March 24, 2017

Smallin Civil War Cave by Wanetta Bright - Review


Published: 2013
Publisher: Ozark Caves & Caverns
Number of pages: 128
Genre: Non-Fiction

Synopsis:
Deep in the Ozarks hills there lies a mysterious, legendary cave. Know to people dating back to the ancient Native Americans, beautiful Smallin Cave is both a geological wonder and a historical treasure. As you read the story of Smallin Cave, you are reading a story as old as life itself. A story of creations, of brave explorers, of family and relationships, of strife, war and retribution, of courageous characters and cruel villains, of healing and new beginnings, all set in and around the beautiful, timelss sanctuary known as Smallin Cave. 

My thoughts:
I do not like to write bad reviews of books as I know a lot of hard work goes into writing them. That being said I was disappointed in this book. I was recently visiting Springfield, Missouri and heard about the Smallin Cave. Knowing I did not have the time to tour the cave I drove out to where it is located to visit their gift shop to see if they at least had a book about it. It intrigued me as it said it was a Civil War cave. I spoke with the person running the gift shop who also happened to be the author of the book. After speaking with her I was even more interested, so I bought the book. When I got home I started reading it and ended up being disappointed. For me the writing style was very dry. I was happy each of the chapters and stories were very short only a page or two so that made it go by a little faster. I wanted more stories about the cave and things that happened around the cave. This book had very little about the cave. It was more about the town of Ozark and the surrounding areas. We had the story of of how the cave was created geologically, the story of the Baldknobbers, and a few Civil War stories about Missouri but not in connection with the actual cave and the book ended with a scientific study of bugs and animals that live in the cave. I so wanted to enjoy this book more than I did. 

Single Malt Murder by Melinda Mullet - Guest Post and Giveaway


Book Details:
Ballantine Group; Alibi 
On Sale: March 21st, 2017
ISBN: 9780399179051 
300 Pages
Price: $4.99


About the book:
When Abi inherits her uncle’s quaint and storied single malt distillery, she finds herself immersed in a competitive high-stakes business that elicits deep passions and prejudices. An award-winning photojournalist, Abi has no trouble capturing the perfect shot—but making the perfect shot is another matter. When she starts to receive disturbing, anonymous threats, it’s clear that someone wants her out of the picture. But Abi’s never been one to back down from a fight.

Arriving on the scene with her whisky-loving best friend, Patrick, and an oversized wheaten terrier named Liam, Abi seems to put everyone in the bucolic village on edge—especially her dour but disturbingly attractive head distiller. Acts of sabotage and increasingly personal threats against Abi make it clear that she is not welcome. When one of Abi’s new employees is found floating facedown in a vat of whisky, Abi is determined to use her skills as an investigative journalist to identify the cold-blooded killer and dispense a dram of justice before he strikes again. But distilling truth from lies is tricky, especially when everyone seems to have something to hide.

About the author:
Melinda Mullet was born in Dallas and attended school in Texas, Washington D.C., England, and Austria. She spent many years as a practicing attorney before pursuing a career as a writer. Author of the Whisky Business Mystery series, Mullet is a passionate supporter of childhood literacy. She works with numerous domestic and international charities striving to promote functional literacy for all children. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her family.

Author Links
Webpage – http://melindamullet.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/mulletmysteries/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/mulletmysteries

Purchase Links
Amazon B&N Google Play

Guest Post:
A Winter’s Tale becomes a Winter’s Tail

In the throws of a snowy winter a writers fancy turns to curling up in front of the fire with a pot of tea or a glass of wine and writing….and writing…and writing. Nirvana for the soul, deadly for the thighs. But by the time my Fit Bit buzzes me for the 5th hour in a row telling me I haven’t taken more steps than I need to stagger to the kitchen and back, the guilt sets in.

It used to be when I talked about the discipline of writing I meant the importance of selfishly setting aside time every day to write without guilt. Now, as I writing becomes a vocation and not an avocation, the discipline has become finding ways to incorporate exercise into my work day. To force myself to get up from the job at hand and move. This battle of the bulge is fought whether you work at home or in an office setting. As a chronic multi-tasker I like to try to find a way to keep on working while I excercise.

For you like minded souls here’s a couple of tricks I’ve found helpful.

Take advantage of immersing yourself mind and body in something else. I like yoga. I’ve been doing it for more than forty years and it still works. The key is to take a class and let someone else lead. Go in with a tricky plot point on your mind and then forget about it. Focus on your body. On breathing and moving. Stretch your body and let your mind fend for itself. Allow it to roam randomly through your head space without judgement, but always steer it back to its focus on the body. By the end of class I inevitably find that the solution to my conundrum pops into my head unbidden.

When the weather cooperates, walking is great for blowing the cobwebs out of your head and dispelling any lingering traces of writer’s block. The dog is always there to drag me out and I often talk through issues as we go. The dog is always singularly receptive to my discourse, not helpful mind you, but attentive without being judgmental. The perfect sounding board. I will run through conversations and character backstories. Making notes on a pad in my pocket when something occurs to me. The increased flow of blood to the brain usually ensures a better resolution than the bag of Cheetos I was staring down before I left.

If you have no particular issue on your mind create a soundtrack for your walk that you find evocative of your story line. Let it put you in the right head space so that when you come back to the keyboard your creativity blossoms. For my Whisky Business series soft Celtic music always brings to mind the soft mists and the heather covered hills.

If you are at a stage of final edits I find it helpful to run through my story as if it was a movie. Picturing the fade ins and outs, the flow between scenes and purpose of each scene. You’ll be surprised how often you will find awkward transitions and missing links.

On those brutal outdoor days I resort to the treadmill. If I need inspiration I’ll turn to one of the masters, and hour spent with Poirot, or Lynley or Holmes can jump start your creative engine. Get you looking at things in different ways. Watch the threads of evidence twist and unravel.

Most important, keep moving and keep on writing.

Giveaway:


Tour Participants

March 20 – MysteriesEtc – REVIEW
March 20 – Brooke Blogs – GUEST POST
March 21 – Community Bookstop – SPOTLIGHT Will review at a later date.
March 21 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT
March 22 – Babs Book Bistro – REVIEW
March 23 – Rainy Day Reviews – REVIEW
March 23 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT
March 24 – Shelley’s Book Case – REVIEW
March 24 – A Holland Reads – GUEST POST
March 25 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – INTERVIEW
March 26 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW
March 27 – My Journey Back – REVIEW
March 27 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
March 28 – Back Porchervations – REVIEW
March 28 – A Blue Million Books – INTERVIEW
March 29 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
March 29 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW
March 30 – Dee-Scoveries – SPOTLIGHT
March 31 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW
April 1 – Bibliophile Reviews – REVIEW, GUEST POST 
April 1 – Sleuth Cafe – SPOTLIGHT
April 2 – Varietas – REVIEW
April 2 – Author Annette Drake’s blog – INTERVIEW

March 23, 2017

Best Laid Plans & Other Disasters and Wallflower Blooming by Amy Rivers - Review

I received this book free from the publisher

Paperback: 236 pages
Publisher: Wooden Pants Publishing (January 13, 2017)
Cambria Trilogy - Volume 2

About the book:
A year after she is elected mayor of a prosperous Colorado city, Gwen’s career and life are fully on track, all according to plan. So why is she in such a slump emotionally and physically? New conflicts keep boiling over in city government, and her earlier allies no longer support her. She and her boyfriend have an ideal relationship, which she finds inexplicably dissatisfying. Without telling her, he decides to take a new job that has him traveling out of state every week. Suddenly unexpected developments turn everything topsy-turvy, and Gwen is forced to re-examine her carefully-planned life.

“Witty, warm, and compulsively readable. Rivers has deftly created lovably flawed and relatable characters you don’t want to miss.” –Amy Avanzino, author of Wake-Up Call and From the Sideline

About the author:
Amy Rivers was born and raised in southern New Mexico and currently resides in Colorado with her husband, kids and cat. She has a Master’s degree with concentrations in Psychology and Politics, two topics she loves to incorporate into her personal essays and novels. Amy has been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Nurses, Novelty Bride Magazine, ESME.com and Splice Today. 

Connect with Amy

My thoughts:
This was a new to me author. I was asked to read both books for this author. I thought the book was a fun quick read. Even though this was a sequel you can read it as a stand alone book just fine. Gwen was a believable character and could have been anyone's friend or sister. I liked that she was an important woman in her town but yet in her personal life she is a mess. Like most people.  All in all a pretty good chick lit type of book. 


Paperback: 186
Publisher: Wooden Pants Publishing; 2 edition (August 15, 2016)
Cambria Trilogy - Volume 1

About the book:
Val Shakely is a list-maker. Daily routine. Check. Calm, quiet (but successful) business. Check. No drama. No excitement. Some might call it boring, but it’s precisely the way Val likes it. She loves her hometown of Cambria, nestled in the mountains of Colorado, and runs a fruitful PR firm. It's more than enough for Val. So what if she doesn’t have a social life? Then, her cousin Gwen decides to take on the local political bully, Mayor Roger Barton, in head-to-head combat for his position, and Val takes her company reluctantly, and against her better judgment, into the fray. The minute Val takes on Gwen’s campaign, the safe world she carefully constructed begins to unravel. She feels the pressure of the campaign and the personal attacks by Barton. And as if that wasn’t complicated enough, Val finds herself falling in love with local businessman John Hatfield, a man just as boring as her at first glance. Both charming and confrontational, Val is drawn to John in a way that cracks the simplicity of her life. In the end, Val’s desire to stay on the sidelines is put to the test and she’s forced to reexamine the life she’s built as she trudges toward a new and more exciting future.

My thoughts:
This was a nice book to read. I liked that is was a short book as you can read it in a weekend. I enjoyed getting to know Val. She was a fun character to follow along through the story. Val and her cousin are both strong women yet they are like your everyday friend who has some problems. I thought the author's writing style was easy to read as well. I am glad I got the chance to review this series.

TOUR STOPS:

Monday, February 20th: Book by Book
Thursday, February 23rd: Kritter’s Ramblings
Monday, February 27th: Run Wright
Wednesday, March 1st: Write Read Life
Thursday, March 2nd: Deborah Blanchard
Friday, March 3rd: Patricia’s Wisdom
Monday, March 6th: Stranded in Chaos
Wednesday, March 8th: Tina Says…
Thursday, March 9th: Sue Roberts
Thursday, March 9th: Girl Who Reads
Monday, March 13th: 5 Minutes for Books
Wednesday, March 15th: Books and Bindings
Thursday, March 16th: Chick Lit Central
Monday, March 20th: All Roads Lead to the Kitchen
Wednesday, March 22nd: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Thursday, March 23rd: A Holland Reads

March 22, 2017

Grace and the Preacher by Kim Vogel Sawyer - Review

I received this book for free from the publisher

Book Details:
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook (March 21, 2017)
ISBN-13: 978-0307731418

About the book:
At the age of twenty-three, postmistress Grace Cristler has all but given up hope of finding a husband among the narrowing group of eligible men in her town of Fairland, Kansas. But when her uncle decides to retire from the pulpit, Grace is responsible for corresponding with the new preacher set to take his place. She can’t deny the affection growing in her heart for Reverend Rufus Dille—a man she deeply admires but has only met through his letters.

Theophil Garrison is on the run from his past. Ten years ago his outlaw cousins convinced him to take part in a train robbery, but Theo fled the scene, leaving his cousins to face imprisonment. Now they’ve finished their sentences, but the plan for vengeance has just begun. Branded a coward and running for his life, Theo has aa chance encounter that could provide him with the escape he needs.

But the young man’s desperate con might come at an enormous price for the tenderhearted Grace—and the entire town. Will Grace’s undeserved affection and God’s mercy make something beautiful from the ashes of Theo’s past?

About the author:
Award-winning, bestselling author Kim Vogel Sawyer is a wife, mother, gramma, chocolate-lover, cat-petter, and--most importantly--a daughter of the King! With more than 1.5 million books in print in seven different languages, Kim enjoys a full-time writing and speaking ministry. Her "gentle stories of hope" are loved by readers and reviewers alike. Kim and her retired military husband, Don, reside on the plains of Kansas, the setting for many of her novels.

My thoughts:
This was a nice book about the story of a lady who just wants to live a happy life. The author did a good job of capturing the time and place setting in this book. As with previous books I have read of hers she did a good job in developing the characters. The romance is nice but it is not overpowering. There are also some other things you can learn from this book like forgiveness. As Grace learns. A good book that will keep you entertained. 

A Lady in Disguise by Sandra Byrd - Review


I received this book free from the publisher

Book Details:
Series: The Daughters of Hampshire #3
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Howard Books (March 21, 2017)
ISBN-13: 978-1476717937

About the book:
In this intriguing novel of romance, mystery, and clever disguise set in Victorian England, a young woman investigates the murder of her own father.

After the mysterious death of her father, Miss Gillian Young takes a new job as the principal costume designer at the renowned Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. But while she remembers her father as a kind, well-respected man of the Police Force, clues she uncovers indicate he’d been living a double life: a haunting photograph of a young woman; train stubs for secret trips just before his death; and a receipt for a large sum of money. Are these items evidence of her father’s guilty secrets? His longtime police partner thinks so.

Then Gillian meets the dashing Viscount Thomas Lockwood. Their attraction is instant and inescapable. As their romantic involvement grows, Gillian begins to suspect even Lockwood’s motives. Does Lord Lockwood truly love her? Or is his interest a front for the desire to own her newly inherited property? And what should she make of her friend’s suggestion that Lockwood or men like him were involved in the murder of her father?

Soon Gillian is convinced that her father has left evidence somewhere that can prove his innocence and reveal the guilty party. But someone wants to stop her from discovering it. The closer she comes to uncovering it, the more menacing her opposition grows. With her life on the line, Gillian takes on an ingenious disguise and takes on the role of a lifetime to reveal the true killer—before it’s too late both for her and for those that she loves.

About the author:
After earning her first rejection at the age of thirteen, bestselling author Sandra Byrd has now published fifty books.

Sandra's new series, Daughters of Hampshire, historically sound Gothic romances, launched with best-selling Book One: Mist of Midnight. That book earned a coveted Editor's Choice from the Historical Novel Society. The second book, Bride of a Distant Isle, has been selected by Romantic Times as a Top Pick. The third in the series, A Lady in Disguise, will publish in March 2017. Sandra's latest nonfiction title is The One Year Home and Garden Devotions.

Check out her contemporary adult fiction debut, Let Them Eat Cake, which was a Christy Award finalist, as was her first historical novel, To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn. To Die For was also named by Library Journal as a Best Books Pick for 2011 and The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr, was named a Library Journal Best Books Pick for 2012.

Sandra has published dozens of books for kids, tweens and teens, including the best-selling, The One Year Be-Tween You and God, Devotions For Girls, and two read aloud picture books.

She is passionate about helping new writers develop their talent and their work toward traditional or self-publication. As such, she has mentored and coached hundreds of new writers and continues to coach dozens to success each year via novelcoaching.com

Please visit www.sandrabyrd.com to learn more or to invite Sandra to your book club via Skype.

My thoughts:
I enjoyed trying to figure out the mysteries that Gillian's father kept as she was trying to figure out who murdered him. I was a little worried for her at times as there were a few things that threatened her life as she got close to figuring out what happened. The bit of romance that was included in this story was nice as well. It kind of lightened the mood in spots. It was nice how the author was able to put some facts from the time period in with the story. In fact at the end of the book after the story is all done she gives us some more historical notes. I thought she did a good job of getting the time and place down. Her descriptions were vivid and her characters well developed. I have enjoyed each of the books in this series. You can read them as a stand alone if you wish but I recommend reading them all. I am looking forward to the next series she will give us. 

March 21, 2017

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate - Review

I received this book from the publisher for free

Book Details:
Published: June 6, 2017
Number of pages 352
ISBN: 9780425284681
Hardback

About the book:
Two families, generations apart, are forever changed by a heartbreaking injustice in this poignant novel, inspired by a true story, for readers of Orphan Train and The Nightingale.

Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge—until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents—but they quickly realize that the truth is much darker. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together—in a world of danger and uncertainty.

Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancĂ©, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions—and compels her to take a journey through her family's long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation . . . or redemption.

Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals—in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country—Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong

My thoughts:
When I finished this book last night the first thing I had to say to myself was wow - what a powerful book. I have read all of Lisa's Carolina series and loved each of them and thought they were touching, but this one was even more so. If that is even possible. 

I had never heard the story of Georgia Tann or the Tennessee Children's Home Society so this was all new to me. From page one I felt horrible for Rill/May and her entire family. I can not even begin to imagine what is must have felt like to have total strangers come and take you away never to see your parents again. Nor how the parents felt to find their children had disappeared or even worse to be told they died when in fact they did not. How extremely painful. 

I liked ho Lisa told both tales of Avery and Rill/May. Avery the granddaughter who was wanted to find out the secret of her grandma's past and how she is connected to May. Then Rill/May's story of survival of a childhood that you cannot imagine. Some of the things he as well as the other kids had to endure was unthinkable. You wonder how they survived such things and were able to overcome some of it. 

Lisa did a great job in the details of the emotions and the scenes. I felt as if I was right there with Rill/May. I wanted to give her a hug and to help her in whatever way was possible. She is one of the few authors that can write a book that effects me so much. With each page I wanted more of the story, more of the history, even at the end I wanted more. I wanted to sit down and listen to May and Judy talk about their past and here their story told by them. I loved the ending but wish I could have know what actually happened to the other three siblings. 

This book would also make a great movie. I highly recommend it. It is one of the best books I have read this year. 

About the author:
Lisa Wingate is a former journalist, an inspirational speaker, and the bestselling author of more than twenty novels. Her work has won or been nominated for many awards, including the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize, the Oklahoma Book Award, the Carol Award, the Christy Award, and the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award. Wingate lives in the Ouachita Mountains of southwest Arkansas.

The Enemies of Versailles by Sally Christie - Guest Post and Giveaway



Book Details:
The Enemies of Versailles 
Historical Fiction
Release date: March 21, 2017 
ISBN: 978-1501103025 

Synopsis:
In the final installment of Sally Christie's "tantalizing" (New York Daily News) Mistresses of Versailles trilogy, Jeanne Becu, a woman of astounding beauty but humble birth, works her way from the grimy back streets of Paris to the palace of Versailles, where the aging King Louis XV has become a jaded and bitter old philanderer. Jeanne bursts into his life and, as the Comtesse du Barry, quickly becomes his official mistress. 

"That beastly bourgeois Pompadour was one thing; a common prostitute is quite another kettle of fish." After decades of suffering the King's endless stream of Royal Favorites, the princesses of the Court have reached a breaking point. Horrified that he would bring the lowborn Comtesse du Barry into the hallowed halls of Versailles, Louis XV's daughters, led by the indomitable Madame Adelaide, vow eternal enmity and enlist the young dauphiness Marie Antoinette in their fight against the new mistress. But as tensions rise and the French Revolution draws closer, a prostitute in the palace soon becomes the least of the nobility's concerns. 

Told in Christie's witty and engaging style, the final book in The Mistresses of Versailles trilogy will delight and entrance fans as it once again brings to life the sumptuous and cruel world of eighteenth century Versailles, and France as it approaches irrevocable change.

About the author:
Sally Christie is the author of The Sisters of Versailles and The Rivals of Versailles. She was born in England and grew up around the world, attending eight schools in three different languages. She spent most of her career working in international development and currently lives in Toronto. Learn more her Versailles trilogy on her website Become a fan to hear about her next novels! Visit her Facebook Page Check her Pinterest page

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Pre-order the book | on Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

Guest Post:
Animals at Versailles
Just like today, people in the 18th century kept a great deal of pets: cats, dogs, birds. Because of their importance for the hunt, dogs especially figured large in every aristocrat’s life. Louis XV was so fond of his hunting dogs he got individual portraits done of each of them!

Then just as now, people kept pets for love and companionship, but also for status. As the century wore on and trade expanded, travelers and explorers bought back exotic birds and animals like monkeys from Asia and Africa. The palace of Versailles was also home to a Menagerie, stocked with exotic animals given as gifts from foreign rulers to the king of France. It was built when the palace of Versailles was built in the 17th century, but Louis XV, despite being a great animal lover, was not as interested in it as his predecessor. During the Revolution most of the animals died and the cages were used to house political prisoners.

My books about the mistresses of Louis XV are full of animals and pets: the Comtesse du Barry adored birds; Madame de Pompadour had a pet monkey, and one of her friends was obsessed with rabbits. Another lady liked to carry around her miniature pug in a basket, and barking dogs are constantly causing friction in the close living quarters at Versailles. The King’s adored cat Snowball (the cat was real but the name is mine), that he used to bring to council meetings when he was younger, even makes an appearance.

This rather snooty 18th century lady was apparently so fond of her cat that she sat with it for her portrait, and the luxurious, padded kennel (or cat house?) shows that their masters spoilt them as much as we spoil our pets!


Giveaway:
You can enter the global giveaway here or on any other book blogs participating in this tour. Be sure to follow each participant on Twitter/Facebook, they are listed in the entry form below.


Visit each blogger on the tour: tweeting about the giveaway everyday of the Tour will give you 5 extra entries each time! Just follow the directions on the entry-form. Global giveaway - open to US residents - 5 winners of a print copy

CLICK ON THE BANNER TO READ REVIEWS, EXCERPTS, GUEST-POSTS
enemies-of-versailles-banner  

Tour Schedule:
Monday, March 20
Spotlight + Guest-post + Giveaway at Bibliojunkies

Tuesday, March 21
Spotlight + Guest-post + Giveaway at A Holland Reads

Wednesday, March 22
Review + Excerpt + Giveaway at I am, Indeed
Spotlight + Giveaway at A Bookaholic Swede

Thursday, March 23
Review + Giveaway at Words And Peace

Monday, March 27

Tuesday, March 28
Review + Excerpt + Giveaway at

Thursday, March 30
Spotlight + Giveaway at Libri Amori Miei

Thursday, March 30
Review + Giveaway at Just One More Chapter

Friday, March 31
Spotlight + Excerpt + Giveaway at Book Nerd