FINDING MY DESTYNEE – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

FINDING MY DESTYNEE
Rafter O Ranch, Book 3
by
NATALIE CLINE BRIGHT & DENISE F. McALLISTER
Holiday Romance / Country Music Romance / Wholesome
Publisher: CKN Christian Publishing
Publication Date: October 18, 2022
Page Count: 245 pages

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True heart’s desire cannot be ignored.

Destynee Olsen has always done what her mother asked, but the road to stardom could mean leaving behind a piece of her heart.

Travis Olsen tries desperately to honor his vow to support his wife. Watching their son grow up without a mother is asking too much and his resentment builds. A marriage alone and single parenting is not what he signed up for.

The line has been drawn between a woman who has been told that her destiny to be a star is more important than she is and a cowboy who refuses to destroy his wife’s dream. Destynee and Travis have to decide what’s important. Can they discover the life they were meant to have at the risk of denying their own hearts?

PRAISE FROM AMAZON REVIEWERS:

“The dialog brings the story to life, and the stage scenes are intriguing and vivid as Destynee decides just how much fame is worth, and the cost to her heart and family.”

“…an emotional read about a young couple, each trying to survive their marriage. The storyline brings heartache, forgiveness, and reconciliation as God works to bring peace and contentment back to their marriage.”

“Another great read with excellent characters.”

CLICK TO PURCHASE!

Review_preview

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Discerning God’s will is never easy. For young couple Destynee and Travis, following God’s plan becomes a struggle when separated by distance and ambition. That they’re miles apart during the holidays, having their faith–in God and in each other–shaken by doubts makes Finding My Destynee an affecting read.

Ms. Bright and Ms. McAllister created realistic and sympathetic characters in Destynee and Travis, infusing them with both insecurities and resolve. I couldn’t help but feel for them, young and misguided though they were at the beginning. I appreciate how much they’ve grown at the end of the story. They were at times frustrating but I found myself rooting for them to overcome their problems, which happen to reflect real life.

The supporting characters, for the most part, were wonderful, especially Travis’s family. Baby Wyatt was a particular favorite of mine, having been described in the most adorable way possible by the authors. The one I had trouble with was Destynee’s mother Julee Rae. She was a villainess through and through with no redeeming qualities. I would have liked a stronger argument for Destynee following Julee Rae’s every demand if her mother was shown to really care about her daughter. Unfortunately, she was one-note heinous and that was disappointing.

Another aspect I consider lacking in the story was Romance. Destynee and Travis only had three scenes together. Four, if I count the phone call. In two of those scenes, they were fighting. That is not incredibly romantic. I wish more of their backstory were included here and I don’t have to read the first two books in the series to find out how they got together and fell in love.

What the co-authors got right most was in telling a seamless story.  Readers more familiar with their individual works might be able to distinguish which parts each wrote, but I couldn’t. That speaks very well of their talents.

Finding My Destynee invokes the spirit of Christmas and I am thankful to the authors for the gift of their story and to Lone Star Lit for including me in the blog tour.

Three-half-stars


Texas author Natalie Bright writes novels for kids and adults that combine her passion of the American West with a small-town vibe. She calls the wide-open land and endless sky of the Texas Panhandle home, which inspires her work. Her co-author is a Georgia writer and editor. Denise F. McAllister credits a love of horseback riding and 15 years in equestrian showmanship for her heartfelt connection to all things western.
Natalie’s Social Media & Author Pages
Denise’s Social Media & Author Pages
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ONE WINNER!
Receives the full Rafter O Ranch eBook Series
(US only; ends midnight, CST, 12/29/22.)

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JOANNE EASLEY NOVELS: Multi-Book Blitz and Giveaway

SWEET JANE, JUST ONE LOOK,
&
I’LL BE SEEING YOU
by
Joanne Kukanza Easley
SCROLL DOWN FOR THE GIVEAWAY!

SWEET JANE

2019 Wisdom-Faulkner Award finalist
2020 Adult Fiction winner Texas Author Project
2020 Sarton Award Finalist
2020 Eric Hoffer Award Short List

A drunken mother makes childhood ugly. Jane runs away at sixteen, determined to leave her fraught upbringing in the rearview. Vowing never to return, she hitchhikes to California, right on time for the Summer of Love. Seventeen years later, she looks good on paper: married, grad school, sober, but her carefully constructed life is crumbling. When Mama dies, Jane returns for the funeral, leaving her husband in the dark about her history. Seeing her childhood home and significant people from her youth catapults Jane back to the events that made her the woman she is. She faces down her past and the ghosts that shaped her family. A stunning discovery helps Jane see her problems through a new lens.

Family Saga / Women’s Fiction / Historical Fiction
Publisher: Red Boots Press
Pages: 279 pages
Publication Date: September 17, 2022

JUST ONE LOOK

May 2022 Pulpwood Queen Book Club Pick
2020 Shelf Unbound 2021 Notable 100 Best Indie Books
2020 Recommended by US Review of Books
In 1965 Chicago, thirteen-year-old Dani Marek declares she’s in love, and you best believe it. This is no crush, and for six blissful years she fills her hope chest with linens, dinnerware, and dreams of an idyllic future with John. When he is killed in action in Viet Nam, Dani’s world shatters. She launches a one-woman vendetta against the men she seeks out in Rush Street’s singles bars. Her goal: break as many hearts as she can. Dani’s ill-conceived vengeance leads her to a loveless marriage that ends in tragedy. At twenty-four, she’s left a widow with a baby, a small fortune, and a ghost—make that two. Set in the turbulent Sixties and Seventies, Just One Look explores one woman’s tumultuous journey through grief, denial, and letting go.
Family Saga / Women’s Fiction / Historical Fiction
Publisher: Red Boots Press
Pages: 293 pages
Publication Date: September 17, 2022
CLICK TO PURCHASE!

I’LL BE SEEING YOU

The new release from Joanne Kukanza Easley, the multi-award-winning author of Sweet Jane and Just One Look

A saga spanning five decades, I’ll Be Seeing You, explores one woman’s life, with and without alcohol to numb the pain.

Young Lauren knows she doesn’t want to be a ranch wife in Palo Pinto County, Texas. After she’s discovered by a modeling scout at the 1940 Fort Worth Stock Show Parade, she moves to Manhattan to begin her glamourous career. A setback ends her dream, and she drifts into alcohol dependence and promiscuity. By twenty-four, she’s been widowed and divorced, and has developed a pattern of fleeing her problems with geographical cures. Lauren’s last escape lands her in Austin, where, after ten chaotic years, she achieves lasting sobriety and starts a successful business, but happiness eludes her.

Fast forward to 1985. With a history of burning bridges and never looking back, Lauren is stunned when Brett, her third husband, resurfaces, wanting to reconcile after thirty-three years. The losses and regrets of the past engulf her, and she seeks the counsel of Jane, a long-time friend from AA. In the end, the choice is Lauren’s. What will she decide?

Family Saga / Women’s Fiction / Addiction & Recovery / Historical Fiction
Publisher: Red Boots Press
Pages: 227 pages
Publication Date: August 28, 2022
CLICK TO PURCHASE!

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Spanning nearly five decades, I’ll Be Seeing You tells the incredibly riveting story of Ruby/Lauren Eaton. In this genre crossover between women’s fiction and historical fiction, Ms. Easley takes Lauren back and forth between Texas and New York from 1938 to 1985 – working, loving, winning, losing, learning, failing, and altogether living a fascinating life uniquely her own.

For all that this book covers forty-seven years of Lauren’s life, it was actually a quick read because it was so engaging. I found myself transported to the time periods and settings skillfully described in the story. Having just visited Pearl Harbor before reading this, I connected best with the scenes depicting events during World War II. Those showed excellent research and came across as lived experiences.

One of the things I liked most about this story is the constancy of the element of friendship in Lauren’s life. From Clare to Milly to Harold to Alice to Helen and to Jane, Lauren always had some kind of support system. It’s especially important because of her estrangement from her family and her lack of success in love.

Another aspect of this book I really liked is how diverse the mix of characters is in terms of ethnicity, gender identity, and political affiliation. It seems reflective of society even in the past.

Lauren’s struggle to overcome alcoholism was quite an effective plotline. It would resonate with many readers looking for main characters who are flawed yet still trying to become the best version of themselves.

Huge thanks to Lone Star Lit for including me in the blog tour and to Ms. Easley for providing me a copy of the book to review.
4 out of 5 stars

A retired registered nurse with experience in both the cold, clinical operating room and the emotionally fraught world of psychiatric hospitals, Joanne lives on a small ranch in the Texas Hill Country, where she writes fiction about complicated, twentieth-century women.

Her multi-award-winning debut, Sweet Jane, was named the adult fiction winner at the Texas Author Project and shortlisted for the Sarton Award and Eric Hoffer Award, among others. Just One Look, Joanne’s second novel was a May 2022 Pulpwood Queen Book Club Pick. I’ll BeSeeing You, her third novel, features characters from Sweet Jane. Her prize-winning short stories and poetry have appeared in several anthologies.
***
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THREE WINNERS!
Each receives an eBook of
SWEET JANE or
JUST ONE LOOK or
I’LL BE SEEING YOU
(U.S. only; ends midnight, CDT, 11/17/22)

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CONCRETE EVIDENCE By DiAnn Mills – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

CONCRETE EVIDENCE
by
DiAnn Mills

Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers

Pages: 416 pages

Publication Date: October 4, 2022

Categories: Christian Fiction / Mystery & Thrillers

Scroll down for a giveaway!


Bestselling and award-winning author DiAnn Mills delivers a heart-stopping story of a faulty construction job, the discovery of a dead body, and a sinister plot.

On the family’s Brazos River Ranch in Texas, Avery Elliott helps run her grandfather’s commercial construction business. Raised by Senator Elliott, Avery has never doubted her grandfather is the man of integrity and faith she’s always believed him to be …. until the day she finds him standing with a gun over the body of a dead man. To make matters worse, Avery’ just discovered a billing discrepancy for materials supposedly purchased for construction of the Lago de Cobre Dam.

Desperate for answers, Avery contacts FBI Special Agent Marc Wilkins for help. As Marc works to identify the dead man Avery saw, threats toward Avery create a fresh sense of urgency to pinpoint why someone wants to silence her. With a hurricane approaching the Texas coast and the structural integrity of the Lago de Cobre Dam called into question, time is running out to get to the bottom of a sinister plot that could be endangering the lives of not only Avery and her loved ones but the entire community.

Praise For CONCRETE EVIDENCE

“* VERDICT Mills . . . delivers another action-packed novel that offers intrigue and an adventurous ride. Recommend to fans of Dani Pettrey, Lynette Eason, and Carrie Stuart Parks.” – LIBRARY JOURNAL, Shondra Brown

“The confident plotting keeps the mysteries coming, and red herrings will have readers guessing the culprit through to the satisfying conclusion. Fans of Colleen Coble and Susan Sleeman will savor this thrilling standalone.” – PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY

PURCHASE LINKS ARE FOUND AT:

https://diannmills.com/books/concrete-evidence


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Action, adventure, danger, excitement. Romance. Faith. Concrete Evidence has them all and so much more. Like the approaching hurricane in the story, the events in this book happen fast and furious with surges of violence and the occasional calm that only portends of more devastating crises to come. It wasn’t until the very end that my heartbeat settled into its normal pace.

…truth is first believed in the heart.”

Suspicious deaths brought construction business owner Avery Elliott and FBI Special Agent Marc Wilkins together in the most fraught of ways. Confused and afraid, Avery was on the run after seeing her beloved grandfather standing over a dead man’s body with a gun in his hand. Marc just buried the father who abandoned him when he was a child and was dealing with a mother who didn’t believe her former husband died of a heart attack as the autopsy declared. To top it all, he found out he has a teenage sister now under his guardianship.

Through explosions and shootings, sabotages and storms, these two somehow found themselves falling for each other. As a Romance reader, I approve and appreciate their decision to keep things slow and get to know each other better once the cases are resolved. As a Romance author, I’d have gone in a direction more in keeping with my Carpe Diem brand, but that would be a different story altogether. The choices Ms. Mills made here fit her particular subgenre of Christian fiction perfectly.

None of us have any control of when the good Lord takes us home. What we do control is how much we love and show our love.”

One of the things I love about this book is the fact that faith is observed and practiced, not merely paid lip service. Many of the characters’ actions are driven by their belief that a higher power will reveal truths and deliver them to safety. This gave them the courage to face dangers head-on. Some of their actions could be considered reckless which could potentially frustrate readers or have them chalk it up to adding suspense. I’m in the latter camp that found the intrepidity of the main characters acceptable.

What frustrated me is the ease with which I guessed who the main villain is. Ms. Mills provided plenty of red herrings and cast suspicions on several people but I zeroed in on the mastermind as soon as they were introduced in the story. I wanted to be proved wrong but I wasn’t, hence the slight disappointment. I recognize that it’s a ‘me problem’ and not an issue shared by the majority of readers. As they say, your mileage may vary.

In the note Ms. Mills wrote me, she said, “Expect an adventure.” I expected and she delivered spectacularly. Thanks, Ms. Mills and Tyndale Fiction, for providing me with a copy to review and enjoy. Thanks, Lone Star Lit, for including me in the blog tour.

4 out of 5 stars


DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. DiAnn believes every breath of life is someone’s story, so why not capture those moments and create a thrilling adventure?
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. You can download a list of her published titles by clicking here.
DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a former director of Blue Ridge Christian Writers, and a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She shares her passion for helping other writers be successful by teaching writing workshops around the country.
DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.

SOCIAL MEDIA AND AUTHOR PAGES:


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FOUR WINNERS:
Each receives a $25 eGift card to their choice of Amazon or B&N.
(US only; giveaway ends midnight, 10/28/22)

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FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY,
OR VISIT THE PARTICIPATING BLOGS DIRECTLY:

10/18/22

Jennie Reads

Guest Post

10/18/22

Hall Ways Blog

BONUS Promo

10/19/22

Shelf Life Blog

Review

10/19/22

Rainy Days with Amanda

Guest Post

10/19/22

LSBBT Blog

BONUS Promo

10/20/22

The Book’s Delight

Review

10/20/22

Rox Burkey Blog

Guest Post

10/21/22

All the Ups and Downs

Guest Post

10/21/22

That’s What She’s Reading

Review

10/22/22

Reading by Moonlight

Review

10/23/22

It’s Not All Gravy

Guest Post

10/24/22

The Plain-Spoken Pen

Review

10/25/22

Stories Under Starlight

Guest Post

10/25/22

StoreyBook Reviews

Review

10/26/22

Forgotten Winds

Review

10/27/22

The Clueless Gent

Review

10/27/22

Carpe Diem Chronicles

Review

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FANCY by Linda Broday — Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

FANCY

Love Train Multi-Author Series, #10

by

LINDA BRODAY

Western Romance /Sweet Romance/ American Historical Romance
Pages:          190 pages
Publication Date:     August 15, 2022

SCROLL DOWN FOR THE GIVEAWAY!


A stolen baby
An orphan child
A bargain struck
Told her baby died in childbirth, Fancy Dalton grieves for her son. But in the midst of a raging storm, a shadowy figure appears and tells her that he’s alive and well! He was stolen! Now she has an address and a name. From despair comes hope.
One thought drives her—finding and getting him back. Selling everything she owns, Fancy buys a one-way train ticket to Denver. Nothing and no one will stop her. In a mad dash to board the train, she collides with Jack Coltrain. As fate would have it, the rugged cowboy, on a mission of his own, sits next to her. Experience has taught her to be wary of men. But when her bag is stolen, he gets it back and earns a small piece of her trust.
As the iron wheels roll, taking her closer to her two-year-old son, Fancy and Jack discover an orphan girl who needs their help and open their arms to her. Ten hours from their goal, Fancy and Jack strike a deal—her help for his. Desperate times for both call for creative solutions…but marriage, even in name only? However, nothing is off the table. She’ll do whatever she must to save the orphan and get her child back. Still, giving Jack her heart…that’s not part of the bargain.
Click to purchase!

PRAISE FOR FANCY:

“I have loved every Linda Broday book I have read, but I must say this one touched my heart.” Cricket (Goodreads)

“Linda Broday waved her magic wand when her turn came and gave us one of her most profound heroines she’s ever written. Fancy wrapped her tragic story around my heart and transported me into the late 1800s.” Tonya (Goodreads)

“Linda Broday has always been able to weave her characters together like a mix-match patch quilt, but the end results are amazing.” Rose Ann (Goodreads)

“…Her ability to convey the goodness of their souls will leave the reader wanting more.” Sally (Goodreads)

From its heart-wrenching start to its sigh-worthy ending, Linda Broday’s Fancy takes the reader on a highly evocative ride.
The devastating prologue had me in tears, ensuring my emotional connection with Fancy Dalton right away. Her will to make a fresh start after her mother’s death and her determination to find her stolen son even with her meager resources also earned my admiration.  With Fancy, Ms. Broday created a title character who is easy to root for and wish for only good things to happen to her.
One of those good things is Jack Coltrain. The epitome of a Broday hero, Jack is bold, valiant, and kindhearted yet prepared to act with violence if necessary to defend those he promised to protect and care for. The speed of their getting together through a marriage of convenience is totally understandable, even necessary, considering the fraught circumstances they found themselves in. Their happy-ever-after is inevitable and well-deserved.
Fancy, life is a journey. Not one trip, but hundreds. We have to keep going and proceed with courage each and every day as long as we have breath.”
One of the signatures of Ms. Broday’s stories is found family and that theme is central in this story through Fancy and Jack’s care for Piper, an orphan girl whose sad plight stroke a familiar chord within Fancy’s heart. This little girl is another character who made me cry with her exceptional pluck and maturity beyond her years.
Fast-paced and eventful, Fancy is a fantastic read for those who are looking for something quick but with depth, has sympathetic characters, is well-written, and sweetly romantic.
Thanks to Lone Star Lit for including me in this blog tour and to Ms. Broday for the early digital copy of the book to review.

I’m a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of thirty historical western romance novels and short stories. I reside in the Texas Panhandle on land the American Indian and early cowboys once roamed, and at times if the breeze is just right, I can hear their voices whispering in the wind. Texas’s rich history is one reason I set all my stories here where cowboys still remain caretakers of the land. I’m inspired every day by their immense dedication and love for the wide-open spaces. I combine those men with the love of family in all my stories and hope to continue to give readers books that entertain and fulfill.

Giveaway! Giveaway! Giveaway!

FOUR WINNERS!

One winner:
$25 Amazon gift card plus Kindle copy of Fancy
Three winners:
Kindle copies of Fancy
(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 8/19/2022.)

FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY,
or visit the blogs directly:

8/9/22

Excerpt

Forgotten Winds

8/9/22

BONUS Promo

Hall Ways

8/10/22

Review

Librariel Book Adventures

8/10/22

BONUS Promo

LSBBT Blog

8/11/22

Character Spotlight

Chapter Break Book Blog

8/12/22

Review

StoreyBook Reviews

8/13/22

Notable Quotables

Shelf Life Blog

8/14/22

Character Interview

All the Ups and Downs

8/15/22

Review

Carpe Diem Chronicles

8/16/22

Sneak Peek

Stories Under Starlight

8/17/22

Review

Boys’ Mom Reads

8/18/22

Review

Writing and Music

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A SHOT IN THE 80% DARK By Amber Royer – Book Blitz and Giveaway

A SHOT IN THE 80% DARK
Bean to Bar Mysteries, Book 4

by
AMBER ROYER
Cozy Mystery / Culinary Mystery / Woman Sleuth
Publisher: Golden Tip Press
Date of Publication: July 15, 2022
Number of Pages: 285 pages
Scroll down for Giveaway!

Felicity Koerber’s bean to bar chocolate shop is thriving. Despite everything she’s been through with the murders she’s helped solve, Felicity is ready to take on new challenges. So when a local museum offers her a contract to create a chocolate replica of a gigantic sailing ship sculpture for a gala celebrating Galveston’s history, she jumps at the chance to combine chocolate-crafting with art.

The project is fun – right up until there’s not just one but two dead artists on the scene, and Felicity has to change gears back to detective. Logan, Felicity’s business partner and previous bodyguard, and Arlo, Felicity’s ex who is now the cop investigating the case, are split on which victim they think was actually the intended one. Felicity may have to take some chances, both emotionally and in luring out a killer, to determine the truth.

Can she find out how Galveston’s history relates to the murders, unmask a killer, and prepare 2,000 chocolate desserts for the gala all at the same time?

CLICK TO PURCHASE!


Amber Royer writes the Chocoverse comic telenovela-style foodie-inspired space opera series and the Bean to Bar Mysteries. She is also the author of Story Like a Journalist: a Workbook for Novelists, which boils down her writing knowledge into an actionable plan involving over 100 worksheets to build a comprehensive story plan for your novel. She also teaches creative writing and is an author coach.

Amber and her husband live in the DFW Area, where you can often find them hiking or taking landscape/architecture/wildlife photographs. If you are very nice to Amber, she might make you cupcakes. Chocolate cupcakes, of course! Amber blogs about creative writing technique and all things chocolate.

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With its increasingly diverse and representative cast of characters, absolutely amazing competence porn, exciting and fascinating whodunit cases, mouthwatering food descriptions, and excellent sense of place, Amber Royer’s Bean to Bar Mysteries is quickly becoming my favorite cozy mystery series to read of late.

There’s a lot going on in A Shot in the 80% Dark, all of them good.  Somehow, Ms. Royer is introducing the entire fifty thousand population of Galveston into her stories and she’s managing to make each of those characters distinct, memorable, real, and relatable. I especially admire her utilization of notoriously difficult side characters — pets and kids– to further the plot. Renoir, the museum’s cockatoo, is a scene-stealing star.

I am in awe of the displays of expertise and artistry in this series. From 3-D printing to Vietnamese coffee preparation, to SCUBA diving, and to sugar work using isomalt, I learn so many new things that I may be able to apply to practical use in the future. The author’s exhaustive research on various competencies and historical details leap off the pages of the book.

Naturally, I appreciate the procedural aspects of crime solving, but that is a basic requirement of the genre so I won’t dwell on that. What I really love to highlight is Ms. Royer’s deep knowledge of Galveston and how she completely transports the readers to the coastal resort city with her words. Traveling through books is never more true than in this story.

Life is too short to walk around waiting for relationships to solidify themselves.”

The only thing I’m not one hundred percent on board with is the love triangle between Felicity, Arlo, and Logan. It was handled well here and there seems to be forward progress so it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book.

Huge thanks to Lone Star Lit for the opportunity to be in the tour and to Ms. Royer for providing me with a digital copy of the book to read and review.

4 Four-half-stars


—————————————
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TWO WINNERS
Autographed copies of A SHOT IN THE 80% DARK
(US only. Ends Midnight, CDT, July 28, 2022)

CHARLESTON CONUNDRUM by Stacy Wilder – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway


CHARLESTON CONUNDRUM

A Liz Adams Mystery
by
STACY WILDER
Cozy Mystery / Female Sleuth / Cozy Animal
Publisher: Wild Hawk Press
Series: A Liz Adams Mystery
Date of Publication: January 15, 2022
Number of Pages: 235 pages 
Scroll down for Giveaway!

A Cozy Mystery with a Twist…
Liz Adams never imagined when she moved to Charleston with her truth sniffing Labrador retriever, Duke, that she would use her skills as a private investigator to avoid winding up on Death Row.

Liz’s life is upended when her best friend, Peg, is murdered and she becomes a suspect. Liz’s gun was the murder weapon. Tensions flare between Liz and the cops as she rises to the top of their suspect list.

At the request of Peg’s father, Liz agrees to take on the investigation. Riding a roller coaster of emotions, Liz uncovers many secrets Peg kept from her despite being best friends. The suspects include a cast of characters: the ex-husband, the boyfriend, a coworker, several neighbors, and family members.

Charleston Conundrum takes the reader from Charleston, South Carolina to Paris and back in the emotional unraveling of Peg’s life and death to a killer ending. It is the first book in the Conundrum series.

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Methodical and surprising, Stacy Wilder’s debut cozy mystery Charleston Conundrum shows enormous potential for a long, successful run.

20220502_030139554_iOSMs. Wilder thoroughly immerses the reader in the detailed process of Liz Adams’s investigation of her best friend’s murder where she is also the prime suspect. Along with the main character, we scrutinize various suspects and get informed of their probable innocence or guilt all the while experiencing daily life in the fascinating city of Charleston, South Carolina. The city totally comes alive through Ms. Wilder’s extensive description of the food, the weather, the fashion, and the establishments. The same marvelous sense of place is showcased in the scenes that take place in Paris. I may have said oh là là a couple of times while reading.

The cast of named characters is numerous but they’re distinct and recognizable. At no time did I get confused about who is who and I admire Ms. Wilder for that. I also admire the author’s skill in keeping the identity of the killer hidden until the end. I had a suspicion about the why but not the who. The double tragedy of the answers to those questions saddened me greatly.

20220501_053906324_iOSOverall, I like the procedural aspect of the storytelling. I also like the diversity of characters and expect the inclusion of more underrepresented groups in future books. It could use a bit more build-up of tension, fewer mentions of brand names, expansion of Liz’s lab Duke’s role in the investigation, and less telling of deep emotions. Finally, I hope to see a progression of the romance introduced in this first book.

It’s a promising start.

Thanks to Lone Star Lit for giving me the opportunity to read and review Charleston Conundrum. I appreciate the gift of a paperback copy for my growing library.

4 out of 5 stars



Stacy writes mysteries, children’s stories, short stories, and poetry. Her debut novel, Charleston Conundrum, is the first in the Conundrum mystery series.

Stacy’s mission is to deliver a delightful story to readers of all ages while benefiting a larger community. She donates a portion of the proceeds from the sales of her books to causes that support wildlife conservation, and the homeless, both people and pets. A portion of the proceeds from Charleston Conundrum is donated to National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

As well as writing, Stacy is passionate about her faith, family, Labradors, the causes that she supports, the beach, art, and reading books.

She and her husband live in Houston, Texas, with a totally spoiled Labrador retriever, Eve.
◆  WEBSITE  ◆  FACEBOOK  ◆ AMAZON  ◆  INSTAGRAM  ◆
———————–
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 TWO WINNERS! 
Autographed copies of Charleston Conundrum
(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 5/06/2022)

THE BABY WITH THREE FAMILIES, TWO COUNTRIES, AND ONE PROMISE–Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

  The Baby with Three Families

THE BABY WITH THREE FAMILIES,
TWO COUNTRIES, AND ONE PROMISE
An International Adoption Story
by
JULIE GIANELLONI CONNOR
Illustrated by Saman Chinthaka Weersinghe
 
Genre: Children’s Fiction / Picture Book / Adoption 
Publisher: Bayou City Press
Date of Publication: December 9, 2020
Number of Pages: 40 pages 
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The Baby with Three Families, Two Countries, and One Promise is a children’s book designed to be read by parents to a child adopted from a foreign country. The story is first recounted from the perspective of the parents in the USA, who are very sad not to be able to have a child. The perspective then switches to that of the biological mother, who realizes that she does not have the wherewithal to raise a child. She makes the difficult decision to give up her baby. Next readers learn about a foreign adoption agency, to which the biological mother surrenders her child. The adoption agency identifies foster parents to take care of the baby temporarily. The foster parents give the baby a temporary name. 
The parents in the USA begin researching international adoption possibilities and connect with the foreign adoption agency. The parents begin the adoption process and have to go to a school to learn how to be adoptive parents. When the foreign adoption agency matches the USA parents with the baby, the USA parents fly to the foreign country, where they meet the baby and the foster parents at the adoption agency. They find out that the temporary name given to the baby by his foster parents is one of the names they have selected for the baby. Their last requirement in the foreign country is to secure a visa for the baby from the U.S. Embassy.
With the baby’s visa in hand, the parents and baby return to the United States, where they are joyously greeted by their dog, their friends, and the baby’s new grandparents. When the parents tuck their baby in at night, they tell him his story—that he has three families, two countries, and a promise for the future to visit the country of his birth when he is older.
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PRAISE FOR THE BOOK
Children’s Picture Book First Place Winner, 2021 North Texas Book Festival Awards
“Clearly laying out some of the key reasons, factors, and steps in the emotionally complex process of overseas adoption, this book delicately explores the subject, making it a great launching point for conversations between parents and children.” Self-Publishing Review
“International adoption is a complex topic, but under the dual, in-depth focus of author Julie Gianelloni Connor and illustrator Saman Chinthaka Weerasinghe, the story comes to life to teach all ages about the emotional and organizational process involved in joining a child to new parents.” Donovan’s Literary Services
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Julie Gianelloni Connor is an award-winning author and retired senior Foreign Service Officer. Her first book, Savoring the Camino de Santiago: It’s the Pilgrimage, not the Hike, garnered no. 1 status on Amazon in both the category for new books on hiking and walking and the category for Spain and Portugal. It subsequently went on to win a silver medal in the eLit national competition as well as being selected as a finalist by Self-Publishing Review (SPR). She released her second title, a children’s book, in 2021. It has just won first place in the children’s book category at the North Texas Book Festival. The Baby with Three Families, Two Countries, and One Promise tells an international adoption story. Her short stories have appeared in four anthologies. 
Julie is the owner and publisher of Bayou City Press (BCP) in Houston, Texas, which focuses on travel writing, Houston, history, and international affairs. Julie writes a weekly newsletter for BCP updating subscribers about activities. She founded BCP after spending 33 years as a diplomat in the U.S. Foreign Service, first with the U.S. Information Agency and later with the U.S. Department of State. She had nine overseas assignments in seven different countries: Israel (twice), Paraguay, Guatemala, Indonesia, Colombia (twice), Malaysia, and Chile. In Washington, DC, Julie worked on a variety of matters, ranging from nuclear non-proliferation to narcotics control to women’s issues. She has one son and two cats, Halloween and Charles Augustus V. 
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With only a handful of pages, The Baby with Three Families, Two Countries, and One Promise tugged at my emotions and never let go until the happy end. Written in simple terms that a school-age kid can understand, this book is a perfect medium for adoptive parents to share their history to their child should they decide to do it early.
Julie Gianelloni Connor’s concise words and Saman Chinthaka Weerasinghe’s beautiful illustration combined seamlessly to tell the touching story of several people thousands of miles apart whose lives fatefully intersect because of a common goal–to give a special child a bright future.
The hardships that Jeff and Jeanette and Luz went through were conveyed gently, in a manner befitting the book’s audience and genre. The intricacies of intercountry adoption process were appropriately hinted at. All the relevant information–research, contact with agency, embassy involvement, expenses–was given as integral part of the story, evidence of the author’s expertise on the subject.
Having undergone initial steps into an international adoption process myself, I have a personal connection with this story. I’m sure numerous people could also relate and be encouraged to look into this choice of childrearing that’s why I strongly recommend this book to libraries and schools nationwide.
Huge thanks to Bayou City Press and Lone Star Lit for providing me with a copy of this special book to review.
4 Four-half-stars

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OUT OF TEMPER by Amber Royer – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

OUT OF TEMPER

Bean to Bar Mysteries, Book 3
by
AMBER ROYER
Categories: Cozy Mystery / Women Sleuth / Romance 
Publisher: Golden Tip Press
Date of Publication: February 1, 2022
Number of Pages: 264 pages 
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Felicity Koerber’s bean to bar chocolate shop on Galveston’s historic Strand has been the scene of two murders – both of which she has been instrumental in helping solve. So when she gets invited to demo her chocolate skills aboard a cruise ship sailing out of the local port, she’s excited at the chance to get away from the shop long enough to regain her equilibrium. She even brings her best friend along, and makes plans for time at the spa. But when she gets on board, she finds out that she’s been booked for a mystery-themed cruise, and said best friend, Autumn, has to finally deal with the real reasons she quit writing mysteries. Only – if that wasn’t stressful enough – it doesn’t take long before there’s a real murder on the cruise, and someone Felicity knows becomes the prime suspect. When said suspect asks her for help, she can’t exactly say no, can she?
Felicity finds herself surrounded by cruise goers who all had connections to the victim – and finds that both Logan (her business partner, whom she recently kissed) and Arlo (the cop who was once Felicity’s first boyfriend, before she moved away from Galveston) are dealing with the case until more official help can arrive. How will Felicity survive the ensuing awkwardness?
One thing that helps: the retired police dog turned therapy dog she meets on board. Satchmo helps Felicity deal with being back on the water after tragedy in her past – and also helps her uncover a vital clue to the case. Can Felicity unmask the killer and keep a friend from being framed before all the suspects leave the ship?

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In times of overwhelming stress, there is no better escape for me than losing myself within the pages of a great book. I almost always take refuge in Romance books because of their promise of happy-ever-after or at least happy-for-now, but I also seek comfort in cozy mysteries with their assurance that whodunit will be revealed and villains will get their comeuppance. When the cozy involves chocolates, an adorable dog, and romantic elements, it immediately gets taken out of my Mount TBR and into the Read and Reviewed Library.
Out of Temper is the third book in the Bean to Bar Mysteries series but the first work of fiction by Amber Royer that I’ve read. It exceeded my expectations of being well-written, properly researched, and suitably paced. While there were numerous minor characters introduced, it never got confusing or overwhelming. They added to the list of suspects and provided the necessary red herrings and misdirections required to make the story exciting and move the plot along. Ms. Royer cleverly maneuvered each of Felicity’s interactions with the suspects in such a way that convinced me I knew who did it and then immediately change my mind the second another character appears. I pretty much suspected everyone except for Satchmo. I loved him. I now want to adopt a beagle.
I like Felicity. As far as reluctant amateur sleuths go, she’s a believable and relatable one. I also like both Logan and Arlo. They’re handsome and capable. At this stage in the series, their little love triangle is fine. I just hope Ms. Royer doesn’t stretch it too long that it gets tiresome and starts to turn off readers. Maybe have Felicity decide which one to have a relationship with after a couple more books. It shouldn’t take twenty-five books. For what’s it worth, I’m Team Arlo. Second-chance romance for the win.
If love is real, you don’t want to let it go. You never know how much time you really have.”
I love me a good competence porn and that scene with Felicity doing the demonstration on chocolate tempering deserves all the stars I can give. Ms. Royer’s description of the process, the special pieces of equipment, and the products–basil-infused brownies! bread pudding-inspired truffle!–had me dog-earing pages and pages of the book for reference and re-reading. It also made my mouth water so much, I had to grab a bar of chocolate to enjoy along with the rest of the exciting story.
Thanks to Ms. Royer and Lone Star Lit for providing me with a paperback copy of Out of Temper to review and the opportunity to get away from the real world for a few entertaining hours.
4 Four-half-stars

Amber Royer writes the Chocoverse comic telenovela-style foodie-inspired space opera series, and the Bean to Bar Mysteries. She is also the author of Story Like a Journalist: a Workbook for Novelists, which boils down her writing knowledge into an actionable plan involving over 100 worksheets to build a comprehensive story plan for your novel. She also teaches creative writing and is an author coach. Amber and her husband live in the DFW Area, where you can often find them hiking or taking landscape/architecture/wildlife photographs. If you are very nice to Amber, she might make you cupcakes. Chocolate cupcakes, of course! Amber blogs about creative writing technique and all things chocolate.
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THE YES DARE by Kathleen Y’Barbo – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

THE YES DARE

A Pies, Books
& Jesus Club Novel
by
KATHLEEN Y’BARBO
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Date of Publication: July 15, 2021
Number of Pages: 246 pages 
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Have you ever wished for a second chance to fix something you’ve messed up or for the courage to say yes to something that just may change your life? Sometimes saying yes to the last thing you want can mean saying yes to exactly what you need.

Ryan “The Rocket” Sutton’s winning streak is legendary makes him the undisputed best quarterback in the NFL. However, thanks to one dumb mistake, he’s a failure as a husband to Coco, the only woman he’s ever loved. When a judge’s mistake in divorce paperwork means Coco is still his wife, Ryan makes up his mind to fix what he ruined. Ryan’s game plan doesn’t count on an internationally famous movie director’s camera crew following him as he competes for Coco’s love.

After spending most of her adult life as a football wife and mother to twin sons, fashionista Coco Sutton is learning how to be single and fabulous. Emphasis on Fabulous. The sports trophies, memorabilia, and heavy masculine wood furniture in the home she used to share with Ryan have been banished to the attic, and her home is now a cozy haven of plush candle-scented comfort. She’s got big plans that include owning a boutique or maybe an art gallery, but she never planned to take on the biggest challenge of her life: staying single. Then her best friend gives her a copy of a book called The Yes Dare, and all her plans are turned upside down.

From a Hollywood movie to the local spring event formerly known as the Cow Chip Toss Festival and a country crooner with a crush on Coco, will Ryan dodge the obstacles to win back the only woman he ever loved?
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Stories like The Yes Dare are why I love to read Romance. Normally, I’d never touch a book if there’s even a slight hint of the kind of betrayal that broke up the main characters’ marriage in this story. Knowing the guarantee of a happy-ever-after ending in my favorite genre is what had me taking a chance on reviewing Ms. Y’Barbo’s latest title despite not having read any of her work before. I’m glad that trust was justified and the author delivered spectacularly on the resolution of the conflict that’s keeping Coco and Ryan apart.
You have no idea how many opportunities you’ve got to change your life until you start watching for them.”
Lighthearted and well-paced, The Yes Dare tells the entertaining story of Ryan’s campaign to win back Coco’s heart after finding out the invalidity of their divorce a year later. With the help of their sons, their friends, the people of their small town of Sugar Pine, Texas, the governor himself, and a book from which the story’s title came from, Rocket succeeds in getting Coco to say Yes to him once more.
I liked many things about this book. Now in my late-40’s, I prefer stories with protagonists close to my age so the fact that Coco and Ryan are almost forty made them more relatable to me. Ryan’s putting words into action and Coco’s competence in managing a large-scale event demonstrated their maturity in a way that’s very appealing. Also noteworthy is the subtle integration of faith in their words and deeds.
The sheer Texas-ness of Sugar Pine and its residents is really delightful. The members of Coco and Ryan’s community not only meddle, express their opinions loudly, but they also give their support wholeheartedly.
The low level of angst is something I highly appreciate. It’s obvious from the start that the estranged couple still loved each other and excessive push and pull would not have suited the story. I respect Ms. Y’Barbo for setting the right tone and flow that made this book an easy and enjoyable read.
Having said that, I’d have liked more setup for the climactic scene and perhaps an epilogue instead of the abrupt ending. I also would have appreciated more inclusiveness and wider representation to reflect the society we live in today.
Huge thanks to Lone Star Lit and the author for giving me the opportunity to review the book. I’ll be visiting Sugar Pine again in the future to get to know more about their residents, especially Sessa and Trey.
4 out of 5 stars

Publishers Weekly bestselling author Kathleen Y’Barbo is a multiple Carol Award and RITA nominee and bestselling author of more than one hundred books with over two million copies of her books in print in the US and abroad. A tenth-generation Texan and certified paralegal, she is a member of the Texas Bar Association Paralegal Division, Texas A&M Association of Former Students, Texas A&M Women Former Students (Aggie Women), Texas Historical Society, Sisters in Crime, Faith Hope and Love Christian Writers, and American Christian Fiction Writers. She would also be a member of the Daughters of the American Republic, Daughters of the Republic of Texas and a few others if she would just remember to fill out the paperwork that Great Aunt Mary Beth has sent her more than once.
Kathleen and her hero in combat boots husband have their own surprise love story that unfolded on social media a few years back. They make their home just north of Houston, Texas, and are the parents, grandparents, and in-laws of a blended family of Texans, Okies, and a trio of adorable Londoners.

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

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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

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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.