Posted in Celebrate Lit Tour, Giveaways, Inspirational, Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Secrets in the Mist (2021) — A Celebrate Lit Tour: A Guest Post, My Thoughts, and a Giveaway

About the Book

Book:  Secrets in the Mist

Author: Morgan L. Busse

Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy

Release date: August 10, 2021

What’s lurking in the Mist is the least of their worries…

In a world where humanity lives in the sky to escape a deadly mist below, Cass’s only goal is survival. That is, until she finds a job on the airship Daedalus as a diver. Now she explores ruined cities, looking for treasure and people’s lost heirlooms until a young man hires her to find the impossible: a way to eradicate the Mist.

Theodore Winchester is a member of one of the Five Families that rule the skies. Following in his father’s footsteps, he searches for the source of the Mist and hopes to stop the purges used to control overpopulation. But what he finds are horrifying secrets and lethal ambition. If he continues his quest, it could mean his own death.

The Mist is rising and soon the world will be enveloped in its deadly embrace, turning what’s left of humanity into the undead.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

About the Author

Morgan L. Busse is a writer by day and a mother by night. She is the author of the Follower of the Word series and the award-winning steampunk series, The Soul Chronicles. Her debut novel, Daughter of Light, was a Christy and Carol Award finalist. During her spare time she enjoys playing games, taking long walks, and dreaming about her next novel.

More from Morgan

I’m afraid to fly. At first, I tried to ignore it. Then the panic attacks came. And the one time I accidentally grabbed my neighbor’s arm during turbulence, which was really embarrassing. But it was when I was waiting for my flight at the airport and felt like I was going to burst into tears right there at the gate that I knew I needed help.

I didn’t want to stop flying. I love traveling! But the fear of plummeting to the ground scared me, so I talked to my doctor and was given medicine to help me calm down. The problem is it made me really groggy. But hey, at least I could fly again.

Then I started writing Secrets in the Mist. Half of this book is about flying and one third is hang gliding. You know, flying with just a kite on your back. To write realistically about hang gliding, I started studying the sport. I read all the articles I could find, watched a lot of YouTube videos, and in the end spent over 10 hours immersing myself in the sky.

As I first imagined, then wrote each scene in Secrets in the Mist, something started to happen. I started to lose my fear of flying. It wasn’t the first time I tried to read the science behind flight to help me lose my fear of flying, but this time, I was doing it in my head. I was feeling the air and wind, tilting my glider, catching the air drafts, and not just understanding how to fly in my mind, but also with my heart.

I realized a plane couldn’t fall out of the sky just like my character couldn’t fall out of the sky. That an experienced flyer understood what to do in storms and sudden gusts of wind. And should the plane actually lose its engines, the pilot would help it glide to the ground the same way my gliders eased their way to a landing.

Not only that, by creating the exhilarating feelings my character felt when she was gliding began to seep into my psyche. I felt her joy and freedom, her lack of fear, and even more, how she felt more connected to God when it was just her, the wind, and the sky. I saw the beauty of flying through my character’s eyes.

I can fly now. Without medication. I actually enjoy the takeoffs and the feeling of the plane gliding through the air. Will I try hang gliding someday? Probably not, I still hate heights. But I never dreamed that writing about flying would help me overcome my fear of it. This is the power of imagination, and the power of story.

My Thoughts

Secrets in the Mist by Morgan L. Busse is OUTSTANDING! It’s been a really long time since I’ve read a Sci-Fi/Fantasy. When I was young, my grandmother got me hooked on the Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey. While Secrets in the Mist is nothing like the Dragonriders of Pern, reading it did fill me with the same giddy, excited feel I felt when I was a little girl. Secrets in the Mist is captivating. I was hooked from the very beginning and could not put this book down. I love the unique world created in this story. How people have to live on the tops of mountains and on floating cities in order to survive away from the Mist. And, the zombie-like Turned — just fascinating! Speaking of the Turned, what a great way to create constant suspense and a good bit of terror. These guys are super creepy and they had me sitting on the edge of my seat the whole time. In addition to all of this, I totally love Cass and Theo. What excellent protagonists! Both unique, relatable, and endearing. I like the chemistry that starts to build between Cass and Theo. It’s clear they are going to be great friends, and maybe even more.

There are a lot of excellent topics discussed in this book. Secrets in the Mist is another novel I highlighted like crazy. The topic that resonated with me the most is the many discussions on fear. I really appreciate how Busse acknowledges that fear is a natural emotion. There are very genuine reasons to be afraid. In a great moment of introspection, Theo contemplates his words of bravado spoken to Cass during an extremely scary moment. During that scary moment, Theo encourages Cass through her fear to help her stay strong. His words hit their mark and Cass buoys her strength and gets through the moment. As Theo contemplates what he had told Cass, he realizes that some fears are perfectly normal: “It was natural to be afraid of that which could hunt and kill you.” Truer words have never been spoken. Later in the story, Cass’s fears begin to get the best of her. She has to buck up and gain control over her fears because she is part of a team. If she loses herself to her fears she could get a teammate hurt. I appreciate the distinction made in this story between natural fear and letting your fears get the better of you. There are things we should be afraid of — God built us with a natural flight or fight instinct to protect us from that which would hurt or kill us. But, there are a lot of times where humans let fear take over their brains and actions. This kind of fear is not the natural kind, and it’s not good or healthy to let this kind of fear get the better of us. When we do, we can end up hurting ourselves or others. This kind of fear needs to be squashed the second we realize we’re feeling it — for our sake and the sake of others.

Secrets of the Mist is a superb story. I am sad my time with these characters is over … for now. I really, really recommend this excellent novel. This is a unique story you will not want to miss!

I received a review copy of this novel in eBook form from the author, Morgan L. Busse, via Celebrate Lit. I also purchased a copy of this novel in eBook form from Amazon.com on August 28, 2021, in order to review. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.


Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Morgan is giving away the grand prize package of a Steampunk themed basket that includes a signed book, coffee by Barnie’s, a soy candle (so it should be safe for everyone), and a $20 B&N gift card!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway!

Click the link below to enter.

PromoSimple Link


Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, August 31

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 31

Texas Book-aholic, September 1

Wishful Endings, September 2

Inklings and notions, September 2

Remembrancy, September 3

For Him and My Family, September 3

deb’s Book Review, September 4

Blogging With Carol, September 4

The Christian Fiction Girl, September 5

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 5

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, September 6

Mia Reads, September 6

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, September 7

Rebecca Tews, September 7

Aryn The Libraryan 📚, September 8

Where Faith and Books Meet, September 8

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 9

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, September 9

Tell Tale Book Reviews, September 10

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, September 10

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, September 11

Mary Hake, September 11

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 12

Simple Harvest Reads, September 12 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Through the fire blogs, September 13

Daysong Reflections, September 13

Posted in Celebrate Lit Tour, Christian Fiction, Christian Romance, Giveaways, Historical Christian Fiction, Inspirational

The Ice Swan (2021) — A Celebrate Lit Tour: A Guest Post, My Thoughts, and a Giveaway

About the Book

Book:  The Ice Swan

Author: J’nell Ciesielski

Genre: Historical Romance

Release date: July 6, 2021

Amid the violent last days of the glittering Russian court, a Russian princess on the run finds her heart where she least expects it.

1917, Petrograd. Fleeing the murderous flames of the Russian Revolution, princess Svetlana Dalsky hopes to find safety in Paris with her mother and sister. But the city is buckling under the weight of the Great War, and the Bolsheviks will not rest until they have erased every Russian aristocrat from memory.

Born the second son of a duke, the only title Wynn MacCallan cares for is that of surgeon. Putting his talents with a scalpel to good use in the hospitals in Paris, Wynn pushes the boundaries of medical science to give his patients the best care possible. While treating Svetlana for a minor injury, he is pulled into a world of decaying imperial glitter and underground Russian clubs where drink, culture, and questionable dealings collide on bubbles of vodka.

Out of money and options, Svetlana is forced into a marriage of convenience with Wynn, who will protect her and pay off her debts. It’s the right thing for a good man to do, but Wynn can’t help hoping the marriage will turn into one of true affection. As the Bolsheviks chase them to different corners of the earth, Wynn and Svetlana begin to see they will never be able to outrun the love they have for one another.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

About the Author

With a passion for heart-stopping adventure and sweeping love stories, J’nell Ciesielski weaves fresh takes into romances of times gone by. When not creating dashing heroes and daring heroines, she can be found dreaming of Scotland, indulging in chocolate of any kind, or watching old black and white movies. Winner of the Romance Through the Ages Award and the Maggie Award, she is a Florida native who now lives in Virginia with her husband, daughter, and lazy beagle. Learn more at www.jnellciesielski.com.

More from J’nell

When we think of the Great War we often only think about events happening right on the battlefield of France, Belgium, and Germany. It was a time of great upheaval for so many people and countries, none more so than Russia. It was during the Great War that the Bolsheviks rose up against the monarchy, assassinated the tsar and his family, and plunged Russia into civil war. The country was in such chaos that they pulled out of the war to deal with their own revolution. The Russian Revolution was the result of centuries of oppression and imperialism that finally boiled over. As the Bolsheviks seized power, nobles and anyone associated or favorable to the monarchy were stripped of their privileges and homes, many killed, and still thousands of others fled in fear of their lives where they became the great wave of White emigres.

The stories of the ill-fated Anastasia and the evil Rasputin are legendary, but it wasn’t until recently when I watched a Russian miniseries called Road to Calvary that I became fascinated with the nobles and their struggle and from all that an idea sparked that would become my upcoming release, The Ice Swan. It’s about a Russian princess fleeing the Revolution to Paris in 1917 where she meets a handsome surgeon who is breaking new grounds in cardiology. We see the plight of the White emigres who have taken refuge in Paris and founded their own little Russia in the heart of the city, the exhausted City of Light after four years of war, the overflowing hospitals, and highly controversial advancements in surgery. Plus, a romance to prove that true love can overcome any difference and who doesn’t need a little more love these days?

My Thoughts

The Ice Swan by J’nell Ciesielski is an intense story — one that keeps the reader turning pages well into the night. This is an overwhelming story in that SO much happens (this is not a bad thing). A reader going into this 400-page story will need to have their wits about them or they might miss key details. In this story, Ciesielski does an impeccable job of capturing the horrors of war and the evils of Communism. As Svetlana and her mother and sister are forced to flee their beloved Russia in the middle of the night or else die at the tortuous, evil hands of the Bolsheviks, the reader is right there with them. I could feel the fear and tension coursing through Svetlana and her family members. I was terrified imaging all that they had to escape. And, just because they made it to France in one piece didn’t mean they could let their guard down. Nope, it was a constant looking over their shoulders because Bolsheviks came to France purposely searching for Russians who had escaped their wrath. There was never a minute to breathe! In fact, I was so tense reading this story I had to remind myself to breathe from time to time. The historical detail in this novel is AMAZING — I was transported to 1917-1919 Russia, France, and Scotland and I thoroughly loved every terrifying minute.

Because this novel is so intense and in-depth, no review will ever be able to do it justice. The Ice Swan is a book that simply needs to be read. But, there is one idea discussed in this book that I really love. I’m not going to lie, Svetlana kind of drove me crazy. She is a BIG snob. I actually was offended for Wynn throughout a large portion of this novel … OK, like through most of the story. I get Svetlana’s need to put up a wall of protection around her heart. I get that she is a princess and grew up a very particular way. And, I get that war is scary and trusting others can be tricky. But when someone risks his own neck and saves your life and the lives of your family members time and time again, you do what you got to do to show respect and gratitude. It’s not that Svetlana doesn’t say, “Thank you.” She does. It’s that her actions don’t really say, “Thank you.” Some of her words to Wynn are downright mean and she is continually cutting him out of her life. The hardest quality though is her inability to show grace. Everyone has to be perfect and make the right choice, or Svetlana sees you as the villain. Who can live like that? Wynn does something in the story, he thinks out of love, but Svetlana blows it WAY out of proportion and almost destroys their relationship. I kept thinking to myself, “Man, Svetlana, you have got to learn grace or you are going to be one lonely gal.” But this leads to the message I LOVE. There is a lovely older Russian emigre who sets Svetlana to rights: “One time he let down, you cut him out … You have mistake. He have mistake. All us make mistake. Holding on to mistake is pride. Pride enemy to love.” It takes a moment for these wise words to sink in, but once they do, Svetlana sees the error of her ways. What a wise reminder. We are all human and we all make mistakes. As Paul writes in Romans 3:10, “none of us are righteous, no not one.” Because of this we must lend grace and forgiveness to others, not demand perfection. Life will be really disappointing if all we ever do is expect other humans to be perfect in all their interactions with us.

As I stated above, no review can do The Ice Swan justice. The story is just too big to be bound by one blog post. This is a novel I highly recommend devoting some serious quality time to. It’s a historical fiction tour de force you will not want to miss!

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


Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, J’nell is giving away the grand prize of a paperback copy of The Ice Swan.

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway!

Click the link below to enter.

PromoSimple Link


Blog Stops

Rebecca Tews, July 19

Where Faith and Books Meet, July 19

Books and Everyday Life, July 19

Texas Book-aholic, July 19

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 20

Reflections From My Bookshelves, July 20

All-of-a-kind Mom, July 20

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, July 21

She Lives To Read, July 21

The Write Escape, July 21

Lakesdielivingsite, July 22

Remembrancy, July 22

Inklings and notions, July 22

For Him and My Family, July 23

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, July 23

The Christian Fiction Girl, July 23

deb’s Book Review, July 24

Rachael’s Inkwell, July 24

To Everything There Is A Season, July 24

Life, love, writing, July 24

Locks, Hooks and Books, July 25

Life of Literature, July 25

Inside the Wong Mind, July 25

Betti Mace, July 26

Bliss, Books & Jewels, July 26

Older & Smarter?, July 26

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, July 27

Connect in Fiction, July 27

Mary Hake, July 27

Connie’s History Classroom, July 28

Back porch reads, July 28

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, July 28

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, July 29

Blossoms and Blessings, July 29

Genesis 5020, July 29

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, July 30

Splashes of Joy, July 30

Simple Harvest Reads, July 30 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Through the fire blogs, July 31

Pause for Tales, July 31

Just Your Average reviews, July 31

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, August 1

Labor Not in Vain, August 1

The Adventures of a Travelers Wife, August 1

Posted in Celebrate Lit Tour, Christian Fiction, Christian Romance, Giveaways, Historical Christian Fiction, Inspirational

A Lady in Attendance (2021) — A Celebrate Lit Tour: A Guest Post, My Thoughts, and a Giveaway

About the Book

Book:  A Lady in Attendance

Author: Rachel Fordham

Genre: Christian Historical

Release date: June 1, 2021

Rachel Fordham’s historical novels have received high praise for their warm and engaging story lines filled with romance, adventure, and happy endings. In A Lady in Attendance, Fordham beautifully blends these same great features in a novel about overcoming obstacles in the past to make room for a better future.

Ada, Mi.

Will the Past Destroy Her Future?

After spending the last five years in a New York state reformatory, Hazel is desperate to begin life anew, but she knows that a tarnished name could ruin her chances. She accepts a job as Doctor Gilbert Watts’ lady in attendance but does so under an alias so she can hide her shameful past.

Dr. Watts has come to enjoy the pleasant chatter of his new dental assistant, but he senses her sadness and wonders if there is more to her story than she’s shared with him. As their friendship deepens, Hazel must grapple with her desire to trust him.

Can Dr. Watts and Hazel’s friends help expunge her record? And can Hazel possibly find hope and love along the way?

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

About the Author

Rachel Fordham is the author of The Hope of Azure Springs, Yours Truly, Thomas, and A Life Once Dreamed. Fans expect stories with heart, and she delivers, diving deep into the human experience and tugging at reader emotions. She loves connecting with people, traveling to new places, and daydreaming about future projects that will have sigh-worthy endings and memorable characters. She is a busy mom, raising both biological and foster children (a cause she feels passionate about). She lives with her husband and children on an island in the state of Washington.

More from Rachel

Ten behind the scenes extras from A Lady in Attendance:

  1. This book takes place in Amherst and Buffalo New York, places I lived for four years. Buffalo has had some rough years but if you ever visit the area you will see gorgeous old buildings, beautiful parks and cemeteries and understand why it was once a booming and prosperous city (and why I love it still). Gilbert and Hazel both grew up in the area (though, they did not know each other until the story begins). Two of my children were born in Buffalo and though they aren’t being raised there, I tell them stories.
  2. Hazel spent five years in a New York State reformatory. Reformatories were basically the first juvenile delinquent facilities (the ages of who could be sentenced there was different from today). Reformatories were a new idea. There were still a lot of people who believed in “bad blood” and that a criminal could never be anything but a criminal. There were some heroes who fought hard to convince the public, that people could change. Because of this book’s storyline, I could not go too deeply into this subject, but it is fascinating!
  3. Gilbert Watts is this book’s leading man. I gave up on being able to use the name Gilbert on one of my own kids and instead gave it to a character. I adore the name Gilbert and everything about this character, hope you do too!
  4. There is a joke at the end of the book about a graveyard (don’t worry, it’s not scary) and it’s a nod to my mom who used to use this joke on us every time we passed a cemetery. I really love sneaking in things into my stories that will make my kids, family, and friends smile when they read it. I often think of my books as love letters from me to others and the best kind of love letters are personal.
  5. My husband is a dentist and as a result, we tend to notice dentist in media. They are often portrayed as villains or comic relief. I decided it would be my goal to write a romantic dentist that would change the image in readers minds.
  6. Gilbert tells Hazel that being a dentist is really being an artist. When my husband was first trying to decide on a career path, he shadowed a dentist. He didn’t really think it would be for him, but he was open to exploring options. He came home and told me that the cool thing about dentistry was that you were essentially making art that was functional, every day. Little sculptures that helped people eat and smile better. Gilbert from the book is very different from my husband, but it was fun sneaking in little pieces of him in there.
  7. One of my favorite scenes from this book take place at a corn husking. There is a tradition that says, if a red ear of corn is found, the finder gets a kiss. Sigh, I love that scene!
  8. Without always meaning to, my books end up having messages woven into them. I believe one of the messages in A Lady in Attendance is forgiveness. In this case, it’s forgiving of one’s self. I believe this message is one that we all need at some point in our lives (or many points!).
  9. My books are coming out in a different order than they were written in. I actually wrote this book before Yours Truly, Thomas and after A Life Once Dreamed. This story has been waiting a long time to be in print! During that time, it has been reshaped in little ways. It gained a prologue and lost an epilogue, it was tamed down in places and intensified in others, but the heart of it has always been the same!
  10. One last piece of A Lady in Attendance trivia—several of my books have had their titles changed. It’s part of the writing process. The books get a working title and later a title that the rest of the world knows it by. The Hope of Azure Springs was originally just Azure SpringsYours Truly, Thomas was originally Dear, Azure SpringsA Life Once Dreamed was originally The Belle of PenanceA Lady in Attendance began as A Lady in Attendance and stayed A Lady in Attendance. Not only is this title fitting because dental assistants were known by this or as an attending lady, but also because Hazel wrestles with her worth. In a society that believes a mistake made once can leave a mark forever, it takes the right eyes and open heart to realize that there truly is a lady in attendance.

My Thoughts

A Lady in Attendance by Rachel Fordham is a really excellent read. I love Fordham’s writing style. Every time I’ve read one of her novels I’ve been immediately captivated. A Lady in Attendance is no exception. This book caught my attention from page one and didn’t let go until the very last page. Actually, when I got to the last page I was confused momentarily. “What?! It’s over?!” is what I asked myself internally. This is a story I could have easily sat for another hundred pages or so.

So, what did I love so much about this book? Here is my list of likes:

  • Characters — Hazel and Gil and Ina are the BEST. Each character is unique, yet all are super relatable and endearing. Gil is an excellent hero because he is not your typical Romance hero. In fact, most people wouldn’t even notice Gil. He’s quiet and introverted. He doesn’t say much. But then he meets Hazel and his life is changed. He grows into a fantastic Romance hero who very much saves the day. I love how Hazel is the catalyst to bringing Gil’s true nature out into the open. And, because Gil is allowed to come out of his shell, so to speak, he then becomes the catalyst for Hazel to grow into the confident woman he knows she can be. I very much love how Gil and Hazel become a strong team and help each other become better people. And then there is Ina. Ina becomes Hazel’s best friend and I love everything about her. My favorite aspect of her character is how good of a friend she is to Hazel. When Hazel needs support, Ina is there. When Hazel needs truth, Ina is there. When Hazel needs a shoulder to cry on, Ina is there. Ina is the kind of friend we would all be lucky to have. And, I love that Fordham gives Ina a happily ever after in this story, too!
  • Team work — This story is a great illustration of decent, like-minded, compassionate people coming together to help one another out. There are countless moments in this story where the main cast of characters come together as a team to help. This may seem like an insignificant or boring thing to notice in a novel, but I found it super refreshing to read about people standing by each and supporting each other no matter the consequences. It was so nice to “see” people working together to build something up rather than take things apart. I’m so spiritually and emotionally exhausted by the utter insanity and chaos that’s in my real world that reading A Lady in Attendance was balm to my very soul.
  • Themes — this lovely story brings up such great talking points on topics such as forgiveness, redemption, Society and how it judges based on looks rather than heart, second chances, the ability to control how we act in situations, relying on God to see us through tough times, real romance vs. fictionalized romance, and true friendship. I believe this novel would make an exceptional book-club read. Of the many things discussed in this book, my favorite topic is in regards to our self-worth and how others see us. All too often, the world see us as nothing — as sinners, losers, mistake-makers, etc. — and it is very unforgiving. Today, it’s insane how poorly Society treats humans: did you make a mistake and post something dumb on SM ten years ago when you were 15? Did someone resurface that old social media post to show the world how dumb you used to be? Are you sorry you posted that? It doesn’t matter, you made a mistake one time and the world doesn’t forgive. Now, you are banned from Society cause Twitter or Instagram or Facebook says so. What’s really rough is that most people care deeply about what Society thinks about them. When they feel the harshness of Society’s inability to forgive and forget, they begin to internalize all the meanness hurled at them and believe they truly are worthless. In our day, Social Media rules with a heavy fist, but in Hazel’s day it was her uppity, wealthy, super-judgmental social class that deemed her unfit and worthless. It’s not until she is trapped in a reformatory, and later when she makes really good relationships with regular working-class people, that Hazel comes to realize what really matters and who she really is. The best lesson this story teaches is that we need to choose the right voices to listen to.

There is so much more good to say about A Lady in Attendance as it’s a really superior story. But, I don’t want this review to go on and on and on. Instead, I’d rather you just go buy a copy of this excellent story and experience for yourself what a great read this Historical Romance truly is.

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


Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Rachel is giving away the grand prize package of a paperback copy of A Lady in Attendance as well as A Life Once Dreamed, a signed bookplate, book swag, and a $25 gift card to Barnes and Noble!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway!

Click the link below to enter.

PromoSimple Link


Blog Stops

Girls in White Dresses, June 30

The Sacred Line, June 30

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, June 30

lakesidelivingsite, July 1

Inklings and notions, July 1

For Him and My Family, July 2

Reflections From My Bookshelves, July 2

Mary Hake, July 2

deb’s Book Review, July 3

Remembrancy, July 3

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, July 4

Reviewingbooksplusmore, July 4

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, July 5

Breny and Books, July 5

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, July 6

Locks, Hooks and Books, July 6

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, July 6

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, July 7

The Christian Fiction Girl, July 7

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, July 8

Simple Harvest Reads, July 8 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Jeanette’s Thoughts, July 8

Older & Smarter?, July 9

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, July 9

Connie’s History Classroom, July 10

For the Love of Literature, July 10

Pause for Tales, July 10

Splashes of Joy, July 11

Life of Literature, July 11

Daysong Reflections, July 12

Bliss, Books & Jewels, July 12

Labor Not in Vain, July 12

Through the fire blogs, July 13

Texas Book-aholic, July 13

Blossoms and Blessings, July 13

Posted in Celebrate Lit Tour, Christian Fiction, Christian Romance, Giveaways, Historical Christian Fiction, Inspirational

The Songstress (2021) — A Celebrate Lit Tour: A Guest Post, My Thoughts, and a Giveaway

About the Book

Book:  The Songstress

Author: Lori Bates Wright

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

Release date: April 16, 2021

Rising opera star, Juliana Chamberlain, still has nightmares of the night she witnessed the assassination of the President of the United States from her spot on stage at Ford Theater. Recruited by The Pinkerton Detective Agency, Juliana was instrumental in bringing those responsible to justice.

Now, two years later, the Pinkertons ask her once again to join forces in exposing a corrupt political organization terrorizing her home in Texas.

Texas Ranger, Cade Matlock, has a job to do. He needs no help from a meddlesome diva with big ideas. However, he is a man of his word. He’s committed to partner with the lovely songstress to smoke out the mastermind of a dangerous clan who has proven he will stop at nothing to satisfy his thirst for vengeance.

Cade and Juliana soon discover their greatest strength is in working together until shadows of the past threaten to destroy their future.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

About the Author

Lori Bates Wright is an award winning author with a love for history.

Raised in New Mexico, Lori now lives in Texas with her husband of 38 years. She has two grown kids and four adorable grand boys (who leap tall buildings in a single bound!) When she’s not writing, she’s heading up small group ministries with her husband. She enjoys speaking and interacting with women of all ages.

More from Lori

Growing up, my family loved to laugh.

Some of my favorite childhood memories are centered around my grandmother’s dining room table listening in while my parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles told amazing stories. Sometimes I laughed until I’d lose my breath. Sometimes I sat quietly, taking in the bravery and perseverance shown by those who’d gone before me.

History has been a passion ever since. Couple that with an insatiable love for story and there you have the heart of what inspires me to write.

So, when it came time to brain-storm for this brand new series, I decided to take a known historical event and think about it from every angle. Beyond the recognized players, to the “what if” characters that might have played a role. And, ultimately, how such an event would have changed the course of their lives.

Thus, a star was born.

In THE SONGSTRESS, Juliana Chamberlain witnessed the assassination from her place on the stage. Because I love a little mystery and intrigue, I decided that the leading detective agency of the day would have enlisted her help in identifying the accomplices. Allen Pinkerton had been known to hire a lady detective or two, so she would be trained by the best. Her investigative skills proved helpful in bringing a quick resolution to the case.

Fast forward four years and she’s still haunted by what she saw that night. When Pinkerton again approaches her about a case involving her family in Texas, she accepts.

Being from Texas, I was so happy she did. I’ve wanted to write a story based in the Lone Star State for quite awhile. I loved visiting Georgia and the shores of England in my last series, but I have to say it was good to bring this one home. With all the rugged charm of the post-Civil War era, this book has a little more local flavor than my last three. Al-in-all, I believe my readers are in for a treat. A new cast of fun, quirky characters as we revisit a significant time in our nation.

So, here’s to new beginnings! Or as we say in Texas, “Hang on, y’all are in for a wild ride!”

Happy reading!
Lori

My Thoughts

Reading The Songstress was the first time I’ve read a book by Lori Bates Wright. I didn’t really know what to expect from this author, but after reading the premise and seeing the beautiful cover, I knew I needed to be part of this blog tour. This story is all the things it promises to be: adventurous and romantic. I liked the way the author utilized the Lincoln assassination as the catalyst for getting her heroine, Juliana, to become a Pinkerton spy. I’ve never really studied the Pinkertons before, so to learn that females played a small, but integral, part in the organization was pretty cool. I also thought it clever to use Lincoln-assassination conspirators who got away the night Lincoln was shot as the bad guys for this storyline. The main characters did feel a tad too caricature for me, but they are wholesome and sweet overall. The author did a great job with the villains. The bad guys are pretty vile. They are the reason I kept turning pages — I needed to know how they were going to be defeated. The pacing of the story, for the most part, is good, but I did feel that the middle got a little slow. I did like several of the themes that were discussed throughout the story. My favorite topic is brought up by Dandy when he says, “See? He was broke” … “Broke critters just do the best they can to get by.” Truer words have never been spoken. Broken people do the best they can. Overall, I appreciated reading this story and feel like the audience who would love The Songstress best are those readers who love a good Hallmark-style Western.

I received a review copy of this novel in eBook form from the author, Lori Bates Wright, via Celebrate Lit. I also purchased a copy of this novel in eBook form from Amazon.com on April 27, 2021, in order to review. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.


Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Lori is giving away the grand prize package of a Texas Gift basket including a signed copy of THE SONGSTRESS and a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway!

Click the link below to enter.

PromoSimple Link


Blog Stops

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, June 11

Reflections From My Bookshelves, June 11

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, June 12

Connect in Fiction, June 12

Inklings and notions, June 13

Rebecca Tews, June 13

Texas Book-aholic, June 14

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, June 14

lakesidelivingsite, June 15

To Everything There Is A Season, June 15

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, June 15

For Him and My Family, June 16

Labor Not in Vain, June 16

deb’s Book Review, June 17

Genesis 5020, June 17

Locks, Hooks and Books, June 18

HookMeInABook, June 18

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, June 19

Inside the Wong Mind, June 19

The Christian Fiction Girl, June 20

Connie’s History Classroom, June 20

A Baker’s Perspective, June 21

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, June 21

Blossoms and Blessings, June 22

Lis Loves Reading, June 22

Pause for Tales, June 23

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, June 23

Mary Hake, June 23

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, June 24

KarenSueHadley, June 24

Posted in Celebrate Lit Tour, Christian Fiction, Christian Romance, Contemporary Christian Fiction, Giveaways, Inspirational

Summertime Lilies (2021) — A Celebrate Lit Tour: A Guest Post, My Thoughts, and a Giveaway

About the Book

Book:  Summertime Lilies

Author: LM Karen

Genre: Contemporary Christian Fiction

Release date: Jan 30, 2021

A sweet and sentimental contemporary romance with a uniquely witty voice.

There are three things you should know about Brittany Masters:

  1. She’s a single mom and a nurse manager at the local cancer clinic.
  2. She has big plans for a quiet summer.
  3. She’s convinced that fudge pops are the answer to almost all of life’s most important questions.

A new neighbor, Matt, making friends with her son while simultaneously pursuing her blow plans for a predictable summer right out of the water. A chance meeting at the cancer clinic where she works renews a connection with an old friend and gives her the perspective she’s been missing. From quiet nights on her front porch swing in Matt’s company to long talks in the clinic with her old/new friend, Brittany’s summer is anything but routine.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

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 am not artistic. I’m not someone who can look at a space, or an item and see it’s potential. If you give me white space, I will have no idea what to fill it with. Even if I had an idea of what I wanted it to look like, there is no way I could make it look like the picture in my head. My stick figures have always been lop-sided.

What I am pretty good at is making up stories in my head. At restaurants I enjoy observing other customers and giving them stories. In the grocery store I consider what a post-apocalyptic shopping experience might look like. On my drive home I might imagine the lives of the occupants in any given house I pass.

It became a hobby when I slowly began to write these stories down. If I considered a particularly interesting character the natural progression was to wonder what their story was. What started as a hobby quickly evolved into an obsession. Oftentimes, I consider myself a citizen of the world in my head more than reality (which has its pros and cons). I spent a lot of time quietly working on my stories, trying to become a better writer and honing my craft.

As an avid reader from a young age, I can’t count the characters that have influenced my life and the stories that have touched my heart. My deepest hope is to use my predilection for make believe to touch someone else’s life. That maybe a young girl would be positively influenced by one of my characters.

My Thoughts

There is A LOT to love about Summertime Lilies by LM Karen. I’m so, so glad I volunteered to read for this tour. This book is one of my new favorites of the year! I love how engaging this story is right from the very beginning. Pages flew by and I hated when I had to put the book down. I really love the characters in this story. I appreciate how strong, determined, and fierce Brittany is. She is a selfless mother, a dedicated nurse, and an all-around amazing person. She is definitely someone I would want to be close friends with. Matt is a wonderful hero. He is kind, compassionate, and self-sacrificing. He listens to Brittany and really pays attention to the small, important details. And, his interactions with Brittany’s son, Grady, are so sweet and heartwarming. Matt is a great guy, and it doesn’t hurt that he’s really nice on the eyes, too! What I love the most about this book is its discussion on God making beauty out of ashes. Life can really knock us around and sometimes things happen that are just so ugly, so painful, and so devastating that they can nearly break us. But God. God, if we let Him, can take our bad and turn it into good. Nothing is impossible with God. Brittany is one such example of a woman who allows God to turn a traumatic event into a blessing. I love how Brittany could have used her experience as an excuse to be angry and cold towards others and to give up on life, but she doesn’t. She is no one’s victim. She takes life one day at a time and strives to always bring her best. Brittany is a great example of a strong, independent, God-fearing woman … and I love her character!

This is another novel I could gush on and on about, but I won’t. Instead, I will end this review by saying that Summertime Lilies is a must-read. I enjoyed every minute of this story and I am sad my time with these characters is over. If you are a fan of well-written, highly engaging Contemporary Romances then definitely check out Summertime Lilies by LM Karen today. You won’t be disappointed that you did!

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


Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, LM is giving away the grand prize package of a signed paperback copy of Summertime Lilies and a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway!

Click the link below to enter.

PromoSimple Link


Blog Stops

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, June 2

Vicky Sluiter, June 2

The Write Escape, June 3

She Lives To Read, June 4

Locks, Hooks and Books, June 4

Inklings and notions, June 5

The Christian Fiction Girl, June 6

Batya’s Bits, June 6

Texas Book-aholic, June 7

For Him and My Family, June 8

Genesis 5020, June 8

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

deb’s Book Review, June 10

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, June 10

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, June 11

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, June 12

Kayem Reads, June 12

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, June 13

Wishful Endings, June 14

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, June 14

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, June 15

Posted in Christian Romance, Giveaways, Historical Christian Fiction, I Read With Audra Blog Tour, Inspirational

Dusk’s Darkest Shores (2021): An I Read with Audra Blog Tour + Giveaway

About the Book

Book: Dusk’s Darkest Shores

Series: Regency Wallflowers #1

Author: Carolyn Miller

Genre: Christian Regency Romance

Release date: May 18, 2021

How can a meek wallflower help a returning war hero whose dreams are plunged into darkness?

Mary Bloomfield has no illusions. Her chances for matrimony have long since passed her by. Still, her circumstances are pleasant enough, especially now that she has found purpose in assisting her father with his medical practice in England’s beautiful Lake District. Even without love, it’s a peaceful life.

That is until Adam Edgerton returns to the sleepy district. This decorated war hero did not arrive home to acclaim and rest, but to a new battle against the repercussions of an insidious disease. Mary’s caring nature cannot stand to see someone suffer–but how can she help this man see any brightness in his future when he’s plunged into melancholic darkness, his dreams laid waste by his condition?

Adam wants no charity, but he’s also no coward. If this gentle woman can work hard, how can he do less? Together they struggle to find a way forward for him. Frustration and antipathy slowly develop into friendship and esteem. Then a summer storm atop a mountain peak leads to scandal–and both Mary and Adam must search the depths of their closed hearts for answers if they hope to find any future path with happiness at its end.

Best-selling author Carolyn Miller is back with a fresh series that will not only thrill readers eager for more of her work, but bring in new fans looking for beautiful writing, fascinating research, deftly woven love stories, and real faith lived out in the Regency period.

Click HERE to read an excerpt.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

About the Author

Carolyn Miller is an inspirational romance author who lives in the beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and four children.

A longtime lover of romance, especially that of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer’s Regency era, Carolyn holds a BA in English literature and loves drawing readers into fictional worlds that show the truth of God’s grace in our lives. She enjoys music, films, gardens, art, travel, and food.

Miller’s novels have won a number of RWA and ACFW contests. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Australasian Christian Writers. 

Learn more about Carolyn at www.carolynmillerauthor.com, or find her on Facebook (Carolyn Miller Author)Instagram (@CarolynMillerAuthor), and Twitter (@CarolynMAuthor).

My Thoughts

Sometimes, I have a really difficult time reviewing books because they’re SO good I’m at a loss for words. Dusk’s Darkest Shores by Carolyn Miller is fantastic, and yes, I’m a bit at a loss for words to describe just how amazing this story is. Nothing I say here in this review will do this book justice. However, I can say that this book is now my most favorite that Miller has penned to date. The plot is highly engaging. I could not put this book down and I did read well past my bedtime two nights in a row! The characters are superb. Mary is a great heroine and she 100% wiggled her way into my heart. She is so patient and hard-working and supremely compassionate. I love her genuine heart for others and her ability to self-sacrifice. Mary sees a person in need and she drops everything to help. How Mary interacts with Adam is the BEST! She is kind and understanding but she also won’t let him get away with self-pity and emotional defeat. She encourages him when Adam needs encouragement, but she also gets a bit cheeky with him when Adam needs to calm down and laugh a little. Mary really is an excellent heroine for Adam. And, Adam is a really good hero, too. I love how he sees Mary for the good soul she really is. I love how he sees her when very few really do. In our superficial world where super-model looks appear to be all that matters, it is so refreshing to escape into a beautiful story where character matters more than good looks. The fact that Adam can see Mary for who she is beyond her looks made me love his character all the more. What a great man!

Of the many topics discussed in this book the discussion on prayer and God answering prayers is the topic that resonated with me the most. I think that many people see God as a genie in a bottle. The thought on prayer is that if I ask God for X, He will give me X or it proves God doesn’t exist. God is not a genie who is there at our beck and call to give us whatever we want. Not even Jesus, Himself, got what He wanted (Luke 22:42) and He is the Son of God. Rather, we are told that it is always about God’s Will. There is a great line from Mary: “Sometimes I wonder if trusting in God even despite a lack of seeming answers might be the faith God is really looking for.” I wholeheartedly agree with Mary on this idea. It’s not about getting what we want every time we go to God in prayer. Rather, it’s about trusting God even when our prayers don’t get answered the way we think they should. In the end, it’s more about fostering a relationship with God not about getting things. I really loved this reminder, and may even have needed it!

Dusk’s Darkest Shores is a poignant story that will stick with me long after the final page has been turned. This is definitely a book that is going on my re-read pile. I love it and I truly cannot say enough good things about it. If you are a fan of excellent storytelling, if you love a good Regency Romance, or if you just enjoy a story that allows you to escape into a beautiful fictional world, then I highly recommend Dusk’s Darkest Shores.

I received a review copy of this novel in eBook form from the author via Audra Jennings at I Read With Audra through NetGalley. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.


GIVEAWAY

Enter to win a fun prize pack inspired by the book and its English setting that includes:
 
– a copy of Dusk’s Darkest Shores
– a canvas bag to carry your latest reads
– a fun pair of Jane Austen socks
– Novel Teas’ English Breakfast tea
– “Drink tea, read books, and be happy” tea spoon
– “Let your faith be bigger than your fear” mug
– Black currant preserves from England
– Wax Lyrical candle from England

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Posted in Celebrate Lit Tour, Christian Fiction, Christian Romance, Contemporary Christian Fiction, Giveaways, Inspirational

To Save a King (2021) — A Celebrate Lit Tour: A Guest Post, My Thoughts, and a Giveaway

About the Book

Book:  To Save A King

Series: True Blue Royal #2

Author: Rachel Hauck

Genre: Christian Royal Romance

Release date: May 8, 2021

A modern-day fairytale of rescue and hope from NYT bestselling author Rachel Hauck

Growing up in small town Hearts Bend, Tennessee, Gemma Stone had big dreams. So she headed to Hollywood to make her mark in the world. But dreams have a way of becoming nightmares. When she returns home twelve years later, she’s limping through life and harboring a dark secret. Running a rescue ranch and raising her friends’ orphaned daughter is her sole mission now. All the while she’s well aware these defenseless ones are also rescuing her.

HRH Crown Prince John has learned a royal title cannot shield him from heartbreak. He had the perfect life as heir to the revered House of Blue, the royal dynasty of Lauchtenland, and married the love of his life. Then tragedy changed everything. Is there any way to be saved from a life of grief?

When he finds himself in Hearts Bend on a mission for his mother, Queen Catherine, he catches up with a good friend–country music great Buck Mathews. He has no intention of joining the 4th of July fun until he’s cajoled into a three-legged race with the beautiful Gemma Stone. The disastrous race leads to a quick friendship. They are easy and comfortable around one another because love is absolutely not an option.

John desperately wants to hold onto the memories of his wife while Gemma refuses to trust her heart to any man. Even a prince. When trouble in Lauchtenland calls the prince home, he realizes how much Gemma has rescued him, saved him and restored his hope for his role as future king.

For Gemma, falling in love with the prince must be quenched. If it weren’t for her past, she’d give him her heart in a second. How could she risk bringing her shame to the House of Blue and the world stage? However, she’s not the only one who can rescue and heal the wound. If she saved Prince John, why can’t he save her? And when he tries, will she have the courage to say yes to the best role of her life?

Another compelling royal story by the master of princely tales!

Susan May Warren, USA Today bestselling, RITA award-winning novelist

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

About the Author

Rachel Hauck is an award winning, New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. 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. Three more of her titles are under film contract.

Rachel was awarded the prestigious Career Achievement Award for her body of original work by Romantic Times Book Reviews. A retired member of the American Christian Fiction Writers Executive Board, she teaches workshops and leads worship at the annual conference. She is a past Mentor of The Year.

In the real world, 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

One of the biggest challenges in a series is keeping the reader interested. Even more of a challenge is writing in a trope like royals.

I never set out to write a second royal series. With five stories in The Royal Wedding Series, I thought I’d explored the topic to my satisfactions.

Yet when readers asked for more, and when I found myself in a season to produce my own stories, another royal series seemed like the perfect fit.

But can I be honest? Really honest? Come close. I’ll tell you a secret. Closer…

Royals can be a bit boring. At least to write. You laugh but I’m serious.

What do we really know of their day to day lives? They attend national functions, patron charities, represent the nation on walkabouts around the world. They are ambassadors with no real political agenda. They champion causes.

But what exactly do they do with their days? What are the inner workings of palace life? What are the real expectations? Do they call the queen “her majesty” when talking among themselves? When talking to her? Are they as formal as it seems on television?

Yet royals are the most documented people in history. So there is a lot to glean from when I make up my worlds.

But at the end of it all, they key for me in writing royal characters is to make them real, everyday people. The prince is the kind of chap you want to chat with over tea. The heroine is the sort of girl you’d love to see become a princess. Maybe even see a bit of yourself in her.

In To Save A King, Crown Prince John is trying to emerge for a year of grief. Gemma Stone is desperate to escape her past.

Gemma’s story has some what of an edge to it. In her attempt to achieve her goals, she walked a path she never thought she’d walk when she was a girl growing up in Hearts Bend, Tennessee. And it proved her undoing.

While we may have never faced a past like Gemma’s, we can all relate to personal betrayal of our values from gossip to immorality. I hope Gemma’s story reminds us the nearness of love and forgiveness.

On a lighter side, I recently learned British society has moved away from chap and bloke, replacing it with the American term “guy.” Isn’t that funny. Louise Lee, my narrator, said it was funny to read those words in To Love A Prince since they were more her parents’ generation. Ah, the signs of a more global society.

Well, I didn’t care if they have gone out of style for young people. I used them anyway. I like them. Maybe we should adopt “chap” and “bloke” over here. What do you say, guys?

I hope you enjoy To Save a King, book two in the True Blue Royal series and find your heart cheering on broken, wounded characters to a happily ever after worthy of a prince and princess.

My Thoughts

I would like to address a point that Rachel Hauck brings up in her guest post: “Royals can be a bit boring.” First, I laughed out loud at that. It’s so true. Real-life, modern-day royals are pretty mundane all things considered. Second, it made me stop and consider all of Rachel Hauck’s Royal novels that I have read and I have realized that I’ve NEVER been bored reading her books. In fact, To Save a King, Hauck’s latest release, may be my favorite of all the Hauck books I’ve read to date. This book is SOOOOOOOOO good. It’s highly engaging and totally unputdownable. It’s a book I read well past my bedtime. LOL! To Save a King is captivating and magical, and it’s lovely and super-romantic. The characters are fantastic. John is a very swoon-worthy royal who is not boring at all. I love his immediate draw to Gemma and I adore how he sees her as his best friend. That really warmed my heart. Gemma is a magnificent character. She is my favorite in this story. Her story is heartbreaking, but it’s her self-loathing that’s the most painful. I wanted so badly to break through into the story-world just so I could give Gemma a hug. And, as with all Hauck novels I’ve read, To Save a King has a wonderful, inspirational message that left me feeling hopeful and inspired. There is so much to love about this beautiful redemption story. To Save a King is another home run by Rachel Hauck and I highly, highly recommend this modern-day magical fairy tale.

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


Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Rachel is giving away the grand prize of a Kindle Fire!
*May be different than one pictured.

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway!

Click the link below to enter.

PromoSimple Link


Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, May 8

Godly Book Reviews, May 8

Locks, Hooks and Books, May 8

Britt Reads Fiction, May 9

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 9

Blogging With Carol, May 9

Worthy2Read, May 9

For Him and My Family, May 10

Genesis 5020, May 10

The Book Chic Blog, May 10

CarpeDiem, May 10

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, May 11

Hebrews 12 Endurance, May 11

Splashes of Joy, May 11

Cultivating Us, May 11

Texas Book-aholic, May 12

Just Writing, May 12

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, May 12

Kayem Reads, May 12

Blossoms and Blessings, May 13

Betti Mace, May 13

Inklings and notions, May 13

deb’s Book Review, May 14

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, May 14

Inside the Wong Mind, May 14

Moments, May 14

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, May 15

Rachael’s Inkwell, May 15

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, May 15

Connect in Fiction, May 15

The Christian Fiction Girl, May 16

Kathleen’s Blog, May 16

Remembrancy, May 16

Mary Hake, May 16

Where Faith and Books Meet, May 17

She Lives To Read, May 17

Wishful Endings, May 17

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, May 18

Back Porch Reads, May 18

All-of-a-kind Mom, May 18

Livin’ Lit, May 18

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, May 19

Simple Harvest Reads, May 19 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Bizwings Blog, May 19

Mamma Loves Books, May 19

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, May 20

By The Book, May 20

The Sacred Line, May 20

Daysong Reflections, May 20

Through the fire blogs, May 21

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, May 21

Artistic Nobody, May 21 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Posted in Celebrate Lit Tour, Clean Read Romance, Giveaways, Historical Fiction

A Dark Beauty (2021) — A Celebrate Lit Tour: A Guest Post, My Thoughts, and a Giveaway

About the Book

Book:  A Dark Beauty

Series: Victorian Retellings, #1

Author: Clarissa Kae

Genre: Fairy Tale, Historical Fiction

Release date: March 9, 2021

A Victorian Twist on Beauty And The Beast

Bold and brilliant, Georgiana has a gift for fixing machines—from clocks to carriages—while her father has a penchant for finding trouble. In an accidental fire, Georgiana and her father scar the once handsome face of Lord Pichon, cousin to the queen.

Rumors of Georgiana’s gift raise her family’s status. Her incomparable beauty captures the eye of many gentlemen and the wrath of Lord Pichon. Abandoned by his peers and alone in his cold castle, Lord Pichon is determined to enact revenge.

When Georgiana’s father makes a terrible mistake, she sacrifices herself to pay his debt—as a lowly maid in Lord Pichon’s castle.

Her wit and warmth begin to thaw Lord Pichon’s estate, making him question his version of the past. Will her kindness break the beastly lord or will he hold her family hostage forever?

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

About the Author

Clarissa Kae is a preeminent voice whose professional career began as a freelance editor in 2007. She’s the former president of her local California Writers Club after spending several years as the Critique Director.

Since her first novel, she’s explored different writing genres and created a loyal group of fans who eagerly await her upcoming release. With numerous awards to her name, Clarissa continues to honor the role of storyteller.Aside from the writing community, she and her daughters founded Kind Girls Make Strong Women to help undervalued nonprofit organizations—from reuniting children with families to giving Junior Olympic athletes their shot at success.

She lives in the agricultural belly of California with her family and farm of horses, chickens, dogs and kittens aplenty.

More from Clarissa

As a young girl most of the fairy tales talked about beauty as the only attribute but when Disney came out with Beauty and the Beast, my world was rocked. For the first time the heroine was a woman with a brain and a plan. I began researching the fairy tale and read every version. When my youngest daughter was born (with dark hair and big beautiful brown eyes) I named her Isla Belle. For as long as I can remember, I dreamed of writing a Beauty and the Beast retelling. And finally, that dream has come true.

My Thoughts

Beauty and the Beast is my most favorite fairy tale, so when I read the premise for A Dark Beauty by Clarissa Kae I knew I had to be part of this tour. I love Beauty and the Beast so much I named my daughter Isabella and call her “Belle.” Why did I name my child after Belle? Because Belle is the perfect heroine. She is highly intelligent, completely capable, and wholly independent. Yeah, she’s beautiful, but that’s a secondary feature, not her main characteristic. In a world that tells women to be Cinderella or Ariel, we should all fight back and be Belles.

A Dark Beauty is a wonderful story. I was hooked from page one and basically ignored my life for two days so I could just read. It was a glorious two days! I found the plot highly engaging. I love the characters. Georgiana is a great “Belle.” She is witty, she is intelligent, she is quirky, and she speaks her mind. I appreciate her ability to see people for whom they actually are, even her beloved father. And, I really love how Georgiana is able to see beyond Lord Pichon’s beastly demeanor to the big-hearted man he truly is. Lord Pichon — Dom — is a great Beast. He is scarred. He is broken. He is an outcast. BUT, he does have a heart of gold. Hurt people hurt people until someone breaks through and recognizes the beast for what it really is — a hurt heart. I love the relationship between Georgiana and Dom. It starts out a bit rough, but the more they’re thrown together the more they thaw towards one another and grow into quite a lovely couple. And, I have to say the “Gaston” character, Lord Rochelle, is quite well done. His character is super creepy and really brings tension to this story. What I love the most about this story is that it is its own story. It’s unique and engaging and unputtdownable. Yes, there is a solid nod to Beauty and the Beast, but A Dark Beauty is an excellent story all on its own.

A Dark Beauty is a lovely story, one I highly recommend. If you love a good fairy tale retelling, if you love a well-written Historical Romance, if you love a story with a bit of suspense, then A Dark Beauty is the story for you!

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


Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Clarissa is giving away to two (2) winners one $25 Amazon gift card each!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway!

Click the link below to enter.

PromoSimple Link


Blog Stops

For Him and My Family, March 25

Labor Not in Vain, March 25

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, March 26

The Write Escape, March 26

Books and Everyday Life, March 26

Texas Book-aholic, March 27

Breny and Books, March 27

The Christian Fiction Girl, March 28

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, March 28

Melissa Wardwell’s Back Porch Reads, March 28

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, March 29

Tell Tale Book Reviews, March 29

Through the Fire Blog, March 30

Inklings and notions, March 30

deb’s Book Review, March 31

Connect in Fiction, March 31

Inside the Wong Mind, March 31

Locks, Hooks and Books, April 1

Inspiration Clothesline, April 1

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, April 2

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, April 2

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, April 3

To Everything There Is A Season, April 3

Beauty in the Binding, April 3

Connie’s History Classroom, April 4

Blogging With Carol, April 4

A Baker’s Perspective, April 5

Genesis 5020, April 5

Pause for Tales, April 5

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, April 6

Godly Book Reviews, April 6

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, April 7

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, April 7

Mary Hake, April 7

Posted in Celebrate Lit Tour, Christian Fiction, Contemporary Christian Fiction, Giveaways, Inspirational

Facing the Dawn (2021) — A Celebrate Lit Tour: A Guest Post, My Thoughts, and a Giveaway

About the Book

Book:  Facing the Dawn

Author: Cynthia Ruchti

Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction

Release date: March 2, 2021

Mara Jacobs has been struggling. While her humanitarian husband is digging wells in Africa and caring for widows and orphans, Mara has been battling the home front—working a demanding yet unrewarding job, trying to manage three detention-prone kids, and suffering from exhaustion and depression. Even her own marriage is deteriorating after a three-year separation.

Then Liam’s absence turns into something more, changing everything and plunging her into a sunless grief. As Mara leans on those around her to find her way to healing and renewed faith, she discovers that even when hope is tenuous and the future is unknown, we can be sure we are not forgotten . . . or unloved.

Facing the Dawn is an emotionally evocative novel that will resonate with readers’ lives and their life challenges. Hemmed in hope, this tender story will be one readers will not soon forget.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

About the Author

Cynthia Ruchti is the award-winning author of more than 30 books, including the novels Afraid of the Light, Miles from Where We Started, As Waters Gone By, Song of Silence, A Fragile Hope, and They Almost Always Come Home. Her books have been honored with more than 40 readers’, reviewers’, and retailers’ awards, including Romantic Times’s Inspirational Novel of the Year, four Selah Awards, and five Christian Retailing’s BEST Awards, and has been a finalist for many others, including the Carol and the Christy. Former president of and current professional relations liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), Cynthia lives in Wisconsin and can be found online at http://www.cynthiaruchti.com.

More from Cynthia

When I sit down to write a novel, I sometimes have little more than a title or a single scene in my head. For Facing the Dawn, I had a mental picture of a woman who felt like circumstances had drained all the “color” out of her life, as if she were a piece of fabric that had been left out in the sun too long. Faded. Threadbare. Bleached out.

Where was I supposed to go from there? What would have made her feel like that? (Oh, I could imagine, but I needed to know THIS character’s story.) I visualized her called in the principal’s office at her kids’ school, not knowing which of the three was in trouble this time. But it was her. The ridiculousness of it all was almost enough to push her over the edge. Ever been there?

For Mara in the story, a long string of disappointments clogged her life like a backed-up sink (which she also had). Then true tragedy struck. And again. But I couldn’t leave her in that place.

When I wrote the last few words of the story, my heart was full. Tears fell on the pages—or the keyboard. And I reflected back on all the symbolism in the story that actually revealed bits of hope embedded in its fabric.

I’m excited to see how readers respond when they discover those little bits—a cardinal in a stand of birch trees, an oil painting with unusual brushstrokes, a papered wall, a cup of soup, a long-forgotten song, an envelope of ashes…

A story comes to life when readers dive in. I’m looking forward to hearing what they find when they do.

My Thoughts

Facing the Dawn by Cynthia Ruchti is one of the best books I’ve ever read. I have never read a story that deals with grief as realistically and as beautifully as this one does. Personally, I believe this book needs to be required reading for all humans. Facing the Dawn has a great storyline, one that I flew through. The characters are the BEST. They are dynamic and very relatable. And, they are incredibly endearing. My heart broke for Mara, but it also really hurt for Mara’s children and her forever-friend, Ashlee. And you know why? Because we ALL experience pain. We ALL walk through some really low valleys that hurt us. Pain is a universal human experience and we all deal with it differently, and Ruchti does an excellent job illustrating these points. My favorite relationship in this novel is between Mara and Ashlee. I love that Mara calls it her forever-friendship and I LOVE how Ruchti shows the depth of relationship that comes with a forever-friendship. Forever-friendships are a true gift from God. If you’ve ever been blessed with a forever-friend in your life then you know how precious such a gift is, and Mara and Ashlee’s friendship is a great picture of this blessing. The themes discussed in this novel are truly thought-provoking and timely. I really believe this book would make a fabulous book club read as it could be talked about in great length. Facing the Dawn is a wonderful read I just cannot recommend enough.

There is a moment in the novel where Mara states, “We’ll walk through it together. I didn’t think I needed another reminder that God is my only hope, and [Ashlee’s]. But it’s becoming my default thought now, rather than my last resort.” This is brilliant Truth! The first time trauma happens in your life it feels like a bomb has exploded. You feel like you’ve been shattered into a million pieces and you are not sure how you will gather those pieces back together again. It’s super easy in this state to feel like you are all alone, like God has abandoned you. This is, of course, so far from the truth, but in trauma feelings can be very deceptive. This is why we absolutely need a strong, sure faith in God. He must be our foundation or we very well could walk away from God. As Mara puts it, God is our only hope. What I appreciate so much about this quote is the word “default.” Many of you who read my blog know that the last three years have been the hardest of my life. I have lost loved ones — my big brother, my dad, and my forever-friend — and my daughter was diagnosed with seizures we still can’t get under control. What I have had to do for self-preservation’s sake is make my relationship with God my default, #1 relationship. He is my immediate go-to now. He is my true forever-friend. Am I super glad the last three years have been devastating?! Not even a little, but I am grateful that the valleys I’ve been forced to walk through have allowed my relationship with God to grow as strong as it is today. I love God more now than ever before. He is my default. He is my one true hope. Mara getting to this understanding is my most favorite moment in this wonderfully poignant story.

Facing the Dawn is a story that truly will stick with me long after the final pages have been read and this review has been posted. I loved everything about this cathartic read and highly, highly recommend it!

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


Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Cynthia is giving away the grand prize package of a DrinkCo Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated BPA-free beverage container (keeps drinks cold for up to 24 hours/hot up to 12 hours), two Sunprint Notecards (Cynanotype art by Anna Atkins), an autographed copy of the novel Facing the Dawn, two Hemmed in Hope magnets/note card inserts to encourage you or a friend, a Hemmed in Hope flash drive, and Facing the Dawn bookmarks (not shown in picture above)!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway!

Click the link below to enter.

PromoSimple Link


Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, March 4

lakesidelivingsite, March 4

Through the Fire Blogs, March 4

Rebecca Tews, March 5

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations , March 5

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, March 6 (Author Interview)

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, March 6

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, March 6

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, March 7

Reviewingbooksplusmore, March 7

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, March 8

Kathleen’s Blog, March 8

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, March 8

Texas Book-aholic, March 9

Cats in the Cradle Blog, March 9

Locks, Hooks and Books, March 10

Simple Harvest Reads, March 10 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, March 10

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, March 11

Artistic Nobody, March 11 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Older & Smarter?, March 12

deb’s Book Review, March 12

The Christian Fiction Girl, March 13

Inklings and notions, March 13

Pause for Tales, March 13

For Him and My Family, March 14

Mary Hake, March 14

By The Book, March 15

Christian Bookaholic, March 15

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, March 16

Spoken from the Heart, March 16

Southern Gal Loves to Read, March 16

A Baker’s Perspective, March 17

Writing from the Heart Land, March 17

Posted in Celebrate Lit Tour, Clean Wholesome Romance, Giveaways, Historical Fiction

Beauty Among Ruins (2021) — A Celebrate Lit Tour: A Guest Post, My Thoughts, and a Giveaway

About the Book

Book:  Beauty Among Ruins

Author: J’nell Ciesielski

Genre: Historical Romance

Release Date: January 12, 2021

American socialite Lily Durham is known for enjoying one moment to the next, with little regard for the consequences of her actions. But just as she is banished overseas to England as a “cure” for her frivolous ways, the Great War breaks out and wreaks havoc. She joins her cousin in nursing the wounded at a convalescent home deep in the wilds of Scotland at a crumbling castle where its laird is less than welcoming.

Alec MacGregor has given his entire life to preserving his home of Kinclavoch Castle, but mounting debts force him to sell off his family history bit by bit. Labeled a coward for not joining his countrymen in the trenches due to an old injury, he opens his home to the Tommies to make recompense while he keeps to the shadows. But his preference for the shadows is shattered when a new American nurse comes streaming into the castle on a burst of light.

Lily and Alec are thrown together when a series of mysterious events threatens to ruin the future of Kinclavoch. Can they put aside their differences to find the culprit before it’s too late, or will their greatest distraction be falling in love?

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

About the Author

With a passion for heart-stopping adventure and sweeping love stories, J’nell Ciesielski weaves fresh takes into romances of times gone by. When not creating dashing heroes and daring heroines, she can be found dreaming of Scotland, indulging in chocolate of any kind, or watching old black and white movies. Winner of the INSPY and the Maggie Award, she is a Florida native who now lives in Virginia with her husband, daughter, and lazy beagle. Learn more at www.jnellciesielski.com.

More From J’nell

Inspiration for Beauty Among Ruins

Once again, blame it on Downton Abbey. This time on Lady Rose. She was impulsive, spoiled, a free spirit, yet with a good heart. I knew I wanted to take on the challenge of writing a heroine like her. A character who starts off one way and by the end of the book has completely charmed you over. So I started writing and everything was going great until … it wasn’t. The plot just stopped on me. No matter how hard I tried the story refused to reveal itself to me which is incredibly frustrating for someone who doesn’t like to give up once they’ve started something. But I had to. In the end, I had to put the story, affectionately titled Love on the Limp, away for several months while I wrote The Socialite. Then one day the story clicked. It was meant to be a WWI telling on the classic Beauty and the Beast story. Everything fell into place and the story and characters burst onto the page in glorious technicolor.

Lily and Alec took me by surprised with how much I fell in love with them. Bubbly Lily and brooding Alec. Never had two more opposites been so perfect for one another (at least in my writing experience). They had so many obstacles to overcome, many of them self-imposed, that I often found myself in tears over their heartaches, but golly gumdrops when they came together, boy o boy were there fireworks!

You may have also noticed that the story is set in Scotland because I happen to believe that every good story is set there. I had the privilege of staring at pictures of this breathtaking landscape for months so I could imagine the characters strolling among the heather and watching the river twist through the green moors. To me, nothing rivals the awe inspiring beauty of a certain place, and hopefully readers will feel that through these pages.

My Thoughts

I 1000% loved every minute of Beauty Among Ruins by J’nell Ciesielski. This is one of those novels where the reader escapes his/her world for something magical and romantic. Beauty Among Ruins is a little bit The Secret Garden meets Beauty and the Beast. But it is also a story completely all its own. Set amidst the backdrop of WWI, Beauty Among Ruins takes the reader to a Gothic Scottish castle that’s barely holding up. The landscape, however, is AMAZING. I adore Ciesielski’s prose as her words took me from the high desert of California (where I live) to the lush, vibrant, wild wilderness of Scotland. I truly did get lost (in a good way) in the storytelling and hated when I had to put this book down. My favorite aspect of this beautiful story is the heady romance. The relationship between Alex and Lily begins slightly rough but develops into the most heart-warming, passionate, and swoony wildfire ever. I love the chemistry between the two — they are like long-lost soul mates and it was so awesome getting to watch these two characters find their way to one another.

It is the characters whom I fell for completely. The secondary characters are unique and endearing. They all manage to worm their way into the reader’s heart. Characters like Guthrie, Matron Strom, Bertie, and the many WWI soldiers convalescing at Alec’s castle add so much life and energy to the plot. They are characters I won’t soon forget. Alec makes for one superb hero. He is handsome and he does have quite a closed-off, brooding manner, but what makes him stand out is his innate need to protect Lily, his family, and his home and his ability to see the finer details. I love how he sees Lily for who she is and whom he knows she can become. And Lily is outstanding. She is a ball of sunshine and her heart is as big as Texas. When she sees a problem she does whatever it takes to fix it. She runs headfirst into life and it is so refreshing! Truly, the best part about this lovely story is the wonderful cast of characters.

I could go on and on gushing over how good Beauty Among Ruins is. To me, it’s the perfect storyline. This is a novel I highly recommend. For sure, Beauty Among Ruins is going on my “Forever Keep” pile cause this is a book I want to come back to time and time again.

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


GIVEAWAY

To celebrate her tour, J’nell is giving away the grand prize of a paperback copy of the book and audiobook copy of The Socialite!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway!

Click the link below to enter.

PromoSimple Link


BLOG STOPS

Through the Fire Blogs, January 27

Fiction Aficionado, January 27

Sara Jane Jacobs, January 27

Wishful Endings, January 28

Genesis 5020, January 28

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 28

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 29

lakesidelivingsite, January 29

Reflections From my Bookshelves, January 29

Connect in Fiction, January 30

Connie’s History Classroom, January 30

CarpeDiem, January 30

Artistic Nobody, January 31 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, January 31

Rachael’s Inkwell, January 31

Where Faith and Books Meet, February 1

Rebecca Tews, February 1

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, February 1

Texas Book-aholic, February 2

As He Leads is Joy, February 2

Robin’s Nest, February 2

Older & Smarter?, February 3

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, February 3

Locks, Hooks and Books, February 3

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, February 4

Remembrancy, February 4

Inklings and notions, February 4

Mia Reads, February 5

Joanne Markey, February 5

Splashes of Joy, February 5

Mary Hake, February 5

Betti Mace, February 6

The Christian Fiction Girl, February 6

For Him and My Family, February 6

She Lives to Read, February 7

deb’s Book Review, February 7

The Write Escape, February 7

Simple Harvest Reads, February 8 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Novels Corner, February 8

To Everything There Is A Season, February 8

Blossoms and Blessings, February 9

Pause for Tales, February 9

Lis Loves Reading, February 9