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Thursday, September 21, 2017

"Stars in Their Eyes" by Pema Donyo Blog Tour & Giveaway!

Stars in Their Eyes by Pema Donyo

Publication Date: September 18, 2017
Crimson Romance
eBook; 120 Pages
Genre: Historical Romance
This beautifully sweeping story of dueling ambitions and restless hearts in the roaring twenties will captivate fans who loved the romance of the Oscar-winning film La La Land and Paula McLain’s bestselling novel The Paris Wife.
The bohemian salons and wild cabarets of 1920s Paris are just the place for Owen Matthews to pursue his writing and make the right connections in the literary scene. But six years after leaving Los Angeles and the love of his life, he still strives for success. Penning a new screenplay for his friend’s film might just help keep the lights on a bit longer in the City of Lights.
Iris Wong is used to sacrifice and rejection as an Asian-American actress. She’s determined to take full advantage of her new leading role in a Parisian silent film—and the director’s romantic interest in her. Playing the game almost guarantees she’ll be able to break through the industry’s racism and become the silver screen star she’s dreamed of being since she earned her first nickel as a Hollywood extra.
When these two star-crossed lovers unexpectedly reunite, they get a second chance to reconcile their hearts’ desires with their dreams of fame and fortune.
Sensuality Level: Behind Closed Doors

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Books-a-Million | Google Play | iTunes | Kobo


About the Author

Pema Donyo is a full-time finance professional, part-time author, and at-all-times coffee lover. She believes creativity can be infused into all endeavors, whether building a brand new story world or solving a quantitative problem. She currently lives in San Francisco.
Pema’s novels include The Innocent Assassins, One Last Letter, and Revolutionary Hearts.
For more information, please visit Pema’s website. You can also find her on Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. Sign up to receive news & updates from Pema Donyo.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, September 18
Spotlight at Mello & June, It’s a Book Thang!
Tuesday, September 19
Review at Pursuing Stacie
Wednesday, September 20 Review & Interview at The Book Junkie Reads
Thursday, September 21 Spotlight at Faery Tales Are Real
Friday, September 22 Review at Locks, Hooks and Books
Monday, September 25 Review at Creating Herstory
Tuesday, September 26 Spotlight at A Holland Reads

Wednesday, September 27 Spotlight at Passages to the Past


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away 2 eBooks of STARS IN THEIR EYES! To enter, please click on the link below.
Giveaway Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on September 27th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A Poignant Story of Love in the Post-Civil War South--"To Wager Her Heart" by Tamera Alexander Review

If you like the "When Calls the Heart" TV series, I think you'll really enjoy "To Wager Her Heart".
"To Wager Her Heart" by Tamera Alexander is the third book in the "Belle Meade Plantation" series.  It can also be easily read as a stand-alone.  I don't normally like to read a lot of books set in the U.S. during different war periods, but recently I've been picking more of these up and enjoying them more than I thought I would.  "To Wager Her Heart" is just such a book.  Tamera Alexander has a superb and engaging writing style and creates here a story that draws the reader in.  Her characters are also very well written and come to life on the page.  She is very good at writing swoon-worthy moments!  

"To Wager Her Heart" is set in the post-Civil War South.  It is fascinating to read about the South and what life was like for everyday people after the war ravaged their land and their hearts.  Ms. Alexander does such a great job portraying this "in-between" time where a lot of change is taking place, but there's also many people who still hold to the "old ideals", including the father of our main character (Alexandra). 

I love how Ms. Alexander incorporates real life into the fictional story, like the freedman's school that Alexandra teaches at (Fisk University) and the Jubilee Singers.  I love that the university emphasizes knowledge, not only of the basic subjects, but of Christ.  Despite these many good things, it was hard for me to read at points, due to the vivid descriptions and the heavy subject matter.  Like I said, it's not my favorite time period to read about, precisely because of all of weightier issues that come along with it.  But it is important to remember these periods in our nation's history as well and the courageous men and women who went before us. 

There are many important messages in this book.  Throughout the story, Ms. Alexander conveys the lesson that we're all created in God's image and it doesn't matter what color skin you have, which is still a very pertinent message today with the recent racial tensions and the white supremacy movement.  I was encouraged by Alexandra's struggle with fear after tragedy and how she is able to overcome that fear through her faith.  Tragedy, loss, love, overcoming, and justice are all themes that are woven into this amazing story! 

Content: This is a clean read, but it is more on the edgy, gritty side of Christian fiction.  One character was in a train accident and she often thinks about it or has flashbacks.  The descriptions of the accident and aftermath are very detailed and vivid.  The word "negro" is used in context.  There is talk about a woman's "assets" and the author implies that a character is a prostitute.  The prostitute propositions a man, and this man has been to a brothel before.  The Lord's name is taken in vain once.  A person accidentally gets drunk.  A man tries not to look at a woman's d├ęcolletage.  There is some sexual innuendo.  There is talk of how slaves used to commit suicide. 

Genre: Christian historical fiction; Romance

Rating: I give this book four stars. 

I want to thank Tamera Alexander, Zondervan, and the Fiction Guild for the complimentary copy of this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I express in this review are my own. This is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR 16, Part 255.


About the Author: Tamera Alexander is a USA Today bestselling author and one of today's most popular writers of inspirational historical romance. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee with her husband, not far from the Southern mansions that serve as the backdrop for many of her critically-acclaimed novels.

To purchase the book click here

To visit the author's website click here

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

A Rollicking Regency Spy Novel--"A Dangerous Engagement" by Melanie Dickerson Review

Have I mentioned before that Melanie Dickerson is one of my favorite authors?  Yes, I know I have a lot of favorites, but she is one of them and her newest book has a beautiful story, fantastic characters, and a gorgeous cover to boot!  I am also a lover of all things Austen and this series has many nods to Jane Austen's works. 

 "A Dangerous Engagement" by Melanie Dickerson is the third installment in "The Regency Spies of London" series.  This book can be read as a stand-alone novel, but characters from the other books in the series do make appearances.  Ms. Dickerson has mentioned before that she has gotten inspiration from Jane Austen while writing the books in this series.  "A Dangerous Engagement" seems to have a lot of similarities to "Northanger Abbey" in particular.  There are also some characters that remind me of characters from "Pride and Prejudice" and a certain section of the story brings "Emma" to mind.  Ms. Dickerson inserts these tidbits from Austen, yet manages to weave her own delightful and unique story.  I love that she adds the whole concept of spies and mystery.  While some may find it a little slower than the first two books, it is still very good in its own right.  At points it is especially hard to put down, as many of the chapters end in cliff hangers or a suspenseful plot twist!

The characters in this book are my favorite part.  They are so well written and I really grew to love many of them and despise others.  Felicity, our heroine (who doesn't think she is one), is nervous and emotional in the beginning.  Her character changes a lot over the course of the novel and she is able to become more bold and courageous.  She is more interested in wanting to make something of her life and instead of obsessing over the latest fashion; she can be found studying Chinese to become a missionary in China and quoting Hannah More.  She often prays and learns to trust in God and look to Him when she feels anxious.  What a great character and encouragement for those of us who struggle with anxiety!  Philip, the hero, is very noble and has strong faith and morals.  I also have a feeling many of us bookworms will find a kindred spirit in Aunt Agnes (I don't want to say any more and risk giving spoilers). 

 "A Dangerous Engagement" is another terrific book by Melanie Dickerson!  It's a great read that can be enjoyed by young and old alike!

 Content: This is a clean read, suitable for middle grade to adult readers.  There is a mention that a character curses, but the curse isn't written.  There is an instance where a character hears that at some house parties men take “liberties” with women.  There is a reference to the marriage bed. 

 Genre: Christian historical fiction; Regency; Romance

 Rating: I give this book four stars.

I want to thank Melanie Dickerson, Netgalley, Waterfall Press and Brilliance Publishing for the complimentary copy of this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I express in this review are my own. This is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR 16, Part 255.

About the Author:

Melanie Dickerson is an award-winning author who earned her bachelor’s degree in special education from The University of Alabama.

She has taught in Georgia, Tennessee, Germany and the Eastern European country of Ukraine.

A member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA), she now spends her time writing and taking care of her husband and two daughters near Huntsville, Alabama.

To purchase the book click here

To visit Ms. Dickerson's website click here

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

A Different Perspective on the Women of "Little Women"--"The Other Alcott" by Elise Hooper Review

"Little Women" has always been one of my favorite books.  During my childhood, I devoured every book I could find by Louisa May Alcott and did a term paper on her in high school (it was about how much her actual life parallels her book, "Little Women").  When I read the premise of "The Other Alcott", I was so excited to read more about my beloved Alcott family!

"The Other Alcott" by Elise Hooper is about May Alcott, Louisa May Alcott's younger sister.  In Louisa's book "Little Women", the character Amy is modeled after May Alcott.  Amy is not always portrayed in the best light and is often the least liked sister.  May is in fact much more than just the spoiled, selfish Amy.  May Alcott is a brilliant artist and reaches her own level of fame and moves among the inner circle of artists of her time. 

This book is a fascinating look at life through May's perspective.  The story takes place after "Little Women" is published.  The Alcotts are often close to poverty and Louisa and May struggle to provide for themselves and their family.  It is still not conventional for women to be artists or to remain unmarried--but both Louisa and May follow this less traveled path.  Throughout the story we see May rise as a talented artist and how she has to work hard to make her own way and not just be known as the "other Alcott.”  May struggles with the constant balance between creating art to make money and being true to herself and doing what she loves.  Ms. Hooper incorporates minute historical detail and draws the reader into the world of art during this time period.  There are beautiful and vivid descriptions of all the places May visits, such as Paris and England.  I love that the book includes special content, including some of May's artwork and illustrations. 

The characters of May and Louisa are so well done that I felt like I knew them personally.  I love getting to see a different side of these characters.  I was surprised that Louisa didn't actually want to write "Little Women" or those types of stories and she didn't like the fame her stories brought.  May's character is very optimistic and very different from Louisa’s.  Louisa and May do have a difficult relationship, but at the end of the day, May misses Louisa, still wants her approval, and wants to be able to share her successes with her.  This is a beautiful picture of family ties and how sometimes only family can fully appreciate your triumphs because they know where you once were and how far you've come.  May's journey helps her appreciate Louisa better and she realizes the sisters have more in common than they originally thought. 

Content: I give this book a PG-13 rating.  There is the use of some minor swear words.  There is a character that falls in love with a married man.  There is a scene where May is painting a nude model.  Some side characters are homosexual.  There are the implications that a character sleeps with her husband and a scene of the married couple lying in bed. 

Rating:  I give this book 4.5 stars. 

Genre: This book is Historical Fiction

I want to thank Elise Hooper, William Morrow and Harper Collins for the complimentary copy of this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I express in this review are my own. This is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR 16, Part 255.

About the Author:

Although a New Englander by birth (and at heart), Elise now lives with her husband and two young daughters within stone-skipping distance of the Pacific Northwest’s Puget Sound. When she’s not writing, she’s in her classroom making American history and literature interesting for high school students. Want to try your hand at creating a pitch for Shark Tank: Colonial America Edition? Stop by her classroom.

Click here to visit the author's website

Click here to purchase the book

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Woman "Beside" Martin Luther--"Loving Luther" by Allison Pittman Review

"Loving Luther" by Allison Pittman is a captivating read about the woman behind (or should I say "next to") Martin Luther.  The book is told from Katharina von Bora's perspective--the woman who eventually becomes the wife of the great Martin Luther (the author of the famous 95 Theses).  But Katherina's tale is a little known, but fascinating story all in itself.  This book is about this smart and witty woman and what her life is like leading up to her marriage to Luther.  It starts from her girlhood in a convent and takes the reader on a journey of faith and growth alongside Katharina.  Katharina is captivated by Luther's words and ideas and escapes a convent due to Luther's writings and influence.  Katharina has to then go through her own journey to find her place in life as an unmarried woman without family to support her.  She develops a relationship and friendship with Luther, but it is many years until she comes to realize that she has feelings for this man.  Will he return her feelings? 

 Allison Pittman's writing and storytelling ability in "Loving Luther" are superb!  She draws the reader right into the story.  I experienced many feelings while reading Katharina's story, from humor when reading the scenes of her as a girl interacting with her friends in the convent to fury as I read of the way she is treated by a superior (although not all her superiors in the convent were portrayed as evil).  I rejoiced along with Katharina and the other nuns as they realized the truths of the Gospel through Martin Luther's writings. 

I enjoy the fact that Ms. Pittman starts the story from Katharina's girlhood and made it more Katharina's life story--not just a romance.  Ms. Pittman did an amazing time transporting the reader back to the time of the Reformation.  Katharina is a well written character and I love seeing the hunger she develops for God's Words, but also her struggles as she has to break free from the only life she has known.  The witty exchanges between Katharina and Luther make me smile and it's a great relationship that slowly builds throughout the story.  This is one of those books where you get to know the characters so well that you don't want to leave them at the end of it all.  I still can't stop thinking about this beautifully written story. 

Content: When Katharina is in the convent, there is a scene where she is physically abused by a priest.  There is mention of a girl's mother being a prostitute and how men would try to do things to the young girl.  A character curses once, but the curse isn't actually written.  Both Katharina and Luther get drunk.  There are a few jokes and references to the marriage bed.

Rating: I give this book 5 stars!

Genre:  Christian Historical Fiction; Medieval; Romance

I want to thank Allison Pittman and Tyndale Blog Network for the complimentary copy of this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I express in this review are my own. This is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR 16, Part 255.

About the Author:
Allison Pittman is the author of more than a dozen critically acclaimed novels and a three-time Christy finalist—twice for her Sister Wife series and once for All for a Story from her take on the Roaring Twenties. She lives in San Antonio, Texas, blissfully sharing an empty nest with her husband, Mike. Connect with her on Facebook (Allison Pittman Author), Twitter (@allisonkpittman) or her website, allisonkpittman.com.

To visit Allison Pittman's website click here

To purchase the book click here

To read the first chapter click here

Saturday, August 26, 2017

"The Duke's Dilemma" by Elaine Manders Blog Tour and GIVEAWAY with Celebrate Lit--Review and Guest Post

Click here to purchase your copy.

About the Book

Book title: The Duke’s Dilemma

Author: Elaine Manders

Release date: May 27, 2017

Genre: Historical Romance, subgenre: Regency

Should he wed the perfect match—or the one he loves?

Edward Dalton, the new Duke of Langsdale, must soon take a wife to ensure the hereditary line. A young war widow seems the perfect choice. She is charming, well respected with impeccable character, and her connections to the Ton’s most important people is an asset he can’t ignore. But Edward is intrigued by another widow. The mysterious, hauntingly beautiful Lady Wayte.

Cassandra Wayte could not be a more unsuitable match. She isn’t received by polite society, and her notorious dealings with London’s underclass is the talk of nobility from White’s patrons to the most fashionable hostesses. It’s even whispered she murdered her elderly husband. But Edward sees a different side of the tragic lady, and he determines to discover the secrets tormenting her. As he peels away the layers of her resistance, he discovers a malevolent adversary stalking Lady Wayte and exposes a level of depravity that shocks even his war-hardened sensibilities. Can he win her trust and her heart? And at what cost to the dukedom?

As Cassandra’s relentless search for her husband’s murderer exposes both her and Edward to unseen dangers, all they can rely on is their love for each other and their faith in God.

My Review:

"The Duke's Dilemma" by Elaine Manders is the second book in "The Wolf Deceivers" series.  It is a sweet romance that actually deals with a very dark topic–human trafficking and sex slavery.  While the juxtaposition of a romance and the struggle of these dark themes can be jarring at times, the book has an important message to tell.  I have not read the first book in the series, but “The Duke’s Dilemma” is a standalone novel. 

I think what makes this book special are the characters.  Cassandra, our heroine, has been through so much in her past and wants vengeance on the man who has caused her so much pain.  She has to struggle with the dilemma of whether she will do everything she can to punish this man or leave it in the Lord's hands.  Despite this inner struggle, Cassandra is still very sweet and strong and goes out of her way to rescue others from the terrors of the life she used to live--even risking her own life and reputation in society.  She is so brave to help prostitutes and goes into brothels to rescue them.  Edward is a very swoon-worthy hero.  This man has a lot of patience and unconditional love!  I love his faith and how he prays and thinks of Scripture.  Edward doesn't judge Cassandra, even when most other men in his station and society would.  He is so good to Cassandra and speaks love into her; not just his love, but Christ's love and Truth. 

Ms. Manders uses this story as a way to expose prostitution and human trafficking.  This message is just as relevant today as it was in the Regency era.  She does a superb job of showing what it is like for the women and girls who are trapped in this terrible fate (especially the fact that it is often not their choice and they are not dirty or immoral beings).  "The Duke's Dilemma" is a beautiful message of how the blood of Christ covers our sins and painful memories.  It is an enjoyable read with a sweet romance, although the topic is a sensitive one and can be hard to read about. 

Content:  This book deals with prostitution and sex slavery.  The main character is beaten as a child and has had a traumatic past.  She does help prostitutes and goes into brothels.  There is talk of prostitution and brothels as a result.  One man talks of some of the things that take place at the brothels, not in detail, but enough that I wouldn't recommend this to sensitive readers or early teenage readers.  There is an attempted rape and Cassandra goes into a bit of detail about what she was put through in the past.  Due to that part I would give this book a PG-13 rating.  One scene was very hard for me to read. 

Rating: I give this book three stars, which means I liked it. 

Genre:  Historical Romance, Christian fiction; subgenre: Regency

I want to thank Elaine Manders and Celebrate Lit for the complimentary copy of this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I express in this review are my own. This is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR 16, Part 255.

About the Author

photo 3

Elaine Manders writes wholesome Christian romance and suspense about the bold, capable women of history and the strong, dependable men who love them. She prefers stories that twist and turn and surprise, told by characters of faith. She lives in Central Georgia with a happy bichon-poodle mix. Besides writing, she enjoys reading, crafts, and spending time with her friends, daughter, and grandchildren.

Guest post from Elaine Manders

Historical romance became my favorite genre back in the seventies and eighties, and one of my favorite settings was Regency England. A Regency can be a romance in the Jane Austin mode or historical romance set during the Regency period. There is a difference, and The Duke’s Dilemma falls into this latter category. Yes, there is some of usual drawing room intrigue in an Austen novel, but The Duke’s Dilemma contains a serious spiritual theme. The plot fitted perfectly into my new series, The Wolf Deceivers.

I wrote the original manuscript nearly twenty years ago as a light, secular romance, but when I revised it to Christian romance, I was delighted to find the inspirational thread deepened the characters. Instead of merely fighting for her reputation while trying to wrest the duke from another woman, Cassandra, the heroine, must fight for her survival. Instead of being another handsome, sardonic nobleman, Edward, the hero, uses his intelligence and grace to protect Cassandra and win her love.

Even the secondary characters captivated me. Little Sarah’s match-making antics suited the Regency theme and provided some levity during the darker moments of the plot. Lady Ashford, Cassandra’s foil, developed a tenacity I had to admire in spite of all her shortcomings. And Sir Harcrumb became a villain I loved to hate.

Though the characters changed a great deal in the retelling, the plot remained basically the same. The only thing I added was a surprise twist at the end—something that has inadvertently become a part of my brand.

Every story is a learning experience for me, and I’m always grateful for how much I learn from my research and from the Holy Spirit. I’ve become more aware of those who deceive, and how vulnerable people, especially young people, are to Satan’s tactics. Also, I’ve unexpectedly come away with a better understanding of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). Although this is a new label, we all know it has affected people throughout history.

Yes, The Duke’s Dilemma has taught me much, and I hated to say good-bye to these characters. I love stories that move me during the writing and only ask two things of my books. That they bring enjoyment to my readers and glory to my Lord and Savior, Jesus. I hope this one does both.

Blog Stops

August 24: Genesis 5020
August 26: Jami’s Words
August 27: Karen Sue Hadley
August 28: Remembrancy
September 1: Pause for Tales
September 1: Caffeinated Reads
September 2: Live. Love. Read.
September 3: Just the Write Escape
September 4: Henry Happens
To celebrate her tour, Elaine is giving away:
Grand prize: $50 Amazon Gift Card
1st place: paperback copies of Books 1 and 2 of the Wolf Deceivers series, The Chieftain’s Choice and The Duke’s Dilemma!!
Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/bbab

Thursday, August 24, 2017

A House Full of Mystery and Strange Guests!--A Review of "12 Days at Bleakly Manor" by Michelle Griep


Prepare yourself to be highly entertained by this delightful book!  "12 Days at Bleakly Manor" by Michelle Griep is the first book in the "Once Upon a Dickens Christmas" series.  Ms. Griep fills her story with danger and mystery, leaving the reader guessing as to what will happen next! 

"12 Days at Bleakly Manor" is a mix of Charles Dickens's "Bleak House", Agatha Christie's "And Then There Were None", and pure genius.  I love BBC's version of "Bleak House", so I was excited to pick this book up.  I've never read "And Then There Were None", but I didn't feel like I was missing anything by not having read the book.  It was fun for me to pick up the "Bleak House" nods throughout the story.  Ms. Griep reminds me of Dickens in the way that she shows and describes the conditions of prisons, the plight of the poor in Victorian England and the unfair and corrupt justice system. 

This story is a fast-paced read with amazing characters and a gothic, mysterious setting.  Ms. Griep employs great descriptions and word pictures.  There is a darker side to the goings-on at Bleakly Manor.  I appreciate how Ms. Griep gives the readers a helpful list and description (at the back of the book) of the Victorian Christmas traditions that are mentioned in the story.   

If you think the people at your Christmas get-togethers are crazy, check out this group at Bleakly Manor!  Some of the characters have very funny and weird idiosyncrasies and eccentricities, which makes the story all the more interesting.  With everything going on in the house and mystery looming everywhere, can the characters trust that God is in control? 

"12 Days at Bleakly Manor" is a novel of second chances and choosing between revenge and forgiveness.  There is a theme of trust and a strong faith element.  I very much enjoyed this book!

Content: This is a clean read.  There is a scene where a man is in prison and the conditions are described vividly, which might make sensitive readers uncomfortable.  It also mentions that a character swears, but the word is not actually used.

Rating:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

Genre: Christian historical fiction; Victorian England; Mystery

I want to thank Michelle Griep, Shiloh Run Press and Barbour Publishing for the complimentary copy of this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I express in this review are my own. This is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR 16, Part 255.


About the Author:

Michelle Griep is an author, blogger, and occasional super-hero when her cape is clean.  You can visit her at https://michellegriep.com/.

To purchase the book, click here.