Monthly Archives: October 2018

Review and Giveaway: A Sparkle of Silver by Liz Johnson

A SPARKLE OF SILVER
Georgia Coast Romance #1
by
LIZ JOHNSON
Genre: Contemporary / Romance
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: October 16, 2018
Number of Pages: 368

Scroll down for the giveaway!
Millie Sullivan plays a 1920s-era guest during tours of a palatial estate on the shore of St. Simons Island, Georgia, where her great-grandmother was a real guest ninety years ago. When Millie learns of a lost diary that may contain the location of a hidden treasure on the estate and reveal the identity of her great-grandfather, she sets out to find the truth of her heritage—and the fortune she desperately needs. But it won’t be easy.
When security guard Ben Thornton discovers her snooping in the estate’s private library, he threatens to have her fired. Still, her story seems too ludicrous to be fiction, and her offer to split the treasure is too tempting to pass up.
Get ready for a romantic escapade through dark halls and dusty corners that will have you holding your breath and sighing with delight.

PRAISE FOR A SPARKLE OF SILVER:

“A mystery, a treasure hunt, and a split-time romance—all set within a beautiful chateau. What more could we want?”—Katherine Reay, author of Dear Mr. Knightley and A Portrait of Emily Price
“A charming romance about real people triumphing over real problems. Add in a dash of mystery, a treasure hunt, and old family secrets, and you have a story that will warm every corner of your heart.”—Victoria Bylin, award-winning author of Together with You
“Lovers of history will enjoy this treasure-seeking adventure through a historic estate, and readers will appreciate a story that turns up riches of the lasting kind.”—Denise Hunter, bestselling author of Honeysuckle Dreams
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review

I had the hardest time putting this book down. It had so many details and moving parts in it that kept me reading well past my bedtime. The cover looks like your run of the mill romance set in some beautiful destination vacation spot, but it’s the quote by Denise Hunter that most clearly identifies what makes this novel different from the rest: it’s a mystery as well.

 

And it’s the mystery of who Millie’s great-grandfather is, and whether she could be the heir to a fortune, that propels our heroine and her unlikely sidekick, Ben. Actually, to be fair, Ben just thinks Millie is looking for a treasure, he has no idea that she might be an illegitimate heir from affluent stock hoping to come into some kind of an inheritance.
Kudos to Johnson for making us work for what we want to know. We are not told from the beginning that Ben and Millie are quite easy on the eyes; this is a revelation that comes to light as the two begin to trust each other and enjoy each other’s company. As each layer falls away, you can really believe that two strangers are falling in love, much like another couple that we see through old journal entries. Each story progresses nicely, maybe a little slowly with the intention of building suspense.

Johnson doesn’t hit you over the head with details, she merely inserts suggestions here and there. If you’re not reading carefully, you might miss them. I have gotten a little better with my predictions when reading mysteries, but I have to say that I missed the mark on the culprit. I actually couldn’t think of who the criminal mastermind could be. I did, however, predict the ending right. Read up and tell me if you figured it out.

 

I recommend this book to anyone who loves a good romance and/or mystery. You can cozy up to this with a warm mug of deliciousness or lay out on a beach with a cool, refreshing drink. Either way, be on the look out for book #2.

 

Liz Johnson is the author of more than a dozen novels, including The Red Door InnWhere Two Hearts Meet, and On Love’s Gentle Shore, as well as a New York Times bestselling novella and a handful of short stories. A marketing manager for a Christian film company, she makes her home in Phoenix, Arizona.
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GRAND PRIZE: Print Copy of A Sparkle of Silver, a Tin of Georgia Peach Cookies, a Handmade Wooden Treasure Box; SECOND PRIZE: Print Copy + $25 B&N Gift Card;
THIRD PRIZE: Print Copy + $10 Starbucks Gift Card
OCTOBER 10-19, 2018

VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

10/16/18
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Review & Giveaway: The Encouragement Letters by Shanna Spence

THE ENCOURAGEMENT
LETTERS
by
SHANNA SPENCE
Sub-genre: Middle Grade / Historical Fiction
Publisher: Book Liftoff
Date of Publication: November 22, 2017
Number of Pages: 180
Scroll down for the giveaway! 
WILLIAM CROMWELL, at age eleven, knew what it was like living with new changes. In 1865, Manchester, England a new textile factory moved into town and after a tragedy that befell him and his mum, they struggled to live. With so many things going on in his young life he wanted to be the encouragement that his father was to him.
As everything changes along with terrible hardships, just maybe the hope he gives to the growing town will find its way to Will…
PRAISE FOR THE ENCOURAGEMENT LETTERS: 
This was such an uplifting wholesome book! It was so nice to read something positive about a time when people were so willing to step in and help someone in need without expecting anything in return! I couldn’t put it down!– 5 Stars, Kindle verified purchase reviewer
Excellent read!! This story speaks to people in all walks of life. It is encouraging, sweet, and funny at the same time. I would recommend this book to anyone needing to see what it means to “treat others as you want to be treated.” — 5 Stars, Kindle verified purchase reviewer

 
A very inspiring book from a great new author! — 5 Stars, Kindle verified purchase reviewer

A charming tale of a simpler time. Yet, the message is ageless. I congratulate Ms. Spence on this her first effort and look forward to more entertaining reads from her in the future.— 5 Stars, Kindle reviewer
 
review
At first glance you can already tell that this book is historical. But the cover is so mature looking that I thought it might be a nonfiction book intended for adults. However, the book’s slight profile and, as I began to read, tone tipped me off to the intended middle grade audience. While an adult fiction book would ease the reader slowly into its world and gradually unfold the protagonist’s innermost desires or struggles, middle grade books tend to be more straight forward and honest with their intentions. I enjoy a flowery passage here or there, but the direct delivery found in books like this can be refreshing when you want to immerse yourself in a different world and just get down to the nitty gritty.
And poor little Will’s world is very gritty. Tragedy hasn’t lost his address as it continues to visit him at every turn. First his beloved father dies, then he worries that his mother is ill with the same affliction, and… well, I don’t want to ruin the story for you. But know that this young man is made of such wonderful moral fiber that he repays other people’s kindness with beautifully crafted, anonymous letters of encouragement until he is able to repay them properly. What really struck my heartstrings was the love and respect that he had for his mother. No matter how dire their situation, he never went against her wishes for him to continue his schooling and not work in a factory.
Spence did a really lovely job of creating characters that I cared about and set them in a time and place in history that I wasn’t very familiar with. I’ve read my fair share of books set across the pond or books that took place in the 1800s, but I’ve never read a combination of the two before. I was fully invested in the people, especially Will, and loved reading about a village that was helping to raise a good man.
I highly recommend this book to young readers and older readers alike. I think that this would be a great book to read in history class preceding lessons on the industrial revolution or child labor. But this is also a great book to read when life is getting you down and you need to pick yourself up.
Shanna Spence is a wife, mother, and registered nurse of over twenty years. She has written poetry since the age of thirteen and always dreamed of writing books. Raised in a small East Texas town, she pursued a career of nursing in Dallas, Texas but eventually went back to East Texas to settle down and raise a family.
Now she finally has found the time to fulfill her dream of writing stories that will hopefully bring out the imagination in others — as well as inspiration. She is currently living in Longview, Texas. 
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October 10-19, 2018
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Review & Giveaway: Burden of Proof by DiAnn Mills

BURDEN OF PROOF
FBI Rapid Response, #1
by
DiANN MILLS
Genre: Inspirational /Mystery / Suspense / Romance
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Date of Publication: October 9, 2018
Number of Pages: 416

Scroll down for the giveaway!
Reeling from a negotiation gone wrong, FBI Special Agent April Ramos is caught off guard when a frazzled young woman shoves a crying baby into her arms, then disappears. Worry for the child’s safety quickly turns to fear when a man claiming to be the girl’s father abducts them at gunpoint. April puts her hostage negotiation skills to use to learn more about who she’s dealing with: Jason Snyder, a fugitive accused of murder. 
As Jason spins a tall tale about being framed for the killing of his business partner, April must sort through his claims to find the truth. A truth that becomes all the more evident after April overhears a conversation between Jason and the local sheriff and realizes something more sinister may be happening in their small town of Sweet Briar, Texas. But aligning herself with a known fugitive to uncover the burden of proof could cost April her job . . . or worse, her life and the lives of other innocent people.
PRAISE FOR DiANN MILLS:
“The tension level rises as layers of lies are peeled away in multiple plot twists.” —Library Journal

“DiAnn Mills is a master of fast-paced and intricately plotted romantic suspense.” —Colleen Coble, Bestselling author

“[A] fast-moving, intricately plotted thriller.” —Publishers Weekly
CHECK OUT THE BOOK TRAILER! 

review
I was excited to get a copy of DiAnn Mills’ latest book because she never fails to capture my undivided attention. I get a little breathless when gripped with suspense or excitement, and this book is filled with so many moments that make your heart skip a beat. Mills is especially skilled when it comes to writing dialogue. Each characters’ speech sounds natural and flows just as well as the non-dialogue text. When Mills switches the point of view, there is no confusion because the character’s voice shines through very clearly and the writing style is concise.
I can say with all honesty that Mills’ books are all very unique. Although I’ve read several FBI-mystery-romance books by her, they are all very different from each other, as well as books by other authors in the same genre. You would think that there are only so many meet-cute scenarios that can happen between an FBI agent and a paramour, but Mills will raise you another. In fact, she will keep them coming since this is the first book of a new series.
I’m Filipino, so I’m excited to see a Filipino protagonist whose ethnicity is not central to the plot. Sure, Mills throws in an Adobo reference – you should try this dish if you haven’t yet (it’s not the same as the Hispanic Adobo dish) – but April could be any ethnicity really. But since she’s not just any ethnicity, I’m going to nitpick a little. April is uncomfortable during long prayers, but most Filipinos are (or were at one time in their life) Catholic, so super long prayers – Hail Mary, anyone? – should be no biggie. April’s parents would prefer that she was a university professor rather than an FBI agent. Are you kidding? Filipinos love to brag and most of them love guns as well. And they live in Texas? Game over. They have guns of all shapes and sizes. And they would bring all those guns to the range to show their friends while they proudly talked about their FBI agent daughter.
But overall, I’m really amazed at how Mills’ characters spring to life in every book, this one especially. I think she is very successful with her portrayal of April’s struggle to do the right thing because I was constantly second guessing myself on what was the “right” or best thing to do in that situation too. I feel lucky to not have to make decisions that place my family on one side of the scale and the community on the other. I suppose most normal Joes like myself don’t have to.
I look forward to reading the next book. While you wait for the next installment, I suggest you pick up one of her FBI Task Force novels.

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels.
Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne du Maurier, Inspirational Reader’s Choice, and Carol Award contests. Firewall, the first book in her Houston: FBI series, was listed by Library Journal as one of the best Christian fiction books of 2014.
DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. 
DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas. DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers.
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OCTOBER 9-18, 2018
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Review & Giveaway: Cowboy Charm School by Margaret Brownley


COWBOY CHARM SCHOOL 
HAYWIRE BRIDES, #1

by
MARGARET BROWNLEY
Sub-genre: Western / Clean Romance
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Date of Publication: September 4, 2018
Number of Pages: 384
Scroll down for Giveaway!
When Texas Ranger Brett Tucker accidentally derails a wedding, he’s determined to bring the estranged couple back together…but he never dreamed he’d start falling for the bride!
Texas Ranger Brett Tucker hates to break up a wedding, but the groom—notorious criminal Frank Foster—is a danger to any woman. So he busts into the church, guns blazing…only to find he has the wrong man.
 
STOP THAT WEDDING!
Bride-to-be Kate Denver is appalled by her fiancé’s over-the-top reaction to the innocent mistake and calls off the wedding—for good. Guilt-ridden, Brett’s desperate to get them back on track. But the more time he spends with Kate, the harder he falls…and the more he yearns to prove that he’s her true match in every way.
“Light and airy as cotton candy, this tale charms.” 
— Publishers Weekly
 
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review
From the very first chapter, I could tell that this book wasn’t written by your typical romance novelist. I can’t put my finger on it, but perhaps it is Brownley’s word choice – none of those overused descriptions we see in most western romance novels – that sets this book apart from all the other romance novels I have read. Or maybe it’s because that first chapter, so suspenseful and visceral, doesn’t read like a romance at all. But don’t worry, come chapter two, you definitely know that you have picked up a romance novel, if the pretty book cover hasn’t tipped you off yet.
If you follow my blog, you know that I have recently reviewed another western romance that featured a young woman who makes candy for a living and eventually falls in love with a law man. You can rest easy that this book is completely different and exciting to read. The search for the robbers is paced nicely with very subtle clues about who the culprits might be. Kate’s job as the town’s candymaker is more than just a quaint occupation she holds, but a family legacy and vehicle with which she spreads hope and goodwill to the citizens of Haywire.
The part that I enjoyed most, that also had me sighing with exasperation at times, was Brett’s tutelage of Frank – very Cyrano de Bergerac. Although, I got the impression that Brett was easier on the eyes than Frank, which is not the typical Cyrano reincarnation. The whole “Cowboy Charm School” thing had me at war with myself. The idea that a guy can learn to be more romantic was sweet, but at what point is it like the games guys play nowadays just to land the girl? And the sticky situation of falling in love with someone that you’re trying to help someone else woo, that doesn’t usually work out well either. No matter, it was fun to read and to guess how it would work out in the end.
While Brownley’s language is beautiful, it’s not too flowery. There are no wasted descriptions or useless dialogue. I really am amazed that although this book can be considered a mystery, it very solidly reads like the western romance that it is classified as. I look forward to reading about the other Haywire brides.
I recommend this book to anyone who loves a cozy romance, but also to anyone who likes mysteries as well.
New York Times bestselling author MARGARET BROWNLEY has penned more than forty-five novels and novellas. She’s a two-time Romance Writers of American RITA® finalist and has written for a TV soap. She is also a recipient of the Romantic Times Pioneer Award.  
 
Her story, A Pony Express Christmas, will appear this fall in the Old West Christmas Brides collection, and book two of her Haywire Brides series will be published May 2019.  Not bad for someone who flunked eighth-grade English.  Just don’t ask her to diagram a sentence.
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Review & Giveaway: Mistletoe Miracles by Jodi Thomas

MISTLETOE MIRACLES
Ransom Canyon
by
JODI THOMAS
Sub-genre: Holiday Romance / Western
Publisher: HQN
Date of Publication: September 25, 2018
Number of Pages: 354
Scroll down for an exclusive giveaway from Jodi Thomas! 
A small-town Texas Christmas story, where hearts are lost, love is found, and family always brings you back home.
Griffin Holloway is desperate: the Maverick Ranch has been in his family for generations, but lately, it’s a money pit. He’d sooner marry one of his horses than sell the ranch. Marriage, though, could be a solution. If he can woo a wealthy bride, he might save the ranch—just in time for Christmas. Jaxon O’Grady likes his solitude just fine, thank you very much. But when a car accident brings the unexpected to his door, he realizes just how much one person can need another. Crossroads is the perfect place for Jamie Johnson: avoiding nosy questions about why she’s single, she’s happy to keep to her lakeside home. So she’s baffled when she gets the strangest Christmas present of all, in the form of a Mr. Johnson, asleep on her sofa. Who is he, and why does everyone think he’s her husband?

In this uplifting novel, three unlikely couples discover just what Crossroads, Texas, can offer: romance, belonging, and plenty of Christmas spirit. 
”Deeply poignant moments and artfully
rendered characters create a rich story that
transports readers to an idyllic place.”
Publishers Weekly
 
CLICK TO PURCHASE!
review
I didn’t read the summary or the book jacket before diving into this lovely Christmas romance, so I didn’t know that I would get three love stories for the price of one. It was sort of a Love Actually feel, three stories running parallel to each other, dipping and twisting together every once in a while. Thomas did a fantastic job of making me care about each and every character (except for the bad guy) and every storyline.
This is the first romance novel that I have read where the leading ladies don’t appear until chapter 7. (Actually, one appears in chapter 3 but she is unconscious, so it doesn’t count.) I found that a bit unorthodox, but I liked the tone it set. You really get to know the men in this book, and I loved the three Holloway brothers’ banter so much! It makes me wonder if Thomas based them off of close friends or family because their hilarity is so vivid. Actually, all of her characters are so full of life and color. Not a single detail or conversation felt cliche or disingenuous.
 The reluctant and slow (although, is less than a month really slow?) love that develops between the three couples feels believable. Never was there a moment that I scoffed, ‘she wouldn’t do that’ or’ he wouldn’t say that.’ I was lapping up every detail and so sad whenever I had to take a break from reading to do something else.
My only critique is that there are some typo and type setting issues, at least with the e-book. I hope that those little blunders were caught before this lovely book went off to the printing press. Overall, I really really enjoyed this modern day western romance. I highly recommend it to sad hearts that need a smile, but also to anyone who just loves to feel the glow of new love in their soul.
A fifth-generation Texan, New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Jodi Thomas chooses to set the majority of her novels in her home state, where her grandmother was born in a covered wagon. A former teacher, Thomas traces the beginning of her storytelling career to the days when her twin sisters were young and impressionable. 
 
With a degree in family studies, Thomas is a marriage and family counselor by education, a background that enables her to write about family dynamics. Honored in 2002 as a Distinguished Alumni by Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Thomas enjoys interacting with students on the West Texas A&M University campus, where she currently serves as Writer in Residence.
 
Commenting on her contribution to the arts, Thomas said, “When I was teaching classes full-time, I thought I was making the world a better place. Now I think of a teacher or nurse or mother settling back and relaxing with one of my books. I want to take her away on an adventure that will entertain her. Maybe, in a small way, I’m still making the world a better place.”
 
When not working on a novel or inspiring students to pursue a writing career, Thomas enjoys traveling with her husband, renovating a historic home they bought in Amarillo and checking up on their two grown sons.
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