Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Review: Second Chance for the Single Dad by Carol Ross


She’ll save him a dance…

…if he follows his heart.

Dance teacher Camile Wynn has a new student. Reclusive Rhys McGrath is learning to waltz so he can take his orphaned niece to a father-daughter dance. Camile is surprised by her connection with him, but there’s a generous heart behind Rhys’s awkward exterior. When she learns Rhys could lose custody of his niece, Camile goes behind his back to help him…but will her lies end up hurting him instead?

My Thoughts:

This was a sweetly, romantic story about two people that were very likable and captured my attention. Rhys is an attractive single dad to his niece, whom he would like to keep raising. He is in a custody battle with Willow's aunt so he has to be especially well behaved. However, Rhys is a very private and a very literal person. He won't lie, not sure he can, and his interactions with other people leave him less then desired and his social skills are just not there. This leads to all manor of false hoods and rumors about him, all of them bad.

Wanting to do something nice for his niece, he decides to take dance lessons. He has hired Camile Wynn to be his instructor. Problem is, they have met before only he doesn't remember. She does and that meeting has haunted her. Camile is very sensitive over that and doesn't really want to be around Rhys but she needs the money. She is still extremely attracted to him and cannot understand what happened when they first met for their blind date.

Rhys is a one woman man and he falls pretty hard for Camile. Camile gets him and can calm him down unlike anyone before. I really enjoyed their chemistry and their connection. Camile really did understand Rhys which was a major quality he was looking for. And once he found her, he was going to do anything possible to keep her. Cue in the romance, and boy did he score big...

Despite their misunderstandings, they do find their way to their soul mates. Looking forward to more by author Ross.

I received a copy of this novel from the author. I was not required to leave a positive review and all views and opinions are my own.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Review, Guest Post, and Giveaway: Turning Tide by Melody Carlson

About the Book

Book:  Turning Tide
Author: Melody Carlson
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Release Date: Feb 15, 2020

As the Great War rages on, Sunset Cove continues to feel its impact. Running the small town newspaper, Anna McDowell can’t escape the grim reports from the other side of the world, but home-front challenges abound as well. Dr. Daniel is serving the wounded on the front lines. And Katy, expecting her first child, with her husband in the trenches, tries to support the war effort with her Red Cross club. Even as the war winds down the costs are high—and Sunset Cove is not spared.

Click here for your copy!

My Thoughts:

Anna and her daughter Katy and their whole town are living in the time of the Great War. As their men, Daniel and Katy's husband, Jim, are overseas their lives move forward.

Even though the war continues, life continues as well. Anna is still running her newspaper and Katy is patiently waiting for the birth of her baby. But things never stay the same and weddings take place, babies are born, and news of death reaches the small town. Everybody's lives are affected by the war and the Spanish flu, which Daniel writes to Anna about, is creeping ever closer to home.

This was a relevant read and a good reminder of what happened just a little over a hundred years ago. Especially everything that we are facing worldwide today.

I was really invested in Jim's and Katy's story. They have quite a journey they must travel and the author did a good job really showing us the struggles a young married couple would have. And they did not just have ordinary struggles, Jim's prognosis really showed how much the war affected everyone and what type of patience and love was needed. This was a good ending for the series.

I was provided a copy of this novel from the publisher. I was not required to post a positive review and all views and opinions are my own.

About the Author

Melody Carlson has written more than 200 books (with sales around 6.5 million) for teens, women, and children. That’s a lot of books, but mostly she considers herself a “storyteller.” Her young adult novels (Diary of a Teenage Girl, True Colors etc.) appeal to teenage girls around the world. Her annual Christmas novellas become more popular each year. She’s won a number of awards (including RT’s Career Achievement Award, the Rita, and the Gold medallion) and some of her books have been optioned for film/TV. Carlson has two grown sons and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and yellow Lab dog.

More from Melody

Writing about the WW1 era has definitely been a good history lesson for me. Prohibition laws in Oregon (and rum-runners breaking them) combined with a massive war that changed the world and a global epidemic is worth paying attention to. Especially since history sometimes repeats itself. The early 20th century had a lot going on—much that seems nearly forgotten. I’m glad to see the movie 1917 is doing well—and we plan to see it this week. Although I’m not a fan of gruesome war movies, this era continues to intrigue me. Even as I wrapped up my Sunset Cove series with Turning Tide I was left wondering . . . what’s next? But isn’t that the beauty of story?

Blog Stops

The Avid Reader, March 16
By The Book, March 19
Wishful Endings, March 19
Betti Mace, March 21
Remembrancy, March 21
Mary Hake, March 22
Artistic Nobody, March 25 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)
Older & Smarter?, March 26
SPLASHES of Joy, March 28
Vicky Sluiter, March 28
Pause for Tales, March 29


To celebrate her tour, Melody is giving away the grand prize package of a complete set of The Legacy of Sunset Cove series!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Review: Star of Persia by Jill Eileen Smith

To Purchase

In an effort to complete a war his father had planned to win, King Xerxes calls every governor, satrap, and official in his vast kingdom to his palace in Susa to strategize and feast. When they finally leave, he decides on one more week of frivolity, which ends in the banishment of his favorite wife, something he never intended to do. But when he discovers Esther, Xerxes is sure he has a second chance at happiness.

In her wildest dreams, Esther could never have imagined that she would end up as queen of Persia. Yet she knows better than to become complacent. Another of Xerxes's wives is vying for position, and his closest advisor has a deep and dangerous grudge against Esther's adoptive father. Caught in the middle of palace politics, Esther will find herself in an impossible position: risk her life or consign her people to annihilation.

With her impeccable research and her imaginative flair, Jill Eileen Smith brings to life the romantic, suspenseful, and beloved story of Esther, queen of Persia.

My Thoughts:

I have read a lot of Esther retellings and have enjoyed pieces and parts of each one. I have really never considered Esther a romantic love story, though the Bible does say the king loved Esther. I guess it may be because I didn't care for King Xerxes and the way he handled his kingdom- let too many choices (big and small) be made by his advisors. And these choices carried with them some hefty costs.

What made this story stand out? I liked how author Smith gave us the point of view of Vashti, the first wife and queen, and what she may have been feeling and thinking. Here is a woman that is only briefly mentioned and yet due to her one decision she is banished from her husband and Esther then will eventually take her place. I have read some novels where she is evil, but not this one. I liked how her story is told in Star of Persia. She was more than a backdrop, she was a woman living in a tumultuous time, and though she was queen she had her enemies. Then there was her husband...

I also like the handling of Xerxes. Scripture does not paint him in the best light nor does this story. In this story we get to see the vices that actually catches him into a trap and ultimately maybe due to this he learns a little bit of a lesson? 

Overall I really liked this retelling with the historical background along with Xerxes and Vashti's as well as Esther's points of view. 

I received a copy of this novel from Revell through Interviews and Reviews. I was not required to post a positive review and all views and opinions are my own.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Spotlight, Guest Post, and Giveaway: Byrd's-Eye View by Chautona Havig

About the Book

Book:  Bird’s Eye View
Author: Chautona Havig
Genre:  Fiction / Christian / Historical / Mystery
Release Date: February 18, 2020

If everything looks so perfect, how does she know it’s all wrong?

Madeline just wanted to learn to develop her own pictures. It seemed an innocent enough pastime until she sees something in the developer’s tray that piques her meddlesome curiosity.

Now she’s on the hunt for clues to spare a man’s life, and she might just land her father in hot political waters while she’s at it.

The fifth book in the Meddlin’ Madeline Series, Byrd’s Eye View sees Madeline back at home in Rockland and determined to stay out of trouble, although that’s not likely to happen, is it?

Click here for you copy!

My Thoughts:

Author Havig is an author that both my daughters and I have enjoyed immensely. Whether it is her contemporary, fantasy, historical, or her mysterious- she has proven time and again she can write.

Byrds-s-Eye View is the fifth in the series called Meddlin' Madeline, and we are looking forward to its release. For more information on our thoughts about the other books, click on the links below. (please note these are older posts and giveaways no longer valid- please check at the end of this post for the current giveaway)

I was provided the first five chapters for my reading enjoyment by the author. I was not required to post a positive review and all views and opinions are my own. 

Sweet on You

Such a Tease

Fine Print

About the Author

Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her on the web and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.

More from Chautona

It’s Like This Book Didn’t Want to Be!

It’s an hour and a half from my mother’s old house in Missouri to the Springfield airport—a perfect distance for plotting out a book. So, when I had to drive back to swap out rental cars, I decided to work on the early 2020 books.  Up first… Madeline #5.

Often when I’m plotting out a new book, the first few minutes are kind of jumbled messes as I consider this plot point or that and get into a work flow, and that day was no exception.  However, by the time I hit the interstate again, I’d done it. Madeline would learn how to develop pictures in this one. The plot would revolve around that new skill.

By the time I hit Noel, I’d really come up with a cool book idea. I was so excited.  You have no idea. Then, as I passed Noel on my way to the hospital in Gravette, Arkansas, I stopped on the side of the road so I cold turn off the voice recorder and start working on another book.

The recorder was off.  All my “brilliant ideas” were gone.

Sometimes, I wish I was a crier. It would have been appropriate right there.  Just sayin’.

Determined to record the ideas all over again before I forgot them, I started the first few things, watching the recorder bars rise and fall with the inflection of my voice. It worked great.
The only problem was I couldn’t remember anything I’d come up with.  Photography. That was it.

That’s when I called my friend and wailed. 

Look, it had been a hard couple of weeks, a rough day, and now this. But, complaining about it offered enough catharsis that by the time I went back to Springfield the next week, I was able to record most of it again.  Some of it was actually better.

Little hint:  it usually is the second or third round of ideas.

By the time I’d finished, I knew what happened and what havoc it would cause, but not to whom or why. Enter Clark.

You know, the guy who made me split the first book into two separate books (you can read about that HERE), and the guy who tried to make things get really gruesome in book four (you can read about that HERE—halfway down the pageish—and be assured that I didn’t do it).

So, just as I was getting into Byrd’s Eye View, Clark and I met up at Denny’s to figure out how to make all the elements I had work.

My one issue became another one. Why became totally different from anything I’d considered. Who became a great reason for it to make things tough on Madeline’s father, and a previous thing I’d thought was a bit excessive became more so… and more believable at the same time.  How cool is that?

There was still one problem, though.

I wasn’t done with the book I needed to finish before I could immerse myself in this one.
And this book needed to be done yesterday.

Look, I had actually considered not doing this book until later in the year. For a few minutes, I wished that I had. But Madeline always comes out in February/March and I’d kind of like to keep it that way.  So…

Despite losing my notes, having plotter’s block, having Clark upset everything I’d planned and making it better… again.  It’s here.  And I think it’s my favorite one yet.  Who am I kidding?  Of course it is!

Blog Stops

Mary Hake, March 15
Back Porch Reads, March 16
Betti Mace, March 19
Carpe Diem, March 23
Bigreadersite, March 24
Lots of Helpers, March 25
Pause for Tales, March 26


To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away the grand prize package of all five paperbacks in the Meddlin’ Madeline Series!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Review: Chasing the White Lion by James R. Hannibal

To Purchase

A CIA case officer gets her plum assignment—Russia. It's the future she's dreamed of—but an attempted kidnapping, a traitor in the agency, and a crime syndicate involved in the worst forms of evil pull her back into the ragged edges of her past.

My Thoughts:

If you are looking for a thriller with plenty of espionage and secrecy in the government, and thrills and chases, then this is a read for you.

In a time of human trafficking and big money and coverups, CIA officer Talia is bent on getting to the truth: on who is trying to kill her, protecting her family, and saving a little girl and her classmates whom she has not event met- but she is willing to risk her life just the same. 

This series puts me in the mind of the TV show Covert Affairs. Yes mainly because of the CIA, but both have a young woman as the main character. I enjoyed that show when it was on and I have really been enjoying this series as well. The big difference, and the one I like the most, is that Talia has faith in God. In fact she even gets baptized in this story. What could have turned into a preachy lesson did not. The author handled the faith dimension well by showing it as the basis for everything Talia does. It is intriguing to me to read about a spy that has that solid bedrock faith in her God. 

I do wish their was more of a romantic aspect in this story. I am kind of wondering if certain things are being hinted at yet. I am not sure. So I will wait and see.

I received a copy of this novel from the author. I was not required to post a positive review and all views and opinions are my own.

My Thoughts on The Way Back by Heidi Chiavaroli

  About: Young love means everything . . . until it leaves you with nothing. The summer before her senior year of high school, Laney Jacobs...