Thursday, January 17, 2019

Review + Tour GIVEAWAY: Sarah's Search for Treasure by Bertha Schwartz


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Welcome to the circulating blog tour and giveaway for The Searchers series of middle grade historical fiction by Bertha Schwartz, hosted by JustRead tours!


ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: Sarah's Search for Treasure (Searchers #3)
Author: Bertha Schwartz
Publisher: Ambassador International
Release Date: December 1, 2018
Genre: Middle Grade Historical Fiction

It’s 1849, and when Sarah’s papa and brother strike out for gold, she is stuck at home to help take care of the family and farm. This task quickly turns dangerous as the Gold Rush rises in frenzy around them. Neighbors abandon their livestock and the family must fend off half-started miners ready to steal everything they have. Sarah decides to turn her circumstances into a business—feeding the miners in exchange for gold and labor.

Sarah’s ingenuity and leadership are tested as she faces thieves, mysteries, and violent miners. Trouble closes in on all sides, and Sarah must make tough decisions on her own.

Soon Sarah learns that true treasure is not always gold, and that the greatest adventures can happen without even leaving home.

PURCHASE: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Ambassador


MY THOUGHTS

Sarah’s Search for Treasure concludes an excellent faith-based adventure series for middle grade readers, one that not only entertains, but provides opportunities for discussion and the learning of important life lessons. Each story covers different historical elements of the 1800s and would work well for personal reading or in an educational setting.

Sarah’s Search for Treasure focuses on California’s Gold Rush years and its impact on Sarah and her family – a wife and five children left behind while the father and oldest son are gone for eight months in their quest for gold. There’s danger and adventure, with some hard topics lightly touched upon – such as alcohol, thievery, lying, prostitution. I loved the focus on the home front during this time, especially the humorous situation of neighbors leaving their animals with Sarah’s family as they left. Fourteen-year-old Sarah steps up to the responsibility placed on her and is simply delightful in her diligence, courage and creativity.

This story gives a good glimpse at human nature regarding wealth, a situation that brings out both good and bad characteristics. Faith is woven throughout, with some inspirational life changes along the way – and most importantly, the realization of what true treasure is.

Recommended to middle-grade readers and their families.

I received a copy of this book through JustRead Tours. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

 
BOOKS IN THIS SERIES





ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bertha Schwartz is a Swiss Amish transplant to the beautiful farmland of Nappanee, Indiana. She loves spending time with family and friends, including fifty-two nieces and nephews. Her hobbies include scrapbooking, sewing, and reading. Raised near the lovely Swiss city of Berne, Indiana, Swiss is her mother-language. Languages and different dialects are a special interest of hers.



the searchers series giveaway

TOUR GIVEAWAY

(1) winner will receive:
  • a set of all 3 books in The Searchers series (US only)
Enter via the Rafflecopter giveaway below. Giveaway will begin at midnight January 9, 2019 and lasts through 11:59pm February 4, 2019. Void where prohibited by law. Winners will be notified within a week of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.



Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops - and remember to visit the tour each week for more posts.
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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Review + Tour GIVEAWAY: Murder of Ravens by Paty Jager




Murder of Ravens
By Paty Jager
Gabriel Hawke #1
Windtree Press, 2019


Summary

The ancient Indian art of tracking is his greatest strength…

And also his biggest weakness.

Fish and Wildlife State Trooper Gabriel Hawke believes he’s chasing poachers. However, he comes upon a wildlife biologist standing over a body that is wearing a wolf tracking collar.

He uses master tracker skills taught to him by his Nez Perce grandfather to follow clues on the mountain. Paper trails and the whisper of rumors in the rural community where he works, draw Hawke to a conclusion that he finds bitter.

Arresting his brother-in-law ended his marriage, could solving this murder ruin a friendship?

Amazon


My thoughts

Murder of Ravens is a fresh and unique mystery by new-to-me author Paty Jager. This traditional mystery, book #1 in a new series, has good character depth and features a strong Native American character. I can’t explain why, but from the time I read my first Tony Hillerman novel many years ago, I’ve been drawn to mysteries with Native American lead characters, and there’s not a lot to choose from. I thoroughly enjoyed this well-written story and am eager to read more of Jager’s writing.

Murder of Raven’s Gabriel Hawke – a Nez Perce/ Cayuse American Indian – is well-drawn, smart, and likeable. I found his gift for tracking fascinating. This skill that his grandfather taught him is a natural fit for his job as an Oregon Fish and Wildlife State Trooper. In a time where most investigations rely on CSI-type science, Gabriel’s keen awareness of his surroundings and attention to detail are refreshing. In fact, when it comes to technology, his digital camera, radio, and cell phone are all that he uses while on duty.

Another interesting facet to Gabriel’s character is that, in the not-too-distant past, his marriage fell apart because he had to arrest his brother-in-law, and a similar situation threatens to come into play here. I also liked how, rather than being all about the murder’s identity, the focus is more on the way things come together at the end, with a surprise or two along the way.

I thoroughly enjoyed Murder of Ravens – some mild profanity being the only negative – and hope for many more books in this series. I also hope to read Jager’s highly-rated Shandra Higheagle series.

Recommended.

I received a copy of this book through Great Escapes Tours. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.


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Paty Jager is an award-winning author of 35 novels, 8 novellas, and numerous anthologies of murder mystery and western romance. All her work has Western or Native American elements in them, along with hints of humor and engaging characters. Her Shandra Higheagle mystery series has been a runner-up in the RONE Award Mystery category, and a finalist in the Daphne du Maurier.




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GIVEAWAY





Review + Tour GIVEAWAY: Kelly's Search for Family by Bertha Schwartz


the searchers series banner

Welcome to the circulating blog tour and giveaway for The Searchers series of middle grade historical fiction by Bertha Schwartz, hosted by JustRead tours!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: Kelly's Search for Family (Searchers #2)
Author: Bertha Schwartz
Publisher: Ambassador International
Release Date: December 1, 2018
Genre: Middle Grade Historical Fiction

It's 1880 and Kelly lives alone with her Papa, a lighthouse-keeper in Massachusetts. She longs to know more about her Mama, and Papa has finally promised to tell her the truth on her fourteenth birthday. Before Kelly can learn much though, dangerous men the notorious Blackburn Brothers arrive unannounced and take Papa away. Kelly is left alone and responsible for the lighthouse.

Granny, a former slave and family friend, learns of Kelly's plight and decides to help find the answers to her questions. Mysterious letters, snow storms, and violence threaten Kelly's safe haven as new friends help unearth old secrets in Kelly's lighthouse home. How can she bring her papa back? Who is her true family?

PURCHASE: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Ambassador


MY THOUGHTS

Kelly’s Search for Family is the second stand-alone story in an impressive series for young readers. I would have loved these stories had they been available when I was growing up, and I even enjoyed them as an adult. They are well written, provide good historical detail – and, because of the subject matter, they create excellent opportunities for discussion. I would recommend them for pleasure reading, book reports, or homeschooling resources.

One reason I’ve been looking forward to Kelly’s Search for Family is because of its atmospheric setting – a lighthouse on a small island off the coast of Massachusetts. Kelly’s father is about to convey some long-sought information to fourteen-year-old Kelly about her mother, when he is suddenly taken away by some mysterious men.

The importance of faith and the key part that prayer plays in that faith are clearly conveyed in this story. Timeless themes of forgiveness and a faith that sustains in the midst of hardship are also woven throughout.

Recommended.

I received a copy of this book through JustRead Tours. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

Please click on the title to see my review of the previous book, Daisy's Search for Freedom

 
BOOKS IN THIS SERIES





ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bertha Schwartz is a Swiss Amish transplant to the beautiful farmland of Nappanee, Indiana. She loves spending time with family and friends, including fifty-two nieces and nephews. Her hobbies include scrapbooking, sewing, and reading. 

Raised near the lovely Swiss city of Berne, Indiana, Swiss is her mother-language. Languages and different dialects are a special interest of hers.



the searchers series giveaway

TOUR GIVEAWAY

(1) winner will receive:
  • a set of all 3 books in The Searchers series (US only)
Enter via the Rafflecopter giveaway below. Giveaway will begin at midnight January 9, 2019 and lasts through 11:59pm February 4, 2019. Void where prohibited by law. Winners will be notified within a week of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.



Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops - and remember to visit the tour each week for more posts.
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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Review + Tour GIVEAWAY: With This Pledge by Tamera Alexander


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Welcome to the Blog Tour & Giveaway for With This Pledge by Tamera Alexander, the first full novel of the Carnton series, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!


ABOUT THE BOOK

9780718081836 Title: With This Pledge
Series: Carnton, Book 1  
Author: Tamera Alexander  
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Release Date: January 8, 2019  
Genre: Historical Romance  

History takes on vivid life in the stunning first full-length installment of USA TODAY bestselling Tamera Alexander’s new series, The Carnton Novels.  

What can a woman—a mere governess—do against the scourge of slavery?

Elizabeth “Lizzie” Clouston’s quietly held principles oppose those of the Southern Cause—but when forty thousand soldiers converge on the fields of Franklin, Tennessee, the war demands an answer. The Carnton home where she is governess is converted into a Confederate field hospital, and Lizzie is called upon to assist the military doctor with surgeries that determine life or death. Faced with the unimaginable, she must summon fortitude, even as she fears for the life of Towny, her fiancĂ© and lifelong friend.

As a young soldier lies dying in Lizzie’s arms, she vows to relay his final words to his mother, but knows little more than the boy’s first name. That same night, decorated Mississippi sharpshooter Captain Roland Ward Jones extracts a different promise from Lizzie: that she intervene should the surgeon decide to amputate his leg.

Lizzie is nothing if not a woman of her word, earning the soldiers’ respect as she tends to the wounded within Carnton’s walls. None is more admiring than Captain Jones, who doesn’t realize she is pledged to another. But as Lizzie’s heart softens toward the Confederate captain, she discovers that his moral ground is at odds with her own. Now torn between love, principles, and promises made, she struggles to be true to her heart while standing for what she knows is right—no matter the cost.

From the pages of history and the personal accounts of those who endured the Battle of Franklin, Tamera Alexander weaves the real-life love letters between Captain Roland Ward Jones and Miss Elizabeth Clouston into a story of unlikely romance first kindled amid the shadows of war.

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | CBD | Book Depository



MY THOUGHTS

With This Pledge is a masterpiece – a literary work of art that, like an intricate painting, engages your senses as you discover more and more through its complexity, and it forever lingers in your thoughts. Through what must have been exhaustive research, Tamera Alexander has fleshed out real-life events and characters into a novel that entertains, resonates with the reader, and challenges your thinking. With This Pledge ranks among the most moving of Alexander’s novels and is the first to go on this year’s “best of the best” list.

Odd how war had a way of leveling life. Of making
what once seemed so important – not quite so significant.
And in turn, it made what truly mattered – people,
taking care of one another, life – of utmost urgency.

Set in Franklin, Tennessee, With This Pledge is a story of hope in the midst of tragedy, multilayered in both characters and plot. Viewing a devastating battle in the distance from the balcony of the plantation where she works as governess, Lizzie is drawn into the harsh aftermath of war as the home becomes a hospital. The atmosphere of tragedy, grief and loss is palpable – as is that of strength, courage and sacrifice. Through Alexander’s exquisite writing, the romance of Roland and Lizzie is a touching bright spot in the midst of turmoil.

In a war where North and South both believed God was on their side, where atrocities were committed on both sides, Alexander’s writing challenges conventional thinking about the morality of slavery and leaves readers with much to reflect upon. And so relevant for us today is the fact that believing in God doesn’t prevent asking the timeless question of Where is God in the midst of all this?

Very highly recommended.

I received a copy of this book through JustRead Tours. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.




EXCERPT

Head HERE for an exclusive excerpt!



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

alexandert

Tamera Alexander is a USA Today bestselling novelist whose works have been awarded and nominated for numerous industry-leading honors, including the Christy Award (two-time winner, seven-time finalist), the RITA Award (two-time winner, four-time finalist), the Carol Award, the Maggie Award, the Booksellers Best Award, and Library Journal's top distinction, among others. 

After seventeen years in Colorado, Tamera and her husband now reside in Nashville, Tennessee, where they live a short distance from Belmont Mansion and Belle Meade Plantation, the setting of Tamera’s two USA Today bestselling Southern series.  

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram



TOUR GIVEAWAY

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(1) winner will win a release copy of With This Pledge + $10 Amazon Gift Card

Enter via the Rafflecopter giveaway below. Giveaway will begin at midnight January 14, 2019 and last through 11:59 pm January 28, 2019. US only for a print copy of the book. International winners will receive an ebook. Gift card prize will be issued as an e-gift card. Winners will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.



Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.
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Spotlight + Tour GIVEAWAY: Handmade Hearts by June McCrary Jacobs


Handmade Hearts blog blitz

Welcome to the Blog Blitz & Giveaway for Handmade Hearts by June McCrary Jacobs, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Handmade Hearts Cover.jpg Title: Handmade Hearts  
Author: June McCrary Jacobs  
Publisher: JMJ Story Stitcher Books  
Release Date: December 18, 2018  
Genre: Historical Romance 

'Handmade Hearts' is an historical romance short story set in New Orleans during World War II and was inspired by a true story.

Toward the end of his life, the author asked her Uncle 'Allen' how he met his wife. He shared about how he met 'Irene' at a church social in their neighborhood in New Orleans in the early 1940s. He had been seriously wounded in Guadalcanal in the South Pacific as a young Marine and was using crutches to get around as best he could.

He had many inner wounds which needed time to heal, too. He had no way of knowing when they first met that Irene had suffered her own wartime tragedy. She bravely sought to keep her grief locked away deep inside because thinking about her loss caused her even more sorrow. She needed to be strong because she was the breadwinner for her small family.

Times were tough, but these two unique individuals made it through each day with inner fortitude, determination, and the sincere hope of something greater just over the horizon.

This inspirational short story follows the growth of Allen and Irene's relationship beginning with their chance meeting and leading forward to a lifetime spent together. 'Handmade Hearts' was created to honor this unique couple's love for and devotion to each other in a relationship which spanned seven decades.  

PURCHASE LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon


EXCERPT:

      "Wow-ee," whispered Allen under his breath to no one but himself. "She is one classy lady."
      As he lumbered home, he reviewed the evening's events with silent approval. Irene's lovely face was imprinted on his mind. Her ivory skin was flawless, and her sparkly hazel eyes were expressive and fit just right on her heart-shaped face. Soft, light brown curls framed her wholesome face, and her cute hat was the perfect accessory for the church social. When Irene smiled at him, Allen felt at peace. After the time they had spent together this evening, he somehow sensed everything would turn out fine.
      As he made his way through the neighborhood, his thoughts remained on his new acquaintance. Irene appeared to be close to his age, almost twenty-one, but she possessed a maturity garnered from surviving difficult trials. She was at least a foot shorter than he, making her five feet three inches tall at the most. Her petite figure was slightly rounded, which Allen found appealing.
      He perceived Irene Carston as an elegant lady filled with compassion and intelligence. Now he realized he had been so involved with his own discomfort and anxiety he had failed to ask Irene anything about herself. She’d been an empathetic listener, and her idea about his checking out another branch of service was superb. Although she hadn't offered any details of her life, Allen sensed she was suffering from a deep heartache.
      Allen would admit he had never felt this comfortable around a woman other than his mother in his life. Raised on a small farm in rural Mississippi, he and his brothers had worked extremely long hours to keep the farm operating. They had not had the time or money to date. Once the family moved to New Orleans before the war, the three brothers were busy finishing high school and earning a living. There was not much time left over for dating.
      When the unwelcomed news of the Pearl Harbor attack arrived, the young men willingly prepared to go off to war. Despite being uneducated and poor, Allen's parents had instilled in their sons the principles of honesty, respect, and kindness in their dealings with others—especially women. His mother would have been disappointed to know her youngest son failed to ask Irene about her own life.




ABOUT THE AUTHOR

author photo_black & white

June McCrary Jacobs was the winner of Cedar Fort Publishing's 2013 Holiday Tale Contest for her debut novella, 'A Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom'. 'Robin's Reward', her first full-length novel, was set in her favorite location in California—the Mendocino coastal region. This book is the first installment of the 'Bonita Creek Trilogy'.

June's debut middle-grade novel, 'RES-Q Tyler Stop', an historical novel set in Sonoma County, California, in 1968, will be released in the spring of 2019. The second installment of the 'Bonita Creek Trilogy', 'Penny's Promise', will be released in late 2019 or early 2020.

June's original sewing, quilting, and stitchery designs have been published in over one hundred books, magazines, and on sewing industry blogs in the past decade. When she's not writing, reading, blogging, or sewing, June enjoys cooking, walking, visiting art and history museums, and touring historic homes and gardens.

CONNECT WITH JUNE: Blog | Facebook | Goodreads | Goodreads Blog | Amazon



TOUR GIVEAWAY

handmade hearts giveaway

(1) winner will win an ebook copy of Handmade Hearts + $15 Amazon Gift Code 
(2) additional winners will each receive an ebook copy of Handmade Hearts

Enter via the Rafflecopter giveaway below. Giveaway will begin at midnight January 15, 2019 and last through 11:59 pm January 22, 2019. Open internationally except where prohibited by law. Winners will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.



Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!
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Monday, January 14, 2019

Spotlight + Tour GIVEAWAY: Moon Games by Shelly Frome




Moon Games
By Shelly Frome
Milford House Press, 2018


Summary

At the outset, Miranda Davis has nothing much going for her. The tourists are long gone by October in the quaint Carolina town of Black Mountain, her realty business is at a standstill, and her weekend stint managing the local tavern offers little to pull her out of the doldrums. When prominent church lady Cloris Raintree offers a stipend to look into the whereabouts of a missing girl hiker on the Q.T, Miranda, along with her partner Harry (an unemployed features writer) agree.

But then it all backfires. A burly figure shambles down a mountain slope with a semi-conscious girl draped over his shoulder. Miranda’s attempts to uncover Cloris Raintree’s true motives become near impossible as she puts up one smokescreen after another, including a slip of the tongue regarding an incident in Havana. The local police keep stonewalling and Harry is of little help.

Tarot cards left on Cloris’ doorstep and arcane prompts on her e-mail only exacerbate the situation. Growing more desperate over the captive girl’s fate, Miranda comes across a link to a cold case of arson and murder. With the advent of the dark of the moon, she is summoned to “Tower Time” as this twisty tale continues to run its course.


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Shelly Frome is a member of Mystery Writers of America, a professor of dramatic arts emeritus at the University of Connecticut, a former professional actor, a writer of crime novels and books on theater and film. He is also a features writer for Gannett Media’s Black Mountain News.

His fiction includes Sun Dance for Andy Horn, Lilac Moon, Twilight of the Drifter, Tinseltown Riff, Murder Run, and The Secluded Village Murders.  Among his works of non-fiction are The Actors Studio and texts on the art and craft of screenwriting and writing for the stage.

Moon Games is his latest foray into the world of crime and the amateur sleuth. He lives in Black Mountain, North Carolina.

WebsiteFacebookTwitter Goodreads

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GIVEAWAY



Thursday, January 10, 2019

Review + Tour GIVEAWAY: A Literal Mess by J. C. Kenney




A Literal Mess
By J. C. Kenney
Allie Cobb Series #1
Lyrical Underground, 2019


Summary

The first book in a new series featuring Allie Cobb brings the New York literary agent back to her Hoosier home town where a mysterious death keeps everyone on spoiler alert . . .

Allie Cobb left home for the literary circles of Manhattan to make her name out from under the shadow of her legendary father. Now his death brings her and her rescue cat Ursula back to the southern Indiana town of Rushing Creek, population: 3,216. But a tragic new chapter hits the presses when the body of her father’s hard-drinking, #1 bestselling client is found under the historic town bridge. The local police suspect foul play and their prime candidate for murder is the author’s daughter—Allie’s longtime friend.

Determined to clear her bestie, Allie goes into fact-checking amateur detective mode while trying to ignore the usual rumormongers. Those with means, motive, and opportunity include the vic’s ex-wife, his rejected girlfriend, the mayor, and a rival agent trying to mooch clients. With a rugged genealogist distracting her and the imminent Fall Festival about to send tourists descending on their once-peaceful hamlet, Allie needs to stay alive long enough to get a read on a killer ready to close the book on a new victim: Allie . . .

Amazon –  Apple –  Google –   Kobo –  Nook


My thoughts

When the story entertains, it’s fun to discover a new series and new-to-me author – and that’s exactly what I found in A Literal Mess by J. C. Kenney. The story is well written and involves some interesting family dynamics. The small-town setting of Rushing Creek, Indiana had a comfortable, cozy feel to it and I loved the idea of Allie Cobb returning home, even if it was for her father’s funeral.

At the heart of the story is Allie, a very likeable leading lady who is loyal to her family and friends. And she has the essential qualities that make a good amateur detective; she’s intelligent, methodical, has an eye for details, and is a good listener. Readers will love that the “family business” is book related, with Allie carrying on her dad’s legacy as a literary agent.

A Literal Mess begins a new series, and there’s a good blend between establishing the series foundation through setting and characters, and then the mystery plot itself. The murder victim was a successful author, both client and friend to Allie’s dad – and also the father of her best friend, Sloane.

Sloane’s relationship with her father had been
problematic at best and borderline abusive at worst.

The process of solving murders is always more comfortable for me when the victim wasn’t likeable, which was almost the case here, yet it’s bittersweet because he was diligently working at turning his life and relationships around... “How far the man had come in fixing his life, only to have it cut short when the future was looking so bright.” The friendship between Allie and Sloane is a shining spot. Complexity also comes from one particularly strained family relationship, the police chief who just happens to be divorced from Allie’s sister.

A Literal Mess is an entertaining cozy mystery, the only negative being some mild profanity.

I received a copy of this book through Great Escapes Tours. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

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J.C. Kenney grew up in a household filled with books by legends Agatha Christie and Lilian Jackson Braun, among many others, so it was no surprise when he found himself writing mystery stories. When he’s not writing, you can find him following IndyCar racing or listening to music.

He lives in Indianapolis with his wife, two sons, and a cat who is the inspiration for Ursula in the Allie Cobb Mysteries.

WebsiteTwitterFacebookGoodreadsInstagram


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