Weekly Update #335, we're still in the 100s here...


Welcome to my Weekly Update where I share what's been going on and what's coming up!

I'm linking up to The Sunday Post, hosted by Kimba @ The Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

It's the middle of September and we're still super hot here. Normally by now we'd be in the 90s to 80s, but this year the heat is hanging on. It has been a little cooler than it was the week before though, which means the kids I was as an aide actually get outside recess. They so need to run around. My job is continuing to cut into my time, so this week I'm starting my new schedule where I get up earlier, go to the gym earlier and hopefully get some work done before I go to work. We'll see how that goes. I'd like some time to keep the house picked up and read at night and that hasn't been happening.


This Week


Other Things of Note

My annual Tackle Your TBR Read-a-thon is coming up in another week. If interested check it out:

Giveaways

Go enter my monthly giveaway (for a book of the winner's choice):

Last Week

Sweet Melody by Heidi McCahan (Tour Grand Finale & #Giveaway) #SweetMelTour

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

Book Tour Grand Finale for
Sweet Melody
By Heidi McCahan

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

Launch - Note from the Author

. . . Sweet Melody is more than just a romance about a songwriter and a bakery owner. It’s also a story about failure, how we cope with unspeakable heartache, and what we do when our dreams don’t come true in the way we’d imagined or expected. Whatever you’re going through right now, I hope this novel inspires you, offers a temporary escape from your current reality, and reminds you of the hope that is found in walking with a God who loves you unconditionally.

Happy reading!
Heidi McCahan

Uplifting Reads - Review

"I was drawn to this book description right off the bat because it combines two of my favorite storylines - a bakery and a musician. . . . Watching the two of them grow together just made me feel happy inside. I may or may not have had misty eyes toward the end of the book. I want to be able to peek in on them later on, and have a feeling we'll be able to, as this is just the first book in the series. And I have a good guess as to who will be the focus in the second book. I'll be watching for it!"

Hallie Reads - Review

"Heidi McCahan’s Sweet Melody easily proves to be as sweet as the title and cover suggest. Focusing on dreams and failures and sweet, sweet romance, it’s a perfect read for contemporary romance fans. I recommend it and look forward to seeing more Seabrook stories, hopefully, in the future."

Pause for Tales - Review

"What a sweet love story this was. . . . This had just the right amount of romantic tension and a story line that kept me glued to the pages. I look forward to more stories by author McCahan."

Colorimetry - Guest Post

Lindsay Carmichael and Rhett Foster are the heroine and hero of Sweet Melody. This manuscript evolved through multiple re-writes, mentoring from Susan May Warren and the incredible editing insights shared by Kristin Avila. Here are a few key details that inspired the development of both Lindsay and Rhett. . .

Remembrancy - Review

'The charming Washington coastal town of Seabrook will have you planning your next vacation while the descriptions of the goodies Lindsay offers at her bakery will have you salivating. The attraction between Rhett and Lindsay is instantaneous and builds from their first meeting and left me anxious for more. . . . Hopefully, readers will get more of Seabrook and this group of friends in future books from McCahan (because I really want to learn more about Cat and Micah!).'

Faithfully Bookish - Interview

Share your inspiration behind Sweet Melody.

H: My family and I visited Seabrook over ten years ago and I was instantly smitten. I think it is a wonderful setting for a novel or possibly a whole series. As the book was launching, we were at Seabrook celebrating my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary, which was a lovely full-circle moment.

B: How sweet! Congratulations to your parents!


"On the one hand, the plot is a familiar one – girl meets boy, attraction and friendship soon grow into something more, but certain facts are held back that could crush any chance for a positive outcome – yet the skill and execution of author Heidi McCahan elevates the story to so much more. It’s a fun, heartwarming, emotionally engaging read with compelling spiritual truths gently woven in. I was hooked from the beginning and enjoyed every minute spent with these characters."

I'm Into Books - Guest Post (with a sweet recipe)

Scones are a popular treat at bakeries and coffee shops. In Sweet Melody, Lindsay serves scones at her bakery, Sugar Buzz, so I thought it would be fun to include a recipe for my favorite scone, the glazed cranberry orange. Sally’s Baking Addiction features a lot of fantastic recipes and I often visit this website when I need a fun dessert or special treat for our family.


"Sweet Melody will have you booking a trip to the cozy coastal town of Seabrook, the real-life town coming alive under the author’s talented scene-setting. Layered and engaging characters become instant friends, and I’m looking forward to the stories still to come from this delightful mix of people. Faith, family, friendship, and chasing dreams combine with a sweet and swoony romance to give readers a compelling and thoroughly enjoyable story from start to finish. If you’re a fan of Hallmark movies or Irene Hannon’s Hope Harbor series, you’ll want to grab a copy of Sweet Melody for yourself!"


The front door opened, and a twenty-something guy came in, wearing a tight-fitting black T-shirt, ripped jeans and black work boots. Huh. Definitely not a local. With his brown hair swooped upward and classic handsome features, he looked like a front man for a band. Or the cover model for a romance novel. His caramel-colored gaze found hers, so intense. A delicious tingle swept across her neck then danced around to her cheeks. She couldn’t look away even if she wanted to.

"Hi.” She squeaked out a greeting.

Quinn’s eyes widened. “Hey.” He moved closer, his gait easy and confident. “Do you know where I might find the owner or manager?”

Lindsay couldn’t stop a frown. Did she not look qualified to be in charge? Granted, she probably seemed younger than twenty-four, in jeans and frilly apron over her yellow T-shirt. Still, he didn’t have to jump to conclusions.

“I’m she. I mean, this is her.” Oh brother. Maybe she was too young. Or he was too good-looking.

Bookworm Lisa - Review & Guest Post (with a sweet recipe)

My parents bought a lodge in Alaska when I was a baby, so I spent a lot of my childhood watching my parents and grandparents prepare food and serve it to our customers. It wasn’t safe for me to be near the oven and grill, but I was allowed to climb up on a stool and hang around my mom while she baked pies and cookies in the evenings after the lodge was closed. I have fond memories of “sneaking” chocolate chips from the Nestle Toll House bag while she prepared the cookie dough. . .

"This book is a "happily-ever-after" but there is a ton of story from the beginning to the end. At times I wondered how in the heck the two would work things out. What I got was a story that had depth and a great storyline. I am definitely glad that I took the opportunity to read this book."


Mr. Perfect could be real trouble.

Not that he wasn’t qualified. He was more than qualified. He made the best vanilla latte she’d had in months, possibly ever. And he was telling the truth about his past—a simple Google search confirmed his story.

But serious amounts of time around that smile, those caramel eyes and the way his voice spilled out so effortlessly, doing crazy things to her insides … yeah, good thing it was a part-time temporary gig. She needed her full attention—


"McCahan has a gentle style to her INSPY Contemporary Romances - she lets you drink in the world she is creating for you first, gives you time to find feet inside the story and grants you this lovely place where despite the fact there are moments of adversity, there is a willingness to seek out the unexpected and the good in order to overcome what is giving the characters the most stress and anxiety to overcome. . . . McCahan has definitely thought hard about how she wanted the Seabrook Romances to look, feel and taste to the reader and it is a delight to curl inside this entrance of the series to see where the foundation will not just begin but will give wings to where future installments could continue forward from here."


In a library or a bookstore – what section do you head to first?

The new releases always grab my attention in a bookstore. Our library always has a clever display featured front and center and I usually stop there first. Basically I can’t walk past an interesting arrangement of books without stopping to explore my options.


"Such a beautiful romance with a beautiful setting. . . . I recommend it for readers who enjoy a sweet, clean and light romance with inspiration and faith."

Wishful Endings - Guest Post

I decided to write a book featuring Seabrook as the setting because my family and I have enjoyed several wonderful vacations in this gorgeous coastal community. When you read Sweet Melody, I hope you’ll get a small taste of this amazing part of Washington State and maybe you’ll take the time to visit Seabrook too. . .


"If you're looking for your next sweet romance... nothing could be sweeter than Sweet Melody, pun fully intended. Oh what a cute romance story this was. . . . Sweet Melody was a quick and fun read... I finished it in less than a day! It had a great flow that kept me intrigued right to the last page."


A lot of romances these days include food, as in a character owns a bakery or the like. What is it about this that makes these romances so appealing to readers?

My editor asked me to answer this question because she wanted me to show readers why Lindsay, the heroine in Sweet Melody, cared so much about her bakery and her motivation for launching a food truck. In my opinion, the kind of food one finds at a bakery, especially during a trip or a vacation, provokes happy thoughts and positive emotions. What’s not to love about a cake pop or a cupcake? Readers want to feel good and reading about yummy food recreates positive experiences and memories that also make the reading experience even more enjoyable.


"I really did love the way the attraction and romance brewed between these main characters (pun intended, as the hero was the barista). . . . I really enjoyed this book and the community that was introduced in it. I look forward to returning to Seabrook and reading future stories set there."

Among the Reads - Review

"Sweet Melody is delightful and filled with romance. . . . Sweet Melody was very enjoyable. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys sweet romantic fiction."


"I found Sweet Melody to be such a heartwarming read. The chemistry between Rhett and Lindsay was so charming and vibrant throughout the entire book. I also enjoyed the overall theme of resilience in the face of deep personal struggle."

Splashes of Joy - Review

"This was my first book by author Heidi McCahan, and I really enjoyed this story. The blend of characters throughout the story developed very well as they told their story. . . . the author pulls everything together so smoothly and gives readers the perfect ending to the story."


"This book is such a cute story. Lindsay was determined to make her business work. The characters were so much fun."


“There’s something about this beach—it will cure what ails you.” She moved past him and started down the stairs. “I joke all the time that the marketing people sneak out at night and inject a secret ingredient into the air. No one believes me, of course.”

“A complex hypothesis like that doesn’t get much support, huh? Shocking.”

She paused and fired a playful look over her shoulder. “Don’t mock me.”

He held up both palms and tried not to laugh. “No mockery here. I’m sure your top-secret injection theory is spot on.”

“You wait and see. Fifteen minutes in, and you’ll forget whatever was bothering you.” She pivoted and trotted down the next flight of stairs.

His smile faded. If only that were true.


"The characters were cleverly and realistically developed., and while there were no major surprises in the story, it was well-executed on every level. If you love old-time romance with food trucks, bakeries, and country music, this is for you!"

Jypsylynn - Review

"This is a feel good clean contemporary romance with quaint small town vibes and aromatic lattes. It's a very good read overall for fans of the genre. I recommend for something light, happy and a little bit spicy!"


"It is purely delightful and so very sweet. The author is a new to me author and I loved her writing style and her characters are likeable which made reading this novel a pleasant weekend read. The coastal setting was perfect, the close friendships are such a nice touch because there is no jealousy between them and they want to help each other no matter what. . . . Grab a copy of this book and a cup off coffee and enjoy this heartwarming novel."

Batya's Bits - Review

"I really really enjoyed reading this book. It was such a comfortable and easy read. . . . The author’s writing style was awesome. Even though it was a romance novel, the book wasn’t swimming with heated scenes. It was very clean to read. I enjoyed it immensely. I hope to read more from this author."

Tell Tale Book Reviews - Guest Post (with a sweet recipe)

Here in the South, pound cakes are a staple at family gatherings, church functions and any occasion that calls for a delightful sweet treat. We love our pound cake around here. There are probably hundreds of recipes and iterations available, but this one caught my eye because the author states her mother has been making this pound cake for more than thirty years. It’s apparently a crowd-pleaser and an award-winner. . .


That text message was burning a hole in his pocket.

Rhett grabbed a white ceramic mug from the stack nestled beside the bakery’s espresso machine and poured in a generous shot of hazelnut syrup. Brandi’s text filtered through his head while he pulled the shot of coffee.

I played our song for Paige Tyson. She loved it! Amazing, right? Her manager wants to know when we can finish it??

Ha! How about never? He added the coffee to the mug, then reached for the frothing pitcher full of milk. Empty.


"A sweet book that will make you drool throughout with a coastal backdrop as the setting. . . . I strongly recommend this book. Maybe you've been through mine and Rhetts situation in your life along the way. Have past hurts that need forgiven. Talk to the Lord my reader friends. He will point you the way. Forgive and love while that person is still there. You won't regret it."

Cover Lover Book Review - Review & Guest Post (with a sweet recipe)

"I had so much fun reading this sweet story! Though Sweet Melody is light and fun, it still carries plenty of substance. . . . This is the first book I’ve read by Heidi McCahan, and I plan to seek out more of her work. Her writing style is easy to read, and her characters are well developed."

A shout out to the brilliant soul who created the cake pop! Cake on a stick? Yes, please. In real life, I listen to a podcast that features a woman who used to make cake pops for a living, but didn’t own a bakery. It was more of a side hustle that made her friends and family happy. That’s how cake pops ended up playing a supporting role in Sweet Melody, because I needed a treat that appealed to a wide variety of customers and symbolized the happiness and contentment Lindsay longs to offer her customers at Sugar Buzz. Like Lindsay says in Sweet Melody, “Who doesn’t love a cake pop?” . . .

Harlie's Books - Excerpt & Review

From the first verse, the mood of the gathering shifted as Rhett’s tone dived deep and took on a mournful, seasoned quality—as though he’d lived every minute of the pain he crooned about.

Lindsay gripped the armrests of her chair, hanging on every note, captivated by the emotional journey of the songwriter. Captivated by Rhett. The chorus and subsequent verse told a powerful story of unrequited love, then came to an abrupt end as Rhett stopped playing.

“That’s all I’ve written so far.” He shifted in his chair. “Sorry.”

They were all staring with rapt attention. Clearly, she wasn’t the only one who wanted more.

"I’m just going to say it. I loved this book from the start. From the setting to the characters, to the plot and especially how I felt after reading it. Peeps this is a sweet contemporary romance with inspirational undertones to it. . . . I found that while reading the book, my heart opened and made me take stock in certain parts of my own life. . . . Do yourself a favor a pick up this gem of a book."

Don't forget to enter the giveaway at the end of this post...

Sweet Melody
(Seabrook Romance #1)
By Heidi McCahan
Christian Contemporary Romance
Paperback & ebook, 242 Pages
August 1st 2019

When a struggling bakery owner is rescued by a wannabe songwriter with hidden culinary talents, they discover they can make sweet harmony … if they can only learn to work together.

Rhett Foster longs to change the world with his music, yet he can’t even finish writing one song. Battered by a string of failures and disillusioned, he returns home to Portland, Oregon. While he desperately wants to create a chart-topping hit, his dad mandates a new mission: move to coastal vacation hotspot Seabrook, Washington and expand the family’s successful restaurant chain.

In danger of destroying her late parents’ legacy if she doesn’t diversify her menu, Lindsay Carmichael will try anything to save her bakery. But with a tiny budget and an injured employee who can’t work, she has no choice but to sink the last of her savings into buying a dilapidated food truck and hiring Rhett as a part-time barista. What she doesn’t know is that the handsome songwriter has a secret … one that could destroy her business and her heart.

(Affiliate links included.)

About the Author


Heidi secretly dreamed of writing a book for most of her childhood, but a particularly painful rejection letter in middle school convinced her to tuck that dream away. Instead, she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Sports Medicine from Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington and a Master’s Degree in Athletic Training from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. After a brief career as a Certified Athletic Trainer, Heidi married her husband Steve, then she dusted off her big dream of becoming a published author and launched her first contemporary romance into the world in 2014. A huge fan of coffee, dark chocolate, and happily ever after, Heidi currently lives in North Carolina with Steve, three active boys and one amazing Goldendoodle.



Bookstagram Tour


This has its own giveaway, so go check it out! Enter at each stop to double your chances.

September 9th:
@suziewaltner
@bringingupbooks
September 10th:
@_ebl_inc_
@bookishdelightz
September 11th:
@girlandherbooks
@inspirationalfictionreader
September 12th:
@openasabookworm
@heidireadsblog
September 13th:
@stackingmybookshelves
@all.the.lovely.pages

Tour Giveaway


One winner will receive a signed paperback with bookmark, $10 Amazon gift card, Sticky Fingers Strawberry Scone mix and a Seabrook Sea, Salt and Surf 100% soy wax candle from Hometown candle company.
US only
Ends September 18, 2019

Grab Our Button!

New Releases/#Free & Bargain Books for September 9th - September 15th #freebook #booksale #booklinkup #booklinky


Here are the New Releases / Free & Bargain Books, hosted by
Sharon over at Beck Valley Books, for this week! Check it all out below...

Authors please feel free to add your own books.
Readers please free to add your own finds.
(any genre except erotica welcome)

This weekly link up is hosted by Beck Valley Books & these awesome book loving blogs...

For Pre-orders post - PRE-ORDER / genre / title /author
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For Free Books post - FREE / genre / title / author / end date 
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(Strictly no Erotica please.  Steamy romance is fine but watch those covers people, incase any underage child is viewing it!)

Here is this weeks awesome selection!


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A little Christmas cheer early this year... All Hearts Come Home for Christmas by Sarah M. Eden, Anita Stansfield, Esther Hatch & Joanna Barker (Review & #Giveaway) @covenantlds


Welcome! I've been waiting to get to this book on my reading list for some time and am 
so happy to finally have gotten to it. Read my review and enter the tour giveaway below...

All Hearts Come Home for Christmas
By Sarah M. Eden, Anita Stansfield, Esther Hatch & Joanna Barker 
Adult Historical Romance, Novella
Paperback, Audiobook & ebook, 304 Pages
September 1st 2019 by Covenant Communications

Summary

Christmas at Falstone Castle by Sarah M. Eden

The Dowager Duchess of Kielder eagerly anticipates spending Christmas with her son and his family. Though their relationship has been strained, the duchess is determined to heal the chasm. Even with the help of the widowed local vicar, her plan will take a Christmas miracle. But during this magical season, anything is possible . . . even two second chances for love.

The Heart of Christmas by Anita Stansfield

When a chance meeting brings together a gentle seamstress and a widowed banker, each lonely soul finds a first hint of hope. As their lives become entwined, it will take Christmas spirit to guide a broken family to love and healing.

'Tis the Season to Be Daring by Esther Hatch

Elizabeth Davenport has had quite enough of the London Season. Determined to evade a parade of unsuitable suitors, she seeks help from the one gentleman who has no regard for Society's rules. All of Society knows Lord Hawthorne is not interested in marriage, yet he cannot deny Miss Davenport's unique charm. And as the Christmas season works its magic, their charade begins to feel less like playacting and more like love.

The Christmas Dress by Joanna Barker

Seamstress Nell Addington is thrilled when her childhood friend Jacob Hammond commissions a dress for his sister. But when Nell realizes her feelings for Jacob run far deeper than friendship, an unexpected snowstorm—and some holiday cheer—may convince them both that love is worth fighting for.

(Affiliate links included.)



My Review

ALL HEARTS COME HOME FOR CHRISTMAS is a lovely novella collection of four historical romance stories set at Christmastime. Each is unique and can be read on their own, but it is a pleasure to read all four, leaving the reader with smiles and a heart full of warmth. Perfect for the Christmas season or any time a reader is seeking a little Christmas cheer.

Christmas at Falstone Castle by Sarah M. Eden

How I adored this story! Of course I'm familiar with all the characters having read Eden's previous books, which made this story so much fuller and endearingly sweet. Every time I read another story with Adam and Persephone it makes me want to go back and read Seeking Persephone again as it's still one of my favorite stories. Eden always does a marvelous job in inviting readers into the hearts of her characters and that is definitely the case here. Highly recommended!

The Heart of Christmas by Anita Stansfield

This story was sweet from beginning to end. It's like sitting and listening to a story being read that will warm your heart. The romance felt more friendly, like a love the blooms from daily friendship than from attraction and chemistry. This author's style is to tell the story more than to experience it with that characters and limited dialogue, but you can't help love her characters and enjoy seeing them find their happily-ever-after.

'Tis the Season to Be Daring by Esther Hatch

Oh my gosh! This story! I could not keep a smile off my face with the antics of these characters, the flirting, and the outright chemistry that jumped off the pages. There were also moments of depth that the author masterfully woven among the humor and romance that touched my heart, pulling emotions and a yearning for love for these two characters. A story not to be missed!

The Christmas Dress by Joanna Barker

This story starts with such a humorous scene and I loved it! It grabbed my attention immediately and created an easy introduction to the two main characters. It was fun seeing the affect they had on each other and especially how Jacob felt his world shift. He was at a loss for how to right it and then realized he didn't want to. It was enjoyable watching him try to catch Nell when he could and the way Alice caught on. I almost felt like snickering myself. I also couldn't help wanting to cheer when Jacob saves the day again a meddling woman in the end. A fabulous read!

In the end, was it what I wished for? I enjoyed each of these stories and definitely recommend grabbing this collection, especially at Christmastime. Each provided lovable characters, plenty of smiles, and the sweetness of a happily-ever-after amidst Christmas cheer.

Content: Clean
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, which did not require a positive review nor affect it in any way.

About the Authors


Sarah M. Eden is a USA Today Bestselling author of witty and charming historical romances, including AML's "2013 Novel of the Year" and Foreword Review’s 2013 “IndieFab Book of the Year” gold medal winner for Best Romance, Longing for Home, as well as 2014 Whitney Award winner for "Best Romance" and "Best Novel of the Year," Longing for Home: Hope Springs. Combining her obsession with history and affinity for tender love stories, Sarah loves crafting witty characters and heartfelt romances set against rich historical backdrops. She holds a Bachelor's degree in research and happily spends hours perusing the reference shelves of her local library. Sarah lives with her husband, kids, and mischievous dog in the shadow of a snow-capped mountain she has never attempted to ski.

Sarah is represented by Pam Howell at D4EO Literary Agency.



Anita Stansfield has been the reigning queen of LDS romantic fiction for nearly two decades, although her general market releases have been among her readers favorites. Her work has shattered the stereotypes of romance novels with her trademark ability to combine great storytelling with intense psychological depth as she focuses on the emotional struggles of the human experience. Her novels cover a huge spectrum, from the eighteenth century to the present, from heart warming to heart stopping. Hundreds of thousands of readers agree: Anita Stansfield's characters and the lives they lead are not easy to forget.

Anita is now also writing under the pseudonym Elizabeth D. Michaels. You can find her work on amazon.com.



Joanna Barker was born and raised in northern California. She discovered her love for historical fiction after visiting England as an eleven-year-old, and subsequently read every Jane Austen book she could get her hands on. After graduating Brigham Young University with a degree in English, she worked as an acquisitions editor before devoting herself full-time to writing. She enjoys music, chocolate, and reading everything from romance to science fiction. She lives in Utah and is just a little crazy about her husband and two wild-but-loveable boys.



Esther Hatch grew up on a cherry orchard in rural Utah. After high school, she alternated living in Russia to teach children English and attending Brigham Young University in order to get a degree in archaeology. She began writing when one of her favorite authors invited her to join a critique group. The only catch was she had to be a writer. Not one to be left out of an opportunity to socialize and try something new; she started on her first novel that week. Visit her at estherhatch.com.


Tour-Wide Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Do you like reading stories set at Christmastime? Will you be reading this one?

A fantasy retelling of a girl in disguise, war and dragons... Stormrise by Jillian Boehme (Review & #Giveaway) @The_FFBC


I love books with dragons and I also generally love books published by Tor... Stormrise
is a combination of both! 😉 Check out my review and the tour giveaway below...

Stormrise
By Jillian Boehme
YA Fantasy
Hardcover & ebook, 230 Pages
September 10th 2019 by Tor Teen

Summary

A combat warrior will risk everything to awaken the dragons and save her kingdom in Jillian Boehme's epic YA Fantasy debut, Stormrise, inspired by Twelfth Night and perfect for fans of Tamora Pierce.

If Rain weren’t a girl, she would be respected as a Neshu combat master. Instead, her gender dooms her to a colorless future. When an army of nomads invades her kingdom, and a draft forces every household to send one man to fight, Rain takes her chance to seize the life she wants.

Knowing she’ll be killed if she’s discovered, Rain purchases powder made from dragon magic that enables her to disguise herself as a boy. Then she hurries to the war camps, where she excels in her training—and wrestles with the voice that has taken shape inside her head. The voice of a dragon she never truly believed existed.

As war looms and Rain is enlisted into an elite, secret unit tasked with rescuing the High King, she begins to realize this dragon tincture may hold the key to her kingdom’s victory. For the dragons that once guarded her land have slumbered for centuries . . . and someone must awaken them to fight once more.

(Affiliate links included.)

My Review

STORMRISE is a story of a girl's fierce love for her family who sacrifices herself to a war that she believes she won't come home from. Readers will find much to love with this motley crew of characters and a plot that is thrilling from beginning to end. 

I loved this story from the start. Rain's family is an important piece of the story as her purpose began with them and with them is where this story begins. It allowed me to easily relate to Rain and see who she is as a character, such as what drives her and what her strengths and weaknesses are. Her character continues to develop as she is vulnerable in trying to keep her disguise intact and excel as a soldier. I love stories with good character development and where friendships and camaraderie are strong points. I liked how Forest is introduced in the story as well and how Rain slowly gets to know him and the others in her group over time. Their relationship grows naturally and they're friends before anything else.

I know in the summary it says this story is supposedly based on Twelfth Night, but to me it felt much more like a Mulan retelling. The similarities are quite strong. Regardless, I liked how this story was reimagined and how the author made it her own, particularly in regards to the dragons. The myths behind them and their magic were interesting. I also liked that the dragons weren't exactly what you might expect. The overall plot had moments of character development, romance, and then some intense training and action. It felt balanced, besides just being quite entertaining.

The beginning of this story all the way through to almost the end I loved. However, towards the end I had a few issues. There was one character that the author let have more reign than I liked and there was a part that was pretty crude, vulgar and descriptive that I felt could have been more vague while still making the point or carrying out the scene. It went from a completely clean book to one I can't let my daughter read. That same character continued to be a thorn in Rain's side and then there was a suggestive scene added as well. I just didn't feel it was needed. The story would have felt more realistic to me without the scene under the situation and the romance could have remained sweet (as well as not trying to take over the story). It also seemed that some of the characters towards the end weren't consistent. Such as a tough, smart leader suddenly letting emotions rule and letting his soldiers get out of hand. It was like the steadiness he had at the beginning disappeared. I got the situation and shock he was under, but it just didn't feel consistent to his character up until that point.

In the end, was it what I wished for? This was definitely a page-turner. I loved most of the story and definitely loved the characters. If you're a YA fantasy or Mulan fan, you'll find much to enjoy about this story.

Content: Lots of b-words, one attempted rape that is fairly descriptive, a non-descriptive love scene, violence.
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher through NetGalley and the Fantastic Flying Book Club, which did not require a positive review nor affect it in any way.

About the Author


JILLIAN BOEHME is known to the online writing community as Authoress, hostess of Miss Snark's First Victim, a blog for aspiring authors. In real life, she holds a degree in Music Education, sings with the Nashville Symphony Chorus, and homeschools her remaining youngster-at-home. She's still crazy in love with her husband of more than thirty years and is happy to be surrounded by family and friends amid the rolling knolls of Middle Tennessee.


Tour Schedule
Tour-Wide Giveaway

Win (1) of (4) finished copies of STORMRISE by Jillian Boehme (US/CAN only)
Ends September 24, 2019

There's also an Instagram giveaway going on over at FFBC's Instagram page here. Go check it out!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Is this one on your TBR? What did you think of my review? Do you have a favorite book with dragons?

A Q&A with the author for this YA retelling... Tiger Queen by Annie Sullivan (Interview, Review & #Giveaway) @BlinkYABooks @The_FFBC



Welcome! I've been excited for this book for some time. Check out an
interview with the author, my review, and the tour giveaway below...

Tiger Queen
By Annie Sullivan
YA Fantasy, Retelling
Hardcover & ebook, 336 Pages
September 10th 2019 by Blink

Summary

From Annie Sullivan, author of A Touch of Gold, comes Tiger Queen, a sweeping YA fantasy adventure that tells the story of a fierce desert princess battling to save her kingdom. Fans of Rebel of the Sands and Meagan Spooner will devour this retelling of Frank Stockton’s famous short story, “The Lady, or the Tiger?”

In the mythical desert kingdom of Achra, an ancient law forces sixteen-year-old Princess Kateri to fight in the arena to prove her right to rule. For Kateri, winning also means fulfilling a promise to her late mother that she would protect her people, who are struggling through windstorms and drought. The situation is worsened by the gang of Desert Boys that frequently raids the city wells, forcing the king to ration what little water is left. The punishment for stealing water is a choice between two doors: behind one lies freedom, and behind the other is a tiger.

But when Kateri’s final opponent is announced, she knows she cannot win. In desperation, she turns to the desert and the one person she never thought she’d side with. What Kateri discovers twists her world—and her heart—upside down. Her future is now behind two doors—only she’s not sure which holds the key to keeping her kingdom and which releases the tiger.

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Q&A with the Author

Tressa: Would you tell us a little more about the main characters from TIGER QUEEN?

Annie: Princess Kateri was practically born with a sword in her hand, and she is ready to enter the arena to win her right to rule—which she has to do because of an old law. She’s talented yet stubborn. She doesn’t think she needs anyone’s help…until her last opponent in the arena is announced as the one man she’s never been able to beat in a fight. Then, she has to scramble to figure out how she’s going to win her throne!

Tressa: How did Princess Kateri's mother pass away and how old was the princess when it happened?

Annie: The Queen was killed by a gang of thieves known as the Desert Boys, who race through the city stealing water. Princess Kateri was six years old when it happened, and it’s part of the reason she took up a sword and learned to fight because she wanted to protect her people.

Tressa: What one piece of advice would Kateri give about surviving in Achra?

Annie: Don’t go out in the desert. The desert is just there to kill you. You have to survive within the kingdom’s walls, which isn’t easy either—especially because water is running out.

Tressa: What does she believe about fighting in the arena and what inspired that aspect of the story?

Annie: Kateri is honored to fight in the arena. She loves putting her skills on display because she wants to be the best; she wants to show that her family is the strongest. She might think woman don’t need that old law, but she’ll abide by it because she doesn’t see herself losing.

The old law was inspired by a character named Tamlin who ran across the desert to bring news of an approaching army. He’d saved his people and they wanted a way for him to rule, so they devised a way for different people to fight in the arena to earn the crown because of him.

Tressa: What part of this story do you love the most?

Annie: I love the ending the most. This story is based off a short story with a cliffhanger ending. So the fact that I was finally able to give this story the ending it always should have had (in my opinion), is the best thing about this whole story!

Tressa: What challenged you about writing TIGER QUEEN?

Annie: In A Touch of Gold, it was all about Princess Kora finding her strength. But in Tiger Queen, it’s more about Princess Kateri finding her softer side and letting people in while learning she can still be strong. Working with these two completely different characters was a challenge at first, but I really enjoyed it.

Tressa: Do you have any specific snacks you eat or music you listen to when you write?

Annie: I love listening to music when I write. I’ll often put a song on repeat and listen to it for hours on end so I’m not tempted to take a dance break every time a new song comes on!

Tressa: What are you working on next?

Annie: Next, I have the sequel to A Touch of Gold—called A CURSE OF GOLD—coming out in 2020. It’s going to be filled with even more adventure, Greek mythology, and heart-pounding action!!!

My Review

TIGER QUEEN is a fantasy set in ancient history in a land of sand where a princess finds that her world is not as it seems. Highly recommended to ya fantasy fans!

It took me a bit to like Kateri, the protagonist of the story. She comes across as naive and easily gullible, as well as arrogant. However, her character changes as she faces lies, challenges, and finds friends in unlikely places. The villains play their roles quite well and there I really despised them. The romance is sweet and I appreciated that it didn't take over the story. I liked the training and the group of boys that reminded me of Peter Pan and the lost boys. Cion and the boys were probably my favorite part of the story. The action scenes were engrossing and well written. The ending was climatic ending on a sweet note.

There were a few things I felt could have used more development. A few of the characters were one dimensional and I would have liked them to be better fleshed out. Otherwise, I had no complaints about this story.

In the end, was it what I wished for? I enjoyed this one from beginning to end. Definitely worth the read if you're a fantasy fan!

Content: Violence and abuse.
Source: I received a complimentary ARC from the publisher, which did not require a positive review nor affect it in any way.

About the Author


Annie Sullivan is a Young Adult author from Indianapolis, Indiana. Her work has been featured in Curly Red Stories and Punchnels. She loves fairytales, everything Jane Austen, and traveling and exploring new cultures. When she’s not off on her own adventures, she’s teaching classes at the Indiana Writers Center and working as the Copy Specialist at John Wiley and Sons, Inc. publishing company, having also worked there in Editorial and Publicity roles. You can follow her adventures on Twitter and Instagram (@annsulliva).


Tour Schedule
Tour-Wide Giveaway

Tiger Queen poster and signed bookplate (USA only)

Ends 9/13/19

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What did you think of the interview? Have you read this one or will you be?

An interview with the author... Tidbits and Pearls by Ladonna Shanks (Interview & #Giveaway) @Celebrate_Lit


Check out the interview and giveaway below...

Tidbits and Pearls
By Ladonna Shanks
Christian Nonfiction
Paperback & ebook, 186 Pages
April 15th 2019 by WestBow Press

Summary

How often do you truly see that life is full of everyday blessings from God? Our Creator is present in our lives—even when we don’t realize it—and it is part of His plan that we have friendship and relationship with Him. So how does one live life with God, the omnipotent, omniscient Creator of all?

In Tidbits and Pearls, Ladonna Shanks shares incidents from her life, recounting them in a way that touches the heart and enriches the lives of those who read these personal stories. Her insights and lessons learned offer profound yet simple wisdom, gleaned from her seventy-plus years of life experience. Many of her essays focus on her family—her children and “grandgirls”—as well as her personal gardening business. Her faith shines through the narrative as a shining light for others to follow.

Humankind was created to have a relationship with their Creator, and everyday life presents the opportunities for that to occur. Tidbits and Pearls is one woman’s record of how God manifests himself in daily life, with the challenge to look beyond the physical and seek the spiritual aspect of life. So take the first step in this journey and be honest with yourself and with God, for you are His instrument, and without Him you can do nothing.

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Author Interview

Would you tell us what inspired you to write Tidbits and Pearls?

Tidbits and Pearls was the result of a blog I began writing over five years ago. It just seemed like a good idea to compile several of the posts under one cover.

What one piece of advice would you give?

The book is a memoir of sorts and therefore comes from a very personal place. The one piece of advice I would give (as its main character) is to look beyond the physical to the spiritual—to seek God.

What is your favorite thing about the book’s cover?

The book’s cover was a water color painted by my daughter’s mother-in-law. I gave her the rough manuscript. She read it and came back with the illustration. It is perfect and moved me to tears—The one pearl is the “pearl without price;” the five small pearls represent my five grandgirls.

What part or aspect of this story do you love the most?

I would have to say the one aspect I love most about this story (in addition to its message of God’s desire for friendship) is the humor woven through. While in a state of depression for many years, humor was non-existent in my life and to see it throughout is special.

What are you working on next?

I am working on “Seconds, Please,” more blog posts compiled under another cover.

About the Author

Ladonna Shanks was born and raised in Oregon. She graduated from Lebanon High School in 1962, married, and became mother to a son and three daughters. After more than thirty years as a stay-at-home mom, she began working in a garden nursery. That led to establishing her own gardening business. Now in her mid-seventies, she continues to operate the business as it enters its seventeenth season.

More from Ladonna

When people ask me how long it took to write Tidbits and Pearls, I usually tell them, “It took a lifetime.” As a senior citizen, I had to live it before I could write of it–of life and the living of it; of God’s desire for friendship; of His presence in everyday life; of the opportunities given to learn, to grow, and to experience Him.

Tidbits and Pearls began as a blog several years ago, based on my personal experiences as God walks with me and teaches me. My desire is to share Him–with those who believe and those who don’t; to those in a church and those who aren’t; to many, to but one. In this compilation of posts, my goal is to challenge the reader to think beyond the physical into the spiritual, to consider the brevity of this life when compared to the eternal, to think of things in a way perhaps never thought of before, to look Godward.

My walk with God began as a very little girl with no concept of the reality of Him and His love. As a seventy-something woman, He is a part of my daily life, my anchor, the foundation of my being. He is my reason for living.

I am honored to deliver His message—God is love; He created humankind for friendship and relationship; there is a point and purpose to all things.

Tour Schedule

Through the Fire Blogs, September 7 (Author Interview)
SusanK. Beatty, Author, September 9 (Author Interview)
Wishful Endings, September 11 (Author Interview)
janicesbookreviews, September 12
A Reader’s Brain, September 13
A Baker’s Perspective , September 14(Author Interview)
Inklings and notions , September 15
Texas Book-aholic, September 16
Just the Write Escape, September 17

Tour-Wide Giveaway


To celebrate her tour, Ladonna is giving away a grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.