CREATRIX RISING by Stephanie Raffelock – Book Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway

CREATRIX RISING: UNLOCKING THE POWER
OF MIDLIFE WOMEN
By Stephanie Raffelock
Categories: Nonfiction / Self Help Memoir
Publisher: She Writes Press
Pub Date: August 24, 2021
Pages:176 Pages
Scroll for the Giveaway!

From the author of the award-winning book A Delightful Little Book on Aging comes a new self-help memoir Creatrix Rising: Unlocking the Power of Midlife Women. In her new book, Stephanie Raffelock liberates mold-defying midlife women, tired of the oft-inaccurate characterization of the “old crone,” to amplify the resounding strength within.

Ever since Eve was banned from the garden, women have endured the oftentimes painful and inaccurate definitions foisted upon them by the patriarchy. Maiden, mother, and crone, representing the three stages assigned to a woman’s life cycle, have been the limiting categories of both ancient and modern (neo-pagan) mythology. And one label in particular rankles: crone. The word conjures a wizened hag—useless for the most part, marginalized by appearance and ability.

None of us has ever truly fit the old-crone image, and for today’s midlife women, a new archetype is being birthed: the Creatrix.

In Creatrix Rising, Raffelock lays out—through personal stories and essays—the highlights of the past fifty years, in which women have gone from a quiet strength to a resounding voice. She invites us along on her own transformational journey by providing probing questions for reflection so that we can flesh out and bring to life this new archetype within ourselves. If what the Dalai Lama has predicted—that women will save the world—proves true, then the Creatrix will for certain be out front, leading the pack.

PRAISE FOR CREATRIX RISING:

“The perfect topic at the perfect time, Stephanie Raffelock’s self-help memoir, Creatrix Rising, identifies a new archetype, the Creatrix, that transcends the old archetype of Crone. Her stories and insights about how far women have come is nothing short of inspirational. A must-read for any woman who wants to embrace the strength and creativity of midlife.” -Marci Shimoff, #1 New York Times best-selling author of Happy for No Reason and Chicken Soup for the Women’s Soul

“Poetic and philosophical, Creatrix Rising will inspire readers to claim the courage and confidence that already lives inside of them. An intimate story of transformation, of journeying through life on your own terms without apology.”
Richard Blanco, 2013 Presidential Inaugural Poet and author of How to Love a Country

“The new archetype Stephanie Raffelock assigns to midlife women underscores the assets and wisdom older women bring to our culture and to the greater good. Creatrix Rising is an affirmation and celebration of the feminine story taking place in leadership and creativity throughout our country.”
Gabby Reese, volleyball legend, Nike’s first female spokeswoman, and New York Times best-selling author
Click To Purchase:
Amazon ~ Indiebound ~ Bookshop.org

Link To The Book Trailer On YouTube

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When you feel that a book is about you and written specially for you, it is impossible not to rave about it. Stephanie Raffelock’s beautifully-written, mindset-shifting Creatrix Rising is one such book and this is a glowing review of it. This early, I’m declaring it one of my Top 21 Reads of 2021.
I wholeheartedly embrace the move to redefine the archetype of midlife women from the dismal, joyless, and manmade Crone to the powerful, aspirational, and woman-made Creatrix. That’s not only my vanity talking but also my common sense. It’s obvious by their definitions which personification is preferable. At 49 with a pre-teen son, I still identify with the Mother archetype. It won’t be long though until middle age sets in and when that time comes, I’ll be ready to claim my title of Creatrix with the help of this book.
In laying out her own transformation, Ms. Raffelock shared deeply personal stories and meaningful relationships throughout her life. I found many of them incredibly affecting and inspiring, especially the ones about her grandmother Julia and her mother Cleo. She hinted at past pains but never delved too much in the mistakes and regrets. Rather, she celebrated the learnings she gleaned from them. While fiercely feminist and giving much of the spotlight on the incredible women who helped shape her, Stephanie was fair in acknowledging several men who have contributed in her journey of growth and self-awareness. I liked that. I also really liked the tone of positivity, of optimism in the book. Even when touching on divisive political topics, Ms. Raffelock kept her focus on opportunities and triumphs instead of dwelling on injustices and casting blames.
The sections on reflection, activity, and journaling are some of my favorite parts of the book. They’re interactive. They’re where the reader is invited to relate what they’d read to their own life, to think of people who made an impact, to remember experiences and interactions, and to tell their stories.
Creatrix Rising is easy to read. The language is profound but understandable, not clinical or highfalutin. Some parts are highly evocative, some are factual. Definitions are repeated for emphasis. The organization flows with purpose and intent. The book is immensely quotable. I am glad I have two copies because one (the eBook) is covered in highlighted passages. Some of my favorites are:
The way we envision older women needs to be altered to reflect the evolution of our continuing liberation and growing self-awareness, equality, and confidence.”
When I’m trying to uplevel my game, it helps to name what I hope to achieve and then claim that achievement. Name it and claim it.”
Women find a way. We all have a heroine who lives inside of us. We all have a story to tell. Telling our stories liberates us to love ourselves and command respect in the world.”
Embrace the beauty and grace of age and its gifts of wisdom. Make life on your own terms. You are never too old to dream, to participate, to engage. Uplift other women. Tell your story. You are at the front of the line now. Hold your light high, and be proud of who you are and who you are still becoming. Accept the mantle of Creatrix, and celebrate the goodness and grace that it holds.”
Huge thanks to Lone Star Lit, She Writes Press, and Stephanie Raffelock for including me in the blog tour and providing me with a copy to review.
5 stars

Stephanie Raffelock is the author of Creatrix Rising, Unlocking the Power of Midlife Women, (She Writes Press – August, 2021). She also penned the award winning book, A Delightful Little Book on Aging.

A graduate of Naropa University’s program in Writing and Poetics, Stephanie was a contributor to The Rogue Valley Messenger in Oregon. She has blogged for Nexus Magazine, Omaha Lifestyles, Care2.com, as well as SixtyandMe.com.

A former i-Heart Radio host, she is now a popular guest on podcasts, where she inspires women to embrace the strength and passion of their personal story. Stephanie continues to build her speaker’s resume by giving presentations for groups like The Ashland Literary Arts Festival, Breaking the Glass, WINS at Charles Schwab and Southern Oregon University, Friends of the Hannon Library. Her commitment to uplift women extends to teaching personal development classes for incarcerated women and non-profits, including Dress for Success, Austin.

A recent transplant to Austin, Texas Stephanie enjoys an active life with her husband, Dean, and their Labrador retriever, Mickey Mantel Raffelock.

Website | Goodreads | Instagram | Facebook | LinkedIn


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Each receive signed copies of Creatrix Rising plus
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9/1/21

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9/1/21

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9/2/21

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9/2/21

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9/3/21

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9/3/21

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9/4/21

Author Interview

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9/5/21

Author Interview

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9/6/21

Review

Reading by Moonlight

9/6/21

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The Adventures of a Travelers Wife

9/7/21

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Chapter Break Book Blog

9/8/21

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StoreyBook Reviews

9/8/21

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The Page Unbound

9/9/21

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9/10/21

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Forgotten Winds

9/10/21

Review

Carpe Diem Chronicles

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TRACE OF DOUBT by DiAnn Mills – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

TRACE OF DOUBT

BY DIANN MILLS

Categories: Romantic Suspense / Christian Fiction / FBI Crime Solving Novel / Clean Romance
Publisher: Tyndale House
Pub Date: September 7, 2021
Pages: 432 pages

Scroll for the Giveaway!
 

 
 
 
Fifteen years ago, Shelby Pearce confessed to murdering her brother-in-law and was sent to prison. Now she’s out on parole and looking for a fresh start in the small town of Valleysburg, Texas. But starting over won’t be easy for an ex-con.
 
FBI Special Agent Denton McClure was a rookie fresh out of Quantico when he was first assigned the Pearce case. He’s always believed Shelby embezzled five hundred thousand dollars from her brother-in-law’s account. So he’s going undercover to befriend Shelby, track down the missing money, and finally crack this case.
 
But as Denton gets closer to Shelby, he begins to have a trace of doubt about her guilt. Someone has Shelby in their crosshairs. It’s up to Denton to stop them before they silence Shelby—and the truth—forever.

PRAISE FOR TRACE OF DOUBT :

“Filled with high stakes, high emotion, and high intrigue.” – LYNN H. BLACKBURN, award-winning author of UNKNOWN THREAT and ONE FINAL BREATH

Trace of Doubt is a suspense reader’s best friend. From page one until the end, the action is intense and the storyline keeps you guessing.” – EVA MARIE EVERSON, bestselling author of FIVE BRIDES and DUST

“DiAnn Mills serves up a perfect blend of action, grit, and heart. . . Trace of Doubt takes romantic suspense to a whole new level.” – JAMES R. HANNIBAL, award-winning author of THE PARIS BETRAYAL

“Well-researched . . . with some surprising twists along the way. In Trace of Doubt, Mills weaves together a tale of faith, intrigue, and suspense that her fans are sure to enjoy.” – STEVEN JAMES, award-winning author of SYNAPSE and EVERY WICKED MAN

CLICK TO PURCHASE


 

Link to the Book Trailer on YouTube


 
DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She is a storyteller and creates action-packed, suspense-filled novels to thrill readers. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests.
 
DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is the director of the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference, Mountainside Retreats: Marketing, Speakers, Nonfiction and Novelist with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion for helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.
 
 

A DELICIOUS DILEMMA by Sera Taíno – Featured New Release

A Delicious Dilemma

A DELICIOUS DILEMMA

Sera Taíno

 

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ADD Book CoverDifferent worlds collide in Sera Taino’s debut novel.

It’s hard to remain enemies when you’ve broken bread together

Val Navarro’s first mistake: going out dancing after a bad breakup when the chef should be focused on her family business. Her second mistake? Thinking the handsome, sensitive stranger she meets could be more than a rebound – until she discovers he’s Philip Wagner of Wagner Developments. His father’s company could shut down her Puerto Rican restaurant and unravel her tight-knit neighborhood. When Philip takes over negotiations, Val wants to believe he has good intentions. But is following her heart a recipe for disaster?

From Harlequin Special Edition: Believe in love. Overcome obstacles. Find happiness.

 

Purchase at your favorite retailer here: https://serataino.com/a-delicious-dilemma/

 


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Sera Taino

Debut romance author Sera Taíno was selected for Harlequin’s Romance Includes You Mentorship, an initiative launched in 2019 to reach out to diverse communities of writers and bring more own voices stories to romance readers. For more information on this initiative, click here.

She is also the author of several short contemporary romances, including her latest, “Oil and Vinegar,” part of A More Perfect Union: A Voting-Themed Romance Benefit Anthology. All proceeds benefit Fair Fight, a national voting rights organization based in Georgia.

Her debut, #ownvoices novel, A Delicious Dilemma, is out now with Harlequin Romance Special Edition.

When she is not writing, she can usually be found teaching, traveling, or wrangling her family.

Sign up for Sera’s newsletter here, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, or BookBub to stay up to date.


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A Delicious Dilemma is a triumphant debut for Sera Taíno. It’s a sumptuous celebration of food, culture, family, friendship, and love. I devoured this tasty offering in one sitting, its themes so familiar and dear to me.

I find myself relating closely with Val. The eldest of three, close to her dad, loves dancing and cooking, and takes the responsibility for her family’s well-being upon her shoulders. She’s a truly admirable heroine.

Sera’s writing of Philip was impressive as well. I loved the way he handled his inadvertent deception. I cheered his coming into his own against his father. His gentle wooing of Val put a smile on my face. 

I loved that the romance was sweet and slow-burn. The tension in the story was just enough that Val and Philip still had to work for their happy ending. Their conflict was authentic but not too heavy drama and was resolved in a satisfactory manner.

Overall, a start that’s more than promising. It already shows Sera Taíno’s immense talent. I want more stories from her. Soon, please. 

 

4 Four-half-stars

 


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A couple of my favorite recipes from the Sabor de Casa cookbook are Roasted Pork and flan as I featured here. Check them out for yourself. 

LEARNING TO LOVE by Trinity Wood – Featured New Release and Giveaway

Title: Learning to Love
Series: New Zealand Sailing #1
Author: Trinity Wood
Genre: Contemporary Sports Romance
Release Date: August 5, 2021

BLURB
Learning to Love Ebook CoverNew Zealand Romance with Spice
Sam Northcroft needs to win.
Every single time.
On the water, on the Olympic sailing stage, or on land.
He’s got something to prove.
Ellie Tennyson can’t lose.
Not this time.
Between teaching four year-olds and playing grown-up, her dating life is flatter than a can of soda left out overnight.
She’s got something to prove.
Sparks fly between broody introvert Sam and bubbly Ellie when they meet at a house party on Auckland’s North Shore, but will his past and relentless pursuit of winning threaten their future?
***
LEARNING TO LOVE is the first book in the New Zealand Sailing series, and can be read as a stand-alone. This steamy book features a K-drama-loving artless preschool teacher, a cinnamon roll athlete hero with a lot to learn, and the most meddling group of friends ever. In the City of Lovers, HEA is guaranteed.
PURCHASE LINKS
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU

COMING SOON
HIDDEN DEEP
Releasing September 15
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU

AUTHOR BIO
Trinity writes contemporary romance set in New Zealand. Because she can’t get enough of book boyfriends, she created some of her own. Get ready to meet Sam, Corey, Jay, Tai, Luke, Mike Travis, and many more, but please form an orderly line. Behind Trinity.
A self-professed good-time nerd, Trinity’s never far away from one of her trusty Pokemon coffee mugs. Trinity also swears that Margaritas can cure colds.
Keep in touch on Facebook in The New Romance Cafe, or at trinitywoodauthor@gmail.com.

GIVEAWAY
Click for a chance to win $50 Amazon gift card

REVIEW
Learning to Love bookstagram
I always love books that transport me to another place and Learning to Love does exactly that with Ms. Wood’s vivid descriptions of the setting, the cadence of the characters’ language, and the specificity of aspects of New Zealand culture mentioned in the book.

While I got slightly breathless by the fast pacing of Ellie and Sam’s romance, I also appreciate the decisiveness of their actions. There wasn’t much push-and-pull that could get annoying if overdone. I like the effort made to be inclusive and diverse and I love the involvement of friends and families.

Overall, a promising debut by Trinity Wood. I enjoyed my return visit to New Zealand through this book.

A DELICIOUS DILEMMA by Sera Taíno – Preorder Blitz

A Delicious Dilemma

A Delicious Dilemma by Sera Taíno is coming August 24th! Pre-order now and get an EXCLUSIVE cookbook straight from the fictional family restaurant featured in the novel! Simply email seraspromos@gmail.com with a screenshot or forward of your pre-order receipt to claim!

Pre-Order Graphic

Pre-Order Here at Your Favorite Retailer


Different worlds collide in Sera Taino’s debut novel.

It’s hard to remain enemies when you’ve broken bread together

Val Navarro’s first mistake: going out dancing after a bad breakup when the chef should be focused on her family business. Her second mistake? Thinking the handsome, sensitive stranger she meets could be more than a rebound – until she discovers he’s Philip Wagner of Wagner Developments. His father’s company could shut down her Puerto Rican restaurant and unravel her tight-knit neighborhood. When Philip takes over negotiations, Val wants to believe he has good intentions. But is following her heart a recipe for disaster?

From Harlequin Special Edition: Believe in love. Overcome obstacles. Find happiness.

A Delicious Dilemma Pre-Order Blitz 2

 


ABOUT SERA

Sera Taino

Debut romance author Sera Taíno was selected for Harlequin’s Romance Includes You Mentorship, an initiative launched in 2019 to reach out to diverse communities of writers and bring more own voices stories to romance readers. For more information on this initiative, click here.

She is also the author of several short contemporary romances, including her latest, “Oil and Vinegar,” part of A More Perfect Union: A Voting-Themed Romance Benefit Anthology. All proceeds benefit Fair Fight, a national voting rights organization based in Georgia.

Her debut, #ownvoices novel, A Delicious Dilemma, is scheduled for publication with Harlequin Romance Special Edition in September 2021.

When she is not writing, she can usually be found teaching, traveling, or wrangling her family.

Sign up for Sera’s newsletter here, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, or BookBub to stay up to date.


SABOR DE CASA

I had the privilege of receiving an early copy of the cookbook Sabor de Casa and I immediately taste-tested several of the recipes. With the Spanish heritage common in both Filipino and Puerto Rican cultures, the dishes are familiar to me and the recipes for them easy to follow. I made the roasted pork (similar to lechon), tostones (the Filipino maruya is a sweet relative), mojo, and the perennial favorite (leche) flan. All the ingredients are readily available in the local grocery stores, especially here in Texas with its huge Mexican community. I chose the small limes because they reminded me of the calamansi. I also substituted evaporated milk for whole milk in the flan recipe.  

The house smelled amazing with the aroma of garlic, of the succulent pork while it roasted in the oven, and the sugar being caramelized. The roast pork was super moist and delectable my 12-year-old son had two servings.

I didn’t have a tostonera so I improvised by smashing the plantain with the use of two differently-sized dipping sauce dishes. One note about the tostones–I fried the plantains five minutes per side two times. It should probably only be five minutes for both sides. Ten minutes total frying not twenty. They turned out browner than the recipe called for. My bad. They were still delicious but did not photograph very well beside the pork. I love brown food, so it’s all good as far as I’m concerned. 

The flan came out great. Creamy and not too sweet. I’ll probably use less sugar next time (2/3 cup instead of 3/4) and I’ll make it with 6-8 egg yolks. In short, I’ll revert to my own recipe. Hahaha. 

I cooked a feast with the three dishes I chose. I can’t wait to try out the rest of the recipes. Maybe I’ll do the arroz con gandules, bistec encebollado, and tres leches cake next. Come back here on August 24 to see which dishes I made and to check out my review of A Delicious Dilemma. Preorder the book so you too can make these scrumptious meals.  

 

GINGERBREAD KISSES by Minette Lauren – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

GINGERBREAD KISSES
Hot in Magnolia Book 4
By Minette Lauren


Publication Date: April 30th, 2021
Pages: 275
Categories: Sexy Romance

Scroll for Giveaway!

Hollywood actress Ginger Lynn Harding is broke, unemployed, and stuck in the glaring spotlight of a sex-tape scandal thanks to her lousy ex-boyfriend. Changing her coveted ginger-colored hair to brown, Ginger heads to small-town Magnolia, Texas, where she plans to hide out and wait tables at the Cupcake Diner and Dive.

As a Magnolia constable and possible candidate for mayor, Roland Karr prides himself on protecting the community. When he nabs a Lauren Bacall look-alike for speeding, Roland is surprised that he lets the sassy beauty off the hook, but he can’t help it. She looks like she could use a break.

As Ginger settles into life in Magnolia, she can’t stop thinking about the handsome and debonair cop, but can she risk losing her heart when she’s lost everything else?

PURCHASE LINKS:

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With its double serving of swoony love stories, small-town quirks, adorable pets, and fascinating characters readers would want to get to know more, Gingerbread Kisses is an early holiday treat for Romance lovers everywhere. Its fun and light tone makes it an easy and enjoyable read and its steamy sexytimes live up to the series title of Hot In Magnolia. Funny, low-angst, and hot. Exactly how I like my Romance.
This is my first book by Minette Lauren, my first visit to Magnolia, and I’m happy to go back for more. I usually don’t seek out stories with actors and actresses as lead characters because I find so little in common with them, but Ms. Lauren made Ginger Lynn sympathetic to me and I give her kudos for that.
I admire Ginger’s determination to get back on her feet after her humiliating fall from grace, her willingness to work two jobs that she considered beneath her in the past, and her gradual warming up to the people of Magnolia. I understood her loss of confidence and cheered for her when she realized what’s important. I also liked the characterization of Roland as a by-the-book constable whose life is upended when Ginger came into town. I really like his patience with her and his respect for her wishes despite her sometimes hot-and-cold behavior. I especially like the ending where they both reached out to the other and decided to be together even to the point of giving up what’s familiar.
I have an equal appreciation for the second-chance romance between Lexi and Noah. I’m always soft for heroes who fall fast and fall hard for the object of his love and Noah ticks that box for me. There’s a “Seize the Day” quality to their getting together that is totally my jam.
Ms. Lauren’s vivid descriptions gave this book a great sense of place. I can picture in my head where the scene locations are as if they’re real. Magnolia seems to be a quintessential Texas small town with a higher proportion of hot men and women than most places in the state (or country). Herein lies my major cavil about this book–the lack of diversity. There’s not much indication of multiculturalism or unconventional lifestyles. Everyone seems to be fit, white, and straight. Not truly reflective of the society we live in today.
Overall, an engaging read and a book I’d recommend to the followers of this blog. It put me in a holiday spirit, inspiring me to bake gingerbread kiss cookies. I’m not sure if it’s Ginger’s grandma’s recipe, but it sure made the house smell like Christmas. Thanks to Ms. Lauren for the inspiration and for providing me with a complimentary copy to review through Lone Star Lit.
4 out of 5 stars

Minette Lauren is an award-winning author who loves animals and writes humorous romance in a small Texas town.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!

THREE WINNERS
First place: Signed copies
of the Hot in Magnolia series books (prequel included) + $25 Amazon gift card
Second place: Signed copies of all four books in the series
Third place: Signed copy of Gingerbread Kisses

(Continental US residents only. Ends midnight, CDT, June 4, 2021)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

CLICK TO VISIT THE LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE TOUR PAGE FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH STOP ON THE TOUR, UPDATED DAILY, or visit the blogs directly:

5/25/21

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5/25/21

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5/26/21

Review

5/26/21

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5/27/21

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5/28/21

Character Interview

5/28/21

Review

5/29/21

Excerpt

5/30/21

Bonus Scene

5/31/21

Review

6/1/21

Author Interview

6/1/21

Review

6/2/21

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6/2/21

Review

6/3/21

Review

6/3/21

Review

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HER EVERY MOVE by Kelly Irvin – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

HER EVERY MOVE
By Kelly Irvin
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Pages: 352 pages
Pub Date: February 9th, 2021
Categories: Christian / Romance / Suspense
Scroll for Giveaway!

He’s a cop trying to stop a serial bomber. And she’ll stop at nothing to clear her own name.

When a deadly bomb goes off during a climate change debate, librarian and event coordinator Jackie Santoro becomes the prime suspect. Her motive, according to Detective Avery Wick: to avenge the suicide of her prominent father, who was accused of crimes by a city councilman attending the event.

Though Avery has doubts about Jackie’s guilt, he can’t exonerate her even after an extremist group takes responsibility for the bombing and continues to attack San Antonio’s treasured public spaces.

As Jackie tries to hold her shattered family together, she has no choice but to proceed with plans for the Caterina Ball, the library system’s biggest annual fundraiser. But she also fears the event provides the perfect opportunity for the bomber to strike again.

Despite their mistrust, Jackie and Avery join forces to unmask the truth—before the death toll mounts even higher.

Bestseller Kelly Irvin is back with a nail-biting romantic suspense where nothing is certain until the very last page.

PRAISE FOR HER EVERY MOVE:

“A gripping story that will have you on the edge of your seat until ‘The End.’”—Patricia Bradley, author of The Logan Point Series, Memphis Cold Case Novels, Natchez Trace Parkway Rangers series 

“Explosive, tender, and races all the way through!”Jennifer Graeser Dornbush, author, screenwriter, and forensic specialist

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From its explosive opening scene to its dramatic climax, Kelly Irvin’s Her Every Move is one high-octane read. A ripped-from-the-headlines plot, a well-described familiar setting, a broad array of hot-button issues, and a large diverse cast made this book remarkably current and incredibly realistic.
Reading is a gift … Reading gives me joy, takes me places I’ve never been, and I learn things. What person wouldn’t want that gift?”
The San Antonio setting, my former residence and the last city I visited before the world shut down, first attracted me to this book. The heroine Jackie’s job as librarian and event planner further solidified my interest. But it was the fast-paced, action-packed, emotional storyline that kept me reading until the end.
The themes of familial love, lifelong friendships, social responsibility, faith amidst adversity, and complicated romance always appeal to me and they’re thoroughly explored in this book. Jackie’s strength while faced with unjust accusations of doing unspeakable crimes made her a sympathetic heroine. Avery’s steadfast performance of his duties despite developing conflicting personal feelings about the prime suspect Jackie and dealing with an unstable possible suspect in his best friend had me rooting for him.
My favorite character, however, is San Antonio itself. The culture, architecture, beauty, and history of this multiethnic city really came alive in the book.
We’re all guilty of believing we have plenty of time.”
For the most part, the book engaged my attention except in a couple of aspects. First is the excess of political issues raised. There’s climate change, domestic terrorism, racial profiling, gun control, budgetary constraints, etcetera. There could have been more focus on fewer causes for more impact.
Next is the weakness of the emotional ramifications after the reveal of the villain. There should have been long-term consequences for the people left behind and changes in policies, especially concerning public safety.
Lastly, the romance part needed more attention than it got. Jackie and Avery’s initial meeting was especially lacking in establishing their attraction. The ending was good but I wish there was more of the same sweetness in their journey to getting their happy-ever-after.
Huge thanks to Lone Star Lit and Thomas Nelson for the opportunity to review this book.
4 out of 5 stars
Bestseller Kelly Irvin is the author of 28 books, including romantic suspense and Amish romance. Publishers Weekly called Closer Than She Knows “a briskly written thriller.”  The Library Journal said of her novel Tell Her No Lies, “a complex web with enough twists and turns to keep even the savviest romantic suspense readers guessing until the end.” The two-time ACFW Carol Award finalist worked as a newspaper reporter for six years on the Texas-Mexico border. Those experiences fuel her romantic suspense novels set in Texas. A retired public relations professional, Kelly now writes fiction full-time. She lives with her husband professional photographer Tim Irvin in San Antonio. They have two children, three grandchildren, and two ornery cats.

—————————————————————–
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TWO WINNERS each receive signed copies!

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Click to visit the Lone Star Literary Life Tour Page
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3/24/21

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3/26/21

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3/27/21

Guest Post

3/28/21

Scrapbook Page

3/29/21

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4/1/21

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Review

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LOVE IS NEVER LOST by Katy Regnery – Featured New Release Review

LoveIsNeverLost_Available

LOVE IS NEVER LOST 

The Modern Fairy Tales Collection #8

Katy Regnery

SYNOPSIS

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From New York Times bestseller Katy Regnery comes a new twist on the beloved American legend, “Rip Van Winkle.”

Sometimes, the journey is the love story.

On the night of his high school graduation, Ripley Van Winkle—local quarterback, prom king and all-around big man on campus—swan dives off the top of the Sleepy Hollow Lighthouse. . . and lands on jagged pile of rocks. Suffering massive brain trauma, Rip isn’t expected to live, but he somehow manages to beat the odds: most of his physical injuries heal, though he remains in a deep coma for the next twenty years.

When Rip awakens two decades later, he will need to relearn his body’s most basic functions, in addition to catching up on twenty years’ worth of history, progress and change.

Something called the “internet” has the answer to every question you could ever dream of asking, and people are reliant on mobile telephones smaller than a Walkman. His high school girlfriend is married with children, and he has an eighteen-year-old sister who was born while he was “sleeping.”

As Rip struggles to find his place in this strange, new world, one presence in his life will become both a beacon and guide: his childhood friend, Katrina Van Tassel. But Trina has a challenging adult life of her own, and there’s no guarantee she has space in her life (or her heart) for her one-time high school crush . . . Rip Van Winkle.

https://geni.us/LoveIsNeverLost

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Love is Never Lost is part of the ~a modern fairytale~ collection: contemporary, standalone romances inspired by beloved fairy tales.

The Vixen and the Vet (Beauty & the Beast)
Never Let You Go (Hansel & Gretel)
Ginger’s Heart (Little Red Riding Hood)
Dark Sexy Knight (Camelot)
Don’t Speak (The Little Mermaid)
Shear Heaven (Rapunzel)
At First Sight (Aladdin)
Love is Never Lost (Rip Van Winkle)

REVIEW

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Katy Regnery’s ability to take a fairy tale and make it her own is absolutely amazing. Before I dove into Love Is Never Lost, I read the short story that inspired it and I prefer this re-imagining of Rip Van Winkle to the original a thousand times over. Handsome, athletic, and popular Ripley is much preferable to old, lazy Rip and shy, smart, insecure Trina is a vast improvement over the termagant Dame Van Winkle.

A fantasy but rooted deeply in the real world, this sweet, second-chance romance delivers on the swoon-worthy promise of  a happy-ever-after without the heaviness of unnecessary angst. Rip and Trina’s slow burn journey to finally getting together is complicated enough with the myriad challenges presented by waking up after twenty years in a coma. There’s ample tension provided to keep their path not too smooth to be boring. Engrossing and evocative, this story took me only three hours to read.

I love that this is partly set in the ’80s, my favorite decade ever. I appreciate the diversity of characters. I like the presence of strong family support and tight friendships. And I simply adore the love story between Rip and Trina, both in the past and twenty years later.

What I liked most about the original short story is the beautiful description of the Catskills. I miss that a bit here.

4 Four-half-stars

ABOUT KATY

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New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Katy Regnery has a heart for smart romance featuring strong women and decent men. Almost exclusively self-published, Katy claims authorship of almost 50 titles, including three RITA® finalists. Translated into French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, and Turkish, Katy has sold over two million books worldwide.

Author Links:

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ALL THE COWBOYS AIN’T GONE by John J. Jacobson – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

ALL THE COWBOYS AIN’T GONE

BY JOHN J. JACOBSON
 
Pages: 352
Pub Date: February 23, 2021
Categories: Historical Fiction / Action Adventure / Western
 
 

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All the Cowboys Ain’t Gone is the rollicking adventure story of Lincoln Smith, a young Texan living at the beginning of the twentieth century, who thinks of himself as the last true cowboy. He longs for the days of the Old West, when men like his father, a famous Texas Ranger, lived by the chivalric code. Lincoln finds himself hopelessly out of time and place in the fast-changing United States of the new century. When he gets his heart broken by a sweetheart who doesn’t appreciate his anachronistic tendencies, he does what any sensible young romantic would do: he joins the French Foreign Legion. 
On his way to an ancient and exotic country at the edge of the Sahara, Lincoln encounters a number of curious characters and strange adventures, from a desert hermit who can slow up time to a battle with a crocodile cult that worships the god of death. He meets them all with his own charming brand of courage and resourcefulness.
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Utterly entertaining, All The Cowboys Ain’t Gone had me laughing out loud with the characters’ antics and catching my breath with the non-stop action from beginning to end. I can see this made into a movie in the same vein as Indiana Jones and The Mummy.
Having a twelve-year-old son, I found myself taking to Lincoln right away. The opening scenes with his mother admonishing him for his language and supervising his lessons really resonated with me. The great start hooked me into this book that’s in a genre I don’t normally read.
Mr. Jacobson certainly has a flair for storytelling that’s playful and engaging. While I thought the events that happen to Lincoln from Texas to New Hampshire, Florida to New York, France to Algeria, and finally to the fictional Mur highly improbable, I still found myself engrossed in his adventures and delighted with his narrow escapes. It’s a tall tale befitting its Texas origins and I had absolutely no problem with that.
I enjoyed meeting the new characters Lincoln encountered, especially Jake and Johnny, Amanda, the Three from Camarón Legionnaires named after Alexandre Dumas’s The Three Musketeers, and Omar. I even enjoyed the villains even though they’re campy and absolutely ridiculous. It’s all part of the charm of the book.
Lincoln is easy to root for. At times naïve, he nevertheless has a core of honor and loyalty which makes him perfect for the French Foreign Legion. By the end of the book, he has absolutely learned the lesson his mother taught him when he was a boy:
… though things aren’t the way you’d prefer, there are still going to be plenty of adventures; they’re just going to be different. You’re just going to have to use your imagination to find them.”
Thanks to Lone Star Lit and Blackstone Publishing for providing me with a copy of this absolute romp of a book to review.
4 Four-half-stars

Though John J. Jacobson didn’t join the French Foreign Legion after being jilted by a girlfriend, or over his displeasure of missing the last great cattle drive, he has, borrowing Churchill’s phrase, lived a rather variegated life. He was born in Nevada, grew up in the West, surfed big waves in Hawaii, circled the world thrice, survived the sixties and seventies, corporate America, and grad school. Among other degrees he has an MA in Renaissance literature from Claremont Graduate University.

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DREAMS REKINDLED by Amanda Cabot – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

BNR Dreams Rekindled

DREAMS REKINDLED

Mesquite Springs, Book 2

BY AMANDA CABOT

Categories: Christian Historical Fiction/ Romance/ Stand-Alone
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: March 2, 2021
Pages: 352

 

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He’s bound and determined to find peace . . . but she’s about to stir things up. 

Dorothy Clark dreams of writing something that will challenge people as much as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin seems to have. But in 1850s Mesquite Springs, there are few opportunities for writers–until newspaperman Brandon Holloway arrives, that is. 
 
Brandon Holloway has seen firsthand the disastrous effects of challenging others. He has no intention of repeating that mistake. Instead of following his dreams, he’s committed to making a new–and completely uncontroversial–start in the Hill Country. 
 
As Dorothy’s involvement in the fledgling newspaper grows from convenient to essential, the same change seems to be happening in Brandon’s heart. But before romance can bloom, Dorothy and Brandon must work together to discover who’s determined to divide the town and destroy Brandon’s livelihood. 

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Baker Books (Revell) | Amazon | BN | Christianbook.com

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