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...

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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. :)

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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!

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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!

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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

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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.


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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.*