Blog Tour: The Kissing Tree

THE KISSING TREE
Four Novellas Rooted in Timeless Love

by KAREN WITEMEYER, REGINA JENNINGS, 

AMANDA DYKES, and NICOLE DEESE
 
Genre: Christian / Romance / Anthology
Publisher: Bethany House
Date of Publication: October 13, 2020
Number of Pages: 400
 

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

Regina Jennings: “Broken Limbs, Mended Hearts

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

Karen Witemeyer: “Inn for a Surprise

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

Amanda Dykes: “From Roots to Sky

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

Nicole Deese: “Heartwood

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

Rating :★★★★★

Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of a finished book  from Lone Star Literary Life partner in exchange for my honest review.  The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or the publisher. The copies used in this review are finalized copies sent to me in exchange for my honest review.  #partner #LSBBT

“Broken Limbs” by Regina Jennings

Set in the mid-1800s Bella thought her love life would go differently as she planned her future with a guy she thought would give her happiness. She set up everything perfectly to make her move but what she did not prepare for was his countermove. It all happened under a big Oak tree, the beginning and the end of her journey to find love. After the initial debacle under the Oak tree she decided to move on from the embarrassment and try teaching. However, when Adam, a piece of her past, returns a few years later to the farm to pitch her father an offer, the embarrassment from the encounter under the Oak tree resurfaces. Can she put aside the pain from her past to truly dive into something new and push past her fear?

The author does a wonderful job of developing the main character Bella as a strong female lead. She explores the fear of rejection in relationships and in her career. We see Bella navigate through healing from her past and allow the same thing that hurt her, eventually bring her comfort. Such a sweet romance story that showcases the importance of pushing past fear and not allowing it to stop you from moving forward.

Inn for a Surprise” by Karen Witemeyer

Phoebe wanted to create an Inn that would highlight the town’s famous Kissing Tree. The tree was coined with the phrase after the story of Adam and Bella found love under the tree. With the help of her father’s business associate she can truly turn the Inn into something romantic and profitable. Barnabas was only sent by his business associate to the Inn to ensure it turned a profit since the Inn owner was his daughter. He wasn’t prepared to learn the remarkable history of the Kissing Tree and the importance it carried in the life of the Inn owner. Can he put aside his hard demeanor to welcome someone in?

This tale is a continuation in some sort of the previous book that focuses on the beginning of the old oak tree and the significance it holds in the town. The author focuses not only on the emotional connection the town and Phoebe has with the tree but the challenges that arise when someone challenges your vision. The main character is described a strong willed female lead who knows exactly what she wants but who is still healing from the pain of losing a parent. The tree symbolizes so much more than love but a strong connection. The author does a wonderful job capturing the attention of the reader from start to finish.

 From Roots to Sky” by Amanda Dykes

Luke sought out the small town of Oak Springs, Texas in search of a girl named Hannah. However, Hannah had no idea he was there in search of her. The remarkable tale of the Kissing Tree continues as Hannah and Luke grow to get to know each other. They are both reeling from the pain from their past and set on healing. Luke is able to help Hannah in the construction of her late brother’s cottage as they work through the grieving process together. Can Hannah and Luke move forward from their respective pasts to an unpredictable future.

I enjoyed how Luke was welcomed into the town and drawn to the area. I also liked how the author continued on with creating a strong female lead in this novella. Hannah isn’t a seamstress but she is able to use her math skills and isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty. Each female lead in these tales are willing to step outside the social norms of their time to truly follow their heart. This is an inspiration to readers to not be limited by the societal norms placed on women but emphasizes you can be strong and be a romantic. It was a pleasure to watch the love story of these two unfold as they work to navigate their new future together.

Heartwood” by Nicole Deese

In this last tale of “The Kissing Tree” we see the fight to save the beloved tree from removal as the Inn changed owner hands. Abby must confront a person from her past she shut out of her life in order to save the tree. The real question is, is it the tree they are trying to save or something deeper. The tree has been an integral part of the town as a historical landmark. Griffin was hired to help stop the tree from being cut down but he wasn’t prepared for the reunion with Abby. After the loss of her father she changed and stayed in the same town she grew up in. Will they find their way back to each other and save the tree?

The ending to this collection of novella’s was one to remember as we see the final book bring the story of the Kissing Tree to an end. The author does a wonderful job tying in all aspects of the previous books into this one as the stories travel through timelines to come to an end. This final book reminds us of the attachments we have with items and the healing that comes from letting the items go. I have a scarf from my late mother and I lost it once. The fear that I had that day was so overwhelming I could not sleep. I kept thinking, this is the only thing I have to remind me of her. Truly the memories exist in your mind, not in the items we carry. The author allows us to watch the love story of the two main characters reignite as they heal from past wounds together and forgive. This was a great ending to a wonderful collection.

Overall Review of the full collection

Overall each tale in this book of novellas flowed nicely together. You can tell the author’s took time working with each other to ensure the story continued on from novella to novella. It all started with the kissing tree and a planned embarrassing encounter that led to the development of four uniquely told love stories that all enhance on the importance of pushing past fear and pain to truly open your heart to accept love. In each book the authors touch on grief, forgiveness, love, and family ties. The Kissing Tree carried memories, healing, and love as the entire town reaped the benefits of the significance that lied in the bark of the old Oak Tree. As we watch each story unfold you get to embark on a journey of a tree through different decades and watch the characters grow as the tree grows. I highly recommend this collection to anyone interested in four Texas based stories told in the mid to late 1800s. This book is suited for anyone who is interested. It does not contain lewd language or derogatory content. It is a fun, simple, engaging, short read.


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

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

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

 

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Grand Prize: Print copy of The Kissing Tree plus a custom 18″ x 3.5″ wooden sign
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October 20-30, 2020
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10/23/20

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10/24/20

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Blog Tour: The Diary of Asser Levy

THE DIARY OF ASSER LEVY
First Jewish Citizen
of New York
by
DANIELA WEIL
 
Genre: Historical Fiction / Middle Grade / Jewish / Colonial America
Publisher: Pelican (Arcadia Publishing)
Date of Publication: March 9, 2020
Number of Pages: 128

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For twenty-four years the Dutch colony of Pernambuco in northeastern Brazil was a safe haven for Jews who had escaped the Inquisition in Europe. Recife, its capital, was known as “Colonial Jerusalem,” and it was from this religiously tolerant town that Asser Levy tells his story. When the Portuguese recaptured the territory in 1654, they brought the Inquisition and its torments with them, forcing Asser and his family and friends to flee to Holland. About fifteen ships arrive safely in Holland; Asser’s ship does not. 

 
Through imagined diary entries based on real events, Asser tells the harrowing story of the Jewish refugees who arrived on the island of Manhattan and of some of the first court battles fought to allow religious freedom in America.

PRAISE FOR THE DIARY OF ASSER LEVY:

“The book breathes life into a little-known yet important Jewish figure of early New Amsterdam and New York. Through a series of diary entries based on fact and the author’s creation, the author brings out the emotion, drama, and conflicts of Asser Levy’s turbulent journey to a new land in search of religious freedom. … The book will add color to classroom lessons on early US history and on Jewish immigration.” —Paul Kaplan, author of Jewish New York: A History and Guide to Neighborhoods, Synagogues, and Eateries

“What an extraordinary amount of research went into it! And what a creative way of combining historical fiction and contemporary pictures. Kudos!” —Cynthia Levinson, author of The Youngest Marcher

“What a fine job [Daniela] did with this story! … The diary-style keeps the pace moving, and the adventures make it exciting. Lots of setting details bring the scenes alive, and the dialogue engages the reader in the plot. I can see how it will be easy for a young reader to identify with Asser, worrying about how (and if) he’ll succeed in his quest.” —Gail Jarrow, author of Fatal Fever


Review

Rating :★★★★★

Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of a finished book  from Lone Star Literary Life partner in exchange for my honest review.  The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or the publisher. The copies used in this review are finalized copies sent to me in exchange for my honest review.  #partner #LSBBT

This remarkable tale takes the reader on a journey through the life of Asser Levy, a notable Jewish born refugee, who despite all odds, rose to the top. This book consists of diary entries that describe the life of Asser Levy from his perspective. He recounts the events that led to him moving to what is  present-day New York.

The story begins with Asser describing the essential downfall of his community. The story is set in the mid-1600s when the Dutch captured the town of Recife, Brazil, a community that consisted of Jewish natives and immigrants such as Asser. Asser’s father built his life in their community as a town butcher who served Kosher meat. His family consisted of strong Jewish descendants who stood firm to their beliefs. All throughout this book the reader is able to see the Jewish influence on the lives of the people. After being given a few months to collect their belongings, Jewish natives prepare for departure from a place they have called home for years. Dutch soldiers would take up residence in their homes soon after their departure. Although this tale sounds bleak, to Asser it was an opportunity to remain positive. All throughout this book, Asser consistently remains positive, determined, and optimistic despite the numerous challenges they faced.

If you are interested in a historical fiction novel that allows you to be transported into the life of the main character, I recommend this book. It is a quick read and will have you wanting to finish it to see how this band of immigrants overcome adversity after adversity. It truly inspires the reader to see beyond what is right in front of you and believe the best is yet to come. This story inspired me to continue to push forward regardless of my circumstances and understand that the greatest challenges produce endurance. This is truly a well written book with the intent to provide quality and factually based information about Asser Levy, a butcher looking to move past the challenges and settle into a new home. Asser Levy’s name will be one that I will now remember, understanding the importance of setting the stage and not giving up despite the walls built around you intended to stop your growth.


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Daniela Weil was born in Brazil. She attended the International School in São Paulo, where she was surrounded by people and cultures from around the world. It was also there that she developed a passion for nature, art, and writing. After earning a BA in biology from Brandeis University in Boston, Weil became a field research biologist. She participated in various whale projects, including illustrating the first field guide for whales and dolphins in Brazil.

Being a mother rekindled her desire to share her passion about the natural world. She joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and attended workshops on writing nonfiction and science for kids. After writing several articles on science and history, she ventured into books. Weil attended the Texas Library Association annual conference with her SCBWI group and met the folks from Pelican, who were intrigued by her middle-grade book idea. As the project developed, her research took her back to Brazil and across the world, chasing Asser’s experiences.

When not on the hunt for new experiences, Weil makes her home in Austin, Texas, with her husband, Erik, and daughter, Lucy.

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 September 22-October 2, 2020
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BLOG TOUR: Airborne Guest Post

 
 
 
AIRBORNE
by
DiANN MILLS
Genre: Christian Romantic Suspense 
Date of Publication: September 8, 2020
Number of Pages: 400

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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Stories Have Souls that Breathe Immortality

By DiAnn Mills, author of Airborne

An unforgettable story steps beyond “once upon a time” to a special place that captures the reader’s heart forever. Not every story has that spun gold, and not every reader experiences the same soul-grabbing story. What lingers as a memorable novel for you may not give me an exceptional read. But the criteria are the same: an immortal story touched us, spoke to us, and we were passionately involved in the lives of the characters and their quest.           

A gold-spun story is filled with rare, distinct, haunting, and extraordinary characters who accompany us to our sweet spot of remembrance. Readers and writers dream the character is real and imagine themselves joining the journey. Some readers become the hero or heroine, much like children don super-hero costumes and develop mannerisms of their favorite character.

A writer becomes every protagonist and antagonist. In this way, the writer understands the character’s motivation. How does a writer accomplish this amazing feat? Is there a magic wand to wave over our keyboard?

           There’s no fairy dust in writing. It’s all hard work.

We labor to create characters who are:

  • Multi-dimensional
  • Full of life
  • Possess authentic flaws
  • Solid victories
  • Flawed
  • Believable strengths

We immerse them into a setting that is determined to see the character fail by tossing rocks, swords, bullets, bombs, lies, and the hero’s worst fears into their paths. (Think Indiana Jones and his aversion to snakes.)

We offer the character a way out of their predicament, but the hero refuses. When knocked down, they get back up. When bleeding, they smack on a Band-Aid and keep moving. When they’re defeated in battle, they understand the war is not over.

  • The characters are unique.
  • The characters are not afraid to love or give.
  • They are secure in who they are.
  • They are confident in their abilities and willing to learn new skills.
  • They accept a higher deity called God is in charge of the universe.
  • They make mistakes and learn from them.
  • Their appeal is shown in their response to life’s challenges.
  • They inspire us to be better people.
  • They offer hope in a world that threatens our peace of mind.

Is a writer always successful in establishing the immortal character? Unfortunately, no. But we never give up because it’s in our DNA for each book to be written better than the previous one. We writers are committed to our craft so that our stories and their characters will live forever in a reader’s mind and heart.

What story characters have captured your heart?


 
 


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

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

 

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Blog Tour: The Republic of Jack

THE REPUBLIC OF JACK
by

Jeffrey KerrPolitical Satire / Texas Humor / Texas Fiction

Publisher: Independently published
Date of Publication: April 7, 2020
Number of Pages: 253

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Jack Cowherd will do anything to win the Texas governorship, even flirt with twenty-first-century secessionists in the Texas Patriot Party. Victory is achieved, but only at the cost of Texas being tossed out of the United States. The Republic of Texas lives again! And Jack is president. 

 

Friend and political advisor Tasha Longoria has long warned Jack of the dangers of his demagoguery. Now when he tries to halt the madness, the worst comes to pass: he is impeached, arrested, and charged with treason, the penalty for which is death.
Jack has but one chance to save his beloved Texas, not to mention his life. But success depends upon help from the one person least likely to give it . . . Tasha.


PRAISE for The Republic of Jack:

“Jeff Kerr’s Republic of Jack is a ribald, raucous farce of Texas politics that often exposes the self-serving cynicism boiling beneath the surface of public debate.”

—Texas political reporter R.G. Ratcliffe 


“Jeffrey Kerr’s ideal Texas politician—a man truly for these bitter times—bites off more than any enabler could ever chew in this romp of a new novel,

CLICK TO ORDER ON:
AMAZON


Review

Rating :★★★★

Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of a finished book  from Lone Star Literary Life partner in exchange for my honest review.  The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or the publisher. The copies used in this review are finalized copies sent to me in exchange for my honest review.  #partner #LSBBT

The story begins with Jack simply running for Governor of Texas but we see from the start that this election was only the beginning. As the story continues to unfold we notice unexpected twists, turn, and laugh out loud moments that leave you wanting more. Throughout this entire novel you see the true humor and turmoil behind the politics of being apart of an election. As Jack works to keep tabs on his personal life he must also accept the new responsibility’s of being an elected official. Can he survive or will he be impeached?

This humorous adult fiction novel takes you on a hilarious journey. You see Jack not only step up as Governor but then get immediately promoted to President, of Texas. Yes, you read that right. The President of the United States is so fed up with Texas that he has decided to precede with a secession of the state. With the new pressures associated with becoming President, Jack struggles with those in his inner circle. He is trying to decipher between which of his advisors is giving him the best advice. In the meantime his wife is having her own party as the new appointed First Lady. She is so consumed by the fame that she is essentially described as a surface, self absorbed  female. Nadine is simply looking for attention which becomes clear when the Vice President starts noticing her more and more. This part was a bit hard to read as it humorously implied that the women next to government officials were just arm candy. As we watch the marriage of Nadine and Jack stumble we see the true effects of the how often people change their mind in regards to politics. One minute the people of Texas love Jack and the next they fight to get him impeached. This hilarious anecdote focuses on how often people change their opinions.

The author did a great job not only with the humor but the overall plot. I enjoyed the twists and turns and the way the story was told from the various character perspectives. My only downfall of this novel was I wanted a bit more depth. Overall this was a great read.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in reading a humorous adult fiction book. This book is appropriate for adults or young adults due to the mature content on some pages.

 

Click the link above to purchase this item or scroll towards the bottom of this review try your luck at the giveaway. Either way, get your hands on a copy of this book!


 

Jeffrey Kerr is the author of three nonfiction books on Texas history, a historical novel, and, most recently, The Republic of Jack, a satirical novel that imagines Texas as an independent country in the twenty-first century. His history of Austin’s founding, Seat of Empire: The Embattled Birth of Austin, Texas, was named one of sixty essential books about Texas by Michael Barnes of the Austin American-Statesman. Kerr also co-wrote and co-produced the documentary film, The Last of the Moonlight Towers, and a feature film, the psychological thriller Writer’s Block. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife and two dogs.

 

Website║ Facebook  ║ TwitterInstagram

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Blog Tour: The Key to Everything

THE KEY TO EVERYTHING
by
Valerie Fraser LuesseContemporary Christian Romance

Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: June 2, 2020
Number of Pages: 352

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Based on a true story, Valerie Fraser Luesse’s new novel takes readers on an incredible journey of self-discovery. The poignant prose, enchanting characters, and captivating settings in The Key to Everything make this a moving story that readers won’t soon forget. Peyton Cabot’s fifteenth year will be a painful and transformative one. His father, the reluctant head of a moneyed Savannah family, has come home from WWII a troubled vet, drowning his demons in bourbon, and distancing himself from his son. When a tragic accident separates Peyton from his parents, and the girl of his dreams seems out of reach, he struggles to cope with a young life upended.

Pushed to his limit, Peyton makes a daring decision: he will retrace a slice of the journey his father took at fifteen by riding his bicycle all the way from St. Augustine to Key West, Florida. Part loving tribute, part search for self, Peyton’s journey will unlock more than he ever could have imagined, including the key to his distant father, a calling that will shape the rest of his life, and the realization that he’s willing to risk absolutely everything for the girl he loves.

Valerie Fraser Luesse is the bestselling author of Missing Isaac and Almost Home, as well as an award-winning magazine writer best known for her feature stories and essays in Southern Living, where she is currently senior travel editor. Specializing in stories about unique pockets of Southern culture, Luesse received the 2009 Writer of the Year award from the Southeast Tourism Society for her editorial section on Hurricane Katrina recovery in Mississippi and Louisiana. A graduate of Auburn University and Baylor University, she lives in Birmingham, Alabama, with her husband, Dave. 
 

Website║ Facebook  ║ Blog


 

Review

Rating :★★★★★

Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of a finished book  from Lone Star Literary Life partner in exchange for my honest review.  The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or the publisher. The copies used in this review are finalized copies sent to me in exchange for my honest review.  #partner #LSBBT

 

The story begins with Peyton at yet another family event with the Cabot’s. His father, Marshall, had returned from the war some time ago and was dealing with his own demons from his past. A twist of events leads this semi-normal family into a world of new adventures and past discoveries. As Marshall recovers from an accident, Kate must work to keep his family at arm’s length as fights for his life. The life Payton once knew no longer exists as he works to grasp a hold of who his Father was. After learning of his father’s adventurous bike ride, Payton decides to take the same ride in an attempt to truly understand the father he felt like he never knew. We journey through the rest of this novel with Payton as he discovers who he really is, who his father was, and what love truly means. Will Payton find what he is looking for on his journey or will he die trying?

This is the first book I have read by this author and she has done an amazing job. I have always been interested in books writing based on different time periods. This novel is written based in the year 1947 after the completion of World War II. In the beginning of the book we see Payton described as a young boy who is in love with a new girl in town. However due to the events with his father he decides to break it off with her as he moves to another state state to be with his family as they work to heal. The author dives a bit into he healing process that a family goes through after the loss of a loved one and Payton learning to forgive his father for his alcoholism after returning from the war. Payton simply wants to understand the actions of his father and understand who he was before he went to war. On his long bike journey we see him develop friendships, get glimpse into his father’s past, discover his identity, and building lasting family in different places. He grows up fast after his father’s death and is able to not only take care of himself but those around him. All while he is working on his self discovery, his mother is at home working on grieving from a major loss. She seeks comfort in the Cabot family member and says goodbye to the life she built with her late husband. She learns to grieve in her own way by not only learning to set her husband free but also Payton. There is more to this story but you will have to read it to truly discover the love that exists not only between Marshall and Kate but between Payton and Lisa. Throughout this story you will find yourself not only captivated by the true love that exists but the courage and strength of Payton and his mother.

The author does a wonderful job unpacking multiple themes and plot twists as you continue throughout the novel. You both laugh, cry, gasp, and applaud while you read the stories of each character. Payton’s character is developed so eloquently that you feel as if you have been transported into the story with him as you ride the bike alongside him. Lisa’s character, although not seen as highly focal point character until later in the story, is well written and I enjoyed the bit of family drama that surrounded her character. Each character is developed in a way that provides depth and detail that can only be described as something straight out of a movie. Did I cry while reading this book? Yes. I didn’t cry because it was super emotional. I cried because of the beautiful scene the author created. The father’s passing was described as nothing but an act of God and the mother’s raw emotions when she prayed truly shows the great lengths of a mother’s love. It is often a challenge for to capture the true essence of grieving that is associated with living with a parent who has a destructive addiction that leaves the entire family feeling abandoned and left to pick up the pieces. I loved how the author showcases positive moments in a tumultuous journey. Each journey we take is a bit different but it is nice to read a book that allows you to connect a bit more with the characters and truly see parts of your life represented. This is such a great ode to Father’s and the families they leave behind.

 

I highly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in reading a captivating christian fiction novel based on a true story. This book is appropriate for adults and young adults.

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Blog Tour: The First Emma

THE FIRST EMMA
by

Camille Di MaioHistorical Fiction / Historical Romance / Women’s Fiction

Publisher: Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing
Date of Publication: May 5, 2020
Number of Pages: 315

Scroll down for the giveaway!
The First Emma is the true story of Emma Koehler. Whose tycoon husband Otto was killed in a crime-of-the-century murder by one of his two mistresses – both also named Emma – and her unlikely rise as CEO of a brewing empire during Prohibition. When a chance to tell her story to a young teetotaler arises, a tale unfolds of love, war, beer, and the power of women.
PRAISE for The First Emma

“Di Maio’s take on a shocking American drama pleasantly blends romantic and historical fiction . . . a sweet memorialization of a real-life female business pioneer in San Antonio.” —Kirkus

“A beautifully crafted portrait of an intriguing woman. Mystery and romance are set against the backdrop of fascinating pieces of twentieth-century history, and a richly drawn setting leaves the reader feeling wholly immersed. Historical fiction fans will love this one!” —Chanel Cleeton, NYT bestselling author of Next Year in Havana


“Di Maio does a brilliant job of weaving together all the threads—from past to present—while unearthing a tale of blossoming love, the power of our chosen family, and the losses that make us whole again.” —Rochelle B. Weinstein, USA Today bestselling author of This Is Not How It Ends

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Review

Rating :★★★★★

Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of a finished ebook  from Lone Star Literary Life partner in exchange for my honest review.  The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or the publisher. The copies used in this review are finalized copies sent to me in exchange for my honest review.  #partner #LSBBT

Emma Koehler, known as the first Emma, is a woman of great stature and determination. Her life took an unexpected turn of events as she lived through milestone moments. Emma watched her successful husband take on more than business ventures. Her relationship with her husband is described as purely contractual and far from an emotional connection. However, like any woman, Emma wanted the love of her husband but that would soon be deemed impossible after her accident. We are taken on a journey through history as we watch her story told by Maribel. Maribel is a young woman whose fiancé’ left her for another woman while at war. She answers an and for a job and leaves from Baltimore to Texas. We continue to watch as we learn more about the story of Emma Koehler told from the perspective of Maribel. Will they both find peace in this journey as the dive into the past?

Emma Koehler is a strong female lead who is described as taking charge and using her husband’s wandering eyes as a base to gain privilege in his company. She is an inspiring woman as she continues to take charge despite the many challenges she faced. Although, unable to live the life she wanted she insisted on making the best out of her situation. It was very interesting to read more about each Emma and their role in Otto’s death. We watch as Maribel is set as the narrator after a beginning that would leave any woman begging for a fresh start in a new place. Both women had a different start at life but they struggled with the men in their lives and you can see that connection in the beginning. The reader and the narrator are both captured by the story of Emma Koehler, both on the edge of their seats waiting for her next response. As we learn about each Emma and her role in the infidelity that plagued the Koehler household makes you wonder who is at fault in this situation. Is it the first Emma that lead to the death of Otto or is it the Emma that left? Throughout this story we are captivated by the strength, determination, and resiliency described in the first Emma. In the end, no one left this story unscathed.

I devoured this book in one sitting in less than three hours in an attempt to get to the end. In the beginning you are unsure of which direction the author will take the book as the title captures your attention. You wonder throughout the story, why is there a first Emma? The more the story unfolds then you understand the importance of the writing style and the way the author tells this story. The author does a phenomenal job with the telling of this story that captures the attention of the reader. You feel transported in the prohibition era and into the home of Emma and Otto Koehler. The contrast in stories from Emma and the narrator Maribel allows for a bit of a happy ending for both. I enjoyed reading about both Emma’s past and watching Maribel grow and develop in the story. It is truly remarkable to see such an interesting part of history told in such a way that provokes the reader to do more research on the subject matter. After reading this book I wanted to know more about the story of Emma and Otto. As you continue to journey through each page as the story unravels the intensity of each descriptive detail begins to reveal true emotions displayed by the main characters. Throughout this story I gasped, I cried a little, I laughed, and I applauded.

This is my first time reading a book by this author and I enjoy her writing style and attention to detail. I have read quite a few historical fictions and this book fits the bill of an entrancing read. You get to the end of the book and are excited to read more about the facts of the main character. You can tell the author was passionate about writing this book and took the time to do extensive research to ensure the story was told in a way that did not take the reader’s attention away from the first Emma. In the end, all I can say is “wow” what a wonderfully written book and I wish there was more.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in reading a captivating historical fiction novel. This book is appropriate for adults and young adults since it does not contain lewd content and is an easy read.

Click the link above to purchase this item or scroll towards the bottom of this review try your luck at the giveaway. Either way, get your hands on a copy of this book!


Camille Di Maio always dreamed of being a writer, though she took a winding path of waitressing, temping, politicking, and real estate to get there. It all came to fruition with the publication of her bestselling debut, The Memory of Us, followed by Before the Rain Falls, The Way of Beauty, and The Beautiful Strangers. In addition to writing, she loves farmers’ markets, unashamedly belts out Broadway tunes when the mood strikes, and regularly faces her fear of flying to indulge her passion for travel. Married for twenty-three years, she home-schools their four children. (Though the first two are off at college now!) She is happy to live in Virginia near a beach. 

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ONE WINNER receives a signed copy of The First Emma
May 19-29, 2020
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Thank you, Garden

THANK YOU, GARDEN
By LIZ GARTON SCANLON
Illustrated by Simone Shin
Children’s Picture Book / Poetry / Environment / Ages 3-7
Publisher: Beach Lane Books / Simon & Schuster
Date of Publication: March 3, 2020

Number of Pages: 32

A community garden unites neighbors in this celebration of all the things that grow there, from flowers and fruits, to friendships! 

This ode to working together for a better world will have young readers wanting to plant gardens of their own!

CLICK TO PURCHASE

 

Liz Garton Scanlon is the author of many beloved books for kids, including the brand new Thank You, Garden, as well as the Caldecott Honor book All the World and others, including several co-authored with her pal Audrey Vernick. Scanlon also wrote the middle grade novel The Great Good Summer and is published in numerous poetry anthologies. She serves on the faculty of the Vermont Faculty of Fine Arts and is a frequent and popular presenter at conferences and festivals. Find more about her life and work at www.LizGartonScanlon.com



Follow illustrator Simone Shin on Instagram!

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Each winner gets an autographed/personalized copy of
THANK YOU, GARDEN and ANOTHER WAY TO CLIMB A TREE
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Blog Tour : A Firm Place to Stand

A FIRM PLACE TO STAND
by
LORI ALTEBAUMER
Genre: Christian / Romantic Suspense
Independently published
Date of Publication: January 25, 2020
Number of Pages: 321

Scroll down for the giveaway!
 

Review

Rating :★★★★★

Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of a finished pdf copy from Lone Star Literary Life partner in exchange for my honest review.  The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or the publisher. The copies used in this review are finalized copies sent to me in exchange for my honest review.  #partner #LSBBT

Has there ever been a moment in your life where you’ve felt like you can’t catch a break? Have you ever felt as though you were a burden to everyone you encounter? The main character Maribel has nothing but shortcomings her entire life but a job opportunity at Summer Camp in the middle has become available. She hasn’t had the best of luck with jobs or relationships but this may be her chance for a fresh start. That is until her car malfunctions and catches ablaze as she nears her new town. Within the first twenty-four hours of her arrival to her new town she finds a corpse in the river on her morning job, her car catches fire, and she has unexpectedly become involved in the secrets of her new town. Will she be able to uncover the secrets behind the dead body and the potential missing person? Can she keep her current role? How long can she keep her past hidden and stay hidden?

This book starts at a steady pace with the introduction of the main character and the author does a great job of capturing your attention in the beginning. We watch as Maribel’s character develops more as the storyline begins to unfold. The book begins with us seeing a glimpse into the past of Maribel and the preconceived notions she has about the people in her new town. She must learn to keep her guard up but also work to remove the walls she placed around herself to allow people a chance to get to know her. I enjoyed the development of each character and the realistic emotions tied to each character. Of course, as the story moved on I felt remorse for Maribel as she struggled to forgive herself for her past and move forward with the opportunity she was given. The author does a wonderful job of being descriptive when it came to explaining each character’s emotions, actions, and interactions. The writing style was intriguing where the author took the approach to alter between perspectives. There was no one true narrator in my opinion. The story was being told by each character and enjoyed getting the chance to be inside the mind of each character which aided in understanding the character development fully. I spent a great deal of time being both shocked and on the brink of tears while reading this book as it hit close to home to watch the main character try so hard. You can watch as the town’s secrets begin to unfold and Maribel sees who she can trust. With the journalist’s background in tow, she can observe her surroundings and get to the bottom of the town’s biggest secrets while simultaneously not realizing how sinister the villain in this novel is. I was thoroughly surprised and gasped out loud as finally came to the end of this book. All I can say is well done what a remarkable tale.

The author takes an interesting approach to the Christian based thriller. As the story continues to unfold you feel involved in the development of each character and invested in the outcome of the story. However, I did feel it was a little dry in some areas and wanted a bit more action. I felt there were high points in the story and a few low points in the story where I felt could have been developed a bit more. However, overall this was a well written Christian thriller. You can tell the author worked hard to have the biblical aspects of the story to fit well within the chapter. I enjoyed the fact that the author inserted a practical biblical tip of forgiveness and the importance of forgiveness. It is inspirational to see that focus inside this specific text that contains aspects of betrayal, loss, grief, and victimization. The author showcases the challenges of forgiveness from both parties. She sheds light on the perspective of forgiveness from the accuser and the person who has experienced the loss. the Bible discusses the importance of forgiveness throughout and the importance of relying on God to provide peace in the middle of a storm or turmoil. Special thanks to the author for doing a phenomenal job at incorporating the biblical aspect and the ability to have it flow so well.

 

I highly recommend this book for any who is interested in reading a thrilling christian mystery novel. This book is appropriate for young adults and higher as there isn’t any foul or rude content.

Click the link above to purchase this item or scroll towards the bottom of this review try your luck at the giveaway. Either way, get your hands on a copy of this book!



 

A life-long Texan, Lori lives in a small community not far from the rugged West Texas landscape she loves to write about. The mother of now-grown twins, she has learned that the secret to survival is a well-developed sense of humor and an active prayer life. After years spent working in the insurance business, Lori now uses her time to educate, inspire, encourage, and entertain through the written word.

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1ST PRIZE
Signed Copy of A Firm Place to Stand + $25 Gift Card to the Texas Indie Bookstore of Choice
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APRIL 30-MAY 10, 2020
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Blog Tour: The Caretakers

THE CARETAKERS
by
ELIZA MAXWELL
Genre:  Psychological Thriller / Gothic Fiction / Sisters Fiction 
Publisher: Lake Union Press
Date of Publication: April 14, 2020
Number of Pages: 317Scroll down for the giveaway!

In the isolated estate she’s found the perfect getaway. But there’s no escaping the past in this chilling novel from the bestselling author of The Unremembered Girl.

Filmmaker Tessa Shepherd helped free a man she believed was wrongly imprisoned for murder. When he kills again, Tessa’s life is upended.
She’s reeling with guilt, her reputation destroyed. Worse, Tessa’s mother has unexpectedly passed away, and her sister, Margot, turns on her after tensions from their past escalate. Hounded by a bullying press, Tessa needs an escape. That’s when she learns of a strange inheritance bequeathed by her mother: a derelict and isolated estate known as Fallbrook. It seems like the perfect refuge.A crumbling monument to a gruesome history, the mansion has been abandoned by all but two elderly sisters retained as caretakers. They are also guardians of all its mysteries. As the house starts revealing its dark secrets, Tessa must face her fears and right the wrongs of her past to save herself and her relationship with Margot. But nothing and no one at Fallbrook are what they seem.

“Suspense fans will be satisfied.” —Publishers Weekly

CLICK TO PURCHASE
AMAZONINDIEBOUND
 

Rating :★★★★★

Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of a finished audiobook from Lone Star Literary Life partner in exchange for my honest review.  The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or the publisher. The copies used in this review are finalized copies sent to me in exchange for my honest review.  #partner #LSBBT

 

Have you ever thought you were making the right decision and then it turns out it could have been wrong? Tessa thought she was making the right decision when she helped to free someone she felt was innocent but her core is shaken the killer strikes again. Not only is Tessa facing the challenges of a crippling career after a murder was released on her watch but now there is turmoil in her family. Her relationship with her sister is tumultuous and now she must work with her sister to uncover the family’s many secrets as an estate turns up as an inheritance to both women. As Tessa works to uncover the mystery behind the estate in Fallbrook, she finds more than she bargained for.

This captivating audiobook captures you from the moment it begins with a vivid telling of this suspenseful novel. The author does an amazing job with the selection of the narrators for this book. Each narrator being picked precisely for the personality of the main characters. I loved that the story was told from different perspectives allowing the reader to engage with each character. The transitional viewpoints allow the reader to gain a better understanding of the two sets of sisters and how their timelines and stories intertwine.

You ever come to the end of a novel and wonder, did that just end like that? That was me finishing this book. I thoroughly enjoyed the entirety of this novel. The author did an exceptional job creating a novel that allows the reader to be connected and intertwined with each character. I felt every emotion that lined the pages of this novel as the characters’ stories started to unwind. There are twists, there are turns, there are moments where you want to both scream and cry at the same time. The ending left me to want ing more from the story and it completes shock. The reality of the struggles Tessa faces with her anxiety is both empowering and impactful. How many times have we all put on a facade but have been facing a crippling fear and anxiety underneath? It reminds me of some of the same emotions I faced when I struggled with anxiety but did not share it with anyone. The struggles Tessa and Margot faced with their relationship provides a realistic approach to how the lack of communication and cause the downfall of a family. Everyone had good intentions but sometimes those can be misinterpreted. I wonder how longer Dierdre can keep up the facade with Kitty and what’s next for Tessa.

This is my first time reading a book written by this author but I am thoroughly invested in her writing style and the way the words flow throughout this story. There were a few times that I was a bit lost trying to keep up with the supporting characters but overall this book was phenomenal. I enjoy this type of historical based writing style that captures the essence of an authentic thriller storyline that has you at the end of your seat during the full ride.

I highly recommend this book for any who is interested in reading a thrilling mystery novel. This book is appropriate for young adults and higher as there isn’t rude content but it does discuss anxiety and parts of the story can be a bit heavy for younger audiences.

Click the link above to purchase this item or scroll towards the bottom of this review try your luck at the giveaway. Either way, get your hands on a copy of this book!

Eliza Maxwell is the author of The Shadow Writer, The Widow’s Watcher, The Unremembered Girl, The Grave Tender, and The Kinfolk. She writes fiction from her home in Texas, which she shares with her ever-patient husband, two impatient kids, a ridiculous English setter, and a bird named Sarah. An artist and writer, a dedicated introvert, and a British-cop-drama addict, she enjoys nothing more than sitting on the front porch with a good cup of coffee. For more information, visit www.elizamaxwell.net.


 

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Blog Tour: Violence/Joy/Chaos

VIOLENCE / JOY / CHAOS
by
Jane Marshall Fleming
Essays / Poems
Publisher: Rhythm & Bones Press
On Twitter
Date of Publication: April 1, 2020
Number of Pages: 154

Scroll down for the giveaway!
 

This debut full-length hybrid collection of essays and poetry explores the moments of joy and chaotic hilarity that mingle with the experiences of trauma and trauma recovery.

Jane Marshall Fleming writes with boldness and shows the beauty in every moment amidst violent chaos, embracing joy just as much as darkness. Moving from a backdrop of a small Virginia town and eventually finding herself in the freedom and wilderness of the desert, readers will follow the author on her journey mapping her skin, sharing in her joys, grief, pain, loss, discovering love and self-growth, night-blooming like a desert flower.

CLICK TO ORDER ON:
Rhythm & Bones Press ┃  


Review

Rating :★★★★★

Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of this book from Lone Star Literary Life partner in exchange for my honest review.  The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or the publisher. The copies used in this review are finalized copies sent to me in exchange for my honest review.  #partner #LSBBT

Have you ever had to make a challenging life choice? Held a secret from a family member? Have you ever been judged? Violence/ Joy/ Chaos is a collection of poetic writing that focuses on the life of the author. The author spends time diving into the most life-changing and challenging moments in her life. She takes you on the journey of love, loss, grief, self-discovery, pain, anger, and finally freedom. 

There aren’t too many words that I could use to fully describe how beautifully written this book of poetry is written. This book of poems flows wonderfully together as the author allows the reader to be transferred into her life. The highly descriptive writing style allows for the emotions of the author to be transferred onto the page. It is such a challenge to portray such raw emotions in such a way that not only captures the attention of the reader but also provides a connection between the reader and the storyline. There are moments during the reading that feel her anger, sadness, grief, love, pain, and finally freedom. You feel as though not only is she free from herself. Although her road to recovery and freedom was tumultuous it is truly enlightening to take on the journey to her discovering herself. The most beautiful part of this book is knowing that although she finally was able to find true love she still struggled daily with control. That is inspiring to know that it is okay to struggle even after you become free. Here dialogue with herself is powerful and shows the reader the true power of words. One of the most important conversations you will have is the one you have with yourself. 

I cried, I laughed, and I gasped while reading this book of poetry. There were a lot of instances where the author captures the essence of each moment being described. Throughout this collection of essays and poems, you find yourself crying when she cries, laughing when she laughs, and rejoicing in those moments of triumph. We are all transferred into her life as she takes us on a long-awaited journey through the years and we watch her find her voice and discover herself. There were a few moments where I essentially had to stop and process the information that was delivered. The following quote resonated with me the most. 

I had forgotten what brought me here. The loss, the pain. I left my

phone in the house while we walked. No buzzing, no texts, no pain.

No pain.

It encourages you to consider the times you have lost someone and have wandered from the path you were previously on. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a loss, it can be the end of a relationship, a traumatic event, or anything that has thrown your life for a loop. It reminds of those moments where you wander aimlessly hoping to find a place that has a solid ground or a place that will make you whole. I learned that wholeness for me didn’t come from a person but came from the Bible and building that relationship. Although you may find your freedom, it is okay to struggle but it is important to stay grounded and find your roots. 

I highly recommend this novel for any mature young adult. There are a few instances where they could be trigger warnings for those who have suffered abuse (sexual and domestic), struggled with suicide, and suffered a loss. I would take caution if you decide to read this book but overall the remaining context is appropriate for mature readers and adults. Special thanks to the author for providing me with a copy of this book and thanks for writing it. It is an inspiring text. 

Click the link above to purchase this item or scroll towards the bottom of this review try your luck at the giveaway. Either way, get your hands on a copy of this book!


Bourdeau Photo
Jane Marshall Fleming is an author and artist living in Austin, Texas. She currently works as an assistant instructor at the University of Texas at Austin and is also the author of the chapbook, Ocotillo Worship (Apep Publications, 2019). Violence/Joy/Chaos is her first full length collection.

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Autographed copy of Violence / Joy / Chaos 
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