BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour

Better Than Fiction by April W. Gardner and Michelle Massaro

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About the Book

Book: Better than Fiction

Author: April W. Gardner &  Michelle Massaro

Genre: Historical Fiction/Contemporary Fiction  Better-than-Fiction-cover-200x300

Release Date: April 4, 2016

Imagining him was harmless…until it wasn’t.

Romance novelist Meghan Townsend’s marriage is slipping, and no amount of prayer seems to help. She aims to recapture her husband’s waning attention by getting in shape and finds escape by crafting her own fictional love story. Taking inspiration for the hero from a new friend—the attractive, spiritual, and attentive Curtis Jameson—she pours her yearnings onto the page, and craves the kind of pulse-pounding romance found in her book, Racing Hearts…

In 1916 Corona, California, motorcars are all the rage, and racing them is what Meghan’s hero, Russell Keegan, does best. But when his competition vandalizes his car, the only mechanic available is a greasy woman in a man’s overalls.

After a racing accident claimed her father’s life, Winifred became the sole breadwinner for her family. She is disdained as a female mechanic, but her daddy’s trade is all she has left. Can she swallow her hatred of the races and take up Russell’s offer of big bucks to fix his car, or will she lose everything to mounting debt?

Under Meghan’s skillful pen, these two embark on a thrilling, adventurous romance. But she finds that writing those love scenes with Curtis’s face in mind takes her heart places it shouldn’t go. Will she realize in time that real life can be better than fiction?

 

Click here to get your copy!

 

My Review

Fiction that challenges one to think carefully about real life is always welcome in my book (or Kindle, to be exact.) April W. Gardner and Michelle Massaro have combined to create a time-slip novel of racing, avarice, grease monkeys, and modern-day friends who juggle families, church life, and keeping fit.

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Romance and the lack of it are big themes in this novel. What do you do as a modern married woman in a Christian marriage blown cold? Where do you take refuge? A very fun way to examine a tough but very real topic in the church today.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the authors and publisher via Celebrate Lit. This in no way influenced my opinions, which are solely my own.

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My Rating

4 Stars – Excellent – I would recommend this book!

About the Author

April W Gardner writes Christian historical romance with a focus on our southeastern April-headshot-237x300Native tribes. She is a copyeditor, military wife, and mother of two who lives in South Texas. In no particular order, April dreams of owning a horse, learning a third language, and visiting all the national parks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michelle Massaro writes contemporary fiction, soaked in grace. She makes her home in  Michelle-Massaro-253x300Southern California with her husband of over two decades and their four children. She’s dabbled in homeschooling, teaching Creation Science, and leading worship. When she isn’t tinkering with words, Michelle enjoys old Rogers and Hammerstein movies, making kefir, and Sudoku. A new lipstick and a good French roast always make her happy.

 

 

More from April and Michelle

April and Michelle get a lot of questions about how exactly co-authors write a book. Who writes which part? Did you have any trouble, any conflict? Valid questions! But in the case of Better than Fiction, it was no trouble at all, and neither author can remember a single heated disagreement. In part, because they’d been critique partners for eons and were already working together seamlessly.

It also helped that the story is made up of two intertwining novellas. Each author had her own blank canvas to color on with the other looking on and offering feedback. The most enjoyable part of the process was the challenge of making sure the events in the life of Michelle’s contemporary character (an author) influenced the characters’ decisions in April’s historical plot.

Why intertwining stories? The idea behind it was to show what it’s like to live in the mind of a writer, how her real life makes its way into her stories. The theme of emotional affairs was a good fit, as it is often all too easy for women—even Christian woman—to be drawn to another man and justify it as harmless friendship rather than admit she is looking to this person to fill a need that only God and her husband are meant to fill.

They decided to set the story against the backdrop of Michelle’s hometown of Corona, California in 1916 and the real-life Corona Road Race that took place in April of that year. It was the third race and, due to tragedy, the last.

From concept to “The End,” it took a span of about four years for Michelle and April to publish Better than Fiction, and as far as teamwork goes, it went off without a hitch. April was able to fly from her home in Georgia to stay with Michelle’s family and do research, and later, Michelle flew to Georgia for a concentrated writing weekend. The two had an amazingly fun time writing and working together.

Another question the authors get…will there be a sequel? Only time will tell.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, October 9

Among the Reads, October 9

Genesis 5020, October 10

Through the Fire Blogs, October 11

Betti Mace, October 11

Artistic Nobody, October 12

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, October 12

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, October 13

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, October 13

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, October 14

For Him and My Family, October 15

Remembrancy, October 15

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, October 16

Maureen’s Musings, October 16

Godly Book Reviews, October 17

Moments, October 17

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, October 18

Bigreadersite, October 18

Texas Book-aholic, October 19

For The Love of Books, October 19

janicesbookreviews, October 20

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 20

A Reader’s Brain, October 21

Inklings and notions , October 22

Simple Harvest Reads, October 22

Giveaway

To celebrate their tour, April and Michelle are giving away the grand prize bundle of a $20 Amazon gift card, themed mug and bookmarks, and handmade throw pillow that says, “Books, my happy place”!!

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/ed92/better-than-fiction-celebration-tour-giveaway

BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, Nonfiction

Whispers in the Pews: Voices on Mental Illness in the Church, edited by Chris Morris

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 About the Book

Book: Whispers in the Pews

Author: Chris Morris

Genre: Mental illness & Spirituality                unnamed-2-199x300

Release Date: November 9, 2018

Mental Illness is real. Will the Church get real?

This book is a collection of essays from various authors: men and women, pastors and congregants, counselors and nurses, parents and children. All have a unique view of how mental health conditions affect people, and how the church has responded to these circumstances. Whispers in the Pews tackles how the mentally ill have been, and still are, treated in the church at large by sharing stories.

This is not fundamentally a teaching book, but a book of moments and lives, knitted together by the common theme of mental health. No sermons will be included, though lessons learned from difficulties and their foundations in Scripture are encouraged.

This collection will expand your vision, and your heart, about what the church does well for the mentally ill, and where we can improve.

 

Click here to grab your copy!

 

My Review

Where does one begin expressing one’s thoughts about a book like this? Whispers in the
Pews, edited by Chris Morris, is a collection of various Christians’ thoughts on how the
church is, for the most part, failing to meet the needs of its members who are dealing
with mental illness. Each essay presented is written by a person who struggles. Most
struggle with depression and/or anxiety, but some struggle with illnesses such as bipolar
or schizophrenia. Many deal with PTSD.
Most feel like the church has ignored them. I know many sufferers are right when they
say Christians act like depressed people are those who don’t have enough faith or have
sin in their lives or even have dark forces at work in them.
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I am one of those who believe that God “has given us everything we need for life and
godliness…” However, a few of those things He has given us are wise doctors,
medications for depression and other illnesses, and Christian counselors. Having dealt
with some of these issues myself and in others around me, the book made me a little
uncomfortable. Partly because the essayists are right; many churches do not deal
appropriately with this topic. However, I also feel like (don’t shoot me, please) ill people
need to concentrate on moving forward when possible. The Apostle Paul talks about
taking every thought captive and forgetting what is behind and reaching for what is
ahead. If anyone experienced trauma enough to send him into illness or had memories
of a horrible past he wished he’d never lived, it would have been Paul. We have to treat
with medicine, counseling, and retraining the thought pathways of the brain.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author through the publisher via
Celebrate Lit. This in no way affected my opinions, which are solely my own.

My Rating

4 Stars – Excellent, I would recommend this book

About the Author

Chris Morris writes about the juxtaposition of faith and unresolved pain, those moments where we feel like God should show up, but He doesn’t. His writing focuses on bringing ChrisMorrisFINAL-12-of-94hope, encouragement, and practical steps to those disappointments, so we don’t get stuck.

He is familiar with the confusion and pain of a life interrupted by an illness. He’s had seizures of one kind or another for his entire life. Some days, he loses hours of his day. Other times, the steel trap that used to be his mind…leaks like a sieve.

His daughter is epileptic and has had over 5000 seizures in her life. She is also a high-functioning autistic, with increasing frustration as she begins to realize she is not like her peers.

Every day, he is reminded in some way that his family will never be normal.

But he won’t give in, he won’t give up. He won’t let the pain and aggravation, the injuries and difficulties that are part of his normal keep him from living a full life. At least, most days that’s true. His heart is to show his readers how to do the same.

 

More from Chris

Mental illness isn’t going away any time soon, as statistics say more than one in four people are diagnosed with a mental illness in the United States. And yet, the church at large has had a mixed response to mental illnesses. The church should be the one place where people are accepted as they are, no matter the details. Jesus accepted everyone who came across his path—adulterers, tax collectors, fishermen, critics. It didn’t matter. As His footprint upon the earth, the church should be the same.

Even with, or perhaps especially with, mental health conditions, the instinct should be to lean into kindness and love. The local church body should gather around, provide a place of safety and transparency, upholding those who are not well in their midst.

And this is exactly what happens, sometimes. There are pastors who are actively looking to normalize mental health conditions by mentioning depression alongside diabetes as an illness that can be overcome.

But for every pastor looking to build a healthy understanding of mental illnesses, there is a pastor lumping depression in with pornography, equating anxiety with faithlessness, telling their congregation to avoid medicine for treatment, or otherwise refusing to recognize the complexity of mental illnesses.

Definitely there are spiritual disciplines that can help those suffering from depression, but often it’s not enough. And yes, talking with a pastor or a counselor can certainly provide some relief for anxiety, but that’s not always the path forward either. Sometimes medicine is the answer, or at least part of the answer. And sometimes, there is no answer. Sometimes, trauma has left an indelible mark upon a person that cannot be overcome.

How can anyone tell the young man who is battling depression because of his abusive upbringing with a violent alcoholic father that a little more Bible reading and some memorization of a few verses will make the nightmares go away? No, that’s not how it works.

That’s not to insinuate every mental health condition comes from trauma. But even when the root isn’t trauma, there is still complexity involved. Some come from chemical imbalances…and no, that’s not a cop out. This is why antidepressants ease the burden for many suffering from severe depression, because these medications work to balance out various neurotransmitters. This is why some diagnosed as bipolar are able to find rest from the highs and lows with lithium, because a lithium imbalance was the problem in the first place.

Unfortunately, these truths are not always appreciated or understood in the church at large. No, many pastors paint with broad strokes, equating any mental illness with immaturity in the faith. It’s uncomfortable at best, and fear inducing at worst, to tell a pastor that he’s wrong. Especially when it’s hard to nail down why it is that he’s wrong.

Because of this discomfort, many choose to put on a happy shiny Christian mask and act like they’re not hurting. It’s more painful to confront church leadership and answer all the accusations and questions.

Even more disheartening than putting a mask on, many with mental illnesses choose to step away from the church altogether. They’ve been hurt too often, and too consistently, to have any space left in their hearts for trust. So they hang tight to a belief in Jesus, but walk away from the church because it hurts too much. Some of the voices you’ll read in this book have walked away from church for this very reason.

We can do better as the church. We must do better.

This reality is why I’ve gathered almost two dozen voices to share their stories. It’s only in listening—truly listening with every fiber of our being—to story after story of mental illness that we are able to see just how different every person is, even when the diagnosis is the same.

Mental illness isn’t a simple diagnosis, under any circumstances. It’s not like a fractured shoulder blade, where the path to healing is clear. With a shoulder, the bone needs to be set, the shoulder needs to be immobilized, and healing will take place. If there’s a complex fracture, then surgery might be necessary. But, the basic path is the same. This is never true with mental health conditions. Too often the church has treated those with mental illnesses as though there is a straightforward path toward healthier living, and that’s been painful to bear.

Whispers in the Pews has been written because I am convinced that it is fundamentally stories that will change the allowances for bad theology and inconsiderate (or worse) treatment of people. By hearing the pain and the victories that others have experienced in the church, my hope is that there will be room for a new way to approach mental health—one that sees the person before the health condition.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, October 10

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, October 11

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, October 12

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 13

As He Leads is Joy, October 14

Kat’s Corner Books, October 15

Texas Book-aholic, October 16

janicesbookreviews, October 17

Just the Write Escape, October 18

Mary Hake, October 18

Kathleen Anderson, October 19

A Reader’s Brain, October 20

Rev. Rebecca Wtites: Read, Write, Pray, October 21

Inklings and notions , October 22

Artistic Nobody, October 23

Inspired by fiction, October 23

Giveaway

To celebrate his tour, Chris is giving away the grand prize of a $50 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/e97f/whispers-in-the-pews-celebration-tour-giveaway

BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, Favorite

Forever, Lately: A Regency Time-Travel Romance by Linore Rose Burkhard

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About the Book

Book: Forever, Lately  47933390._SY475_

Author: Linore Rose Burkard

Genre: Time-Travel Romance

Release Date: October 2019

 Maine, present day
Author Claire Channing needs to write a bestselling book to salvage a failing career. She moves to her grandmother’s rustic cottage, but without the deed, the clock is ticking on how long she can stay. She thinks she’s writing St. John’s story until an old prayer shawl with embroidered lovebirds transports her to his Regency world! She falls in love with him–a man she thought she created. But a jealous Miss Andrews would rather see Julian dead than in another woman’s arms!
Claire and St. John must beat the clock to prevent a deadly tragedy, but can love endure past the limits of time?
Click here to get your copy!

My Review

Can a twenty-first-century author and a Regency gent find common ground, let alone find themselves in the same time period for any length of time? Join them in their race against time to save their lives and love.
What a perfect story of time-travel. This novel, Forever, Lately, by Lenore Rose Burkhard, was much more than just a Regency/modern romance. It morphed into a suspense, became a mystery, and involved more twists and turns than one might have imagined possible. The serpentine path of the plot moved the narrative from “simple” to “complex” and “compelling.”

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I loved the main characters, Julian St. John and Claire Channing, and her grandmother. So charming! I strongly disliked a main character, but I did like how well the supporting characters came together to enhance the tale. This is a great Regency time travel that I recommend.
I received this complimentary book from the author via Celebrate Lit. This is no way affected my opinions, which are solely my own.

My Rating

5 Stars – Superior — Hit my reading sweet spot!!

About the Author

Linore Rose Burkard wrote a trilogy of genuine regency romances for the Christian Linore_Smaller-276x300market before there were any regencies for the Christian market. Published with Harvest House, her books opened the genre for the CBA. She also writes YA Suspense/Apocalyptic fiction as L.R. Burkard. Married with five children, Linore home-schools her youngest daughter, teaches workshops for writers, and is the Vice President of the Dayton Christian Scribes.  Her latest  PULSE EFFEX SERIES, takes readers into a “chilling possible future for America, while affirming the power of faith in the darkest of times.”

More from Linore

I wanted to write a Regency time travel for years. When I saw the movie “Kate and Leopold” I thought, Oh no! Someone used my idea! But I needn’t have worried. Leopold (Hugh Jackman) was a Victorian gentleman, not a Regencian. Secondly, though I enjoyed the flick, I kept thinking it missed many opportunities for humor. (Having written a screenplay since then, I now realize why it missed so many: tight scripts just don’t have room for all the scenes that could be fun.) When I wrote my story, however, I was able to include a lot of the humor scenes that had been floating around in my head for eons. It’s one of the reasons the book is a lot of fun to read—particularly when the Regency hero appears in the present.

On a side note, I started this book and then dropped it—for years—mostly because I wanted to write it as Christian romance like my other Regencies. But I kept running into roadblocks. And Christian publishers weren’t interested. Finally I realized I had to let God out of MY box and write the story he was giving me, not the one I thought he should give me. After that, it came together remarkably easily and quickly. And, I think, in a very fun way. I might even do a sequel.

Blog Stops

A Reader’s Brain, September 19

Betti Mace, September 20

Worthy2Read, September 20

Reading Is My SuperPower, September 21

Reflections From My Bookshelves, September 21

For Him and My Family, September 22

Through the Fire Blogs, September 23

Godly Book Reviews, September 24

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 25

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 26

Texas Book-aholic, September 27

janicesbookreviews, September 28

Inklings and notions, September 29

Remembrancy, September 30

Sara Jane Jacobs – Blog, September 30

 Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, October 1

The Avid Reader, October 2

Mia Reads, October 2

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Linore is giving away the grand prize of a $25 gift card to Bed, Bath, and Beyond!!

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/eb9d/forever-lately-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

 

 

BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour

Trapped by Lillian Duncan

Trapped

About the Book

Book: Trapped

Author: Lillian Duncan

Genre: Romantic Suspense (Christian)/Stand Alone

Release Date: September 27, 2019

TrappedAngelina Matthews has everything—rich, famous and beautiful—until the day she’s kidnapped and trapped in a basement with a madman, wearing only a T-shirt. The dirt is his—the blood is hers. Tormented and tortured, she cries out to God. Help comes in the form of Nate Goodman. When their paths cross months later, Nate discovers Angelina is still trapped—not in a basement but in the memories she can’t escape. Nate knows all about being trapped—and getting un-trapped. As an ex-Chicago cop he’s had his own demons to wrestle, but his faith helped him to move forward. He reaches out to Angelina whose paranoid delusions have her trapped still. But are they delusions?

 

 

Click here to grab your copy.

My Review

Lillian Duncan begins her romantic suspense novel quite eerily so that the reader quickly feels Trapped along with Ange. The action moves very swiftly at first but slows considerably to become more of a refection of self-help and therapy groups. I thought the points made by Duncan were spot on, and I was glad to see the approach she took to recovery. However, during this part of this book, the suspense was temporarily paused so we could adequately view the issues Angelina was dealing with.
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Eventually, the action picked up again, and the suspense accelerates to a good pace. I appreciated the author’s note at the end. I must say, a certain event causes me to want to pick the author’s brain… (did you REALLY want to do that ?!)
I recommend this book.
I received a complimentary copy from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit. This does not affect my opinions, which are solely my responsibility.

My Rating

4 Stars – Excellent – A book to pick up!

About the Author

Lillian is a multi-published author who lives in the middle of Ohio Amish country with her husband and a menagerie of pets. After more than 30 years working as a speech Lillian-Duncan-238x300pathologist for children, she believes in the power of words to transform lives, especially God’s Word.

Her goal is to write stories that entertain but also demonstrate God’s love for all of us. To learn more about her, visit www.lillian-duncan.com as well as her devotional blog at www.PowerUpWithGod.com.

 

More from Lillian

TRAPPED is my latest suspense novel. And suspenseful, it is! With just the right about of romance to make it even better.

You can’t help but love Nate Goodman—small-town policeman, believer in truth, justice, and Jesus—comes back home to the sleepy town of Mt. Pleasant, Ohio to work because nothing ever happens—until it does.

Angelina Matthews has everything. She’s rich, famous and beautiful until the day she’s kidnapped and trapped in a basement with a madman. Tormented and tortured, she cries out to God.

Help comes in the form of Nate Goodman.

When their paths cross months later, Nate discovers Angelina is still trapped, not in a basement but in the memories she can’t escape. As an ex-Chicago policeman, Nate knows all about being trapped—and getting un-trapped so he reaches out to help. Between the two of them, they have more than their fair share of problems. But that’s what makes the story exciting.

I have a philosophy when it comes to writing. If I find it boring so will the readers! That means I cut out the boring parts and focus on the action. I loved writing this story with all its twists and turns.

 

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, September 28

Babbling Becky L’ Book Impressions, September 28

Livin’ Lit, September 29

Genesis 5020, September 30

Through the Fire Blogs, October 1

Inspires by fiction, October 1

Spoken from the Heart, October 2

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 3

Avid Reader Nurse , October 3

Maureen’s Musings, October 4

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, October 4

For Him and My Family, October 5

CarpeDiem, October 6

Blogging With Carol, October 6

Bigreadersite , October 7

Betti Mace, October 7

Texas Book-aholic, October 8

janicesbookreviews, October 9

Inklings and notions , October 9

Mary Hake, October 10

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, October 10

A Reader’s Brain, October 11

 Giveaway 

 

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To celebrate her tour, Lillian is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and one of her eBook (readers choice)!!

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/e958/trapped-celebration-tour-giveaway

Celebrate Lit Tour, Favorite

Hashtag Rogue (Agency Files #5) by Chautona Havig

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 About the Book 

Book: Hashtag Rogue

Author: Chautona Havig

Genre: Fiction / Contemporary / Suspense

Release Date: August 20, 2019

Something is terribly wrong in The Agency. Again.    48055616._SY475_

Flynne Dortmann: computer specialist extraordinaire. The right arm of every agent in The Agency. And totally untrained for agent duty.

So when no one takes a threat seriously, Flynne does the only thing she can think of.

With money she has no authorization to use, a gun she’s never fired in her hip pocket, and more zip-ties than any agent should be allowed to carry, Flynne takes on protective detail for an unwilling client. #Rogue.

Mark Cho hasn’t had a chance to get used to being Marco Mendina—head of the Eastern US Agency. Not only that, every sign points to someone knowing he isn’t who he appears to be. His agency is in trouble.  His agents may be in danger, and with an office girl gone rogue, deciding what problem to tackle first is a problem in itself.

Not to mention, he misses his office assistant with her emoji-speak, killer tech skills, and sharp instincts.

 

Click here to grab your copy!

My Review 

Hashtag Rogue, by Chautona Havig, is a very unique Christian Romantic Suspense novel. When her secret agent boss doesn’t act to protect a coworker, valley girl/teen slang slinger Flynne Dortmann acts solo. What a wild ride this is! At times I was confused, which I believe could have been avoided by reading previous books in the series. On the other hand, it is a good author who can weave a crooked trail to land a believable ending. Sometimes a narrative simply needs time to play out, when it all makes sense. I would say this book can stand alone on that premise.

Coolio
Two things I do know. One is that I will be hunting down the rest of The Agency series.
The second? Chautona Havig can allow real subject matter( violence, swearing, gangs, human trafficking) in her books while still being very uplifting. Not only does Havig talk seamlessly about faith, but her real sound bites on swearing are hilarious. «  A sailor’s dictionary of unsavory words flew at him… » and
« …until Mark had exhausted his supply of swearing— both foreign and domestic. » I doubled over from these descriptions as Havig creatively expressed her characters’ blue language.
#Gobuythisbooknow
#Ilovedit
I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit and the author. This did not affect my opinions, which are my own.

My Rating

5 Stars = Superior Reading

About the Author  

Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look  Chautona-240x300startlingly similar to ours and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her on the web and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.

 

Read an Excerpt

Erika ordered her eyes to open. They declined the offer. Once more, and with as much of a mental drill sergeant tone as she could muster, she demanded the possibility of sight.

Neither eyelid gave so much as a twitch.

Resigned, she then tried to ascertain the reason for said incorporation by the lids of her eyes. Her brain, too, had gone AWOL. White noise replaced rational thought, grit, replaced natural eye moisture, and if the sensation coming from her tongue could be trusted, she’d transformed into a cottonmouth.

Except that I can’t slither. I know I can’t.

That, Erika decided, was improvement. It just had to be rational thought. Oh, God please.

A question arose. Do I pray? The moment she asked, Erika nodded—inwardly, anyway. I do. Not sure since when… maybe that’ll come next.

Clarity formed when a voice broke through what might or might not have been consciousness. “Oh, thank whatever you’re supposed to thank—don’t want to be, like, totes offensive if I’m not supposed to say, ‘God,’ but I was afraid you had flat-lined.”

“Flynne?”

“Yay! She lives!”

Why do I feel like that’s supposed to be “He lives?”

“So, can you sit up if I help you?”

Bile churned in Erika’s gut. Her eyes felt like they bugged, but she wasn’t even confident she could see anymore. Then Flynne’s purple, green, and blue hair came into view. She glared, wrestling her mouth into contortions and fighting back the urge to vomit. “Please!”

It came out more like, “Mmmweeeeeffff”

“Can’t understand you.” Flynne’s eyes narrowed.

Perspiration formed on Erika’s forehead, neck, and in every other uncomfortable place. Cold, clammy perspiration.

“Do you promise not to scream if I take this off?” She tapped the tape.

Erika just nodded with vehemence that nearly lost her what breakfast she’d eaten.

Again, Flynne’s eyes grew even narrower than the first time. “Okay…” Eyes wide, the girl ripped off her high-top converse and pulled a sock from her foot. “So help me, if you scream, I’m stuffing this in your mouth—supes gross.” She wriggled it for effect—just in case Erika didn’t catch the utter disgustingness of it.

Once more, Erika nodded and pleaded. You’re so going to regret threatening me with that.

If Satan wanted to recruit torturers to relieve demons, Flynne would have been perfect for the job. She worked the tiniest corner of the duct tape free. Erika choked and grimaced. She jerked her head hard to the right. Flynne stared. Once more, she jerked it.

“You want me to rip it off? That’ll hurt!”

But the moment Flynne said “rip,” Erika began bobbing her head fast enough to ensure she drowned in vomit within seconds. Flynne had mad ripping skills, however. In less than three seconds, the tape jerked free—and so did the contents of Erika’s stomach.

All over Flynne’s bare foot and Converse shoes. The moment she stopped heaving, Erika glared up at the girl and moaned, “That’s payback for this.”

The battle of the glares began. Flynne broke the silence that followed first. “If you weren’t Keith’s girlfriend and religious, I’d swear at you. Consider yourself cussed out.” Before Erika could choose between the half-dozen scathing remarks fighting for preeminence, Flynne froze. “Wait. You called me, like, every name in the book. I thought you religious people couldn’t do that!”

The churning began again. “I did?” If she could have gagged, she would have. If she could have puked she might have. “Do I want to know what I said?”

Without hesitation, Flynne rattled off every inappropriate word Erika had spent the last few months working to eradicate from her vocabulary. “Then you got all sesquipedalian on me.”

“Sesquatch-what?”

Flynne turned a little green herself as the stench of partially digested breakfast assaulted her olfactory system. “Sesquipedalian.” At Erika’s doubtful look, Flynne went into action. She removed her other shoe, disappeared outside, returned with clean feet and ready to do business. “For your information it’s a big word that means, ‘a big word.’”

“No offense, Flynne, but you aren’t exactly known for your erudition.”

The girl gave a fine imitation of a puppy cocking its head—a blue, green, and purple-haired puppy. “That’s not one of the word-of-the-day words I’ve had. C’mon… let’s get you cleaned up and inside.”

She peeked her head outside, scanned the area, and looked back at Erika. “No one’s in the neighborhood that I can tell, but you’d be smart not to go all screamo on me or anything that would call the cops.”

“And why’s that?”

Flynne tried to be surreptitious, but Erika caught her eying a white Camry on the other side of the garage before answering, “Because I can get you out of here before they arrive, and you don’t want to be awake when I’m driving fast.”

Something deep in her gut—something other than the renewed churning that hinted she might lose what was left of the contents of her stomach—hinted that Flynne might not be exaggerating. But I’m not going to let her know that. It’d serve her right if I puked all over that car. What’d she do with hers, anyway?

After throwing a dark look at her, Flynne stalked from the garage and returned a few minutes later with a roll of duct tape slid over her arm like a grunge bracelet gone wrong. “You’re already in hot water with the Big Guy for your potty mouth, so don’t add lies. Stuff it or stick it?”

“If you tape my mouth and I vomit, you’ll be responsible for my death. Just sayin’.”

“Then don’t make noise.” Flynne glared at her. “I’m just trying to help here. Just sayin’.

Didn’t know you had that much grit. The woozy, stomach-revolting-on-every-side feeling returned in time for Erika to make a decision. “I’m not going to scream. I don’t want to puke in a cop car, either. But if you don’t get me inside where I can be comfortably horizontal with a bowl by my side, I’m going to puke all over you and enjoy every second of it.” Her stomach rumbled. Mostly.

That perked Flynne up for reasons Erika couldn’t fathom. She hooked her tape-free arm under Erika’s and said, “Then let’s go, Kokomo!”

That’s way too old-school—like fifty years old school. A vague memory poked through the cloud cover of her mind. “I think Keith gave me vitamins or drugs to combat after-effects. I think I need those.”

Not until Flynne had her tucked up on a couch in the family room, a bright red mixing bowl on the floor beside it and a glass of water on the coffee table, did Flynne bother to answer. “Sorry. I was freakazoiding when I left the Agency and just got what I thought I needed to get you safe. I’m not trained for this.”

“Then call Keith. He’ll come. He is trained, and he’ll take care of me.”

Even as she said it, Erika knew it was futile. Flynne had it in her head that this was necessary. So, she could wait. The Agency would take care of her job, her bills, and Flynne could learn that being an agent wasn’t a good career choice. Everything would be just fine for a few days—until Flynne got over herself.

The first epithet marched across the stage of her mind, stepped up to the mic and tapped it, ready to let loose. Erika groaned.

As if propelled by itself, the red bowl appeared at her lips. “I’m sorry! I don’t know what I’m doing. The stuff these guys have to do—totes amazeballs!”

“I was groaning at my language. Can you be quiet for a minute or two while I pray? It’s totes impossible to take repentance seriously when you’re puffy hearting your cray-cray amazeballs.”

“Coolio. Sure thing.”

I just lost fifty IQ points. I know it. Let’s start with prayers for rejuvenated little gray cells and move onto repentance after that. Okay, Lord?

Blog Stops

Among the Reads, September 18

All-of-a-kind Mom, September 18

As He Leads is Joy, September 19

April Hayman, Author, September 19

Emily Yager, September 20

CarpeDiem, September 20

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, September 21

Moments With Mercy, September 21

EmpowerMoms, September 22

Connect in Fiction , September 22

Texas Book-aholic, September 23

Betti Mace, September 23

For Him and My Family, September 24

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, September 24

Aryn The Libraryan ? , September 25

Hookmeinabook , September 25

janicesbookreviews, September 26

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, September 26

A Reader’s Brain, September 27

Bettie Rushlow, September 27

Inklings and notions , September 28

Adventures of a Traveler’s Wife, September 28

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 29

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 30

Blogging With Carol, September 30

Lots of Helpers, October 1

Mary Hake, October 1

Giveaway

BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, Favorite, NetGalley, Thomas Nelson

Strands of Truth by Colleen Coble

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About the Book

Book: Strands of Truth

Author: Colleen Coble

Genre: Suspense

Release Date: September 10, 2019

Harper Taylor is used to being alone—after all, she grew up in one foster42769231 home after another. Oliver Jackson finally took her under his wing when she was a runaway teenager, and now Harper pours her marine biology knowledge into Oliver’s pen shell research. But she’s never stopped wishing for a family of her own.

So when a DNA test reveals a half-sister living just two hours away, Harper is both hopeful and nervous. Over warm cinnamon rolls, Harper and Annabelle find striking similarities in their stories. Is it just a coincidence that both their mothers died tragically, without revealing Harper and Annabelle’s father’s name?

Oliver’s son Ridge still sees Harper as a troubled teen even all these years later. But when Oliver is attacked, Ridge and Harper find themselves working together to uncover dangerous secrets that threaten to destroy them all. They must unravel her past before they can have any hope for the future.

Suspense, romance, and generational secrets meld in this engrossing new novel from USA TODAY bestselling author Colleen Coble.

 

Click here to get your copy.

 

My Review

Strands of Truth by Colleen Coble brings a fresh setting for a romantic suspense adventure. Told in snippets of split-time fashion, this novel will have you kicking your heels and gasping for air as you learn about pen shell beds that Harper and Ridge collaborate on. With key themes of family or lack thereof, relationships and trust, many readers can find common ground with the protagonists.

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Coble makes it easy to learn spiritual lessons, presenting truth plainly and succinctly, without slowing the action. The storylines are woven together beautifully, like the beautifully spun sea silk.

disappointment
There are some great twists and turns in this novel. Coble writes suspense so effectively I still feel the jangling of my emotions and a sense of loss, which will need some time to settle. If you love Christian romantic suspense blended with diving tales and mermaids, detailed via split-time; you will enjoy Colleen Coble’s Strands of Truth.
I was given a complimentary copy of this novel from the author and publisher via NetGalley. No positive review was required.

My Rating 

golden-stargolden-stargolden-stargolden-stargolden-star

About the Author

colleen-coble-headshot-smallColleen Coble is a USA TODAY bestselling author and RITA finalist best known for her coastal romantic suspense novels, including The Inn at Ocean’s EdgeTwilight at Blueberry Barrens, and the Lavender Tides, Sunset Cove, Hope Beach, and Rock Harbor series. Connect with Colleen online at colleencoble.com; Instagram: colleencoble; Facebook: colleencoblebooks; Twitter: @colleencoble.

 

Read a Premium Excerpt

Suspense, romance, and generational secrets meld in this engrossing new novel from USA TODAY bestselling author Colleen Coble.

Strands of Harper Taylor’s childhood are resurfacing—but will the truth save her . . . or pull her under?

Harper Taylor is used to being alone— after all, she grew up in one foster home after another. Oliver Jackson finally took her under his wing when she was a runaway teenager, and now Harper pours her marine biology knowledge into Oliver’s pen shell research. But she’s never stopped wishing for a family of her own.

So when a DNA test reveals a half-sister living just two hours away, Harper is both hopeful and nervous. Over warm cinnamon rolls, Harper and Annabelle find striking similarities in their stories. Is it just a coincidence that both their mothers died tragically, without revealing Harper and Annabelle’s father’s name?

Oliver’s son Ridge still sees Harper as a troubled teen even all these years later. But when Oliver is attacked, Ridge and Harper find themselves working together to uncover dangerous secrets that threaten to destroy them all. They must unravel her past before they can have any hope for the future.

Suspense, romance, and generational secrets meld in this engrossing new novel from USA TODAY bestselling author Colleen Coble.

“Free-dive into a romantic suspense that will leave you breathless and craving for more.” –DiAnn Mills, bestselling author

“As always, Colleen Coble never disappoints. Strands of Truth is no exception. I was hooked from the first page. Trying to read this story slowly is impossible. Don’t be surprised when you find yourself flipping the pages in a hurry to find out what happens next! This one is for your keeper shelf.” –Lynette Eason, bestselling, award-winning author of the Blue Justice Series

“Colleen Coble’s latest book, Strands of Truth, grips you on page one with a heart-pounding opening and doesn’t let go until the last satisfying word. I love her skill in pulling the reader in with believable, likable characters, interesting locations, and a mystery just waiting to be untangled. Highly recommended.” –Carrie Stuart Parks, bestselling author of Formula of Deception

“Once again, Colleen Coble delivers an intriguing, suspenseful tale in Strands of Truth. The mystery and tension mount toward an explosive and satisfying finish. Well done.” –Creston Mapes, bestselling author

“Just when I think Colleen Coble’s stories can’t get any better, she proves me wrong. In Strands of Truth, I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. The characterization of Ridge and Harper and their relationship pulled me immediately into the story. Fast-paced, with so many unexpected twists and turns, I read this book in one sitting. Coble has pushed the bar higher than I’d imagined. This book is one not to be missed.” –Robin Caroll, best-selling author of the Darkwater Inn series

“It’s in her blood! Colleen Coble once again shows her suspense prowess with a thriller as intricate and beautiful as a strand of DNA. Strands of Truth dives into an unusual profession involving mollusks and shell beds that weaves a unique, silky thread throughout the story. So fascinating I couldn’t stop reading!” –Ronie Kendig, bestselling author of The Tox Files

 

Blog Stops

A Baker’s Perspective, September 3

Inspired by fiction, September 3

EmpowerMoms, September 3

Blogging With Carol, September 3

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, September 4

My Devotional Thoughts, September 4

Christian bookaholic, September 4

KarenSueHadley , September 4

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, September 5

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, September 5

Susan Cornwell, September 5

Inside the Wong Mind, September 5

Godly Book Reviews, September 5

Through the Fire Blogs, September 6

Emily Yager, September 6

Older & Smarter?, September 6

Blessed & Bookish, September 6

Andrea Christenson, September 6

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, September 7

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 7

Avid Reader Nurse, September 7

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, September 7

The Becca Files, September 8

Blossoms and Blessings, September 8

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, September 8

Mary Hake, September 8

Spoken from the Heart, September 9

Betti Mace, September 9

Back Porch Reads, September 9

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, September 9

Because I said so and other adventures in parenting. , September 9

Moments, September 10

All-of-a-kind Mom, September 10

For Him and my Family, September 10

Bloggin’ ’bout Books, September 10

Texas Book-aholic, September 11

Retrospective Spines, September 11

Daysong Reflections, September 11

Christian Bookshelf Reviews , September 11

SusanLovesBooks, September 11

Remembrancy, September 12

Worthy2Read, September 12

Just the Write Escape, September 12

Southern Gal Loves to Read, September 12

Bigreadersite , September 13

janicesbookreviews, September 13

As He Leads is Joy, September 13

Livin’ Lit, September 13

To Everything A Season, September 13

Simple Harvest Reads, September 14

Pause for Tales, September 14

For The Love of Books , September 14

Living Life Free In Christ, September 14

A Reader’s Brain, September 15

Quiet Quilter , September 15

Hallie Reads, September 15

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 15

Inklings and notions , September 16

By The Book, September 16

Real World Bible Study, September 16

Patiently Waiting, September 16

BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour

Undiscovered Treasures (An Appleton, WV Romantic Mystery, vol. 3) by Carole Brown

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About the Book

Title: Undiscovered Treasures

Series: An Appleton, WV Romantic Mystery Book 3

Author: Carole Brown

Publisher: Story and Logic Media Group

Released: November 2016

Co-owner of Undiscovered Treasures, Caroline Gibson particularly relates to the ballerina music box: forever spinning and never going anywhere. But when her dream prince appears, she’s sure her prayers have been answered. Trouble is, even though family and friends hint that the local artist is the guy for her, Caroline forgets about trusting God and takes matters into her own hands.

Andrew Carrington has loved Caroline since they were kids and knows he’ll never measure up to what she wants. But when God—or is it?—suddenly sends contracts begging for his signature, Andy thinks this just might be the way to win the only woman he can ever love.

And then there’s the hitch in both their plans. Someone is stealing Andy’s pictures, and why would they do that when he’s an unknown–so far? Is something deeper going on neither understand? Caroline must put aside her on-going battle to avoid Andy and his art so they can discover the art thief in Appleton before Andy loses the chance of a lifetime to ‘make it big.’

My Review

“Undiscovered Treasures” by Carol Brown is one of those sleepers that could be as romantically endearing on the big screen as While You Were Sleeping.
Caro has two suitors, including her dream suitor. The other is, of course, the boy she grew up with, Andy, who is a rising painter. Caroline seems like a very spoiled, rude person much of the time. I tired of her character’s behavior fast, because she was so desperate to be rid of Andy that she was downright insufferable. Andy is such a great communicator, but Caro’s got her mind made up.

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I enjoyed the light mystery mixed with the romance. While the romance drives the book, the mystery fills it up with extra flavor.
I liked Brown’s low-pressure presentation of truth. She set up the character’s temptation; supplied an applicable Bible verse, accompanied by a couple of sentences of contemplation; and boom, she was done! No over- preaching or dragging out a long-winded sermon. Yet it seemed much more powerful.
Jealousy is a powerful card to play, and Andy plays his card like a pro. Lauren Stephens, the red-headed heiress, is everything Caro is not, including attentive. The line from Big Yellow Taxi comes to mind here, …  « don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone. »
The novel stands well by itself, although I got a hankering to know more about Toby and his girlfriend’s story.

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This book is a treasure. For those single, it may help you look at people differently. For those long-married, it can be a walk down memory lane.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and Celebrate Lit. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

My Rating

golden-stargolden-stargolden-stargolden-stargolden-star

About the Author

Carole Brown’s debut novel, The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman, is a 2015 Book of the Year in General Fiction from Christian Small Publishers, a RWA Oklahoma International Digital Award 2nd place winner, a Clash of the Titles top three finalist, a Selah Award finalist in debut novels, and a semi-finalist in the Genesis contest. 933700

Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, she enjoys mentoring beginning writers. She loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband have ministered and counseled across the country. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?

I’d love to connect with readers at:
Personal blog: http://sunnebnkwrtr.blogspot.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CaroleBrown.author
Twitter: https://twitter.com/browncarole212
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5237997-carole-brown