I recently finished Tiffany Girl by Deeanne Gist, and I loved it! The romance aspect definitely gets a bit heavy at times, and there's an agenda throughout the story, but I loved it just the same. :) I really enjoyed the historical detail, the unique premise, the creativity, the sweetness of the romance, and Flossie's fascinating journey as a new career girl living on her own for the first time. It's simply engaging and enjoyable historical fiction!
One of the things that stood out to me the most was Flossie's friendliness and her desire to make her fellow boarders feel like family. Granted, she learns some hard lessons as the story progresses, and not everyone is truly how she imagines them to be, but I so admire the clever and heartfelt ways she tries to get everyone together.
For example, Flossie makes hand-painted cards with a question on each to put underneath everyone's plates at the dinner table. Each person then has to direct the question to the person across from them. This facilitates interesting conversation, helps people get to know one another better, and turns what used to be a quiet, somber affair into a fun (or at least more informative!) meal.
This got me to wondering...
How can we help others feel noticed and included?
I'd love to hear if you have tried some creative ideas (or perhaps found one in a book) for making parties, meals, or even a quiet evening special for the people around you!
Deep within the gardens of Faraway Castle sleeps a secret Rosa the gardener has sworn to protect with her life—the legendary princess Zafira. For three years she has hidden the princess almost in plain sight. But two nosy princes threaten to undo the work of a century.
When asked to take his sister's old job as Faraway Castle's Magical-Creature Controller, Prince Briar leaps at the chance. But nothing works out the way he'd expected, and he is far too busy working to gain Rosa's trust to bother about uncovering her secrets. Until dashing Prince Javier of Evora pursues Rosa . . . and Briar suspects the rival prince of dark motives.
I've yet to fully read the first two books in the series (although I have them on my Kindle and am looking forward to catching up!), but after reading the two companion novellas and this third book, I can confidently say that I love Faraway Castle! The atmosphere of this series is absolutely darling and imaginative, and I particularly love all the garden descriptions in The Rose and the Briar.
The author mentioned on Facebook that Butchart Gardens (not far from Victoria, Canada) was part of the inspiration behind Faraway's gardens, and I could definitely see that! So much creativity in plant varieties and layout, and I love all the magical twists in the book. Every plant has so much personality, and I'm especially fond of the topiaries and how they move and interact with Rosa and others. So fun!
The plot offers an interesting take on Sleeping Beauty with its focus on the princess's caretaker...and more than one prince in the mix. Sometimes the nature of Rosa's role feels a little odd, and this is quite a bit different than other versions of the fairy tale, but overall I greatly enjoyed the journey. Rosa is a little prickly at times, but she's still a very likable character, and life gets quite rough for the poor girl as the story progresses! Good thing she doesn't have to face everything alone.
The Rose and the Briar has adorably awkward and sweet romance, a whole menagerie of lovely plants with exciting abilities, and a plot that keeps everyone on their toes between parties to navigate and evil plans to thwart. Reading about Faraway Castle is a delightful retreat to a fairy-tale land populated with cool creatures and some modern twists. Excited to read more of the series!
*With thanks to the author for providing me with a complimentary e-ARC of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are my own.*
Land a FREE e-copy of The Little Siren (a series companion novella) when you sign up for the author's e-newsletter HERE! (It's a sweet story!)
This isn't the first time I've featured Haunting Joy on the blog... However, it's the very first time you can get the complete series in one gorgeous book, and I'm so excited to be featuring that awesome news on behalf of my friend Lena Goldfinch! :)
Today, you can get all the details on this new release, where to purchase it, the author herself, and a special giveaway. ♥ But hurry, as this is a quick blitz, and you don't have long to enter the drawing!
About the Book
This complete series edition includes Haunting Joy Books 1 & 2 and Chain Reaction, a prequel short story.
The ghost of Beth sweeps seventeen-year-old Joy into an extraordinary journey to complete some unfinished business...and challenges her to make some dangerous choices. Like calling Joy’s high-school crush, Nick, for help.
A soft, sliding kind of sigh wakes me up. It’s hardly a noise at all. I blink to clear my sticky, early-morning vision. I know I heard a sound, an almost human-sounding sigh, coming from the corner of my room. As I slide my gaze that way, a chill slithers over me. My room feels creepy and strange. I peer into the corner, and the white dress is no longer heaped in a haphazard pile on my armchair. It’s laid out nice and neat, with the straps up over the back cushion and the skirt spread over the seat. The flip-flops are sitting side by side in front of the chair, toes pointed toward me. Like there’s an empty girl, in an empty dress, looking right at me.
Book 2 I step out of the shower into my steamy bathroom. Then I see it. I whip a towel around me so fast I almost wipe out on the tile floor. Because apparently I’m being haunted again... By a boy who scrawled KYLE across my bathroom mirror with his ghostly finger.
Joy’s new ghost, Kyle, crashes into her life, disrupting her senior year...and complicating her relationship with Nick. Which is already complicated enough.
Haunting Joy: The Complete Series is part slightly spooky ghost story and part sweet romance wrapped in one. For teens and young adults.
LENA GOLDFINCH is the Amazon-bestselling author of books for teens and historical inspirational romance for adults. She's always been a sucker for a good old-fashioned romance, whether it's a novel or short story, young adult or adult, fantasy or realistic, contemporary or historical. Lena has been a finalist in several national writing contests, including the RWA Golden Heart and ACFW Genesis contests.
Enter this spooky-sweet giveaway for a chance to win bookish prizes! One grand-prize winner will receive a $15 Amazon.com gift card and a paperback copy of the Haunting Joy omnibus (open to US residents only). Two runners-up will each receive an ebook copy of the Haunting Joy omnibus in Kindle (.mobi) or .epub format (open internationally). Void where prohibited. Good luck!
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.
Congratulations to the winner of the Swell Time for a Swing Dance giveaway...
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. :)
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...
"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
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... :)
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,
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,
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.*