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Madness in Wonderland by Tabitha Bouldin Review

About the Book

Title: Madness in Wonderland

Series: #1 Beyond Wonderland

Author: Tabitha Bouldin

Publisher: Celebrate Lit

Released: March 2022

Wonderland is in trouble. 

Under the rule of the Red Queen, Wonderland is under constant threat. In fear for her throne, children are taken into the queen’s army and only the strongest survive.

Alice is nothing but a pirate, but with the help of Hatter, they hatch a plan to sneak into the Red Queen’s palace to free Hatter’s sister. After all, Alice has always wanted to fly an airship.

Dr. Frank N. Stein has created an army of automatons to serve their queen. Of particular note: a prototype soldier. Part man. Part machine. The best of both worlds.

Doc’s monster is a threat to everything they know, but Alice sees something in the man that begs she look beyond what he’s done and search out the heart of the beast for the better of the realm.

He’s their only hope of survival, but how can a monster learn to love when all he’s known is hate?

My Impressions

“I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast,”- Alice in Alice in Wonderland

Wow, was I in awe of Tabitha Bouldin’s steampunk retelling of Alice in Wonderland by the time I finished! I started the novel with trepidation. I didn’t remember the original making a lot of sense, and I wondered what I was in for with Bouldin’s Madness in Wonderland. Madness is a gem!!

Why do I love this book? For the first time in my life, the pieces of Alice in Wonderland fit together like a puzzle. Bouldin clearly delineates narrator/subject by rotating chapters. Alpha, Alice, and Hatter are all featured. Bouldin allows characters to retain much of the personality that Carroll gave them, but adds depth and emotion to each. It was easy to follow the great action, which is plentiful and compelling. Apropos quotes from the original Alice in Wonderland are worked in so beautifully to the new story. There are a few nods to Star Wars, the sci-fi scenery is easy to imagine, and faith plays a major, natural role. God is referred to as the Master. Each character must decide what he will do once confronted with knowledge of the Master.

Themes include the existence of a Master who created their world and loves individuals. Judgment, hope, and forgiveness follow close behind.

Those who love the original Alice in Wonderland, fairytale retellings, sci-fi, or Kara Swanson’s author voice will love this novel. I am excited that it is the first in its series!

I received a copy of the book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

Notable Quotables:

“Family means different things to different people.

“Everyone needs a name. Names have power. They tell us who we are, where we’ve come from. -Alice

“If the Maker can forgive one like me, He can forgive anyone.” -Cook

“Soldiers don’t have the lux’ry of a clean soul. Took a long time for me to accept my past and let Someone help with the pain.”Cook (Chess)

“You believe you don’t deserve forgiveness, so you condemn others to the same fate.”

My Rating

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Magnificent!! Reminds me of Kara Swanson’s Dust and Shadow!!

About the Author

Tabitha Bouldin has a bachelor’s degree in creative writing/English from Southern New Hampshire University. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and has been writing since 2015. When she’s not homeschooling her kids, you’ll find her curled up with a book. Tabitha’s genre of choice is Contemporary Christian Romance which she describes as: Adventure with heart.

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Slashed Canvas by Liz Tolsma Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: Slashed Canvas

Author: Liz Tolsma

Genre: Christian Historical Mystery, Fairytale

Release date: February 1, 2022

7-Slashed-Canvas-663x1024

Held prisoner by all she’s lost, Katarina’s about to lose all she has.

Grand Duchess Katarina Volstova barely escaped the Russian revolution, arriving in Paris just before the birth of her twin daughters. With her heart still captive in her homeland, she haunts the Louvre each day, spending hours gazing at one painting, lost in her pain.

Not the man he once was, Timothy Smythe never returned home to England after the Great War. Instead, he hides himself away doing maintenance in the Louvre and watching the beautiful woman whose pain seems riveted on one painting.

When Katarina returns home to find her daughters and their nanny missing, the loss opens her eyes to all she has to lose now.

Frantic to find her girls, her distress causes Timothy to offer his assistance. Together they put together clues to a puzzle they must complete before the kidnapper ensures Katarina and her daughters are never reunited.

Slashed Canvas offers a retelling of The Lost Princess that mingles self-centered grief, spoiled little girls, and proof that nothing will stop a mother from saving her children.

Click here to get your copy!

My Impressions

Slashed Canvas by Liz Tolsma is a fairytale retelling of a tale that I am frankly, unfamiliar with. But very timely, since it involves Russian refugees, fleeing the Bolshevik revolution, who are in exile, and desiring to go return to the homeland.

The character development of Princess Katerina Volstova is a joy to see, as she evolves from a totally self-absorbed, vain, woe-is-me-persona. Only the presence of God, whose name is often called upon for help, and that of a good friend, perhaps “God with skin on” can help. We meet two very dissimilar people, who discover that they can help each other if they can put aside society’s expectations and view each other through the Father’s eyes.

However, Tolsma has twists up her sleeve. Several, that she tosses out like red steaks to a chasing dog, making it difficult to ferret out the evil from the good. I wasn’t sure of the true culprit until almost the last page.

A romance, a happily-ever-after, a tragedy, a fairytale, an inspiration. Like swirls of a paintbrush on a canvas, the elements are so well plotted that they combine to create a picture that I will be musing in my mind for some time to come.

I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

My Rating

Magnificent!! A Fairytale, HEA, Tragedy All in One

About the Author

Liz Tolsma is the author of several WWII novels, romantic suspense novels, prairie romance novellas, and an Amish romance. She is a popular speaker and an editor and resides next to a Wisconsin farm field with her husband and their youngest daughter. Her son is a US Marine, and her oldest daughter is a college student. Liz enjoys reading, walking, working in her large perennial garden, kayaking, and camping. Please visit her website at http://www.liztolsma.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter (@LizTolsma), Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest. She is also the host of the Christian Historical Fiction Talk podcast.

More from Liz

How Slashed Canvas Came to Be

It was the last evening of the SoCal Christian Writer’s Conference three years ago. A group of us decided that frozen yogurt sounded good, so we walked the few blocks from the university where the conference was being held to the local fro-yo shop.

On the way back, I was walking alongside fellow author Chautona Havig. We were chatting about various projects we had underway, and she mentioned that she and Sandy Barela from Celebrate Lit had come up with an idea for a boxed set. This involved taking a fairy-tale and turning it into a 1920s mystery. Would I be interested?

You don’t have to ask me twice if I’d like to be in a set with Chautona that’s put out by Sandy. Before I knew what was happening, I was agreeing to it. Then we got talking about what fairy tales I might use. As soon as she said The Lost Princess, an idea sparked in my brain. It really was that instant. 1920s. Princess. Russia. Exile.

This might come as a surprise to both Chautona and Sandy, but I really didn’t know the story of The Lost Princess. Not at all. When I was working up the idea, I had to read the story and figure out how to make my idea mesh with the fairy tale. Thankfully, the story did work well with what I intended to do with Slashed Canvas.

And that title? Well, that was quite difficult. At the time, my niece was staying with us and interning for me. One night, we sat and ran through idea after idea until we came up with “Something” Canvas. I wanted a strong adjective and we offered and rejected many until we came up with Slashed Canvas. I hadn’t written a word of the book, but I managed to work a slashed canvas into the story.

And what about the painting in Slashed Canvas? I knew I wanted it to be by a Russian artist and hang in the Louvre, but there weren’t (and aren’t) many paintings like that in the Louvre. Russia has been loath to allow any of its art to leave the country. So what was I going to do? I really was going crazy.

Then I spoke on the phone to Kristy Cambron. Not only is she a fabulous author, but she also has a degree in art history. It was her idea to make up my own painting. That way, I could make it work however I needed it to for the story. What a relief. I did just that, and the story flowed from there.

And the clues to the mystery? Those were my dad’s ideas. I won’t say more because I don’t want to spoil anything!

So that’s how Slashed Canvas came to be. It was the work of so many different people. Authors, much as we hide behind our computers, never work in a vacuum. Very often, there are many fingers in the pie to make the finished product.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, March 7

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, March 7

Texas Book-aholic, March 8

For the Love of Literature, March 8

Inklings and notions, March 9

Christian Bookaholic, March 9

For Him and My Family, March 10

Elly Gilbert, March 10

deb’s Book Review, March 11

By the Book, March 11

Locks, Hooks and Books, March 12

Blossoms and Blessings, March 12

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, March 13

Paula’s Persuasion, March 13

Connie’s History Classroom, March 14

Genesis 5020, March 14

Babbling Becky L’ s Book Impressions, March 15

Older & Smarter?, March 15

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, March 16 (Spotlight)

Blogging With Carol, March 16

Simple Harvest Reads, March 16 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, March 17

Maureen’s Musings, March 17

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, March 18

Connect in Fiction, March 18

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, March 19 (Author Interview)

Back Porch Reads, March 19

Mary Hake, March 19

Through the Fire Blogs, March 20

The Book Club Network, March 20

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Liz is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and 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/1b4c3/slashed-canvas-celebration-tour-giveaway

BLOG, Celebrate Lit Publishers, Celebrate Lit Tour, Kindle, New Author, Purchase

Silencing the Siren by Denise L. Barela Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: Silencing the Siren

Author: Denise L. Barela

Genre: Christian Historical Mystery, Fairytale

Release date: January 4, 2022

Silencing-the-Siren-663x1024

Andrew Grayson thought he had everything… until he met her.

The indulged son of wealthy parents, Andrew has always gotten whatever he wanted almost before he knew he wanted it—clothes, gadgets… even a car! What more could a young man desire?

Enter Annabel Thompson. Freakshow mermaid extraordinaire… in a wheelchair!

Of course, her beauty attracts him. How could it not? Add to that a kind heart, and Andrew can’t help but fall for her.

Annabel’s connection with the freakshow repels his parents and their society friends. They want him to sever all ties with her and his new friends. Oh, and marry the “right” girl with the “right connections.” But he won’t do it. He’ll defy them and marry his little mermaid.

When Annabel turns up missing, declared dead, things don’t add up, Andrew begins asking some difficult questions, the most important being, “What happened to the little mermaid of the Coney Island freak show?”

Find out in this next book in the Ever After Mysteries, combining beloved fairy tales and mysteries. Silencing the Siren offers a retelling of “The Little Mermaid” that will keep you gripped to the edge of your seat as you watch the story unfold.

Click here to get your copy!

My Impressions

The seventh in the retold fairytales series, The Ever After Mysteries, Silencing the Siren by Denise L Barela takes place in 1920s New York City and Coney Island. Andrew Grayson is a sheltered, young, rich man who lives in a Central Park mansion, but falls in love with Anabelle, a circus performer on Coney Island.

This is an imaginative retelling of the Little Mermaid. I loved seeing the closeness of the circus performers, who though mostly unrelated, form their own tight family. “This family was put together purely by the love and friendship they had for each other. The love they had ran far deeper than the blood Andrew shared with his parents.” I loved the way they care for and protect each other. Acceptance and love are freely given within the circus confines, things that are sadly lacking from the more affluent and “righteous” community without.

I love to zero in on secondary characters that I would enjoy meeting, often because of the way they treat others. William and Amalia are those people in this tale. Discerning, caring, quick to forgive, and to aid others, they almost need their own story!

Great twists to complete this fairytale! Don’t miss your chance to find out whether the Siren is silenced for good!!

Notable Quotables:

“Anger clashed and rolled with the grief inside him. A war of fire and ice with no clear winner.”

“This city cared about no one but themselves. They had no compassion, no love, and no heart. Why couldn’t these people just open their eyes to the struggles of their fellow men? Why couldn’t they see that while they obsessed over societal expectations and positions, others had to exploit their differences just to survive?”

I received a copy of the book from Celebrate Lit. I also bought my own copy. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

My Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Great! Imaginative Retelling of The Little Mermaid

About the Author

Denise Barela’s passion for fiction, her faith, and general creativity define her life. In all things, she strives to glorify God, though especially in and through her writing. She has spent the past six years working for a publicity company and five years working as the head editor for a publishing company. With an MFA in Creative Writing and a Professional Writing certificate, Denise enjoys using her education and work experiences to help authors achieve their own writing dreams. When she’s not working away at her desk, you might find her reading a good book or following Alice down the rabbit hole…

More from Denise

Hello Readers!

I’m so excited to share Silencing the Siren with you! This book was so much fun to write and research. I learned so many fun facts about old cars, old New York, and even doorbells!

Yes, you read that correctly. Doorbells.

These noisy items were such a novelty in the 1920s that they were often given as Christmas gifts!

Crazy, right?

I wanted both Andrew and Annabel to represent that feeling we have all experienced at least once in our lives. That feeling of not belonging. It looks different for each person, but it’s a uniting feeling.

Annabel will never be accepted by those outside her family, but they more than make up for that. Andrew is popular and well-off in society, but as he comes to know the Lord, he starts to feel that rift with his superficial friends and family. It’s with other believers, Annabel’s family, that he finds that deep relationship he desires. They are more than willing to provide.

This is the beauty of the body of Christ. When we are sick or in need, the body of Christ comes together to support you in that time of need and extend Christ’s love to all corners of the globe.

I hope you enjoy reading Silencing the Siren as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, February 7

A Baker’s Perspective, February 7

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, February 8

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 9

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, February 9 (Author Interview)

Texas Book-aholic, February 10

Genesis 5020, February 10

Inklings and notions, February 11

Connect in Fiction, February 11

For Him and My Family, February 12

Blossoms and Blessings, February 12

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, February 13

deb’s Book Review, February 13

Locks, Hooks and Books, February 14

For the Love of Literature, February 14

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, February 15

Blogging With Carol, February 15

Connie’s History Classroom, February 16

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, February 17 (Spotlight)

Sodbuster Living, February 17

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, February 18

Austen’s Angle, February 18

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 19

Simple Harvest Reads, February 19 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Back Porch Reads, February 20

Through the Fire blogs, February 20

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Denise 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/19bc6/silencing-the-siren-celebration-tour-giveaway

BLOG, Celebrate Lit Publishers, Celebrate Lit Tour, Kindle, New-to-Me Author, Purchase

The Lost Dutchman’s Secret by Rebekah Jones Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: The Lost Dutchman’s Secret

Author: Rebekah Jones

Genre: Christian Historical Mystery, Fairytale retelling

Release date: November 2, 2021

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There’s a deadly secret in them thar hills—and gold, or so they say.

Deeply in debt to a wealthy local, Charles Sinclair, Dorothy Hodges’ father finally promises she’ll pay and in gold, no less. If only Dorothy could take to take the promises he spins out of thin air and turn them into that gold, all would be well.

With the help of a strange, rumpled man, Dorothy does manage to bring payment to one of Sinclair’s sons only to discover it won’t pay off the debt. Will the next payment be enough?  The next?

When Charles Sinclair ends up dead, Dorothy is the obvious prime suspect, but Sinclair’s son isn’t so certain. Together they work to clear her name and find the real murderer of the Superstitions, but will they find the answers buried in those hills?

Find out in this next book in the Ever After Mysteries, combining beloved fairy tales and mysteries. The Lost Dutchman’s Secret offers a retelling of “Rumplestilskin” that requires more digging than a miner searching for The Lost Dutchman Mine.

Click here to get your copy!

My Impressions

“Dorothy took a deep breath. ‘Why should I trust you? I don’t know you.’ The man grinned one more time. ‘Because you know that you can’t trust Charles Sinclair. I’m your only other choice.’“

As others mention, the book starts a little slowly and it took me a while to be enticed deeply into its caverns and canyons. Once intrigued, I was eager to discover who was behind all the evil goings-on in the desert.

It was hard to imagine someone successfully pulling off the life that Charles Sinclair, a wealthy loan shark, does. His children have no idea of what he really does for a living.

I felt so badly for Dorothy. Her father is so selfish and uncaring. He even sets her up for trouble, with no desire or effort on his part to help her. Dorothy herself trusts God, often praying for help. She does have to be reminded, though, that a Christian confesses a wrong and asks forgiveness. Once that is done, we have to accept the forgiveness and move on. “To continue to dwell over and over on what you should or should not have done will change nothing. To continue to wallow in guilt seems to suggest that Christ’s blood is not enough.”

Little Hazel is adorable! I just wanted to squeeze her, and wish her brother Theo would love her as she desired.

The conclusion of the Lost Dutchman’s Secret by Rebekah Jones left me well-satisfied. Many threads come together to make it a complex mystery. The mystery is thoroughly enjoyable by this point, and I was sorry to leave our new friends behind.

I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

My Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Great! Slow Start, but Intriguing Mystery!

About the Author

Rebekah Jones is first and foremost a follower of the Living God. She started writing as a little girl, seeking to glorify her King with her books and stories.
Rebekah is an old soul in a young body (she’s not 12 —honest!) While her exact age is classified, her interests are not. Among them are reading a variety of books, singing, playing, and composing music, studying all manner of subjects, nannying an adventurous group of youngsters, and, of course, writing her books, poems, articles, and short stories. She writes a wide range of books from gentle children’s adventures to family sagas to murder mysteries.

More from Rebekah

“They say that no one had ever seen gold ore like it before, neither have they ever since. Except in the possession of Jacob Waltz. His mine had ore of higher value and higher potency than any other mine found in Arizona…”

What if the Miller’s daughter from the tale of Rumpelstiltskin didn’t have to spin gold, but pay it? And because of an enormous debt – that she had no way of knowing the value? And her father wasn’t a miller, but an old miner with a penchant for carving animals while living in the Arizona desert? And what if, for her pains, she found herself mixed up in a murder?

And what if, somehow intermixed with this poor young woman and her troubles, came the legend of the Lost Dutchman’s Goldmine?

If you don’t know about the legend of that lost mine, you should. Or I think that you should. It’s a real legend as old as the 1860’s. Except, it wasn’t lost when Jacob Waltz went bragging about it. That came later.

The mountains that house the legend are magnificent. When a friend of mine came to visit me, she and I went to explore the area around the Superstition Mountains, as well as a part of the mountains themselves. Standing in a forest of cacti and brush, the jagged rocks and sharp peaks towered above my head, while a critter skittered unseen. Beautiful isn’t quite a strong enough word to describe it. As we hiked up the mountain, making our way through a myriad of desert plant life, rocks of so many shapes and sizes, and tiny critters, I could picture Dorothy, the miner’s daughter.

The modern structures and buildings in sight, faded in my mind’s eye, and I could imagine the young woman partway up the mountain in 1929, wearing her old, faded dress, and staring out across the valley. We plotted out where her father’s shack would have stood, and I made note of a perfect crevice of rock where she might have sat to think or read. I rather found myself wishing I could live out there myself, even if living in a shack in the heat of the Arizona summer doesn’t wholly appeal to me.

When I finally got in front of my manuscript again, I could see Dorothy’s world so clearly, I can only hope I managed to capture it in the book itself. I doubt if I could have captured the beauty of those mountains in words, the sight of them as they changed colors in the sunset, or the glowing starry sky above them after dark.

As for the Lost Dutchman’s Goldmine, I would be lying if I said I didn’t entertain fantasies about exploring the mountains to discover it, but we certainly did not go that far into the mountains. Besides, it was June in the Arizona desert. One does not blindly venture into the mountains on such an errand in such a time of year unless one has a death wish. It’s rather fun to imagine though. Perhaps one day, I can go on a search – though I confess, I doubt it.

As for the book, I won’t say whether that lost goldmine is discovered or not. I’ll leave that for a reader to discover for themselves.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, December 17

An Author’s Take, December 17

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 18

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 18

Texas Book-aholic, December 19

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, December 20

Genesis 5020, December 20

Inklings and notions, December 21

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, December 21

For Him and My Family, December 22

For the Love of Literature, December 22

deb’s Book Review, December 23

Simple Harvest Reads, December 23 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Blogging With Carol, December 24

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, December 25 (Author Interview)

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 26

Vicarious Living, December 26

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, December 27

Connect in Fiction, December 27

Connie’s History Classroom, December 28

Mary Hake, December 28

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, December 29

Back Porch Reads, December 29

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, December 30

Through the Fire blogs, December 30

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Rebekah is giving away the grand prize package of $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/14f1b/the-lost-dutchman-s-secret-celebration-tour-giveaway

BLOG, Celebrate Lit Publishers, Celebrate Lit Tour, Favorite, Kindle, Purchase

The Nutcracker’s Suite by Chautona Havig Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: The Nutcracker’s Suite

Author: Chautona Havig

Genre: Christian Christmas Historical Mystery, Fairytale retelling

Release date: November 26, 2021

Nutcracker

“Time to dance, sugarplum.”

A painter at the Meyer’s Toys factory, Clarice Stahl, knows something is
strange about the way so many men come and go through Mr. Meyer’s
office, especially one in particular.

Then murder strikes a little too close to home and uncorks a barrel of
secrets.

When mob king, Mario Topo’s, enforcer goes missing the race is on to
prove he’s behind the murder. Police and mobsters alike are after Milo
Natale and he who finds Milo first might determine the enforcer’s fate.

A race through the city, a new friend… or more… a new life in the
offing. Milo and Clarice must find who killed Topo’s man and why before
the police arrest him for murder or Topo’s men bump him and Clarice off,
too.

This next book in the Ever After Mysteries combines “The Nutcracker
Suite” with a murder mystery set in the heart of 1920s Rockland.

Click here to get your copy!

My Impressions

Totally Terrific!! Chautona Havig can write any genre she undertakes. In The Nutcracker’s Suite, though, she outdoes herself in presenting a suspenseful mystery mashing together a retelling of the Nutcracker, a 1920s Prohibition mob mix-up, and a romance with faith interspersed. I was glued to my seat until I finished, at turns laughing out loud and terrified. I get the distinct impression the author is having a blast with the creation of this story! As a result, the reader has a rollicking good time.
I’ve read several Havig novels, and The Nutcracker’s Suite just vaulted to the top and into my list of Top Ten CF Novels of 2021!! The mystery kept me guessing and I never did quite figure it out!! Well-done!! I must admit, I loved Havig’s use of sarcasm, especially as it relates to Clarice’s thoughts. I hope there will be a book for Lily in the future.

I received a copy of the book from the author through Celebrate Lit. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

Notable Quotables:

“His ability to think dashed out and into the street where he was certain, it would be run over by a police car.”

“The lies are piling up faster than finished nutcrackers.”

“Did she just lie with the truth?”

“Not married, but I’ll remember that if I ever find a nice girl.” He didn’t say, “like you,” but Milo heard it and wanted to tie the man’s throat in a knot for it.”

“Keep her safe. If you aren’t a man of faith, become one and then pray until you can’t think anymore, but keep her safe.” It was a fool’s promise, but Milo made it. “I will.”

“…feelings always demanded an audience, even at the expense of truth.”

“Topo. It means mouse. I’m the attic mouse.”

“Every word the man spoke sat on a paragraph of threats.”

“People dying have a way of interfering with one’s shopping.”

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent!! A Rollicking Good Time IF You Survive Suspense

About the Author

Author of the bestselling Aggie and Past Forward series, Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly 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 at chautona.com and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.

More from Chautona

Here Are Several Fun Facts & a Secret about The Nutcracker’s Suite

You’d think that while writing a book based on the fairy tale of The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, I’d have heard “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” in my head as I wrote. Well, I guess for a brief moment I did, because at some point, someone actually says that. “Dance, sugar plum!”

But Tchaikovsky isn’t who played in my head as I wrote. Over and over, word after word, my fingers did their bourres and glissades across my keyboard to one, rather unexpected song. “Ballerina” (I prefer the version sung by Buddy Clark. You can listen HERE.)

However, there are so many elements of the original ballet’s story in mine. I thought I’d share a few of them.

Let’s talk about the cast of characters.

Clarice Stahl is our “leading lady.” It’s kind of obvious where I got her name since the original character was Clara Stahlbaum.

Clarice works for Mr. Dieter Meyer, the owner of Meyer’s Toys. He gives her the job of painting nutcrackers. So, it’s not too difficult to see the connection to Uncle Drosselmeyer who gives Clara the nutcracker, no?

All of 1925 Rockland is in the clutches of mob king, Mario Topo. For those not fluent in Italian, can you guess what “topo” is in that language? Remember… he’s the mob “king.” 😉

But I think my favorite name of all is Emiliano (I call him Milo) Natale (Christmas in Italian… just sayin’) who is known as “the nutcracker.” He’s an enforcer for Mr. Topo, and that means he squeezes people until they crack and do what Topo wants. Let’s hope he repents!

Yes, I had a boatload of fun coming up with this stuff! How’d you guess?

I have a secret to confess about this book. I’m writing this post when I’m only about a quarter of the way done. I went to get the synopsis for this tour and went, “oops!” You see, I forgot that I’d planned to make Milo going missing a big part of the plot.

Guess who has to flex? I’d better get back to it. They need to figure out who killed our victim… and why. And before Clarice is next!

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 26

Blogging With Carol, November 26

Texas Book-aholic, November 27

For the Love of Literature, November 28

By the Book, November 28

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, November 29

Inklings and notions, November 29

For Him and My Family, November 30

Rachael’s Inkwell, November 30

deb’s Book Review, December 1

Bizwings Blog, December 1

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 2

Genesis 5020, December 2

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, December 3

Simple Harvest Reads, December 3 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Connie’s History Classroom, December 4

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, December 4

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, December 5

Connect in Fiction, December 5

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, December 6

Mary Hake, December 6

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, December 7

Through the fire blogs, December 7

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 8

Lots of Helpers, December 8

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, December 9 (Author Interview)

Back Porch Reads, December 9

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away to three winners one Prize box each including a paperback of The Nutcracker’s Suite, themed goodies, and a $10 Amazon Gift Card in each!!

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/13cfb/the-nutcracker-s-suite-celebration-tour-giveaway

Celebrate Lit Publishers, Celebrate Lit Tour, New-to-Me Author

A Giant Murder, #2 Ever After Mysteries by Marji Laine Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book:  A Giant Murder

Author: Marji Laine

Genre: Christian Historical Mystery, Fairytale retelling

Release date: August 3, 2021

Would you like a shot of… death with that, sir?

Josephine Jacobs was just doing her job, serving at an exclusive party, so why is she now being accused of shooting TG Taggert?

At a party full of suspects in the murder of Taggert, Josie served the food giant everything but an eternally “parting shot.” Who really killed TG Taggert?  His wife?  His son, Jack?  What about Harper Davis?  Rumor has it, she was having an affair with him—motive for her or Taggert’s wife! The list of those who seemed to hate him keeps growing, including a chemist and a chef!

With her long-time friend, Office Porter O’Brien, Josie sets out to find out who really killed “the giant,” and clear her name.

Find out in this next book in the Ever After Mysteries, combining beloved fairy tales and mysteries. A Giant Murder offers a retelling of “Jack and the Beanstalk” with enough clues and suspects to keep you looking over your shoulder. We’d recommend Kevlar… but it hasn’t been invented yet!

Click here to get your copy!

My Impressions

“Like a father who is loving and teaching his toddler to walk, that’s how God sees you when you ask to become His.” My fave line of the book, one I want to remember! I love this word picture! Our Father is indeed loving, but I don’t know if I’ve ever heard it explained in such a heart-warming way.

It’s 1926 in Dallas,Texas. A power couple hosts a gala party at their fancy hotel. By the end of the night, the millionaire host has been murdered, and poor waitress Josephine “Josie” Jacobs has been fingered for the crime.

Imaginative fairy-tale retellings with mysteries woven in. This is the premise of the Ever After series. Marji Laine turns Jack & the Beanstalk into quite the high society-gone-amuck-tale in #2, A Giant Murder. I enjoyed the trope of friendship to lovers between Porter and Josie. I could actually see a young, naive woman acting as Josie did. I found Porter very endearing and would hope a similar young officer would be in my neighborhood, if needed. I was pulled into the story more than I expected, since I am not typically a fan of 1920ish books. Surprisingly enough, this mystery is one I pegged- but only very partially! Good twist there!

A positive is that there is a strong, clear salvation message early in the book. This also could be a negative, as it seemed a little clunky and like the author wanted to insert the whole message early on. I would have liked for the message to be given out in small, more natural conversation.

There was enough mayhem to keep me reading quickly to find out who dunnit. The ending fell flat for me when one character suddenly changes his stripes. This is only my opinion, and I would urge you to read A Giant Murder for yourself.
I received a copy of the book from the author through Celebrate Lit. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

Notable Quotables:

“Where goes suspicion seldom goes grace,”

“The only people who didn’t hate TG were those who didn’t know him.”

“Arriving as a police car pulled into her lot, she was beginning to get used to seeing them there. A habit to which she didn’t want to become accustomed.”

“I keep thinking the next thing will set everything perfect, but it doesn’t. And accomplishments, finished products start to crumble. People. Only out for themselves.”

“We do the best we can with what we have, our very best, and then we let God be God to make it work the way He wants it.

My Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Great! Overall a fun mystery, one that makes me want to read the whole series! Thank you, Ms. Laine, for my great first taste!

About the Author

Marji Laine is a graduated home-schooling mom of four with two college students staying in the nest for a little longer. She and her hubby of 34 years also share their North Texas home with a rescue pup named Rosie. When Marji isn’t editing or publishing the books for her authors at Write Integrity Press, she indulges in penning her own mystery, suspense, and romance novels. She loves acting in musical comedy, has directed many stage productions, leads a high school Bible study and sings in her church choir. She prefers mountains to beaches, dogs to cats, NASCAR to football, Magnolia pie, white roses, green, and Hallmark Movies and Mysteries. You can find her at her website: MarjiLaine.com

More from Marji

I so enjoyed researching the history of downtown Dallas as I crafted my story, A GIANT MURDER. The house that I chose for Josie and her mom is actually still there on Haskell Avenue. The photo with the wrought iron is about twenty years old, but the house was built circa 1914. The photo with the wooden fence is from last year, after a big remodel. This house was also the setting of another of my books. It and the field that used to be next to it was an after-school child care center in AIN’T MISBEHAVING.

Thinking about what life might have been like in this house in the twenties, I can’t help but think about my grandparents. They were teenagers at the time of my story – 1926 – and while my grandfather grew up in, what was then, a little farming town called Paris, Texas, my grandmother grew up in Oak Cliff, just across the bridge over the Trinity River from this house in downtown Dallas.

Makes the research that I did on this era even that much more special. Having come through COVID, I realize that my great-grandparents had to nurture their preteens and teenagers through the Spanish Flu that devastated whole communities. The more things change, the more they stay the same?

All of this reminiscing sent me to an old recipe book that had been a wedding present for me from my mom almost thirty-five years ago. In the dessert section near the back, I found a precious recipe for Date Candy that had come by way of my great-grandmother, Carrie Ethel Leatherwood Morin. I never met her, but I do remember hearing from my mom that she was a woman of faith, and I have a poem she wrote late in life, about growing up in the country.

I would say this is a 1920s recipe, but who could tell? She was a middle-aged mom at that point, so it’s a good bet.

Date Candy

1 box – light brown sugar

4 T – corn syrup

½ pt – whipping cream

1 cup – dates

1 cup – pecans

1 t – vanilla

Mix sugar, syrup, and cream. Cook until almost a hard ball. Just before removing from pan, put in dates and stir until they melt. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Beat until almost hard – then add pecans. Wet a cup towel. Pour mixture onto cup towel and roll into a roll. Let it cool – firm – then slice.

Let me know if you decide to make my great-grandmother’s candy. I’d love to find out how it turned out!

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, September 17

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, September 17

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 18

For the Love of Literature, September 18

Inklings and notions, September 19

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, September 19 (Author Interview)

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, September 20

For Him and My Family, September 20

deb’s Book Review, September 21

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, September 21

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 22

A Reader’s Brain, September 23

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 23

Connie’s History Classroom, September 24

Simple Harvest Reads, September 24 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, September 25

Mary Hake, September 25

Rebecca Tews, September 26

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, September 26

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 27

Connect in Fiction, September 28

Bigreadersite, September 28

Through the fire blogs, September 29

Blogging With Carol, September 30

Back Porch Reads, September 30

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Marji is giving away the grand prize package 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/119f5/a-giant-murder-celebration-tour-giveaway

BLOG, Celebrate Lit Publishers, Celebrate Lit Tour

Restoring Fairhaven, #6 Merriweather Island, by Carolyn Miller

About the Book

Book: Restoring Fairhaven

Author: Carolyn Miller

Genre: Christian Contemporary Romance

Love hurts, or so the songs say, so who wants it?

Taking on her ailing father’s gardening business on Merriweather Island, Samantha Green only wants to escape her ex and to make her father proud.

But Sam gets more than she bargained for when Greener Gardens accepts the job of restoring the gardens of a reclusive writer, Max Fairhaven, whose historical novels about romance and unrequited love litter bookstore shelves and movie marquees all over the world.

Max much prefers the fictional world to the real, and the gardening girl’s interruptions means he’s driven from his writing cave far too often for his liking.

How’s he supposed to craft stories with her distracting him all the time?

Things change when he learns something of Sam’s family challenges, and his admiration slowly kindles. With his secretary’s goading, he’s forced to confront the past, while facing the fact that he needs to change in order to avoid a lonely future.

Gentle pruning and a whole lot of banter forges a friendship between this not-so-Southern belle landscaper and the half-British author. But is their budding attraction enough to grow into a flourishing happily-ever-after?

Restoring Fairhaven is the final “Merriweather book,” but don’t forget to embark on a tour of the next island in this series featuring five islands, six authors, and a boatload of happily-ever-afters.

The Independence Island Series: beach reads aren’t just for summer anymore.

Click here to get your copy!

My Impressions

I enjoyed this island Cinderella/combination Beauty and the Beast story, Restoring Fairhaven, by Carolyn Miller. After a couple of deep historicals, this lighter, easy-to-read contemporary romance of Samantha Green of Greener Gardens landscaping business and Max Fairhaven, a famous author, was just what I needed. Miller includes a good look at a struggling landscaping business that Sam reluctantly takes over for her father.


It is a wonder what a change the love of God and a good woman can affect in a man’s soul. I also appreciated seeing how love caused Max to want to give of himself, to move beyond the little world that had bound him after the death of his wife, Meggie.
There were a couple of ongoing sinister elements that I thought were ended and dismissed too quickly given the importance they played in the drama. Come to think of it, if this is indeed a fairytale retold, it would make much sense for at least some of the bad elements to quickly disappear.


This is book six in The Merriweather Island: Independence Islands series. This book seemed to be able to stand on its own.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit. These opinions are solely my own, voluntarily submitted.

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent!

About the Author

Carolyn Miller lives in the beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and four children. Together with her husband she has pastored a church for ten years, and worked as a public high school English and Learning and Support teacher.A longtime lover of romance, especially that of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer’s Regency era, Carolyn holds a BA in English Literature, and loves drawing readers into fictional worlds that show the truth of God’s grace in our lives. Her Regency novels include The Elusive Miss Ellison, The Captivating Lady Charlotte, The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey, Winning Miss Winthrop, Miss Serena’s Secret, The Making of Mrs. Hale, A Hero for Miss Hatherleigh, Underestimating Miss Cecilia, and Misleading Miss Verity, all available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Koorong, etc Her contemporary novels include Restoring Fairhaven and Regaining Mercy, as part of the Independence Islands series.

More from Carolyn

I’m a long time lover of gardens, plants, flowers and trees! I’m married to a horticulturalist, who once upon a time worked at Lyme Park, the site of Mr. Darcy’s magnificent Pemberley from the 1995 production of Pride and Prejudice, and who has also worked at Kew Gardens in England.

Some of my garden and plant highlights include visiting Blarney Castle’s Poison Garden in Ireland, New Zealand’s Hamilton Gardens, Dunrobin Castle in Scotland, Frederik Meijer Gardens in Michigan, the redwoods of Yosemite, California, Butchart Gardens in Victoria Island, Canada, and Jardin Botanique in Montreal, Canada.

I love to post pictures of flowers and trees on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/carolynmillerauthor/)  and have included pictures of some of these places at my website (www.carolynmillerauthor.com) I have incorporated some of the gardens and plants in a number of my historical novels, including the gorgeous gardens at a castle in Scotland where I set Misleading Miss Verity.

I’m so excited to be introducing readers to my new contemporary books, where I can bring some of my love of gardens (& my hubby’s expertise!) to a new audience. Restoring Fairhaven sees readers introduced to a range of gardening experts who together will bring the gardens of the Independence Islands back to life.

If you’re someone who has enjoyed The Secret Garden, or Becky Wade’s My Stubborn Heart, you’ll be sure to enjoy this story of a reclusive writer and the gardening guru sent to restore his gardens – and his heart.

Happy reading!

Carolyn

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, January 16

lakesidelivingsite, January 16

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 17

April Hayman, Author, January 17

A Novel Pursuit, January 17

Texas Book-aholic, January 18

Rebekah Reads, January 18

Blogging With Carol, January 18

Inklings and notions, January 19

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, January 19

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, January 20

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 20

Mary Hake, January 20

Sara Jane Jacobs, January 21

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, January 21

CarpeDiem, January 21

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, January 22

Cultivating Us, January 22

Kathleen Neely, January 22

Livin’ Lit, January 23

Ashley’s Bookshelf, January 23

Simple Harvest Reads, January 23 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Older & Smarter?, January 24

Artistic Nobody, January 24 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

For Him and My Family, January 25

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, January 25

Inkwell Inspirations, January 25

deb’s Book Review, January 26

Blossoms and Blessings, January 26

Joanne Markey, January 26

She Lives To Read, January 27

Locks, Hooks and Books, January 27

Christian Chick’s Thoughts, January 28

Splashes of Joy, January 28

Godly Book Reviews, January 28

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, January 29

Daysong Reflections, January 29

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Carolyn is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon prize 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/105a8/restoring-fairhaven-celebration-tour-giveaway