THE FIRST EMMA By Camille Di Maio – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

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THE FIRST EMMA

by

Camille Di Maio

Historical Fiction / Historical Romance / Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing
Date of Publication: May 5, 2020
Number of Pages: 315

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Synopsis

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The First Emma is the true story of Emma Koehler, whose tycoon husband, Otto, was killed in a crime-of-the-century murder by one of his two mistresses—both also named Emma—and her unlikely rise as CEO of a brewing empire during Prohibition. When a chance to tell her story to a young teetotaler arises, a tale unfolds of love, war, beer, and the power of women.

PRAISE for The First Emma: 
“Di Maio’s take on a shocking American drama pleasantly blends romantic and historical fiction . . . a sweet memorialization of a real-life female business pioneer in San Antonio.” —Kirkus

“A beautifully crafted portrait of an intriguing woman. Mystery and romance are set against the backdrop of fascinating pieces of twentieth-century history, and a richly drawn setting leaves the reader feeling wholly immersed. Historical fiction fans will love this one!” —Chanel CleetonNYT bestselling author of Next Year in Havana

“Di Maio does a brilliant job of weaving together all the threads—from past to present—while unearthing a tale of blossoming love, the power of our chosen family, and the losses that make us whole again.” —Rochelle B. WeinsteinUSA Today bestselling author of This Is Not How It Ends

 

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Born out of Camille Di Maio’s creative imagination and impeccable research, The First Emma is a wonderful tribute to a remarkable woman whose historic contributions to San Antonio have not been much touted as she deserved. Seamlessly intertwining fact and fiction, dual timelines, details of the brewery business, and the intricacies of the lives of two women, Ms. Di Maio has created a novel that engages the emotions and captivates the intellect at the same time.

In this book, close-to-dying Emma Koehler narrates her life story to young Mabel Hartley, spanning from her and her husband’s beginnings in St. Louis through their move to Texas and until the end of the Prohibition. All the while, the titular Emma provides a new home for the lonely young woman, matchmakes her with Erik, a nephew, and inspires her in her future. As Mabel said in the book, “Mrs. Koehler’s story was interesting, yes. But more than that, it offered hope to girls who were beginning to see a world where opportunities were available to them that were never there before.”

Having lived in San Antonio, I delighted in being transported to its past. I’ve only seen Pearl as it is now, a tourist destination filled with chic shops and fancy restaurants. This book took me on a fascinating “tour” of how it was seventy years ago through detailed descriptions of the brewery, cars, and the war. I can only say the “trip” was awesome.

So many themes in this book resonated with me–female strength, found family, hope, and love. I highlighted several passages that spoke to me.

“… there is much in life that is out of our control. The answer is not to give up and crumble. The answer is to find a way around it, no matter the difficulty. No matter how impossible the obstacles.”

I related so much to this because I met cousins in San Antonio I didn’t know I have. “… what I can give them is the gift of each other. It’s not easy to come from a different country and make a life here. But if they have each other to lean on, they will have a far better foundation than most.”

Well-crafted and evocative, The First Emma is a novel I highly recommend for readers of historical fiction and historical romance, and maybe even those who like true crime.

Content advisory: On-page deaths, gun violence, alcoholism, war.

4 Four-half-stars

 

AboutTheAuthor

Camille Di MaioCamille Di Maio always dreamed of being a writer, though she took a winding path of waitressing, temping, politicking, and real estate to get there. It all came to fruition with the publication of her bestselling debut, The Memory of Us, followed by Before the Rain FallsThe Way of Beauty, and The Beautiful Strangers. In addition to writing, she loves farmers’ markets, unashamedly belts out Broadway tunes when the mood strikes, and regularly faces her fear of flying to indulge her passion for travel. Married for twenty-three years, she home-schools their four children. (Though the first two are off at college now!) She is happy to live in Virginia near a beach.

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ONE WINNER receives a signed copy of The First Emma 

May 19-29, 2020
(US only)

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5/19/20 Promo Texas Book Lover
5/19/20 BONUS Post Hall Ways Blog
5/20/20 Review Missus Gonzo
5/21/20 Author Video Max Knight
5/22/20 Review Librariel Book Adventures
5/23/20 Excerpt Part 1 All the Ups and Downs
5/24/20 Excerpt Part 2 Story Schmoozing Book Reviews
5/25/20 Review Carpe Diem Chronicles
5/26/20 Excerpt Part 3 The Page Unbound
5/27/20 Review Chapter Break Book Blog
5/28/20 Review Momma on the Rocks

 

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THANK YOU, GARDEN By Liz Garton Scanlon – Blitz, Review, and Giveaway

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THANK YOU, GARDEN

By LIZ GARTON SCANLON

Illustrated by Simone Shin

Children’s Picture Book / Poetry / Environment / Ages 3-7
Publisher: Beach Lane Books / Simon & Schuster
Date of Publication: March 3, 2020
Number of Pages: 32

Synopsis

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A community garden unites neighbors in this celebration of all the things that grow there, from flowers and fruits, to friendships!

This ode to working together for a better world will have young readers wanting to plant gardens of their own!

 

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Lyrical captions perfectly synced with superb drawings depicting a diverse, inclusive community that cares deeply for the environment make this picture book a must-buy for purchasers of children’s literature.

My fifth-grader delighted in reading the passages out loud because of the simplicity and rhythm of the words. He related well with the children in the book since it’s his responsibility to water my flowers and herbs on the porch of our home. He rated it five stars.

For my part, I approve the representation of various races, genders, and age groups in the characters. That’s reflective of the multicultural society we live in today. I also appreciate the positive values imparted in the book – environmental sustainability, self-sufficiency, and sense of community. I rate it five stars as well.

5 stars

AboutTheAuthor

TYG authorLiz Garton Scanlon is the author of many beloved books for kids, including the brand new Thank You, Garden, as well as the Caldecott Honor book All the World and others, including several co-authored with her pal Audrey Vernick. Scanlon also wrote the middle grade novel The Great Good Summer and is published in numerous poetry anthologies. She serves on the faculty of the Vermont Faculty of Fine Arts and is a frequent and popular presenter at conferences and festivals. Find more about her life and work at www.LizGartonScanlon.com

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Each winner gets an autographed/personalized copy of

THANK YOU, GARDEN and ANOTHER WAY TO CLIMB A TREE
MAY 14-21, 2020
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FULL CIRCLE by Pamela Lombana – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

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FULL CIRCLE: A MEMOIR

by

PAMELA LOMBANA

Genre:  Memoir / Domestic Abuse / Forgiveness
Publisher: Wordfall Publishing
Date of Publication: December 5, 2019
Number of Pages: 217

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Synopsis

Full Circle cover 3D 2Alcoholism and domestic abuse creep silently into people’s lives, shattering dreams. For Pamela Lombana, the excitement of marriage turned into paralyzing fear as alcohol became her husband’s best friend. Surviving the daily physical and emotional abuse was the norm for her and their children. Full Circle tells the story of how love and God’s abiding grace helped Pamela find the strength to leave her husband, Fernando. During this journey, healing and forgiveness allowed her and the children to be there for him when he needed them the most.

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A mother's love for her children empowers her to find her voice, forgive, and begin to live again.

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Pamela Lombana is unflinchingly honest and incredibly brave in sharing this autobiography that narrates how she and her children freed themselves from the harrowing shackles of domestic abuse and led fulfilled lives after allowing themselves to forgive. Full Circle is an affecting memoir, a valuable first-hand resource for those in a similar situation, and a testament to the power of faith and love.

Ms. Lombana’s narrative is real and believable. She could have overly-dramatized the situations of gaslighting, verbal assaults, and even physical violence she had suffered in the hands of her husband but she didn’t. She was fair to Fernando by providing his background of parental cruelty, allowing the readers to have an understanding of his situation. His alcohol addiction, his unwillingness to seek psychiatric help, the presence of enablers, and the lack of a more powerful influence placed him beyond saving from his path of self-destruction.

In life, everyone has their own struggles to fight and their own battles to win. I hope I can give my children the tools to do this.I like that the author balanced the heavy and serious accounts of helplessness and depression with light and uplifting anecdotes about the children and their adjustment to moving and living with limited resources. I also appreciate her acknowledgment of the people who’d helped her escape and supported her throughout her struggles. Readers of this book who recognize similar situations in their friends and family could learn how to assist the victims in making the changes they need to break away from the chains that bind them to an abuser.

A non-fiction book like this memoir is not my first choice of reading material. I read, write, and live romance. Full Circle compelled me to make an exception because above all, this is a book filled with love–love of self, of family, and of God. It warms my heart that Ms. Lombana shares the story of finding a new partner at the end of the book and from her accounts, they’re working together for their happily-ever-after. That is the very definition of romance.

5 stars

 

AboutTheAuthor

Pamela Lombana

Pamela Lombana grew up in Colombia, South America, and emigrated to the United States to attend university. In 1999, Pamela became a pediatric nurse practitioner and went on to run a pediatric clinic in Spring Branch, Texas. Pamela loves working with families and children and focuses on educating her patients and their families. Pamela values strong family ties and friendships. She has three children and four stepchildren. Writing is a passion that started in Pamela’s teenage years. She enjoys being amongst nature and loves to go hiking with her husband, Mark.

Pamela is passionate about empowering women and providing them with tools to navigate life through her book, Full Circle: A Memoir, her blog, and Wordfall Publishing. Pamela wrote her memoir to offer hope and courage to women experiencing alcoholic and abusive situations.

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4/21/20 Notable Quotable Reading by Moonlight
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4/22/20 Review Book Fidelity
4/23/20 Excerpt The Clueless Gent
4/24/20 Review Tangled in Text
4/25/20 Review KayBee’s Book Shelf
4/26/20 Author Interview StoreyBook Reviews
4/27/20 Review Rainy Days with Amanda
4/28/20 Guest Post All the Ups and Downs
4/29/20 Review Carpe Diem Chronicles
4/30/20 Review Kelly Well Read

 

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FOR SPACIOUS SKIES By Nancy Churnin: Book Blog Tour – Review and Giveaway

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FOR SPACIOUS SKIES

KATHARINE LEE BATES AND THE INSPIRATION FOR “AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL”

by

Nancy Churnin

illustrated by Olga Baumert

Picture Book Biography / Women’s Suffrage / Woman Poet
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Date of Publication: April 1, 2020
Number of Pages: 32

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Synopsis

FSS book coverAs a little girl growing up during the Civil War, Katharine Lee Bates grew up to become a poet, professor, and social activist. She not only wrote “America the Beautiful” but gave this anthem to America as a gift. A member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and a suffragist who stood up for a woman’s right to vote and lived to cast her ballot in presidential elections, Katharine believed in the power of words to make a difference. In “America the Beautiful,” her vision of the nation as a great family, united from sea to shining sea, continues to uplift and inspire us all.

 

PRAISE for For Spacious Skies: 

“Churnin tells that story in a spare and lively text beautifully complemented by double-page spreads highlighting Baumert’s gorgeous panoramic illustrations . . . A handsome volume befitting its subject.”—Kirkus Reviews

“The story ends on a high note in 1920, with Bates casting her ballot after the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, which granted voting rights to women . . . The richly colored, nicely composed artwork will help children visualize the period setting while enjoying the portrayals of Bates and beautiful landscapes. A picture-book biography of a notable American.”—Booklist

“Nancy Churnin has written a delightful book that helps children understand the many dimensions of my great-aunt Katharine Lee Bates. This book does an excellent job conveying her ardent passion for equal rights and for her country. She was a poet, a professor, and a world traveler, but she was first and foremost a citizen who loved America, in all its beauty and diversity.”—Katharine Lee Holland

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Exquisitely illustrated, inspiring, and educational, For Spacious Skies is a gem of a picture biography I would strongly recommend elementary school librarians, Reading teachers, and parents of school-age kids purchase right away.

Growing up in the Philippines, I’ve heard of the song “America the Beautiful” but haven’t known anything about the writer who penned the tribute to this country’s wonders from coast to coast until now. Along with my fifth-grader son, I learned of Katharine Lee Bates’s feminism and her drive to make a difference through her words. We felt an affinity with her when she beheld the marvelous sights from the top of Pikes Peak, a place we’ve visited and lived close by.

FSS bookstagram 2Touching on major events that happened during the lifetime of Miss Bates, from the Civil War to Lincoln Assassination to women’s suffrage, this book teaches history to children in a way that appeals as well as informs. My son was particularly shocked upon learning that there was a time when women didn’t have the right to vote. His reaction made me think that girls would be inspired by Miss Bates even more and all kids who read this would seek to follow in her footsteps in speaking up for women and the poor, and advocating for peace in the US and the world.

With its artful cover and instructive content, For Spacious Skies is a worthy addition to any library.

4 Four-half-stars

 

AboutTheAuthor

ChurninNancy Churnin is the award-winning author of eight picture book biographies with a ninth due in 2021.

Beautiful Shades of Brown, The Art of Laura Wheeler Waring is A Mighty Girl pick that will be featured at the 2020 Ruby Bridges Reading Festival at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee in May. The William Hoy Story, a Texas 2X2 pick, has been on multiple state reading lists. Manjhi Moves a Mountain is the winner of the 2018 South Asia Book Award and a Junior Library Guild selection. Martin & Anne, the Kindred Spirits of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Anne Frank is on the 2020 Notable Book for a Global Society list from the International Literacy Association. Irving Berlin, the Immigrant Boy Who Made America Sing is a 2019 Sydney Taylor and National Council for the Social Studies Notable.

Nancy graduated cum laude from Harvard, has a master’s from Columbia, and lives in Plano, Texas, with her husband, Dallas Morning News arts writer Michael Granberry, their dog named Dog, and two cantankerous cats.

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ONE WINNER receives signed copies of both
For Spacious Skies and Beautiful Shades of Brown 
TWO WINNERS each receive a signed copy of For Spacious Skies
April 16-26, 2020
(US only for signed copies; international winners via Book Depository)

 

VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

4/16/20

Notable Quotable Book Fidelity
4/16/20 Review Carpe Diem Chronicles
4/17/20 Book Trailer KayBee’s Book Shelf
4/18/20 Review Chapter Break Book Blog
4/18/20 Sneak Peek Hall Ways Blog
4/19/20 Author Interview StoreyBook Reviews
4/20/20 Review Story Schmoozing Book Reviews
4/21/20 Playlist Texas Book Lover
4/21/20 Review That’s What She’s Reading
4/22/20 Author Interview Tangled in Text
4/23/20 Guest Post Max Knight
4/23/20 Review All the Ups and Downs
4/24/20 Deleted Scene Reading by Moonlight
4/25/20 Review Forgotten Winds
4/25/20 Review Jennifer Silverwood

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ONCE A RAKE, ALWAYS A ROGUE by Catherine Stein – Release Day Review & Giveaway

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Happy Release Day to Catherine Stein’s Once a Rake, Always a Rogue, the third book from her Potions and Passions series.

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He’s mended his ways.

Dr. Ernest Montford has left behind his rakish youth for a respectable life mixing medicinal potions and helping patients. So when his best friend’s sister is threatened with incarceration in an asylum, he rushes to help. But Lady Astrid Wembley isn’t keen to heed Monte’s medical advice. Worse, she’s part of his wild past: the mysterious girl he could never forget.

But the woman he can’t forget…

Astrid has fond memories of her long-ago passionate encounter on the beach. Unfortunately, the Monte who kissed her so thoroughly that day shows little resemblance to the stuffy, abstemious doctor with absurd health advice. Still, she has little choice but to put up with him until her sanity is proven and she can return to her life of scientific study.

Might be his undoing.

Dangerous potions and unethical experiments await Astrid if she fails, and only with Monte’s help can she expose the true horrors of the asylum and thwart the plans of the men controlling it. But the longer Astrid and Monte are together, the more their old passion sparks, and the more she longs to unleash the rogue that still lurks inside him.

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A long silence passed between them before Lady Astrid sighed.

“Very well. I shall practice my social niceties. Lovely to see you, Dr. Montford. How are you this morning?”

Hungover and lustful.

“Very well, thank you.”

“What are those peculiar little cakes on your plate?”

Monte glanced down at the small round cakes. The cook had done a masterful job, making them perfect circles of a lovely dark-brown color. “Bran loaves. I eat them every morning. Your cook was kind enough to make a batch for me.”

“How curious. May I try one?”

“Certainly.” He sliced off a small bite and transferred it to her plate. “You would do well to eat them, yourself. They are most healthful.”

She chewed her bite slowly, and her nose wrinkled in distaste. “Ugh. It’s like eating paper.”

“The rich foods you’ve eaten of late have no doubt overstimulated your palate. I assure you, if you were to eat them every morning as I do, you would find them appetizing.”

“I doubt that.”

Monte sipped his tea. It was as strong as he’d hoped. “The bran loaves stimulate healthful digestion and do not overset the stomach. This allows both the body and mind to begin the day in a restive state. Unlike your cheese, which may well cause dyspepsia when ingested so early in the morning.”

Astrid’s brow furrowed, but her tone remained even, “I’m very fond of cheese.”

“I never eat cheese,” Monte explained. “Nor do I adulterate my tea with milk. It adds an unnecessary richness and dilutes the beneficial properties of the beverage.”

“How unpatriotic of you.”

Was she mocking him again?

“What do you eat, Dr. Montford? Other than your revolting little cakes, I mean.”

“Vegetables.”

She gave him a skeptical arch of her brow once more. “Vegetables.”

“Yes.”

There was a distinct lack of vegetables at the breakfast table this morning. Dinner had provided only a few withered specimens with most of the nutrition boiled out of them.

“Nothing else? You did eat some of the chicken last night, though you avoided the sauce.”

“Moderate portions of meat. Nuts and beans. But primarily vegetables.”

“No fruits?”

“Rarely.”

“That’s a pity. I love fruit. There’s nothing quite like biting into a perfectly ripe apple, don’t you think? It floods one’s mouth with that crisp, juicy taste. So sweet, with just the right tart bite.”

Monte swallowed a groan. Now he was fixated on her mouth again. He gulped his tea to prevent himself saying anything he would later regret.

Astrid hopped from her seat, forcing him to set down the cup and rise.

“It was interesting chatting with you in a civil manner, Dr. Montford,” she said. “I must go and prepare for our journey. Enjoy your tasteless breakfast.”

He nodded and watched her leave before resuming his seat and pouring himself another cup of tea. He wished it were a good, strong whisky.

“Cal, you bastard,” he muttered. “You haven’t just asked for a favor. You’ve asked me to do the impossible.”

 

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Catherine Stein

Award-winning author Catherine Stein believes that everyone deserves love and that Happily Ever After has the power to help, to heal, and to comfort. She writes sassy, sexy romance set during the Victorian and Edwardian eras and full of action, adventure, magic, and fantastic technologies.

Catherine lives in Michigan with her husband and three rambunctious girls. She loves steampunk and oxford commas, and can often be found dressed in clothing that was purchased at a Renaissance Festival, drinking copious amounts of tea.

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Catherine Stein’s books are auto-buys for me because they never fail to entertain and educate at the same time.  Her latest release Once a Rake, Always a Rogue brings an enhanced element of humor that, in addition to fascinating characters, fast-paced action, and expected competence porn, made reading it a delightful diversion. These days, when there’s still no antidote to the global medical crisis we’re facing, a potion comprised of those elements of great writing could be just what we need to get us through days and weeks of social distancing.

From their titillating first encounter, Astrid and Monte captivated my attention. Their witty and snappy banter incited hilarity which made me thankful I read it at home. Their expertise in their respective fields provided interesting information I didn’t expect to learn from a romance novel.  Both have likable, engaging personalities that make it easy to root for their happy ever after.

All that lightness doesn’t mean there is no depth to this book. On the contrary. Once a Rake, Always a Rogue touched on issues of female empowerment,  body positivity, interracial relationships, and patriarchy in a manner that is natural and integral to the story and not at all forced or preachy.

Funny, steamy, instructive, utterly enjoyable. Another five-star read.

5 stars

 

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OUT OF THE EMBERS by Amanda Cabot: Book Blog Tour – Author Interview

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OUT OF THE EMBERS

MESQUITE SPRINGS, BOOK ONE

by

Amanda Cabot

Genre: Historical Fiction / Christian Romance
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: March 3, 2020
Number of Pages: 336

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Synopsis

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Ten years after her parents were killed, Evelyn Radcliffe is once more homeless. The orphanage that was her refuge and later her workplace has burned to the ground, and only she and a young orphan girl have escaped. Convinced this must be related to her parents’ murders, Evelyn flees with the girl to Mesquite Springs in the Texas Hill Country and finds refuge in the home of Wyatt Clark, a talented horse rancher whose plans don’t include a family of his own.

At first, Evelyn is a distraction. But when it becomes clear that trouble has followed her to Mesquite Springs, she becomes a full-blown disruption. Can Wyatt keep her safe from the man who wants her dead? And will his own plans become collateral damage?

Suspenseful and sweetly romantic, Out of the Embers is the first in a new series that invites you to the Texas Hill Country in the 1850s, when the West was wild, the men were noble, and the women were strong.

 

PRAISE FOR OUT OF THE EMBERS:

Out of the Embers is part prairie romance, part romantic suspense. I can’t remember when I’ve enjoyed a book more. Amanda Cabot has written an intriguing, chilling mystery and she winds it through the pages of a sweet romance in a way that made me keep turning the pages fast to see what was going to happen next. An absolutely excellent read. And now I’m hungry for oatmeal pecan pie!”

~ Mary Connealy, author of Aiming for Love, book #1 in the Brides of Hope Mountain series

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AboutTheAuthor

amanda cabot

 

Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of the Cimarron Creek trilogy, as well as the Texas Crossroads series, the Texas Dreams series, the Westward Winds series, and Christmas Roses. Her books have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Awards, the HOLT Medallion, and the Booksellers’ Best. She lives in Wyoming.

 

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INTERVIEW WITH AMANDA CABOT

What inspired the idea for your new book, Out of the Embers?

I’ve always been fascinated by the way that events of the past shape us, so I started brainstorming worst case scenarios. What if a young girl’s parents were murdered and she never knew why? What if she still felt as if someone was watching her and planning to kill her too, even though it’s been ten years? What if she narrowly missed being inside her new home when it was destroyed and everyone died? These were the seeds of Out of the Embers.

Out of the Embers is set in a fictional small town in the Texas Hill Country. What inspired you to create a place like Mesquite Springs?

By now, readers have probably figured out that I enjoy bringing small towns to life, particularly in the Texas Hill Country. The challenge for me is making each of my fictional towns different. After all, I wouldn’t want anyone to say “same old, same old” when reading one of my stories. What distinguishes Mesquite Springs from Ladreville and Cimarron Creek is that it’s experiencing a period of growth with new businesses and new people coming to town. Those people change the town’s dynamics—some in good ways, some in not-so-good ways—but they all make their mark on Mesquite Springs.

Two of the main characters in Out of the Embers, Evelyn and Polly, are joined together through a fire that destroys their home. But, that’s not the only thing the two have in common. Can you tell us a little more about their relationship?

Besides both being orphans, Evelyn and Polly share enough of a resemblance that when she flees after the orphanage is destroyed, Evelyn finds it easy to pretend that Polly is her younger sister. In truth, their relationship is more like mother and daughter than sisters, with Polly depending on Evelyn to make her fondest dream come true: finding her a new daddy.

Did anything surprise you as you were writing the novel?

Yes, as a matter of fact. Although I plot my books before I begin the actual writing process and rarely make major deviations from those plots, this time when I was about half through the first draft, I realized that what I had envisioned for Wyatt’s life after the book ended wasn’t the right one for him. He needed to stay in Mesquite Springs, and he needed a compelling reason to stay. The mayoral race was the result of those realizations.

Did you face any challenges in creating this story? What was the hardest scene to write?

The biggest challenge was not revealing too much about the two men who are secondary characters too soon but still giving readers enough reason to care about what was going to happen to them.

I wouldn’t say that any one scene was particularly difficult to write, but perhaps that’s because I tend to agonize over every scene, trying to make it as close to perfect as possible.

Do you see parts of yourself in any of your characters?

I’d like to claim that my characters are totally fictional, but the truth is that I, like all authors, bring parts of myself to each story. The fact that I’m the oldest of four children made Evelyn’s almost parental relationship with Polly an easy one for me to write.

What do you hope readers will gain from Out of the Embers?

As always, I hope they’ll finish the book with a smile on their faces, a renewed belief in the healing power of love, and the knowledge that God can—and does—answer prayers.

OOTE meme 2

 

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THREE WINNERS
One Grand Prize Winner
Copy of Out of the Embers + Special Hill Country Sweets Cookbook
+$25 Barnes and Noble Gift Card
Next Two Winners:
Copy of Out of the Embers + Special Hill Country Sweets Cookbook 
+ $10 Starbucks Card
March 10-March 20, 2020
(US ONLY)

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VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

3/10/20 Notable Quotable Forgotten Winds
3/10/20 Review Librariel Book Adventures
3/11/20 Review Jennifer Silverwood
3/11/20 BONUS Post Hall Ways Blog
3/12/20 Excerpt, Part 1 Story Schmoozing Book Reviews
3/12/20 Author Interview All the Ups and Downs
3/13/20 Character Spotlight The Clueless Gent
3/13/20 Review Reading by Moonlight
3/14/20 Guest Post Chapter Break Book Blog
3/15/20 Author Interview Carpe Diem Chronicles
3/16/20 Excerpt, Part 2 That’s What She’s Reading
3/16/20 Review StoreyBook Reviews
3/17/20 Review Missus Gonzo
3/18/20 Excerpt, Part 3 Max Knight
3/19/20 Review Momma on the Rocks
3/19/20 Review Book Fidelity

 

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ONCE UPON A SUNSET by Tif Marcelo – Release Day Review and Giveaway

OUAS graphic 2

ONCE UPON A SUNSET

by

Tif Marcelo

SYNOPSIS

OUASbookcoverDiana Gallagher-Cary is at a tipping point. As a Washington, DC, OB/GYN at a prestigious hospital, she uses her career to distract herself from her grief over her granny’s death and her breakup from her long-term boyfriend after her free-spirited mother moves in with her. But when she makes a medical decision that disparages the hospital, she is forced to go on a short sabbatical.

Never one to wallow, Diana decides to use the break to put order in her life, when her mother, Margo, stumbles upon a box of letters from her grandfather, Antonio Cruz, to her grandmother from the 1940s. The two women always believed that Antonio died in World War II, but the letters reveal otherwise. When they learn that he lived through the war, and that they have surviving relatives in the Philippines, Diana becomes determined to connect with the family that she never knew existed, though Margo refuses to face her history. But Diana pushes on, and heads on a once-in-a-lifetime trip that challenges her identity, family history, and her idea of romantic love that could change her life forever.

Buy links: 

Tif’s Website
Indiebound
Amazon
B&N
Kobo
Simon & Schuster

 

REVIEW

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This richly-layered and immensely touching tale of family, friendships, and love is another winner from Tif Marcelo. I’m honored to have been given the opportunity to read both an early draft and an advanced copy of the final version. Both solidified my respect and admiration for the author of such engaging reads as Once Upon a Sunset.

At the forefront is the complicated relationship between super-analytical Diana and her social media-savvy mother Margo. Both are still reeling from the death of Leora, the third female lead of the book whose secrets affected her descendants’ present and future in ways neither of them imagined. Their separate quests to find answers to  individual questions about identity and purpose eventually brought them closer to each other which is as satisfying an ending as any happily-ever-afters out there. That both also found romantic love in the process makes this an all-around enjoyable read.

Set in both the US and the Philippines, Once Upon a Sunset presents aspects of Filipino-American culture that only someone who belongs could articulate. There’s plenty of delicious food, a smattering of Filipino language, and a bit of intricate family setup. And then, there’s the matter-of-fact acknowledgment of the Filipino migrants’ contributions to many US historical causes, particularly to their service during World War II through the character of Antonio Cruz.  That’s something that is seldom celebrated in publishing to the point that it adds to the sense of erasure that the minority group to which both Tif and I belong to experiences. For this solid piece of representation, I give this book top marks.

PS: I read this novel in both eBook and paperback and I have to state my preference for and recommendation of the paper version. The formatting of the letters and text messages added an extra-special dimension that enhanced my enjoyment of the story.

5 stars

ABOUT TIF 

Tif Marcelo

Tif Marcelo is a veteran army nurse and holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Master of Public Administration. She believes and writes about the strength of families, the endurance of friendship, heartfelt romances, and is inspired daily by her own military hero husband and four children. She is also the author of The Key to Happily Ever After and the Journey to the Heart series.

Follow her here:

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

 

 

GIVEAWAY

Gallery Books is generously sponsoring a paperback giveaway of Once Upon a Sunset to one of my followers. All you have to do to enter is follow Tif Marcelo on BookBub and tell me in the comments that you’ve done so. Bonus entry if you also follow me. I’ll draw the winner on Tuesday, March 10 at 12 noon Central Time.

 

Tif Heartwarming Fiction

 

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. Keep in mind that I link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.

TUCKER by Emily March – Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

Eternity Springs_ Tucker Blog Tour Banner

TUCKER

by

Emily March

SYNOPSIS

Tucker (2)

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Emily March comes the second book in the Eternity Springs: The McBrides of Texas trilogy, TUCKER (St. Martin’s Paperbacks, February 25, 2020, $7.99). Two business owners come head-to-head in a feud with tulle and grit in this passionate story. This tale shows that even when life changes from the stress of a military career to working next to a wedding planner, love always finds a way to begin, even if it was never thought possible.

Meet Gillian Thacker. Her business: Bliss Bridal Salon. Her passion: Weddings. Her own wedding: It’s complicated. Life isn’t turning out like she’d planned. The last thing she wants is for a real-life hero to ride to her rescue, but an unexpected event puts her entire future in Redemption, Texas, at risk. So what’s a brokenhearted bridal expert to do? Maybe a new set of survival skills is exactly what she needs …

Tucker McBride has been proud to call himself a U.S. Army Ranger. But now that his days of service are over, he’s decided to put his expertise to use by founding a wilderness skills training school. He sets up shop in Redemption, next to Bliss Bridal, and so begins life: Part Two. Marriage has been pretty low on his agenda, but as soon as he meets Gillian, Tucker can’t help but contemplate the ultimate challenge: Convincing the reluctant bride to take his hand and leap into the adventure of a lifetime . . . until death do them part.

Buy-Book Links:

Macmillan  –  Amazon  –  Barnes & Noble 

Books-A-Million  –  Indie Bound  –  Powell’s

 

ABOUT EMILY

Copy of Emily March

Emily March is the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and USA Today bestselling author of over thirty novels, including the critically acclaimed Eternity Springs series. Publishers Weekly calls March a “master of delightful banter,” and her heartwarming, emotionally charged stories have been named to Best of the Year lists by Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Romance Writers of America.

A graduate of Texas A&M University, Emily is an avid fan of Aggie sports and her recipe for jalapeño relish has made her a tailgating legend.

Twitter: @emilymarchbooks
Facebook: @emilymarchbooks 
Instagram: @emilymarchbooks 
Author Website: https://emilymarch.com/
Macmillan Author Page: https://us.macmillan.com/author/emilymarch

 

REVIEW

Two of the things I admire most about Emily March’s writing are her great sense of place and her authentic “voice” for her male characters. Texan readers can immediately recognize references to state favorites like Buc-ee’s and Dr. Pepper and take sides in the rivalries between college football teams. The characterization of Tucker, Jackson, Boone, even Jeremy is believable. Their language sounds real.

I found myself charmed by both Tucker and Gillian from the start. I enjoyed their meet-cute and was invested immediately in their happy ending. Of course, the path to happily-ever-after is never smooth and we have to contend with an ongoing relationship that had to be resolved first before our pair is matched with each other.

I loved the strength of friendships and family relationships that run in these Eternity Springs books. I prefer it when the protagonists in the stories I read have a reliable support system. In this story, Gillian has her mother and her best friends while Tucker counts on his cousins.

Another aspect of the book I enjoyed so much is the competence porn – Tucker’s survival skills workshop was quite informative and incredibly useful in real life. I really appreciate a book that educates at the same time that it entertains.

As with the previous book, the scenes away from Redemption are not my favorites., although the Vegas portion was quite fun and the visits to Eternity  Springs in Colorado were necessary for the plot to move along. The number of named characters are more manageable here than in Jackson. There’s still a lot, but not as many as in the previous book.

Overall, I really enjoyed Tucker. It is light and entertaining with enough conflict to make things interesting. I’m excited to see how Emily writes Boone’s intriguing story.

 

4 out of 5 stars

 

GIVEAWAY

Macmillan is giving away a paperback copy of Tucker to one of my readers. All you have to do to enter is visit my column at Lone Star Literary Life called Texas Reads Roundup: Romance where I featured this book and tell me in the comments below if you’ve done so. I’ll draw the winner on Tuesday, March 3 at 12 noon Central Time.

AN EVERYDAY HERO by Laura Trentham – Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

An Everydaty Hero On Sale Banner

AN EVERYDAY HERO

Book 2, Heart of a Hero Series

Laura Trentham

 

SYNOPSIS

An Everyday Hero cover image

From award-winning author Laura Trentham comes An Everyday Hero, an emotionally layered novel about redemption, second chances and discovering that life is worth fighting for.

At thirty, Greer Hadley never expected to be forced home to Madison, Tennessee with her life and dreams of being a songwriter up in flames. To make matters worse, a series of bad decisions and even crappier luck lands her community service hours at a nonprofit organization that aids veterans and their families. Greer cannot fathom how she’s supposed to use music to help anyone deal with their trauma and loss when the one thing that brought her joy has failed her.

When Greer meets fifteen-year-old Ally Martinez, her plans to stay detached and do as little as possible get thrown away. New to town and dealing with the death of her father in action, she hides her emotions behind a mask of bitterness and sarcasm, but Greer is able to see past it and recognizes pieces of who she once was in Ally. The raw and obvious talent she possesses could take her to the top and Greer vows to make sure life’s negativities don’t derail Ally’s potential.

After Greer is assigned a veteran to help, she’s not surprised Emmett Lawson, the town’s golden boy, followed his family’s legacy. What leaves her shocked is the shell of a man who believes he doesn’t deserve anyone’s help. A breakthrough with Ally reminds Greer that no one is worth giving up on. So she shows up one day with his old guitar and meets Emmett’s rage head on with her stubbornness. When a situation with Ally becomes dire, the two of them must become a team to save her—and along the way, they might just save themselves too.

Buy it here:

Macmillan / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Books-A-Million / Indie Bound / Powell’s

REVIEW

An immensely enjoyable read, An Everyday Hero elicits both laughter and tears. Ms. Trentham’s development of the story and the characters can only be described as skillful. She achieved a balance between humor and angst that I found utterly delightful.

Despite all of Greer’s setbacks, she remains funny and caring. Once roused from his wallowing, Emmett turns out to be an adorable hero. I love that both started out as messed up but once they rekindled their friendship, they started to heal and support each other in finding their purpose. Their sparkling banter made their dialogues fun to read. Their chemistry is obvious from the beginning and it’s easy to follow how they transitioned from friends to lovers.

“An anchor weighs you down. Keeps you in one place. Why would you want to be with someone like that? You should be with someone who encourages you to fly.”

Ally’s story is heartbreaking and far too real among military kids. I appreciate the way Ms. Trentham incorporated music in getting her to open up to Greer. The most important of the secondary characters, Ally is edgy and sympathetic at the same time.

The author really captured the essence of a Southern small town from the sweet tea to the busybodies to the country music. I also really loved the roles family and friends played in assuring that the story concludes happily.

I found this book highly-entertaining and recommend it to readers of romance and women’s fiction.

Content advisory – battle scenes in a nightmare and retelling.

Heat level – low (kisses only)

4 Four-half-stars

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Trentham Author Photo

LAURA TRENTHAM is an award-winning author of contemporary and historical romance. The Military Wife is her debut women’s fiction novel. A chemical engineer by training and a lover of books by nature, she lives in South Carolina.

GIVEAWAY

Macmillan is generously giving a paperback copy of An Everyday Hero to one of my lucky readers. All you have to do to qualify in a random draw is Like and Comment on this post and Follow this blog if you haven’t done so yet. I will announce the winner on Tuesday, February 11 at 12 noon Central time

THE MAIL ORDER BRIDE’S SECRET by Linda Broday – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

MOBS blog tour cover

THE MAIL ORDER
BRIDE’S SECRET
Outlaw’s Mail Order Bride,
Book Three

by

LINDA BRODAY

Genre: Historical Western Romance
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: January 28, 2020
Number of Pages: 352 pages

SCROLL DOWN FOR THE GIVEAWAY!

 

Synopsis

MOBS book cover

When the West was wild and man’s law favored the few, these extraordinary women could be found…in the heart of an outlaw.

When three young children show up on outlaw Tait Trinity’s doorstep, he knows he can’t help them―a wanted man has no business raising kids. And yet he can’t bring himself to turn them away. At a loss, he sends for the mail order bride he’d been writing to, hoping the demure dressmaker will be the answer to his prayers.

Melanie Dunbar is nothing like the bride Tait was expecting. She’s rough and tumble … and hiding an ulterior motive. Dangerous men have taken her sister hostage, and if Melanie wants to see her alive, she’ll have to betray her new husband. There’s only one problem―the more time she spends with Tait, the more she comes to care for him. Yet as the noose begins to tighten, Melanie will have to make a terrible choice: save her sister … or the man she loves.

 

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PURCHASE THE BOOK
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Review_preview

MOBS bookstagramHeart-pounding action from the deadly beginning to the daring rescue in the end. With her justice-seeking outlaw hero Tait and brave mail-order bride heroine Melanie, Ms. Broday once again gave readers an exhilarating tale of romance, family (both blood and found), and community amidst the lawless landscape of the Old West.

“I want someone to share my life with–the sunshine, the storms, and the days when everything seems just about perfect.”

What began as an unwilling deception on Mellie’s part and helpless desperation on Tait’s developed into heated desire and a love so strong they’re both willing to lay down their lives for the other. I really liked the slow build-up of the relationship between these two main characters. There was an instant attraction but they didn’t act on it until they were already wed. I appreciate the choice to have Mellie confess her deception mid-way into the story. Had her false act gone on too long without Tait knowing would have disappointed me and made me enjoy the story less. Even more so if he found out before she told him. That speaks so well about Ms. Broday’s expertise in crafting an engaging tale.

“I’ve found out that love is like the flow of a river–constant, something that fills up all the aching, empty places.”

I think this book is well-balanced in that the heavy elements are lightened by funny bits especially from the antics of the twins Joe and Jesse and their adorable sister Becky. What a scene-stealer! I also liked seeing characters from previous books featured to move Tait and Mellie’s story along without overpowering them. I suspect (and hope) that a couple of the secondary characters will have their full-length stories made and I am looking forward to reading them.

While I enjoyed the majority of the book, there were a few things that had me knocking down some points in my overall rating. I had to suspend disbelief with the speed of the telegram system they have in place, the convenient coincidences, and the ease in which the rescue was accomplished. Also, the villains needed more dimension in their characterization.

Content advisory: There’s plenty of gun violence in this book. This is a historical western novel and new readers should be aware of the numerous on-page shooting and taking of life scenes.

4 out of 5 stars

 

MOBS meme

PRAISE FOR THE MAIL ORDER BRIDE’S SECRET:

“This is another page-turning period romance from Broday.” Publisher’s Weekly

“Broday does a fabulous job of telling a story filled with humor, angst and some candid truths just so we don’t romanticize this period in our history.” Fresh Fiction

“This book was absolutely mesmerizing with nonstop action, full of laughter, tears and just a downright good Old fashioned Wild West story as only Linda Broday can do.” Glenda (Goodreads reviewer)

 

AboutTheAuthor

tomob linda brodayI’m a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over twenty historical western romance novels and short stories. I reside in the Texas Panhandle on land the American Indian and Comancheros once roamed, and at times if the breeze is just right, I can hear their voices whispering in the wind. Texas’ rich history is one reason I set all my stories here where cowboys are still caretakers of the land. I’m inspired every day by their immense dedication and love for the wide-open spaces.

When I’m not writing, I collect old coins and I’ve also been accused (quite unfairly I might add) of making a nuisance of myself at museums, libraries, and historical places. I’m also a movie buff and love sitting in a dark theater, watching the magic unfold on the screen. As long as I’m confessing…chocolate is my best friend. It just soothes my soul.

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TWITTERGOODREADSLINKEDIN BOOKBUB

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Three Winners
1st: $25 Amazon Gift Card; 2nd: Autographed Set of All 3 Books in the Series; 3rd: Autographed Copy of The Mail Order Bride’s Secret.

January 28-February 7, 2020
(US Addresses only)
MOBS giveaway

Click on the photo to enter the giveaway.

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VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

1/28/20 	Notable Quotable 	All the Ups and Downs 
1/28/20		BONUS Post 		Hall Ways Blog 
1/29/20		Excerpt			That's What She's Reading
1/30/20		Review 			Carpe Diem Chronicles
1/31/20 	Review 			Chapter Break Book Blog
2/1/20 		Character Interview 	It's Not All Gravy
2/2/20	 	Top Ten List		Storeybook Reviews
2/3/20 		Review	 		Books & Broomsticks
2/4/20 		Series Spotlight	Jennifer Silverwood
2/5/20 		Review		 	Missus Gonzo
2/6/20 		Review	 		Reading by Moonlight

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