Posted in 4 paws, Review, women on February 13, 2018

Title: SURVIVORS’ DAWN
Author: Ashley Warren
Publisher: Chaparral Press LLC
Pages: 316
Genre: Contemporary Fiction / Women’s Fiction / New Adult Fiction

Synopsis

A heroic story of three college women’s fight for justice

At first glance, Brooke Flanagan, Lauren Le, and Nikki Towers have little in common: a churchgoing virgin, a party girl, and a resident advisor. But they all have their own dreams, dreams that can be shattered in a single night.

When freshman Brooke Flanagan first arrives at the university, she’s excited to escape her sheltered life in a Southern town. Lauren Le, a scholarship student, likes to have a good time, but she never disappoints her hardworking, single mom. Nikki Towers always goes her own way. Confident, poised, and wealthy, Nikki’s biggest problem is what to do with her future.

Into these girls’ lives walks Colin Jordan. Colin is the son of a private equity titan, captain of his club basketball team, and a brilliant pre-law student. He is also a sexual predator.

Survivors’ Dawn relates a journey of heroes: the strength, courage, and determination of the victims as they fight to survive; the obstacles they face in their pursuit of justice; and finally, with its conclusion, hope for a future where students can pursue their dreams without fear of being attacked.

A contemporary novel, Survivor’s Dawn wrestles with issues of privilege, sexual assault, and the responsibility of academic institutions to protect their students.

Review

A very intense book that peeks into the life of several women that survive a sexual assault (on a college campus in this case) and what the gamut of emotions that they endure. Please note that the assault scenes are not graphic but are powerful.

Each of the three women, Lauren, Brooke, and Nikki, tell their story in their own way. All three stories intersect each other since they are on the same college campus. The women support each other against their perpetrator, Colin. They each feel guilt, remorse, and anger about the situation, and who could blame them? This story also reflects how the situation affects the parents, especially when it comes to Brooke. Her mother is very supportive, but her father blames her and perhaps it is his guilt for not being able to protect her while she is away at college.

While this is a horrible crime against the three, it does make each of them stronger in their own way. From standing up against Colin, to wanting to get more involved on campus and prevent this from happening to anyone else. This incident does not put the university in a good light, and I was angry at the Dean of Students and President for trying to sweep this under the rug just because Colin’s family is wealthy.

This story is well written and I had a hard time putting it down at times. It may be fiction but there is a lot of truth to the story and how it does happen more than we would probably like to admit on college campuses.

We give this 4 paws up

About the Author

The unending accounts of sexual assault on college campuses compelled me to write Survivors’ Dawn.

My goal in writing the novel was NOT to focus on the act itself, but instead, to write of the victim’s journey, to tell a story about the strength, courage, and determination of survivors, to describe the difficulties they face in their pursuit of justice, and finally, to offer hope for a future where students can pursue their dreams without fear of being attacked.

As Lady Gaga’s “Til It Happens to You” implies, non-victims can never truly know how it feels to be assaulted, but we can try to empathize, and we can try to help. Awareness is key to reducing the incidence of sexual assault on campus. Please do your part by taking the It’s On Us pledge and contributing to organizations that are fighting on the front lines.

Thank you to readers who give me encouragement. It means so much to me. Word of mouth is an incredible thing, so thank you also for telling your friends about Survivors’ Dawn.

Website | Twitter | Facebook

 

Ashley Warren is giving away a FREE Kindle copy of SURVIVORS’ DREAM!

Terms & Conditions:

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  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter.
  • This giveaway ends midnight March 30.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on March 31.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

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Posted in 4 paws, Children, Giveaway, Review on January 25, 2018

Book Title: The Adventures of Popcorn and Jellybean by Robert Gillespie
Category: Children’s Fiction, 48 pages
Genre: Fantasy / Nature
Publisher: Page Publishing
Release date: July 2017
Content Rating: G

Synopsis

Popcorn and Jellybean had never ventured down the path beyond the big tree. But since they never really did anything exciting, and even though it made them a little nervous at first, they decided it would be a fun adventure for a couple of days. What could possibly go wrong? Plenty, as it turned out, if the explorers were not prepared! Join them as they take on new challenges each day, learn how to survive by following the behaviors of the animals they encounter, and go where Mother Nature leads them. And who knows, maybe we could learn as well!

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ iTunes ~ Google Play

Review

What an exciting book aimed at younger readers that is educational too!

Popcorn and Jellybean are on quite the adventure into the woods. I am not sure how old they are supposed to be but am surprised that the parents were ok with them being gone for several days. But as they delve deeper into the woods they come across various types of wildlife and remember details about the different animals and their behaviors from listening to their parents. They are also able to determine what sorts of plants are ok to eat after lessons from the parents. It is amazing what will stick in your mind even if you aren’t trying to learn!

There are times where the words seem older than the target audience, but I think it is a good book to teach children about wildlife and plants but in a fun way.

This book would be great for a reader that is just starting chapter books as the chapters are shorter and easier to read than a traditional chapter book.

We give this book 4 paws up!

About the Author

Bob has spent more than 13 years as a wildlife conservation educator sharing information and animal encounters with audiences of all ages. He has a passion for teaching about a wide range of topics nature related and loves passing it along to his two sons. His youngest son, Colton, was the inspiration behind The Adventures of Popcorn and Jellybean, where it all started as a simple bedtime story. Bob currently resides in Carlsbad, California, and works as a professional interpreter guide at a world-renowned conservation organization.

Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

Giveaway

Prizes: Win a paperback copy of The Adventures of Popcorn and Jellybean by Robert Gillespie and a $20 Amazon gift card (1 winner / open to USA & CAN)

(ends Feb 10, 2018)

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Posted in 4 paws, Review, romance, women on January 22, 2018

Book Title: Degrees of Love: A Novel by Lisa Slabach
Category: Adult Fiction, 344 pages
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Bookbaby
Content Rating: PG-13 + M (Adult themes including infidelity, occasional F-word, non-explicit sex scenes)

Synopsis

At thirty-six, Susan Sinclair has it all. She’s just been promoted to Senior Vice President of Mobile Banking at her firm, a prestigious position bringing fresh creative challenges and a hefty salary increase. Like the shiny new BMW in the driveway of the Silicon Valley home she shares with her husband, Matt, and their two beautiful boys, Susan exudes confidence and style.

Yet despite her success in juggling the roles of wife, mother, and businesswoman, Susan struggles with a secret dissatisfaction. Matt’s work in cutting-edge computer research pays less than her job, and with each advance in her career, he has grown more distant. But Matt refuses to admit there is a problem, and Susan forces herself to play along, determined to give her boys the close-knit family life she never had.

Then she meets her new boss, Reese Kirkpatrick. Working and traveling together, she and Reese become a crackerjack team, but little by little, pleasure mixes with business. For the first time in a long time—maybe ever—Susan feels seen and appreciated for who she is. Certain she would never allow their friendship to cross the line, Susan lets herself stray dangerously close to the edge.

​A moment of weakness changes everything. Now, unable to stomach the façade her marriage has become yet unwilling to decimate her family by moving forward with Reese, Susan faces a choice that could cost her everything—including her children . . . but possibly bring her more than she can dream.

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Chapters-Indigo ~ Powell’s

Praise for Degrees of Love

​”Slabach crafts a relatable, heartbreakingly real story that will no doubt resonate with those at a similar station in life: women who love their families yet yearn for just a little more—to feel wanted rather than needed, to feel passion rather than complacency. In engaging prose and through skillful storytelling, Slabach captivates with an all-too-familiar story that raises questions with no easy answers.”
– Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

“This does not read like a debut author’s book. Slabach shows herself to be adept at portraying the complex emotions of the human condition. Her characters live and breathe on the page in a way that every author strives for, but few actually manage. Susan’s struggles ring true, and the way she handles everything makes her a very likable and relatable character.”
– Sarah Perry, San Francisco Book Review, 5 Stars

Review

While the concept behind marriages has not changed, the role of each individual in that marriage is in a state of flux. No longer are roles defined by gender and marriages have become a true partnership. But what happens when one of the individuals wants something different? Or what if one is not happy with the other? Or finds what they are looking for from another? That is what this book brings to the table.

Adultery is not a new concept, it has been around since the beginning, but why do some people seek out something more than what they already have at home? In this debut novel by author Lisa Slabach, she allows us inside the marriage of Matt and Susan. They met in graduate school and couldn’t have been more different. Susan is artistic and Matt is scientific, but something still sparked between the two. Time has gone on, there are children, but things are the not same as they were all those years ago. The picture that is painted of Matt is not a pretty one. He wants her home more and to be the more traditional wife and mother. His words and actions did not sit well with me as the reader. I saw it as being narrow-minded and selfish to expect Susan to give up everything for him and the children. Susan, while a strong and fiercely independent woman, is torn between what she wants from life and doing what others expect. Enter Reese. He is Susan’s new boss and he is bewitched by Susan and wants her all to himself with no regard for her marriage.

I’m sure as you can imagine, this story is not going to end well for anyone. It is hard to have an affair and expect to get away with it long term. But what I found as the story progressed is that love comes in many forms and fashions and who is anyone to say what is right or wrong other than those involved?

There are various points in the book where Matt, Susan, and Reese are all cast in positive and negative lights. No one character is right or wrong at all times…they all share the blame for how the relationships evolve and I did feel differently for each character at different points in the book.

The book moved along at a pretty steady pace but really picked up near the end when the affair between Susan and Reese is uncovered by Matt. Emotions are running high and I wondered how the author was going to resolve this issue. I enjoyed the epilogue because it really brought the story full circle and answered any unanswered questions in my mind.

We give this book 4 paws up.

About the Author

Degrees of Love is Lisa Slabach’s debut novel. She is currently working on her third full-length manuscript and a collection of short stories inspired by her experiences growing up in a small farm community in Washington’s Yakima Valley. In addition to writing, Lisa works for a Fortune 500 Company, leading a sales team in the financial industry. She currently resides in Northern California with her husband and has two daughters, who are both pursuing careers in film. In her free time, she enjoys drinking wine with friends and cooking in her pink kitchen.

Website  ~  Twitter  ~ Facebook

Giveaway

Prizes: ​ Win a signed copy of Degrees of Love or a $25 Amazon Gift Card (5 winners, open int’l to wherever Amazon delivers)

(ends Feb 7, 2018)

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Posted in 4 paws, Cozy, Giveaway, Monday, mystery, Review on January 22, 2018

Murder of a Good Man (A Piney Woods Mystery) by Teresa Trent
Cozy Mystery

1st in Series
Setting – Texas
Camel Press (January 15, 2018)
Paperback: 256 pages

Synopsis

When Nora Alexander drives into Piney Woods, Texas, to fulfill her dying mother’s last wish, she has no idea what awaits her. First she is run off the road, then the sealed letter she delivers turns out to be a scathing rebuke to the town’s most beloved citizen and favored candidate for Piney Woods Pioneer: Adam Brockwell. Next thing you know, Adam has been murdered in a nasty knife attack. Suspicion instantly falls on Nora, one of the last people to see him alive. After all, everyone in Piney Woods loved him. Or did they? Nora learns that her mother had a complicated past she never shared with her daughter. Told not to leave town by Tuck the flirty sheriff, Nora finds a job with Tuck’s Aunt Marty trying to get the rundown Tunie Hotel back in the black. The old hotel was Piney Woods’ heart and soul in its heyday as an oil boomtown. Now the secrets it harbors may be the key to getting Nora off the hook. She’s going to need to solve the mystery quickly to avoid arrest, or worse: becoming the killer’s next victim.

Review

An intriguing start to a new series set in the Piney Woods of East Texas. And since I have family in East Texas, I felt like I was right at home.

Nora is a strong and independent woman that is on one last mission for her mother, to bring a letter to a man in this small Texas town. However, less than 24 hours later he is murdered and Nora is the prime suspect. And as with all cozies, she has to uncover the truth as to who murdered Adam Brockwell and clear her name.

There are quite a few interesting town citizens that play an important role in helping Nora uncover the truth and clear her name. And by getting to know these people, she also makes some friends and learns some history about her mom that she never knew before arriving in this town.

The mystery was quite an adventure and I think I only suspected this character because there was no one else that seemed a likely suspect. There were some clues but not many to try and decipher the motive and reasoning for Adam’s death.

It would be remiss to omit a budding romance and Nora has caught the Sheriff’s eye. He is quite smitten with her and there are a few witty comments he makes that will definitely make you chuckle.

There is even a touch of the paranormal to this story and it added an intriguing twist.

We give it 4 paws up.

About the Author

Teresa Trent lives in Houston, Texas and is an award-winning mystery writer.  She writes the Pecan Bayou Mystery Series, is a regular contributor to the Happy Homicides Anthologies. Teresa is happy to add her Henry Park Mystery Series to her publishing credits with Color Me Dead, the first book in the series. Teresa has also won awards for her work in short stories where she loves to dabble in tales that are closer to the Twilight Zone than small town cozies. When Teresa isn’t writing, she is a full-time caregiver for her son and teaches preschoolers music part-time. Her favorite things include spending time with family and friends, waiting for brownies to come out of the oven, and of course, a good mystery.

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Giveaway

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Posted in 4 paws, paranormal, Review, Thriller on January 5, 2018

DRS Publishing LLC; 1 edition

Paperback: 346 pages

September 7, 2017, $14.99

Genre: Paranormal Thriller

Synopsis

In the spring of 1867, at a makeshift graveyard in Mississippi, a work crew begins the somber task of unearthing the remains of Civil War soldiers. Found in the skeletal hand of one unidentified soldier is a US belt buckle. Believed to be a Union soldier, he is laid to rest in a Federal cemetery and honored with a Memorial Star Marker mounted on a pole at his gravesite. THE MARKER disappears from the cemetery in 1952 and remains hidden for over 64 years. When found, it becomes a conduit between its current owner and the Unknown Soldier, who pleads that his story be told. The result of this supernatural encounter reveals a history of envy, hate, and murder. These revelations bring everyone connected to THE MARKER into great peril.

Review

If you like genealogy, history and mystery you might just like this book!

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started this book, but once the grave marker is discovered I felt like the story really took off. Jennifer Beasley is a reporter, so who better to ferret out the history of the marker. It had been stolen from a cemetery in 1952 and was languishing in a drawer in a tiny shop that was going out of business. The marker intrigues Jennifer and she takes vacation time to find out the history of the marker, which turns into a search for who the unknown soldier is buried in that grave. To help her on that journey is the spirit of the soldier, Dr Bradley Taylor. She encounters some resistance and disbelief, but she also finds those willing to help her.

I marveled that the small hometown of Dr Taylor had one family that had kept meticulous records and items of the citizens of that town. That was a huge boon to Jennifer in unraveling the mystery behind what happened to the family and the doctor during the Civil War.

And what would this book be without a romance. There is Jake, a photographer at the magazine where Jennifer works, but I don’t think she feels like he is her soul mate. Then she meets a descendant of Dr Taylor and it is like kismet. Would he feel the same?

I enjoyed the history and what goes into genealogical research and how complicated it can become especially if you do not have a lot of facts to start a search or if there are many unknowns. There is even a little danger for Jennifer while she is seeking the truth about what happened to Dr Taylor and his family.

My only negative is that at times the conversations/writing seems stilted. I still really enjoyed the plot of the book and how it was laid out.

We give it 4 paws up.

About the Author

Diana began her writing career as a columnist and feature writer. She later became a food journalist and editor. In 1992, she established her own company, publishing two print magazines (The COLLECTOR Newsmagazine and Gourmet Fare). In addition, Diana was the creator and host of Cooking with Grandma. Her first book, ON THE BREATH OF ANGELS, was released in April 2008. WINDS OF POOD series (Under the Puddle and In the Blizzard) are her first middle-grade novels, followed by The Upside Down Inside Out Life of Maureen Kiernan (Book 1: The Magic Cello), The Princess Who Loved to Swim, and THE MARKER. Diana is a member of the Authors Guild and SCBWI. When she’s not roaming around Gardone Riviera (Lake Garda, Italy), she can be found in suburban Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband, Anthony.

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Posted in 4 paws, Christian, Giveaway, Review on January 3, 2018

MISSING ISAAC

by

VALERIE FRASER LUESSE

  Genre: Southern Fiction / Christian / Coming of Age

Publisher: Revell

Date of Publication: January 2, 2018

Number of Pages: 352

Scroll down for the giveaway!

Isaac believed in luck. But from Pete’s point of view, Isaac’s luck had all run out.

When Pete McLean loses his father in the summer of 1962, his friend Isaac is one of the few people he can lean on. Though their worlds are as different as black and white, friendship knows no color. So when Isaac suddenly goes missing, Pete is determined to find out what happened—no matter what it costs him. His quest will lead him into parts of town that he knows only through rumors and introduce him to a girl who will change his life. What they discover together will change the small Southern town of Glory, Alabama—forever.

With vivid descriptions, palpable atmosphere, and unforgettable characters, debut novelist Valerie Fraser Luesse breathes life into the rural South of the 1960s—a place where ordinary people struggle to find their footing in a social landscape that is shifting beneath their feet.

Baker Book House  ║  Amazon

Barnes & Noble  ║  Christianbook.com  ║  iBooks

Kobo   ║  Lifeway  ║  Books-A-Million

Praise for Missing Issac

“Valerie Fraser Luesse’s beautiful story reveals the human heart that always beats beneath the headlines. In the process, she movingly illuminates not only the spirit of a special region but the soul of every human being who ever dared to care. Missing Isaac will break—and then heal—your heart.” —J. I. Baker, journalist and author of The Empty Glass

“Welcome debut novelist Valerie Fraser Luesse to the legions of gifted Southern writers before her. Missing Isaac is the first of what we hope will be many more tales from this talented writer.”—Nancy Dorman-Hickson, coauthor of Diplomacy and Diamonds and a former editor for Progressive Farmer and Southern Living magazines

“Valerie Luesse has an ear for dialogue, an eye for detail, and a profound gift for storytelling. She breathes life into these colorful Southern characters and this quirky Alabama town from the first page.” —Sid Evans, editor-in-chief of Southern Living magazine

This story encompasses much of life in the south in the 1960’s.  While there is some strife and conflict, most of the story is positive and upbeat which makes for an enjoyable read.

Missing Isaac is billed as a coming of age story, which I do believe it is, not only for Pete but for his love interest, Dovey.  The story follows Pete’s life from about 11 to 17 and how he reacts to the passing of his father; his friend Isaac that goes missing; and meeting the love of his life by chance while searching for his friend Isaac.  For Dovey, it is finding love; singing in public (church) and realizing that perhaps there is more to life than what she experienced growing up on the Pickett’s farm.  I found it interesting that since the book was set in the 1960’s and in the south, that there not much mentioned about segregation in the town of Glory.  There is mention of visiting Tandy’s for ribs and Pete experiencing the blues for the first time, but any other mention was fleeting.

The book is also billed as Christian and there are many hymn lyrics quoted and of course there are events held at the Baptist church.  This seemed very appropriate because I associate Baptist and the South together.  There are some gentle pokes at the Methodists during an event, but nothing out of line.  In fact, most of it is treated as a joke from the pastor’s comments and it felt like it was in fun and not meant to be derogatory.

In small towns you can expect most of the families to be related in one respect or another – if not by blood then by friendship which is as strong as a blood relationship, if not stronger.  This is the sort of town I wouldn’t mind residing because people look out for each other and it isn’t because they feel obligated, but because it is taking care of family (blood or otherwise).  Ned Ballard is a strong patriarch and his kindness shines throughout the book.

This book also has a little bit of a mystery – what happened to Isaac?  I won’t spoil it, but it is revealed what happened the night he went missing.  And I was surprised, but not surprised at the turn of events and those involved.  Seems like those that feel entitled do so no matter the decade.

Overall we enjoyed the slower pace of this book, the love stories and the mystery and give it 4 paws up.

 

Valerie Fraser Luesse is an award-winning writer and a senior travel editor for Southern Living. Specializing in stories about unique pockets of Southern culture, Luesse has published major pieces on the Gulf Coast, the Mississippi Delta, Louisiana’s Acadian Prairie, and the Outer Banks of North Carolina. She lives in Alabama.

Website ║ Facebook

 

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Grand Prize: Print Copy of Missing Isaac, Print Copy of Southern Living Annual Recipes 2017, Handmade Leather Journal (9″x5″);

2ND PRIZE: Copy of Missing Isaac + $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Card;

3RD PRIZE: Copy of Missing Isaac + $10 Starbucks Gift Card

January 2-January 11, 2018

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1/2/18 Author Interview Texas Book Lover
1/3/18 Review StoreyBook Reviews
1/4/18 Top 15 List Tangled in Text
1/5/18 Excerpt Texan Girl Reads
1/6/18 Review A Page Before Bedtime
1/7/18 Guest Post Books and Broomsticks
1/8/18 Review Reading by Moonlight
1/9/18 Scrapbook Page The Page Unbound
1/10/18 Playlist Story Schmoozing Book Reviews
1/11/18 Review The Clueless Gent

 

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Posted in 4 paws, Christian, Giveaway, Historical, Review, romance on December 22, 2017

 

HOLDING THE FORT

The Fort Reno Series, Book 1

by

REGINA JENNINGS

  Genre: Historical Western Christian Romance

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

Date of Publication: December 5, 2017

Number of Pages: 353

Scroll down for the giveaway!

With Miss Bell as the Teacher, Everyone’s Bound to Learn an Interesting Lesson

Dance hall singer Louisa Bell has always lived one step from destitution. When she loses her job at the Cat-Eye Saloon, she has nowhere else to go but to her brother, a cavalry soldier stationed in Indian Territory. But he’s run afoul of his commanding officer. Unsure what she can do to help him and desperate for a job, she doesn’t protest when she’s mistaken for a governess at the fort. How hard can teaching really be?

Major Daniel Adams has his hands full at Fort Reno, especially raising two adolescent daughters alone. If this new governess doesn’t work out, his mother-in-law insists she’ll raise the girls herself–far away from the fort. Miss Bell bears little resemblance to Daniel’s notion of a governess–they’re not supposed to be so blamed pretty–but he finds himself turning a blind eye to her unconventional methods. Louisa has never faced so important a performance. Can she keep her act together long enough to help her brother and to secure the respectable future she’s sought for so long?

Amazon     Barnes & Noble    Baker Book House

PRAISE FOR HOLDING THE FORT & THE FORT RENO SERIES:

“The first book in Jennings’ new Fort Reno series is a delightful read that helps solidify what a wonderful and imaginative writer Jennings is. She manages to create unique stories with interesting and well-developed characters while combining humor, mystery and a sprinkle of faith.” –RT Book Reviews

“In this character-driven series launch, Jennings offers a powerful lesson on the freedom of truth and forgiveness wrappd in a delightful story of love against the odds.” —Publishers Weekly

“This series launch is a charming historical romance set in 1880s Fort Reno, OK. . . . Jennings kicks off a new series with a light and enjoyable tale that will delight her fans as well as lovers of historical romance.” —Library Journal

 

When you are in the mood for a trip to the old west, life in a fort, and a sweet story about faith, love and forgiveness then this should be one of the books you pick up to indulge that feeling.

While this book is labeled as western Christian romance, it is not heavy on the religious aspect.  There is the right balance of faith/religion, love, action and the wisdom of two young ladies.

This story touched my heart in many ways.  Louisa was way out of her element pretending to be a governess to the Major’s two daughters.  But she would stay up reading ahead so that she could instruct these young ladies in their studies.  Don’t get me wrong, she was not unintelligent, she had just not gone very far in school which is not surprising for the time. But when it came to instruction on areas such as singing – this is where she excelled.  The way Louisa handled herself in various difficult situations was admirable…however, she probably should have come clean much sooner about who she was and why she was at the fort.  Daniel (the Major) was a widower trying to do his best in raising two rambunctious girls, away from civilization…and with an overbearing mother-in-law that wanted the girls to live with her.  He is strong in his faith which is what ultimately helps Louisa admit her past and accept her destiny.  I cringed at the thought of how Daniel would react when the truth came out about Louisa.  However, his reaction was that of a Godly man that believed in truth and forgiveness.  I laughed along with Daisy and Caroline as they fought against instruction from Louisa, but came to love her in the end.  Daisy’s innocence is quite captivating as she has no filters on what comes out of her mouth.  As they say, “out of the mouths of babes!”  But I felt this just added to the complexity of the characters and the situations they faced.

This story was also educational as it depicted life in a fort during the late 1800’s.  There were Indian raids from those tribes not wanting to change their ways.  The author researched the background on this story quite well and I might have even learned a few things.

Overall a very enjoyable read and we give it 4 paws up.

 

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 ║ Twitter

 Amazon Author Page ║ Pinterest ║ Facebook

 

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12/18/17 Excerpt Hall Ways Blog
12/19/17 Review Texan Girl Reads
12/20/17 Notable Quotable Books and Broomsticks
12/21/17 Author Video Forgotten Winds
12/22/17 Review StoreyBook Reviews
12/26/17 Excerpt Tangled in Text
12/27/17 Notable Quotable A Novel Reality
12/28/17 Review Missus Gonzo
12/29/17 Top Ten List The Page Unbound
12/30/17 Review Books in the Garden

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Posted in 4 paws, Children, Review on December 13, 2017

Mamá Graciela’s Secret

Publication date: October 10, 2017

Written by Mayra Calvani

Illustrated by Sheila Fein

MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing

www.maclaren-cochranepublishing.com

36 pages, 3-7 year olds

Reading guide at: www.MayrasSecretBookcase.com

 

Synopsis

Mamá Graciela’s TENDER, CRUNCHY, SPICY bacalaítos fritos are the best in town…

Local customers (including stray cats!) come from all over the island to enjoy her secret recipe. But when the Inspector discovers that Mamá secretly caters to so many cats and he threatens to close her tiny restaurant, Mamá must come up with a plan to save it—and all of the animals she loves.

**This book also has version printed in the Dyslexic font, the typeface for people with dyslexia. Go to Dyslexie Font Website to find out more about the typeface. **

Review

What a sweet story about a woman that loved animals so much she was willing to give up her restaurant to keep the cats around.

Now you do have to set aside reality and common sense as an adult, but children will love this book especially if they are animal lovers. The story tells of how one woman put the needs of the cats she adored ahead of her restaurant when push came to shove. I think it also might teach them some character skills.

The graphics depict the story well, are very colorful and will hold a child’s attention while reading this story.

We give it 4 paws up!

About the author

Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her children’s picture book, Frederico the Mouse Violinist was a finalist in the 2011 International Book Awards; her anthology Latina Authors and Their Muses was a First Place winner at the 2016 International Latino Book Awards; her nonfiction book, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing, was a Foreword Best Book of the Year winner. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications like The Writer, Writer’s Journal, Multicultural Review, Bloomsbury Review, and others.

She lives in Belgium with her husband of 30+ years, two wonderful kids, and her three beloved pets. When she’s not writing, editing, reading or reviewing, she enjoys walking with her dog, traveling, and spending time with her family. www.MayrasSecretBookcase.com

 

About the illustrator

Born in Queens, New York and living in Los Angeles since 1987, Sheila Fein has always been inspired by the changing world around her. Earning her BA in Design from Buffalo State College of New York, her concentration was on drawing, painting, printmaking, and photography. Sheila’s education as an artist has taken her everywhere from Fleisher Art Memorial in Philadelphia to Bath University in England. Today, Sheila Fein runs two figurative workshops, Imaginings Sketch in LA and People Sketchers in Thousand Oaks. She has been featured in numerous collections, magazines, books, solo and group exhibitions. Her paintings and drawings reside in public and private collections. Sheila loves to make the imagination of others a reality and has done so through her commissioned Fein Fantasy Portraits and Interactive Paintings. In addition to being a fine artist Sheila works as an illustrator. She just completed the book “Mama Graciela’s Secret” for Maclaren-Cochrane Publishing.

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Posted in 4 paws, fiction, Giveaway, Historical, Review on December 8, 2017

 

UP NEAR DALLAS

Winds of Change — Book III

by

GINA HOOTEN POPP

  Genre:  Texas Historical Fiction / Romance

Date of Publication: November 12, 2017

Number of Pages: 307

Scroll down for the giveaway!

The year is 1934. Economic turbulence rocks the country. And record drought dries up crops, along with the spirits of every farmer south of the Mason-Dixon. Yet for sixteen-year-old Mick McLaren, life is good as he takes to the open road to chase his dream of being a musician. Riding boxcars, hitchhiking, walking and driving his way across Depression Era Texas, he finds not only himself, but the love of a girl from Dallas named Margaret. Along the way, they befriend Cowboy Larson, a Delta Blues guitarist. Together the three teens, from three very different worlds, come-of-age as their life-changing journey carries them through killer dust storms, extreme poverty, and the unprecedented gangster activity of the Dirty Thirties.

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This book takes you on a journey during the height of the great depression and gives us a peek into how people came together as a community to help those hurting the worst. But it also hits on some of the history of the time – like Bonnie & Clyde and how their actions bring together a young couple that may not have met otherwise – Mick and Margaret.

While there is a multitude of positive moments, it would not be a well rounded book without hitting on some touchy topics like racism and perceived guilt. However, the characters take everything in stride and actually stand up for their actions which causes others to rethink their initial reactions to what they heard. It doesn’t mean that every situation has a happy ending, but it might make one think about how they are treating others based on gossip or sensationalized news stories.

And this book wouldn’t be complete without some romance. There is Mick and Margaret, Cowboy and Saint, and even Mick’s parents – Lucky and Antonia. Each couple has their own issues to overcome and round out the story.

Each chapter of this book is told from a different character’s voice. I felt like this really helped engage me as a reader because it allowed me to look into their thoughts, dreams and actions which added layers of complexity to the story. There are even some quirky characters that are very lovable such as Nana Michelle and an incident with a dust storm and a cow. You’ll have to read the book to find out more about that!

Overall a very enjoyable book and while it is the 3rd book in this series, you do not have to read the first two to understand this book. However the first two books are about Mick’s Grandfather and Father, so it might make some actions of Lucky (Mick’s father) more understandable.

We give this 4 paws up.

A native Texan, Gina Hooten Popp was born in Greenville and now lives in Dallas with her husband and son. Along with writing novels, Gina has enjoyed a long career as a professional writer in advertising. Her debut novel THE STORM AFTER was a finalist in the 2014 RONE Awards, and her just-released book CHICO BOY: A NOVEL was a 2016 Medalist Winner in the New Apple Annual Book Awards. Recently, her novel LUCKY’S WAY, about a young fighter pilot from Houston, was endorsed by the United States World War One Centennial Commission.

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December 5-December 13, 2017

(U.S. Only)

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Check out the other blogs on this tour

12/4/17 Guest Post Books and Broomsticks
12/5/17 Review Hall Ways Blog
12/6/17 Excerpt Texas Book Lover
12/7/17 Playlist The Clueless Gent
12/8/17 Review StoreyBook Reviews
12/9/17 Notable Quotable A Page Before Bedtime
12/10/17 Excerpt Texan Girl Reads
12/11/17 Review Missus Gonzo
12/12/17 Author Interview The Librarian Talks
12/13/17 Review Reading by Moonlight

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Posted in 4 paws, Fantasy, Review on December 3, 2017

Synopsis

Racine stumbles into her own “herstory” on a visit to the Library Of Congress, as her own “herstory” unfolds, Racine discovers she is part of a great, sweeping mythological world that transcends time and space; and along the way, the 19 year old Racine comes to understand that all the adversity she faced is part of a greater story, and one in which she has the power to narrate for herself. Racine discovers the ultimate truth of good is wrapped up in the magic of Story. Stories have the power to change the world, but first, the stories need unlocking.

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Review

While normally not a huge reader of fantasy novels, I picked this one up because the character hides in a library to escape those wishing her harm or to torment Racine.  What I found was a story woven in several realms, with druids and dragons and a young woman learning more about herself and learning how to become someone that was more in control of her being, thoughts and dreams.

While some of the story is in our reality, most of it is not and perfect for those that enjoy the mystical world.  The descriptions bring those worlds into vivid reality for the reader and we can feel like we are there experiencing everything with Racine.  I felt like Racine learned a lot and from many wise female characters and you could liken it to mentors and role models that young women have today.

We give this 4 paws up.

About the Author

Alison Clarke is a writer/artist who also enjoys painting and drawing. She also experiences life as a spoken word artist.

Alison is the author of The Sisterhood, a young adult fantasy novel about Oppie, a sorceress’ daughter, and her best friend, Aurie, who is a dragon, and the journey they go on to save the universe. The Sisterhood is Book One of The Sisterhood Series, and is published by Little Bird Publishing House in London, England.  The second book in the series is Racine, about a young woman’s journey learning about her mystical beginnings on a trip to the Library Of Congress. Both books incorporate themes of the power of friendship, teamwork, and love.

Before Alison entered mainstream publishing, she was indie published with two picture books: The Adventures Of Eli The Elephant, and Eli Goes To The Moon. The second book she also illustrated.

Alison is very involved in the community, participating in events such as Black Arts Matter, a festival focusing on the arts of black artists. In August, 2017, Alison was also part of Chapter.con, a book convention where she met fantasy authors from around the world.

She was also a panelist talking about the importance of diversity in young adult literature. Chapter.con was organized by the publisher of her Sisterhood Series, Little Bird Publishing House. For Alison, life is an interesting journey. Whether she is immersing herself in poetry, prose, or visual art, Alison is at home.

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