect list and she’s forced to confront her past in order to save her present.


My thoughts

A Christmas Peril begins an entertaining new series by J. A. Hennrikus. With a former police officer as the lead character, it has a different feel from most cozies that I’ve read. The story is set during the Christmas season and combines elements of both cozy mystery and police procedural.

After leaving the police force, Edwina “Sully” Sullivan became the manager of a local theater company, giving readers a glimpse of behind-the-scene action. Being called on to prove her best friend’s innocence in the murder of his father brings her investigative skills to the forefront. Sully is a strong character, intelligent, and a good friend.

My daughter and I have a tradition of attending the play A Christmas Carol in December, which makes all that goes on with the Cliffside Theater Company’s performance even more interesting. The mystery is well crafted with lots of suspects, but no one being obvious.

While the mystery is neatly tied up at the end, things in Sully’s life aren’t, which sets the stage for future stories in the series. Romance is a subtle theme, with hints of a love triangle to come.

I loved following Sully’s investigation of Peter Whitehall and his family. I do want to point out that there’s a good bit of profanity, which made an otherwise entertaining story not as appealing to me.

I was provided a free copy of this book through Great Escapes Tours. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

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J. A. Hennrikus is the author of the Theater Cop Mystery series. As Julianne Holmes, she writes the Agatha-nominated Clock Shop Mystery series for Berkley Prime Crime.

Hennrikus blogs with the Wicked Cozy Authors, is on the board of Sisters in Crime, and is a member of Mystery Writers of America. She is also an arts administrator who lives in Massachusetts. Visit her online at www.JHAuthors.com.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Spotlight (+ Tour GIVEAWAY): Wheresoever They May Be



Click here to purchase your copy.

About the Book

Book title: Wheresoever They May Be  
Author: Terri Wangard  
Release date: August 31, 2017
Genre: Historical – World War II

Lily Swanson longs to be a mother. Soon Frank should be home for good and they can furnish a nursery. Maybe even find a bigger house. 

Joe Gallagher grew up in a small house with plenty of siblings. He loves the solitude of flying, but the war has dragged on for so long. He’s ready to go home. 

Susan Talbot has a bad attitude. She’s estranged from her family and she doesn’t attract friends. But war can bring out the best in people and Susan’s surprised to realize she’s happy. 

They all do their part in striving for victory in World War II. Sometimes, though, the danger can be hard to identify.


About the Author

Terri Wangard grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin, during the Lombardi Glory Years. Her first Girl Scout badge was the Writer. 

These days she is writing historical fiction, and won the 2013 Writers on the Storm contest and 2013 First Impressions, as well as being a 2012 Genesis finalist. 

Holder of a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in library science, she lives in Wisconsin. 

Her research included going for a ride in a WWII B-17 Flying Fortress bomber. Classic Boating Magazine, a family business since 1984, keeps her busy as an associate editor.


Guest Post from Terri Wangard

After eight years of thinking, breathing, researching B-17s, I was ready to disembark and concentrate on something else. But what? I had a vague idea of three friends who joined the WAC, the WAVES, and the WASPs, but nothing crystalized. Except for the WAC. 

I didn’t want to completely turn away from flying, and I prefer topics that aren’t commonly known. How about a grasshopper pilot? My second character was on board. 

I had toyed with the idea of a family generational series. A World War II story paired with a World War I story. But no, too unwieldy. 

The WAC could have a sister, though, who stayed on the home front and did factory work. Oh, dear. I couldn’t completely stay away from B-17s. She’s building them. 

She also needs a husband. He’ll be in the Navy, and not on an aircraft carrier. A destroyer! (This was in the works before Sarah Sundin signed a contract for her just-concluded series about destroyer men. I checked with her: She was writing about the Atlantic war; my guy’s in the Pacific. No problem.) I studied the list of Pacific destroyers and, oooh, the Spence. All kinds of possibilities there. 

So there I had it: a sailor, his Rosie-the-Riveter wife, her WAC sister, and a grasshopper pilot. They’re all doing their part to help win the war, but sometimes the enemy isn’t obvious.


Giveaway


To celebrate the tour, Celebrate Lit Publishing is giving away:

--Grand Prize of $25 Amazon Gift Card 
--1st Place prize of the Wheresoever They May Be – eBook
--2nd Place prize of the Wheresoever They May Be – eBook

Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! 



Sunday, September 10, 2017

Review (+ Tour GIVEAWAY): Highland Peril




Highland Peril
By Amy Reade
A Malice Novel #2
Lyrical Underground, 2017


Summary

Trading the urban pace of Edinburgh for a tiny village overlooking a breathtaking blue loch was a great move for budding photographer Sylvie Carmichael and her artist husband, Seamus—until a dangerous crime obscures the view . . .

Sylvie’s bucolic life along the heather-covered moors of the Highlands is a world away from the hectic energy of the city. But then a London buyer is killed after purchasing a long-lost Scottish masterpiece from Seamus’s gallery—and the painting vanishes.

As suspicion clouds their new life, and their relationship, Sylvie’s search for answers plunges her into an unsolved mystery dating back to Cromwellian Scotland through World War I and beyond. And as she moves closer to the truth, Sylvie is targeted by a murderer who’s after a treasure within a treasure that could rewrite history . . . and her own future.


My thoughts

I was intrigued by the description of Highland Peril, expecting to discover a cute cozy mystery set in the Scottish Highlands, but this seemed to be more of a traditional mystery or suspense novel. There were some elements that I enjoyed, but this wasn’t a great read for me overall.

I liked the backstory that we’re introduced to in the Prologue, which sets the stage for all that follows. It was interesting to learn of Scotland’s history during the Cromwell years, especially details involving the crown jewels, and the part that man’s greed played. It was so fitting that no one involved in the theft of the jewels led a happy life.

Sylvie and Seamus make a good team with their photography and artist skills, and the marital problems caused by his lack of communication added interest. I enjoyed being pulled into the setting of their studio in the Highlands and even searched for some pictures of the area to gain a deeper appreciation.

The main drawbacks were that the writing didn’t have a professional feel to it and there wasn’t enough character depth for me to know and care about the characters. However, I do think that Highland Peril is a story that fans of Scottish history and suspense might find interesting.

I was provided a free copy of this book through Great Escapes Tours. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

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Amy M. Reade is a cook, chauffeur, household CEO, doctor, laundress, maid, psychiatrist, warden, seer, teacher, and pet whisperer. In other words, a wife, mother, and recovering attorney. But she also writes (how could she not write with that last name?) and is the author of The Malice Series (The House on Candlewick Lane, Highland Peril, and Murder in Thistlecross) and three standalone books, Secrets of Hallstead House, The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor, and House of the Hanging Jade.

She lives in southern New Jersey, but loves to travel. Her favorite places to visit are Scotland and Hawaii and when she can’t travel she loves to read books set in far-flung locations.

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