Category Archives: Book reviews

Robbie in hospital

This is Bill, Robbie’s husband. Robbie had an emergency admit to the hospital in the wee hours of the morning last Friday. She is still in the hospital. She is still in a lot of pain, but the surgeon is trying to treat her conservatively, avoiding surgery if possible. We really appreciate prayers. Thank you. I will update when we know more.

OVER 50 EVEN MORE DEFINED by Shel Harrington

Remember when we learned about QUINBLOIT kwin’ bloit (noun)
A unique word created to describe an event, behavior, or emotion people over fifty universally experience…but the words are not in the dictionary…YET! Well, welcome book TWO!

For “chronologically” mature audiences only! If you’re over 50, bestselling author and humorist Shel Harrington wrote this book for you! Laughter guaranteed!

Check it out here: https://amzn.to/3qtAVQ #over50defined

#ShelHarrington #OVER50EVEN MORE DEFINED #Quinbloit

Lakeside Retreat by Marci Seither includes Giveaway-on Tour with Celebrate Lit

About the Book

Book: Lakside Retreat

Author: Marci Seither

Genre: Devotional gift book

Release date: July 5, 2022

Close your eyes for a moment. Inhale. Can you smell the pine trees? Now listen. Can you hear the loon’s call echo off the water and the geese honking as they fly overhead? Now imagine tasting the smoke-tainted marshmallows straight out of the campfire. Think about feeling the warm summer sun on your skin and the cool breeze against your face.

Lakeside Retreat is an invitation to surround yourself with the majesty of God’s creation and wrap yourself in the warm blanket of Scripture’s wonderful, eternal truths.

Let this collection of vacation-themed devotions, recipes, and DIY projects transport you to a quiet place of rest, renewal, and connection with God.

Click here to get your copy!

About the Author

Marci Seither’s writing career began after her humor article about a cookie baking fiasco she experienced with her kids was published in a small-town newspaper. Since then she has authored two books and hundreds of articles for local papers as well as written for Guideposts, Light & Life, and Focus On The Family.

Besides writing, she enjoys teaching workshops, speaking, food photography, canning, and anything that involves using real butter.

Her biggest joy, besides being married to John and raising six kiddos, is being grandma to six of the cutest kids in the western hemisphere. She recently moved from CA to TN.

More from Marci

I don’t know about you, but there is something about being at a cabin, on a lake, or in the woods. The pine scented air is crisp; the water is refreshing, and lingering over a hot cup of coffee as the sun comes up over the tree tops causes one to just sit in AWE at God’s fingerprints in creation.

Growing up, some of my favorite memories were made camping with cousins and hanging onto an inner tube that was tied to the back of a ski boat, now, just listening the loon’s call echoing off the rippling water at sunset is something I savor, well, that and a perfectly toasted marshmallow for my  s’more.

This book was so fun for me to write. I spent two weeks at the cabin with one of my best friends, Ginger Vennerstrom and her two granddaughters. Our husbands were able to join us for the second week and that was when we went on our crazy kayak adventure. We baked yummy treats, took nature walks through the woods, sat around the campfire, and did a lot of swimming.

One of the highlights was to take the pontoon boat down to the point and see the eagle’s nest with the half grown eaglets squawking from the edge, hoping one of their parents would bring a freshly caught fish.

I loved learning about the area that had once been a logging camp and hear stories about the cabin that is lovingly named Swan Stuga and the people who made it special.

Besides the 40 devotions, there are journal prompts and 12 tutorials for things you can do with your family such as make a pinecone bird feeder, follow a recipe for the perfect berry cobbler, and how to experience the night sky in a way you might have never considered.

Most of the photos, including the picture on the cover, are ones that I took at the cabin so readers will not just read about the lake; they will feel like they have actually been at the restful shores of Lake Nebagamon.

The cabin is calling…

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, September 6

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 7

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 8

Inklings and notions, September 9

Book Butterfly in Dreamland, September 9

She Lives To Read, September 10

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 11

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, September 12

Lily’s Book Reviews, September 12

deb’s Book Review, September 13

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 14

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, September 15

Mary Hake, September 15

Blossoms and Blessings, September 16

Cats in the Cradle Blog, September 17

The Adventures of a Travers Wife, September 18

Livin’ Lit, September 19

To Everything There Is A Season, September 19

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Marci is giving away the grand prize package of a canvas tote bag filled with Lakeside goodies that include a blanket, mug, signed copy of Lakeside Retreat, and a solar lantern for your next outdoor adventure!!

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

https://promosimple.com/ps/21374/lakeside-retreat-celebration-tour-giveaway

Spotlight on Hunter’s Rose by Carole Brown on Tour with Celebrate Lit-Includes Giveaway

About the Book

Book: Hunter’s Rose

Editor: Carole Brown

Genre: Historical Romantic Suspense

Release date: August, 2022

It’s the late 1800s, and Hunter Carson has married the woman of his dreams and settled on the land he bought. He’s never known God or even much about him. But his tender heart can be touched. His wife—the beautiful and exotic Mexican Rosita DeSantis, is totally in love with him—but something is wrong. Just days after their marriage, why is she crying and touchy? Has she fallen out of love with him already? Or is there something far more serious going on with her?

Rosita’s past is haunting her emotionally. She adores her new husband, but she’ll do anything to keep him from knowing what happened in Mexico before she fled the country. And not because she doesn’t trust him, but she’s worried for his life. Her loving family in Mexico came to accept God into their lives through the ministry of a missionary. But can she hold onto her beliefs through the trials and tests she’ll face when Carlos De Leon insists on forcing her to marry him?

After all, the Mexican Lord—Carlos De Leon—cares nothing for God or any man. His only desire is to obtain what he wants and when. He has a plan and will do anything to accomplish it.

And Rosita will do anything to keep him from succeeding.

Click here to get your copy!

About the Author

Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, Carole Brown enjoys mentoring beginning writers. An author of thirteen full-length, best selling and award winning books (with a novella in an anthology), she loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. She has found that the traveling and ministering has served her well in writing her novels. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?

More from Carole

Characters that Walk Off the Page

One of my favorite things when writing a new book, is to create the characters. When I wrote the first book in this series, there were quite a few comments about Hunter and Maria, the cook. Readers wanted to read a book about Hunter—Hunter’s personal story. It was a nice affirmation because I’d already decided that the second book would be about Hunter, his love life and the trouble that created the tension in the book.

Hunter is a fun character. With his father murdered while Hunter was just a child, he very well could have been abandoned to fate. Only another young person’s intervention saved Hunter. He grew up to be a man that was both strong and trustworthy. He’s a bit quick-on-the-trigger (as the saying goes) but he’s also smart, loyal, not a bit stuck on himself, and overwhelmed that a beautiful Mexican girl like Rosita DeSantis could fall in love with him. He has the determination to protect her and the ability to give her pretty much anything she wants—without seeming pompous.

Rosita came from a rich, loving family who adored her, and as an only child was entitled to the family inheritance. Having to abandon that life, she was determined to pursue a different life style even when enduring hardship and fear. Nevertheless, she is a sweet, friendly and a loyal friend to those around her. She knows her own mind, yet is not pushy or obnoxious in her efforts, whether it be love or in scorning the man who insists he wants her back. Rosita is both smart and a real lady.

Carlos De Leon, the villain, on the other hand, is one of those persons who has everything: money, prestige, excellent features and education. Yet he lacks the character to realize that it’s not always possible to have everything you desire. Determined to have what he wants and when, he is not afraid to sacrifice the people who he deems is hindering his quest.

And then, there are the secondary characters: those who support and somehow create interest, not only in themselves but in keeping a reader’s interest in how and when the main characters will respond to them.

Could it be the downright good-looking Jackson, who is quiet and withdrawn, has a story? His support of Hunter, the tell-tell signs of his education, and the absence of any real knowledge of his past encourage the reader to imagine who he really is.

Then there’s Gabrielle Autumn Mayfair, a quiet, rather shy girl who is more of a follower than a leader—until it comes to a man who catches her attention. Her friends worry that she may get hurt, but Gabrielle is more persistent than either of her best friends realize. This blondish-redhead has an endurance that may prove favorable—or it might end in a tragic heartache.

Sully, Old Peete, Nicolas, Susie and Maria—characters that flavor the reading and add some laughter, tension and mixed feelings about their possible hindrance or helpfulness.

Characters—one of the best and most fun parts of a book. I hope you readers will get to know the characters in Hunter’s Rose and love (or hate) them as much as I did when creating the story.

Blog Stops

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, August 20 (Author Interview)

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 20

Texas Book-aholic, August 21

Inklings and notions, August 22

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, August 23

For Him and My Family, August 24

By The Book, August 25 (Author Interview)

deb’s Book Review, August 25

Betti Mace, August 26

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 27

Connie’s History Classroom, August 28

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, August 29

Tell Tale Book Reviews, August 30 (Author Interview)

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, August 31

Pause for Tales, September 1

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, September 2 (Author Interview)

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Carole is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and copy of the book!!

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

https://promosimple.com/ps/20e0e/hunter-s-rose-celebration-tour-giveaway

#Grow Your Circle by Professor Stork

About the Book

Mila is a young girl with a strong sense of purpose. She also listens and pays attention to the words and thoughts of wise advisers, like her parents and teachers. Through everyday actions imbued with kindness and consideration, Mila is intent on fostering positive change in her community and across the globe.

#GrowYourCircle is a trailblazing graphic novel for children 6-10, their parents and teachers. The book nurtures children’s innate sense of purpose and helps build strong, positive leadership skills

#GrowYourCircle, by Professor Stork, is a graphic novel. Graphic novels are comparable to comic books but differ from them in that they are standalone storylines with comic-type pictures which include either an individual frame or multiple panels.

We meet Mila, who possesses a superpower, the Superpower of Purpose, despite not being a superhero. Thus begins the story of a little girl whose life is affected by the arrival of a new girl in her class at school. When Mila is hesitant to approach her new classmate, Mila’s mother offers essential support and invaluable assistance.

After taking her mother’s advice to heart, Mila allows her mother to post her experience online, where it becomes overwhelmingly popular, going viral. Mila and her pals are shocked to find they have done something admirable and worthy, unintentionally sparking a movement.

The author does a great job of demonstrating the idea of purpose, which is highlighted by mentions of Mila’s heroes: Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist; Ruth Bader Ginsburg, former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States; Martin Luther King, an American Baptist minister and activist and Greta Thunberg, a Swedish environmental activist.

As the topic develops, readers like you and me, as well as Mila’s classmates, learn more about different nations and develop an appreciation for their diversity. Mila also learns more about her new classmate’s culture, too.

I believe the target audience of 6 to 10 year olds will connect with the story. Many children have new students enter their classroom, and some readers will have been the newcomers. #GrowYourCircle will provide them with realistic, useful and immediate remedies and solutions for the feelings of anxiety, shyness and the host of other emotions they may experience in circumstances similar to Mila’s.


The illustrations are bright and vibrant and do a respectable job of illuminating the subject. The bright red high-top shoes and the swirly dress caught my attention in particular. The circles or bubbles gave depth to the concepts the characters voiced in the story. However, I felt that the illustrations were rather one-dimensional and lacked “life.”

By and large, #GrowYourCircle offers advice and provides encouragement for times one is in an awkward or uncomfortable and discomfiting situation, something that should appeal to the age group it is intended for. In addition, the theme of purpose cements the reasons why we should each grow our own circle.

I received an advance review copy for free from BookSirens, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

About the Author

Professor Stork is on a mission to write and publish books that help children build and nurture self-worth, creativity, compassion, leadership skills, and a sense of purpose. He believes that children are the catalyst for positive change and that reading is a way for them to begin the journey leading to a fulfilling, purposeful life.

Parents and educators can help support their children by introducing them to books with positive messages.

http://www.professorstork.com/

https://booksirens.com/

#BookSirens #GrowYourCircle

The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip by Sara Brunsvold

Publisher’s Summary

Aidyn Kelley is talented, ambitious, and ready for a more serious assignment than the fluff pieces she’s been getting as a cub reporter for the Kansas City Star. In her eagerness, she pushes too hard, earning herself the menial task of writing an obituary for an unremarkable woman who’s just entered hospice care.

But there’s more to Clara Kip than meets the eye. The spirited septuagenarian may be dying, but she’s not quite ready to cash it in yet. Never one to shy away from an assignment herself, she can see that God brought the young reporter into her life for a reason. And if it’s a story Aidyn Kelley wants, that’s just what Mrs. Kip will give her–but she’s going to have to work for it.

Debut author Sara Brunsvold delights with this emotional multigenerational story that shows that the very best life is made up of thousands of little deaths to self. You’ll want to be just like Mrs. Kip when you grow up!

The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip by Sara Brunsvold piqued my interest with its intriguing title. I simply wasn’t sure about reading it. But I felt compelled to read it after hearing so much about it and after reading all the positive reviews. I’m so grateful I did. The depth and significance of this book prevents me from fully doing it justice.

Aidyn Kelly, a tyro for The Kansas City Star, was assigned to write Mrs. Kip’s obituary. Because Mrs. Kip is still living, Aidyn felt as though the task was a punishment.

The 79-year-old Mrs. Kip (Clara) has a lot to teach Aidyn, a young woman who is just starting her profession. She actually has a lot to teach anybody who reads this transcendent, inspirative story.

The book is a stirring and beautiful debut that is packed with countless Biblical truths and nuggets of wisdom that are sure to touch readers’ hearts. Clara’s memories and her current antics and kindnesses are all covered. Brunsvold succeeds in giving you the feeling of journeying with Clara through her recollections yet connecting with her present friendship.

If you only read one book this year, I implore you to choose The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip.

I received a review copy of this book from NetGalley. All opinions are my own, and I am voluntarily leaving this review.

Finding Harmony by Alyssa Roat and Hope Bolinger on Tour with Celebrate Lit, includes Giveaway (Spotlight)

About the Book

Book: Finding Harmony

Authors: Alyssa Roat and Hope Bolinger

Genre: Sweet Contemporary Romance

Release date: July 5, 2022

Can two people-pleasing musicians win the grand prize, or will they be forced to give up music for good?

Newly hired worship leader Elijah Peterson can’t seem to catch a break with his church’s congregation. With conflicting demands from congregants, he struggles to find a way to make everyone happy, especially Don, a man who’s rumored to have driven out the last worship leader.

Music teacher Olivia “Liv” Wilson says yes to everything—piano lessons, church volunteering, extra shifts—all while struggling to help pay her dad’s medical bills. As jobs fall through, she’s hit with even worse news—with bills piling up, they could lose her childhood home.

When their meddling roommates force Elijah and Liv into a cooking class together, the two come up with a plan. They’ll enter an indie songwriting competition—with a cash prize that could be enough to save Liv’s house. And maybe if Elijah can win, his musical family and congregation will finally take him seriously.

But winning the competition might mean losing themselves in the process. Can they find a way to strike harmony between writing songs they love and songs the audience wants to hear?

Click here to get your copy!

About the Authors

Hope Bolinger and Alyssa Roat are the authors of nearly twenty books both independently and co-authored. They have worked in a wide variety of roles within the publishing industry as agents, editors, writers, journalists, and publicists. When not writing, Hope is a theater nerd who loves to hike, and Alyssa is a history nerd and game enthusiast. Both are proud cat moms. You can learn more about them on social media @hopekbolinger and @alyssawrote.

More from Alyssa

In college, Hope and I (Alyssa) didn’t know the word “no.” After all, our professors, advisors, and chapel speakers all told us, “Say yes to every opportunity. Volunteer for everything. If you don’t do it now, it will be too late. Your career will fail. You won’t please God. Etc. Etc.”

So we followed that advice, and we well-nigh burned ourselves out. Faced with a litany of health issues caused by overworking, we realized after college that maybe we had taken things too far. So we began to work on unlearning this mindset.

To this day, we have to call each other and ask, “Is it okay if I turn down this unpaid opportunity? If I don’t have time for this volunteer work? Will people be mad at me?”

We channeled a lot of this people-pleasing into Finding Harmony. As we recovered from overworking ourselves, our characters Elijah and Liv learned that they didn’t need to do everything. As we fell back in love with writing for the sake of the art, not for the A+, our characters discovered how to remain true to their music.

We hope you enjoy reading Finding Harmony as much as we enjoyed writing it—and we encourage you to follow God’s call on your life, regardless of expectations.

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 20

Spoken from the Heart, July 21 (Author Interview)

The Sacred Line, July 21

Texas Book-aholic, July 22

Inklings and notions, July 23

For Him and My Family, July 24

For the Love of Literature, July 25 (Author Interview)

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, July 25

deb’s Book Review, July 26

Locks, Hooks and Books, July 27

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, July 28

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, July 29

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, July 30

Splashes of Joy, July 31 (Author Interview)

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, August 1

Blogging With Carol, August 2

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Hope and Alyssa are giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and Picture Imperfect and Finding Harmony, in preferred format (paperback U.S. only)!!

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

https://promosimple.com/ps/1f7f6/finding-harmony-celebration-tour-giveaway

A Christmas in the Alps by Melody Carlson

Publisher’s Summary

After a time of heartache and loss, Simone Winthrop discovers a tantalizing letter from her French great-grandmother, which seems to suggest that she is heir to a family treasure. Ever practical, Simone assumes the claim is baseless, but her best friend encourages her to find out for sure. Despite her deep-rooted fear of flying, Simone boards a jet to travel to Paris at Christmastime to uncover the truth.

During the long flight, Simone meets the charming Kyle Larsson, who’s on his way to France to become an apprentice clockmaker. Though they abruptly part ways, an unexpected rendezvous in the French Alps at Simone’s family’s clock factory may lead to the discovery of the family treasure . . . and so much more.

For anyone who is wearying of staying home, Melody Carlson invites you to spend Christmas with her in the beautiful French Alps this year. So pull on your mittens, tie your scarf tight, and prepare yourself for a magical mountain holiday.

I have read several of Melody Carlson’s books and found them to be very enjoyable. My favorites, though, are always her Christmas tales. Every year, I eagerly anticipate and can’t wait to read them. A Christmas in the Alps did not let me down!

Every component—from the mysterious letter to the hasty choice to fly to France, from the enigmatic Kyle to the clockmaker factory—built upon the others and helped to create a beautiful, suspenseful story that had me fascinated and hooked from the start.

The French Alps provided the ideal backdrop for Christmas. I could almost physically feel the cold, see the icy landscapes, and imagine the breathtaking views.

The faith component was understated and subtle. However, it complemented the story well.

A Christmas in the Alps is a novella which makes it the ideal book for a quick read when you are feeling nostalgic for Christmas, or during the holiday season.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley. All opinions are my own and I am voluntarily leaving this review.

Once Upon A Dicken’s Christmas by Michelle Griep

Publisher’s Summary

Three Delightful Christmas Tales from Beloved Storyteller Michelle Griep

Pour yourself a cuppa, get lost in the merriment of the season, and enjoy a Dickensian Christmas in three stories from fan-favorite Michelle Griep:
 
12 Days a Bleakly Manor: Brought together under mysterious circumstances, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters. What matters most is what Christmas is all about . . . love.
 
A Tale of Two Hearts: Pleasure seeker William Barlow needs a wife immediately to gain his uncle’s inheritance, and Mina Scott is just the girl to make him look respectable—too bad she turns him down. Ought he give her a second chance?
 
The Old Lace Shop: Recently widowed Bella White is finally freed from the domination of the overbearing men in her life, but when she enters into a business partnership with the handsome Edmund Archer, she begins to wonder if marriage is worth a second chance.

Michelle Griep’s intriguing and engaging trilogy of novellas, Once Upon a Dickens Christmas, is modeled after Charles Dickens and is set in Victorian England. The tales are united by an enigmatic coin’s legend, or in this case, the principal writing on a coin.

As I read the individual stories, I had the impression that I had been transported back in time to the Victorian era. Each story’s tempo is perfectly set by the narrative’s cadence, which draws you in and keeps you there. There are good reasons to enjoy (and occasionally doubt) the motivations of the key characters because each had admirable and imperfect components to their personality. The adversaries were distressing and dreadful, nearly creating a feeling of repugnance.

Due to its subject matter touching on the issues of domestic abuse and harsh working conditions, one of the stories, “The Old Lace Shop,” was a little more challenging to read. The story was also the newest of the three as the other two,”12 Days at Bleakly Manor” and “A Tale of Two Hearts,” were already in print.

Collectively, the Christmas storylines, the entwining of faith and redemptive nature will inspire and delight you, making Once Upon a Dickens Christmas an essential part of your Christmas reading.

I received a review copy of this book from NetGalley. All opinions are my own, and I am voluntarily leaving this review.