Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Review + GIVEAWAY: Fetching Sweetness


Fetching Sweetness
By Dana Mentink
Love Unleashed #2
Harvest House, 2016


Summary

Standing between Stephanie and her dream is one hundred pounds of lovable trouble.

It should have been so simple for Stephanie Pink: Meet up with Agnes Wharton in a small town in California, retrieve the reclusive author's valuable new manuscript, and be promoted to a full-fledged literary agent.

But Agnes's canine companion, Sweetness, decides to make a break for it before Stephanie can claim her prize. Until Agnes has Sweetness safely back at home in Eagle Cliff, Washington, Stephanie will never set eyes on the manuscript she needs to make her dreams come true.

When Stephanie tracks the runaway mutt to a campground, she meets Rhett Hastings---a man also on the run from a different life and a costly mistake. Rhett agrees to help Stephanie search for the missing dog . . . thus launching a surprising string of adventures and misadventures.

Once Sweetness gets added to the mix, it's a recipe for love and loss, merriment and mayhem, fun and faith in the backwoods of the Pacific Northwest.

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/2auLee3


My thoughts

Without a doubt, Fetching Sweetness by Dana Mentink is one of the most enjoyable books I’ve ever read. It’s an exquisite little gem, a wonderful feel-good book – and, although I didn’t know it at the time, it really is possible to read an entire book with a smile on your face. In fact, I’d love to meet Dana because anyone who can write like this must be quite a character! Fetching Sweetness is #2 in the Love Unleashed series, but stands alone.

Part of the story takes place in Big Thumb, California – “south of Redding and north of nowhere” – and the rest involves a road trip up the Pacific Coast, which provides great opportunities for Stephanie and Rhett to gradually open up. There’s several hilarious moments also, thanks to Sweetness.

Rhett is a great leading man, simultaneously strong and vulnerable, arrogant and humble, “a man who was bent on living out the words in his Bible, determined to climb out from beneath the shadow of his sins.” And Stephanie is such a fun and unique character, with a passion for something to which all readers can relate, and that’s books. Stephanie loved the feeling books gave her, “a feeling that there was goodness and love and justice in the world, even if it was only fictional.”

And then there’s Sweetness, not really a secondary character because he plays such a pivotal role. Even cat people like me can’t help but fall in love with this guy. The relationship between Rhett and Sweetness is especially touching. “What does a dog see? he wondered. Dogs didn’t care if you were wearing wingtip shoes or flip-flops from the dollar store. They looked at you and saw the intangibles, the man inside. . . . What did a dog know of human failure? He just kept looking at you without bringing up your past or expecting you to do the right thing.”

Rhett and Stephanie are an unlikely match, yet they have one thing in common: they are each pursuing their own life agenda, one confident he was following God’s direction and the other without God in the equation. That’s pretty close to real life, if you ask me! And a little uncomfortable when I think how often I’ve been guilty of exactly that.

“Fiction tosses up the truth about life that
we’re too blind or preoccupied to see.”

How true are Stephanie’s words, for not only does Fetching Sweetness focus on how God’s plans trump ours every time, but that it often takes someone else to point out the obvious things that we fail to see.

Highly recommended.

Please click on the title – Sit, Stay, Love – to see my review of the previous book in this excellent series.

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Dana Mentink lives in California, where the weather is golden and the cheese is divine. Dana is an American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year finalist for romantic suspense and an award winner in the Pacific Northwest Writers Literary Contest. Her suspense novel, Betrayal in the Badlands, earned a Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award.

Besides writing, she busies herself teaching third and fourth grade. Mostly, she loves to be home with her husband, two daughters, a dog with social anxiety problems, a chubby box turtle, and a feisty parakeet.


Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Litfuse landing page:

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GIVEAWAY

To enter the drawing for Fetching Sweetness, please click on this link and share my Facebook post, then leave a comment here. Has a pet blessed your life, present or in the past?

BE SURE to leave your name and your email address in a safe format - [at] and [dot] - for the drawing. E-mail required for entry. Contest ends at midnight PST on Monday, August 29. Winner will be chosen by random.org and contacted by e-mail.

Eligibility: US residents

Spotlight – The Case of the Crafty Christmas Crooks




The Case of the Crafty Christmas Crooks
By Cindy Vincent
Series: Buckley and Bogey Cat Detective Caper
Genre: Christian, Children's, Cat-themed Mystery, Suspense
Publisher: Whodunit Press
Publication date: October 11, 2013
Number of pages: 178


I enjoy Cindy’s Buckley & Bogey Cat Detective series so very much and can’t wait to share my thoughts about this Christmas-themed book very soon. I couldn’t finish it in time to write the thorough review that it deserves today, so instead, I’m sharing Cindy’s guest post.

Please notice that Cindy has made the ebook version of The Case of the Crafty Christmas Crooks available at no cost through August 28 (click on title for its Amazon’s page). There’s also a giveaway featuring a light-up angel ornament and books.

Now see what Buckley and Bogey are up to . . .


Summary

Buckley and Bogey, Cat Detectives, find their next case hits a little too close to home. Because someone has been breaking into houses and stealing all the Christmas presents! And the first two robberies even took place in their very own neighborhood. Holy Catnip! Of course, the boys leap in on all fours to investigate right away. Then it isn't long before they realize they are dealing with some real criminal masterminds, since these burglars know exactly how to cover their tracks. Plus, the crooks have the whole town of St. Gertrude on edge and they're threatening to ruin Christmas for everyone.

But figuring out the identity of the Christmas Crooks isn't the only mystery around. After all, Buckley had just been adopted from the cat shelter this year, and this was the first he'd ever heard about Christmas. And he quickly finds out there is a lot to learn! From Christmas trees to Santa Claus, and jingle bells to the birth of baby Jesus, the real meaning of Christmas is a mystery to him. But he and Bogey can't really enjoy any of it until the Christmas Crooks are caught. That's because it becomes very clear, very quick — these Christmas Crooks have set their sights on the boys' house, too! And the burglars are headed straight for their door. Holy Mackerel!



The Story Behind the Story or the Story of the
Real-life Buckley and Bogey,
the Inspiration for This Series

My real life cats, Buckley and Bogey, were the inspiration for this book and the series. We had adopted Bogey from a local animal shelter when he was a kitten, and he joined our household of three much older female cats. Of course, Bogey wanted to play 24/7, but the older girls had no intention of playing with him. And Bogey, having come from a litter of five boys, liked to wrestle and roughhouse. We soon realized that Bogey needed a brother. So we adopted Buckley from another animal rescue agency, and the two boys have been best friends and inseparable ever since.

As they seemed to explore our house together every night, we joked about them "running surveillance" to make sure the place was secure. That's when the idea hit me — Buckley and Bogey Cat Detective Capers.

The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. Especially when I realized how very different the boys were. While they're both black cats with gold eyes, Bogey is sleek and wiry, whereas Buckley is huge and fluffy. Bogey is laid back and fearless, and Buckley is anxious about pretty much everything. Bogey is the expert and Buckley is the rookie. Together their personalities play off each other beautifully, much like Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Only at a children's level, and well, at a really adorable level, as both boys are such a joy, and happy to cuddle and purr at a moment's notice. So, with cats usually sleeping near my keyboard, I started writing their cat capers. Book four was released just last year and I’ve got book number five outlined. Funny, but here I thought I was doing something nice by rescuing a couple of homeless cats, and I ended up being the one with the most blessings . . .

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Cindy Vincent, M.A. Ed., is the award-winning author of the Buckley and Bogey Cat Detective Capers, a mystery series for kids and cat-lovers that features the adventures of two black cat detectives. And yes, as she is often asked, Cindy used her own black cats, Buckley and Bogey, as the inspiration for the series, since they seem to run surveillance on her house each and every night.

Cindy is also the creator of the Mysteries by Vincent murder mystery party games and the Daisy Diamond Detective Series games for girls, along with the Daisy Diamond Detective novels, which are a spin-off from the games. She lives in Houston, TX with her husband and an assortment of fantastic felines. Cindy is a self-professed “Christmas-a-holic,” and usually starts planning and preparing in March for her ever-expanding, “extreme” Christmas lights display every year . . .














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August 22--Mochas, Mysteries and Meows
August 23--Pause for Tales
August 24--Christy's Cozy Corners | The Power of Words
August 25--Singing Librarian Books
August 26--Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen
August 27--Katie's Clean Book Collection | Bibliophile Reviews


Monday, August 22, 2016

Review: (un)Natural Mom


(un)Natural Mom:  Why You Are the Perfect Mom for Your Kids
By Hettie Brittz
David C. Cook, 2016


Summary

Do you feel like you're the only mom who serves store-bought birthday treats, dreads school plays, and misses the days of going to the bathroom by herself?

Unnatural Mom gives you permission to say that mothering doesn't always come naturally to you. Parenting expert and self-proclaimed unnatural mom Hettie Brittz helps you . . .

-Recognize how unrealistic our culture's standards of mothering are
-Move beyond the myths of "supermom"
-Complete a profile to determine your own parenting style
-Understand and forgive the mothers who hurt you
-Embrace your capabilities as well as your challenges

Come find new hope in discovering that every mother has unique gifts. In Christ, the "unnatural" mom becomes the supernatural mom who is just right for her family!

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/2aZi9bM


My thoughts

An (un)Natural Mom is any mom who finds
some everyday aspect of motherhood so challenging that
she experiences shame, fear, or even despair.

(un)Natural Mom by Hettie Britzz is a gem that has the potential to be a wonderfully helpful – even life changing – resource for any mom who takes the time to read it. In fact, the greatest compliment I can bestow is to say that I wish Hettie had written it 38 years ago. I wanted to review this book because there are several young mothers in my church, and (un)Natural Mom is a book that I will recommend every chance I get – and even plan to give it as baby gifts occasionally.

My son was the first baby I had ever held – talk about inexperience and not knowing what to expect! In chapter 2, “The Counterfeit Call to Be “Natural,” Hettie shares seven myths drawn from personal experience – man-made rules heaped upon mothers by society. I’m glad to say that I didn’t fall for all seven, but that’s all I’m admitting to.

Hettie writes with intelligence, honesty, humor and passion, and there’s not one boring moment. I especially like how she can laugh at herself. If we are totally honest, I suspect many moms reading this can relate to Hettie’s question after the birth of her daughter: “Why did I love her to the point of being willing to die for her, while finding the daily baby-care chores unfulfilling?”

Of great benefit is a free online tool called Tall Trees Parenting Profile (T2P2), which helps us determine our parenting temperament and then embrace God’s design for us as individual moms. This is a great concept and let me again say how much I wish this had been available years ago! Four chapters in the book parallel this profile, and moms are just like these trees – “100 percent natural and yet diverse in our beauty.” Rather than describing each type, Hettie makes it much more interesting by fictionally focusing on one specific mom, recognizing her struggles, and offering grace.

One thought that especially spoke to me is … don’t force yourself or let the expectations of others force you into a “natural” style that isn’t you, for the Master Designer made you to fit the design of your children. “Only the One who calls us by name has the right to tell us how we should be. The beauty is that He does not tell us without enabling us as well. He doesn’t demand what we don’t have. And we always have enough by virtue of His free gifts.”

And with God in the equation, (un)Natural becomes (super)Natural. As a mom who has raised her children and enjoys the godly adults they have become, I cherish this quote . . .

A (super)Natural Mom knows that her failures won’t
stop God from keeping all the promises He made
concerning her life and the lives of her children.

Hettie wrote about something else that touched me in a special way and I can’t end this review without mentioning it, as adoption may play a role in one or both of my children’s future . . .

The mom who chooses the adoption route, whether she can or cannot conceive a baby, experiences a pregnancy of its own kind. The approval by the adoption agency may be her “double pink stripe.” Her pregnancy can last for years. She also has a readied room, a baby bag by the door, and a supply of formula. Her waters break when the adoption agency finally calls with good news. This unnatural pregnancy is supernatural in my book.

Highly recommended.

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Hettie Brittz is an author, international speaker, and one of South Africa's foremost voices on parenting advice. She is the developer of the Evergreen Parenting Course and Tall Trees Profiles. Hettie and her husband, Gospel singer Louis Brittz, live in South Africa with their three children.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Litfuse landing page:
http://litfusegroup.com/author/hbrittz

Spotlight (+ Ebook GIVEAWAY): The Beauty Series, Books 1 &2




The Beauty Series
By Carol E. Keen


Beauty for Ashes

Jazz is being forced to move and her mom has given her a major task to accomplish. She has to pack up the attic. What Jazz finds in the attic changes her life in ways she never imagined, and opens her up to life altering possibilities.







Monstrous Beauty

Ethan’s father was a piece of work, to put it mildly. His father managed to become quite wealthy before he died, yet he left Ethan deeply damaged in more ways than one. Can the love and care of a strange young woman with a past of her own free him, or is he doomed to never change?


Purchase your copy here.

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Carol E. Keen currently resides in Alabama with her husband and family. She spends her time writing, reading, working on photography, and working with her much loved critters. She started creating stories to share with others at the age of two years old. She was published for several years in FAMA magazine (Freshwater and Marine Aquarium) as a contributing editor. She published her first book on CD, called Simply Seahorses. She is overjoyed to be publishing her fiction to share with you now. Carol currently has more books in the “works.” Please feel free to follow her for updates.

On a personal note: Carol really enjoys coffee and a good book.

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Guest Post from Carol E. Keen

Can you believe it? I’m on my second tour with Celebrate Lit! Wow! I’m floored and happy and close to tears too. I have to say a HUGE thank you to Sandy and Denise for their encouragement and patience and help.

Today we are talking about my first series, The Beauty Series. The first book, Beauty For Ashes is the very first published fiction book that I have released. It started out as a contest entry. When it didn’t make the winning selection, I expanded it and had several trusted people read it. It was well received over all, and so I braved the scary world of navigation Amazon and published it.

Beauty For Ashes is based on Cinderella, and it was a challenge to write. I had always had some questions about why certain things weren’t covered in that story, so in my version, I added them. I answered my unanswered questions. I also have always felt that Cinderella had to be Christian to survive what she did and still be who she was.

My third published book is the second book in this series, and one of my favorite fairytales of all time. Monstrous Beauty is based on Beauty and the Beast. As with Beauty For Ashes, I always felt a “back story” to what drove the Beast was missing. In this version I have added all that, as well as having other answers to why “Beauty” was in this situation to start with. How would either of them relied on God to get through their situations?

I had a lot of fun writing Monstrous Beauty, and I’m looking forward to the next book I plan to write in this series.

Thank you so much for joining me on this adventure, and please feel free to ask questions!

Blessings, Carol

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GIVEAWAY

To celebrate her tour, Carol is giving away three ebook copies of the Beauty Series with bookmark. Enter the giveaway below:




Blog Stops

August 14: Back Porch Reads
August 15: Pause for Tales
August 17: A Greater Yes
August 17: inklings and notions
August 18: Karen’s Krayons
August 20: simpleharvestreads
August 22: The Power of Words
August 24: ArtisticNobody