Book review and giveaway: Dog Days of Summer

Book: Dog Days of Summer

Author: Kathleen Y’Barbo

Genre: Christian/Mystery/Romance Fiction

Release date: October 2022

Trina Potter, Nashville country music star, buys a ranch near her hometown in Brenham, Texas, to help her niece open a rescue facility for dogs. Her presence in town stirs up some old high school rivalries—and romance. Finding property to buy is a challenge, convincing her mother to move there with her is daunting, and navigating a string of strange accidents is perplexing. Sometimes Trina feels like she’s purchased her own three ring circus instead of a beautiful piece of land. But her first priority will be figuring out who wants Second Chance Ranch shut down before they even have the grand opening.

Click here to get your copy!






MY REVIEW

If you are looking for a cozy mystery with entertaining characters, then Dog Days of Summer is a good choice.

The book starts off pulling you into the story with characters who are downhome, even though one is a famous country singer.

This is the second book in the series, but you don’t have to read the first one to know what is happening in this one.

Y’Barbo writes characters who are very relatable.

A few sections dragged a little bit for me, but that’s merely my opinion. Other readers may not mind a little meandering. I felt that there could have been a bit more information about the main character’s singing career but that’s because I was interested, not because there was anything wrong with how it was written. I wasn’t a huge fan of how the love story was tossed in there as a plot point. It didn’t feel flushed out to me. The love story and the ending felt rushed to me but other readers may feel the pacing was just fine. Overall, this was a clean, cozy story that left me with a happy feeling at the end.

About the Author

Kathleen Y’Barbo is a multiple Carol Award and RITA nominee and bestselling author of more than one hundred books with over two million copies of her books in print in the US and abroad. A tenth-generation Texan and certified paralegal, she is a member of the Texas Bar Association Paralegal Division, Texas A&M Association of Former Students and the Texas A&M Women Former Students (Aggie Women), Texas Historical Society, Novelists Inc., and American Christian Fiction Writers. She would also be a member of the Daughters of the American Republic, Daughters of the Republic of Texas and a few others if she would just remember to fill out the paperwork that Great Aunt Mary Beth has sent her more than once.

When she’s not spinning modern day tales about her wacky Southern relatives, Kathleen inserts an ancestor or two into her historical and mystery novels as well. Recent book releases include bestselling The Pirate Bride set in 1700s New Orleans and Galveston, its sequel The Alamo Bride set in 1836 Texas, which feature a few well-placed folks from history and a family tale of adventure on the high seas and on the coast of Texas. She also writes (mostly) relative-free cozy mystery novels for Guideposts Books.

Kathleen and her hero in combat boots husband have their own surprise love story that unfolded on social media a few years back. They make their home just north of Houston, Texas and are the parents and in-laws of a blended family of Texans, Okies, and one very adorable Londoner.

More from Kathleen

Do you love dogs…or cats…or both…? I’m firmly in the “both” category. Since childhood I’ve always lived in homes that had at least one or the other, usually several of each. With every dog or cat comes at least one good story. One of my favorites is the tale of Bandit, the inspiration for the cover of my cozy mystery DOG DAYS OF SUMMER.

Once upon a time there was a black and white dog named Bandit. He was an English Springer Spaniel by birth but was completely convinced he was human. Bandit loved his people—three growing boys and a baby girl—even more than he loved popcorn and playing keep away (his version of catch). After many years, Bandit’s people grew up and he grew old. Toward the end of his very long and pampered life, he was plagued by the unwanted and yet much appreciated friendship of an ornery orange-striped cat named Baby and a snooty pedigreed feline named Fifi.

Everyone loved Bandit…except the territorial squirrel who lived in a tree in our backyard in Southeast Texas. From the moment Bandit joined the family, the furry fellow was determined to rid himself and his backyard of the trespassing canine. The squirrel’s favorite tactic was to tease Bandit until the dog chased him up a tree. Once treed, the crafty critter would run around the trunk just out of Bandit’s reach. Once the squirrel tired of this, it would retreat to a limb. There, the battle of the backyard beasts would commence again but with the squirrel lobbing pinecones and the dog trying to catch them.

While every good story has a beginning, middle and end, unfortunately at the end of this one there was no winner in the dog vs. squirrel wars. A job transfer led us to Houston where squirrels were in abundance in our new neighborhood but none of them were nearly as much fun as the one Bandit left behind. The last time I spoke with the owners of our old house, they told the funniest story: they loved their new home, but there was this squirrel in the backyard that kept throwing pinecones at everyone.

In DOG DAYS OF SUMMER, I tell the story of another Texas backyard. This one is located in Brenham, Texas, and it is about to become a very special place for some very special dogs named Patsy and Cline. Have I mentioned these dogs belong to a country singer named Trina who has a mother named Mama Peach who happens to own a cat named Hector that dislikes almost everyone and can open doors? Then there’s the problem of the next door neighbor and his penchant to forget to close the lid on his grill when he’s cooking? Did I mention that Patsy and Cline enjoy nothing more than whatever they happen to find on an unguarded grill? While the two furry scoundrels are rounding up trouble next door, there is even more trouble happening at the building site for Second Chance Ranch Dog Rescue on the other side of the property. Apparently not everyone is happy about the new neighbors. The mystery is who that person might be. While you’ve got to read DOG DAYS OF SUMMER to find out, I can give you one hint: it’s not the squirrel!

I’ve told you mine; now tell me your favorite dog or cat story. I can’t wait to read them.

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Kathleen is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon e-gift card and a print copy of the book!!

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

https://promosimple.com/ps/2244a/dog-days-of-summer-celebration-tour-giveaway

Book review/recommendation: The Do Over by Sharon M. Peterson

Book: The Do Over

Author: Sharon M. Peterson

Genre: Romantic Comedy/romance

DESCRIPTION:

“Look, you’re a nice girl but I don’t think we should see each other anymore.” The voicemail ends and I freeze in the dentist’s chair as I realize… I’ve just been dumped on live radio.

It took the most humiliating break-up for me to see that my life is in serious need of a do-over. Cue my anti New Year’s resolutions that even I can’t fail at:

  1. Stop dating. (Men are the worst.)
  2. Stop trying to lose weight. (I’m never giving up chocolate.)
  3. Stop working so hard. (Selling mortgages is not my dream career.)
  4. Stop trying to live up to unrealistic expectations. (Start living my best life.)
  5. Stop trying to please my mother. (It’s not possible.)


But it turns out number five is harder than I thought, as she begins her campaign to get me back with my ex. So, what’s the perfect solution to keep her out of my love life? An imaginary boyfriend—at least he was supposed to be imaginary until I blurted out my neighbor’s name…

Nate, the bad boy next door with gorgeous hazel eyes, a razor-sharp jawline and a mysterious scar, might be hot, but he’s definitely not my boyfriend. Now all I need to do is stick to my resolutions while also keeping my interfering family away from my non-existent lover who has no idea that we’re fake dating. What could possibly go wrong?

MY REVIEW:

The Do Over by Sharon Peterson is the second romantic-comedy book I’ve read this year with this title but this particular version was a lot more fun, with a much more likable main character and love interest. Not only that but the icing on the cake was a sassy, Southern grandma who kept the humor level all the way to the top.

This book was a fun read, and I needed a fun read with all the stress in the world these days. It kept me hooked from the beginning and even though a couple of parts were a little predictable, they were predictable in an entertaining way. The main character’s full name was definitely not predictable but I’ll let you read the book to find out the story behind that.

Peterson promised a fun ride from page one and delivered on that promise all the way through. If a writer can make a dentist appointment a hook to pull this reader right into their book, then they have some talent. I hate dentist appointments, but I carried on through that first chapter because I just had to know what happened.

Every character Peterson introduced was likable or interesting in their own way, from the main to the minor supporting characters.

I’m not always a fan of the “fake boyfriend” trope in romance novels but Peterson handled it in a realistic way that didn’t leave me rolling my eyes.

She also managed to weave in social issues without making them preachy or letting them weigh the book down with unnecessary heaviness for a romantic comedy.

If you are looking for a fun, fast read that will leave you with a smile and make you forget your problems for a little bit, then this is a book I encourage you to pick up and immerse yourself in.

Book Review/Recommendation: The Uncertainty of Fire

Book: The Uncertainty of Fire

Author: Stephanie Daniels

Genre: Christian Historical Fiction

Description:

What price will she pay for following her heart?

Chicago, 1871. Sixteen-year-old Whimsy Greathart would rather fight against Chicago’s child labor practices than attend her privileged family’s high society events. And a very public social blunder only strengthens her resolve to use her influence for good.

On the night of the Great Chicago Fire, her tenderhearted choice leads her into danger and results in life-changing consequences.

With her world turned to ash, she must rely on the mercy of poor relations to rebuild her future and is forced into the very labor system she wished to fight against. As Whimsy staggers under the weight of street gang violence and hazardous working conditions, a chance at deliverance persuades her to make a promise. One she intends to keep. But now she must determine whether it’s God’s heart she’s following or her own.

A Top Faved Christian story on Amazon’s Kindle Vella. Now available in paperback and e-book.

My Thoughts

The Uncertainty of Fire is a book full of excitement and intrigue wrapped around a well written and researched story based on events that happened during and after the great Chicago fire of 1871. The book follows Whimsy, a young woman with a compassionate heart who faces unthinkable trials.

The characters are rich and well developed and easy to love – or hate when necessary .

Once you start, be prepared to be unable to put the book down without blazing your way through to the end to find out what happens. Whimsy’s life takes so many twists and turns you’re never quite sure what might happen next.

While there is heartbreak in the pages of Whimsy’s life, there is also hope, healing, and joy.

Daniels does an amazing job pulling you into the story and never letting you go. I’m looking forward to her next book, which I’m sure will be just as enthralling as this first one.

Book Recommendation: Mama, Sing My Song

Book Title: Mama, Sing My Song

Author: Amanda Seibert

Genre: Children’s

Release Date: September 2022

Description:

Mama, Sing My Song is a children’s book about God’s big love, giving families affirming words to shower on their kids, revealing the bright joy, deep care, and unending love they have in their hearts. Amanda Seibert, founder of Mama Sing My Song, the popular company that creates personalized songs for parents to gift to their children, knows that the words we speak over our little ones can shape them for years to come. 

When we look at our children, we see those one-in-a-million grins, their crinkled noses, and sweet eyes looking back at us, which soften our hearts. God designed those babies uniquely, and Mama, Sing My Song is a celebration of all that is lovely and true about your child. Let your little ones know they are safe, loved, and cherished in your family.

This affirming book for 4- to 8-year-olds.

My review

This beautiful children’s book captured my heart and my and 7-year-old daughter’s attention with the beautiful words and beautiful illustrations. The message was heartwarming and instills such an important message in our children — that they are God’s work of art. No matter what others say about them, they are made in God’s image and God loves them, protects them, and watches over them.

I absolutely love how the front and back of the book provide spaces to personalize the book to your child with headings such as “wonderful qualities I see in you”, “my hopes and dreams for your life,” “the special meaning of your name,” etc.

This isn’t just a children’s book. It is a child’s keepsake, something I feel like children will hold on to remember that their parents love them, and God does as well.

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.

Book Recommendation with Celebrate Lit Tours: Far From Home by Mabel Ninan

About the Book

Book: Far From Home

Author: Mabel Ninan

Genre: Christian / Non-Fiction / Spiritual Growth

Release date: July 12, 2022

What is my purpose? Why do I exist? A sense of self and belonging are two questions many of us struggle to answer.

And what if you are a foreigner in another land?

How does one adjust to a new culture? Discover their place in a new society?

For Mabel Ninan, born and raised in India and an immigrant in America shortly after marriage, the search for those answers sent her on a journey that led to an unexpected and exciting discovery.

God revealed she was not only an earthly immigrant but also a spiritual one, created with a unique calling to impact His kingdom. Mabel’s renewed perspective imbued her with joy and hope, urging her to share the message with others.

Drawing from her personal experiences and by examining the lives of biblical heroes, Mabel sheds light on what it means to live as a citizen of Heaven on earth. Far from Home will inspire you to:

  • Embrace your identity as a foreigner on earth.
  • Make your home with God.
  • Find community and common purpose with fellow sojourners.

Explore the intersection between culture, identity, and faith in this new release from an earthly immigrant who gained a spiritual perspective.

Click here to get your copy!

My Thoughts

Far From Home by Mabel Ninan is a meaningful, inspirational, and powerful devotional written from the perspective of a woman who was a physical immigrant to the United States, but who also recognizes that humans are spiritual immigrants in a world we do not belong in.

Mabel Ninan moved to the United States from India in 2008 with her husband and was thrown into an unfamiliar world. There were days that her only comfort was Jesus who she’d known her whole life after being brought up in the church in a minority Christian community in India. Over the years, Mabel has lived in different countries and on different continents and no matter where she goes, she has found that Jesus is her one constant.

 During her time of adjustment in the States in 2008, during her first move with her husband and family, she came to know Jesus in an even more intimate way, leaning on him during a time when she was lost, confused, and lonely.

The lessons she learned during that time are captured in this wonderful devotional that reminds all Christians about their need to call out and reach for Jesus instead of material things which will not sustain them during the hardest times in their lives.

The words of encouragement in this devotional came at the perfect time for me. I was given a free copy of the book in exchange for a review but was not required to give a positive review. I have no problem giving a positive review, however, because this devotional helped me remember that even when I feel like I don’t fit in with others, I do fit in with God.  

This devotional’s main focus is to remind us that our identity is in Christ and not in what we, or others, believe our identity to be.

 I thought I’d take a moment to share a personal reason for choosing to review this book. I had a good friend named Rev. Charles Reynolds who was a Christian missionary to India for over 50 years. He brought Indian tea home with him and had it stored in his and his wife Maud’s shed in a small town near where I grew up for years. One day I stopped by and I was suffering from a cold. He offered me a cup of tea and said tea solves a myriad of problems, including illness. I didn’t believe him but after a few moments of sipping the tea, I did actually feel better.

He often told me stories about his time in India, once raised money for victims of an earthquake there, kept in contact with the women’s medical school he helped build up when a missionary there, and wrote a book about he and his wife’s time there. Over the years his stories and mission somehow made me feel like I had a connection to the Indian people. I enjoyed reading about Mabel’s journey partially because of this, but also because of my own struggles to find my identity in an often chaotic and uncertain world.

About the Author

Born and raised in the minority Christian community in India, Mabel moved to the US in 2008 shortly after getting married. In nearly thirteen years of her marriage, her family has called ten different places across two continents and seven cities home. The challenges Mabel faced as an immigrant on the move led to a spiritual crisis that drew her nearer to God’s side where she learned valuable lessons about how to live as a citizen of heaven. Her mission is to inspire believers to embrace their pilgrim journey on earth and boldly pursue their heavenly calling.

A contributor to Guideposts’ All God’s Creatures: Daily Devotions for Animal Lovers 2022, Mabel’s writings have appeared in The Upper Room, CBN.com, Leading Hearts Magazine, and (in)courage.me. She hosts a YouTube podcast called Immigrant Faith Stories where she shares testimonies of immigrants, refugees, missionaries, and cross-cultural ministry leaders. She has been serving in various roles in women’s ministry for almost a decade.

Mabel enjoys reading, traveling, and dancing, but nothing gives her more joy than having conversations about the Bible.

Mabel is pursuing M.A. in Theological Studies from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. She lives with her husband, son, and Maltese pup in Northern California.

More from Mabel

When the idea of this book was birthed in 2018, I wanted to publish a collection of letters to my son. I wanted to keep a record of God’s faithfulness to me in a foreign country. How He became my all in all when I had nobody to call my own. How He gave me His all when I was empty. I hoped my stories and learnings would strengthen not only my son’s faith but also other immigrants like me. But God had a different plan for this book.

By 2019, the book underwent a complete change in its content and organization. It also targeted a different group of readers. I wrote for those who were coping with changes, those who wanted a deeper walk with God, those who found it difficult to belong or cling to hope in the midst of suffering, and those who were tired of going through the motions. My agent and I replaced the title of the book from This is not Home to Far from Home.

After facing rejecting from almost eight publishers, Far from Home found its home in Harambee Press, an imprint of Iron Stream Media that publishes ethnic writers. I was thrilled!

Far from Home is a nonfiction book but it is also part memoir. I’ve described what life was like growing up in India and I also recount a few experiences as an immigrant in the U.S. What makes Far from Home unique is also that the book introduces the reader to another culture, the Indian/South Asian culture. Some parts of the book read like a devotional while others are rich in biblical character studies and teaching.

Overall, I feel the book reflects who I am—an Indian, an America, an Indian-American, a storyteller, an immigrant, and a Bible teacher—though that was not my aim. I find it fascinating that I could be myself and tell my stories and use all aspects of my identity to declare the goodness and greatness of God.

There is a need for more diversity in our stories. I’m not saying this because diversity is the new buzz world these days. We need diverse voices and ways of worship because they reveal God’s power, beauty, and creativity. Testimonies from other cultures can open our eyes to a new way of experiencing God and His Word. They engage our brains and touch our hearts in a unique way. Reading books by diverse authors can enlarge our capacity for empathy, push back our defenses, and even turn our fear of the unknown into appreciation.

I hope my writing helps you see God from a different lens, a different angle. I hope it makes you want to read books by authors from varied cultures, races, and ethnicities.

And my desire, more than anything else, is that Far from Home convinces you that you’re never really far from home. In the triune God, you always have a home here on earth while you await a better one in heaven. A home that will be shared with people from all nations, tongues, and tribes.

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, September 1

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 2

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, September 3

A Reader’s Brain, September 4

Beauty in the Binding, September 5 (Author Interview)

Boondock Ramblings, September 5

Inklings and notions, September 6

deb’s Book Review, September 7

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 8

Simple Harvest Reads, September 9 (Author Interview)

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 10

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, September 11

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 12

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, September 13

Jodie Wolfe – Stories Where Hope and Quirky Meet, September 14 (Author Interview)

Mary Hake, September 14

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Mabel is giving away the grand prize package of a Paperback copy of book, customized notepad and bookmark (these eco-friendly products made by rural artisans in India help sustain endangered art forms and secure livelihoods), access to digital resources (recipe booklet, teaching videos, and audio prayers), and a $30 Amazon gift card!!

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

https://promosimple.com/ps/21362/far-from-home-celebration-tour-giveaway

Book Tour with Celebrate Lit: The Heart of the Mountains by Pepper Basham

About the Book

Book: The Heart of the Mountains

Author: Pepper Basham

Genre: Christian Fiction / Romance

Release date: July 1, 2022

Can their hearts overcome the darkness of the mountains?

To escape a forced marriage, Cora Taylor travels from England to the Blue Ridge Mountains in search of her brother, who is working as a teacher in a mission school. She hopes to find a place where her nursing skills and independent ideas will be accepted and appreciated, but nothing prepares her for the wild mixture of isolation, community, brokenness, and hope within these mountains…or in the person of Jeb McAdams.

Returning from the devastation of World War 1 emotionally damaged, Jeb McAdams struggles against the rampant mountain alcoholism to soothe his nightmares. It’s easy to hide within the mountains, or it was, before Cora Taylor arrived. Now, she seems to show up at every turn, bringing her modern ideas, curiosity, and beautiful eyes with her.

Bound by their shared war history, the pair develop an unlikely friendship, which unexpectedly hints to something more. But when Cora’s desire to help the women of the mountains crosses an unspoken line, will Jeb be able to protect this feisty flatlander from the wrath of the mountain men or will he end up losing much more than his heart?

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

If you are a fiction of historical fiction and historical romance, then Pepper Basham is the author for you, and her latest, The Heart of the Mountains, will have you hooked from the beginning.

I connected with the two main characters early on and felt like I needed their lives to turn out okay after all they had been through before the book even started and then went through during the book.

There was non-stop action and a variety of interesting characters which transformed what could have been a simple run-of-the-mill, cookie-cutter inspirational romance book into a novel with depth, complexity, and heartfelt tenderness.

There were quite a few side characters in this two-person point of view book. Crisis after crisis popped up involving each of the side characters, which could have been a bit confusing at times but wasn’t because it kept the booking moving along at a speed just fast enough to hold my interest but not too fast to make my head spin in confusion. Basham kept the characters straight for the readers like a true professional, balancing subplots like a well-trained literary juggler.

About the Author

Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor with southern Appalachian flair. Both her historical and contemporary novels have garnered recognition in the Grace Awards, Inspys, and ACFW Carol Awards. Her historical romance, The Thorn Healer, was a finalist in the 2018 RT Awards. Her historical romance novels, My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge and The Red Ribbon, and her contemporary novels, the Mitchell’s Crossroads and Pleasant Gap series, showcase her Appalachian heritage, as well as her love for humor and family. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she is the mom of five great kids, a speech-language pathologist to about fifty more, and a lover of chocolate, jazz, hats, and Jesus.

You can learn more about Pepper at her website http://www.pepperdbasham.com or connect with her on FB, IG, or Twitter.

More from Pepper

It’s so interesting how one idea can influence an entire series, or…how one person’s story can.

The idea for The Heart of the Mountains started in Laurel’s Dream with a hint of a family history story about a girl named Kizzie. (Someday, I hope to bring Kizzie’s story to the pages of a book). From there, the idea began to grow out of a love for my Appalachian culture into a series of books which highlighted (and fictionalized) stories from my family history.

The main story in The Heart of the Mountains is about Jeb and Cora, two different people with similar servant hearts, but the secondary story that touched me so much was the one based on my great grandfather’s life. I write about it in the Author’s Note at the end of the novel, so I won’t go into detail about it. However, what I loved getting to do is bring the truth of God’s redemption in my great grandfather’s life…to life again.

I never knew “Papa Rat”. I only knew the stories handed down to me by my granny and my mama, but in writing this story, I feel as though I had a tiny opportunity to “meet” him in these pages. He was a gruff mountain man with a broken past which led him to make a whole lot of broken choices, but his story is incredibly encouraging, because it points to the God of broken people. My great grandpa wasn’t left in his brokenness, but, after years of running away from God, he would later recount that God pursued him. The beauty of Sam McAdams’ journey in The Heart of the Mountains is only a little glimpse into what I imagine my great grandpa’s redemption story looked like.

Because my great grandpa was forever changed when Jesus saved him (as any of us should be).

I think that’s what my granny and her siblings (and even “Papa Rat” himself) would want most -that his story would point to Jesus. I hope that’s what you see when you read about Sam McAdams in The Heart of the Mountains.

Have you ever read a book based on family history? One of my favorites is Catherine Marshall’s Christy.

Blog Stops

Bizwings Blog, July 28

Rachael’s Inkwell, July 28

Bigreadersite, July 28

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, July 29

Texas Book-aholic, July 29

Inklings and notions, July 30

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, July 30

Boondock Ramblings, July 30

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 31

Reading With Emily, July 31

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, July 31 (Author Interview)

lakesidelivingsite, August 1

Where Crisis & Christ Collide, August 1

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, August 1

Daysong Reflections, August 2

deb’s Book Review, August 2

Live. Love. Read., August 2

Betti Mace, August 3

Book Looks by Lisa, August 3

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 3

Remembrancy, August 4

For Him and My Family, August 4

Blossoms and Blessings, August 4

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, August 5

By the Book, August 5

Wishful Endings, August 5

For the Love of Literature, August 6

Books, Books and More Books, August 6

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, August 6

Connie’s History Classroom, August 7

SodbusterLiving, August 7

Splashes of Joy, August 7

Where Faith and Books Meet, August 8

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, August 8

Back Porch Reads, August 9

Through the Fire Blogs, August 9

Pause for Tales, August 9

Labor Not in Vain, August 10

Miriam Jacob, August 10

To Everything There Is A Season, August 10

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Pepper is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon e- gift card and a paperback copy of the book!!

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

https://promosimple.com/ps/20389/the-heart-of-the-mountains-celebration-tour-giveaway

Book recommendation: Walking In Tall Weeds by Robin W. Pearson

Book title: Walking in Tall Weeds

Author: Robin W. Pearson

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: July 19, 2022

Description:

From award-winning author Robin W. Pearson comes a new Southern family drama about one family who discovers their history is only skin-deep and that God’s love is the only family tie that binds.

Paulette and Fred Baldwin find themselves wading through a new season of life in Hickory Grove, North Carolina. Their only son, McKinley, now works hundreds of miles away, and the distance between the husband and wife feels even farther. When their son returns home, his visit dredges up even more conflict between Fred and Paulette.

McKinley makes it no secret that he doesn’t intend to follow in his father’s footsteps at George & Company Fine Furnishings or otherwise. Fred can’t quite bring himself to accept all his son’s choices, yet Paulette is determined McKinley will want for nothing, least of all a mother’s love and attention—which her own skin color cost her as a child. But all her striving leaves Fred on the outside looking in.

Paulette suspects McKinley and Fred are hiding something that could change the whole family. Soon, she’s facing a whirlwind she never saw coming, and the three of them must dig deep to confront the truth. Maybe then they’ll discover that their history is only skin-deep while their faith can take them right to the heart of things.

My Thoughts:

With Walking in Tall Weeds, Robin W. Pearson once again takes readers on a journey with characters who are easy to love despite their flaws.

Walking in Tall Weeds is the third book I have written by Robin W. Pearson, which is fitting since it is the third book she has written.

Each time I read one of her books I am pulled into a world that I am both familiar and unfamiliar with. Her characters feel like people I know, partially because they are from the South and my mom’s family is from the South, but also because Robin is so amazing at writing characters who are multi-dimensional and well-rounded.

Robin details each part of her characters’ personalities in deeply personal and creative ways which creates a warm and nurturing environment for their stories to be told.

Each time I read one of Robin’s books, I am drawn to the main characters. In A Long Time Comin’ I related to Evelyn and felt like maybe Robin had been reading my private journals before she flushed out her character. In ‘Til I Want Not More I didn’t understand Maxine at first, but as I continued to read and think about her, I realized I was a lot like her as well. In Walking in Tall Weeds, though, I share so much of Paulette’s personality it was almost like looking in a soul mirror. When she did, said, or thought certain things I thought, “Oh my. That’s me.” This was both a good and a bad realization depending on the moment Paulette was in the midst of.

This book definitely touches on the evil of racism, but it is not overly dark or the only theme of this emotionally rich novel.

Robin has a way of dealing with the tough issues with a little bit of humor and a whole lot of love.

Walking In Tall Weeds is a book that intertwines a number of challenges — both family and social — but at the ultimate center of it all is how humans relate to each other.

Some readers might call this a book that focuses on a societal issue and yes, that is one aspect of this book, but the main, undercurrent focus of this book is relationships. To steal a quote from the author, this is a book that asks,  “How do we love others well, through all the different stages of life? Husbands, wives, extended family, children, friends, enemies, co-workers, ourselves?”

Robin’s writing makes you think deeply about what her characters are going through but also how to tackle those same issues in your own life. 

Giveaway:

If you’d like to win an autographed copy of Walking in Tall Weeds please enter the giveaway on my Instagram today through Friday.

Book review/recommendation: Violet’s Vow by Jenny Knipfer

Jenny Knipfer has a way of melodically weaving a story through well-written prose that takes you into the past, a world she easily strolls through in her latest historical novella Violet’s Vow.

The story of Violet takes the reader on an emotional journey as Violet navigates loss, anger, and love after the unexpected death of her husband, Roger. Violet knows how her husband died but throughout the book, she feels she must find out why her husband died. Was it truly an accident, or was there something more sinister at play? No matter the reason behind his death, his loss has left Violet insecure and unsure of her future, which she thought would involve running the flower shop she and Roger owned together, into their old age.

When Violet begins to receive love notes I was pulled into the mystery of who has feelings for her and why they aren’t telling her in person. As I continued the journey with Violet, I also began to wonder which man in her life I wanted to have written the letters, since each one seemed to have something suspect about their past. As in her other books, Jenny uses poetic language to create a story worth following to the end. There is heartbreak yet hope within the pages of each book she writes, and Violet’s Vow is no different.

You can purchase Violet’s Vow on Amazon, or read it through Kindle Unlimited starting Friday, May 6.

Book Tour with Celebration Lit: Anything But Simple by Lucinda J. Miller

About the Book

Book: Anything But Simple

Author: Lucinda J. Miller (Last name now Kinsinger)

Genre: Memoir

Release date: July 25, 2017

AnythingButSimple for web

Plain? Yes. Simple? Well…

If you live in a conservative Mennonite community, edges are sewn shut and questions have answers. So if you’ve got a saucy tongue and a roving curiosity about the world, you’ve got a story to tell.

As a schoolteacher in a small Mennonite school in rural Wisconsin, Lucinda J. Miller wears long dresses and a prayer covering. But she uses a cell phone and posts status updates on Facebook. So why would a young woman with access to all these technologies remain in a sheltered community like the Plain Mennonites? How can someone with an eye for beauty and a sometimes sardonic wit stay within a tradition that values discipline and submission and uniformity?

Anything But Simple is the stirring memoir of a young woman’s rich church tradition, lively family life, and longing for a meaningful future within her Mennonite faith.

Click here to get your copy! ”

Review


As I began to read Anything But Simple I saw so many similarities between the author Lucinda J. Miller and me that I found myself glued to the pages. Our life similarities include her ideas about writing, her experiences with her family, her view of her father, and her many questions and doubts about her faith, though she never left her faith and neither have I. I found those similarities despite the fact I did not grow up as a Mennonite and Lucinda did.

When I was reading this book, I saw another review for it where the reader said they were bothered the book didn’t offer any explanations of what the difference between the Amish and Mennonites was. I was baffled by this review because the book’s subtitle is “My life as a Mennonite.” I bring this up not to criticize the reviewer, who may have sure misunderstood the goal of the book, but to bridge into the issues Miller herself dealt with while writing the book.

When she was writing this book, she had a friend suggest she write about how Mennonites are “different from everyone else.” Miller doesn’t feel different from everyone else, other than how her faith shapes how she looks at life. In many ways, her family is the same as every other family, so her goal in this book is not to show how Mennonites are different from others but how they are the same.

This book does a very good job of showing how similar humans are no matter what faith they are a part of. The human condition isn’t something limited by the faith we were brought up in.
Miller tells us her personal story in an entertaining way that delicately balances triumph and heartache. There are times I can’t help but feel heartbreak for the internal struggles she faced during her teen and early adult years, probably because they so closely mirrored mine. These struggles — the feeling she didn’t fit in and how she often felt shy and withdrawn — though tough, was what helped shape her foundation for a fulfilling adulthood.
Seeing her spread her wings and step into a future as a writer, one she wasn’t sure she could have with the background she was brought up in, was very satisfying, again because I could relate so viscerally to what writing represents to her.

“Writers did not have to be pretty,” she writes. “They were very often odd-looking, according to their pictures. And the odder the writer, the better the writing. Reclusiveness, for a writer, was expected. Unhappiness was just a bonus that gave you something to write about and opened up the wells of passion within your being. If you were miserable, ugly, hated, alone, still you were okay. Because you still had the Dream. No one could take it from you.”

Some memoirs turn into a negative look back at their childhood, but Miller’s book doesn’t do that, or at least not often. For the most part, she looks back at her life as a Mennonite as a positive experience, not as something to be spurned or mocked. She writes about her journey through life, and how being a Mennonite affected that journey, but also about Mennonites in general and how they look at life and relate to others.

Miller’s prose is poetic, making what could have been a mundane retelling of a life feel more like a majestic journey into the mind of an intellectualist who has finally allowed herself to be an intellectual and not feel guilty about it.

About the Author

Lucinda J Miller Kinsinger has always viewed herself as a shy little Mennonite girl, but refuses to let that stop her from pursuing what she loves—whether that’s writing with honesty and vulnerability or traveling to a remote village in China. In 2019, she married Ivan, the love of her life, and moved from the flat, tree-lined fields of her childhood home in Wisconsin to the rolling hills of Garrett County, Maryland. The couple has a baby daughter, Annalise. Since the publication of Anything but Simple, Lucinda has published a second memoir, Turtle Heart: Unlikely Friends with a Life-Changing Bond. She is a columnist for Anabaptist World and blogs at lucindajkinsinger.com.

More from Lucinda

Me, and The People Who Shaped Me

My dad used to say that every person in your life is placed there by God for a reason. Even the ones you don’t like are there to teach you something.

Learn.

If you don’t, God may send someone else to teach you the same lesson you couldn’t learn the first time around.

Anything But Simple is my story, the story of a shy little Mennonite girl growing up to be a writer and asking questions along the way. It is also the story of the many people who enriched my life.

My dad, with his black hair and handsome face and stories from his past.

My mom, with her smooth sweaters and her sure and solid love.

My bishop with his mouth that turned down like a turtle’s.

My creative writing professor who loved words in a way I had never seen in anyone but myself.

Charlene.

Mara.

Deqo.

Jake.

From these people and alongside these people I arose, breathing, questioning, earnest.

Our journey, like the journey of all the squiggly and intricate humans that wander the face of the earth, is anything but simple.

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, April 2

A Reader’s Brain, April 3

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, April 3

Inklings and notions, April 4

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, April 5

All-of-a-kind Mom, April 5

She Lives To Read, April 6

deb’s Book Review, April 7

A Melodious Sonnet, April 7

Locks, Hooks and Books, April 8

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, April 9

Tell Tale Book Reviews, April 10

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, April 10

The Avid Reader, April 11

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, April 11

Rebecca Tews, April 12

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, April 12

Sodbuster Living, April 13

Boondock Ramblings, April 13

Vicky Sluiter, April 14

For Him and My Family, April 14

Spoken from the Heart, April 15

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Lucinda is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

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

https://promosimple.com/ps/1c574/anything-but-simple-celebration-tour-giveaway