Saturday, October 20, 2018

Winner and Conclusion (Swell Time Blog Tour)


Good morning, friends! Our swingin' blog tour is coming to a close, but that doesn't mean the fun is over. :) Gather round, and we'll announce the giveaway winner, share some tour highlights, remind you of a freebie you can grab (today only!), and announce Cindy's next blog tour that's right around the corner.

Winner Time

Congratulations to the winner of the Swell Time for a Swing Dance giveaway...

Kim (cheetahthecat)!


She won signed copies of Bad Day for a Bombshell and Swell Time for a Swing Dance, a Glenn Miller Orchestra CD, and a WWII-themed ornament. Woohoo!

Kim, an email has been sent to you. :)

Tour Highlights

This tour came with some terrific and touching posts from the author and our team of bloggers. If you missed any of them, it's not too late to check them out! Here are some handy links...

Articles by Cindy 

Interviews with Cindy

Excerpts from the Novel
Reviews
  • "Swell Time for a Swing Dance was fast-paced and set in an unsettling time for the world. It reminded me a bit of Marvel’s Agent Carter series." | Julie's review
  • "The author describes the 1940s and wartime life in America well." | Meagan's review
  • "Everyone knows I love a good mystery, so of course, this series is quickly becoming one of my favorites." | Heather's review
  • "Tracy is my new favorite 'girl' detective.... This is the first book that I have read by [Cindy], but it will not be my last." | Carissa's review
  • "I love the individuality of each of the characters. It really brings them to life." | Katrina's review
  • "Once again, Cindy Vincent delivers a wonderfully engrossing 1940s atmosphere in the high-stakes world where Nazis have secretly infiltrated the US—and Tracy and her fella have been framed for the latest crime!" | Jes's review

Personal Blogger Post
Get the Book...for Free!

Today is the last day of the Kindle freebie promotion for Swell Time for a Swing Dance. If you enjoy reading ebooks, don't miss this chance to snag a FREE Kindle copy of the book in celebration of this blog tour!



Get Ready for Christmas Cheer!

If you enjoyed this tour with Cindy Vincent, we hope you'll return next month for a special tour to kick off the Christmas season! We'll be celebrating Cindy's novella, Yes, Carol, It's Christmas! This little story is a reimagining of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens in modern times, featuring a former party planner who's lost her Christmas spirit.

The tour is scheduled for November 26-30 and will include lots of fun posts featuring reviews, party-planning tips, and more. If you're a blogger, you can learn more about participating in the tour HERE. Sign-ups are still open!


Cindy and I want to offer our sincere gratitude to all the bloggers who participated in the Swell Time for a Swing Dance blog tour, as well as all those who joined the fun by leaving comments, entering the giveaway, and downloading the book! Until next time... :)

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Honoring Those Who Were Really There (Swell Time Blog Tour)


This tour for Swell Time for a Swing Dance has been a blast so far! Lots of fun posts about the 1940s and Cindy Vincent's newest cozy mystery. (You can catch up on the tour schedule HERE.) Today, though, we're taking a more serious turn with a post honoring those who served in World War II.

I'm so glad Cindy has a heart for our nation's veterans and has made space for us today to remember their sacrifices. I was privileged to attend a memorial service at Arlington National Cemetery in 2010 for a WWII flight crew that included my great-uncle (the remains of their plane went undiscovered until recent years)—and I was incredibly touched by the experience. My posts and video slideshows from the trip can be found HERE and HERE.

We'd love for you to share your own stories in the comments section! And now, here's Cindy...

* * *

Honoring Those Who Were Really There
By Cindy Vincent

It’s time to honor the generation who lived and fought during WWII, from the frontlines to the homefront. And with this post, I’m asking for your participation. I’d like you to share the names of any family members, or other people you might know of, who served in the military or played a role in the war effort in some way. Please tell us a little bit about them. This may require a phone call or two to find out if Grandma or Grandpa, or even Great-Grandma or Great-Grandpa, played a role in fighting for freedom. Whatever they did, please honor them by sharing their stories.

Tom Brokaw referred to the WWII generation as being “The Greatest Generation.” And with good reason. So many of them sacrificed their very lives to battle the evil trying to take over the world. Much of our military at the time was comprised of “Citizen Soldiers,” people who simply gave up or took leave from their regular jobs to enlist in the military, in one form or another. But even those who stayed stateside still endured plenty.

An elderly friend of mine comes to mind. She lived on a family farm and was just fourteen years old when her brothers and her father all enlisted and went to war. That left her and her mother to run the farm when they went away. So at the tender young age of fourteen, my friend was left to run the tractor and was given the responsibility for plowing, planting, and harvesting the crops. Could you imagine doing such a thing at that age?

When I was in my twenties, I had the great privilege of working with plenty of WWII vets in a skilled care nursing home. Their stories and their attitudes have stayed with me all these years. At the time we went to war, the United States military was only ranked number eighteen in the world—not exactly a superpower. Yet from what I heard from the people I met, Americans went into the war believing that we would win. That optimism and high morale got them through a lot. I also heard the phrase, “We didn’t start this war, but we’ll put an end to it.”

Now I’d like to share the story of my husband’s Aunt Jean Hixson. She had always wanted to fly and got her pilot’s license when she was only eighteen. When the war came along, there was a shortage of male pilots, so a program was started to train women as military pilots. So Jean, along with 25,000 other women, applied to become a WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilot). Only 1,830 women were accepted, and Jean made the cut. She was also one of only 1,074 who completed the training. From there, she went to work with whatever assignment she was given. The WASPs were excluded from combat, but she ferried planes between manufacturers and Air Force bases, including overseas transports. And she towed targets for live gunnery practice. She was one gutsy girl!

Here’s her official WASP photo:


Remember, she was barely in her twenties at the time. And here she is doing a preflight:


And finally, here she is with some of her colleagues after flying a twin-engine B-25 bomber (far right). She was an Engineering Test Pilot for this aircraft.


So that’s my tribute to a few members of the Greatest Generation. I hope you’ll join me in sharing whatever family photos and stories you can dig up!

And my thanks go to Amber, for hosting me here today. We’ve worked on many blog tours together, and it’s always a joy to work with her! I look forward to our next one!

Amber: Thank you so much for sharing these amazing stories with us, Cindy! It's always a pleasure to host you and to tour your books together. :)

* * *

Learn more about this book tour (and a special giveaway) HERE.

Don't forget to grab your FREE Kindle copy of Cindy's latest, 


Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Dancing Through the Pages (Swell Time Blog Tour)


The Swell Time for a Swing Dance blog tour continues here today with a fun guest post from the author! With a title that includes the phrase "swing dance," you can bet there's some spinning and fast footwork involved in the pages of Cindy's latest mystery...and maybe in her own life too. :)

In this article, you'll get some insight into Cindy's love of swing dance, while also finding some tips on how to dress for a 1940s-style dance. Maybe you'll walk away with an extra spring in your step...and a new hobby!

* * *

Dancing Through the Pages
By Cindy Vincent

Ever since I was a little girl growing up in the early 60s, I’ve always had a love of dancing. I think it started when I was about five or six, probably after learning how to square dance in kindergarten. As I recall, we were taught the Virginia Reel at a very early age, probably since it was simple enough that even a child could do it. Ha! From there, I had several years of ballet classes, along with the yearly recital, which always involved a satin and sequined tutu.

So naturally, when I was older and the swing dance revival of the 1990s came around, I wanted to be part of it. The only issue? I now had a husband who would rather have a root canal than go out dancing. Even so, with a lot of prodding, (and begging . . . lots and lots of begging,) he finally agreed to learn to swing dance. And while taking classes didn’t appeal to him, I bought a video (yes, an actual VHS tape), and we followed the steps and practiced in the privacy of our living room until we had the basics down pat. Then little by little, we added a few moves here and there until we were good enough to go out dancing for an evening and enjoy ourselves. (And yes, he had fun, too!) Though we weren’t exactly “Fred and Ginger” out on the dance floor, as my husband the engineer often joked, “What we lacked in talent, we made up for in g-forces.” Meaning, we danced very fast and had a lot of fun. But we certainly weren’t good enough to win any dance contests!

However, we did win another contest at a dance. Because many of the dances we went to (and there were many!) were re-creations of the WWII-era dances, dressing the part was a truly fun aspect of the evening. So we went all out. He wore a vintage 1940s tuxedo, and I usually wore an authentic 1940s dress, along with the hat and gloves and all the accessories, thus leading us to win “Best Attire” at a Fabulous Forties hangar dance at the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame. I still have the plaque in my office to this day.

Attending all these dances also led us to absolutely love swing music, especially the music of Glenn Miller. And though he passed away during WWII, a version of the orchestra regrouped in 1956, and it is still touring to this day. (With ever-changing members, of course.) You can find out about their tour schedule at https://glennmillerorchestra.com, and you can even go to one of their concerts, if you’d like to experience this wonderful music from the past. We’ve heard them play “live” many times, and it’s always hard to sit still throughout the whole show! In fact, people often jump up and start swing dancing in the aisles. (Okay, us included . . .)

And if you don’t know how to swing dance yourself, these days you’ll find plenty of swing dance instructional videos on YouTube. Plus, lots of cities have their own swing dance societies, and some cities even have hangar dances, 1940s USO style.

That brings me to a final subject: How do you dress for such a dance? Of course, for women, you’ll need bright red lipstick—Victory Red, as they called it—and you’ll probably want to wear a dress. In those days, the style was generally wider at the shoulders with an A-line skirt, to give a woman an hourglass figure. Here’s a vintage 1940s dress, similar to something Tracy might have worn in my book:


I also recommend that you wear long gloves, a small hat, and plenty of sparkly jewelry. Back then, women wore full jewelry sets at once—necklace, earrings, bracelet, and brooch. And to complete your look, panty hose with seams up the back will definitely put you in that era. Men can wear a double-breasted suit or baggy pleated pants and a sweater vest and bow tie. A fedora (hat) is a nice touch if you can find one.

Now I leave you with a little “incentive” to get out there and swing dance yourself . . . Here’s one of the best swing dance songs ever written, “In the Mood” by Glenn Miller:



Once you go swing dancing, you’ll understand why I included it in my book, Swell Time for a Swing Dance. It’s just so much fun!

* * *

Want more? Find the full schedule (and a giveaway!) for
this "swell" blog tour HERE.

You can also grab a Kindle copy of this book for FREE this week,
October 16-20! 

Monday, October 15, 2018

Enjoy a Swell Time on This 1940s Blog Tour!


Welcome to the Swell Time for a Swing Dance blog tour! It's my pleasure to be the coordinator for this tour on behalf of author Cindy Vincent. :) We hope you'll swing on by and stay a while, as we have lots of fun, informative, and inspiring posts for you this week!

Let's take a peek at the schedule...

Monday, October 15
Tour introduction | Seasons of Humility You are here!
Review | My Favorite Pastime
Spotlight | Heidi Reads…
Author interview + excerpt | Lisa Ks Book Reviews

Tuesday, October 16
Dancing Through the Pages (guest post) | Seasons of Humility
Character interview | Heidi Reads…
Excerpt | My Favorite Pastime

Wednesday, October 17
A Forties Fascination (guest post) | My Favorite Pastime
Want to Get a Real Feel for the Forties? (guest post) | Life with Katie
Personal post | Carissa’s Bookshelf
Review | Meagan Davenport
Excerpt | Heidi Reads…

Thursday, October 18
Honoring Those Who Were Really There (guest post) | Seasons of Humility
Why I Love the Forties (guest post) | Heidi Reads…
Dear Diary (guest post) + review + interview | Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen
Review | Carissa’s Bookshelf
Spotlight | Hannah Gaudette – Author

Friday, October 19
Review | Life with Katie
Review | Pause for Tales
Author interview | Heidi Reads…
Excerpt | Hannah Gaudette – Author

Saturday, October 20
Review | The Power of Words
Tour conclusion (winner announced) | Seasons of Humility

* * *

Each excerpt will give you a unique glimpse into this cozy, swingin', patriotic mystery. Each guest post and interview with the author will give you fresh insight into this era of history. And each review will help you see what fellow readers thought of Cindy's newest release!

Learn more about the book and author below...


About the Book

December 31, 1941. Young Houston socialite Tracy Truworth, Apprentice P.I., can’t imagine a better way to send off the old year and ring in the new than by dancing through the night with her fella, Pete Stalwart. But a swell evening soon takes a terrible turn when a fellow dancer with moves like Fred Astaire ends up dead on the dance floor. And before the hands on the clock can point to midnight, a finger is pointed at Pete, accusing him of murdering the young man.

Then after Pete is hauled away in handcuffs, the night goes from bad to worse . . . and Tracy’s sweet grandmother is accused of stealing an ancient artifact from the museum. Now Tracy must team up with her boss and mentor, Sammy Falcone, in order to find the stolen statuette, unmask the real murderer, and restore the reputations of those she loves the most.

Yet as America becomes embroiled in another world war, the risks and sacrifices intensify—even on the homefront. And Tracy soon finds her own home invaded by a near parade of questionable characters, while unsavory suspects lurk in the shadows, and a ruthless reporter makes her life miserable. With time ticking against her, Tracy must be willing to swing past the setbacks and hop through the hazards if she hopes to solve a mystery that involves a lot of dancing . . . and a lot more danger.


About the Author

CINDY VINCENT, M.A. Ed., was born in Calgary, Alberta, and has lived all around the US and Canada. She is the creator of the Mysteries by Vincent murder mystery party games and the Daisy Diamond Detective Series games for girls. She is also the award-winning author of the Buckley and Bogey Cat Detective Caper novels and the Daisy Diamond Detective series. She lives in Houston, Texas with her husband and an assortment of fantastic felines.


* * *

Last but not least, this week you'll have the opportunity to enter a nifty giveaway for a chance to win some swell prizes!

Giveaway!

Time to get “in the mood” with a fun 1940s-themed giveaway! Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter for a chance to win a pewter ornament from The National WWII Museum, a Glenn Miller Orchestra CD, and paperback copies of the first two books in the Tracy Truworth series: Bad Day for a Bombshell and Swell Time for a Swing Dance. Due to shipping costs and varying international laws, this giveaway is open to US residents (age 18 or older) only. Void where prohibited. Good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Stretch Your Perspective | Review of All That's Good



About the Book (from Moody Publishers)

“And God saw that it was good…” 

Look out over the world today; it seems a far cry from God's original declaration. Pain, conflict, and uncertainty dominate the headlines. Our daily lives are noisy and chaotic—filled with too much information and too little wisdom. No wonder we often find it easier to retreat into safe spaces, hunker down in like-minded tribes, and just do our best to survive life.

But what if God wants you to do more than simply survive? What if he wants you to thrive in this world and be part of its redemption? What if you could rediscover the beauty and goodness God established in the beginning?

By learning the lost art of discernment, you can. Discernment is more than simply avoiding bad things; discernment actually frees you to navigate the world with confidence and joy by teaching you how to recognize and choose good things. When you learn discernment and develop a taste for all that's good, you will encounter God in remarkable new ways. Come, discover the God who not only made all things, but who will also make all things good once again.


Available Now!

My Rating

Spring/Summer

My Review

One of my favorite nonfiction books is Humble Roots by Hannah Anderson (which I read in 2017); its style and topic really resonated with me. So her next release was definitely on my radar!

All That's Good is another great, thought-provoking read, this time on the topic of discernment. While the theme didn't affect me quite as much or feel quite as cohesive as in Humble Roots, I still found a lot to relate to and to challenge me in these fresh pages.

I enjoy the way the author tells a story. In this book, she uses each seemingly random story of something from her life (be it something she loves or something she's observed) to illustrate a different facet of discernment—a daunting word that she breaks down into helpful life lessons. The bulk of the book is based on Philippians 4:8, reminding us of the things we should be thinking about and looking for in our lives.

This is a book that calls believers to see and participate in God's work in the world, rather than hiding from the evil and hardships around us. It shows us that characteristics like "pure" and "honorable" aren't as simple (or as easy to pursue) as we tend to think. The author's challenge is to engage—to learn how to recognize God's goodness around us and to embrace it, share it, and let Him shine through us. This isn't a hunt for an earthy (impossible) utopia; this is growth in this life and pursuit of Christ now and forevermore.

All That's Good is a starting place, an encouraging resource to stretch our perspectives and help us dwell on and live out God's goodness in ways we might not have realized we could or should...or in ways we often choose to ignore. For readers like me who are more introverted, some of the challenges and reminders in this book might be a bit painful, but still important to ponder.

*With thanks to Moody Publishers and the author for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are my own.*

**Images in this post courtesy of Moody Publishers.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

A Thought-Provoking Guide and Journal | Review of Sacred Holidays



About the Book (from the Sacred Holidays website)

Do you enter every holiday wanting it to be meaningful, only to find that it feels chaotic with no direction?

We set New Year’s goals we can’t keep, struggle to love or be loved on Valentine’s Day, and find it hard to celebrate the risen Jesus when we are searching for the perfect Easter dress. Our summer and back-to-school seasons are whirlwinds, even as adults; we aren’t quite sure what to do with Halloween as Christians; and we feel less than grateful at Thanksgiving because it is sometimes full of complicated people. Even Christmas becomes a challenge, as celebrating Jesus gets lost behind twinkling lights and a mountain of gifts.

Holidays are meant to be more than chaos with glimpses of grace; they are meant to draw us closer to God and one another. We want all the whimsy and joy the holidays held when we were children, before life crowded it out. We want the holidays to reflect our love for Jesus and reveal the grace that has been lavished on us, but life is so busy that setting a game plan just doesn’t happen.

No more. It’s time to stop trying to survive the holidays or over indulge the whimsy, and instead live in the abundant life God called us to live.

Sacred Holidays is part book and part resource: meant to help you avoid what has tripped you up in the past and give you insights, tips, and tools to make your holidays less chaotic and more about loving Jesus and others.

Don’t let your holidays be marked by regret, whirlwinds, or survival mindset. Let’s celebrate every holiday together purposefully and worshipfully—loving Jesus and others well in every moment.

Releasing October 16, 2018!

My Rating

Spring

My Review

I love celebrating the holidays! My parents and grandparents always made them fun for us when my sister and I were growing up, which meant making wonderful memories through activities, food, gifts, and decorations. But now that I'm a married adult, finding a way to approach the holidays anew (with different traditions and resources, as well as a budget) can be tricky. Not to mention, I relate to this book's premise that the holidays can feel less about the heart of the matter and too much about expectations and what society dictates.

I have to use my imagination a bit when it comes to Sacred Holidays, because I read an e-copy, whereas it's totally meant to be read and used as a book you hold in your hands. From what I saw, there are plenty of spaces for writing down thoughts, ideas, dreams, and areas for improvement. And the plan is that you keep this book somewhere accessible so you can refer to later chapters (or your own notes) on a holiday-by-holiday (or as-needed) basis.

In that regard, I think I would really enjoy this aspect of the book: how it's personal and handy, something that could become a tradition of its own if you enjoy planning, preparing, and reflecting.

I did enjoy the creative ideas presented for celebrating each holiday with both spiritual depth and cheer. There are also interesting discussions about topics like "generosity on a budget" and what to do about Santa Claus if you're a parent. And I appreciated that Scripture is included, although I felt unsure about how some verses and passages were applied to the holidays.

All in all, as a person who loves the holidays, I liked this book. It brings up important points about seeking Jesus in each season and celebration and helping children (and yourself) see Him as the focal point of Christmas and Easter. I think I mostly liked the tone, although it sometimes came across as too typical for the genre or trying too hard. (The set-up for the chapter on grief comes to mind, but the author's heart seems to be in the right place.) And I appreciated that the pages cover everything from the "biggies" (Christmas and Easter) to Valentine's Day, Halloween, and birthdays. A thought-provoking guide and journal!

*With thanks to B&H Publishing Group through NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary e-ARC of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are my own.*

Friday, September 21, 2018

Sobering and Admirable Historical Fiction | Review of Everything She Didn't Say



About the Book (from Revell)

There is more than one way to tell a story . . .

In 1911, Carrie Strahorn wrote a memoir sharing some of the most exciting events of twenty-five years of shaping the American West with her husband, railroad promoter and writer Robert Strahorn. Nearly ten years later, she's finally ready to reveal the secrets she hadn't told anyone—even herself. 

Certain that her writings will be found only after her death, Carrie confronts the pain and disappointment of the pioneering life with startling honesty. She explores the danger a woman faces of losing herself within a relationship with a strong-willed man. She reaches for the courage to accept her own worth. Most of all she wonders, Can she ever feel truly at home in this rootless life?

New York Times bestselling author Jane Kirkpatrick draws out the emotions of living—the laughter and pain, the love and loss—to give us a window not only into the past but into our own conflicted hearts. Based on a true story.

Available now!

My Rating

Spring

My Review

The premise of this book is compelling, to think of what might have been left out of an adventure-filled memoir from the days of the Wild West. And the structure of this book is interesting, each chapter starting with a fictional journal entry, then continuing into scenes or memories told from the heroine's point of view, and ending with a quote from her actual memoir.

A lot of ground—a lot of life and time—is covered in this book. It takes a bit to get used to, and sometimes the narrative flows well and goes deep into a scene, while other times it soars quickly over the months or years. I wouldn't say this is necessarily my favorite way for a story to be told, but the writing and research are far from lacking. And as much as these characters, these people from history, are flawed like we all are, the tale of their travel-filled lives and unfulfilled longings does eventually sweep the reader away.

I imagine such a reality-based story does limit an author... I might have wished for a happier ending or more growth in a certain character. The author includes a long note at the end that answers a lot of questions about what's fictional and what's not, which left me both satisfied and saddened.

Everything She Didn't Say is a different sort of story that brings a woman from the past into relatable light, exploring her marriage, desires, hardships, and resilience. The faith element is definitely there, although it feels like the emphasis tends to rest a little more on Carrie's choices and attitude than the sustaining power of God. While I would say Jane Kirkpatrick's Kinship and Courage series (All Together in One Place, No Eye Can See, What Once We Loved) is more up my alley from what I recall, this is still an intriguing, thought-provoking, sobering, and admirable piece of historical fiction.

*With thanks to Revell for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are my own.*

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Announcing a Christmas Novella Blog Tour | Coming in November!


Don't worry... I'm not ready to rush through autumn. :) But in order to have enough preparation time, I'm pleased to announce sign-ups for a late November blog tour that's sure to get you in the Christmas spirit!

Here are some exciting aspects of this tour, which runs November 26-30:

- paperback review copies available to bloggers with US mailing addresses

- fun and festive Christmas-themed post options

- tour-wide giveaway to spread Christmas cheer

Read on to learn more about the book and see how you can sign up...


About the Book

As the top salesperson for Pfunn Party Supplies, Carol Frost doesn’t exactly know how to have fun herself these days. Though she wasn’t always such a humbug. Once upon a time, she was famous for hosting Christmas parties that were filled with everything from laughing guests and luscious hors d’oeuvres, to artfully iced sugar cookies and creatively decorated Christmas trees. To top it off, she even wrote a bestselling book that became the authoritative tome on Christmas party entertaining at the time—The Complete, Total, Ultimate, Everything-You-Might-Possibly-Want-to-Know Guide to Hosting the Best Christmas Parties Ever.

Yet that was long ago, before her life changed and she stashed her tinsel and twinkle lights away once and for all. And while Carol soon learned to settle for her boring but comfortable existence, an old friend knows that Carol isn’t really living up to her potential. An old friend who . . . well . . . now enjoys her eggnog in the afterlife, you might say. To goad Carol into going back to her former party-hosting ways, said friend sends three of her specter pals to pester Carol. Then much to Carol’s annoyance, she is visited by the Ghost Hosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, on a plane filled with plenty of holiday revelers. And though Carol only wants to be left alone, the Ghost Hosts have other plans. Instead, they take her on an adventure that wasn’t exactly on her itinerary . . . or printed on her ticket stub. From that moment on, Carol’s life will never be the same. Provided, of course, she survives the jingle-bell rollercoaster of a ride and makes it home in time for Christmas . . .

Available now from Whodunit Press


About the Author

CINDY VINCENT, M.A. Ed., was born in Calgary, Alberta, and has lived all around the US and Canada. She is the creator of the Mysteries by Vincent murder mystery party games and the Daisy Diamond Detective Series games for girls. She is also the award-winning author of the Buckley and Bogey Cat Detective Caper novels and the Daisy Diamond Detective series. She lives in Houston, Texas with her husband and an assortment of fantastic felines.

Note to Potential Reviewers

This is a fun Christmas-themed novella, a modern-day reimagining of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. While the book is not specifically Christian fiction, the content is clean with only a small bit of romance.

Countdown to Christmas Cheer...

If you'd like to review the book or participate in the tour in other ways, sign up here:



To learn more about my services as a freelance book editor and marketer, please visit www.amberchristineholcomb.com.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on My Fall 2018 TBR


Happy (almost) autumn! You know I love the change of seasons around here. :) And you know I love talking about books! So, I'm diving into today's topic for Top Ten Tuesday: the books I want to read this fall.

I confess I'm not always the best about setting TBR (to be read) lists that I actually stick with. I'm hoping I've chosen well this time (and there are a couple I need to read for tours), but we'll see what happens. ;) 

For Review

A Southern Season (novella collection)

I'm on the JustRead Tours blog tour for this book, and the seasonal theme should be fun to feature here. One of the stories is fall-themed (Through an Autumn Window). Looks like a good group of authors! Be looking for my review in early November. :)

Enchanting Nicholette by Dawn Crandall

I've read several books by Dawn Crandall and was excited for an opportunity to review and share about her new novella. (My reviews of earlier books: The Hesitant Heiress, The Bound Heart, The Captive Imposter.) I'll be featuring this book on Twitter through a JustRead takeover tour in October and here on the blog in early November. Looking forward to it!

The Cumberland Bride by Shannon McNear

I've read a couple books so far in the Daughters of the Mayflower series (The Mayflower Bride and The Captured Bride). It's been fun to follow this series, and through NetGalley I have the opportunity to review the two latest additions as ebooks: The Cumberland Bride and The Liberty Bride

The Liberty Bride by MaryLu Tyndall

I'm particularly excited about this one because I love MaryLu Tyndall's books. :) (I also just bought her latest pirate book, The Reckless, in Kindle format. Woohoo!)

Audiobooks

Beauty and the Clockwork Beast 
by Nancy Campbell Allen

I read and loved Kiss of the Spindle (the second book in this steampunk romance series) this summer, and I'm eager to listen to the first book in the series!

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

Everyone has been reading and talking about the first book in this series...including me! ;) (You can find my review of the audiobook here: To All the Boys I've Loved Before.) I enjoyed the Netflix adaptation too. And since I like the narrator and characters...I'd like to continue the series with book two!

Paperbacks

Burning Sky by Lori Benton

This book has been on my TBR for a long time, and I really want to finish it this fall! I adored The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn, and I think this style/genre (like Laura Frantz's books) are perfect for this time of year. 

Here to Stay by Melissa Tagg

Another long-time TBR resident...and doesn't this look like a delightful autumn read? I really loved Melissa Tagg's first book (Made to Last), and I look forward to reading this one (hopefully this season!). 

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I sadly did not end up reading this last fall, but everyone seems to love the writing in this book, and based on the author's note in my Target edition, it truly is the quintessential autumn read! So...here's hoping for this year. :)  

Mark of Distinction and Price of Privilege 
by Jessica Dotta

I finally read the first book in this series this past spring (Born of Persuasion), and it was really good! The darker, mysterious tone of these books would be great to finally enjoy this season.

What are you most excited to read this fall?
Any new releases? Or long-time TBR titles? 

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Light Mystery with an Intriguing Setting and Scenario | Review of A Rumored Fortune



About the Book (from Revell)

Welcome to Trevelyan Castle, home of the poorest heiress in Victorian England

Tressa Harlowe's father kept his vast fortune hidden somewhere on his estate in the south of England and died suddenly, without telling anyone where he had concealed it. Now Tressa and her ailing mother are left with a mansion and an immense vineyard and no money to run it.

It doesn't take long for a bevy of opportunists to flock to the estate under the guise of offering condolences. Tressa knows what they're really up to. She'll have to work with the rough and rusticated vineyard manager to keep the laborers content without pay and discover the key to finding her father's fortune—before someone else finds it first.

Available now!

My Rating

Spring

My Review

This was an interesting historical read! I liked the way each chapter starts with a bit of vineyard wisdom that applies to other areas of life. I enjoyed the light mystery (light in the sense of pace and perceived level of danger; the stakes certainly seem high enough to the heroine!). And the setting is intriguing, with plenty of nooks and clues and even wide open spaces to explore.

Engaging while not necessarily "edge of your seat," A Rumored Fortune saves a handful of surprises for last, giving you time to guess and get to know the layered cast of characters. I wouldn't say the hero completely swept me off my feet, but the story still swept me away to a different time alongside a creative heroine who has some difficult lessons to learn and a heart needing to be given away.

A "castle," a vineyard, men with hidden motives, a woman in harsh circumstances, and a treasure waiting patiently to be uncovered in the proper time... All of this makes for a great read that leads you smoothly along to the generally satisfying conclusion.

*With thanks to Revell through NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary e-ARC of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are my own.*

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Dancing and Doughnuts Blog Tour | Review + Giveaway


I'm thrilled to be participating in the blog tour for Dancing and Doughnuts by Rachel Kovaciny! This is a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses set in the Wild West. Read on to catch my review of the story and learn about a fun giveaway you can enter... (And if you want to follow more of tour, check out the schedule HERE!)

About the Book

Twelve Dancing Princesses… reimagined.

Fifty dollars just for asking a few questions? Jedediah Jones figures it must be his lucky day. What dancing and doughnuts have to do with anything, he neither knows nor cares. He’s only interested in earning that money so he can finally eat something other than the apples he's been living off for days. Once his stomach and his pockets are filled again, he plans to move on.

But answering the advertisement plunges him into a forest of painted trees, twelve pretty sisters, trouble, and more trouble. And, yes, doughnuts.

So many doughnuts.

Can Jedediah Jones solve the mystery and earn that fifty dollars when the whole town has failed? Or will the twelve sisters lose their family's business no matter what he does?

Available Now!

My Rating

Spring/Summer

My Review

A fairy-tale retelling with a Wild West setting and a sweet atmosphere with just a dash of gentle suspense? I'll eat that right up, please and thank you!

Dancing and Doughnuts is a quick story told from the perspective of a wandering man looking to make a few bucks before moving on. The strangest opportunity presents itself in the form of a "help wanted" ad, and our hero soon finds himself in a classy dance hall with unique refreshments, interesting characters, and a mystery no one seems able to solve.

The mystery keeps the plot waltzing along at a nice pace, but what really made me fall in love with this story is its cleverness and voice. I absolutely love the way the author takes elements from The Twelve Dancing Princesses and makes them fit a historical setting in a way that feels both natural and enchanting. The descriptions of the dance hall and the events held there are especially delightful!

As for the voice, the main character, Jedediah, is a really likable guy, and his first-person narration adds to the charm of the unfolding story. The tale feels compelling but light, like an airy doughnut with a sweet aftertaste that makes for a filling and fond breakfast. Dancing and Doughnuts isn't overly deep, nor is its mystery dark and dangerous. This is simply a fun, sweet little read. (And as a bonus, two tasty-sounding recipes are included at the end!)

*With thanks to the author for providing me with a complimentary e-ARC of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are my own.*


About the Author

Born only a few miles from where Jesse James robbed his first train, Rachel Kovaciny has loved the Old West all her life. She now lives in Virginia with her husband and their three homeschooled children. In her free time, Rachel writes for the magazines Femnista and Prairie Times, reads, bakes, blogs, watches movies, and daydreams.

Her book Cloaked was a 2018 Peacemaker Awards finalist for Best Western YA/Children's Fiction.

Website | Amazon page | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram


Giveaway!

One winner will receive an autographed copy of Dancing and Doughnuts, a copy of Log Cabin Cooking, and a Once Upon a Western tote bag that measures 15" x 18" x 6" with 22" handles. You can enter in a variety of ways, including by visiting different tour stops each day! Rachel will draw one winner for the giveaway on Sunday, September 9 and notify them via the email address they provide to the Rafflecopter widget. Open worldwide.


Wednesday, August 8, 2018

New Release Spotlight: Fairest Son

It's awesome to be able to celebrate with fellow bloggers when they have new books releasing! Today I'm excited to spotlight Fairest Son by H.S.J. Williams. This is a fairy-tale retelling, and I do love such stories! If you're a fan too, read on...


About the Book

The Fair and Foul courts of the fey folk have long yearned for one to bring them together in peace, but hopes are dashed when the fairest prince and the prophecy concerning him are laid to ruin. Burdened with shame and sorrow, the prince flees to the cold mountains far above the forests and lochs with nothing but animals and goblins for company.

When a human huntress stumbles upon him in her search for a legendary predator, their fates are intertwined. But she hides deadly secrets, and if he dares to trust her, he may risk the doom of both courts to an ancient evil...

A novella retelling of Snow White



About the Author

From the beginning, H. S. J. Williams has loved stories and all the forms they take. Whether with word, art, or costume, she has always been fascinated with the magic of imagination. She lives in a real fantastical kingdom, the beautiful Pacific Northwest, with her very own array of animal friends and royally loving family. Williams taught Fantasy Illustration at MSOA. She may also be a part-time elf.


About the Artist

Irina Plachkova is an acclaimed artist, freelance illustrator, and fashion designer, better known as PhantomRin. You can find more of her work at phantomrin.tumblr.com.


Intriguing, no? :) 
What's your favorite fairy tale?
Remember, you can pick up a copy of Fairest Son today!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Compelling Story of Small-Town Competition | Review of His Hometown Girl



About the Book (from the author's website)

He'd always managed to best her…

Jodi Chapman will do whatever it takes to get top care for her autistic son. If that means going home and convincing local farmers to sell their land, so be it. Even if her biggest opponent, childhood rival Daniel Gleason, is equally determined to convince farmers to buy into his co-op plan. And he's not playing fair.

Facing off against Daniel is the last thing Jodi wants. The attraction that's always fueled their competitiveness is as strong as ever and just as distracting. But with both their futures on the line, and years of distrust between them, how can they ever be on the same side?

My Rating

Spring

My Review

This is a sweet summer read about a single mom wanting to provide the best for her young son. Jodi's path takes her back to her hometown...and brings her face to face with her childhood sweetheart, who is now the enemy of her goals. I enjoyed seeing how their competition plays out, especially since the stakes are so high for both of them (her son's future and his community's way of life), and they both make compelling points for why their particular offer is the best one for the farmers of Cedar Bay.

The story felt well balanced between the budding romance (growing in the midst of thorny words and circumstances) and the two main characters' careers and priorities. The secondary characters, especially Daniel's sister and father, add extra layers of emotion and complications. And while I don't necessarily agree with the suggestion that happiness is of utmost importance, I did find a lot to love with Daniel and Jodi's ultimate choices. There are also some thoughts about parenting (approaches, mind-set, etc.) that could lead to good discussions/pondering.

From tender moments between a guy, a girl, and her little boy, to cringe-worthy moments in the heat of their competition, His Hometown Girl has it all. The small-town setting and the challenges the characters face make this an interesting read till the end.

*With thanks to the author for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are my own.*

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Mystery Review Opportunity: Swell Time for a Swing Dance


Hello, friends! Today I'm sharing about an autumn blog tour opportunity for a new WWII-era mystery novel from a dear friend and client, Cindy Vincent. :)

Here are some of exciting aspects of this particular tour, which runs October 15-19:

- Paperback review copies available to bloggers with US mailing addresses

- Numerous options for participating (from a simple spotlight post if you're crunched for time to guest posts, interviews, or a book review)

- Tour-wide giveaway includes some awesome WWII-themed prizes

Read on to learn more about the book and find out how you can sign up for the tour...


Swell Time for a Swing Dance 

About the Book

December 31, 1941. Young Houston socialite Tracy Truworth, Apprentice P.I., can’t imagine a better way to send off the old year and ring in the new than by dancing through the night with her fella, Pete Stalwart. But a swell evening soon takes a terrible turn when a fellow dancer with moves like Fred Astaire ends up dead on the dance floor. And before the hands on the clock can point to midnight, a finger is pointed at Pete, accusing him of murdering the young man.

Then after Pete is hauled away in handcuffs, the night goes from bad to worse . . . and Tracy’s sweet grandmother is accused of stealing an ancient artifact from the museum. Now Tracy must team up with her boss and mentor, Sammy Falcone, in order to find the stolen statuette, unmask the real murderer, and restore the reputations of those she loves the most.

Yet as America becomes embroiled in another world war, the risks and sacrifices intensify—even on the homefront. And Tracy soon finds her own home invaded by a near parade of questionable characters, while unsavory suspects lurk in the shadows, and a ruthless reporter makes her life miserable. With time ticking against her, Tracy must be willing to swing past the setbacks and hop through the hazards if she hopes to solve a mystery that involves a lot of dancing . . . and a lot more danger.

Available now from Mysteries by Vincent 


About the Author 

CINDY VINCENT, M.A. Ed., was born in Calgary, Alberta, and has lived all around the US and Canada. She is the creator of the Mysteries by Vincent murder mystery party games and the Daisy Diamond Detective Series games for girls. She is also the award-winning author of the Buckley and Bogey Cat Detective Caper novels and the Daisy Diamond Detective series. She lives in Houston, Texas with her husband and an assortment of fantastic felines.

Note to Potential Reviewers

This is a full-length historical mystery novel set at the beginning of World War II. While the book is not specifically Christian fiction, there are some faith elements and the content is clean, with only kissing (no sex scenes) and mild (non-gory) violence. While Swell Time for a Swing Dance is the second book in a series, it can be read and understood on its own.

Want to Read the Book Now?

If you'd like to review the book or participate in the tour in other ways, sign up here:


To learn more about my services as a freelance book editor and marketer, please visit www.amberchristineholcomb.com.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Helpful Perspective for Life's Journey | Review of Born to Wander



About the Book (from Moody Publishers)

Why are we so restless? 

All of us have a little wanderlust—a desire for that next thing, that new place, but this competes with our longings for security, control, and safety. We don't like how it feels to be unsettled and uprooted. Whether we're navigating a season of transition, dealing with the fallout of broken relationships, or wrestling with a deep sense of restlessness, we are all experiencing some form of exile. And most of us do whatever we can to numb the feelings of unbelonging, powerlessness, and unsettledness that come with it. But the truth is that exile has a profound purpose if we can just learn to lean in.

Over and over again Scripture tells us that the people of God are exiles and wanderers. And this is good news because exile is what transforms us into pilgrims. In Christ, we are no longer directionless wanderers, but pilgrim followers who have a clear purpose and a secure identity. In Born to Wander, Michelle Van Loon weaves together personal stories and keen insights on the biblical themes of pilgrimage and exile. She will help you embrace your own pilgrim identity and reorient your heart toward the God who leads you home. Engaging and thoughtful, enhanced with practical suggestions, prayers, and questions, Born to Wander will teach how to trust God even when you don't understand what's happening around you and follow Him even when it hurts.

If you keep chasing security, you'll never find it. Embrace the purpose behind the wandering and discover the freedom and safety of resting in God alone.


My Rating

Spring/Summer

My Review

I love the idea of adventure, the concept of life being a journey. I also understand the restless longing that doesn't go away no matter where you move or how your life might change for the better. So the premise of this book captured my attention!

Born to Wander is an encouraging series of chapters on various steps of the "pilgrim" journey each Christian faces in this world. It's all very readable and approachable, speaking to modern challenges while discussing lessons and accounts from Scripture. I found the latter chapters (particularly "Divided," "Trekked," "Sojourned," and "Diverted") to be especially compelling and thought-provoking (although it might also be that I was more focused when I was reading much of those sections in one day).

I appreciated the insights the author provides; for example, the context and explanations she offers regarding the Psalms/Songs of Ascent in the book of Psalms (in the "Trekked" chapter). This is a great, fairly quick read to use as a launching point for contemplating the life you're called to live, your identity in this world, and your perspective along the way.

*With thanks to Moody Publishers for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.*

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Novellas and Short Stories


I'm really excited about today's Top Ten Tuesday topic! Novellas and short stories are some of my favorites to write; even my two "novels" aren't really that long. ;) (You can see a list of the books I've written HERE.) I love when a story you can read in an evening or two has a much bigger impact than its small length would suggest. So, here's a list of some novellas/short stories I greatly enjoyed...

This Quiet Sky by Joanne Bischof

Sarah and Tucker's story floats through the heart with all the tender poignancy of a falling autumn leaf. Their friendship blooms sweetly, brightly. Grows into something as passionate and brilliant as the summer sun. And culminates in a season where beauty coexists with that which fades, causing bittersweet thoughts of that which lasts.
(Read more of my review HERE.)

Unlucky in Love & Lyrics by Tracy Joy Jones

This one was a newsletter freebie in honor of St. Patrick's Day, and what a fun, touching story! I'm not sure when/if the author will be offering this particular novella again, but you can currently grab her Fourth of July freebie novella (When Fireworks Fly) by signing up for her e-newsletter HERE. I haven't read it yet, but I really enjoyed How Gretchen Stole Christmas and Unlucky in Love & Lyrics, and I can't wait for the next novella to arrive in my inbox this fall. :)

Seaglass by Kara Swanson

Here's another newsletter freebie! (You can find it HERE.) This one is a short story by Kara Swanson, and here's my super short review from last December: A bit of fantasy churns through the pages of this simple little story, but the message shimmers bright for real-world readers. I love the imagery and what the two main characters come to see about living life.

The Little Siren by J.M. Stengl

All right...one more newsletter freebie. ;) The Little Siren is such a cute and sweetly romantic introduction to the Faraway Castle series, and you can grab a copy when you sign up for the author's e-newsletter HERE. I've also started the other series novella, Cinder Ellie (available for purchase), and I'm having a blast revisiting the setting and reading about a heroine with a summer job, as I have one too (just as a breakfast server instead of a maid). 

The Language of Souls by Lena Goldfinch

This is the little story that introduced me to Lena Goldfinch's writing...and now I'm so blessed to call her a dear friend, mentor, encourager, and editing/marketing client. :) As I said in this post back in 2013, The Language of Souls is "a sweet, romantic, lovely fantasy novella."

Ten Thousand Thorns by Suzannah Rowntree

This story is beautiful... Epic, yet sweet. Profound, yet fun. Challenging, yet comforting. Ten Thousand Thorns is a version of Sleeping Beauty that has a life, message, and style all its own. I loved it!
(Read more of my review HERE.)

Bespoke by Amanda Dykes

All the rumors you might have heard are true...this is a lovely little tale! Only a few characters are featured, and yet the author weaves their lives into a braid of tender emotion, loss, and hope.
(Read more of my review HERE.)

One Enchanted Christmas by Melissa Tagg

Christmas in July, anyone? :) Here's another Christmas novella, and this one made my favorites list from 2015. (See the list HERE.)

Dash and Cinder by Bridget Ladd

Another novella that made a favorites list! (See the list HERE.) I do so love fairy-tale retellings. ♥

For Elise by Hayden Wand

This novelette is sweet, tender, and quirky.
(Read more of my review HERE.)

BONUS (Novella Collections I Love)

Five Glass Slippers
(Favorite novella: Broken Glass by Emma Clifton)

Five Enchanted Roses
(Favorite novella: Wither by Savannah Jezowski)

Once
(Favorite novella: Rumpled by J. Grace Pennington)

With This Ring?
(Favorite novella: The Husband Manuever by Karen Witemeyer)