Of Daggers and Deception Blog Tour and Giveaway

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Title: Of Daggers and Deception
Series: Book Two in the Duchy of Athens Series
Author: A. L. Sowards
Release Day: December 6, 2021
Publisher: Covenant Communications
Formats: Print, ebook, audio
Genres: Christian Historical Fiction, Medieval Adventure

Full book synopsis: 
After years as a soldier and mercenary, Rasheed has retired from battle to run the bathhouse in Thebes with his friends Gillen and Eudocia. The simple life suits them, so when Venetian strangers come to town looking to hire the renowned crew, their answer is no. But when one of his friends is abducted, Rasheed is left with no choice but to take up his weapons and join forces with the Venetians, including the beautiful and clever Cecilia, whose betrothed has also been seized by the unknown foe.

As the reluctant allies face ambushes and the looming threat of capture, Rasheed and Cecilia forge a surprising connection. But as the party races to rescue their friends, Rasheed discovers that nothing is as it seems. As his trust in Cecilia begins to waver, he realizes that in the end, they will both be forced to make a choice between love and duty.

Short book synopsis: When one of his best friends is abducted, Rasheed immediately gathers a rescue party. Joining forces with the mysterious Cecilia, the group faces pirates, old enemies, and a host of other foes. Rasheed forms a surprising connection with Cecilia, but he soon discovers that nothing is as it seems, especially when they are forced to choose between love and duty.

Author bio:
A. L. Sowards is the author of multiple historical fiction novels, with settings spanning the globe from the fourteenth to twentieth centuries. Her stories have earned a Whitney Award, several Whitney Finalists positions, and a Readers’ Favorite Gold Medal. She enjoys hiking and swimming, usually manages to keep up with the laundry, and loves it when someone else cooks dinner. She currently lives in the beautiful state of Alaska with her husband, three children, and an ever-growing library.

Author links:


Of Daggers and Deception is a medieval action-adventure novel as the characters race to save a friend. The characters and the historical content are interesting and intriguing. This was a slow read for me, but I still enjoyed the adventures and action throughout the story. The characters encounter several obstacles and unexpected twists and turns. I also like some of the passages of Rasheed explaining Christianity to his brother. I felt like the author had some interesting insights that she shared through her characters. I also liked the diversity within this book. This book will appeal to both male and female audiences. I felt like the romance was really subtle and the book covered more of the dangers of this time period as they face slavers, pirates, enemies, deception and more. To learn more about Daggers and Deception, click here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please note that I received a free ecopy of this book, however, this is my honest opinion. This post also contains affiliate links that help support this blog.

Wendy's Pirates Review

Tuesday, December 14, 2021


In 1817, Wendy Darling returns from London to her family in Devon, where she meets Captain James Hooke, a dashing naval officer who both infuriates and intrigues her. But Wendy is hiding a dark secret—and running from a past that makes it impossible for her to trust the incorrigible captain. And James has secrets of his own, secrets he’s afraid will interfere with his desire to win Wendy’s heart.

When the Darling family takes in a young orphan boy named Peter, the two newcomers in Wendy’s life help her learn to open her heart and begin to trust again. But when a gang of pirates sails into port in search of Peter, will trust be enough to save Wendy and those she loves from danger?

Varnell takes J. M. Barrie’s classic Peter Pan characters and introduces them to risks and romance that go far beyond the average fairy tale. As Wendy and Hooke fight for new beginnings, they learn that happy endings aren’t always guaranteed.

Wendy's Pirates is a described as a retelling of Peter Pan, however, I would say that it's more in the spirit of Peter Pan. Some of the characters are quite unexpectedly different from the original story and when I heard it was a retelling, I expected the characters to be similar from the original story. There were scenes that just were beautifully written. The novella also felt like it had the essence of what Peter Pan the story was trying to share to the readers. This story was a quick read that I really enjoyed. The story was clean and filled with mystery and action. I did feel like the foreshadowing was a bit forced in parts. The story kept alluding to the past without really coming out and saying what it was, and I understand that the author was trying to set up the plot reveal for later in the story, but it frustrated me as a reader. This book was wholesome and clean. This would also be a good romance for teens and young adults. I look forward to seeing what this author comes up with next. To learn more about Wendy's Pirates, click here.

Please note that I received a free ebook to review, however, this is my honest opinion. This post contains affiliate links that help support this blog.

Boy Between Worlds The Novice Collector Virtual Book Tour and Giveaway

Monday, December 13, 2021


Boy Between Worlds: The Novice Collector

Written by Cynthia C. Huijgens

Ages 8-12 | 187 Pages

Publisher: Idle Time Press | ISBN-13: 9781732925847

Publisher’s Synopsis: On his thirteenth birthday, Max Mead wakes up battered and bruised in the villa of his grandfather, a famous antiquities expert, in Cairo. He has a hard time remembering how he got there, but slowly details of his quest to locate his missing grandfather begin to emerge. But the Lieutenant, leader of a ruthless antiquities trafficking gang, has left Max with more than a few nasty bruises.

Available for purchase on Amazon or Bookshop.


Cynthia C. Huijgens writes for children of all ages, including children’s picture books. She holds a BA in Art and Design, Masters in Education, and is a certified K-12 Art Teacher. Cynthia graduated from Simon Fraser University’s The Writer’s Studio.

For more information, visit https://www.idletimepress.com.

Boy Between Worlds: The Novice Collector shares the story of how a boy follows his grandfather's footsteps by becoming a novice collector. The novice collector can see historical events through the use of artifacts. The story contains several villains that are trying to misuse artifacts for their own gain. The book integrates Egyptian history into the story, which will help get kids interested in history and historical events. I love that the book encourages readers to realize that objects have a history even if the object may seem less interesting and discarded. This book encourages kids to be interested in the history around them. Readers will be interested in the characters and get excited to see the adventures that they encounter.  The story is a quick and easy read. I like that the book characters are all very different and introduces children to different foods and a different culture. The main character, Max, in the book still seems like he needs to grow and mature a little more in his responsibilities. He doesn't always seem to have the best attitude or maturity and my guess is that he'll continue to grow and develop throughout the series. The side characters are unique, and I liked the description of Kiki. The book will be a fun and adventurous read for middle-grade readers.


Enter for a chance to win a Boy Between Worlds prize pack!

One (1) grand prize winner receives:

  • An autographed copy of Boy Between Worlds: The Novice Collector
  • Two (2) 100% pashminas purchased from a vendor in the Khan el Kahlili, Cairo
  • A custom bookmark
  • An Idle Time Press t-shirt

Three (3) winners receive:

Please note that this post is in partnership with The Children’s Book Review and Idle Time Press. I received a free ebook to review, however, I shared my honest opinion.

An Accidental Romance Blog Tour and Giveaway

Friday, December 10, 2021


Rebecca Jennings’s first London Season has been absolutely ruined, and one person alone is responsible: Mr. Ben Fortescue. If her new neighbor hadn’t startled her, she would never have broken her ankle, leaving her bored and frustrated at home in the country while her sister enters the London Season alone. Although, it was rather gallant of him to carry her home . . .

For his part, Ben feels terrible about the role he played in Miss Rebecca Jennings’s accident. In the days that follow their first disastrous meeting, he finds himself inexorably drawn to the surprising young woman—first out of guilt and then out of a stirring affection. But Ben hides a secret: he has not been completely forthright about his identity or about the dark secrets of his past that would make it impossible for romance to blossom with Miss Jennings. Despite his love for her, he knows he must let her go.

With her ankle finally healed but her heart now broken, Rebecca is left with little choice but to throw herself into the Season. With eligible men circling this late addition to the Marriage Mart, it seems that Rebecca will have no shortage of suitors. If only her heart were free to give.

An Accidental Romance is part of the Jennings Family series by Karen Tuft. The only other book of this series that I've read is The Gentleman's Deception. I found this book could be read as a stand-alone or as part of the series. The plot moved along swiftly, and the author gave the characters time to get to know each other and let the romance slowly unfold with events and dialogue. I also felt like the author had a fresh take on a romance for the Regency time period. The characters were likeable, and I liked the twists and turns in the story. There were things in the story that I couldn't have predicted as a reader and there were other things that was easily predictable. Some of the social norms for the Regency time period was ignored from the very beginning and I found that a bit odd that it was left like that when it could have easily been remedied and it threw me off for a bit. I kept expecting more to happen, but most of the other breakaways from the time period were explained and seemed justified. Other than that, I found it was a clean, wholesome romance and a fun, quick read. To learn more about An Accidental Romance, click here.

Please note that I received a free ebook to review, however, this is my honest opinion. This post contains affiliate links that help support this blog.

Avalina Jones and the Eye of the Storm Virtual Book Tour, Review, Author Interview and Giveaway

Thursday, December 9, 2021


Avalina Jones and the Eye of the Storm

Written by Lori Adams

Ages 9-12 | 336 Pages

Publisher: Spyhop Publishing | ISBN-13: 9781737131205

Publisher’s Synopsis: When a young girl learns she is the Last Heir of the legendary pirate Davy Jones, she is whisked away to begin life aboard an enchanted schoolship for Pirate Heirs where danger and excitement awaits.

Contemporary kids who happen to be Heirs of the most villainous and celebrated pirates in history. Superstitions, mysteries, curses, secrets, strange ocean creatures, undead pirates, and seafaring legends will thrill middle-grade readers in this rollicking, globe-trotting adventure.

Avalina Jones, the Last Heir of the infamous pirate Davy Jones, has never heard of Sea Magic, flying dinghies, Pirate Heir schoolships, phantom islands, undead pirates, or creatures called Half Ones. And she has never understood her strange connection to water. But when a beautiful woman arrives in a swirling waterspout, Avalina’s life explodes with more adventures than she can possibly imagine. She takes her rightful place aboard a giant Pirate Heir schoolship teeming with Heirs of the world’s most nefarious pirates.

Raised as a Landlubber, Avalina quickly realizes bizarre and danger are normal aboard Pirate Heir schoolships-food fights back, school supplies giggle or explode in your face. And not everyone can be trusted.

When Avalina is accused of a terrible crime, she must prove her innocence or risk being banished from the schoolship forever-and this in the middle of a crucial Treasure Hunt!

Avalina races to unlock the secrets of the ship, and makes a dangerous discovery that threatens everyone aboard. With the help of her new friends Charlie, Pippa, and Bummy, Avalina draws closer to the truth, unaware that a deeper, darker fate awaits.

Author Lori Adams expertly delivers a story that is timeless, bringing together elements of sea lore, magic, and adventure. The first book in a seven-book series, Avalina Jones and the Eye of the Storm, is a romping tale for middle graders who are searching for the next enduring fantasy classic.

Available for purchase on Amazon here or Bookshop.org here.


LORI ADAMS is the author of the Avalina Jones series for middle-grade readers (Avalina Jones and the Eye of the Storm (#1) as well as two young adult series: The Kate March Mysteries: Speak Easy (#1) set in Hollywood during the Roaring Twenties, and the Soulkeepers Series: Forbidden, Awaken, and Unforgiven, a paranormal fantasy set in the quintessential but fictitious town of Haven Hurst, Connecticut and first published through Random House.

Lori was born and raised in Oklahoma but moved to Southern California where she lives with her family. She loves traipsing along SoCal’s wonderful beaches, watching Angel’s baseball, Cowboys’ football. Aside from writing, Lori loves reading and watching Classic Hollywood Movies.

For more information, visit https://loriadamsbooks.com.

Avalina Jones and the Eye of the Storm follows the orphan trope that discovers something unique about their origins, however, this series is really unique in that it creates a magical pirate world. The magical pirate world has a school for children, adventures, food that fights back, unique creatures, mysteries, curses, magic, and danger. The world is so unique and different that at first it was a little hard to understand all of the dynamics, and I felt like the author rushed a little bit where I needed a bit more description and explanation. As the story progressed, I gradually caught onto how the world worked. The world is vastly interesting and imaginative. The story is filled with action, memorable scenes and mystery. The author did a good job at making this story an action-packed adventure and incorporating famous pirate names. It was never dull or tedious to read. Overall, it was an exciting read and start of a series. I think it's a book that both boys and girls would enjoy reading. The scenes weren't too scary and I felt like it was appropriate for Elementary school kids to read. It's a book that I would feel comfortable with my 8 year old boy reading.


Life Is What It's Called - What inspired you to write Avalina Jones: And the Eye of the Storm

Lori Adams - Strangely enough, the seed that sprouted the Avalina Jones series came from an online article about cruise ships. Some years ago, I read about a trend involving elderly folks retiring to live—full time—aboard large cruise ships. They had all their needs met: food, entertainment, travel, and access to doctors. My mind immediately jumped to having children from all cultures living on ships and supplied with everything they needed: food, schools, friends, libraries, adventures, and exploration. And without parents! But these children had to be distinct. Special. And unique. Hours of ship research kept leading me to pirates. While pirates have their place in history, I took the liberty of cultivating an alternative view for middle-grade readers. Keeping some of their more flamboyant and adventurous characteristics, I revolutionized pirate society and created a contemporary world for Heirs to the Pirate Kingdom. Avalina Jones is the last heir of the infamous pirate, Davy Jones. She lives on an enchanted schoolship along with other Pirate Heirs. Adding a touch of Sea Magic and bizarre sea creatures, the series set sail in a whole new direction. And of course, Pirate Heirs have their own secrets and mysteries. And not everything is as it seems.

Life Is What It's Called - How does this new book series differ from your other series? 

Lori Adams - The Avalina Jones series is my first journey into middle-grade fiction. My first young adult series, the Soulkeepers: Forbidden, Awaken, and Unforgiven is a paranormal fantasy geared toward older teens with a slightly darker theme. It’s set in the quintessential but fictitious town of Haven Hurst, Connecticut. This series rotates three points of view—the main character, Sophia St. James, (who is not who she thinks she is) a guardian angel, Michael Patronus (who tries to protect her), and a demon knight, Dante Dannoso (who is desperate to take her soul). My most recent young adult series, Speak Easy, A Kate March Mystery (#1) is a historical murder mystery for teens with adult crossover potential. It features a tenacious young reporter determined to solve the murder of Hollywood’s beloved film director. The Kate March Mysteries, as a whole, is steeped in 1920s Hollywood with authentic settings, fashion, lingo, and zero fantasy. So far. 

Life Is What It's Called -  How is it similar to your other series? 

Lori Adams - For similarities I would look at the main characters. Each series is led by an intrepid, flawed, and determined heroine. Avalina, Sophia, and Kate are vastly different due to setting, time period, and circumstance but share common characteristics. They have a deep desire to plunge into life (somewhat recklessly) but always with good intentions. I would imagine, if I asked them, they would all three agree with that saying, “I do not intend to tiptoe through life to arrive safely at death” ~M.M. Gavillet. 

Life Is What It's Called - What do you think kids will learn from the Avalina Jones series? 

Lori Adams - I hope kids, who might be reluctant readers, will discover the joy of escaping into a book or diving into a story and giving their imaginations free rein. There is no technology aboard Pirate Heir schoolships but there are several tangible things kids will pick up throughout the series: ship terminology, sailing commands, identifying sailing knots, celestial maps, and reading wind and weather. Curious readers might like to follow the schoolships’ plotted courses throughout each book. While the Phantom Islands are from my imagination, the general geography, islands, and oceans can be traced on any map. Interwoven within the plotlines are also key life lessons that readers will experience alongside Avalina and her deckmates while living aboard a Pirate Heir schoolship: teamwork, healthy competition, friendship, comradery, overcoming bullies, keeping your word, following rules, respecting diversity, and acceptance. When Avalina doesn’t want to reveal her unique, supernatural ‘gift’ because she’s afraid to be seen as different, First Officer, Scarlet Read says, “And why not be different? How marvelous that we are all born unique and special. Imagine how tiresome life would be if we were all the same. Don’t fret, Miss Jones, by being different you fit in quite nicely here, I assure you.” 

Life Is What It's Called -  How many books will be in this series? 

Lori Adams - There are seven books in the Avalina Jones series. 

Life Is What It's Called - How much fun did you have writing this book?

Lori Adams - I had more fun writing this book than I ever expected! There is a saying I learned in a great writer’s workshop: write the book you want to read. Avalina Jones and the Eye of the Storm is the book I would love to have read when I was young. Writing it, I let my imagination run amok and had a ball in the process. 

Life Is What It's Called - Was there anything difficult for you about writing this book? 

Lori Adams - Difficult? Not really, but I did challenge myself to learn ship terminology and knot tying, which was fun. However, I will say that I began this book in 2012 and went through numerous revisions. It was originally written in third person. Then I rewrote the entire book in first person. And then decided I liked third person best. The original version was slightly longer so it has been trimmed down. I put the whole project aside when the Soulkeepers series was acquired by Random House. With that completed, I returned to Avalina Jones and made more revisions. Just part of the process that led to the final version. 

Life Is What It's Called - What are some of your upcoming writing projects? 

Lori Adams -  I’ll be working on the Avalina Jones series for another six books. The Kate March Mysteries is an open series, so I’ll write them as they come. The Soulkeepers series is currently off the market for repackaging. I’ll be re-releasing it under Spyhop Publishing, hopefully next year. So, I’ve got my hands full at the moment. Other stories clamoring for my attention are on the back burning for now. I’ve had some wonderful reviewers anxious to read the next book in the Avalina Jones series, as well as the Kate March Mysteries so the pressure is on! 

Life Is What It's Called - Why did you decide to be an author? 

Lori Adams -  I’m not sure I ever ‘decided’ to be an author. I think I’ve always had it in my head, underneath everything else—that constant voice creating characters, storylines, or editing the stories I was reading. I’ve always loved to read. I was the kid under the covers with the flashlight reading after lights out. I wrote for fun and as a hobby for years, basically teaching myself until I enrolled in a writing workshop. It was there that I began to take it seriously and think about publishing. The journey to becoming an author feels like a natural progression—what I’m supposed to be doing. I tried to stop once and put it aside but found I was subconsciously creating stories in my head or dialogue or characters. Stopping didn’t stick. And now I can’t imagine myself not writing.

Enter for a chance to win an Avalina Jones and the Eye of the Storm prize pack!

One (1) grand prize winner receives:

  • An autographed copy of Avalina Jones: And the Eye of the Storm
  • An Avalina Jones quote tote
  • A Hands-Off Me Gigglin’ Grog mug
  • An Avalina Jones fridge magnet
  • An Avalina Jones bookmark

Two (2) winners receive:

  • An autographed copy of Avalina Jones: And the Eye of the Storm
  • An Avalina Jones bookmark

This post is in partnership with The Children’s Book Review and Lori Adams.

Broken Dreams Review and Giveaway

Friday, December 3, 2021

A lifetime ago, Maggie Alexander’s parents narrowly missed medaling in the Olympics as pairs figure skaters. Now a coach, her father Gordon is living his dreams through the skaters he trains—until Maggie is forced to deliver heartbreaking news: her mother’s battle against cancer will be a losing one. Shattered, her father loses his dreams in an instant—his beloved wife and his will to coach. Left to pick up the pieces, a devastated Maggie finds herself relying on the steadfast support of her childhood best friend, Lance Whitmore.

Despite the fact that Maggie has never seen Lance as more than a friend, his heart has always been hers. Lance does what he can to help Maggie work through her grief, and soon their friendship blossoms into love. But when distance threatens their relationship, Maggie is torn between building a life with the man she loves and helping her broken father rebuild his life. 

Broken Dreams is a novella part of the Dream Edge's series. This could be read as a stand-alone or part of a series. This novella isn't an easy read in that it deals with a romance in the midst of grief and trying to recover over the loss of a loved one. I felt like it was realistic in some ways by showing the sad points in the life and the resilience to deal with it and to find joy again. The characters were likeable and memorable. The story was well-written and planned out. I look forward to reading more in this series. Click here to learn more.

This post is in cooperation with the publisher. Please note that I received a free ebook to review, however, this is my honest opinion. This post also contains affiliate links.

Sprout Book Review

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

A geek, and proud of it, twelve-year-old Pete is determined to win the school science fair in an effort to convince his sports-enthusiast dad into accepting science as a worthwhile endeavor and for once be proud of Pete. Upon discovering a giant seed in the forest, Pete figures he has the grand prize wrapped up in a nutshell. When the seed sprouts into a baby, the science fair is off—no one can know the truth about Pete’s newly “adopted” brother, Sprout. Not even his dad. But when Sprout grows at an alarming rate, his skin turns green in the sun, and he exhibits super-hero-like plant powers, Pete fears he won’t be able to protect his new brother for long from those who would view Sprout as a threat. To make matters worse, Pete fears his dad likes Sprout more than him.

I didn't read the "About the Book" synopsis before reading the book and I was surprised when a baby came out of a seed that Pete and his sister found in the forest. There were a lot of unexpected twists in this novel that the author foreshadowed that I didn't pick up on until the author revealed them. This book was a really interesting read. It was very different and unique mostly through the character, Sprout. The author did a good job at describing his uniqueness and his abilities and Pete's reaction to it. I liked how the author incorporated realism and magical/fantasy elements. There was a lot of layers in this book with the mystery, Sprout's amazing abilities and Pete trying to figure out his role and who he is. This would make a good book to discuss in a classroom setting or kids book club. It would also be a fun book to read out loud to kids. I liked seeing the progression of Pete as he starts to change his attitude and realize that some of his fears and worries are of his own making.  Overall, it's an interesting, clean read that I think kids would enjoy diving in to. It's a series that both boys and girls would enjoy reading. I am curious to see how this series plays out. To learn more about Sprout, click here.

Please note that I received a free ebook, however, this is my honest opinion. This post contains affiliate links that help support this blog.
Please note that I received a free ecopy of this book to review, however, this is my honest opinion.

The Friendly Bookshelf Virtual Book Tour, Review, and Giveaway

Monday, November 29, 2021

The Friendly Bookshelf

Written by Caroline and Katherine Brickley

Illustrated by Daniela Pérez-Duarte

Ages 3+ | 32 Pages

Publisher: Blossom Children’s Media Group | ISBN-13: 9780997782714

Publisher’s Synopsis: 

Meet Bibli, a brave little library bookshelf in search of a story about someone like him . . .

Once upon a time, in a library like any other, there lived a little bookshelf named Bibli who carried a BIG question on his shelves: “Could there be a story somewhere about a bookshelf like me?” Bibli is told that bookshelves are supposed to hold stories, not have ones of their own. But everything changes when he meets Cassie, a girl longing for a friend just as much as Bibli longs for a story to relate to. Bibli learns that with kindness, confidence, empathy, and friendship, even your biggest dreams can come true—and that everyone has an important story worth sharing.

The Friendly Bookshelf is a social-emotional learning (SEL) research-based book and the first-ever picture book about a bookshelf. Written to build self-confidence and self-esteem as well as encourage inclusivity, Bibli’s story empowers children to be brave, be a friend, and always be your-shelf! Readers will be inspired to go beyond the final page of the book and share their own stories, as well as be the pioneers of a kinder, more inclusive world where everybody (and every bookshelf!) belongs.

Available for purchase here and here.


Caroline and Katherine Brickley are twin sisters and the award-winning authors of The Blossom Shoppe and The Friendly Bookshelf. Inspired by their mother, who made up stories for them each night, the sisters spent their childhood coming up with stories of their own and bringing them to life. As they grew, so did their passion for storytelling, and in 2017 the sisters made it their full-time job by founding Blossom Children’s Media Group (Blossom) from their shared college dorm room.

Now a multi-award-winning company known for excellence in children’s literature and family content, Blossom continues to bring children, families, and educators from around the world together through wholesome stories and inclusive community experiences. In their free time, Caroline and Katherine love to swim, travel, and spend time with friends and family, including their golden doodle, Sugar, who served as the inspiration for the library dog featured in The Friendly Bookshelf.

For more information, visit https://www.thefriendlybookshelf.com/.

The Friendly Bookshelf is a cute book that shows that everyone belongs and that you don't have to always fit into the expectations that everyone else has for you that you can achieve your dreams and goals. This book has a good message about being kinder and being friendly. This book is unique in that it uses a bookshelf to tell the story and inspire kids to be friendly and brave to be yourself. The dialogue was engaging and it was easy to read. The message was inspiring and told in such a way that it was easy for kid to understand and relate to. This book would be a great read out loud at home, a library setting or classroom setting. The illustrations are attractive, eye-catching and cute. I think it's a book that kids will enjoy reading. I look forward to seeing what these authors will come up with next. I think the style and delivery of the book was well done.


Enter for a chance to win a copy of The Friendly Bookshelf! 

(7) Seven winners receive: A copy of The Friendly Bookshelf  and A copy of The Friendly Bookshelf donated to a library of your choice.

The giveaway ends December 16, 2021, at 11:59 P.M. MT. 

This post is in partnership with The Children’s Book Review and Blossom Children's Media Group, LLC. I received a free ebook to review, however, this is my honest opinion.

Mistletoe Mismatch Review

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

If Jessica and Ellis can put the past behind them to work together, it will be a Christmas miracle. Former childhood friends fight to end one relationship while trying not to fall into one of their own.

Christmas comes but once a year—a relief for Jessica Nettle, because that means she need only see the horrid Mr. Webb when he visits his cousin. Jessica has been at war with Mr. Webb for seven long years. What started as innocent pranks accelerated into a war. This year promises to be the worst of all, especially when Jessica learns that her sister is falling in love with that cousin. A match between the two of them would be a disaster.

Ellis Webb spends every Christmas in the country with his cousin. The holiday is one of the highlights of his year, despite the prickly Miss Nettle’s attempts to ruin it for him. This year, Ellis’s cousin has a mind to marry, and he’s looking with increasing interest at Miss Nettle’s younger sister. Such a marriage, with such a family, will surely end in disappointment and broken hearts. When Miss Nettle proposes to Ellis that they join forces to keep the ill-fated couple apart, he swallows his irritation and agrees to her plan.

Amid the merriment of celebrations, Jessica and Ellis scheme to keep two hearts apart. But as the days pass and the magic of season works upon Jessica, she realizes she may have lost her clever game—and her heart—to her enemy.

REVIEW - Mistletoe Mismatch is a fun, light-hearted Regency romance with former childhood friends/foes. The characters are likable and the story moves forward quickly and easily. The "match making" part of the story seemed a little unnecessary. I did like the Aunt who played the matchmaker and her mischievous dog, but the characters could have progressed in the romance without interference or help. I liked the undercurrent of romance between two people that might be considered a "mismatch" by others or themselves. The scenes in the book were fun and appropriate for the season ranging from decorating for the holiday, celebrations and ice skating. Overall, it's a cute and fun romantic regency comedy that Regency romance readers will enjoy during the holiday season. To learn more click here.

Please note that I received a free copy to review, however, this is my honest opinion. This post contains affiliate links.

Merry Christmas, Eve! Virtual Book Tour

Monday, November 22, 2021


Merry Christmas, Eve!

Written by Adam Wallace

Illustrated by Lena Bardy

Ages 4+ | 36 Pages

Publisher: Krueger Wallace Press & Riven Rock Projects | ISBN-13: 9780648973737

“The day before Christmas is a very special day,

That never had its own name.

But that all changed when one special elf,

Rose to glory and fame.

Eve was an elf with such get up and go,

She worked hard and loved to play.

But the Head Elf ran Christmas with an iron fist,

And this was what he had to say…”

Available for purchase here


Adam Wallace has written stories about elves before (How to Catch an Elf), but Eve is by far his favorite elf! Adam also has a mother who still makes him write a letter to Santa every year, and puts a stocking at the end of his bed … he doesn’t mind! With over 82 books published, Adam believes Eve can outshine them all! For more information, visit adam-wallace-books.com.


Adam Wallace continues the fun and kid-friendliness from his "How to Catch..." series in this new book Merry Christmas, Eve! The story is written in an easy-to-read, rhyming, friendly and light-hearted manner that brings a sense of Christmas fun. The story also teaches about the Christmas spirit in a way that kids will understand. It shares that bringing light, joy, brightness and happiness to the world is the way to truly celebrate the Christmas season. The Christmas spirit in this book is an actual creature that grows as the Christmas Spirit grows around him. Eve has to rescue the Christmas spirit and let it loose at the North Pole to stop the head Elf. I liked how the story shows Christmas spirit as something tangible that kids can grasp on to and shares that the Christmas spirit is something that we need to look for during the season. There was subtle analogies that you can pull from this book into your own Christmas season. The illustrations in this book are bright, colorful, attractive, eye-catching. I felt like this was a fun Christmas book for kids and it would be interesting to see if the author writes more holiday books in the same manner. I encourage you to check it out and add it to your Christmas book collection. If you're not familiar with this author, I also encourage you to check out his other books. His books are popular with my kids.


Enter for a chance to win a copy of Merry Christmas, Eve!

(3) Three winners receive:

A copy of Merry Christmas, Eve!

The giveaway ends December 16, 2021, at 11:59 P.M. MT.

Merry Christmas, Eve! Giveaway 

This post is in partnership with The Children’s Book Review and Krueger Wallace Press & Riven Rock. I also received a free pdf of the book to review for this post.

A Magical Victorian Christmas Review

Monday, November 8, 2021

In 1866, Clara Rose lives a quiet life in her hometown of York, until one day a mysterious Christmas tree appears in the town square. Clara is sure something wonderful is about to happen. The town blacksmith’s nephew, Erik Bauer, is new to town, and his ready smile, love of laughter, and handsome face charms her. Just when things couldn’t be more perfect, the most important man in town, Lord-Lieutenant Bradford, takes an interest in Clara and states his intentions of marrying her. Clara’s once simple life becomes very complicated. As Christmas time approaches, a decision must be made. Does she marry Bradford to secure her future, or go against her father’s wishes and marry the man who speaks to her heart?

A Magical Victorian Christmas shares a magical Christmas season with Clara Rose and Erik Bauer. The characters work together to bring the Christmas spirit to York through the use of "new ideas" and creativity. It was interesting to hear some of the ideas and struggles with adding Christmas traditions that we now take for granted. The story adds to the magical Christmas by having some fairy tale elements, mixed with realism, historical content that matches the time period and a villain that will stop at nothing to satisfy his pride and selfish desires. The story is a sweet Christmas tale and fun romance. Please note that I didn't review the final copy and the author was making edits. Overall, I think it's a fun Christmasy romance that romance fiction readers will enjoy reading. Click here to learn more.

Please note that I received a free ecopy to review, however this is my honest opinion. This post contains affiliate links.

Jesús, Mary, and Joseph Virtual Book Tour, Review and Giveaway

Friday, November 5, 2021


Jesús, Mary, and Joseph

Written by Kathleen T. Pelley

Illustrated by Dubravka Kolanovic

Ages 3-7 | 32 Pages

Publisher: Journey with Story Press | ISBN-13: 9780578651965

Publisher’s Synopsis: After Jesús finally lands a part as an innkeeper in his school’s Nativity play, he asks God to help him be the best innkeeper ever. Day by day, he grows more and more confident in his role, but on opening night, he finds himself so swept up in this long-ago world, that when Mary and Joseph ask him, ”Do you have any room at your inn?” he comes up with his own answer, causing chaos on the stage.

Available for purchase at  Amazon or Bookshop.org.


KATHLEEN T. PELLEY is a native of Glasgow, Scotland, but spent most of her childhood summers playing on her grandparents’ farm in Ireland. Her passion for stories stemmed from listening to them on the radio during the BBC children’s story hour. She is the award-winning author of seven other picture books and hosts her own storytelling podcast, Journey with Story.

For more information, visit https://kathleenpelley.com.


Jesús, Mary, and Joseph shares not only the Christmas Nativity story, but it also demonstrates a young boy's faith in God through prayer and expressing gratitude when his prayers are answered in ways that he might not have expected. The prayers are almost told like letters rather than prayers. The boy asks for God's advice and help in an easy conversational tone. I liked the recognition of faith in this book, applying it in your life, and recognizing it in your life. It was shown in a simple way that makes it easy for kids to understand and was relatable. I felt like the author did a good job at writing this story and showing that prayers can be answered and heard. The story also shares some examples of ways kids can help and participate in Christmas like setting up a Nativity, prayer, making stars and expressing gratitude. The story is told in a way that kids can relate to the main character through his desire to do his best and excitement at being a part of the Nativity. The illustrations are simple, attractive and appealing for young audiences. The illustrations also show a diversity of children. This book is a fun book to read during the Christmas season. I also thought the amount of words was just right for reading out loud to a young child.


Enter for a chance to win a Jesús, Mary, and Joseph prize pack!

One (1) grand prize winner receives:

  • A hardcover copy of Jesús, Mary, and Joseph, autographed by Kathleen T. Pelley
  • A paperback copy of Five Little Angels
  • An Audible copy of Five Little Angels
  • A $25 Barnes and Noble gift card
  • A Nativity sticker book
  • A shoutout on the Journey with Story podcast

Five (5) winners receive:

  • A hardcover copy of Jesús, Mary, and Joseph, autographed by Kathleen T. Pelley
  • A Nativity sticker book

The giveaway ends November 30, 2021, at 11:59 P.M. MT. 

This post is in partnership with The Children’s Book Review and Kathleen T. Pelley. Please note that I received a free ebook to review, however, this is my honest opinion.

November Giveaways to Enter (low to moderate entry)

Thursday, November 4, 2021


I like entering low to moderate entry giveaways and I share each month some of the blog or social media giveaways I've entered, thought someone else might be interested in entering or that have been submitted to me through bloggers. Check back often throughout the month to see if I have posted more giveaways. If you are hosting a family-friendly giveaway on your blog and would like to see it listed here, please contact me (via email). If you have a won a giveaway that I posted, please leave a comment and share that you won.

Clifford Swag Pack (ends November 8, 2021)

Paw Patrol Movie (ends November 9, 2021)

Clifford Swag Pack (ends November 10, 2021)

Clifford Swag Pack (ends November 12, 2021)

Nick Jr. The Night Before Christmas (ends November 13, 2021)

Paw Patrol Movie (ends November 13, 2021)

Clifford Prize Pack (ends November 19, 2021)

Clifford Swag Pack (ends November 19, 2021)

Extreme Fossil Dig Kit (ends November 24, 2021)

Nick Jr. DVD (ends November 25, 2021)

This is Clare Virtual Book Tour, Giveaway and Author Interview

Thursday, November 4, 2021


This Is Clare
Written by Lindy Nelson
Illustrated by Ingrid Lefebvre
Ages 4+ | 38 Pages
Publisher: Mascot Kids | ISBN-13: 978-1643073606

Publisher’s Synopsis: 

Come follow a lady and her hound.
New adventures with new friends will abound.
Learn some English and verse with Lindy and Clare.
We’re in China; we hope to see you there!

Available for purchase here.  


Lindy Nelson is an American who has spent most of her adult life teaching English in China after graduating from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. She enjoys arts and crafts, funny memes, eating candy, and of course, spending time with her greyhound, Clarence.


Life Is What It's Called - How is Clare similar and different to your dog Clarence?

Lindy Nelson - Clarence is Clare. I think my illustrator did a great job of making him accurate to real life with his expressions, color patterns, and even the little scar on his head. You can see pictures and videos of the real-life Clarence by checking out https://www.facebook.com/Clarencethegreyhound. If I’m filling out official paperwork, I’ll write “Clarence” on it, and his ID tag says “Clarence,” but if I am just talking to him, I’ll say, “Clare, do you need to go outside?” or “Come on, Clare.” Clarence is just too long to be commonly used.

Life Is What It's Called - What inspired you to write this story?

Lindy Nelson - I decided to write the story because I taught English in China for six years. During that time, I was in many schools, private and public, and not ONE of them had books in English that were completely free of errors. I decided to write my own book, so I’d know that I was working with material that was correct. As far as the characters and situations, those are based on our daily lives in China. The section with the hare actually happened, but the part about him stealing food from a vendor’s stall was modified. In real life, he stole some baozi from somebody’s luggage they left unattended while getting off a bus. The word bus I couldn’t make that rhyme, so it got modified.

Life Is What It's Called - What do you think kids will like most about this book?

Lindy Nelson - I think kids will most enjoy Clarence’s antics and all the fun he has. I think they’ll enjoy the art style too. I was given a choice of artists to illustrate this book. The contending ones both submitted a drawing of Clarence. I showed the pictures to my students at the time and had them put their heads down and vote on which style they liked best. In all the classes that I asked, the overwhelming majority picked Ingrid’s drawing, so I ended up choosing her to be my illustrator.

Life Is What It's Called - How has your experience teaching in China helped you to develop this story?

Lindy Nelson - If it weren’t for me teaching in China, this whole thing never would have come to be. Clarence was a Chinese slaughterhouse rescue, and had I not been in China, he would never have come into my life. I wouldn’t have decided to write the book had I not been able to access simple, accurate books in English.

Life Is What It's Called - How do you see this book being used as a teaching tool?

Lindy Nelson - One of the schools I worked at used a heavily phonics-based approach to teach English. I think there’s something to that, so I decided to incorporate that into how I wrote the book. I also think it’s helpful to have all the ending words rhyme so kids without native teachers can still figure out how to accurately pronounce the words when reading aloud.

Life Is What It's Called - Why did you decide to write this story in verse instead of prose?

Lindy Nelson - It wasn’t a conscious choice. I was sitting at my desk with nothing to do one day, and my mind drifted to my dog. I thought, “I miss Clare….” I then started to think of all the words that rhyme with Clare, and I had a whole list. I noticed how my students loved songs/stories with repetition and thought, “I can make this work!” After an hour or so, I had my first draft composed!

Life Is What It's Called - What are your next writing goals?

Lindy Nelson - I have an idea for another story about a hedgehog I had while I was in China. After that launches and does well, I’ll write a story inspired by a friend I made in China’s cat. I’ve heard that you need five books that did reasonably well on launching to just live on royalties, so I guess I need to come up with two more, but I’m sure with the time it’ll take getting the next two out, I can come up with two more good ideas.

Life Is What It's Called - What lesson will kids learn from this book?

Lindy Nelson - My book is a phonics lesson so kids will learn the “aire” sound and lots of words that contain that sound. There’s no moral to the story as I don’t think everything has to have a moral or teach a lesson. It’s okay to just have fun for the sake of having fun!

Life Is What It's Called - Do you have any supplemental materials to go along with the book?

Lindy Nelson - I’ve not made any worksheets or anything else to go with this book. I feel that because the demographic in the states would be really young kids, they should just learn to love reading and stories for what they are and not have to do homework with it. I remember as a kid initially liking a book, and then because I had to do so many worksheets/projects/reports about a said book, I ended up hating it. I don’t want that to happen with my book. Just enjoy it and have fun!

Life Is What It's Called - Why did you choose a dog as one of your main characters in the story?

Lindy Nelson - Clarence is a dog in real life, so that’s why he’s a dog in the story. If I had decided to adopt a pet that wasn’t something that I could take out for walks and adventures, I wouldn’t have gotten the ideas for the scenes in the story. As much as I love my cat, he doesn’t harass pigeons, introduce himself to people on the street, or come with me to outdoor events. Clarence does, so he’s the star of the show in this story.


Enter for a chance to win a copy of This Is Clare, along with a virtual Questions and Answers session with the author!

One (1) grand prize winner receives:
  • A copy of This Is Clare
  • A virtual Questions and Answers session with the author via Skype
Nine (9) winners receive:
  • A copy of This Is Clare

The giveaway ends December 2, 2021, at 11:59 P.M. MT.

This Is Clare Giveaway 

This post is in partnership with The Children’s Book Review and Lindy Nelson. 

Let Art Be Your Voice and Giveaway

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Art in your home is your voice. It gives you the opportunity to say how you feel and conveys your family's personality in the home...fun images with bright colors may give your home a sense of fun, art with bold contemporary style sets the tone of boldness and peaceful images give your home a peaceful feeling. Our home has a mixture of religious art and art that speaks to our personalities and history. We have a touristy picture of Switzerland hanging up because my husband spent some time in Switzerland. We have a picture of a bicyclist in Virginia in bright colors because we like biking, I spent my college years in Virginia, and it reminds me of where I've been and that my life moves forward like the cyclist. We have religious pictures of Jesus and temples in our home because it reminds us of our faith, love of God and gives us a sense of peace and reminds us of our faith and testimonies of our beliefs. 

We recently added "The Gate" by Jenedy Paige to our home. This picture gives me a sense of peace and hope. Christ is sitting at the gate guarding his sheep from predators and other dangers. It reminds me that Christ is there to help me in my life as well as my family's life. I like the realism in this picture and it represents peace and a feeling of hope. It also gives you the sense of worth that Christ has for us. Christ as the shepherd is guarding and protecting his sheep. His sheep mean something to him and it's worth protecting and looking after. The sheep also chose to go in this strong fence with the shepherd and our looking toward him for guidance and direction. This piece says many things without a word. The image conveys feelings and there's a lot of different lessons that you can pull from it. What do you like about this piece? What does it say to you? What does the art in your home say about your voice?

Here's the bio on the artist Jenedy Paige: I am a realist in every sense of the word. I paint things as they exist, in the representational tradition, but also in the concepts behind my work. I am a truth teller. I love the classical approach to painting and its ability to so easily invite the viewer in. However, I also know the value abstraction, and the power it has to express things that realism cannot, and so I try to include both in my paintings. There is nothing I love more than a delicate and detailed figure on an expressive background.

My paintings begin in a journal. I record my frustrations, sorrows, joys, ambitions, hopes and then I transform those words into images. I guess you could say I very literally draw from life experience. I try to be as honest as I can in the telling, I don’t mince words. I then release the story to the canvas, and as I paint I am enabled to process the experience in a new way and to learn from it. I’m not fast, I take my time with the painting, and the lesson in it. Layer by layer I work, carefully revealing the wisdom inside.

When it comes to creating images I believe that simplicity is key. The more concise you can say something, the more powerful it is. So although my writing is usually lengthy, I look for symbols I can use, and try to condense my thoughts into a concise visual statement. I strive to find a shortcut right to the heart of the viewer, something that will strike them at first glance.

When I have taken the painting as far as I can, I return to writing. And just when I think I have dissected a particular idea, when I have learned all I could, writing usually takes it one step further. Words then become the final layer to the piece. The work and the text are then offered up together to others. I then find my experiences are not all that original, as the work strikes a familiar cord in the viewer. People often place themselves inside my work, and add their story to mine, and thus my heart and the heart of my audience connect over the canvas.

To learn more about Jenedy Paige's art click here.

Havenlight has offered my readers a 20% off discount code to get your own art piece, LIFEISWHATITSCALLED. You can also enter to win a $200 store credit by clicking here.

Please note that I received a free art piece to put in my home, however, I shared my honest opinion and did get to pick the piece that I wanted in my home. This is in cooperation with Havenlight. The giveaway is run by Havenlight. The discount code will work for a limited time.

Charming Artemis Blog Review and Giveaway

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Charlie Jonquil is mild-mannered and kind—except when it comes to his one true adversary, Artemis Lancaster. Though Charlie has a brilliant mind for mathematics, Artemis poses a problem he can’t seem to comprehend: how can one be so lovely and so infuriating? A party in London brings him into the company of the maddening young lady, and it is clear that Charlie’s disdain is mutual. But when an unfortunate incident between the pair involving Charlie’s jacket and a glass of raspberry shrub leads to scandal, the sworn enemies are left with only two options: be ruined or be married.

So it is that Artemis finds herself in a most outrageous predicament: she must wed a gentleman she’s hated for years—and she pledges to avoid him at all costs. But it is only when they enter into this mockery of a marriage that Charlie and Artemis learn things are not as simple as they once appeared. As their tentative ceasefire leads to friendship, it seems their marriage born of desperation might lead them to a love that was destined to be.

Charming Artemis is the final book to close off two series by Sarah Eden - the Jonquil Family and Lancaster Family Series. Fans have waited for this book for a long time. The story of Artemis and Charlie ties the two series together well. I enjoyed seeing Artemis and Charlie's story play out and how their romance developed. The romance was sweet and there were tender moments throughout the book.  There were also moments that felt forced as the author tried to also tie the book to a third series. I liked how Charming Artemis echoed the first books of each of the series -  marriage not initially for love like in Seeking Persephone and foes falling in love like in Friends and Foes I thought that was well done and tied the two series together well. Artemis and Charlie are likable characters and it was fun to read their banter and development. It's a quick and entertaining read. If you're a fan of the series, I would suggest reading this to complete the series. The series as a whole was well planned out. The author was able to manage a vast number of characters, their relationships and stories. I felt like both series came together in this final book. To learn more about Charming Artemis, click here.

Please note that I received a free copy to review, however, this is my honest opinion. This post contains Amazon affiliate links that help support the maintenance of this blog. This post is in cooperation with the publisher.

Scrumptious Cookbook Review

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

If you can't be left alone with warm cinnamon rolls or a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies, or if you enjoy creating photos of your culinary creations almost as much as eating them, Christy Denney, the blogger known as "The Girl Who Ate Everything", has the perfect cookbook for you.

Scrumptious from the Girl Who Ate Everything combines Christy's expert professional experience as a recipe writer for both Betty Crocker and General Mills with her life experience as a mother of five and one of ten siblings. Christy knows food often is the centerpiece of family life and can be a major undertaking, requiring creativity, planning, practice, and purpose.

Christy showcases 101 of her favorite recipes, each beautifully photographed using natural light from a window in her home, and includes detailed instructions for prep time along with helpful tips.

From unforgettable Sunday brunches with Banana Muffins, to easy weeknight one-pan dinners like One-Pan Chicken Enchilada Skillet, to low-carb meals like Egg Roll in a Bowl, to rolling out the works for a game-day crowd, including her NFL-husband's favorites like Jalapeno Popper Bread and Garlic Parmesan Wings, this is the family-friendly cookbook for anyone looking to plan quick-and-easy meals and wants a way to bring people together, feasting on food which can only be described as scrumptious.

When I read about Scrumptious, I wanted to check it out. It sounded appealing when I read the description. When I first flipped through the cookbook, I was surprised. I found several recipes that I was interested in trying and could see my family enjoying. It's hard for me to find cookbooks with several recipes that peak my interest.  So far, I've made the Salsa Verde Chicken Skillet and the One-Pan Chicken Fajita Rice. Each of the recipes turned out fairly good except I didn't cook the rice long enough. It was something new so my kids weren't too interested in it, but they have to see a dish a few times before really enjoying and trying it. My husband enjoyed the meals especially the One-Pan Chicken Fajita Rice. He suggested that we add it to our regular meal rotation. 

The recipes were not-too time consuming and flavorful. Usually, it seems like easy recipes skip the flavor, but I thought these recipes were delicious. I found the prep time and the cook time to be fairly accurate. The ingredients were mostly pantry staples for us, which I felt was a plus.  There are several more recipes I would like to try and I gravitated toward the recipes in her "tried and true," "low-carb favorites," and "one pan dinner" sections. Those were the strongest sections to me. I felt like this cookbook offers more dinner options for my family that aren't overly time consuming. I would recommend checking it out. Click here to learn more about Scrumptious.

Please note that I received a free book to review, however, this is my honest opinion. This post contains Amazon affiliate links that help support this blog. This post is in cooperation with the publisher.

Love and Lavender Book Review

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Hazel Stillman is a woman of rare independence and limited opportunities. Born with a clubbed foot, Hazel knows marriage is unlikely, so she devotes herself to teaching at a private girls’ school.

When her uncle offers Hazel a substantial inheritance is he marries, she is offended. What kind of decent man would marry for her money? But when she learns the school might be sold, she knows she must consider all her options.

Duncan Penhale thrives on order and process. He has no interest in marriage, so when Elliott Mayfield, his guardian’s brother, offers him an inheritance if he weds, Duncan finds it intrusive. However, an inheritance means he could purchase a building and run his own firm.

Hazel and Duncan believe they have found a solution to both of their problems: marry one another, claim their inheritances, and then part ways to enjoy their individual paths. But then Uncle Mayfield stipulates that they must first live together as a couple for one year.

Over time, their marriage of convenience becomes much more appealing than they had anticipated. At the end of the full year, will they go their separate ways or could an unlikely marriage have found unsuspecting love?

Love and Lavender is the fourth installment in the Mayfield Family Series by Josi Kilpack. I would suggest reading these books in order. A great uncle is trying to fix some of the mistakes his family has made over the years and offers nieces and nephews an inheritance if they can abide by his terms. In Love and Lavender, the author introduces us to Hazel and Duncan. Hazel faces physical limitations and Duncan seems to be autistic. Hazel and Duncan are one of my favorite character pairs written by Josi Kilpack. The characters come together and learn how to love each other. Although neither one of the characters are the typical romance characters, I found their romance to be really sweet and enjoyed hearing about the little things that they did for each other. I enjoyed several of the minor characters as well and enjoyed seeing their interactions with the main characters.. I think it's one of the best of the series so far, although, the other books are entertaining to read as well. To learn more about Love and Lavender, click here.

The other books in the Mayfield Family Series are:

Please note that I received a free ebook to review, however, this is my honest opinion. This post contains affiliate links that help support the maintenance of this blog. This post is in cooperation with the publisher.
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