The Ten Things I Wish I’d Known Before... The Antidote by Shelley Sackier (Guest Post & #Giveaway)

Welcome to my tour stop! Check out the fun guest post and enter the giveaway below...

The Antidote
By Shelley Sackier
YA Fantasy
Hardcover & ebook, 368 Pages
February 5th 2019 by HarperTeen


Magic is not allowed, under any circumstances — even if it could save someone’s life. Instead, there are herbal remedies and traditional techniques that have been painstakingly recorded in lieu of using the mystical arts. Fee knows this, so she keeps her magic a secret.

Except her best friend, Xavi, is deathly ill. He’s also the crown prince. Saving him is important, not only for her, but for the entire kingdom.

Fee’s desperation to save her friend means she can barely contain the magic inside her. And after the tiniest of slips, Fee is thrust into a dark and secretive world that is as alluring as it is dangerous.

If she gives in, it could mean she can save Xavi. But it also means that those who wish to snuff out magic might just snuff her out in the process.

(Affiliate links included.)

Guest Post:
The Things I Wish I’d Known Before This Whole Debacle Began
(AKA Fee’s Top Ten Tips for Keeping Magic a Secret)

1. Most important, I wish someone would have told me exactly who I was before I started to have freakish thoughts about myself. Before I realized that I wasn’t like everyone around me, and that maybe it’d be best if I hid those bizarre bits—at least to give me a break from all the eyebrow raising happening whenever my ghastly snippets of magic seeped out.

2. One of the things I’d learned early on was that if I was in the middle of making a tiny flower bud sprout—a sometimes very necessary thing whenever Savva, my mentor in the stillroom, suddenly demanded I create some new tincture or salve she was in need of, and we were fresh out of those specific flowers—I had to squish the budding blossom behind my back. Cuz those little suckers actually make a squeak of unhappiness if I don’t muffle their sound. And that always makes Savva’s furry white eyebrows move straight up to meet her hairline.

3. The best way to keep magic under wraps, or at least away from prying eyes, is to allow yourself to be kept locked away from all those prying eyes—like Savva did with me. (I seriously hope you can read the snark in my words.) The only person I saw apart from Savva—and for nearly ten year’s worthy of time—was Xavi. My best friend. My confident. My soon-to-be-king. And also the biggest worrywart in all of the kingdom of Fireli. Maybe even within the entire realm of Aethusa. And weirdly enough, he was annoyingly worse than Savva if he caught me leaking magic. Seriously, a giant fusspot.

4. Know your audience. As in, know exactly who you can trust and who is going to freak out if they see you whip up some rapid growth in a squiggly vine and direct it up a concrete wall. If for one second you think you’ve got yourself a squealer, then by all means direct their attention elsewhere—like up into the sky to see some non-existent eagle flying overhead.

5. Search your flora homeopathica medical textbooks for whatever plant, or seed, or berries around you that might work to create an extract that can do exactly that—extract the patient’s memory. There are plenty of tinctures Savva has made me whip up in the past that help “fuzzify” a person’s recollection. Yes, mostly those were made to help people forget their pain, but hey, sometimes you’re forced to use whatever is available. It’s kind of a no-brainer. (hehe)

6. Play dumb.

7. Deny, deny, deny.

8. Scare them into silence.

9. Blackmail works really well too.

10. Lastly, you could always choose to just not do it. Not doing something is a pretty big guarantee that no one is going to see you do that thing. And this is a fine choice if, unlike me, you have an actual choice. I didn’t. I had to do it to save people. Except doing it meant I was going to kill my best friend. Yeah, pretty sure you can see the tiny quandary I was strangling with.

Bonus! Also feel free to check out the author's playlist: The Antidote Playlist - Google Play or The Antidote Playlist - Spotify (both just music) and The Antidote Playlist Details (with spoilers!—song descriptions for where they fall within the book). You can also find a Pinterest board here and read an excerpt here.

About the Author

Shelley Sackier grew up in a small farming community in Northern Wisconsin continually searching for ways to grow warm. Realizing she would never be able to enjoy ice cream like real people should, she left the state and lived the blissful life of a traveling musician. Discovering her stories needed more space than two verses a bridge and a chorus could provide, she began storytelling in earnest. And then in Virginia. Which is where she lives now and continues to write.

Her first novel, DEAR OPL (Sourcebooks 2015), is a tale about a snarky, overweight thirteen-year-old, who suffers from loss everywhere in her life except on her body.

Her next novel, The Freemason's Daughter (HarperCollins, 2017) is a story about a 16 yr old Scottish girl living in 1715 who's raised entirely by six burly Scotsman--and they're all smugglers. The Antidote (HarperCollins February 2019) is a YA novel about magic and medicine, and the witches who wield them both.

To learn more about Shelley, visit where she blogs weekly about living on a small farm atop a mountain in the Blue Ridge and how it’s easiest to handle most of it with homegrown food, a breathless adoration for tractors, and a large dose of single malt scotch.

Tour Schedule
Tour-Wide Giveaway

Win (1) physical copy of THE ANTIDOTE by Shelley Sackier (US Only)
Ends February 11th, 2019

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Is this on your TBR? What do you think of Fee's list?

Check out the movie trailer for A Dog's Journey #ADogsJourney

A Dog's Journey

Genre: Family
Cast: Marg Helgenberger, Betty Gilpin, Henry Lau, Kathryn Prescott, with Dennis Quaid and Josh Gad
Director: Gail Mancuso
Screenplay By: W. Bruce Cameron & Cathryn Michon and Maya Forbes & Wally Wolodarsk
Based on the novel by: W. Bruce Cameron
Producer: Gavin Polone
Executive Producers: Seth William Meier, Lasse Hallström, Luyuan Fan, Wei Zhang


Some friendships transcend lifetimes. In A Dog’s Journey, the sequel to the heartwarming global hit A Dog’s Purpose, beloved dog Bailey finds his new destiny and forms an unbreakable bond that will lead him, and the people he loves, to places they never imagined.

Bailey (voiced again by Josh Gad) is living the good life on the Michigan farm of his “boy,” Ethan (Dennis Quaid) and Ethan’s wife Hannah (Marg Helgenberger). He even has a new playmate: Ethan and Hannah’s baby granddaughter, CJ. The problem is that CJ’s mom, Gloria (Betty Gilpin), decides to take CJ away. As Bailey’s soul prepares to leave this life for a new one, he makes a promise to Ethan to find CJ and protect her at any cost.

Thus begins Bailey’s adventure through multiple lives filled with love, friendship and devotion as he, CJ (Kathryn Prescott), and CJ’s best friend Trent (Henry Lau) experience joy and heartbreak, music and laughter, and few really good belly rubs.

Directed by Emmy winner Gail Mancuso (TV’s Modern Family), A Dog’s Journey is produced by Gavin Polone (A Dog’s Purpose), and written by W. Bruce Cameron & Cathryn Michon, and Maya Forbes & Wally Wolodarsky, based on the best-selling novel by Cameron. The film, from Amblin Entertainment and Reliance Entertainment, in association with Walden Media and Alibaba Pictures, will be distributed by Universal Pictures domestically, and by Universal Pictures and Amblin Partners internationally.


Dog movies always make me cry. If you've seen The Age of Adeline, there's a part where her dog dies and I'd just lost our family dog that we'd had over twelve years and just bawled. I'm sure this one will make me cry too. Will you be watching it?

I Can't Wait for... The Deceivers by Kristen Simmons & Dark of the West by Joanna Hathaway (Can't-Wait Wednesday/Waiting on Wednesday) #CWW #WOW

Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted here, at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we're excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they're books that have yet to be released. It's based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by the fabulous Jill at Breaking the Spine. If you're continuing with WOW, feel free to link those up as well! Find out more here.

These are soon to be released from Tor Teen, but I still wanted to share about them. The first is by a popular author and I love this new series she's starting. I'll be sharing a review and interview for her tour and am looking forward to it! The second is a YA fantasy that looks and sounds really good. They're my picks this week...

The Deceivers
(Vale Hall #1)
By Kristen Simmons
YA Contemporary Suspense, Spy
Hardcover, Audiobook & ebook, 384 Pages
February 5th 2019 by Tor Teen


Pretty Little Liars meets Ocean's 11 in this intrigue-filled contemporary drama from acclaimed author Kristen Simmons.

Welcome to Vale Hall, the school for aspiring con artists.

When Brynn Hilder is recruited to Vale, it seems like the elite academy is her chance to start over, away from her mom's loser boyfriend and her rundown neighborhood. But she soon learns that Vale chooses students not so much for their scholastic talent as for their extracurricular activities, such as her time spent conning rich North Shore kids out of their extravagant allowances.

At first, Brynn jumps at the chance to help the school in its mission to rid the city of corrupt officials--because what could be better than giving entitled jerks what they deserve? But that's before she meets her mark--a senator's son--and before she discovers the school's headmaster has secrets he'll stop at nothing to protect. As the lines between right and wrong blur, Brynn begins to realize she's in way over head.

(Affiliate links included.)

Dark of the West
(Glass Alliance #1)
By Joanna Hathaway
YA Fantasy
Hardcover, Audiobook & ebook, 480 Pages
February 5th 2019 by Tor Teen


He was raised in revolution. She was raised in a palace. Can their love stop a war? Code Name Verity meets The Winner's Curse in Joanna Hathaway's Dark of the West, a breathtaking YA fantasy debut.

Aurelia Isendare is a princess of a small kingdom in the North, raised in privilege but shielded from politics as her brother prepares to step up to the throne. Halfway around the world, Athan Dakar, the youngest son of a ruthless general, is a fighter pilot longing for a life away from the front lines. When Athan’s mother is shot and killed, his father is convinced it’s the work of his old rival, the Queen of Etania—Aurelia’s mother. Determined to avenge his wife’s murder, he devises a plot to overthrow the Queen, a plot which sends Athan undercover to Etania to gain intel from her children.

Athan’s mission becomes complicated when he finds himself falling for the girl he’s been tasked with spying upon. Aurelia feels the same attraction, all the while desperately seeking to stop the war threatening to break between the Southern territory and the old Northern kingdoms that control it—a war in which Athan’s father is determined to play a role. As diplomatic ties manage to just barely hold, the two teens struggle to remain loyal to their families and each other as they learn that war is not as black and white as they’ve been raised to believe.

(Affiliate links included.)

Will you be reading either of these?

Check out a Q&A with the author... That's Not What I Heard by Stephanie Kate Strohm (Interview & #Giveaway)

Welcome to my tour stop! Check out an interview and the tour giveaway below...

That's Not What I Heard
By Stephanie Kate Strohm
YA Contemporary
Hardcover, Audiobook & ebook, 368 Pages
January 29th 2019 by Scholastic


What did you hear?

Kimberly Landis-Lilley and Teddy Lin are over. Yes, the Kim and Teddy broke up.

At least that's what Phil Spooner thinks he overheard and then told Jess Howard, Kim's best friend. Something about Teddy not liking Kim's Instas? Or was it that Teddy is moving to Italy and didn't want to do long distance? Or that Kim slid into someone else's DMs?

Jess told her boyfriend, Elvis, that he needs to be on Kim's side. Especially if he wants to keep her as his girlfriend. But Elvis is also Teddy's best friend.

Now, Kim's run out of school for the day. Jess is furious. Elvis is confused. And half the lunch period won't talk to Teddy. Even the teachers have taken sides.

William Henry Harrison High will never be the same again!

(Affiliate links included.)


Where did you get the idea of writing a story about rumors in high school?

The initial idea came from my wonderful editor, Matt Ringler. He emailed me, “I want to do a silly break up book that is so extreme the whole school and town gets caught up in it.” The idea spiraled out of control from there!

Would you tell us a little more about your main characters?

Kim and Teddy are the golden couple of William Henry Harrison High. They’re both super nice and sweet, and extremely loyal – both to their friends and to each other. That’s probably why things get so out of hand when they break up!

What did you find most challenging while writing THAT’S NOT WHAT I HEARD?

I was pregnant and in the first trimester while writing it, and I was extremely nauseous. I wrote most of the book lying down in bed, typing with one hand – I was so uncomfortable!

What is your favorite thing about this story?

My favorite thing about this story is being able to tell part of it from the point of view of some of the teachers. I worked in a high school for a year and a half, and I loved being able to share some of my experiences. I’m also such a fan of teachers-falling-in-love plots – just like in Clueless!

What was your least and most favorite thing about high school?

My favorite thing about high school was theatre. I loved being in the plays and musicals, hanging out with my friends, singing and dancing, and celebrating in the diner after shows. My least favorite thing was how self-conscious I was – I was always comparing myself to other girls, and I felt so bad about myself because I didn’t have a boyfriend. Looking back, I wasted way too much mental energy on that!

What are you working on next?

Nothing I can talk about yet – all of my projects are still in their early stages – but lots of potentially exciting stuff!

About the Author

Stephanie Kate Strohm is the author of The Taming of the Drew, Pilgrims Don't Wear Pink, Confederates Don't Wear Couture, It's Not Me, It's You and Prince in Disguise. She grew up in Connecticut and attended Middlebury College in Vermont, where she was voted Winter Carnival Queen. Currently she lives in Chicago with her fiance and a little white dog named Lorelei Lee.

Tour Schedule
Tour-Wide Giveaway

1 copy of THAT’S NOT WHAT I HEARD by Stephanie Kate Strohm
US Only

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This sounds pretty cute. Is it on your TBR? What do you think about the interview?

Top Ten Little Known Facts... The Duality of Nature by C.E. Clayton (Guest Post & #Giveaway)

Welcome to my tour stop! Check out a fun guest post and the tour giveaway below...

The Duality of Nature
(The Monster of Selkirk #1)
By C.E. Clayton
YA Fantasy
Paperback & ebook, 326 Pages
April 17th 2017 by DevilDog Press


Monsters come in many forms, and not everyone knows a monster when they see one. After three hundred years of monstrous, feral elves plaguing the island nation of Selkirk, everyone believes they know what a monster is. Humans have learned to live with their savage neighbors, enacting a Clearing every four years to push the elves back from their borders. The system has worked for centuries, until after one such purge, a babe was found in the forest.

As Tallis grows, she discovers she isn’t like everyone else. There is something a little different that makes people leery in her presence, and she only ever makes a handful of friends.

But when the elves gather their forces and emerge from the forests literally hissing Tallis’s name like a battle mantra, making friends is the least of her troubles. Tallis and her companions find themselves on an unwilling journey to not only clear her name, but to stop the elves from ravaging her homeland.

(Affiliate link included.)

Guest Post:
Top Ten Little Known Facts About the Main Characters

1. Donovan is still practically illiterate, despite Tallis doing her best to teach her cousin how to read.

2. Lana, Tallis’s mother, was almost sold on the Bride Block. But then a last minute trip to Kincardine had her meeting Jon, Tallis’s father, and it saved her from such a fate.

3. While Tallis knows how to swim, she hates being out on the open ocean—no matter the kind of vessel she’s on.

4. Rosslyn is an incredibly talented cook, her favorite thing to make being a hearty butter and rosemary chicken pot pie, but she’s a terrible baker.

5. Tomas is completely self-taught when it comes to weaponry, something he taught himself so he could impress a certain someone.

6. Tallis performs a type of combat meditation that people, mistakenly, think is a dance. Tallis doesn’t actually know how to dance, but she can sing—she just doesn’t like to.

7. Despite Rosslyn saying she’s not afraid of the forest, ever since her youngest brother had a run in with a feral elf, Rosslyn has had nightmares about the forest ever since. She has never told her best friend, Tallis, this, though.

8. Tomas may say that his faith has helped him forgive his parents for abandoning him to the monastery, but if he were to ever meet his mother, he doesn’t think he’d actually be able to say hello to her.

9. Donovan may be one of the best knights in his barracks, but because he was born poor, he’ll never serve a great lord and this honestly doesn’t bother him. He’d rather be in a place where he can better help people like him, as long as it allows him to one day leave his village with his sweetheart, he’s happy.

10. Tallis makes some people uncomfortable when they look at her. It’s physically uncomfortable for them to look at her, but no one knows why and no one tells Tallis. These people will shun Tallis, making for a lonely childhood, except for the reprieve she has when Donovan teaches her how to use a blade.

Other Books in the Series

About the Author

C. E. Clayton was born and raised in the greater Los Angeles area, where she attended the University of Southern California for both her Bachelors and Masters, and then worked in the advertising industry for several years on accounts ranging from fast food, to cars, and video games (her personal favorite). After going the traditional career route and becoming restless, she went back to her first love—writing—and hasn’t stopped. She is now the author of “The Monster of Selkirk” series and her horror short stories have appeared in anthologies across the country. When she’s not writing you can find her treating her fur-babies like humans, constantly drinking tea, and trying to convince her husband to go to more concerts. And reading. She does read quite a bit. More about C.E. Clayton, including her blog, book reviews, and poetry, can be found on her website. She'd also be thrilled if you followed her on Instagram and liked her bookish and pet photos, and Amazon where you can get updates on her new releases. And there's always Facebook, if that's your thing.

For more information, please visit C.E. Clayton either on Instagram, Facebook, or her Website. You can also follow on Goodreads.

Tour-Wide Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I really like the cover for this one and the book sounds intriguing as well. Will you be adding this one to your TBR? What do you think about the facts the author shared?

A Q&A with Author Allison Pittman for The Seamstress (Interview)

I'm sharing about this new release from Tyndale House Publishers with a Q&A.
You can also read the first chapter here. I'll be reviewing this later in the week.

The Seamstress
By Allison Pittman
Christian Historical Romance
Paperback & ebook, 480 Pages
February 5th 2019 by Tyndale House Publishers


A beautifully crafted story breathes life into the cameo character from the classic novel A Tale of Two Cities.

France, 1788
It is the best of times . . .

On a tranquil farm nestled in the French countryside, two orphaned cousins—Renée and Laurette—have been raised under the caring guardianship of young Émile Gagnon, the last of a once-prosperous family. No longer starving girls, Laurette and Renée now spend days tending Gagnon's sheep, and nights in their cozy loft, whispering secrets and dreams in this time of waning innocence and peace.

It is the worst of times . . .

Paris groans with a restlessness that can no longer be contained within its city streets. Hunger and hatred fuel her people. Violence seeps into the ornate halls of Versailles. Even Gagnon’s table in the quiet village of Mouton Blanc bears witness to the rumbles of rebellion, where Marcel Moreau embodies its voice and heart.

It is the story that has never been told.

In one night, the best and worst of fate collide. A chance encounter with a fashionable woman will bring Renée’s sewing skills to light and secure a place in the court of Queen Marie Antoinette. An act of reckless passion will throw Laurette into the arms of the increasingly militant Marcel. And Gagnon, steadfast in his faith in God and country, can only watch as those he loves march straight into the heart of the revolution.

(Affiliate links included.)

Author Q&A

1. The Seamstress reveals the untold story of a cameo character in Charles Dickens’s novel A Tale of Two Cities. What inspired you to elaborate on the life of this character in particular?

At the end of the novel A Tale of Two Cities, the character Sydney Carton has this beautiful, sweet moment with a young seamstress. (Dickens describes her as a “little seamstress.”) It’s a moment meant to show the redemption of Sydney Carton, a man who sees himself as one who has wasted his life. The seamstress herself is nameless, appearing only in the final pages of the novel. Even so, left to herself, she is a powerful, important character. But—she mentions having a cousin in the country.

That little detail used to seem like a throwaway fact. Then I became a writer, and I learned that nothing is a throwaway fact. Why mention the cousin? The seamstress is a symbol. A metaphor. She doesn’t need a cousin. I was standing in front of the students in my sophomore English class, discussing this final scene, and I had a throwaway line of my own: “I should write that story.”

2. Can you tell us about the research that went into writing this novel?

Well, I wish I could say it included a week-long visit to Paris and Versailles, but remember—the idea came to me while teaching an English class, so a research trip just wasn’t in the budget. I focused my research on four touchpoints: the Dickens novel to line up my story events with that final scene; a biography of Marie Antoinette to look for character insight beyond the cultural clichés; a fantastic book about the design, architecture, and history of the palace at Versailles; and a resource offering meticulous detail about the fashion of the time. While I, of course, read widely for details of the history of the French Revolution, I paid close attention to the details of the revolution as filtered through those sources and points of view. I always hope that the history behind my stories will come to life through my story. So I tried to take bits and pieces of the conditions that led France to this point of revolution and “assign” them to characters to carry them to life.

3. Tell us about some of the core themes explored in your book. How do you hope readers might relate these themes to their own lives and real-world experiences?

I think, after sifting through the layers of the parallel stories, the core theme comes down to two concepts: honor and grace. In the story’s first pages, Gagnon acts with honor, taking in the orphaned cousins; moreover, he is honorable the entire time they are in his care, even when they grow from little girls into young women. He guards and shields them, honoring God in every moment, even when that moment means letting them go. Renée honors her country’s queen, even when popular opinion dictates such respect is not deserved. And Laurette, in her darkest moment, honors what she knows to be good and right. Even the rebel Marcel acts in a manner that he sees as honorable, ready to fight and die for those who cannot do so for themselves.

Ultimately, it is this sense of honor that drives all of these characters—for a time—to make choices that divide them from each other. And yet, after so much hurt, betrayal, desperation, and bloodshed, grace and forgiveness wrap them back up together.

There is a scene in the novel when all of the principal characters are gathered around a table, sharing a very meager meal. They differ in politics, in age, in ideology, and in experience. Still, there is kindness, civility, and a willingness to sacrifice for the good of each other. We all have to do better, to want a better world for each other, even if it means not having everything exactly as we’d like it to be. We need to be willing to give, to listen, to share, and—yes—to speak, when our words can be measured and delivered with care.

4. Why is it important to explore these topics in our current culture?

Dickens famously opens his novel with the paradox: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times . . .” He concludes that series of paradoxical statements by saying (forgive the paraphrase) that the events of his story take place in a time just like the present age. To me, no matter when you read that novel, you are reading in the present age. When taken in superlative generalities, the tumultuous time of the French Revolution was no different than what and where and when we are living today.

The characters in the story are living in a time of upheaval: political, economic, religious, cultural—all fronts. Their world is changing, and the system under which they’ve been living is failing. It’s a time of unchecked violence, weak leadership, and a cultural trend toward secularism. So . . . I can see it. Can you?

5. How is the perspective of your novel unique? How does it hark back to the classic novel?

This novel brought me to a completely new writing place. I’ve written novels where every character on the page is one created from my imagination. Then, in Loving Luther, I used that imagination to craft a story about people who were once real, living, breathing people. And I’ve given cameo appearances to historical figures—Brigham Young, Lottie Moon, Aimee Semple McPherson. But this! To take a fictional character, lift her up from one story and bring her to life in another—not a retelling or a reimagining, but a completely new tale—that was new to me! I tried my best to craft a novel that fans of Dickens would appreciate. The final scene is a direct homage to Dickens’s scene, with some of his very lines interspersed. I am also unashamedly sentimental in parts, free with the emotive dialogue of my characters. Those who are noble are undoubtedly so, and those who are scoundrels are unashamed in their dealings.

6. What is the value of fiction and storytelling in today’s society?

Fiction gives us a chance to explore. I don’t mean just learning about cities and history, but a chance to explore mindsets and points of view. In The Seamstress readers get to see not only the unfolding of a revolution, but the desperation and poverty that led to that violence and destruction. Fiction allows us to empathize with the kinds of people we might never meet in real life. I think sometimes we feel safer letting a fictional character into our heart because it’s a safe way to explore new emotions. We can make predictions and lose nothing if we’re wrong. People like to think of fiction as an escape, but I prefer to see it—and create it—as an immersion.

7. What role does faith play in this story?

Both Laurette and Renée were raised with an ever-present sense of religion in a staunchly Catholic village. Neither girl, however, in her simple, pastoral life, ever sought anything deeper than ritualistic practice—Laurette, not even that. Their prayers are memorized and recited, with a concept of God as a looming, far-off presence. Though their paths are markedly different, each has to come to a place where she needs to trust in the forgiveness of Christ in order to forgive her own choices. Faith is what allows us to live with ourselves.

8. Which scene in The Seamstress did you most enjoy writing?

Oh, my . . . Even though it is tragic and violent, I think it has to be the scene of the women storming the palace at Versailles. For one thing, as a not-so-secret feminist, it’s somewhat satisfying to see women taking action. There’s something so powerful about the idea of women made bold for the sake of their children—to see them add weapons to their voices and confront subjugation with threat. I could never advocate that in today’s climate, but in the context of history, it is such a powerful moment. That scene is also a perfectly crafted chapter in the Dickens novel, with the sinister Madame Defarge at the helm. And finally, though I won’t go into detail exactly how, it brings the cousins Laurette and Renée within consciousness of each other, and as a writer, those little moments are so much fun to craft!

9. As you were crafting the characters featured in The Seamstress, which one did you personally relate to the most? Which character surprised you the most?

I related to Laurette the most because she is basically just a total mess. She’s impulsive and petulant and wracked with self-doubt. She is forgiven much.

10. What are some future projects you’re working on?

As of this moment, all future projects are still in an early stage—too early for specifics. I will say that I am NOT finished with Dickens. I’m looking at other fictional characters who need to leap into my pages as well as historical figures who might show up in a story yet untold.

About the Author

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


Have you read this yet? Will you be?

The Marine's Return by Rula Sinara (Tour Launch & #Giveaway)

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

Book Tour Launch for
The Marine's Return
By Rula Sinara

Note from the Author

Thank you for stopping by my book release tour for THE MARINE’S RETURN, the sixth and final book in my ‘From Kenya, With Love’ series for Harlequin Heartwarming. I’ve loved everything about writing this series, from the romance and characters, including the endearing orphaned baby elephants, to ‘traveling’ to the breathtaking setting of Kenya’s Serengeti ecosystem and Masai Mara regions every time I sat down to type. You can read my Dear Reader letter from the Prism Release Blitz that took place the first week of January and find out more about the series as a whole HERE. Many of you have been journeying with me since the series began with THE PROMISE OF RAIN and some of you (I’ve heard) are binge reading the series to catch up or catch books you missed. Thank you so much!! I’ll admit that, over the holidays, I spent time binge reading/watching several book and TV series that I fell behind on. It was a great way to decompress and ‘get away’ on an inexpensive vacation. Our imagination is a wonderful thing and I’m humbled and grateful for all who have welcomed the setting and characters of my ‘From Kenya, With Love’ series into theirs.

Also, although my ‘From Kenya, With Love’ series is coming to a close, I’m embarking on a new series for Harlequin Heartwarming that will take you from rescuing elephants in Africa to saving sea turtles along the Outer Banks of North Carolina. My ‘Turtleback Beach’ series is set in a fictional beach town along the more southern Hatteras Island of the Outer Banks and the first book, ALMOST A BRIDE, which involves a runaway bride and an ex-military hero in the witness protection program, releases June 1, 2019.

— Rula

The Marine's Return
(From Kenya, with Love #6)
By Rula Sinara
Contemporary Romance
Paperback & ebook, 384 Pages
January 1st 2019 by Harlequin Heartwarming

He can’t be her hero…

But he made a promise to keep her safe

Wounded marine Chad Corallis just wants to be left alone. Until he discovers his best friend’s very pregnant widow is in danger. A dedicated nurse, she refuses to leave her Serengeti medical clinic when it’s threatened by poachers. Chad is honor-bound to protect her, but who will save him from falling for his best friend’s wife?

Tour Schedule

January 28th:
Christy's Cozy Corners
underneath the covers
Rockin' Book Reviews
Hearts & Scribbles
January 29th:
Splashes of Joy
Among the Reads
The Power of Words
Deal Sharing Aunt
January 30th:
Baroness Book Trove
E-Romance News
Becky on Books
January 31st:
Harlie's Books
Book Reviews & More by Kathy
Locks, Hooks and Books
February 1st:
Thoughts of a Blonde
Reading Is My SuperPower
Hallie Reads
Wishful Endings
February 2nd:
Grand Finale

Other Books in the Series

About the Author

National and USA Today Bestselling author Rula Sinara lives in rural Virginia with her family and crazy but endearing pets. She loves organic gardening, attracting wildlife to her yard, planting trees, raising backyard chickens and drinking more coffee than she'll ever admit to. Rula's writing has earned her a National Readers Choice Award and HOLT Medallion Award of Merit, among other honors. You can discover more about Rula at her blog A Writer’s Rush, on Twitter, on Facebook as RulaSinaraAuthor or on her website, where you can also sign up for her newsletter.

Tour Giveaway

- Autographed print copies of the first three books of the ‘From Kenya, With Love’ series – The Promise of Rain, After the Silence and Through the Storm.
- A set of three, 15x15in canvas tote bags featuring the first 3 covers of the ‘From Kenya, With Love’ series.
- A 12x18 Harlequin Heartwarming tote bag
- A ‘Teenie Beanie Baby’ (TY trademark) elephant named ‘Peanut’
- Bookmarks

Open internationally
Ends February 6, 2019

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Weekly Update #302, lots of books coming up on the blog...

Welcome to my Weekly Update where I post my blog's schedule for the week!

I'm linking up to The Sunday Post, hosted by Kimba @ The Caffeinated Book Reviewer, and to Stacking the Shelves, hosted by Tynga's Reviews and Reading Reality.

It was another busy week last week. Two of our kids are in sports right now and one of them is also in honors choir and so has activities on top of her sporting activities. It keeps life fairly busy from the time school releases for the kids until bedtime and will continue through February. They're both enjoying their activities though and learning some good things, so that's a plus. :) I also have had my parents in town this weekend and will have them again this coming weekend. They have some different events they're in town for and then are also here to be with the family before my sister moves several states away.

I haven't had as much time to read, so getting reviews up on time has been tight, which is not my ideal. One book this week is a carry over from last week (Potion Masters, book two) and the rest I'll hopefully get finished and reviews up for on time. Lots of fun books coming up this week either way...

This Week


Here is the giveaway running right now through the end of January:

Last Week

An Alaskan Proposal by Beth Carpenter (Tour Grand Finale & #Giveaway)

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

Book Tour Grand Finale for
An Alaskan Proposal
By Beth Carpenter

We hope you enjoyed the tour! If you missed any of the stops
you can see snippets, as well as the link to each full post, below:

Launch - Note from the Author

. . . AN ALASKAN PROPOSAL is the fourth story in the Northern Lights series. It’s a classic “fish out of water” romance, set in Alaska. There are dogs, and outdoor scenes, and Leith’s niece Emma, who is a bundle of energy. I think you’ll like it. Thanks to all the bloggers and reviewers on this tour.

And if you’re making any fresh starts this new year, I hope they lead to happily-ever-after.

— Beth

"An Alaskan Proposal by Beth Carpenter is delightful. I enjoyed visiting the spectacular places in Alaska along with Sabrina. . . . The story was fabulously written, and descriptions of the scenery were superb. It makes me want to visit Alaska even more. The characters all had their quirks and traits. . . . I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a great romance."

What was she doing here, climbing a mountain, in Alaska, in the rain? Sabrina didn’t hike. She didn’t wear ugly boots and plastic ponchos. At least the old Sabrina didn’t. The new Sabrina—the one she’d pretty much created out of thin air—loved spending time outdoors. At least that was the story she’d sold Orson Outfitters’ management during her job interview, and that was the story she intended to live up to. Today’s team-builder outing was her first test.

You’d think all those hours at the gym would have prepared her for this, but it turned out running on a treadmill and hiking rough trails weren’t quite the same. Her muscles complained, forcefully. Still, she couldn’t quit, or everyone would know she was an impostor.

"Carpenter weaves another compelling story in An Alaskan Proposal – the setting, the characters, the writing style all perfectly on point. I loved the banter between Leith and Sabrina, their developing friendship, and those kisses! Tal & Boomer absolutely delighted me, and I hope we get to spend more time with them (in Volta’s story perhaps?). It’s always great to visit with old friends from previous books in the series, too, but this book works nicely as a standalone if you’re just starting here."

Sabrina didn’t even own rainwear. Well, technically there was that vintage Laura Wilkes umbrella she’d gotten at an estate sale, but Sabrina considered that more art than protection. Dealing with rain hadn’t been a big part of her life as a fashion buyer in Scottsdale. But that was then.

Now Sabrina was doing the nature thing in Alaska, and she wasn’t equipped for it. Fortunately, Clara, being the experienced mom she was, carried extra folding ponchos in her glove compartment and had loaned Sabrina one at the beginning of the hike. It had done the job, but Sabrina was glad the rain had finally stopped and she could peel it off.

Book by Book - Review

"Take another trip to Alaska with Beth Carpenter’s latest Northern Lights novel, An Alaskan Proposal. Full of outdoorsy adventure and entertaining banter, it’s a contemporary romance not to be missed. . . . A fun and romantic story, it’s sure to please other lovers of contemporary romance as well (even without reading the rest of the books in the series). Pick it up today!"

It was the Alaskan setting of this series that initially drew me to it, and it’s Beth Carpenter’s smooth writing, warm characters, and creative storytelling that keep me coming back to her books. . . . This is just a great series that I wish could go on and on, for there’s many more stories to tell. . . . Highly recommended."

Okay. A tent. Let’s see what she had to work with. Sabrina opened the drawstring at the top of the bag and dumped everything out. Hmm. A bunch of nylon, two short bundles of colored sticks, small metal sticks with hooks on the ends and…oh, instructions. Good. She grabbed the paper and looked at the picture. Step one: spread tent on the ground.

Clear enough. She unrolled the nylon and spread it in a neat rectangle. Presumably the heavier side was the bottom, and the net side went up. So far, so good.

Step two: assemble shock-corded tent poles. Was that stick in the picture the big one or one of the little ones? Another gust sent a shiver up her arms. She stamped her feet. It was hard to concentrate when she was so cold.


"Beth Carpenter’s descriptively toned voice makes us feel like we’re right there in picturesque Alaska in the latest from her Northern Lights series! The gorgeous setting is divine, the characters nab our attention quickly and their sweet love story warms soul throughout. Lots of heart, riddled with emotion and just an overall fun read. A nice addition to this wonderful series!"

Sabrina turned to see Clara and all the other employees gathered behind her staring at the tent and at her. Super. Walter pushed through the crowd.

“What happened here?”

Sabrina swallowed. “It was my fault. I thought it would save some mess and equipment if I heated the beans in the fire.”

Walter narrowed his eyes. “You put the cans in the fire without opening them?”

Sabrina nodded.

“Any casualties?”

“Only the tent.”

E-Romance News - Excerpt

“Like I said, we don’t really teach basic woodcraft. Maybe you could register for a course from the University of Alaska, Anchorage, this fall.”

“Fall is too late. My assignment here ends September first, when the store managers send in their evaluations. Only the top half move on to the next level of training. Besides...” She paused, taking a sudden interest in the worn vinyl floor.

“Besides, what?”

She took a breath and looked up. “After putting down deposits on my apartment and utilities, I’m a little short on cash right now. I thought maybe we could work out some sort of barter arrangement?”

"The characters are so personable, they feel real: They will truly "win your heart"! . . . The dreamy Alaskan setting is perfect and described well. . . . I offer a Five Stars rating for this incredible, well written novel."

Kimber Li - Excerpt

Dinner at his sister’s had gone just about the way he’d expected. Volta, with all the subtlety of a locomotive, had seated him next to the new nurse at the table and kept throwing out random pieces of information designed to force them to bond. “Leith, Marley’s blood type is B negative, just like yours and mine. That’s only two percent of the population. Interesting coincidence, huh?”

What did you say to something like that? Marley had seemed like a perfectly nice person, but after going through a divorce three years ago, Leith had decided the safest route was to avoid getting involved with women, period. So, when Volta made a point of asking him if he had a date for the wedding in front of Marley so that he’d almost be forced to invite her, it had given him great satisfaction to assure her that, yes, he did have a date. He’d almost laughed out loud at the expression on his sister’s face when her plot failed.

Heidi Reads... - Review

"Another great book in the Northern Lights series! I really enjoyed the easy friendship that developed between Leith and Sabrina. . . . I loved the Alaskan setting and all the camping and exploring described. . . . A great cast of characters made this a well-rounded story."

Becky on Books - Review

"Such a sweet romance! . . . I love the Alaskan setting of this series, and the people in it are just wonderful too. I loved Sabrina and Leith, and watching them go from two people who aren’t quite sure what to make of the other to friends to more was just delightful."

Colorimetry - Excerpt

She pretended to be studying the instructions, hoping he’d walk away, but he remained where he was. “I’m Leith Jordan.”

“Sabrina Bell.”

He nodded. “So, Sabrina. Why are you here?”

“For the team-builder, obviously.”

“No, I mean why are you in Alaska? Why didn’t you stay in Arizona?”

“I came for the job.”

He raised an eyebrow. “You came all the way to Alaska to work at the Orson Outfitters store?”

Remembrancy - Review

"Through Sabrina’s eyes, Beth Carpenter gives readers a taste of the majesty and beauty of Alaska and through Leith and his niece, the readers get to experience some of the many adventures. Oh, and there’s a sweet romance full of mutual attraction and plenty of chemistry brewing in there too."

Wishful Endings - Excerpt

“Stop!” Leith finally yelled loud enough to get through to her. She turned. The creature at the corner of the parking lot looked toward him as well.

Sabrina scowled at him. “What? I just want to help that dog. He seems shy. I wonder if someone abandoned him.”

“The reason he’s shy around people is because he’s not a dog.” Leith grabbed her elbow and dragged her back toward the safety of the Land Cruiser. “He’s a wolf.”

"I just loved the chemistry between Sabrina and Leith. . . . I could not put it down until I was finished with it a few hours later. . . . I am giving An Alaskan Proposal a very well deserved five plus stars and I highly recommend it. I can not wait to go back to read the previous books in the series and look forward to more by Beth Carpenter in the future."

EmpowerMoms - Review

"I absolutely loved this book! . . . I loved the imagery of Alaska and the feel of community I got from reading this story. The main characters Sabrina and Leith were great. . . . I really enjoyed it and would recommend it."

Don't forget to enter the giveaway below, if you haven't already...

An Alaskan Proposal
(Northern Lights #4)

By Beth Carpenter
Contemporary Romance
Mass Market Paperback & ebook, 384 Pages
January 1st 2010 by Harlequin Heartwarming

Can he teach her survival skills—

without endangering his heart?

When Sabrina Bell taps Leith Jordan for a crash course in conquering the great Alaskan outdoors, he figures he’s on safe ground. They’re polar opposites and his spectacular home state’s just a pit stop for the hotshot fashionista. So no one’s more surprised than Leith when he starts falling for her. Now he’s a man with a plan: get Sabrina to fall in love with Alaska…and, hopefully, with him.

Other Books in the Series

About the Author

Once upon a time ...

when Beth Carpenter was a little girl, she read everything she could get her hands on, and entertained herself on the school bus by making up stories in her head. Not a lot has changed. She's still consuming books like M&Ms, and spends her days creating happily-ever-afters for her imaginary friends.

She lives in Alaska and Arizona with her husband and an aggressively affectionate fifty-pound lap dog. She loves to hear from readers.

Tour Giveaway

1 winner will receive a book tote, a print copy of A GIFT HORSE by Beth Carpenter, and a $25 Amazon Gift Card

Prize open to US continental residents - If winner doesn’t have a US mailing address, the alternate prize is a $25 Amazon card and two e-books (A GIFT HORSE and THE ALASKAN CATCH).

Ends January 30, 2019

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