Read an excerpt from this new historical fiction... Paris in Ruins by M.K. Tod (Excerpt & #Giveaway) #ParisinRuins #MKTod #HFVBTBlogTours #histfic #historicafiction @MKTodAuthor @hfvbt



Welcome to my tour stop! Read and excerpt and enter the giveaway below...

Paris in Ruins
By M.K. Tod
Adult Historical Fiction
Paperback & ebook, 370 Pages
March 30, 2021 by Heath Street Publishing

Summary

Paris 1870. Raised for a life of parties and servants, Camille and Mariele have much in common, but it takes the horrors of war to bring them together to fight for the city and people they love.

A few weeks after the abdication of Napoleon III, the Prussian army lays siege to Paris. Camille Noisette, the daughter of a wealthy family, volunteers to nurse wounded soldiers and agrees to spy on a group of radicals plotting to overthrow the French government. Her future sister-in-law, Mariele de Crécy, is appalled by the gaps between rich and poor. She volunteers to look after destitute children whose families can barely afford to eat.

Somehow, Camille and Mariele must find the courage and strength to endure months of devastating siege, bloody civil war, and great personal risk. Through it all, an unexpected friendship grows between the two women, as they face the destruction of Paris and discover that in war women have as much to fight for as men.

War has a way of teaching lessons—if only Camille and Mariele can survive long enough to learn them.

Praise for the Book

"The story of two women whose families were caught up in the defense of Paris is deeply moving and suspenseful." -Margaret George, author of Splendor Before the Dark: A Novel of the Emperor Nero

"Tod is not only a good historian, but also an accomplished writer … a gripping, well-limned picture of a time and a place that provide universal lessons." -Kirkus Reviews.

"M.K. Tod's elegant style and uncanny eye for time and place again shine through in her riveting new tale, Paris in Ruins." -Jeffrey K. Walker author of No Hero’s Welcome

(Affiliate links included.)

Excerpt

A minute later, a dark-haired beauty dressed in black emerged from a doorway, and although Camille could not see her face clearly, she knew from the mass of curls and statuesque posture that she was about to meet Sarah Bernhardt.

“Yes?” Bernhardt said. “If you are an actress, the theater is closed because of the war. I cannot help you. Life is difficult for anyone in the theater. You will have to make do, just as I am, as there are more important matters at hand.” She arched her dark eyebrows and tilted her head as if expecting Camille to leave.

“My name is Camille Noisette, Madame, and I’m not an actress. However, I’ve heard you may soon open the Odéon as a hospital for our wounded, and I would like to help.”

Bernhardt frowned and moved closer to Camille. “Where did you hear such a rumor?” The tone was dismissive, but the voice was pure as crystal.

“It’s not true?” Camille asked.

“I didn’t say that. I merely asked where you heard the rumor.”

“I . . .” Was truth the right strategy? Would Sarah Bernhardt be offended if told of the gossip at Madame Lambert’s salon? The actress’s reputation held her to be impetuous and demanding, a woman of powerful connections and great willpower who was capable of daring risks to have her way. There was no point in lying. “I heard it at an evening salon. One of the gentlemen in attendance speculated that the Comte de Kératry would willingly help you.”

Bernhardt laughed—a deep, throaty sound accompanied by a toss of her head. “Yes. That’s exactly what people would say about me. And they’re right. I am planning to open a hospital here, and I saw the comte yesterday. He is being most generous.” The last sentence was accompanied by a sultry look.

“Well, I would like to help,” Camille said. “I believe you will need volunteers, and although I’m not trained to nurse, I’m sure I can be useful.”

Sarah Bernhardt tapped an index finger against her lips while surveying Camille from head to toe. “You don’t look useful. You look like a young society woman accustomed to having others wait on her. Why would I need someone like that? You’d only get in the way. And I’m having enough difficulty as it is. Both the French Society for Aid to Wounded Soldiers and the French Army medical corps are in hopeless disarray.”

It hadn’t occurred to Camille that her station in life would be a reason for refusal, and for a moment she searched for an adequate reply. “I can . . . I can read to wounded soldiers,” she said. “Or write letters. I can fetch supplies, fold linens, and spoon soup into the mouth of someone too weak to feed himself. I’m not afraid of hard work.”

“Hmm. You’re right. Those tasks might be useful. Do you know anyone who could provide supplies?”

“Such as?”

“Food, medicines, fuel, coffee, clothing, blankets. The hospital will need all sorts of things if we are to treat the wounded and help them heal. The Comte de Kératry told me definitively that they are expecting thousands of casualties, possibly tens of thousands. Many will die before they can be treated, but others we will save. They will all need to eat and drink and be kept warm.”

“Tens of thousands, Madame? But how can that be? Paris is completely fortified.”

Sarah crossed her arms. “Yes, but we can’t defeat our enemy by hiding within the city walls. Our military will have to act. Casualties are inevitable. Even if we have some successes, the Prussian army has artillery that can reach greater distances than ours. Once they are ready, they will bombard our forts and, unless we surrender, the walls of the city will also be attacked.”

“Surely, our army will retaliate.”

“The comte says that General Trochu is a strategist, not a man of action. So, you see, Mademoiselle, we will need many supplies.”

Camille thought of her father. He seemed to have connections in almost every line of business. “I might be able to secure some supplies.”

“Excellent. I have meetings planned with several of my friends who have remained in Paris, but I could see you again on Wednesday, late afternoon—perhaps five o’clock—and if everything is satisfactory, we can make an agreement.”

“Thank you, Madame. Five o’clock on Wednesday.”

Au revoir, Mademoiselle Noisette. Your visit has been most interesting.”

About the Author


Paris In Ruins is M.K. Tod’s fourth novel. Mary began writing in 2005 while living as an expat in Hong Kong. What started as an interest in her grandparents’ lives turned into a full-time occupation writing historical fiction. Her other novels are Time and Regret, Lies Told in Silence, and Unravelled. Beyond writing novels, Mary’s award-winning blog, www.awriterofhistory.com features the reading and writing of historical fiction. When she’s not writing, or thinking about writing, you can find her hiking, golfing, traveling, or hanging out with friends and family. Mary is married and has two adult children and two delightful grandchildren.

For more information visit M.K. Tod's website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads.

Tour Schedule

Tuesday, March 30

Guest Post at Novels Alive

Wednesday, March 31
Review at Passages to the Past

Thursday, April 1
Review at Gwendalyn's Books

Friday, April 2
Excerpt at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Sunday, April 4
Review at Carole's Ramblings

Monday, April 5
Review at Madwoman in the Attic

Tuesday, April 6
Excerpt at Reading is My Remedy

Wednesday, April 7
Review at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals

Thursday, April 8
Feature at Mia Reads

Friday, April 9
Review at Bibliostatic

Saturday, April 10
Review at Girl Who Reads

Monday, April 12
Review at Reader_ceygo

Tuesday, April 13
Interview at Reader_ceygo

Wednesday, April 14
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Excerpt at Wishful Endings

Thursday, April 15
Review at Unabridged Chick
Review at Books, Writings, and More

Friday, April 16
Interview at Unabridged Chick

Monday, April 19
Excerpt at Bookworlder

Tuesday, April 20
Review at A Darn Good Read
Review at The Enchanted Shelf
Review at Library of Clean Reads
Review at With a Book in Our Hands

Tour-Wide Giveaway

We have one paperback copy of Paris in Ruins up for grabs!

The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on April 20th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Paris in Ruins

What did you think of the excerpt? Will you be reading this one?

I Can't Wait for... Pack Up the Moon by Kristan Higgins (Can't-Wait Wednesday/Waiting on Wednesday) #CWW #WOW #romancebooks #womensfiction @BerkleyRomance


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.

Tag me on your CWW posts on Twitter (@wishfulendings) and I'll like and retweet!

So I honestly don't love this cover. It's just okay. However, I tend to love this author's books. They're not clean and one of the few general market romance/women's fiction authors I read, so I'm looking forward to this newest from her. It's my pick this week...

Pack Up the Moon
By Kristan Higgins
Adult Contemporary Romance, Women's Fiction
Hardcover, Paperback, Audbiobook & ebook, 464 Pages
June 8, 2021 by Berkley

Summary

Every month, a letter. That's what Lauren decides to leave her husband when she finds out she's dying. Each month, she gives Josh a letter containing a task to help him face this first year without her, leading him on a heartrending, beautiful, often humorous journey to find happiness again in this new novel from the New York Times bestselling author Kristan Higgins.

Joshua and Lauren are the perfect couple. Newly married, they're wildly in love, each on a successful and rewarding career path. Then Lauren is diagnosed with a terminal illness.

As Lauren's disease progresses, Joshua struggles to make the most of the time he has left with his wife and to come to terms with his future--a future without the only woman he's ever loved. He's so consumed with finding a way to avoid the inevitable ending that he never imagines his life after Lauren.

But Lauren has a plan to keep her husband moving forward. A plan hidden in the letters she leaves him. In those letters, one for every month in the year after her death, Lauren leads Joshua on a journey through pain, anger, and denial. It's a journey that will take Joshua from his attempt at a dinner party for family and friends to getting rid of their bed...from a visit with a psychic medium to a kiss with a woman who isn't Lauren. As his grief makes room for laughter and new relationships, Joshua learns Lauren's most valuable lesson: The path to happiness doesn't follow a straight line.

Sometimes heartbreaking, often funny, and always uplifting, this novel from New York Times bestselling author Kristan Higgins illuminates how life's greatest joys are often hiding in plain sight.

(Affiliate links included.)


Will you be reading this one?

Read an excerpt from this new YA fantasy... Max and the Spice Thieves by John Peragine (Excerpt & #Giveaway) #yalit #yafantasy @xpressotours


Welcome to my tour stop! Read an excerpt and enter the giveaway below...

Max and the Spice Thieves
(Secrets of the Twilight Djinn #1)
By John Peragine
YA Fantasy
Hardcover, Paperback & ebook, 271 Pages
April 20, 2021 by Crumblebee Books

Summary

When his mother goes missing, Max Daybreaker’s world is turned upside down. Luckily, a crew of Spice Pirates, led by the mysterious Captain Cinn, help Max on his dangerous mission across the three seas.

Along the way, an unlikely alliance aids in his search—a teenage warrior queen, a three-eyed seer, and an assassin spy.

Their journey takes them through treacherous lands while facing shapeshifting bears, an ancient witch, harpies, and the nightmarish Djinn, who will stop at nothing to enslave the world.

With every new challenge, Max unlocks the secrets of his unsettling past. Powers awaken within, forcing him to question everything he knows.

Is Max who he thinks he is? Only time and destiny will tell…

(Affiliate links included.)

Excerpt

Tully’s neighing shocked me from slumber. My book was lying open beside me to the page I was reading.

“Come on, ye old nag,” said a voice near the front of the wagon. “Ye be a good girl and come with me.”

The wagon lurched, and I banged my head on the back of the bench. Even though my mom had told me not to talk to strangers, she’d also told me to protect the wagon.

“Let me just release this buckle, and then ye can come home with me.”

I stood up from my bed with my fists on my hips. “You get away from Tully! She’s my horse. You better back off.”

I picked up a leather crop from the bench since it was the only weapon handy. I waved it at the two men standing before the wagon, but they stared at me, unimpressed. I was tall for a twelve-year-old, and my arms and legs looked like sticks. I was strong but not muscular.

The two men were filthy and wore tattered clothing. The taller of the two held Tully’s reins, and the smaller, portly man was unhooking Tully from the wagon.

“Look at what we have here,” said the taller man. “It’s a young cub.”

Both men laughed, showing their rotten, black teeth.

“You get away from her right now. My mom and . . . and . . . dad will be back any minute. You better leave before they get back, or you’ll get a whipping!” Standing tall with my arms crossed, I glared down at the men.

“Is that so?” said the portly man as he loosened the buckle on Tully’s yoke. “I very much doubt we will be troubled, cub. Your mum’s not comin’ back.”

Tully bucked in an attempt to get away from the men, and the movement made me plop down hard on the bench.

“What do you mean, my mom’s not coming back? How do you know my mom?” I asked, scrambling to stand.

The portly man grinned with his broken, black teeth. Something was wrong—very wrong. Seagulls cawed high above in the blue sky, signaling morning was well underway. Had I been reading for that long? My heart pounded hard in my chest. Where was Mom? She should have been back already.

Tully was loose from her yoke, and the tall man pulled her reins hard. Tully tried to rear back, but she was too old and weak to make much of a fuss.

“Ah, ye old nag,” the tall man said. “Ye won’t be worth much at market, but maybe a butcher will take ye and sell ye fer dog food.” Both men cackled.

“Listen,” the portly man said, “be a good lad and hand us yer bags from the wagon there. Yer coming with us. We may make some coin, after all.”

“I’m not some dull boy—you can’t boss me around. You need to hook Tully back up this instant . . . or . . . or . . .”

“Or what?” mocked the portly man. “Listen here, ye whelp, ye don’t understand what I’m sayin’. Either ye come down here with yer bags, or I’ll come up there, and then we’ll see how well ye swim.”

The tall man led Tully away in the same direction mom had gone hours before. The portly man grunted as he pulled himself onto the bench and reached for me. But I was a wild animal on fire. I rushed the short, round man while swinging with my crop, catching him by surprise. He toppled but then regained his balance. He grabbed the crop with one hand, tugging hard, then he drew back his other hand to hit me. But there was a loud crack, and he slumped over the bench.

Standing behind the unconscious thief was a man dressed all in black. His beard had a braid in the center held by a gold ring pushed up to his chin, and he wore a gold-and-red sash as a belt tied around his long coat, which was trimmed with silver buttons. On his head was a tri-corner hat with a single white plume. He clutched the handle of a busted oar.

About the Author


John Peragine is an author of over fourteen books. The Secrets of the Twilight Djinn series was written as a bedtime story for his son Max to cope with medical issues he was facing as a little boy. John is a full-time ghostwriter who lives with his son, wife, and a menagerie of animals on his vineyard overlooking the Mississippi River.


Tour Schedule

Follow the tour here.

Tour-Wide Giveaway

$30 gift card to Bookshop.org


What did you think of the excerpt?

Read an excerpt... Real, Not Perfect by Stephanie Coleman #yalit #christfic #christianfiction @tyndalehouse @crazy4fiction


I read and loved The Lost Girl of Astor Street by the same author, so this is on my
list. You might recognize the other authors for the other books. Read an excerpt below...

Real, Not Perfect
(Riverbend Friend #1)
By Stephanie Coleman
Christian YA Contemporary
Paperback & ebook, 240 Pages
April 6, 2021 by Focus on the Family Publishing

Summary

Real, Not Perfect is the first book in a series that travels alongside four friends as they deal with teen life in Riverbend, Indiana. The novel inspires girls and young women to deepen their relationships with God and solve their problems in God-honoring ways.

Tessa has lived a trouble-free life as the only child of two loving parents—she is well-liked, gets straight As, is on the competitive swim team, and is active in her church youth group. It’s a pretty perfect life! That is, until she comes home from swim practice one day to find that her parents are divorcing. Along with that, her BFF has moved to Florida, and Tessa gets stuck in Intro to Drama—possibly the worst class ever!

Soon Tessa’s mom sinks into despair and Tessa struggles with her anger and hurt. Meanwhile, her BFF posts fabulous pictures of her new life on Instagram. Tessa thinks that everyone’s posts show lives that are way better than the one she has. Why does it seem like everyone else’s life is more perfect than hers? Find out how Tessa’s new friends from Intro to Drama and Alex, her true-blue friend, help her discover that real is better than perfect.

(Affiliate links included.)

Excerpt


Chapter
1

I tried not to hear my name being called, tried to just nudge my way through the humid pool room and out to freedom, but the call came again.

“Where’s Tessa? Does anyone know where Tessa is?”

I had to get home, or I’d be late for the party. I couldn’t be late for a party I was throwing. But if I didn’t turn around—didn’t do the right thing—I would spend the rest of the night with guilt simmering in my gut. Had my best friend, Mackenzie, been here to witness my moral crisis, she would’ve rolled her eyes and called me Good Girl Tessa.

I gave the double exit doors of the aquatic center one last long- ing look and then turned. “I’m here.” I waved half-heartedly.

I hadn’t recognized the voice, and I expected to see one of the senior boys or maybe a dad. I had not expected the new boy, Abraham.

His dark eyes locked with mine. “You’re Tessa?”


My stomach squirmed. “Yep.” “Coach wants you.”

Internally, I winced. I’d been here for several hours already. First with my own heats, and then helping wrangle the middle-school swimmers. I needed to get home, rush through my shower, and complete the last-minute tasks for Mackenzie’s going-away party.

Externally, I put on a smile. “Okay, thanks.”

I started back toward the blocks, where I could hear Coach Shauna yelling warm-up instructions to the young swimmers who were about to start their heats.

“I guess there’s girl drama,” Abraham half yelled as I shoul- dered my way through the crowd of exiting and entering families. I hadn’t expected him to follow me. “And Coach Shauna was like ‘Where’s Tessa? We need Tessa.’ I tried telling her that I’m qualified for girl drama, but she didn’t buy it.”

I laughed. “Should she have bought it?” “I’m not unqualified. I have sisters.”

I squeezed around a group of chattering pool moms and caught a glimpse of why I’d been summoned. Coach Shauna stood with Kayleigh, who at least had her swim cap on—a victory on its own—but was crying with her ropey eight-year-old arms crossed over her chest.

Good thing I hadn’t just walked out the door.

I turned to Abraham and nearly bumped into him. For weeks, the other girls on swim team had been giggling about how cute Abraham Mitra was. He had dusky skin, long, curly eyelashes, and beautiful swim form. He was too flirtatious for my taste, but up close like this his charisma was hard to ignore.

There was no time for being flustered, however. Not when Kayleigh needed me. “My mom has probably been waiting in the parking lot for me for fifteen minutes. I’m gonna go tell her that I can’t leave yet. Can you tell Coach and Kayleigh I’ll be back in one minute?”

“No problem.”

I elbowed through the thickening crowd. These all-ages prac- tice meets were always chaos. For seasoned swimmers like me, this was a chance to practice before the upcoming season and to collect a few community service hours by helping with the younger swimmers. But for parents of new swimmers, even these practice meets appeared to be a cause for premature gray hair and bitten-off nails.

I pushed open the doors and breathed deeply. Even though it was August, the outdoor air felt comparatively cool, and the smell of not-chlorine was welcome.

“Hey, I was just about to come looking for you.”

I startled at the sound of Alex’s voice. “What are you doing here?”

He stood from a metal bench, surprising me all over again by how tall he’d gotten in the last year. For most of our friendship, I’d had the height advantage. “Your mom asked me to pick you up. Didn’t she text you?”

That was weird. Mom had never asked Alex to pick me up before.

“Possibly, but I have no signal in there.” I swung my swim bag around to dig through it for my phone. “Did she say why?”

“She’s busy with party food, I guess.” “What about my dad?”

Alex replied with a shrug. “She didn’t say.”

“Sorry to interrogate you.” I pulled out my phone and skimmed Mom’s text. “Just says you’d be coming to pick me up. Huh.”

Alex twirled his key fob around his finger. “She didn’t make it sound like it was a big deal or anything was wrong.”

I started to type a response to Mom, realized it didn’t matter right now, and zipped my phone into its waterproof pocket. “Sorry to do this to you, especially when you’ve been sitting out here for who knows how long, but I can’t go yet. You know Kayleigh from church whose Mom died a few months ago? I don’t have time to explain it all now, but she needs me.”

“Oh.” Alex stopped twirling his fob. “Okay, no problem. I’ll just hang out here.”

“Alex, you really don’t need to. I can walk home. It’s not that far.”

Alex frowned. “It’s a couple of miles. And doesn’t the party start at seven?”

“It does, but I take that shortcut trail through the forest—”

He shook his head, and his sandy hair flopped. “I don’t want you going that way by yourself.”

I rolled my eyes, even as I felt my cheeks heating, touched by his thoughtfulness. “It’s well lit the whole way and full of moms and strollers. I’m fine. That’s what I usually do, but it was supposed to rain, so Mom said she’d pick me up.” I remembered Kayleigh’s tear-streaked face and made myself stop explaining. “I have to get back in there. You can come in if you want, or you can go. I promise I can get home fine.”

Alex reached past me, grabbed the door handle, and held it open. “I’ll come in.”

I tried to say, “Okay,” in a casual and unaffected voice. Mackenzie would have something to say about this situation,

too. Since middle school, she’d been after me to “make it official” with Alex before other girls snapped him up. I hadn’t disagreed . . . but I also hadn’t known how I should go about “making it official” with a boy I used to invite to My Little Pony birthday parties. And then freshman year, when he met Leilani, my “snap him up” opportunity had expired.

I turned to Alex and found him wide-eyed, surveying the mess of parents, kids, and swim bags. “I know, it’s Crazy Town. You can wait here. I’m gonna be over by the blocks, but I’ll be done as soon as possible.”

He pointed at my bag. “Want me to take that?”

“Uh, sure.” With a quick smile, I swung it off my shoulder and handed it to him. “Thanks.”

I rushed away, wondering if he was watching me, and trying to remember if I had brushed my hair after my heats. I was pretty sure I hadn’t.

The pool deck wasn’t quite as crowded now that most parents had either cleared out or found seats, and that made it easier to get back to Kayleigh. Coach Shauna was by the pool, organizing the kids into lanes for warm-ups. Kayleigh was turned to the wall now, and Abraham stood near her looking perplexed. When he spotted me approaching, his relief was clear.

I rested a hand on Kayleigh’s trembling shoulder. “Hi, Kayleigh.”

She sniffed but stayed facing the wall. “Hi.” The word barely registered in the muggy room.

“I like your swim cap. It’s new, right?” “The old one pulled at my hair.”

“I used to have one like that. The boys have it easy, huh?” Beside me, Abraham snorted. “Not that easy.”

Kayleigh glanced up at him but kept her arms wrapped around herself, then looked back at the wall. The room echoed with coaches yelling instructions, swimmers splashing into the water, and parents chatting in the stands. The noise was so familiar I hardly noticed it, but I wondered what Alex thought.

“Is your dad here?” “Yeah.”

Abraham murmured close to my ear, “He was already down here trying to convince her to get in the pool.”

I nodded and asked, “Kayleigh, what stroke did Coach Shauna ask you to swim today?”

She wiped her nose with the back of her hand. “She said I could pick.”

I figured. Early in the summer, right after Kayleigh’s mom died, she would come to practice but refuse to get in the water. Her mom had always been the one to bring her, and even though Kayleigh didn’t articulate it, our guess was that swimming without her mom in the bleachers just felt too painful. I knew Kayleigh’s family a little bit from going to church together, and I had sat on the edge of the pool with her a number of times, hoping to get her back in the water—until her dad gave up and stopped bringing her.

Since this was Kayleigh’s first time at the pool since June, I doubted Coach Shauna would be picky about what or how she swam. At this point, Coach would probably be fine no matter how I got her in the water and down the lane.

Then, my crazy thought bloomed into an actual idea. Would Coach Shauna go for it? Would Kayleigh be willing to try?

I turned to Abraham and whispered, “Do you want to stay here with Kayleigh, or do you want to ask Coach Shauna if I can swim warm-ups with her? We’ll need a lane to ourselves.”

Abraham glanced at Kayleigh’s unyielding profile and headed for Coach Shauna. I watched him ask her, and then Coach gave me a thumbs-up and started moving swimmers out of the nearest lane.

I knelt beside Kayleigh. “What if I swam for you?”

She turned her face partly to me. Her blue eyes were bloodshot from crying. “What do you mean?”

“I mean, what if I did the swimming, and all you had to do was hold on to me?”

Kayleigh glanced at the pool, where the others on her team were butterflying up or down the lane. “How does that work?”

“Like a piggyback ride. Only since we’ll be in the water, it will be more like a mermaid ride.”

A smile flickered on her face. “But that’s not allowed.” I pointed to the newly emptied lane. “Today it is.”

I stripped down to my damp suit and offered my hand to Kayleigh. When she took it, I led her to the edge of the pool.

“I’m going to get in.” I crouched close to make sure she heard. “And then you can get on my back.”

I knew it was impossible to feel someone looking at you, but it seemed as though the whole room watched to see if today was the day Kayleigh would swim. I tried to push away the thought of Alex watching but found myself glancing at him anyway.

I bobbed a couple of times in the water, letting my body adjust to the cold, and then turned to Kayleigh. She looked down at me, her arms and legs both crossed.

“You don’t have to swim,” I told her. “All you have to do is hold on to me. I’ll swim for you.”

For a moment, I feared she would start crying all over again. But then she slowly lowered herself to the pool’s edge, clasping her knees to her chest.

I held in my excitement, afraid it would freak her out. “There you go. Now let’s just get your feet in the water.”

After a few minutes of coaxing, I had her whole body in the water. Coach Shauna looked like she wanted to do cartwheels on the pool deck.

“Ready to go for a mermaid ride?” I asked.

Kayleigh hesitated, but then nodded. I took her arms, draped them around my shoulders, and then pushed off. We inched down the lane and had only reached the flags when I felt Kayleigh start kicking too.

“Mermaid rides are kinda slow,” she said in my ear. Her voice sounded lighter, almost as if she was teasing me.

“Well, kick harder, then.”

She did. In the lane beside us, kids her age blew by, swimming freestyle. I felt Kayleigh’s head turn to look at them, her body slip- ping off mine just a bit.

“Carter always beats me at freestyle,” she said as she watched him. In her voice, I could hear that bite of competitiveness that I always felt when in the water. “But not at breaststroke. He still can’t get his feet right.”

“You’re fast at breaststroke,” I said, even though I wasn’t sure. “I bet if we raced to the wall, you could beat me.”

Kayleigh hesitated a moment, and then slipped completely from my back. When she took off, delight surged in my heart. I trailed after her, doing breaststroke at half speed with chlorine burning my eyes and a huge smile on my face.

Kayleigh touched the wall, and every coach stopped what they were doing to cheer for her. A few of the parents joined in, and Kayleigh’s dad was easy to spot now. He was the one standing, wiping his eyes, and applauding with the same gusto as parents of Olympic swimmers who just medaled.

Excerpted from Real, Not Perfect by Stephanie Coleman, Copyright © 2021 by Stephanie Coleman. Published by Tyndale House Publishers/Focus on the Family Publishing.

Other Books in the Series

(Linked to Amazon affiliate links.)

About the Author

Stephanie Coleman is the author of several contemporary young adult series, as well as The Lost Girl of Astor Street and Within These Lines. Since 2010, Stephanie has been encouraging the next generation of writers at her website, GoTeenWriters.com. She lives in the Kansas City area, where she loves plotting big and small adventures to enjoy with her husband and three children.


What did you think of the excerpt? Will you be reading this or any of the books in the series?

Check out the Book Tour for A Marriage of Inconvenience by Amy Vastine (Guest Post & #Giveaway) #harlequinromance #harlequinbooks #cleanromance #sweetromance #romancebooks #newbook @prismbooktours

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

Note from the Author

Welcome to the tour for A Marriage of Inconvenience! I am beyond excited to share this book with everyone and introduce you to some of my favorite characters.

This is my third book in the Stop The Wedding Series. I think I’m starting to have too much fun ruining weddings. The stakes were super high in this book as the heroine happens to be the wedding planner! There’s nothing worse than falling for the perfect guy, only to find out he’s getting married to someone else.

Evan is getting married, but it’s not what everyone thinks. Marrying his best friend is all part of the plan to get Jaime’s uncle to turn the family company over to her instead of her insufferable cousin. Evan never imagined he’d meet the woman of his dreams after he got engaged!

I hope you enjoy the tour with all its excerpts and reviews, and you check out A Marriage of Inconvenience for yourself!
 
—Amy

A Marriage of Inconvenience
(Stop the Wedding! #3)
By Amy Vastine
Contemporary Romance
Paperback & ebook, 213 Pages
April 1, 2021 by Harlequin Heartwarming

She’s met the perfect man…
But he’s engaged!

Wedding planner Sophia Reed never imagined she’d meet her perfect man during a bank robbery. Evan Anderson is handsome and funny and makes Sophia believe in love at first sight. There’s only one small hitch—he’s engaged to someone else, and Sophia is planning his wedding! But Evan’s wedding is purely a business arrangement…and true love might just turn this almost-perfect wedding into a beautiful catastrophe!

USA TODAY Bestselling Author

Stop the Wedding!

Book 1: A Bridesmaid to Remember
Book 2: His Brother’s Bride
Book 3: A Marriage of Inconvenience

(Affiliate links included.)

Tour Schedule

April 12th:
April 13th:
April 14th:
April 15th:
April 16th:
April 19th:
April 20th:
April 21st:
April 22nd:
April 23rd:

Other Books in the Series

(Linked to Amazon affiliate links.)

About the Author


Amy Vastine has been plotting stories in her head for as long as she can remember. An eternal optimist, she studied social work, hoping to teach others how to find their silver lining. Now, she enjoys creating happily ever afters for all to read. Amy lives outside Chicago with her high school sweetheart husband, three teenagers who keep her on her toes, and their two sweet but mischievous pups.


Tour Giveaway


One winner will receive (US only):
- $25 Amazon gift card
- “I love you to the bookstore and back” book bag filled with several of my favorite Heartwarming books
- Blackwell Sisters cleaning cloth
- Bookmark

Three additional winners will receive an ebook of the first book in the Stop the Wedding Series, A Bridesmaid to Remember (open internationally)

Ends April 28, 2021

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Check out the Book Tour for WoE Is Us by D.K. Doulos (Interview & #Giveaway) #christfic #newbook #scifibooks #dystopian #yalit @prismbooktours

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

Author Interview

What inspired you to write WoE Is Us?

I observed a growing sense in our society that we can use technology to solve all our problems, even death. People dream of cheating death. One way or another, people are in search of a technological salvation, one achieved by humanity’s collective intellect and will. As a Christian, I think they’re looking in the wrong place.

Over the past few years, I’ve read several dystopian books and watched dystopian movies, and the thought occurred to me: “Jesus matters to a billion people on Earth, and many times people turn toward God when life gets hard. If these stories are set in a bleaker, darker future, why shouldn’t people be clinging to the hope found in Jesus?”

What do you love the most about this story?

I love the redemption story, for both Lyrian and Jacob. Hers is more pronounced, but each needs rescue and forgiveness in their own way. The scene with Jacob at the cemetery was one of my favorites to write. I also love the strong value of family represented in the book.

What challenged you about writing it?

Writing a main character that’s a different gender is always a challenge. Also, it’s incredibly challenging to envision and create a realistic future that accounts for the dire circumstances involved in the story. Also, while I wanted to portray a desolate, dystopian world, I also wanted to capture mankind’s resilience in the face of hardship and not paint people as hapless or incompetent. Keeping that balance was difficult at times.

Which character do you most relate to and why?

As a father, I can relate to Jacob, though I can only imagine his pain. I’d like to think I’m like him, but I’m probably more like Doc: a quirky nerd.

What do you hope readers will take with them after they've read it?

Whether yesterday, today, or in some dystopian tomorrow, Jesus is our hope and peace for now and eternity. As Christians, we can help and encourage one another to continue and persevere in our faith.

What do you enjoy doing when you're not writing?

I love long family road trips, particularly visiting national parks. I enjoy camping, though we aren’t backcountry campers. I prefer the mountains to beaches, and my heart stirs when I get to sit and stare at grand vistas.

WoE Is Us
By D.K. Doulos
Christian Dystopian, YA, Sci-Fi
Paperback & ebook, 267 Pages
March 30, 2021 by Ambassador International

Lyrian Wallace was only ten years old when the Malevolence struck on October 10, 2056. She thought the next decade had numbed her to the grief, the death, the bots, and the daily struggle for survival. She lost her parents when they became Sleepers, but like everyone else, she had pieced together a new family. Lyrian was almost content when the Alliance began taking them . . .

The world always took things away from her. She could only live for today and never dared to hope for any heaven. But when her circumstances change, Lyrian must choose how she might live for both this life and the next.

(Affiliate links included.)

Tour Schedule

April 12th:
April 13th:
April 14th:
April 15th:
April 16th:

About the Author


D.K. Doulos has written stories most of his life and is thankful he can use his talent in service to God. When he's not writing, he enjoys going camping, impersonating a grill master, and watching college football. Between epic cross-country family road trips, he lives in Texas with his wife and four children. Find out more about D.K. on his website (www.dkdoulos.com).


Tour Giveaway


One winner will receive (US only):
- A leather satchel (sized to carry a tablet, iPad, or Kindle) that’s similar to the one carried by the book’s main character
- Bluebonnet scratch-made soap, inspired by the book’s Texas setting
- Fredericksburg Juicy Peach scented wax melts, inspired by the book’s Texas setting
- A $25 Amazon gift card

Ends April 21, 2021

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New Releases/#Free & Bargain Books for April 5th - April 11th #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
For New Releases post - NEW / genre / title / author
For Free Books post - FREE / genre / title / author / end date 
For Bargain Books post - SALE / price / genre / title / author / end date
(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!


By adding your link, you acknowledge that the information you provide will be used in accordance with our Privacy Policy and transmitted to Inlinkz in accordance with their Privacy Policy.

Would you like to share our linkup on your site? click here
Would you like to become a weekly host? sign up here

Come back and check out the new selection every week!

A book full of flavor and heart... A Tapestry of Light by Kimberly Duffy (Review & #Giveaway) #histfic #christfic #christianromance #BHPFiction @celebrate_lit


This book was such a good read! Check out my review and enter the tour giveaway below...

A Tapestry of Light
By Kimberly Duffy
Christian Historical Romance
Hardcover, Paperback, Audiobook & ebook, 433 Pages
March 16, 2021 by Bethan House Publishers

Summary

Calcutta, 1886.

Ottilie Russell is adrift between two cultures, British and Indian, belonging to both and neither. In order to support her little brother, Thaddeus, and her grandmother, she relies upon her skills in beetle-wing embroidery that have been passed down to her through generations of Indian women.

When a stranger appears with the news that Thaddeus is now Baron Sunderson and must travel to England to take his place as a nobleman, Ottilie is shattered by the secrets that come to light. Despite her growing friendship with Everett Scott, friend to Ottilie’s English grandmother and aunt, she refuses to give up her brother. Then tragedy strikes, and she is forced to make a decision that will take Thaddeus far from death and herself far from home.

But betrayal and loss lurk in England, too, and soon Ottilie must fight to ensure Thaddeus doesn’t forget who he is, as well as find a way to stitch a place for herself in this foreign land.

(Affiliate links included.)

My Review

A TAPESTRY OF LIGHT is a story that will immerse readers in all the textures of historical India with all the colors, scents and tastes. It's a story of two worlds and the racism prevalent amid the English, especially after a massacre that happened on Indian soil where many English women and children died. It's also a story of two hearts and the risk of pursuing a love that society would only shun. A recommended read for Christian historical fans.

I loved how immersed I was in India and its culture as I read this. I could almost taste and feel the setting. I also loved these characters, especially the main protagonist, Ottilie. She had so much heartbreak and loss in her young life, and then travels away from everything that is family to a new land where she wasn't fully accepted. You might want to have tissues nearby as there were quite a few moments where all I wanted to do was cry for her. She was definitely a relatable character and one that I wanted to cheer on. 

The author did a good job of weaving so many meaningful elements through this story. It definitely was one of loss, forgiveness, found family and character growth. It also had elements of faith woven throughout as Ottilie tried to believe that God is real and that He is loving. The romance aspect was also marvelously done. I could feel the chemistry and the sweetness of new and fragile love. I also really liked the friendships and the familial aspects of this story in all their messiness.

In the end, was it what I wished for? This story was full of color and texture, with great characters and a story that will pull on readers' hearts from beginning to end. It was a beautiful story and definitely worth the read.

Content: Some racism and innuendo. Clean.
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher through Celebrate Lit, which did not require a positive review. All opinions are my own.

About the Author


Kimberly Duffy is a Long Island native currently living in Southwest Ohio, via six months in India. When she’s not homeschooling her four kids, she writes historical fiction that takes her readers back in time and across oceans. She loves trips that require a passport, recipe books, and practicing kissing scenes with her husband of twenty years. He doesn’t mind.

More from Kimberly

When I set out to write a new novel, I plan the entire thing from start to finish. I write down each scene on an index card and know exactly what’s going to happen when I sit down for the day’s work. I’m meticulous that way.

But I never plan my characters’ spiritual arcs. Because I want their faith journey to be organic to the story. I want it to feel authentic. It’s such an important part of each of my books and I recognize that some things just refuse plotting and need to develop in a more natural way.

My debut novel, A Mosaic of Wings, features a heroine steeped in science. Nora loves the natural world and so her faith was encouraged by studying the wings of a butterfly or examining an interesting plant. She’s not particularly sentimental or emotive so the faith element of that story had to be presented in a way that made sense for her. Nora’s faith arc is subtle.

Not so for A Tapestry of Light. I had no intention of writing a book that delved into my own struggle with doubt. But that’s what Ottilie required. And it wrung me dry.

Then built me back up.

My faith story is a twisted kind of one. Raised a Christian, I went into ministry, firmly attached myself to the faith of my childhood, and thought it would never waver.

I was wrong.

Oh, how it wavered. For whatever reason, when I hit about 30, it seemed everything I had always believed no longer made sense. It was devastating. Terrifying. And it broke me.

But brokenness is its own sort of beauty and when you recognize there is no way for you to pick up the pieces yourself, God can come in and fill those cracks and shattered places.

Those five years of doubt and questioning and facing the reality that even though I’d always loved Christ, I didn’t really know Him (and didn’t really know why I believed in Him), were some of the most painful I’ve experienced. But I believe with every bit of my being that God is in the business of redemption. Of restoration. Of filling up so that we can pour out.

And he took my own very personal struggle and helped me turn it into a story that, I hope and pray, might encourage others. I gave Ottilie my questions. I gave her my doubt. I gave her my fear and desperation and, in the end, I gave her my hope.

There’s a little piece of me in each of my books, but this one contains my heart.

Tour Schedule

Breny and Books, March 28
By The Book, March 29
Genesis 5020, March 29
Mia Reads, March 31
Remembrancy, April 1
Vicky Sluiter, April 2
Simple Harvest Reads, April 5 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)
Betti Mace, April 7
Mary Hake, April 8
Bigreadersite, April 9

Tour-Wide Giveaway


To celebrate her tour, Kimberly is giving away the grand prize $25 Amazon gift card along with a signed copy of either A Mosaic of Wings or A Tapestry of Light!!

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


Have you read any other books set mostly in India?

Read an excerpt from this new thriller... Just Get Home by Bridget Foley @harlequinbooks #harlequinbooks #thriller #newbook


I'm sharing an excerpt today from this new thriller. Check it out below...

Just Get Home
By Bridget Foley
Adult Thriller, Women's Fiction
Paperback, Audiobook & ebook, 272 Pages
April 13, 2021 by MIRA

Summary

When the Big One earthquake hits LA, a single mother and a teen in the foster system are brought together by their circumstances and an act of violence in order to survive the wrecked streets of the city, working together to just get home.

Dessa, a single mom, is enjoying a rare night out when a devastating earthquake strikes. Roads and overpasses crumble, cell towers are out everywhere, and now she must cross the ruined city to get back to her three-year-old daughter, not even knowing whether she's dead or alive. Danger in the streets escalates, as looting and lawlessness erupts. When she witnesses a moment of violence but isn't able to intervene, it nearly puts Dessa over the edge.

Fate throws Dessa a curveball when the victim of the crime—a smart-talking 15-year-old foster kid named Beegie—shows up again in the role of savior, linking the pair together. Beegie is a troubled teen with a relentless sense of humor and resilient spirit that enables them both to survive. Both women learn to rely on each other in ways they never imagined possible, to permit vulnerability and embrace the truth of their own lives.

A propulsive page-turner grounded by unforgettable characters and a deep emotional core, JUST GET HOME will strike a chord with mainstream thriller readers for its legitimately heart-pounding action scenes, and with book club audiences looking for weighty, challenging content.

(Affiliate links included.)

Excerpt


Prologue

Assist the client in gathering possessions.

Beegie saw it written on a sheet Karen had in her folder. An unticked box next to it.

She knew what it meant. Stuff.

But it was the other meaning that soothed her.

The darker meaning. Possessions.

That was the one she worked over and over in her head.

Beegie imagined her case worker holding up a grey little girl, face obscured by black hair and asking, “This one yours?” Beegie would nod. Yes, that’s my monster. Together they would shove one snarling, demon-filled person after another into the garbage bags they had been given to pack her things. Soon the bags would fill, growing translucent with strain. When they were done, she and Karen would have to push down on the snapping, bloody faces of Beegie’s possessions so they could close the back of the Prius.

But Karen’s box remained unticked. She didn’t get to help collect Beegie’s possessions, real or unreal, because Beegie’s stuff was already on the street when she got home.

Two garbarge bags filled with nothing special. Her advocate standing next to them with her folder and its helpful advice for what to do when a foster gets kicked out of her home.

Nothing special.

Just almost everything Beegie owned in the world.

Almost but not all.

Whatever.

After Karen dropped her off and Barb had shown her “Her New Home” and given her the rundown on “The Way It Works Here,” Beegie unpacked her possessions into a bureau that the girl who’d lived there before her had made empty, but not clean.

The bottoms of the drawers were covered in spilled glitter. Pink and gold. Beegie had pressed the tips of her fingers into the wood to pull it up, making disco balls of her hands.

But she failed to get it all.

Months later, she would find stray squares of this other girl’s glitter on her clothes. They would catch the light, drawing her back to the moment when she’d finally given up on getting the bureau any cleaner and started to unpack the garbage bags.

There had been things missing.

That Beegie had expected.

But what she had not expected was to find two other neatly folded garbage bags. These were the ones she had used to move her stuff from Janelle’s to the Greely’s. She had kept them, even though back then Mrs. Greely was all smiles and Eric seemed nice, and even Rooster would let her pet him.

Beegie had kept the bags because she’d been around long enough to know that sometimes it doesn’t work out.

In fact, most times it doesn’t work out.

And you need a bag to put your stuff in and you don’t want to have to ask the person who doesn’t want you to live with them anymore to give you one.

But when Mrs. Greely had gathered Beegie’s possessions, she had seen those bags and thought that they were important to Beegie. It made sense to her former foster mother that a “garbage girl” would treasure a garbage bag.

This got Beegie thinking about stuff. The problem of it. The need for things to hold your other things. Things to fix your things. Things to make your things play.

And a place to keep it all.

In Beegie’s brain the problem of possessions multiplied, until she imagined it like a landfill. Things to hold things to hold things, all of it covered with flies, seagulls swooping.

Everything she ever owned was trash or one day would be.

Seeing things this way helped. It made her mind less about the things that hadn’t been in the bag… and other things.

Beegie picked at ownership like a scab, working her way around the edges, flaking it off a bit at a time. Ridding herself of the brown crust of caring.

Because if you care about something it has power over you.

Caring can give someone else the ability to control you and the only real way to own yourself was let go.

So she did.

Or she tried.

Some things Beegie couldn’t quite shed. The want of them stuck to her like the glitter. The pain of their loss catching the light on her sleeves, flashing from the hem of her jeans. The want would wait on her body until it attracted her attention and then eluded the grasping edges of her fingers.

Excerpted from Just Get Home by Bridget Foley, Copyright © 2021 by Bridget Foley. Published by MIRA Books.


About the Author


Originally from Colorado, Bridget Foley attended NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and UCLA's School of Theater, Film & Television. She worked as an actor and screenwriter before becoming a novelist. She now lives a fiercely creative life with her family in Boise, Idaho.


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