The Thief of Lanwyn Manor (2020) — A Celebrate Lit Tour: Read an Excerpt + My Thoughts

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About the Book

Thief of Lanwyn ManorBook: The Thief of Lanwyn Manor

Series: Cornwall #2

Author: Sarah E. Ladd

Genre: Regency Romance

Release Date: January 7, 2020

In this sweet Regency romance, Julia knows Matthew Blake, copper mine owner and very eligible bachelor, is the gentleman she should set her eyes upon. But why can’t she steal her gaze away from his younger brother, Isaac?

Cornwall, England 1818—Julia Twethewey needs a diversion to mend her broken heart, so when her cousin invites her to Lanwyn Manor, Julia eagerly accepts. Lanwyn Manor is at the heart of Cornwall’s mining industry, and as a guest, Julia is swept into its intricate world. It’s not long, though, before she realizes something dark lurks in the home’s ancient halls.

As a respected mine owner’s younger son, Isaac Blake is determined to keep his late father’s legacy alive through the family business, despite his brother’s careless attitude. In order to save their livelihood—and the livelihood of those around them—the brothers approach the master of Lanwyn Manor with plans to bolster the floundering local industry. Isaac can’t deny his attraction to the man’s charming niece, but his brother has made his intentions to court the lovely guest clear. And Isaac knows his place.

When tragedy strikes, mysteries arise, and items go missing, Julia and Isaac find they are pulled together in a swirl of strange circumstances, but despite their own best efforts to bow to social expectations, their hearts aren’t so keen to surrender.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

About the Author

sarahladdSarah E. Ladd received the 2011 Genesis Award in historical romance for The Heiress of Winterwood. She is a graduate of Ball State University and has more than ten years of marketing experience. Sarah lives in Indiana with her amazing family and spunky golden retriever.

Website  ℘  Facebook  ℘  Twitter

Read an Excerpt

Click HERE to read an excerpt from The Thief of Lanwyn Manor.

My Thoughts

The Thief of Lanwyn Manor may be Sarah Ladd’s best novel yet. This story has it all — mystery, intrigue, suspense, and romance. This is the kind of story I hated to have to put down. The plot is super engaging. The characters are extremely well written. The writing is stellar; I felt like I was inside the story actively watching everything play out. The Thief of Lanwyn Manor is a story I won’t soon forget.

wp-1579229570635.jpgIsaac Blake is my favorite. He is a dreamboat of a hero — he’s manly and protective, he is handsome and compassionate, and he is honorable and intelligent. He always wants to make the right choice because he never wants to let anyone down or cause anyone unnecessary pain. Unfortunately for Isaac, his sense of never letting anyone down is so strong he sometimes becomes inactive and doesn’t make any decision at all. He gets so caught up in what could potentially go wrong that he becomes stagnant. A pastor I love to listen to — Alistair Begg — once said, “Tomorrow is the devil’s favorite word.” The idea here is that sometimes we put off today what we should do because we allow our fears to get the better of us. When this happens, we’re putting off God’s work. Isaac, because of his fear of failing others, has become very good at saying, “not today.” If God sets things up for us, it is our duty to overcome our fears and worries today so we can accomplish God’s will for us. Easier said than done, I know, but a great reminder for us today for sure. Does Isaac learn his lesson and overcome? Well, you’ll just have to purchase a copy of The Thief of Lanwyn Manor to find out!

The Thief of Lanwyn Manor is a highly engaging, well-written novel I highly recommend. Sarah Ladd is a fabulous storyteller, and I look forward to the third installment in this outstanding series.

I received a review copy of this novel in eBook form from the author via Celebrate Lit and NetGalley. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.


BLOG STOPS

Locks, Hooks and Books, January 13

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The Meanderings of a Bookworm, January 17

Robin’s Nest, January 18

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, January 18

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Remembrancy, January 19

Books, Life, and Christ, January 19

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My Devotional Thoughts, January 20

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Kat’s Corner Books, January 21

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Blossoms and Blessings, January 23

SPLASHES of Joy, January 23

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Back Porch Reads, January 24

Daysong Reflections, January 24

Tell Tale Book Reviews, January 25

Mamma Loves Books, January 25

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, January 25

Hookmeinabook, January 26

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, January 26

Simple Harvest Reads, January 26 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

The Wedding Dress Christmas (2019) — A Celebrate Lit Tour: A Guest Post from Rachel, My Thoughts, and a Giveaway

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About the Book

The Wedding Dress Christmas CoverBook:  The Wedding Dress Christmas

Series: The Wedding Collection #3.5

Author: Rachel Hauck

Genre: Romance, Christmas

Release Date: October 22, 2019

December covers quaint Heart’s Bend, Tennessee with a blanket of white and the glitter of Christmas lights.

For JoJo Castle there’s no place like home. It’s her safe place. Her one-time love of adventure ended when life in the big city shattered her hopes and dreams. Now that she’s returned to Hearts Bend, she never wants to leave again.

Buck Mathews, the biggest country singing sensation in decades, has the world on a string – his guitar strings, to be exact. However, when news of his mother’s illness sends him back to Hearts Bend for the holiday season, he remembers how good it can be to live among family and friends.

Working with her cousin Haley in The Wedding Shop, JoJo has no aspirations of love. Leaving home, surrendering her heart again, is just too risky.

When she runs into her friend and high school crush Buck Mathews, she discovers Love might have other plans for her.

Buck’s career is on the verge of an momentous leap. But seeing JoJo awakens feelings he’d buried long ago. Falling in love is easy, but winning her heart will take more than one of his melodic tunes and clever lyrics.

JoJo and Buck want opposite things for their lives, leaving no room for compromise. Can love, especially the kind that touches hearts at Christmastime, overcome her fears and his quest for greatness?

When a very special gown – the wedding dress – begins to make its presence known, JoJo and Buck’s hearts bend in a way neither ever thought possible.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

About the Author

rachel-hauck-HR-5Rachel Hauck is an award-winning, New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. Her book The Wedding Dress was named Inspirational Novel of the Year by Romantic Times Book Reviews. She is a double RITA finalist and a Christy and Carol Award Winner. Her book, Once Upon A Prince, first in The Royal Wedding Series, was filmed for an Original Hallmark movie. Rachel has also been awarded the prestigious Career Achievement Award for her body of original work by Romantic Times Book Reviews.

A member of the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers, she teaches workshops and leads worship at the annual conference. She is a past Mentor of The Year.

At home, she’s a wife, writer, worship leader and works out at the gym semi-enthusiastically. A graduate of Ohio State University (Go Bucks!) with a degree in Journalism, she’s a former sorority girl and a devoted Ohio State football fan. Her bucket list is to stand on the sidelines with Ryan Day. She lives in sunny central Florida with her husband and ornery cat.

More from Rachel

Hello Royal Rockstar Readers!

I’m thrilled to share The Wedding Dress Christmas with you. I’ve heard from so many how much The Wedding Dress has touched them, and as I noodled over new story ideas, my thoughts drifted toward the wedding dress and Christmas. What’s more romantic than a Christmas wedding?

This novella is set in Hearts Bend, Tennessee, the fictional town of The Wedding Chapel and The Wedding Shop. Even if you’ve never read one of the books in The Wedding Collection, you’ll enjoy this story, the mystery of the dress, and the women whose lives it changed.

I love weddings. They remind us of the purity and the hope of love, the power of commitment. Something powerful is released when two people pledge to spend their lives together, loving and serving one another in both good and bad times. Every wedding I attend reminds me of the vows I made to my husband and I sign up all over again.

Stories are a powerful reflection of life. Yes, fictional stories are often told with wild hyperbole, but that’s what makes them fun to read.

I also love wedding stories because they remind us of God’s love for us, and that one day there will be the grandest wedding of them all. Isn’t it wonderful that God planned a wedding before He created the earth?

In The Wedding Dress Christmas, JoJo and Buck have their issues, but love proves strong enough to conquer them all.

Thanks for going on this little tour with me and The Wedding Dress Christmas.

Yours,

Rachel

My Thoughts

I have not read any of the books in the Wedding Collection series, and I think that may be part of why I struggled with this story. Don’t get me wrong, The Wedding Dress Christmas has all the signature awesomeness fans of Hauck’s novels love and expect. The novella is well-written, the setting is pleasantly whimsical, and the characters have relatable facets. This novella also has gobs and gobs of Christmas magic perfect for our current holiday season. The mysterious, other-worldly man in purple is my favorite. He may have brought a tear or two to my eyes a couple of times. And, I absolutely adore the concept behind the wedding dress. What a fun and meaningful way to pass down history and a shared sense of female camaraderie!

But I did struggle with the pacing. Everything in this story moves at lightning speed. One second JoJo and Buck are discussing their maybe feelings for one another, and then they are making out. I actually got confused twice and had to re-read whole sections because I felt like I missed some sort of passion build-up. But, I didn’t miss anything. This novella just moves that fast. It actually makes me wonder if I missed some set-up for these two characters in previous novels.

Overall, I do recommend The Wedding Dress Christmas. It does get the reader into a romantic, Christmassy mood. Just be aware that the pacing for this story is super, duper fast. You blink and you’ve read the entire book. If you are in the mood to read a cute Christmas story in one sitting, then this is definitely the book for you!

I received a review copy of this novel in eBook form from the author via Celebrate Lit. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.


GIVEAWAY

The Wedding Dress Christmas Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Rachel is giving away a print copy of The Wedding Dress Christmas and a Visa gift card for $25.

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/f1fe/the-wedding-dress-christmas-celebration-tour-giveaway


BLOG STOPS

The Avid Reader, December 18

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Livin’ Lit, December 18

Robin’s Nest, December 18

Reading Is My SuperPower, December 19

By The Book, December 19

Wishful Endings, December 19

All-of-a-kind Mom, December 19

Among the Reads, December 20

Genesis 5020, December 20

Life as Lanhams, December 20

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, December 21

Daysong Reflections, December 21

Christian Chick’s Thoughts, December 21

Bigreadersite, December 21

Simple Harvest Reads, December 22 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Remembrancy, December 22

Britt Reads Fiction, December 22

She Lives to Read, December 23

Empowermoms, December 23

Inside the Wong Mind, December 23

Mia Reads Blog, December 23

Splashes of Joy, December 24

Christian Bookaholic, December 24

Hallie Reads, December 24

Jeanette’s Thoughts, December 25

Where Faith and Books Meet, December 25

Blogging With Carol, December 25

For Him and My Family, December 26

Hebrews 12 Endurance, December 26

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, December 26

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 26

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, December 27

My Devotional Thoughts, December 27

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 27

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Betti Mace, December 28

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A Reader’s Brain, December 30

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Back Porch Reads, December 31

CarpeDiem, December 31

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, December 31

Darling Hedgehog Goes Down a Foxhole (2019) — A Celebrate Lit Tour: A Guest Post, My Thoughts, and a Giveaway

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About the Book

Darling HedgehogBook: Darling Hedgehog Goes Down A Foxhole

Author: Auralee Arkinsly

Genre: Early reader chapter book

Release Date: September 13, 2019

Darling Hedgehog learns about the animal nature of things in high humor and carefree, cute, and winning episodes. This childhood story reads a bit like Aesop’s Fables or a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, for children 4-8 or preschool and kindergarten, as a read-to-me picture book, and first grade and second grade as a chapter book.

Pictures similar to the Mercy Watson series are characterized and painted in full-color, though the pages are set up like a chapter book.

This book helps to train children in natural wisdom, analysis, and discernment. It helps to balance the teachings of acceptance of everyone and friendliness to all. There may be good purposes for everyone to exist under heaven, yet all purposes may not be good for a child. So, beware, be discrete, and flee from crafty foxes especially when they are holding your parents in the pantry.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

About the Author

Auralee ArkinslyAuralee Arkinsly writes in good humor about serious subjects because kids of all ages can learn a lot from laughing. She is a strong believer in right and wrong but knows that getting onto the right path can mean falling down a slippery slope. She reckons if she can save some from the bumps and bruises, then she has done her job.

More from Auralee

I’m so excited to launch my children’s book, Darling Hedgehog Goes Down a Foxhole with the Celebrate Lit crew!  You are a river of hope for a new author.

So, here’s the story behind the story.

My friend and fellow author, Kathy Joy, left me a small hedgehog in a tutu as a going away gift on her guest bed after she had been visiting. I put it on the windowsill in my bedroom, and every morning, I would see it when I awoke.

I don’t know if you can relate to this experience, but I often wake up from a good night’s sleep with the gift of a problem being solved.  Sometimes, I wake up with a creative idea.  Well, one day, I awoke to find that I had the beginnings of a child’s story about where the hedgehog found her tutu.

Initially, it was a simple story about Darling Hedgehog finding a foxy friend who helps Darling find her calling.

I wrote out the story and then asked a talented neighborhood girl if she would like to draw the pictures for the tall tale. Having seen a lot of Julia’s sketches as she grew up, I thought that she might like to know what it felt like to earn money from her talents and at the same time, learn about the process of creating a book with an author to propose to a publishing company.

She agreed. Julia was in ninth grade. She was at the age where she was beginning to think about high school jobs and even to make plans for college and a career.

The same day we wrote out our contract, Julia sent me her first image of what she imagined Darling to look like. It clearly was not a mistake to hire this young artist!

When I awoke another morning, I believed God had given me another bit of advice. I needed to do better research on the nature of hedgehogs and foxes, their habitats and their characteristics. The outcome caused the story to take a turn towards intrigue.  It became a fable. It became an action-adventure animal story. It became better.

A librarian encouraged us to continue with it no longer as a picture book for very small children but as an early reader chapter book for second graders learning about similes.

I hope that we can teach children to notice facts and objective truth as they are being trained for life. So, I’ve accepted that my child’s fantasy had to grow some legs of gravity and wisdom.  I’ve trusted my editors and beta readers that this is true, but I’m not above being told off.

My Thoughts

This review is going to be a little different than my normal posts. Today, you are getting a two-for-one — one mini-review from my point of view and one from my 7-year old, Bella!

Mom’s Review: I love two things about this children’s chapter book. First, I adore the illustrations. They’re colorful, they’re bright, they add a nice touch of humor, and they help tell a good story. The second thing I appreciate, as a mom, is the lesson this book teaches children. “Not every stranger can be a friend” is a solid, unfortunate truth that ALL kids need to understand in this day and age.

But, I have two issues with this story. My first issue is that I do not appreciate the set-up for this story. I found it creepy. Darling, the protagonist, falls into a stranger’s house. That stranger gives Darling gifts, and without hesitation, Darling accepts. Then, Darling tries in several ways to come up with a gift for the stranger so that she and the stranger can be friends. I found this interplay very dangerous and very disturbing. Since my child had the capacity for cognitive understanding I have hammered into her that she is NOT allowed to take “gifts” from strangers unless mommy or daddy say it’s OK. As a mommy, I was disturbed from the beginning because this character acts the exact opposite as I’ve taught my child. Yes, things are later figured out, but I struggle with Darling’s blind acceptance of gifts from a creepy stranger.

My second issue occurs when Darling’s father later tells her that she was always safe from the fox because her hedgehog spines would keep her safe. I didn’t understand the value of this because while hedgehogs do have sharp spines to protect them, small children do not. Children are only as safe from predators as parents and trusted adults make them. I don’t understand how a child could relate to Darling’s character. Was this explanation supposed to be metaphorical? Is the author just attempting to teach the reader about the nature of hedgehogs? This response from Darling’s dad took me out of the story, and I found it odd. Sort of like a false sense of security.

Overall, I think Darling Hedgehog Goes Down a Foxhole is a story a parent must read with her children so some explaining and clarifying can be done. It definitely is a good “talking point” book to use as a teaching tool with one’s kids.

Bella’s Review: I like the hedgehog because she is cute. I do not think the fox is cute because she tries to eat Darling’s parents and friends. I think kids should read this book because it teaches a lesson to stay far, far away from strangers and to not take stuff from them. This book has safety rules to stay away from strangers. I like this book. I think this is a great book to read to kids. I hope you like this book too.

I received a review copy of this novel in paperback and eBook form from the author via Celebrate Lit. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.


darling hedgehog giveawayGIVEAWAY

To celebrate her tour, Auralee is giving away the grand prize of a set of Darling Hedgehog greeting cards!!

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/f33e/darling-hedgehog-goes-down-a-foxhole-celebration-tour-giveaway


BLOG STOPS

A Baker’s Perspective, December 11

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Girls in White Dresses, December 11

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For the Love of Literature, December 13

Just the Write Escape, December 14

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Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 15

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Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, December 16

Jeanette’s Thoughts, December 16

Blossoms and Blessings, December 17

Southern Gal Loves to Read, December 17

A Reader’s Brain, December 17

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Lights in a Dark World, December 18

Remembrancy, December 19

Inklings and notions, December 19

Lighthouse Academy, December 19 (Guest Review from Marilyn Ridgway)

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

Live.Love.Read., December 20

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

Sara Jane Jacobs, December 21

The Christian Fiction Girl, December 22

Where Crisis & Christ Collide, December 22

Maureen’s Musings, December 23

With a Joyful Noise, December 23

Texas Book-aholic, December 24

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 24

The Dating Charade (2019) — A Celebrate Lit Tour: An Excerpt + My Thoughts

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About the Book

The Dating Charade coverBook:  The Dating Charade

Author: Melissa Ferguson

Genre: Contemporary Romantic Fiction, Romantic  Comedy

Release Date: December 3, 2019

Cassie Everson is an expert at escaping bad first dates. And, after years of meeting, greeting, and running from the men who try to woo her, Cassie is almost ready to retire her hopes for a husband—and children—altogether.

But fate has other plans, and Cassie’s online dating profile catches the eye of firefighter Jett Bentley. In Jett’s memory, Cassie Everson is the unreachable girl-of-legend from their high school days. Nervously, he messages her, setting off a chain of events that forces a reluctant Cassie back into the dating game.

No one is more surprised than Cassie when her first date with Jett is a knockout. But when they both go home and find three children dropped in their laps—each—they independently decide to do the right and mature thing: hide the kids from each other while sorting it all out. What could go wrong?

Melissa Ferguson’s hilarious and warmhearted debut reminds us that love can come in very small packages—and that sometimes our best-laid plans aren’t nearly as rewarding and fun as the surprises that come our way.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

About the Author

Melissa FergusonMelissa Ferguson lives in Bristol, Tennessee, where she is an adjunct professor at King University and pens books that make her laugh and grow. She used to have hobbies like running and backpacking the Appalachian Trail outside her door. Now she and her husband are outnumbered, and her hobbies include diaper changes, chasing toddlers in parking lots, and admiring the Appalachian Trail out her minivan window while singing “Winnie the Pooh.” She survives by Jesus, rom coms, and roughly two espresso shots a day. The Dating Charade is her first novel.

Read an Excerpt

You can read an excerpt from Melissa Ferguson’s The Dating Charade here.

My Thoughts

I’m blown away that The Dating Charade is a debut novel because it reads like one penned by an expert, well-published author. I thoroughly loved every minute spent reading this book. The plot is highly engaging. One minute I was laughing hysterically, the next I was bawling like a blubbering baby. The characters are superb. I 1000% related to Cassie — to her ideals, to her naivety, to her well-meaning intentions, and to her insecurities and total fails. Jett is a swoony heartthrob who made me laugh so hard. I was rooting for him from the first moment he appears in the story. And, the themes in this novel are so thoughtful and timely. The Dating Charade is a true #MustRead story that I cannot recommend enough!

PhotoCollage_20191215_092520894.jpgAs I mentioned above, I really related to Cassie’s character. Cassie works with teen girls and has wanted to be a mother for as long as she can remember. Because Cassie loves kids, and because she is so naturally good with her girls from Girls Haven, she foolishly believes she is natural parent material. To Cassie’s way of thinking because she loves kids and is good with them parenting for her will be easy. I had to chuckle several times. Not at Cassie, but because once upon a time I was Cassie. Eight years ago I was pregnant with my one and only child. I knew with every fiber of my being that I was prime parent material. You see, in my family, I was called the baby whisperer. I adored children and had the canny ability to calm any child down. As a high school teacher who was really good at her job, I also knew how to speak teen. And, like Cassie, I had wanted to be a mom since I was a toddler. Naturally, all of this meant I was destined to be an excellent mom. Then I had my daughter and realized that I knew NOTHING and that I stunk real bad at the mom thing. It did not come naturally to me at all. It became very clear to me very quickly after my child was born that parenting is no joke and should never be entered into willy nilly. Like me, Cassie learns this lesson in spades and it was hilarious and heartbreaking to watch her receive her education.

The Dating Charade is a superb debut jam-packed with so much goodness I could not put this book down. I could go on and on in this review about the wonderfulness of this book, but I don’t want to spoil a thing. Suffice to say, The Dating Charade is a novel you need to get ASAP. Purchase your copy today. You will not be disappointed that you did!

I received a review copy of this novel in eBook form from the publisher, Thomas Nelson, via Celebrate Lit and NetGalley. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.


Blog Stops

A Baker’s Perspective, December 16

Genesis 5020, December 16

Kat’s Corner Books, December 17

Robin’s Nest, December 17

EmpowerMoms, December 17

Reflections From My Bookshelves, December 18

All-of-a-kind Mom, December 18

For Him and my Family, December 18

Carla Loves to Read, December 19

CarpeDiem, December 19

Cultivating Us, December 19

Quiet Quilter, December 20

Through the Fire Blogs, December 20

Christian Chick’s Thoughts, December 21

The Christian Fiction Girl, December 21

SusanLovesBooks, December 21

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 22

Texas Book-aholic, December 22

A Reader’s Brain, December 23

janicesbookreviews, December 23

Just Your Average reviews, December 23

Emily Yager, December 24

Vicky Sluiter, December 24

Hallie Reads, December 25

Remembrancy, December 25

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 26

Just the Write Escape, December 26

Simple Harvest Reads, December 26 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 27

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, December 27

Pause for Tales , December 27

As He Leads is Joy, December 28

A Rup Life, December 28

Batya’s Bits, December 29

With a Joyful Noise, December 29

Inklings and notions, December 29

Lake Season (2019) — A Celebrate Lit Tour: An Excerpt + My Thoughts

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About the Book

Lake SeasonBook: Lake Season

Series: Bluebell Inn Romance #1

Author: Denise Hunter

Genre:  Contemporary Romance

Release Date: November 12, 2019

A lost letter, a new love, and old secrets beckon this summer at the Bluebell Inn.

When their parents die in a tragic accident, Molly Bennett and her siblings pull together to fulfill their parents’ dream: turning their historic Bluebell, North Carolina home back into an inn. The situation would just be temporary—three years at the most—then they would sell the inn and Molly could get back to chasing her own dreams.

Adam Bradford (aka bestselling author Nathanial Grey) is a reclusive novelist with a bad case of writer’s block. Desperate for inspiration as his deadline approaches, he travels to the setting of his next book, a North Carolina lake town. There he immediately meets his muse, a young innkeeper who fancies herself in love with his alter ego.

Molly and Adam strike up an instant friendship. When Molly finds a long-lost letter in the walls of her inn she embarks on a mission with Adam to find the star-crossed lovers and bring them the closure they deserve. But Adam has secrets of his own. Past and present collide as truths are revealed, and Molly and Adam will have to decide if love is worth trusting.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

About the Author

Hunter DeniseDenise Hunter is the internationally published bestselling author of more than 25 books, including A December Bride and The Convenient Groom, which have been adapted into original Hallmark Channel movies. She has won The Holt Medallion Award, The Reader’s Choice Award, The Carol Award, The Foreword Book of the Year Award, and is a RITA finalist. When Denise isn’t orchestrating love lives on the written page, she enjoys traveling with her family, drinking green tea, and playing drums. Denise makes her home in Indiana where she and her husband are rapidly approaching an empty nest.

To learn more about Denise, visit her at:

Website  ♥   Facebook  ♥   Twitter  ♥   Instagram

Read a Premium Excerpt

You can read a premium excerpt from Denise Hunter’s Lake Season HERE.

My Thoughts

Disclaimer: This novel was an exceptionally cathartic read for me. My review today is highly personal, but my point is not to be highly personal. My point is to express how deeply I agree with one of Ms. Hunter’s themes discussed in this novel. The best way to get this point across is to tell you my deeply personal story. If you are not in the mood to read my story I am 100% not offended. Let me just say, before you leave my blog, Lake Season is an absolute gem of a novel. I highly recommend it!!!

Ten months ago, I lost my stepdad, Mike. He was killed in a car accident. When one loses a loved one so violently and unexpectedly a pain unlike anything ever experienced is born. Immediately, the first thing that sprung to my mind was the last words I ever spoke to my stepdad. The last day I saw Mike was two weeks before he died. My mom and I made plans to have dinner at a local Mexican restaurant we liked to frequent. My daughter and I met my mom at the agreed-upon time, and much to my surprise Mike was with her. I was so happy to see him! You see, Mike was a fire captain. With all the fires happening in Southern California we didn’t get to see him as much so for him to be at this impromptu dinner was a big deal. We had an amazing time! We told funny stories, we laughed a lot, and we ate great food. It was awesome. When we were saying goodbye, my stepdad gave me a big hug and kiss, and I told him that I loved him. He told me, “I love you too, kid!” We got in our cars, and he smiled at me and gave me a wink. He and my mom went their way, and Bella and I went ours. That was the last time I would ever see or speak to my stepdad.

In Lake Season, the heroine, Molly, has also recently lost her parents to a car accident. Unfortunately, Molly’s last encounter with her parents wasn’t like mine. Molly blew her parents off never thinking she wouldn’t get to see or speak to them ever again this side of Heaven. Her final phone call with her parents leaves Molly with such guilt it becomes a heavy burden she carries daily, and she becomes a bit obsessed with making sure she never leaves a conversation unfinished. Of the characters in Lake Season, I heavily relate to Molly and her pain. Losing someone dear to you unexpectedly is like a repeated blow to your heart. It’s crushing, and painful isn’t a good enough word to describe what you are experiencing. The only thing that separates me from Molly (aside from the fact that I’m not fictional) is the magical, fantastic final dinner God orchestrated for me — I know with every fiber of my being that that last meal was truly God’s doing. I would have felt Molly’s guilt too if it weren’t for this one meal. God gave me a gift, and I will be forever grateful.

Lake Season is an excellent novel for so many reasons — the highly engaging plotline, the superb characters (especially Adam!!!), and the resonating themes. But Lake Season is one of my most favorite stories this year because it reinforces how important it is to tell our loved ones how much they mean to us in the here and now. Dear reader, do not leave your love under a bushel for you may not get a tomorrow. With everything that’s happened since my stepdad’s death, I cannot stress enough how important it is to tell your loved ones how you feel. Not a single one of us is promised a tomorrow. Read this novel because it is a great read, but read it also because it is a great reminder to not take those we love and care about for granted.

I received a review copy of this novel in eBook form from the publisher, Thomas Nelson, via Celebrate Lit. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.


BLOG STOPS

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, November 12

My Devotional Thoughts, November 12

The Power of Words, November 12

A Baker’s Perspective , November 12

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, November 13

Mia Reads, November 13

Back Porch Reads, November 13

Carla Loves To Read, November 14

All-of-a-kind Mom, November 14

Among the Reads, November 14

Genesis 5020, November 14

Wishful Endings, November 15

Reflections From My Bookshelves, November 15

CarpeDiem, November 15

Older & Smarter?, November 16

Cultivating Us, November 16

Inside the Wong Mind, November 16

Blossoms and Blessings , November 16

Sara Jane Jacobs, November 17

Christian Chick’s Thoughts, November 17

Avid Reader Nurse, November 17

Through the Fire Blogs, November 18

For Him and My Family, November 18

Jeanette’s Thoughts, November 18

Splashes of Joy, November 18

Robin’s Nest, November 19

Mary Hake, November 19

Baker Kella, November 19

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

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 20

SusanLovesBooks, November 20

Lights in a Dark World, November 20

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, November 21

Vicky Sluiter, November 21

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 21

Quiet Quilter, November 22

Andrea Christenson, November 22

Pause for Tales, November 22

Just Your Average Reviews, November 22

Hallie Reads, November 23

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, November 23

To Everything There Is A Season, November 23

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 23

Texas Book-aholic, November 24

janicesbookreviews, November 24

A Reader’s Brain, November 24

Inklings and notions, November 24

Batya’s Bits, November 25

Livin’ Lit, November 25

The Christian Fiction Girl, November 25

Remembrancy, November 25

Smoke Screen (2019) — A Celebrate Lit Tour: An Excerpt + My Thoughts

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About the Book

Smoke ScreenBook: Smoke Screen

Author: Terri Blackstock

Genre:  Christian Suspense

Release Date: November 5, 2019

One father was murdered, and another convicted of his death. All because their children fell in love.

Nate Beckett has spent his life fighting wildfires instead of the lies and rumors that drove him from his Colorado home town. His mother begs him to come to Carlisle now that his father has been released from prison, but it isn’t until he’s sidelined by an injury that he’s forced to return and face his past. But that means facing Brenna too.

Fourteen years ago, Nate was in love with the preacher’s daughter. When Pastor Strickland discovered Brenna had defied him to sneak out with Nate, the fight between Strickland and Nate’s drunken dad was loud—and very public. Strickland was found murdered later that night, and everyone accused Roy Beckett. When the church burned down, people assumed it was Nate getting even for his father’s conviction. He let the rumors fly and left Carlisle without looking back.

Now, Brenna is stunned to learn that the man convicted of murdering her father has been pardoned. The events of that night set her life on a bad course, and she’s dealing with a brutal custody battle with her ex and his new wife where he’s using lies and his family’s money to sway the judge. She’s barely hanging on, and she’s turned to alcohol to cope. Shame and fear consume her.

As they deal with the present—including new information about that fateful night and a wildfire that’s threatening their town—their past keeps igniting. Nate is the steady force Brenna has so desperately needed. But she’ll have to learn to trust him again first.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

About the Author

Terri BlackstockTerri Blackstock has sold over seven million books worldwide and is a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author. She is the award-winning author of InterventionVicious Cycle, and Downfall, as well as such series as Cape Refuge, Newpointe 911, the SunCoast Chronicles, and the Restoration Series.

Website  ℘   Facebook   ℘   Twitter

Excerpt from Smoke Screen

I woke up in a blinding bright room, my clothes off and something clamped to my face. I tried to reach it, but I couldn’t bend my right arm, and my hand stung. An IV was taped to my other hand, but I moved carefully and touched the thing over my face.

An oxygen mask. I tried to sit up. “What happened?”

T-bird came to my bedside, a sheen of smoky sweat still soiling his face. “Nate, lie back, man.”

“The fire,” I said. “Need to get back. My men.”

“They’re still there. Making progress. But you’re not going anywhere near a fire for a month or so.”

I took the mask off and coughed a little, but managed to catch my breath. “A month?”

“Yep. Second degree burns on 20 percent of your body. Some of the burns are deep.”

It came back to me, the event that had gotten me here.

“The family. Were they injured?”

“Not a scratch or burn. Turns out it was a U.S. Senator from Kansas. He says you’re a hero.”

“You know I had no choice. They were in the path—”

“Take the praise where you can get it, man. We don’t get that much.”

I looked at my right side. My right arm was bandaged, and so was my side and down my right leg to the point where my boots had stopped the flames. Second degree wasn’t so bad, I told myself. Third degree would have been brutal. I’d be able to leave the hospital soon. I’d heal.

“I won’t need a month,” I said.

“Yes, you will. They can’t let you go back. Doctor’s orders. You’re grounded until he releases you.”

I managed to sit up, but it was a bad idea. The burns pulling on my skin reminded me why I shouldn’t. “I can’t be grounded during fire season. Are you crazy? I need to be there. You don’t have enough men as it is.”

“Sorry, Nate. It is what it is. Why don’t you go home to Carlisle for a while? Take it easy.”

Go home? Pop had just been pardoned, and he and my mom were trying to navigate the reunion. Though she would love to have me home, I didn’t know if I was up to it. My father could be challenging, and fourteen years of prison hadn’t done him any favors.

Taken from “Smoke Screen” by Terri Blackstock. Copyright © 2019 by Terri Blackstock. Used by permission of http://www.thomasnelson.com/.

My Thoughts

I’ve never read a novel by Terri Blackstock before. If I’m honest, it’s because I’m a baby. Her covers scare me. I am a super sensitive woman. If I read or watch anything scary before bed, I will have nightmares. Since I work full-time during the day, most of my reading gets done at night, which means a lot of suspense novels never make it to my TBR pile. But, my husband adores Blackstock’s novels and encouraged me to read this one, and the premise did sound really excellent, so I took a risk. Boy, am I glad that I did! Smoke Screen is a very well-written story: the plot is highly engaging, the characters have depth and are very relatable, and the conflicts are so frustrating I flew through the pages to get to the end because I had to know everything would turn out OK for Nate and Brenna. All in all, Smoke Screen is a seriously good read I highly recommend.

I found so much to love about this novel, but my favorite aspect is the illustration of corporate prayer. I am a BIG believer in prayer. I believe with my whole heart that God hears and answers prayers. And, I know that praying with others makes prayers super powerful. As stated in Mark 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered in My Name, there am I among them.” I’ve read hundreds and hundreds of Christian fiction books over the years, so I’ve seen characters pray. I’ve seen characters gather together at church to pray during Sunday sermons and masses. But I’ve not read a Christian novel where Christian characters go on red alert, immediately gather together, and corporately pray because a member of the congregation needs help ASAP. This moment in Smoke Screen is AMAZING — prayer warriors going to battle with God in order to help a member of their team. And God moves mountains for the character because of this corporate prayer. It’s one of the most awe-inspiring moments I’ve read in a book.

My review, I fear, doesn’t do Smoke Screen justice. I found this story to be sweet and romantic, frustrating and encouraging, and action-packed. If you are looking for a well-written novel filled with suspense, romance, and timely themes, then Smoke Screen is the story for you!

I received a review copy of this novel in eBook form from the publisher, Thomas Nelson, via Celebrate Lit. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.


Blog Stops

As He Leads is Joy, November 9

Sara Jane Jacobs, November 9

CarpeDiem, November 9

Christian Bookaholic , November 9

Fiction Aficionado, November 10

KarenSueHadley, November 10

Quiet quilter, November 10

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 10

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, November 11

Among the Reads, November 11

Genesis 5020, November 11

A Reader’s Brain, November 11

Robin’s Nest, November 12

All-of-a-kind Mom, November 12

Bigreadersite , November 12

Blogging With Carol , November 12

Betti Mace, November 13

Spoken from the Heart, November 13

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, November 13

Emily Yager, November 13

By The Book, November 14

For Him and My Family, November 14

A Baker’s Perspective, November 14

Splashes of Joy , November 14

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, November 15

Through the Fire Blogs, November 15

Andrea Christenson, November 15

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, November 16

The Christian Fiction Girl, November 16

Just the Write Escape, November 16

Mary Hake, November 16

Remembrancy, November 17

Simple Harvest Reads, November 17 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

EmpowerMoms, November 17

Bloggin’ ’bout Books, November 17

Blessed & Bookish, November 18

Older & Smarter, November 18

For the Love of Literature, November 18

Inklings and notions, November 18

Lights in a Dark World, November 19

amandainpa , November 19

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 19

Pause for Tales, November 19

Tell Tale Book Reviews, November 20

For The Love of Books , November 20

Hallie Reads, November 20

Cathe Swanson, November 21

Christian Bookshelf Reviews, November 21

All 4 and About Books, November 21

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 21

Batya’s Bits, November 22

Livin’ Lit, November 22

Texas Book-aholic, November 22

janicesbookreviews, November 22

The Bright Unknown (2019) — A Celebrate Lit Tour: A Guest Post & My Thoughts + A Rafflecopter Giveaway

The Bright Unknown FB Banner

About the Book

cover Bright UnkownBook: The Bright Unknown

Author: Elizabeth Byler Younts

Genre:  Historical Romance

Release Date: October 22, 2019

Two young friends embark upon an epic journey across 1940s middle America in search of answers, a family, and a place to call home.

The only kind of life Brighton Turner understands is the one she has endured within the dreary walls of a rural Pennsylvania asylum. A nurse has thoughtfully educated and raised Brighton, but she has also kept vital information from her in order to keep her close. Brighton befriends a boy whom she calls Angel—he doesn’t know his name—and as the two of them learn more about what lies beyond the walls they call home, they fight for their release and eventually escape.

However, the world outside the only place they’ve ever known is not what they expect. They have no real names, no money, and no help—and they must rely upon the kindness of strangers as they walk and hitchhike from Pennsylvania to Michigan to find their last hope of a home.

This heartbreaking journey, narrated in gorgeous prose, explores what it means to belong—and to scour the universe with fresh eyes for the brightness within.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

About the Author

Elizabeth Younts

Elizabeth Byler Younts gained a worldwide audience through her first book, Seasons: A Real Story of an Amish Girl. She is also the author of the critically acclaimed novel The Solace of Water and the Promise of Sunrise series. Elizabeth lives in Central Pennsylvania with her husband, her two daughters, and a small menagerie of well-loved pets.

More from Elizabeth

The Bright Unknown was born out of a seed of a true story that my husband’s grandmother, Gigi, shared with me. Gigi told me that when she was a young girl living in Oklahoma her mom had a friend who was a nurse. During one of her visits over coffee, she would occasionally talk about her patients at the local asylum. One particular story really intrigued Gigi and even decades later she still remembered it. The story was about a patient who had a baby while at the hospital and while Gigi remembers nothing about the patient or the child, she knew that when she moved out of Oklahoma several years later that asylum-born girl was around eighteen and still living within the walls of that hospital along with her patient-mother.

That story stuck with me. This trapped girl and her mother wouldn’t let me go. I began to wonder over her and ask all sorts of unanswered questions. Slowly but surely my imagined story for her came to life. Layer after layer I learned about Brighton, my name for her. I also named two characters after Gigi, her first and middle, as an honor to her. This story was born from a memory but now these characters feel real and present in my life today and I hope you will journey with them in The Bright Unknown.

My Thoughts

I was born on April 25, 1981, at 4:16 p.m. in a traditional hospital setting. The name on my birth certificate reads Nicole Patricia Durso. I was always told that I was named after my father — Nicholas Patrick Durso — because I was firstborn and every firstborn on my dad’s side of the family is named Nicholas Patrick. I accepted this story but thought it sounded kind of fishy. I appreciated the connection to my father and grandfather and great grandfather, but I’ve always believed this tradition should have been kept through the male line. When I got a little bit older, I had to do a family tree project for school and discovered that this name thing was grossly incorrect. Most all of the men on my dad’s side of the family are NOT named Nicholas or Nicholas Patrick.

So, I confronted my mother: “What gives, mom? Why was I named Nicole Patricia?” She confessed that I was actually supposed to be named Elise Marie. My dad was really struggling with impending fatherhood while my mom was pregnant with me, and she was worried. So much so that when the recording nurse took down my vitals after I was born my mom loudly informed her that I was to be named Nicole Patricia. Why did my mom pull this switcheroo? Because she believed sharing a name with my father would make him less scared to be a dad, and it would bond us better. My mom was afraid my dad wouldn’t love me if I was called Elise Marie.

In The Bright Unknown names are important. Names are our identities. They become a vessel upon which our personalities are shaped. In a very real way, names are who we are. I am Nicole Patricia. I am not Elise Marie. That’s someone else or no one at all. Names are so important that if they’re stripped from us we become lost. Brighton and Angel, the heroine and hero of The Bright Unknown, go through many “Who am I?” moments, and at certain points become unnamed and lost. It’s actually quite painful to watch these two characters go through these periods.

This topic really weighed heavy on me for a couple of days, so much so I had to turn to my Bible. What does God say about names, about knowing us, and about our identities? In Jeremiah 1:5, God tells us that He knew us BEFORE He formed us in our mother’s wombs, and in Isaiah 49:16, God tells us that He has engraved His kids on the palms of His hands. Can you imagine that?! On God’s hands — His beautiful, perfect hands — are our names, and my name is Nicole Patricia. And, if Brighton and Angel were real, their names would be on God’s hands too. The point is no matter what humans do here on earth to make us invisible, worthless, or unimportant God knew us, knows us now, and forever sees our names on His palms. Can I get an AMEN?!

The Bright Unknown by Elizabeth Byler Younts is a masterpiece. This novel is beyond excellent. It is poignant, heartbreaking, refreshing, and so filled with hope. I thoroughly loved every second spent with Brighton and Angel and will miss them now that I have turned the final page. It goes without saying that I highly (times infinity) recommend this must-read story.

I received a review copy of this novel in paperback form from the author via Celebrate Lit. I also purchased an eBook copy and an audio copy of this novel to review.  In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.


Rafflecopter Giveaway (hosted by The Christian Fiction Girl)

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I am giving away ONE (1) paperback copy of The Bright Unknown by Elizabeth Byler Younts. This giveaway is NOT part of the Celebrate Lit Tour. My giveaway begins today, 11-3-19 at 5:00 am (PST) and ends on Thursday, 11-7-19 at 12:00 pm (PST). To enter, click on the Rafflecopter link below. Good luck!

Congrats to Shannon W.!

You have won this giveaway. Thank you for participating. I appreciate your support!

***Please Note: Open to Continental U.S. mailing addresses only.*** One winner will be notified via email at the end of the giveaway and will be announced here on this page. For full giveaway disclosures and policies, click HERE.


BLOG STOPS

The Power of Words, November 2

A Reader’s Brain, November 2

Living Life Free in Christ, November 2

The Christian Fiction Girl, November 3

Inspired by fiction, November 3

Fiction Aficionado, November 4

Genesis 5020, November 4

janicesbookreviews, November 5

Blogging With Carol , November 5

All-of-a-kind Mom, November 5

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 6

To Everything A Season, November 6

The Becca Files, November 7

Bigreadersite, November 7

A Baker’s Perspective, November 8

Connect in Fiction, November 8

Moments, November 9

Bloggin’ ’bout Books, November 9

Simple Harvest Reads, November 10

Betti Mace, November 10

Pause for Tales, November 11

Inklings and notions, November 11

Mary Hake, November 11

Texas Book-aholic, November 12

Hallie Reads, November 12

For the Love of Literature, November 12

Through the Fire Blogs, November 13

For Him and My Family, November 13

Remembrancy, November 14

mpbooks, November 14

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 15

Godly Book Reviews, November 15