Secrets of Stonebridge Blog Tour, Giveaway, and Review

Monday, July 26, 2021


Since the untimely death of her young husband, Regina Everleigh has been consumed by her grief. After more than a year spent sequestered in her rooms at Stonebridge Manor, the once lively young woman is encouraged to venture into town—her first small step toward healing. But Regina is shaken out of her stupor when she makes a most unexpected discovery: a foundling baby girl. Regina is instantly enthralled with the infant and determines that she will claim the child as her own—a deception that seems, in the moment, to be harmless. But when her husband’s cousin Radcliffe comes back into her life, Regina quickly becomes entangled in a tenuous charade.

Radcliffe is immediately taken with both the charming baby girl and the woman he believes to be her mother. As Regina and Radcliffe are drawn together, first as friends and then as something much deeper, the future is bright with unspoken promise. But when the truth of the baby’s parentage is revealed, Regina stands to lose all that she has come to cherish.

Review - Secrets of Stonebridge's premise and story is unique for the Regency romance genre. The focus is mostly on Regina trying to get past her husband's untimely death by adopting a baby. The plot and storyline felt unique and different. I felt like the author did a good job at showing Regina's depression and the effects that it can cause. The author isn't afraid to let the characters have flaws or make poor decisions, which I feel makes the characters more dynamic and realistic. The story is more character driven than action driven. The characters were interesting, however, I felt like the author did a lot of "telling" rather than "showing" and some of the names didn't seem to fit the location and time period of the story. Overall, I liked that it was an easy read that I could easily just sit down and enjoy. It wasn't a very fast read for me, but I still found it relaxing to read. To learn more, click here.

Excerpt -
“Gina knew that some form of a lecture was coming. In most situations, a maid would never speak so comfortably and casually to the person for whom they worked. But Emerald and Ruby had grown up with Gina, and they mutually shared an attitude of responsibility for Gina’s best interests, every bit as much as they worked together to care for her daily needs. Occasionally they both shared tea or a meal with her since she’d not eaten any meals outside her rooms for months now. But she couldn’t recall both being in her room together at this time of day. She sensed some kind of conspiracy and discreetly slithered deeper beneath the covers until they flew abruptly from over her face and she found herself looking up at Emerald, with the much shorter Ruby at her side. Both were scowling with determination, and Gina wished she could feign ignorance regarding what this might be about, but she knew exactly why they might feel the need to unite in confronting her. Nevertheless, that didn’t mean she wanted to discuss the matter—even with these women she trusted completely. She only wanted to continue on as she had been doing since Dwight’s passing. Life beyond her bedroom, sitting room, and personal parlor held no interest for her whatsoever. She had devoted herself to Dwight in every way, perhaps believing that her efforts could eventually create positive changes between them; but now she would never know. She’d worked hard to convince herself that there was a happy and hopeful future with him. And then he’d abandoned her. Of course, she knew he’d not intentionally met with a riding accident that rainy spring morning, but he had gone out riding when she had requested that he stay in due to the weather being so dreadful. He’d promised he wouldn’t be gone long, insisting that he only felt the need for a brief jaunt to get some fresh air. But the drizzle had turned to a downpour, and the meadows and woods through which he frequently rode had become muddy—or at least that’s what she’d been told by those who had found his body. When he’d not returned after many hours, his cousin and some of the servants had gone searching for him. It had been the unanimous opinion of all who had seen the location of the accident that the horse had apparently lost its footing on a muddy incline and Dwight had fallen from the saddle. The horse had loyally remained with its owner of many years, unharmed but very dirty. Apparently, Dwight had died instantly, according to what the local doctor had said about the way he had hit the ground. Gina found some comfort in knowing he hadn’t suffered, but in the depths of her grieving she had never been able to shake the feeling that he’d abandoned her, even if he’d never meant to do so. And with his death, all hope of creating a better marriage—and becoming a mother—had shattered into far too many pieces to ever be mended.”

Please note that I was given a free copy to review, however, I provided my honest opinion. This post also contains affiliate links.

Fly Home to Me Blog Tour, Review, and Giveaway

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

A traffic jam is the last thing Piper Holland needs in her already stressful day. The dry cleaner’s will soon close, and she really hopes to wear her luxury silk blouse when she pitches her theme to the editors of the magazine she works for. But when she finally sees what’s caused the backup, she feels a pinch of guilt: a man in a military uniform is gallantly pushing a stalled vehicle off the road. Suddenly, her rush to the dry cleaner’s seems incredibly unimportant. Fate offers Piper a chance to redeem herself, however, when the handsome good Samaritan crosses her path again.

Gabriel Orsini, a fighter pilot stationed at Luke Air Force Base, seems to be the perfect man, and an assignment at the magazine offers Piper the perfect chance to get to know him better. Her “Day in the Life: Hometown Heroes” article was tailor-made for the bighearted pilot. Before long, their interviews for the article enter date territory, and Piper realizes she’s falling for Gabriel. But her tragic past has taught her one thing: no one stays. And the transient lifestyle of a military man leaves her no doubt that Gabriel will eventually abandon her too. With her heart on the line, Piper must decide: is the risk of loss worth the possibility of forever?

Fly Home to Me carries several romantic and dramatic elements. The characters are drawn together and yet Piper has to overcome some of her fears, past experiences and anxiety to find her own happiness. I like that Piper showed several flaws and I felt like most of this story was relationship based and facing your own personal "demons." Piper's a likeable character and I found myself rooting for her to make steps at finding happiness. I feel like this story has a lot of realistic elements. There were some parts of the story that reminded me of my family's experience with my dad serving in the Coast Guard - waiting for the servicemen to arrive, the description of the uniforms, and the long trips away. This was easy to read and the pacing of the story felt right to me. The story contained a lot of drama and weight as it was dealing a lot with Piper's anxiety and fears. I felt like it made the characters seem more realistic and dynamic. To learn more about Fly Home to Me, click here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

Once I Was Engaged Spotlight Tour and Giveaway

Monday, July 5, 2021


Press Release 

SALT LAKE CITY – Advance tickets are now on sale for ONCE I WAS ENGAGED – the eagerly awaited sequel to the award-winning, smash hit ONCE I WAS A BEEHIVE – the film opens exclusively in Utah theatres on Friday, July 21 before expanding to Arizona, Idaho, and Nevada on August 6 and nationally on August 13. Written and directed by Maclain Nelson, ONCE I WAS ENGAGED brings back all the original film’s favorite cast of characters, including Bree (Clare Niederpruem), Holly (Hailey Smith), Lane (Paris Warner), and of course, Carrie Carrington (Lisa Valentine Clark). And this film introduces a couple key new characters, including Curt Carrington; Carrie’s husband and Bree’s father, played by High School Musical’s Bart Johnson; and Thys Chesterfield, played by Studio C’s Tanner Gillman.

“Fans have been screaming for a sequel ever since we released the first film,” exclaimed Nelson. “And we are beyond excited for everyone to get back to the movie theatre and experience the next chapter in the lives of their favorite campers.”

The story takes place about two years after ONCE I WAS A BEEHIVE. The young women and their leaders have grown up (some more than others), and Bree’s surprise engagement and the whirlwind of wedding planning brings them all back together – with hilarious and touching results.

“This movie is the warmest and funniest thing you’ll see this year,” quipped Lisa Valentine Clark. “Not to mention audiences get to see some men in the mix this time. We added the one-and-only Bart Johnson and the charming and hilarious Tanner Gillman. I’m not going to say they steal the show, but I’m not going to not say that either. You’ll just have to come see for yourself.”

Even though the story is a sequel to the first film, audiences will also get to see the original girls as their much younger selves for the first time. “I won’t give away too much, but old and new fans alike get to learn so much more history of the girls,” explained Clare Niederpruem, who plays Bree. “Audiences will absolutely adore them, and who knows, maybe there’s a prequel story to BEEHIVE that needs to be told.”

In the years since ONCE I WAS A BEEHIVE was released, many cast members have been busy in the entertainment industry, especially Clare Niederpruem. ENGAGED signals her first return to being in front of the camera in quite a few years. “We’re so excited to celebrate at the premiere and mingle with the fans. We want this to be the party of the summer,” said Niederpruem who has become a sought-after director for feature films, TV movies and TV series, including an adaptation of LITTLE WOMEN and multiple TV movies for the Hallmark Channel. 

To see the trailer for ONCE I WAS ENGAGED and to see where the film is playing nearest you, visit:

Movie Synopsis

When Bree Carrington gets engaged while at BYU Hawaii, her loving but over-the-top mom goes all out to create the wedding of the century. But both mother and daughter must overcome the pressure of perfection when this happily ever after story doesn't go quite as expected.


Kid Lit: An Introduction to Literary Criticism Virtual Book Tour, Author Interview and Giveaway

Friday, July 2, 2021

We are surrounded by narratives, in fiction and in our everyday lives. In this colorful collection of ideas, the author argues that understanding the components of our favorite children’s stories can lead to a lifetime of critical thinking. Beginning with the elements of the universal coming-of-age narrative, “Kid Lit” shows young readers and general readers alike how to recognize story structure, class, gender, symbolism, trauma and Orientalism in children’s narratives. Of value to all teachers, students, librarians, readers, literature lovers, and moviegoers. “Tom Durwood is the best English instructor I have seen in my thirty-two years of teaching.” —Professor Patrick Murray, Valley Forge Military College 

Available for purchase here or here.    

Tom Durwood is a teacher, writer and editor with an interest in history. Tom most recently taught English Composition and Empire and Literature at Valley Forge Military College, where he won the Teacher of the Year Award five times. Tom has taught Public Speaking and Basic Communications as a guest lecturer for the Naval Special Warfare Development Group at the Dam’s Neck Annex of the Naval War College. 

Tom is editor of an online scholarly journal, The Journal of Empire Studies ( Peter Suber, Berkman Fellow at Harvard University, an advocate of the open access movement, praises the journal as “a new opportunity for overcoming access barriers to knowledge and research.” Dr. Julian Fisher of Scholarly Exchange has also applauded Tom’s efforts. “Creating valuable academic content and then hiding it behind financial firewalls – the traditional scholarly publishing model – runs counter to the essence of scholarship, learning and sharing,” according to Fisher. “To see a journal such as the Journal of Empire Studies breaking that mold is exciting.” 

Tom’s newspaper column “Shelter” appeared in the North County Times for seven years. Tom earned a Masters in English Literature in San Diego, where he also served as Executive Director of San Diego Habitat for Humanity. Tom earned his undergraduate degree from Harvard, where he edited an undergraduate arts journal and studied with David McClelland (Roots of Consciousness). For more information, teacher resources, and lesson plans, visit

Life Is What It's Called - At what ages do you think literary criticism should begin? 

Tom Durwood - Seventh grade seems reasonable – I’m sure it’s viable to ask kids who are even 10 or 11 to compare sidekicks among different stories, or to discuss plot points of fairy tales and Pixar films. Getting their opinions on why Cruella de Ville is scary, or whether Chewbacca gets enough credit is, I think, a natural outgrowth of sharing stories. I have found that young readers have a lot to say about these topics. 

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

Tom Durwood - I needed to set out all of the lesson plans and classroom content that I had generated at Valley Forge Military College, where I taught for eight years. I wanted to see it all together, to see what it looked like as a whole. Once I had interviews with scholars like Amanda Lagji and Anna Kozak, I knew I wanted to showcase their work, giving readers a sort of guided deeper dive into scholarship. 

Life Is What It's Called - How would you like to see literary criticism used more in a classroom setting? 

Tom Durwood - Students love these big, scholarly ideas, if we can make them accessible. The big secret is that my military cadets will write all day on topics like The Other and plot symmetry and the nature of villainy, if I can just present the concepts simply and clearly. The average number of readers for a dissertation is six – I wanted to rescue some of this wonderful scholarship on Kid Lit from that obscurity and bring it right into a Comp 101 classroom. 

Life Is What It's Called - What benefits do kids get from learning about and critically thinking about literature? 

Tom Durwood - Great question !! Literary criticism is simply the first step in a life of critical thinking, without which you will be unemployed. The marketplace rewards smart, purposeful analysis and clear communication. Your teachers have a direct impact on your career success, and I wanted to do my part. 

One of my son’s first accounting jobs was as assistant to the CFO of a medium-sized non-profit. After his first week, my son came home and announced that an unassuming older woman two doors down from him was responsible for 95% of the organization’s revenues. All of the other activities in the office were superfluous. That is critical thinking. Bosses and co-workers and family members will reward you for yours. 

This is a discussion I had with my students on a weekly basis, as I urged them to engage, and to help me break down these stories successfully. How does “Of Mice and Men” work? Why is it so powerful? Who is the bad guy? What is the underlying theme? How is it like and unlike “Guardians of the Galaxy”? Does all science fiction use an empire/rebel template? Answer those questions and you are on the road to critical thinking. 

Life Is What It's Called - How do you see literature criticism for kids growing (i.e., could you see a lit criticism journal for kids at the elementary school level or expanding in another way)? 

Tom Durwood - I love the idea of a journal for kids at the elementary school level!! Yes, we should provide as many platforms as we can for students at every level to give their views. Stories are universal, as is the desire to interpret them. The other directive for our kids is writing, constant writing, writing about everything. The more, the better. 

Life Is What It's Called - How has your background helped you in writing this book? 

Tom Durwood - I have a somewhat diverse background I bring to the classroom, having run my own small press and served as Executive Director for a non-profit. So I am not a scholar, and I don’t teach or write like an academic. I was lucky that Valley Forge was hands-off enough to let me run my classroom in a slightly unorthodox manner. 

Life Is What It's Called - What are some of your favorite kid-lit authors? 

Life Is What It's Called - What are some activities that teachers could do to go along with this book? 

Tom Durwood - My “Kid Lit” book has 28 lesson plans that capture ideas from scholars in fairly simple, in-class exercises. We have also collected over thirty lesson plans, open to everyone, at the web site

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

Tom Durwood -  I should have a new edition of “Empire Lit” done doe early next year. This is similar to “Kid Lit,” with a general opening section, nine or more in-depth scholarly studies, and a semester’s worth of lesson plans. Then I have an entire collection of Illustrated historical-fiction adventure, with two more titles in the pipeline: 


Enter for a chance to win a copy of Kid Lit: An Introduction to Literary Criticism! Ten (10) winners receive: A digital copy of Kid Lit: An Introduction to Literary Criticism The giveaway begins June 29, 2021, at 12:01 A.M. MT and ends July 29, 2021, at 11:59 P.M. MT. 

Kid Lit: An Introduction to Literary Criticism Giveaway 

Please note that this post is in cooperation with The Children’s Book Review and Tom Durwood. Please note that this post also contains affiliate links.

July Giveaway Listing (low to moderate entry)

Friday, July 2, 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.

Little Bites Coupons and Visa Gift Card (ends July 8, 2021)
Little Bites (ends July 15, 2021)
Entenmann's Coupons and Gift Card (ends 7.25.21)
Entenmann's Coupons and Gift Card (ends 7.28.21)

Time's Dagger Blog Tour and Giveaway

Thursday, July 1, 2021


After a rough stint at work in the ER, Dillon Kelly is more than a little ready for a vacation when he packs his bags and sets off on a camping trip in the wilds of Ireland. But when a mysterious dagger covered in druidic markings appears in his backpack, Dillon finds himself hurtled into the fourteenth century. Thrust into the legends and politics of ancient Ireland, he is rescued from suspicious locals by a beautiful young woman named Ailish. 

Ailish has always dreamed of being a bard, but there’s just one problem: women aren’t allowed. Determined to follow her heart, Ailish has fooled everyone into thinking she’s a boy—everyone, that is, except for Dillon. He’s agreed to keep her secret in exchange for her help in finding his way home to his own time. Despite the impossible barriers between them, feelings beyond friendship soon blossom. But more than just their budding romance is in danger. Ailish isn’t the only one who recognizes the dagger’s druidic significance, and there are those who would stop at nothing to harness its time-bending powers.

Time's Dagger is an exciting adventure as the main character, Dillon Kelly, travels back in time. It was interesting to see how the author places a modern character into a medieval and magical past. The author does a good job at showing the differences between the two worlds and the displacement that Kelly feels being torn between wanting to go home and finding his place in the past. The characters were interesting and memorable. At times I could guess what would happen with the author's foreshadowing and other times the author threw in several twists and turns that I wasn't expecting. The book left with me some questions and I felt like there should be another book to continue the story. The author did mention she's working on a companion book. Overall, it was a quick and easy read. It was different and unique. I felt like it's a fun summer read and I encourage you to check it out. To learn more, click here

Margot Hovley grew up a country kid in Washington State, where she filled the tedious hours of farm chores with an overactive imagination. She loves her work with her church’s international magazines, but fiction writing is her favorite creative outlet. Time’s Dagger is her third published full-length novel. She lives in northern Utah at the foot of her beloved mountains, where she chases chickens and grandchildren and teaches piano to the somewhat willing. Helping run the family business is hectic, but she loves working with her husband, Art, and several of the Hovley children. How she finds time for writing is both a miracle and a mystery. 

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