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10.21.2018

The Rose and the Briar ~ Review

The Rose and the Briar
Faraway Castle #3
By J.M. Stengl

Rosa Bravo is the head gardener at Faraway Castle who uses her magical skills to give a special touch to all her work. But she also uses her skills to hide away a secret one that has been kept by her family for one hundred years. A secret that has given her a dread and distrust of princes for hidden within her garden sleeps the Princess Zafira. A princess cursed by her own ambitions to sleep until awakened by the kiss of a prince.

When Geoff Bryant takes over the now open position of Magical-Creature Controller Rosa has an almost instant dislike of the young man. For some reason, she just doesn't trust him especially as he has the ability to see past her magic. But Geoff is more than he seems and when Rosa discovers just who he is she's is not going to be happy at all!

When Prince Javier of Evora comes to Faraway Castle Rosa is worried - could he know her family's secret? And will he reveal her true identity to her friends? As Javier works to discover just what Rosa knows Geoff does his best to keep Rosa safe from the Prince's devious schemes, schemes that just might unleash Princess Zafira on an unsuspecting world if he succeeds.

The Rose and the Briar is an all-new twist on the tale of Sleeping Beauty which readers will love. A prince in disguise, a power-hungry princess hid away in an endless sleep, magical creatures and an old nemesis - what's not to love?  Get ready to see this sleeping beauty get what she truly deserves!

This is an appropriate read for middle grade and up. There are no inappropriate scenes to make readers or parents cringe. I would classify this as a gentle read and a fairy tale. It is an easy read that can be enjoyed over a weekend with a pot of tea and comfortable corner to curl up in.

I was provided a complimentary copy of this book with no expectations but my honest review - all opinions expressed are my own.



About the Book:

Power-hungry princes are Rosa's greatest dread.

Deep within the gardens of Faraway Castle sleeps a secret Rosa the gardener has sworn to protect with her life--the legendary princess Zafira. For three years she has hidden the princess almost in plain sight. But two nosy princes threaten to undo the work of a century.

When asked to take his sister's old job as Faraway Castle's Magical-Creature Controller, Prince Briar leaps at the chance to disguise himself as a commoner, earn a place in the magical world, and be trained by the mysterious Gamekeeper. Nothing works out the way he'd expected, and he is far too busy working to gain Rosa's trust to bother about uncovering her secrets. 

Until dashing Prince Javier of Evora pursues Rosa . . . and Briar suspects the rival prince of dark motives. Can Rosa and Briar learn to trust each other soon enough to prevent a magical disaster? 

Will the kiss of a prince really awaken true love?

10.16.2018

A Sparkle of Silver ~ Review

A Sparkle of Silver
Georgia Coast Romance #1
By Liz Johnson

Millie Sullivan is desperate and she'll do just about anything to keep her grandmother safe but as Grandma Joy slips further into the grasp of dementia Millie is running out of time and resources. When her grandmother, during a lucid moment, mentions a family secret, a treasure, and a journal that could solve all her problems. There's just one problem the Chateau is a tourist location operated by the historical preservation society. Short of paying for a tour that only allowed access to limited locations her only other option is to take a job there as a guest from the late 1920s. As an actor she can be in the Chateau but her access to the estate and home is still limited. But she'll do anything even sneak into the places she is expressly forbidden to be.

Ben Thornton is working as a security guard for the Chateau. And he takes his job very seriously - he needs the money. When he comes across a woman in the estate library he knows he needs to take her in but she has a story to tell one that could very help him get the funds he needs. But to find the treasure that Millie convinces him exists will require some off hours searching - searching that if discovered could get them both fired.

A Sparkle of Silver is a blend of contemporary and historical as Millie and Ben work through the few clues that they have which include the journal entries of Ruth Holiday from the summer of 1929. Ruth, the daughter of a farmer, has a position at a bank and is not of the social class that would normally frequent the Chateau. But her friendship with one of the residents brings her into a world she dreams of calling her own - a world of wealth and ease. As Ruth goes through this summer she finds herself with a choice - one that will determine the course of her future - one that will test her heart.

As Ruth's story is revealed Millie and Ben are faced with their own choices. Will they let the past determine their futures? Or will they allow their today chart the course for tomorrow?

This is the first book in a new series by Liz Johnson and this one is set on St Simons Island,  Georgia rather than Prince Edward Island. Having been there I can imagine the setting - warm breezes, the beauty of the Spanish moss draping from the trees (what I most miss now living in Wisconsin), the scent of the ocean. This book deals with issues that confront many in their day-to-day living in a thought provoking manner for those have not faced them. This book would be an excellent book club selection. This would also be an excellent way to spend a day off (which I did with a pile of 13 dachshunds surrounding me). I like the back-and-forth between the present and the past, which was easy to follow as the journal entries were dated and in italics.

I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by Revell with no expectations except that I offer my honest opinion ~ all opinions expressed are my own.


About the Book:

Uncovering the past can lead to an unexpected future . . . 

Millie Sullivan plays a 1920s-era guest during tours of a palatial estate on the shore of St. Simons Island, Georgia, where her great-grandmother was a real guest ninety years ago. When Millie learns of a lost diary that may contain the location of a hidden treasure on the estate and reveal the identity of her great-grandfather, she sets out to find the truth of her heritage--and the fortune she desperately needs. But it won't be easy.

When security guard Ben Thornton discovers her snooping in the estate's private library, he threatens to have her fired. Still, her story seems too ludicrous to be fiction, and her offer to split the treasure is too tempting to pass up.

Get ready for a romantic escapade through dark halls and dusty corners that will have you holding your breath and sighing with delight.

10.13.2018

Justice Delayed ~ Review

Delayed Justice
Hidden Justice #3
By Cara Putman

Jaime Nichols has lived with the memories and the nightmares for twenty years but she is now strong enough to seek justice against the person who broke her trust. This will not be an easy fight to win against someone as powerful as he is. But Jaime needs to do this - to be a voice for others who were without a voice as she was.

Chandler Bolton, a veteran, who has suffered from the scars from his own service works with other veterans who are in need of counseling. When a young victim who needs the special comfort skills of his dog Aslan, Chandler finds himself helping Tiffany work through her trauma. A victim that Jaime is asked to help, due to her personal insights into what Tiffany is dealing with. But working with someone like Chandler is something Jaime isn't sure she can do especially with the upheaval she is experiencing in both her personal and professional lives.

As Jaime confronts the past she hopes to find healing but the healing she seeks might come from an altogether different source. Her friends have been praying for her and now Chandler has added his own for her. Could God have been there all along? Or is He as distant as she always assumed? The answers to her questions will determine the future course of her life.

Each book in the Hidden Justice series can be read as a standalone book with each book focusing on different characters. Difficult issues are covered and each could be taken right from the headlines of current news events and Justice Delayed is no exception. The book does not get into the nitty-gritty ugly details leaving that to the reader's own imagination (or not). The issues covered are childhood abuse and PTSD. This is not a book to read if you want fluff but it is an excellently written work that I would recommend if you are looking for a book that offers some depth to it.

I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by Thomas Nelson through their blogger program with no expectations but that I offer my honest opinion ~ all opinions offered are my own.


About the Book:
She had long given up the desire to be loved. 
Now she only needed to be heard.

Jaime Nichols went to law school to find the voice she never had as a child, and her determination to protect girls and women in the path of harm drives her in ways both spoken and unspoken. As Jaime, now a criminal defense attorney, prepares to press charges against someone who wronged her long ago, she must face not only her demons but also the unimaginable forces that protect the powerful man who tore her childhood apart.
Chandler Bolton, a retired veteran, is tasked with helping a young victim who must testify in court—and along with his therapy dog, Aslan, he’s up for the task. When he first meets Jaime, all brains, beauty, and brashness, he can’t help but be intrigued. As Chandler works to break through the wall Jaime has built around herself, the two of them discover that they may have more to offer one another than they ever could have guessed—and that together, they may be able to help this endangered child.
This thrilling installment of the Hidden Justice series explores the healing power of resolution and the weight of words given voice. And as Jaime pursues delayed justice of her own, she unearths eternal truths that will change the course of her life.

Santa's Dog ~ Blog Hop

Welcome to the Santa's Dog Blog Hop
In this rhyming picture book for dog lovers of all ages, readers follow the adventures of Santa’s best dog, Lance, when he falls out of the sleigh one Christmas Eve. He’s taken in by the animal shelter and then brought home by a military family who needs some help as Dad is called to serve his country. When Christmas Eve comes ‘round the next year, Lance must decide whether to return to the North Pole with his friend Santa or stay with his new family. Kirkus Reviews describes SANTA’S DOGS as “a sweet, powerful Christmas story.”
SANTA’S DOG would be a great addition to any library or classroom reading program! To accompany this book, we have developed full teacher resources, including a Teacher Lesson Plans packet as well as an Activity Packet, both of which are available for FREE download from the Dogs and Books website. JoAnn also offers FREE virtual author visits to schools. Additional information about all of these resources can be found here.

About the Author

JoAnn Sky has written for years as part of her job (business and marketing plans and the like). One day she tried her hand at writing for fun—and liked it. Now she authors adult contemporary romance and young adult romance with a magical twist as well as children’s books. She is a two-time Golden Heart® finalist and a member of Romance Writers of America. Originally from the Midwest, JoAnn currently lives in northern Nevada with her husband a.k.a. love of her life, three teenage children, and three crazy rescue dogs.

Behind the Scenes Facts About the Book

1. Lance in the story is a combination of two rescues we’ve been lucky to have as part of our family over the years: Sampson and Lance. Sampson was our first rescue, and I adopted him from a kill-shelter while my husband was deployed to Iraq about 15 years ago. Lance was a wonderful older dog who spent about five years with us. Lance crossed the Rainbow Bridge earlier this year.
2. This story didn’t start out intending to be a children’s book. I began writing this as a short story that I thought I’d give to readers to encourage them to sign up for my author newsletter. As I wrote it out, it would only come out in rhyme—it just didn’t seem to work any other way. Then once I was done, I had a huge desire to add illustrations. The whole thing just snowballed after that!
3. The illustration of Santa going to pick up Lance and finding the shelter closed initially didn’t have the cardinal or the cat. I thought it needed “a little something,” so Ed Koehler (the most awesome illustrator in the world) added the cardinal. But it still seemed to need something! I asked Ed if he would add an animal peeking through the window. He wasn’t convinced it was necessary but added a cat. We both loved it, so that cat got to stay!
4. For the illustration of when Lance packs his things and waits for Santa, I had this vision with his dish on his head. I’m pretty sure Ed thought I was nuts when I first described it. But then he added the photo of the kids, and it was absolutely perfect!
5. SANTA’S DOG would not exist in its final form as a beautiful hardcover with dust jacket if I had not purchased Bobbie Hinman’s book, “How to Create a Successful Children’s Picture Book.” Bobbie is a successful author and editor. Her book is the bible for writing and publishing a children’s book. Seriously.

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10.11.2018

Hidden Peril ~ Review

Hidden Peril
Code of Honor #2
By Irene Hannon

Kristin Dane might not have had the family she wanted growing up but she does have her two best friends Colin and Rick and she knows they will have her back should the need arise. And she is about to enlist them once again in the children's show she's putting together. When a murder occurs in her small gift shop Kristin is drawn into a world that could easily put her life on the line.

When a second murder is loosely linked to her shop Kristin and St. Louis Detective Luke Carter try to find out if these were just random burglaries gone terribly wrong or if the victims were targeted. And an even bigger question if the possible terrorist link that Luke suspects is proven to be accurate just how far is someone willing to go to achieve their goal?

In a game that increasingly becomes more dangerous the unknown terrorist works to keep his identity hidden and his operation under the radar of law enforcement. But one little mistake could conceivably bring it all down in an explosive finale.

Fans of Irene Hannon will enjoy seeing a few characters from her previous series join together to stop this latest threat to St. Louis and her residents. For those who haven't read Irene's work before you can read this book without reading her previous books as each is a complete story in itself. A word of advice - be sure to read this when you are guaranteed uninterrupted read because as the story progresses you'll be less inclined to put it down. This is Romantic Suspense but there is no over-the-top violence or graphic crime-scene detailing to keep you from sleep.

I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by the publisher through JustRead Publicity Tours with no expectation but offering my honest opinion - all opinions expressed are my own.




About the Book:
The most dangerous enemy is the one who has nothing to lose
As teenagers, Kristin Dane and her two best friends took a vow to make the world a better place. Twenty years later, she's fulfilling that pledge through her fair trade shop that features products from around the world. All is well until, one by one, people connected to the shop begin dying. 

Detective Luke Carter, new to the St. Louis PD, wants to know why. Before he can answer that question, however, the FBI weighs in and Kristin suddenly finds herself in the middle of international intrigue--and in the sights of the ruthless mastermind behind an ingenious and deadly scheme. Can this cold-blooded killer be stopped before more people die . . . including Kristin?

Three-time RITA Award-winner and "queen of inspirational romantic suspense" (Library Journal) Irene Hannon doesn't disappoint in this edge-of-your-seat thriller that will have you up late as you rush toward the explosive conclusion.


LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | iTunes | Book Depository | BAM! | Christian Book

 About the Author:

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Photo Credit: © DeWeesePhotography.com
Irene Hannon is the bestselling author of more than fifty novels, including One Perfect Spring, Hope Harbor, Sea Rose Lane, Sandpiper Cove, and Pelican Point, as well as Dangerous Illusionsand the Private Justice and Men of Valorsuspense series. Her books have been honored with three coveted RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America, and she is a member of that organization’s elite Hall of Fame. Her many other awards include National Readers’ Choice, Daphne du Maurier, Retailers’ Choice, Booksellers’ Best, Carols, and Reviewers’ Choice from RT Book Reviews magazine, which also honored her with a Career Achievement award for her entire body of work. In addition, she is a two-time Christy Award finalist. Learn more at http://www.irenehannon.com.

CONNECT WITH AUTHOR:  Website | Facebook | Twitter  |  Instagram




(1) Winner will win:
Book Pack with Revell swag
(US/Canada Mailing Addresses Only)
Be sure to check out each stop on the tour for more chances to win. 
Giveaway will begin at midnight October 10, 2018 
and last through 11:59 PM EST on October 17, 2018. 

Winners will be notified within a week of the close of the giveaway
and given 48 hours to respond or risk 
forfeiture of the prize. 

Open US/Canada mailing addresses only.
Enter at the following page

10.10.2018

Big and Little Coloring Devotional ~ Review

Big and Little Coloring Devotional
Written by Rachel C. Swanson
Illustrated by Jacy Corral

Big and Little Coloring Devotional is a fun and relaxing way to spend time together with your younger family members. The facing pages go together one is a simpler design while other is more intricate. They are themed so that these two pages go together offering a verse of Scripture on both pages and corresponding devotional message on the big page.

The book is softcover so while it does not lay-flat it can get fairly close to it and is an excellent opportunity for parent and child to learn to work together if coloring at the same time. The pages are of a heavier weight but I'd recommend crayons or color pencils just to be sure the color doesn't bleed through to the other side.

One page pairing has the verse: Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. The parents are then offered a small insight - they are to lead their children in the Lord. The pages have a penguin family to color as you think on these things.

If you have more than one child you may have to come up with an alternating day coloring system or get a second book to double the enjoyment. This would also be a lovely visit to Grandma and Grandpa's house activity. Do you know someone expecting a new sibling soon - this would be a great big brother/big sister gift with the promise that there will still be a special parent time to come (unwinding de-stressing time for Mom).

I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher BH with no expectation except that give my honest opinion ~ all opinions expressed are my own.


About the Book:
Kids crave constant activities and attention. Adults crave quiet moments of refreshment. How can we achieve both? Big and Little Coloring Devotional engages adults’ minds with appealing biblical devotionals while providing a creative outlet through coloring to diffuse stress.
Let’s have fun with our children through coloring and facilitate their spiritual growth with Scripture. Big and Little Coloring Devotional will incorporate physical, spiritual, and emotional refreshment by providing authentic faith-filled devotionals combined with therapeutic doodling for both the adult and child.
About the Author:
Rachel C. Swanson is a dental hygienist turned author and speaker. She’s founder of the blog community RefineAndRestore.com where she pours out "R&R for the Heart and Soul." Her writing is featured on multiple websites worldwide. She’s been married ten years to her husband who loves her despite her love for coffee and often impulsive nature. They rear their tribe of identical twin boys and (nineteen months later) their baby girl ... and a Weimaraner (dog) who thinks she’s human. They reside in a wannabe country town just on the outskirts of the big city Los Angeles, CA. www.RachelCSwanson.com


About the Illustrator:

Jacy Corral (pronounced "Jackie") is an illustrator, hand lettering artist, graphic designer, wife, and mom. After enjoying an extensive career in corporate marketing and design, she traded fancy slacks for yoga pants to focus on the great privilege of raising her daughter, investing in her home and marriage, and creating artwork that helps people to connect and reflect. Jacy lives with her husband, daughter, and miniature poodle in West Los Angeles, CA. She shares her creations regularly on Instagram and at www.hyssopdesign.com.



10.09.2018

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms ~ Featurettes

This year's Nutcracker is a big screen event

Enjoy this brand new featurette featuring Misty Copeland in her role as the ballerina princess in Disney’s “Nutcracker and the Four Realms”  Misty is the first African-American principal dancer for the prestigious American Ballet Theater and showcases her world-class dancing in the upcoming holiday film.


This beautiful behind-the-scenes look at the story and how the cast 
came to fall in love with the story of the original Nutcracker.


ABOUT THE MOVIE:
All Clara (Mackenzie Foy) wants is a key – a one-of-a-kind key that will unlock a box that holds a priceless gift. A golden thread, presented to her at godfather Drosselmeyer’s (Morgan Freeman) annual holiday party, leads her to the coveted key—which promptly disappears into a strange and mysterious parallel world. It’s there that Clara encounters a soldier named Phillip (Jayden Fowora-Knight), a gang of mice and the regents who preside over three Realms: Land of Snowflakes, Land of Flowers and Land of Sweets. Clara and Phillip must brave the ominous Fourth Realm, home to the tyrant Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren), to retrieve Clara’s key and hopefully return harmony to the unstable world. Starring Keira Knightley as the Sugar Plum Fairy, Disney’s new holiday feature film “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” is directed by Lasse Hallström and Joe Johnston, and inspired by E.T.A. Hoffmann’s classic tale.

Opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 2, 2018.
Directors:  Lasse Hallström, Joe Johnston
Producers:  Mark Gordon, Larry Franco
Executive producers:  Sara Smith, Lindy Goldstein

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