A VOTE IS A POWERFUL THING by Catherine Stier – Book Blitz and Giveaway

A VOTE IS A POWERFUL THING

By CATHERINE STIER

Illustrated by Courtney Dawson

Children’s Picture Book / American Historical Fiction / Elections and Voting 
Ages 4-7
Publisher: Albert Whitman and Company
Date of Publication: September 1, 2020
Number of Pages: 32

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Callie knows there’s a presidential election coming up, and people will soon vote to decide the country’s leader. 

Her class is having an election too, about an issue that affects them all–the class field trip. Should they choose the cookie factory or the wilderness park? 

Join Callie as she campaigns for the wilderness park she loves and learns how people have organized, marched, and protested for the right to vote. And find out how a vote–even just one vote–can make a difference!

 

PRAISE FOR A VOTE IS A POWERFUL THING

“Gets the job done.” ―Kirkus Reviews 

“A galvanizing read for children interested in politics or parents who hope to instill such interests.” ―Publishers Weekly

"A galvanizing read for children interested in politics or parents who hope to instill such interests." ―Publishers Weekly

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"This book helps children make the leap from abstract concept to concrete understanding of the importance of these decisions and why voting matters...an inspiring read."-School Library Journal, starred review

About The Author

Catherine Stier is the author of several awarding-winning children’s books. Her titles include If I Were PresidentIf I Ran for PresidentIf I Were a Park Ranger, and the A Dog’s Day chapter-book series. In grade school, Catherine ran a class campaign for student council with handmade signs, and, although she didn’t win, she found the process exciting! She went on to earn an MA in reading and literacy from the University of Texas at San Antonio and has conducted children’s literature research. She now resides with her husband in San Antonio and volunteers at a local wilderness park. 

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ONE WINNER: Copies of each of the three election-series books;
patriotic socks, button, and pencils; plus a $15 gift card to The Twig Book Shop. 
September 4-10, 2020 
(US ONLY)
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AIRBORNE by DiAnn Mills – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

AIRBORNE

by

DiANN MILLS

Genre: Christian Romantic Suspense 
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Date of Publication: September 8, 2020
Number of Pages: 400

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Heather Lawrence’s long-awaited vacation to Salzburg wasn’t supposed to go like this. Mere hours into the transatlantic flight, the Houston FBI agent is awakened when passengers begin exhibiting horrific symptoms of an unknown infection. As the virus quickly spreads and dozens of passengers fall ill, Heather fears she’s witnessing an epidemic similar to ones her estranged husband studies for a living—but this airborne contagion may have been deliberately released.

While Heather remains quarantined with other survivors, she works with her FBI colleagues to identify the person behind this attack. The prime suspect? Dr. Chad Lawrence, an expert in his field … and Heather’s husband. The Lawrences’ marriage has been on the rocks since Chad announced his career took precedence over his wife and future family and moved out. 

As more victims fall prey days after the initial outbreak, time’s running out to hunt down the killer, one who may be closer to the victims than anyone ever expected.

A NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR

The story line for Airborne came to me three and a half years ago. All I had was a what-if: A virus unleashed on an international flight.

The search to find experts who were willing to give me accurate information took another year. Along the way, God placed the right people in my path: a woman and new friend whose doctorate is in microbiology and immunology, a man who trains flight attendants for the airline that I envisioned in my story, a pilot who not only flies for my designated airline but is also a suspense and thriller writer, the amazing people and resources of the CDC, and the wisdom and guidance of the FBI.

Tyndale House Publishers saw my passion for Airborne. This book was completed and edited before COVID-19 spread across our globe. My mission then and now is to show a story that weaves hope, reality, and the sacrificial work of first responders when a deadly virus spreads through innocent people.

My prayer is people will experience God’s presence during our current global crisis. Will you join me in that prayer?

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With its fast-paced action, impeccably researched scientific facts, and super timely plotline, Airborne is totally unputdownable. I suggest for potential readers to schedule a few hours of uninterrupted reading time because they’ll surely be as absorbed in the story and characters as I was. 

To be honest, I had some apprehensions when I accepted the opportunity to review an advance copy of this book. Reading fiction is one of my escapes from the worries of real life and the subject of a virus being the central plot in the story seemed to be contrary to that objective. I am glad to have been relieved of my doubts.

While the book deals with the race to find a cure before more people died and the search for the villain who unleashed the deadly biological weapon, it also tackles relationships and the role of faith in them. Heather’s strong belief in God and Chad’s denial of a divine being are at the center of everything that happened to them. These informed how they made their decisions about their past and future, whether apart or together. 

Ms. Mills showed great skill in developing the characters in this book, especially the growth arc for Chad and the reveal of the villain. Her writing is commendable in that she incorporated science, medicine, law enforcement, and religion with a deft hand. The language is simple and the situations are realistic. 

My only quibble is the insufficient romance in the book. There’s not a lot of it except for the final chapter. Heather and Chad were separated physically and emotionally for the majority of the story and the few scenes when they interacted were mostly spent fighting. The Christian and Suspense parts were satisfactory, the Romantic aspect was a little lacking. 

Content advisory: several on-page deaths, physical violence, description of abuse. 

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers; director, alongside Edie Melson, of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference and Mountainside Retreats; and a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. 

DiAnn is passionate about helping other writers be successful and speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. She and her husband live in sunny Houston. DiAnn is very active online and loves to connect with readers on social media and at diannmills.com

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FOUR WINNERS

Each gets a signed, personalized hardcover edition of Airborne
+ choice of either $25 Amazon or $25 Barnes and Noble e-Gift Card

August 18-28, 2020
(U.S. Only)

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THE SECRET OF YOU AND ME by Melissa Lenhardt – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

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THE SECRET OF YOU AND ME

by

MELISSA LENHARDT

Genre: Women’s Fiction / Romance
Publisher:  Graydon House (Harlequin)
Date of Publication: August 4, 2020
Number of Pages: 352

 

Scroll down for the giveaway!

 

Synopsis

TSOYAM book cover

True love never fades—and old secrets never die . . . 

Nora hasn’t looked back. Not since she fled Texas to start a new life. Away from her father’s volatile temper and the ever-watchful gaze of her claustrophobically conservative small town, Nora has freed herself. She can live—and love—however she wants. The only problem is that she also left behind the one woman she can’t forget. Now tragedy calls her back home to confront her past—and reconcile her future.

Sophie seems to have everything—a wonderful daughter, a successful husband, and a rewarding career. Yet underneath that perfection lies an explosive secret. She still yearns for Nora—her best friend and first love—despite all the years between them. Keeping her true self hidden hasn’t been easy, but it’s been necessary. So when Sophie finds out that Nora has returned, she hopes Nora’s stay is short. The life she has built depends on it.

But they both find that first love doesn’t fade easily. Memories come to light, passion ignites, and old feelings resurface. As the forces of family and intolerance that once tore them apart begin to reemerge, they realize some things may never change—unless they demand it.

PRAISE FOR THE SECRET OF YOU AND ME:

“Lenhardt convinces in her portrayal of the conflict between desire and control.” —Publishers Weekly

“A compelling story of second chances and being true to yourself.”
Harper Bliss, bestselling author of Seasons of Love

“At turns sweet, sexy, and always respectful of these characters and their journeys to their most authentic selves, Lenhardt’s wonderful book is highly recommended for all fiction collections.” —Booklist

 

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There was a question in one of my Facebook groups about which book I’d want to see made into a movie and I responded with a favorite title. Now, I have an additional candidate — The Secret of You and Me. The story of Nora and Sophie’s passionate second-chance journey to their happy-ever-after despite small town prejudices and past hurts lends itself highly adaptable to film. All the elements are there: fully fleshed-out characters, complicated relationships, well-described small town setting, timely subjects, and involving storytelling.

I loved how Ms. Lenhardt developed the characters of Nora and Sophie. Both are imperfect, broken people who, through the course of the story, have to learn things about themselves that they needed to address separately in order to forge a future together.

While Nora was able to live her truth elsewhere, Sophie has a more difficult time accepting her real identity within the narrow confines of her conservative town. A bigoted mother, a husband with political ambitions, and a teenage daughter she doesn’t want to lose if she came out all contribute to Sophie’s  quandary in making a choice. Similarly, Nora has her own internal conflicts to resolve with a family responsibility, a sick aunt, and a life in DC that’s hard for her to walk away from.

I also appreciate the balance of both opposing and supportive characters. For Nora’s always-complaining sister Mary there’s a mothering Emmadean. For Sophie’s heinous mother Brenda there’s her stalwart sponsor Todd.

Some serious topics are discussed in this book. Homosexuality, bisexuality, homophobia, PTSD, and alcoholism being the most prominent ones. For the most part, they’re treated with sensitivity and provide a positive representation of the LGBTQ community.

My main gripe is the overabundance of cheating. Sophie and Nora picking up where they left off eighteen years ago is an essential plot point but puts a tawdry element to their affair that can’t be erased by their true love for one another. Fidelity is an important issue (for me) in romance and the lack of it here gives me a little pause in an otherwise engaging story.

Overall, an entertaining read that highlights the message that love is universal.

4 out of 5 stars

 

AboutTheAuthor

TSOYAM Author photo

Melissa Lenhardt is a women’s fiction, mystery, and historical fiction author. Her debut mystery, Stillwater, was a finalist for the 2014 Whidbey Writers’ MFA Alumni Emerging Writers Contest, and Sawbones, her historical-fiction debut, was hailed as a “thoroughly original, smart and satisfying hybrid, perhaps a new sub-genre: the feminist Western” by Lone Star Literary Life. The New York Times called her sixth novel, Heresy, “An all-out women-driven, queer, transgender, multiracial takeover of the Old West”. The Secret of You and Me, her seventh novel and her first contemporary women’s fiction novel, was published on August 4, 2020.

 When Melissa isn’t writing, she’s thinking, “I really should be writing,” and eating Nutella or peanut butter straight out of the jar. A lifelong Texan, she lives in the Dallas area with her husband, two sons, and two Golden Retrievers.

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TWO WINNERS each get a signed hardcover copy of the book and their choice of
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August 11-21, 2020
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A DELIGHTFUL LITTLE BOOK ON AGING by Stephanie Raffelock – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

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A DELIGHTFUL LITTLE BOOK ON AGING

by

Stephanie Raffelock

Genre: Inspirational / Spiritual / Essays / Self-Help
Publisher: She Writes Press
Publication Date: April 28, 2020
Number of Pages: 119 pages

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Synopsis

ADLBOA book coverAll around us, older women flourish in industry, entertainment, and politics. Do they know something that we don’t, or are we all just trying to figure it out? For so many of us, our hearts and minds still feel that we are twenty-something young women who can take on the world. But in our bodies, the flexibility and strength that were once taken for granted are far from how we remember them. Every day we have to rise above the creaky joints and achy knees to earn the opportunity of moving through the world with a modicum of grace.

Yet we do rise, because it’s a privilege to grow old, and every single day is a gift. Peter Pan’s mantra was, “Never grow up”; our collective mantra should be, “Never stop growing.” This collection of user-friendly stories, essays, and philosophies invites readers to celebrate whatever age they are with a sense of joy and purpose and with a spirit of gratitude.

 

PRAISE for A Delightful Little Book on Aging:

“Where are the elders? The wise women, the crones, the guardians of truth here to gently, lovingly, and playfully guide us towards the fulfillment of our collective destiny? It turns out that they are right here, in our midst, and Stephanie Raffelock is showcasing the reclamation of aging as a moment of becoming, no longer a dreaded withering into insignificance. A Delightful Little Book on Aging lays down new and beautiful tracks for the journey into our richest, deepest, and wildest years.” – Kelly Brogan, MD, author of the New York Times bestseller A Mind of Your Own

“A helpful, uplifting work for readers handling the challenges of growing older.” – Kirkus Reviews

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Live and love in great fulness

 

Review_preview
ADLBOA bookstagram 2Aptly titled, A Delightful Little Book on Aging lays out a joyful, thoughtful, easily applicable approach to handling the advancing years with dignity, grace, and gratitude. Ms. Raffelock wrote with so much wisdom, authority, and charm, I found myself highlighting numerous passages that resonated with me. By the time I finished reading, nearly the entire inside of the book was covered in light green color (I chose a highlighter that matched the cover) .

Arranged in four sections–Grief, Reclamation, Vision, and Laughter–the book is filled with personal anecdotes that illustrated the author’s message and lists of advice gleaned from experience and lessons learned through the years.  Of the anecdotes, my favorite was the one about the elderly couple who danced. “They showed us what wringing every last bit of life out of the cloth of our existence looks like.”

ADLBOA bookstagram 1Of all the advice, these stood out for me:

  • Keep moving – Walk, dance, exercise, do yoga. “You gotta keep moving to be relevant.”
  • Be authentic – Grieve, say no, accept failure, put yourself first, speak up. “Stand in the light of your truth.”
  • Have friends – Engage in community, volunteer, mentor, connect. “To care about someone beyond yourself is a fulfillment of our shared destiny.”
  • Practice gratitude – Breathe thanks, name the gifts and write them down, reflect. “Gratitude practice is a way of opening the heart to appreciation and hopeful possibility.”

I’m turning forty-eight this year. I have heart palpitations and arthritis. My hair has silver strands. Soon, I will have hot flashes. This is the perfect time for me to read this book. It reinforces what I already know and reminds me of things I’ve forgotten to include in my journey to the golden years. So, yes, I’m recommending this book. Join the giveaway AND buy the book. Buy as many copies as you can afford. It’s the perfect present to yourself, to friends and loved ones. Give it to them now. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. Carpe diem. Seize the day.

5 stars

AboutTheAuthor

Stephanie RaffelockStephanie Raffelock is the author of A Delightful Little Book on Aging  (She Writes Press, April 2020). A graduate of Naropa University’s program in Writing and Poetics, she has penned articles for numerous publications, including the Aspen Times, the Rogue Valley Messenger, Nexus Magazine, Omaha Lifestyles, Care2.com, and SixtyandMe.com. Stephanie is part of the positive-aging movement, which encourages viewing age as a beautiful and noble passage, the fruition of years that birth wisdom and deep gratitude for all of life.  She’s a recent transplant to Austin, Texas, where she enjoys life with her husband, Dean, and their Labrador retriever, Jeter (yes, named after the great Yankee shortstop).

  Website ║ Facebook ║ Instagram ║ Amazon

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TWO WINNERS: Signed hardcover copy of A Delightful Little Book on Aging + a set of 50 pocket inspirations
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Wonder and delight for life, this is what wisdom is.

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

TFE Tour Cover

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

Scroll down for the giveaway!

 

Synopsis

TFE book cover

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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Review_preview

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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 eighty years ago through detailed descriptions of the brewery, the theater, 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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May 19-29, 2020
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THANK YOU, GARDEN By Liz Garton Scanlon – Blitz, Review, and Giveaway

TYG blitz cover

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

TYG cover

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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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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 Amazon Author Page ║ Wordfall Publishing 

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4/21/20 Notable Quotable Reading by Moonlight
4/21/20 BONUS Post Hall Ways Blog
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
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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.

Website ║ Blog ║ Facebook ║ Twitter ║ Instagram
Goodreads ║ Amazon Author Page ║ BookBub

 

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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
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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
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4/25/20 Review Jennifer Silverwood

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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.

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Copy of Out of the Embers + Special Hill Country Sweets Cookbook
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Copy of Out of the Embers + Special Hill Country Sweets Cookbook 
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March 10-March 20, 2020
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3/10/20 Notable Quotable Forgotten Winds
3/10/20 Review Librariel Book Adventures
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3/11/20 BONUS Post Hall Ways Blog
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THE MAIL ORDER BRIDE’S SECRET by Linda Broday – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

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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

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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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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

 

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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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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
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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
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2/1/20 		Character Interview 	It's Not All Gravy
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