THE KISSING TREE Book Blog Tour Mini-Reviewapalooza – Review & Giveaway

THE KISSING TREE

Four Novellas Rooted in Timeless Love

KAREN WITEMEYER, REGINA JENNINGS, 
AMANDA DYKES, and NICOLE DEESE

Genre: Christian / Romance / Anthology
Publisher: Bethany House
Date of Publication: October 13, 2020
Number of Pages: 400

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In this Texas-sized romance novella collection, courting couples, decades apart, leave a permanent mark of their love by carving their initials into the same oak’s bark. 

Regina Jennings: “Broken Limbs, Mended Hearts” When a young man from her past returns and upends their small town with a new invention, schoolteacher Bella Eden is reminded of the heartbreak she suffered years ago under the old oak tree. When her job is on the line, can she trust the man who disrupted her life to help her fight for a brighter future?

Karen Witemeyer: “Inn for a Surprise”
Determined to keep love alive for others, Phoebe Woodward builds an inn that caters to couples. When her father sends a property manager to help make it a success, she finds her whimsical vision thwarted by his stodgy practicality. Finding the right blend of romance and reality is a challenge, and her spinster heart may be in for a surprise. 

Amanda Dykes: “From Roots to Sky” WWII airman Luke Hampstead found comfort in letters from the sister of a lost compatriot. When he visits Texas to thank her, he discovers her constructing a project with surprising ties to his letters . . . and that she herself is even more surprising. While a promising opportunity awaits him elsewhere, will what they’ve shared be enough to give their future flight?

Nicole Deese: “Heartwood” Abby Brookshire’s world is turned upside down when the historic tree she’s strived to preserve as the head groundskeeper at the Kissing Tree Inn is put in danger of removal. Making matters worse, the only way to protect its legacy is to partner with the man she’s been ignoring since he left town years ago. Will she have the courage to move on from the past and start a new beginning?

 

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With its four delightful, heartwarming, and romantic novellas,  The Kissing Tree is one of my favorite books of 2020. Easily in the Top 20 of the 160 titles I’ve read so far.

Four excellent stories of love spanning generations. Three historical, one contemporary. One special tree at the center of them all. Related storylines, seamless integration of elements from one story to the next, cohesive execution. Each time I finished a story, I’d say it was my favorite. In the end, I couldn’t pick one. I choose all four. 

Broken Limbs, Mended Heart by Regina Jennings tells the story of how the stately live oak in Oak Springs, Texas became The Kissing Tree through Bella Eden and Adam Fisher. The pairing of schoolteacher and modern farmer is something I don’t read often and I’m long past the point of being able to relate to characters in their early 20s, but this sweet story appealed to me because Ms. Jennings created a lovely tale of young dreams being fulfilled and of a community coming together to welcome an innovation after initial skepticism.  

Inn For a Surprise by Karen Witemeyer had me laughing with the rivalry between romantic innkeeper-wannabe Phoebe Woodward and practical self-made businessman Barnabas Ackerly. I love their conversations and the way their contest showed them how well they complement each other’s styles. Opposites do attract and with parental matchmaking at work, these two have their happily-ever-after. Barnabas’ nicknames for the inn are some of the highlights of this story. I also like the cameo of Bella and Adam from the first story to establish continuity. 

Phoebe’s line really resonated with me: “I refuse to settle for anything other than soul-stirring, fully reciprocated love.”

From Roots to Sky by Amanda Dykes is both light and deep. I always have a soft spot for military romance and this story of pilot Luke Hampstead and Hannah Garland, the woman he’s been corresponding with, induced me to both laughter and tears. Hannah’s vibrant personality matched Luke’s quiet steadfastness perfectly. As in the previous story, I love it when the couple works together to achieve a common goal. This time, on building the cottage inspired by Danny’s letters and Luke’s drawings from Europe. 

Heartwood by Nicole Deese gutted me. The only contemporary story of the collection, this second-chance romance between Abby Brookshire and Griffin Malone is the most relatable to me. Like Abby, I too lost my father to illness and that letter she wrote him had me bawling. While tears-inducing, this story managed to also have light moments and it ends the series on the right note. That of hope and strength in community and love. 

This is one of my favorite quotes- “When things feel completely out of my control, my options become very simple: I can either tighten my grip and hang on no matter how much that hold might hurt myself or others, or I can open my fist and trust in a process much bigger than myself … and let go.” 

 

The stories have an awesome sense of place. I actually looked up “Oak Springs, Texas” and “The Kissing Tree, Texas” on the internet with the intention of visiting them when it’s safe to travel once more. Alas, they’re only in the imagination of four talented authors.

Thanks to Lone Star Lit and Bethany House for giving me an early copy to review this wonderful book. 

Regina Jennings is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University, with a degree in English and a minor in history. She’s the winner of the National Readers’ Choice Award, a two-time Golden Quill finalist, and a finalist for the Oklahoma Book of the Year Award. Regina has worked at the Mustang News and at First Baptist Church of Mustang, along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. She lives outside of Oklahoma City with her husband and four children.

Website ║ Facebook

Voted #1 Reader’s Favorite Christian Romance Author of 2019 by Family Fiction Magazine, bestselling author  Karen Witemeyer offers warmhearted historical romance with a flair for humor, feisty heroines, and swoon-worthy Texas heroes. She makes her home in Abilene, Texas, with her husband and three children.

Website ║ Karen’s Posse Reader Facebook Group 

Amanda Dykes is a drinker of tea, dweller of redemption, and spinner of hope-filled tales who spends most days chasing wonder and words with her family. She’s a former English teacher and the author of Whose Waves These Are, a Booklist 2019 Top Ten Romance debut, as well as three novellas.

Website ║ Instagram

Nicole Deese’s eight humorous, heartfelt, and hope-filled novels include the 2017 Carol Award-winning A Season to Love. Her 2018 release, A New Shade of Summer, was a finalist in the RITA Awards, Carol Awards, and INSPY Awards. Both of these books are from her bestselling Love in Lenox series. When she’s not working on her next contemporary romance, she can usually be found reading one by a window overlooking the inspiring beauty of the Pacific Northwest. She lives in small-town Idaho with her happily-ever-after hubby, two rambunctious sons, and princess daughter with the heart of a warrior.

Website ║ Facebook

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SIX WINNERS! Grand prize: print copy of The Kissing Tree plus custom, 18” x 3.5” wooden sign; five other winners: print copy of The Kissing Tree.
 
 October 20-30, 2020
(U.S. Only)

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CLICK TO VISIT THE LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE TOUR PAGE
FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY.
Or, visit the blogs directly:

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10/25/20

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SIMMER DOWN by Sarah Smith – Featured New Release

SIMMER DOWN

by 

Sarah Smith

In this finger-licking good rom-com, two is the perfect number of cooks in the kitchen.

Nikki DiMarco knew life wouldn’t be all sunshine and coconuts when she quit her dream job to help her mom serve up mouthwatering Filipino dishes to hungry beach goers, but she didn’t expect the Maui food truck scene to be so eat-or-be-eaten—or the competition to be so smoking hot.

But Tiva’s Filipina Kusina has faced bigger road bumps than the arrival of Callum James. Nikki doesn’t care how delectable the British food truck owner is—he rudely set up shop next to her coveted beach parking spot. He’s stealing her customers and fanning the flames of a public feud that makes her see sparks.

The solution? Let the upcoming Maui Food Festival decide their fate. Winner keeps the spot. Loser pounds sand. But the longer their rivalry simmers, the more Nikki starts to see a different side of Callum … a sweet, protective side. Is she brave enough to call a truce? Or will trusting Callum with her heart mean jumping from the frying pan into the fire?

Buy Links:

Penguin Random House          Amazon          Barnes & Noble          Kobo     Google Play          Indiebound          Books A Million          Bookshop.org     

Any time I see myself in the book I’m reading, I give it high marks. Every time I cry while reading a book, I give it top ratings. Whenever a book promotes the Filipino culture, I only had positive things to say about it. Simmer Down, with its part-Filipina heroine, her tight-knit bond with her parents, its multicultural romance, and its proud celebration of Filipino food, gets my enthusiastic rave. A perfectly-fitting read during the Filipino American History Month this October.

Sarah Smith is a copywriter-turned-author who wants to make the world a lovelier place, one kissing story at a time. Her love of romance began when she was eight and she discovered her auntie’s stash of romance novels. She’s been hooked ever since. When she’s not writing, you can find her hiking, eating chocolate, and perfecting her lumpia recipe. She lives in Bend, Oregon, with her husband and adorable cat Salem.

Social Media Links:

Website     Facebook     Twitter     Instagram     BookBub     Goodreads

Some of the dishes served in Nikki’s food truck Tiva’s Filipina Kusina are found in Boracay Vows.

Pancit and lumpia are mentioned multiple times in Simmer Down

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chicken adobo is a prize-winning dish in Simmer Down.

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

Scroll down for the giveaway!

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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Christian Book Distributor || Google Play
Apple Books || IndieBound || Kobo
Murder By the Book || Tyndale

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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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CLICK TO VISIT THE LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE TOUR PAGE
FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY.
Or, visit the blogs directly:

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8/25/20 Character Interview Book Bustle
8/26/20 Review Tangled in Text
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8/27/20 Review StoreyBook Reviews
8/27/20 Review Reading by Moonlight

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