Review: Starry Skies Over the Chocolate Pot Cafe, by Jessica Redland

Jessica Redland Christmas Tour

About the book, Starry Skies Over the Chocolate Pot Cafe

Starry Skies Over the Chocolate Pot CafeCozy up with a mug of hot chocolate for some festive sparkle from bestseller Jessica Redland.

Everyone is getting into the festive spirit on Castle Street – snow is falling, fairy lights are glistening and Christmas shopping is underway.

But for Tara Porter, owner of thriving cafe, The Chocolate Pot, this is the most difficult time of the year. From the outside, Tara is a successful businesswoman and pillar of the community. Behind closed doors, she is lonely.

With a lifetime of secrets weighing on her shoulders, she has retreated from all friends, family and romance, and shut her real self away from the world. Afterall, if you don’t let them in, they can’t hurt you. She’s learnt that the hard way.

But as the weight of her past becomes heavier and an unexpected new neighbour moves onto the street – threatening the future of her cafe – Tara begins to realise that maybe it’s time to finally let people back in and confront her history. It could just change her life forever…

Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café was originally released as Christmas at The Chocolate Pot Café. Now re-released with a new title and new cover, this version has been freshly edited and features several new chapters.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Goodreads


About the author, Jessica Redland

Jessica Redland Author PicJessica Redland is the author of nine novels, including The Secret to Happiness, which are all set around the fictional location of Whitsborough Bay. Inspired by her hometown of Scarborough she writes uplifting women’s fiction which has garnered many devoted fans.

Connect with Jessica:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


My Thoughts

Starry Skies Over the Chocolate Pot Cafe is my second visit to the cozy coastal town Whitsborough Bay, and like other fictional small towns (Stars Hollow, CT and Everwood, CO, for example) it remains a place I wish were real, a place I could visit.

As much as I loved the previous novel in this series, Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes, which I reviewed on September 22nd, I think I connected with this book even more. Maybe it’s because I have a ‘thing’ for cafe novels, maybe it’s because the cafe in the story is a business very like one I’ve always fantasized about running, or maybe it’s just that, having a feel for author Jessica Redland’s writing style, I was able to appreciate more of the nuance as I was reading.

I felt like I really connected with the main character, Tara, and her rabbit, Hercules. (I raised rabbits for 4-H when I was a kid, but I’m a dog person now). Her need to reinvent herself (shown in memories she recounts to her friend Carly, and in private remembrances) is one I think many women can relate to, for we do it throughout our lives as we become wives, mothers, empty nesters, career women, retirees. It’s true that most of us don’t have the same impetus Tara did, but the resonance remains.

I also loved Tara’s gradual opening up first to Carly, then to her staff, and later, to her colleagues. When trust has been abused, it’s really difficult to open your heart and allow yourself to be vulnerable, and Redland showed this in a very real, plausible way, while still making this book a heartwarming holiday romance at its core.

Speaking of romance, this novel is filled with it. Early in the story, Tara’s assistant manager, Maria, asks if she can have her wedding at the cafe. Later, other characters ask about an engagement party, and of course, there’s the enemies-to-friends (and possibly beyond) relationship with Jed, the man who owned the building where the Chocolate Pot now lives, before Tara bought it.

Spanning more than just a single holiday season, this novel is a meaty, satisfying read. It’s a romance, yes, but it’s also about loving your friends and yourself, as much as it is about falling in love.

A visit to Whitsborough Bay is never a bad idea, but a visit to The Chocolate Pot Cafe will make you appreciate all the wonderful things that life has to offer.

Goes well with: salted hot chocolate and those dyed-green leaf-shaped Italian butter cookies with a thin layer of chocolate in the middle.


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Review: Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes, by Jessica Redland

Jessica Redland Christmas Tour

About the book, Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes

  • Paperback : 210 pages
  • Publisher : Boldwood Books (August 13, 2020)

Christmas at Carly's CupcakesIt’s the most wonderful time of the year…

It’s December on Castle Street; the fairy lights are twinkling, snow has settled and the festive season is in full swing.

For Carly, the owner of Carly’s Cupcakes, it’s the busiest time of year getting everyone’s Christmas treats ready on time. However with her clumsy sister, Bethany, as a co-worker, it’s proving a difficult task. They say you shouldn’t mix work with family. Maybe they have a point…

As Christmas approaches, Carly is also eagerly awaiting the return of her best friend to Whitborough Bay. Liam has no idea he’s been the object of her affection since their schooldays. After years of pining after him, can Carly pluck up the courage to finally tell him how she really feels by 25th December?

Could a little festive magic make all of Carly’s wishes come true this Christmas…?

A heartwarming, short festive story of friendship and family from bestseller Jessica Redland. You can find out what happens to Carly next through exploring her best friend Tara’s story in Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café.

This is a new and updated version of Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes which has been previously published.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Goodreads


About the author, Jessica Redland

Jessica Redland Author PicJessica Redland is the author of nine novels, including The Secret to Happiness, which are all set around the fictional location of Whitsborough Bay. Inspired by her hometown of Scarborough she writes uplifting women’s fiction which has garnered many devoted fans.

Connect with Jessica:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


My Thoughts

It may seem odd to be reading Christmas novels when it’s literally the first day of Autumn (in the northern hemisphere), but Jessica Redland’s pair of novels Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes and Starry Skies Over the Chocolate Pot Cafe (which I’ll be reviewing on Friday the 25th) are just what is needed to beat the end-of-summer doldrums and make us anticipate cozy firelit nights with hot chocolate or Irish coffee and a good friend – or lover – for company.

Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes was my first visit to author Redland’s Whitborough Bay, a cozy English village that is absolutely contemporary, and made me want to relocate. If only it were real! This novel focuses on Carly and Bethany, sisters and friends. Carly owns a cake shop on Castle Street, and Bethany works for her, but is disastrous at any of the back room activities, though she’s great with customers.

Most of the novel is set against the days leading up to younger sister Bethany’s wedding to Joshua, but Carly is mentioned in the title, and despite Bethany being the bride it’s really about her: how does she cope with an employee who is also family? How does she face attending her little sister’s wedding when the man she longs for is deployed to Afghanistan (and thinks of her as a friend)? How does she help her sister embrace her strengths and overcome her weaknesses?

And did I mention that wedding takes place just before Christmas, adding a heightened emotional state, and a lot of demanding customers to serve into the mix?

Redland marries all of these elements as if she were mixing batter for the perfect cake, bakes them into a coherent, interesting, fun family saga with a romance filling, and frosts them with all the wishes, dreams, and hopes that are part of the holiday season.

Carly is a wonderful protagonist, kind, smart, patient, and truly caring. Bethany, in anyone else’s hands, would be a ditz, but instead Redland has given us someone who means well and always tries, but hasn’t quite found her niche. Together these sisters make a compelling pair of women to read about, and their stories are twined together with the sweetness and freshness of the red and white stripes of a candy cane.

Bethany’s fiance Joshua is equally dimensional, even though we don’t see each other, and the sisters’ parents are supportive and lovely, as all parents should be.

And then there’s Liam… the childhood friend we all needed, who returns from his deployment just in time to be Carly’s date to the wedding. The boy we meet in memories has become a caring man, and he fits into the world Redland has created as if he were part of the story from page one.

This novel is satisfying, sweet, and supremely real, with characters who may make cupcakes, but are absolutely not cookie-cutter copies of anyone.

Goes well with chocolate cupcakes with buttercream frosting and Irish coffee.


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Cover Reveal: One Kiss Before Christmas by Emma Jackson

One Kiss Before Christmas - Cover Reveal

 

About the Book, One Kiss Before Christmas

One Kiss Before Christmas (Available November 2nd)

A gorgeously romantic festive read from the author of A Mistletoe Miracle, guaranteed to warm your heart this Christmas!


Could it be the start of her happy ever after?

Ashleigh could use a little Christmas magic. She’s still living in Brighton with her Nan — who could give the Grinch lessons in how to be miserable — her acting career has been reduced to playing one of Santa’s elves, and not even the prospect of a friend’s winter wedding can cheer her up…

That is until Olivier, the gorgeous French chef, reappears in her life. Or more accurately, next door.

When they were teenagers, Olivier would spend every other Christmas with his mother, who just happens to be Ash’s neighbour and owner of the best chocolate shop in England.

If anyone can bring a little sparkle back to Ash’s life, it’s Olivier. All she needs is one kiss before Christmas…

Feel-good and festive, this is the perfect romance to curl up with this winter!

Pre-order this book:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK)


About the Author, Emma Jackson

Emma JacksonAuthor of the Best Selling A MISTLETOE MIRACLE and contender for the Joan Hessayon Award 2020, Emma has been a devoted bookworm and secret-story-scribbler since she was 6 years old. When she’s running around after her two daughters and trying to complete her current work-in-progress, Emma loves to read, bake, catch up on binge-watching TV programmes with her partner and plan lots of craft projects that will inevitably end up unfinished. Her latest romantic comedy, SUMMER IN THE CITY, was released in June 2020.

Emma also writes historical and fantasy fiction as Emma S Jackson. THE DEVIL’S BRIDE was published by DarkStroke in February 2020.

Connect with Emma:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


And here’s the cover…

One Kiss Before Christmas_Cover

 

Review: The Ancestor, by Lee Matthew Goldberg

About the Book, The Ancestor

The Ancestor• Paperback: 348 pages
• Publisher: All Due Respect (August 20, 2020)

A man wakes up in present-day Alaskan wilderness with no idea who he is, nothing on him save an empty journal with the date 1898 and a mirror. He sees another man hunting nearby, astounded that they look exactly alike except for his own beard. After following this other man home, he witnesses a wife and child that brings forth a rush of memories of his own wife and child, except he’s certain they do not exist in modern times—but from his life in the late 1800s.

After recalling his name is Wyatt, he worms his way into his doppelganger Travis Barlow’s life. Memories become unearthed the more time he spends, making him believe that he’d been frozen after coming to Alaska during the Gold Rush and that Travis is his great-great grandson. Wyatt is certain gold still exists in the area and finding it with Travis will ingratiate himself to the family, especially with Travis’s wife Callie, once Wyatt falls in love. This turns into a dangerous obsession affecting the Barlows and everyone in their small town, since Wyatt can’t be tamed until he also discovers the meaning of why he was able to be preserved on ice for over a century.

A meditation on love lost and unfulfilled dreams, The Ancestor is a thrilling page-turner in present day Alaska and a historical adventure about the perilous Gold Rush expeditions where prospectors left behind their lives for the promise of hope and a better future.

The question remains whether it was all worth the sacrifice…

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Down & Out Books | Goodreads


About the author, Lee Matthew Goldberg

Lee Matthew GoldbergLee Matthew Goldberg is the author of THE DESIRE CARD, SLOW DOWN and THE MENTOR from St. Martin’s Press. He has been published in multiple languages and nominated for the 2018 Prix du Polar. The second novel in The Desire Card series, PREY NO MORE, is forthcoming. THE ANCESTOR will be out from All Due Respect books in 2020 along with a reissue of his debut novel. His pilots and screenplays have been finalists in Script Pipeline, Book Pipeline, Stage 32, We Screenplay, the New York Screenplay, Screencraft, and the Hollywood Screenplay contests. After graduating with an MFA from the New School, his writing has also appeared in the anthology DIRTY BOULEVARD, The Millions, The Montreal Review, The Adirondack Review, Essays & Fictions, The New Plains Review, and others. He is the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading Series(guerrillalit.wordpress.com). He lives in New York City.

Connect with Lee:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellThe Ancestor is one of those novels that isn’t easily categorized. It’s sort of a fantasy, in that one of the main characters is introduced to us when he wakes up after being frozen into the Alaskan ice for the better part of a century, but it turns into a thriller/suspense novel once he encounters Travis Barlow and decides they must be related, and that Barlow’s family is the key to his own identity and purpose. More than any of these, though, the language and imagery in this novel elevate it to literary fiction.

Lee Matthew Goldberg grabbed me by the scruff of my neck from the very first chapter, when Wyatt, cold, hungry, confused, still manages to kill, skin, and eat a wolf with little more than his bare hands and sheer determination. This, however, is just one of many visceral scenes that really make it seem as though we readers have stepped into the Alaskan wilderness (without appropriate gear) and must survive.

The juxtaposition of Wyatt’s needy desperation with Travis’s cozy (but realistically imperfect) family life, really kept me hooked, and the interconnected relationships of the Barlows, Wyatt, Travis friend Gray, and the rest of the population of the funky frontier town (well, it FEELS like a frontier town) grounded the story with the sense of place and time that the main character lacked.

Goldberg excels at descriptions, of people and places, and at times I had to check my city-girl squeamishness. At the same time, his depiction of gold rush culture took me back to my childhood in the mountains of Colorado, where panning for gold has become a tourist attraction near more than one Rocky Mountain creek.

Overall, I found this both fascinating and compelling. Perhaps because I read it very quickly, I felt like I experienced a lot of the action with the characters, but I recommend The Ancestor to anyone who likes their adventure tales married to searches for identity, and no small amount of soul.

Goes well with: a stew made of game meat – venison or caribou – and a strong red table wine.


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Spotlight: A Vote is a Powerful Thing, by Catherine Stier (illustrated by Courtney Dawson) – with Giveaway

BNR A Vote Is A Powerful Thing

 

About the book, A Vote is a Powerful Thing cover med res A Vote Is A Powerful Thing

  • Children’s Picture Book / American Historical Fiction / Elections and Voting
  • Ages 4-7
  • Publisher: Albert Whitman and Company
  • Date of Publication: September 1, 2020
  • Number of Pages: 32
  • Scroll down for the giveaway!

Callie knows there’s a presidential election coming up, and people will soon vote to decide the country’s leader.

Her class is having an election too, about an issue that affects them all–the class field trip. Should they choose the cookie factory or the wilderness park?

Join Callie as she campaigns for the wilderness park she loves and learns how people have organized, marched, and protested for the right to vote. And find out how a vote–even just one vote–can make a difference!

Praise for this book:

  • “Gets the job done.” ―Kirkus Reviews
  • “A galvanizing read for children interested in politics or parents who hope to instill such interests.” ―Publishers Weekly

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

The Twig Book Shop ║ IndieBound ║Barnes and Noble ║ Amazon || Goodreads

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About the author,  Catherine Stier

Catherine StierCatherine Stier is the author of several awarding-winning children’s books. Her titles include If I Were PresidentIf I Ran for PresidentIf I Were a Park Ranger, and the A Dog’s Day chapter-book series. In grade school, Catherine ran a class campaign for student council with handmade signs, and, although she didn’t win, she found the process exciting! She went on to earn an MA in reading and literacy from the University of Texas at San Antonio and has conducted children’s literature research. She now resides with her husband in San Antonio and volunteers at a local wilderness park.

Connect with Catherine:

Facebook ║ Twitter ║ Instagram ║ Amazon ║ Website

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Giveaway

ONE WINNER: Copies of each of the three election-series books;
patriotic socks, button, and pencils; plus a $15 gift card to The Twig Book Shop.

September 4-10, 2020

(US ONLY)

 

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Review: Christmas at Lock Keeper’s Cottage, by Lucy Coleman

Christmas at Lock Keeper's Cottage

 

About the book, Christmas at Lock Keeper’s Cottage Christmas at Lock Keepes Cottage Cover

  • Paperback : 334 pages
  • Publisher : Boldwood Books (September 3, 2020)

Join us for Christmas in the Cotswolds in this perfect festive escape, from the bestselling Lucy Coleman.

Imogen Tolliman never knew her mother. And when an accident robs Immi of her father too, she goes to live with her grandfather, Tollie, in his picturesque lock-keeper’s cottage by the Aysbury marina.

Tollie is the star of the Santa Ahoy Special each Christmas – a festive boat ride along the canal that enthralls both children and adults alike. And as Immi grows up, she starts to appreciate the magical community she is lucky enough to live in.

When Immi meets Gray Adams, she instantly realises he’s someone special. And as their relationship gets serious, they start to plan for the Christmas to beat all Christmases.

But as the day approaches, and the romantic snow showers turn into blizzards, their dream of a Christmas to remember, looks set to be one they’ll never forget – for all the wrong reasons. Can they salvage the festivities, or will old secrets that are finally uncovered turn Immi’s life upside down forever?

Let Lucy Coleman transport you away to a dreamy Cotswolds Christmas full of snowflakes and secretslog fires, mistletoe, friends and much-loved traditions. Perfect for all fans of Trisha Ashley, Holly Martin and Sue Moorcroft.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Goodreads


About the author, Lucy Coleman Lucy Coleman

Lucy Coleman is a #1 bestselling romance writer, whose recent novels include Snowflakes over Holly Cove. She also writes under the name Linn B. Halton. She won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award and lives in the Welsh Valleys.

Connect with Lucy:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


My Thoughts

Dear Santa,

Thank you so much for the early Christmas present you sent in the form of this lovely novel, Christmas at Lock Keeper’s Cottage, by Lucy Coleman. This story hit all my favorite holiday buttons: a plausible romance, a cozy setting near the water, a beloved older relative, a bit of family drama, and a weather disaster.

And it even opened with a letter to you!

Santa, I really loved the main character of Immi – Imogen. She was so realistically written with such a big heart but without being at all naive. Her  partner, Gray, was also a wonderfully dimensional creation. Tollie, Fisher, the innkeepers, and all the other townsfolk felt like the kind of people you really would run into in a cafe or a pub, serve on committees with, and interact with in any number of ordinary ways. So vibrant a picture did author Coleman draw, that I wanted to step into the book, and be a part of the festivities.

I’m a sucker for a good Christmas story, and this novel is a great story for the season, with a narrowboat tricked out for the holiday, and little kids getting to sail with Santa Claus, but this was hardly Hallmark fare. Rather, it was a compelling parallel drama – Immi looking for truths about her mother, and Gray facing truths about his father – that were made all the more compelling because of the time of year, and festive background.

If you want a holiday romance with adult characters who feel like real people, one with a bit more depth than the usual Christmas fluff, this novel, Christmas at Lock Keep Cottage – should be the first thing on everyone’s list, Santa.

It would go well with a locally brewed beer and and a hearty stew or chili.

Thanks again for putting this novel on my radar, Santa. Looking forward to seeing you this December.

Don’t forget my pony.


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Review: The Secret of You and Me, by Melissa Lenhardt – with Giveaway

Secret of You and Me - BNR

About the book, The Secret of You and Me

  • Genre: Women’s Fiction / Romance
  • Publisher:  Graydon House (Harlequin)
  • Date of Publication: August 4, 2020
  • Number of Pages: 352
  • Scroll down for the giveaway!

Secret of You and Me - CoverTrue love never fades—and old secrets never die . . . 

Nora hasn’t looked back. Not since she fled Texas to start a new life. Away from her father’s volatile temper and the ever-watchful gaze of her claustrophobically conservative small town, Nora has freed herself. She can live—and love—however she wants. The only problem is that she also left behind the one woman she can’t forget. Now tragedy calls her back home to confront her past—and reconcile her future.

Sophie seems to have everything—a wonderful daughter, a successful husband, and a rewarding career. Yet underneath that perfection lies an explosive secret. She still yearns for Nora—her best friend and first love—despite all the years between them. Keeping her true self hidden hasn’t been easy, but it’s been necessary. So when Sophie finds out that Nora has returned, she hopes Nora’s stay is short. The life she has built depends on it.

But they both find that first love doesn’t fade easily. Memories come to light, passion ignites, and old feelings resurface. As the forces of family and intolerance that once tore them apart begin to reemerge, they realize some things may never change—unless they demand it.

Praise for this book:

  • “A compelling story of second chances and being true to yourself.”
    Harper Bliss, bestselling author of Seasons of Love
  • “Lenhardt convinces in her portrayal of the conflict between desire and control.” —Publishers Weekly

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Interabang Books

(Personalized/signed copies available through Interabang)
Amazon | IndieBound | Bookshop | Goodreads

A portion of royalties from this book are going to the It Gets Better Project.

(Click for more details.)


About the author, Melissa Lenhardt

Melissa LenhardtMelissa Lenhardt is a women’s fiction, mystery, and historical fiction author. Her debut mystery, Stillwater, was a finalist for the 2014 Whidbey Writers’ MFA Alumni Emerging Writers Contest, and Sawbones, her historical-fiction debut, was hailed as a “thoroughly original, smart and satisfying hybrid, perhaps a new sub-genre: the feminist Western” by Lone Star Literary Life. The New York Times called her sixth novel, Heresy, “An all-out women-driven, queer, transgender, multiracial takeover of the Old West”. The Secret of You and Me, her seventh novel and her first contemporary women’s fiction novel, was published on August 4, 2020.

When Melissa isn’t writing, she’s thinking, “I really should be writing,” and eating Nutella or peanut butter straight out of the jar. A lifelong Texan, she lives in the Dallas area with her husband, two sons, and two Golden Retrievers.

Connect with Melissa:

Facebook | Instagram  | Website | Goodreads | Amazon  | BookBub | Twitter


My Thoughts

MissMelissHATSet in the recent history of Texas, just a few years before gay marriage became a national right, Melissa Lenhardt’s novel  The Secret of You and Me is not so much a coming of age story, as the lead characters are adults, as a coming of identity story. It’s a wonderful novel, a candid lesbian romance, wrapped around a host of difficult subjects: death, loss, desire, (in)fidelity, parenthood, childhood, the lens of nostalgia, and coming out. More than that, though, it’s a compelling drama rooted in family, both chosen and blood, and how we define it and ourselves.

The structure of the novel is in (mostly) alternating chapters from Nora (the central character) and Sophie’s (Nora’s best friend/first love) points of view. Lenhardt’s choice to shift between these equally dimensional women gives us greater insight into both, as well as their perspectives on the various supporting characters, most importantly Nora’s aunt, Emmadean, and Sophie’s, husband, daughter, and AA sponsor Charlie, Logan, and Todd, respectively. By doing this we get to see each woman’s view of herself, as well as of the other, and I think the novel is richer for the split POV.

I also felt that Lenhardt has an excellent ear for dialogue and a flair for family dynamics. From the earliest chapter, where Nora, newly arrived “home” is eating enchilada casserole, to the last I felt like I was in that small town, hearing the gossip from the locals, and watching everything unfold. So cinematic is the author’s writing, that I told a friend, “I could easily see this novel as movie on Amazon Prime or a Hulu original.”

As the person many of my friends have chosen to come out to, to reveal that they were trans to, to share their marital issues with, this novel really resonated with me. While I do not support infidelity, even in fiction, I certainly understand it as a symptom – an expression – of deep unhappiness. Lenhardt handled all of these revelations with grace and poise, and at times I felt as though I were watching friends share their stories.

While some of the subjects within this novel are serious, the story itself is not uncomfortably heavy. It’s a romance, just not a conventional one, and definitely worth the read.

Goes well with enchilada casserole and cold Shiner Bock, right from the bottle.

(As noted above, a portion of royalties  from this book are going to the It Gets Better Project. Click for more details.)


Giveaway

TWO WINNERS each get a signed hardcover copy of the book and their choice of
either a FaceTime call or virtual book-club visit with the author.

 August 11-21, 2020

(U.S. Only)

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Click to visit the  LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE TOUR PAGE for direct links to each post on this tour, updated daily, or visit each blog directly.

8/11/20 Author Interview All the Ups and Downs
8/11/20 Review Tangled in Text
8/12/20 Review Momma on the Rocks
8/12/20 BONUS Post Hall Ways Blog
8/13/20 Review Carpe Diem Chronicles
8/14/20 Top Six List Texas Book Lover
8/14/20 Review Bibliotica
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8/20/20 Review It’s Not All Gravy
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Review: The Gulag P-Pa Diaries, by Preston Lewis, with Giveaway

Gulag P-Pa-Diaries-BNR

 

About the book, The Gulag P-Pa Diaries Gulag P-Pa-Cover

  • Genre: Memoir / Christian / Humor / Grandparenting / Family
  • Publisher: CKN Christian Publishing
  • Date of Publication: April 22, 2020
  • Number of Pages: 268
  • Scroll down for the giveaway!

As new empty-nesters, Harriet and Preston next looked forward to becoming grandparents. Their journey to assuming the names of Mema and P-Pa, however, took a tragic and unexpected turn.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon  |  Barnes and Noble  |  IndieBound | Goodreads


About the author, Preston Lewis Preston Lewis

Lewis is the Spur Award-winning author of thirty novels. In addition to his two Western Writers of America Spurs, he received the 2018 Will Rogers Gold Medallion for Western Humor for Bluster’s Last Stand, the fourth volume in his comic western series, The Memoirs of H.H. Lomax. Two other books in that series were Spur finalists. His comic western The Fleecing of Fort Griffin received the Elmer Kelton Award from the West Texas Historical Association for best creative work on the region.

Connect with Preston:

Website | Facebook | Goodreads  | Amazon author page


My ThoughtsMissMelissHAT

Part conventional memoir, part Condamant’s (sic) Log from the eponymous Gulag P-Pa, Preston Lewis’s latest offering is both hilarious and heartfelt.

It’s a year-by-year recounting of his life as a temporary caregiver (with his wife Harriet) of his grandchildren – four girls and one boy when the story opens, though as a three-month-old, the boy really isn’t a true “inmate” of the gulag, and it masters the emotional combination of laughter-through-tears from the very first page.

(“Condamant,” by the way, is one of the granddaughter’s malapropism; she meant “Commandant.”)

But, this book, The Gulag P-Pa Diaries, is more than just a reminiscence of life with growing grandchildren. It’s also a reflection on the nature of parenthood. “The first step toward becoming a grandparent is having a family of your own, of course,” Lewis writes in chapter three, one of the traditional memoir chapters, and then goes on to describe his courtship of his wife.

Written in alternating chapters of memoir and diary, this book is a look at the very real lives of a typical American family, and while some of the events and family jokes (like the “poople heart” earned for dealing with dramatic diaper incidents) are often silly, the real thread holding everything together is love.

We are given a glimpse of a sweet man who is literally lovesick as he gets to know his eventual wife, and we are shown how even the most contrary three-and-a-half year old can be incredibly charming.  We see the expected difference between how woman (Camp Mema) and men (Gulag P-Pa) handle discipline and structure, and we cry (or I did) when the author mentions his first grandchild who died before he ever got to hold or know him.

If your grandparents are still alive, this book will make you pick up the phone to call or Facetime with them. If they have left this world, this book will leave you wistful, and perhaps a little weepy. Either way, this is a charming, funny, very real story, made even better by being true.

Goes well with: a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a glass of chocolate milk.


Giveaway

1ST PRIZE

Book signed by P-Pa (the author), Mema, and The Grands
2ND PRIZE

Book signed by the author
AUGUST 4-14, 2020
(US ONLY)

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a Rafflecopter giveaway


Check Out the Whole Blog Tour at THE LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE TOUR PAGE  or Visit Them Directly:

8/4/20 Review Bibliotica
8/5/20 Author Interview Forgotten Winds
8/6/20 Notable Quotables Texas Book Lover
8/7/20 Review Book Fidelity
8/8/20 Top Tips & Fails That’s What She’s Reading
8/9/20 Playlist All the Ups and Downs
8/10/20 Review Hall Ways Blog
8/11/20 Scrapbook Page The Clueless Gent
8/12/20 Review It’s Not All Gravy
8/13/20 Review Reading by Moonlight

 

LSBBT BOOK REVIEW

LoneStarLitLife

Excerpt: Say Yes to What’s Next, by Lori Allen

About the Book, Say Yes to What’s Next: How to Age With Elegance and Class While Never Losing Your Beauty and Sass!

  • Hardcover: 240 Pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (July 14, 2020)
  • Scroll down to read an excerpt from this book.

Say Yes to What's NextFrom the star of Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta, now filming its eleventh season for TLC, comes a book and a life-makeover movement for women approaching fifty and beyond.

Move over, girlfriend, Lori Allen is here to help you say yes to what’s next! Star of Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta, Lori Allen uses her confidence, wisdom, and signature humor not only to help young brides on their most important day ever but also to model to them and their mothers how to live out the coming years as the best of their lives.

Lori Allen is owner/operator of one of the biggest and busiest bridal mega-salons in the country, Atlanta’s Bridals by Lori. But she’s also a wife, mother, grandmother, and breast cancer survivor.

Whether you’re feeling invisible, disappearing into the fabric of your couch a little more every year, or simply being indecisive about what’s next, Lori offers herself as the poster child of what to do, not do, and how to see your way through the unexpected.

In Say Yes to What’s Next she addresses essential issues, such as

  • don’t let yourself go,
  • marriage is awesome, but it’s no fairytale,
  • keep your mouth shut and your heart open to your kids (and they’ll bring you grandkids),
  • make time to parent your parents,
  • maintain a close circle of girlfriends,
  • get off the couch and live your passion,
  • take charge of your money, and
  • what to do when life gives you a faceplant.

Say Yes to What’s Next is a life makeover and therapy session from a relatable you-can-and-you-should-do-this straight-shooter as Lori helps women shape their own futures with confidence, style, and sass.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author Lori Allen

Lori Allen Lori Allen opened Bridals by Lori just two weeks after graduating from the all-female Columbia College in South Carolina. Four decades later, she is one of the world’s foremost experts on bridal couture and the central figure of TLC’s reality show Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta, filmed on site at Lori’s bridal salon and shown in more than 120 countries.

Lori’s role as a bridal expert, successful female business entrepreneur, TV personality, and breast cancer survivor has led her to interviews by top-tier media outlets, including CNN, ABC’s Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, and the Wall Street Journal. She currently resides in Atlanta with her husband, Eddie, and, thankfully, not far from their son and his wife, daughter and her husband, and granddaughters.

Connect with Lori:

Facebook | Instagram


Read an Excerpt from Say Yes to What’s Next

Say Yes to What's NextAn Ounce of Wisdom from Lori Allen

Think Like a Bride

Many young women come into the salon looking for the hottest new fashion, and frankly, that’s not always a good idea. I encourage each bride to choose a dress that reflects her own personality, but I also advise her to think beyond the wedding itself. The day she’s a bride will come and go in what seems like a nanosecond, but the photos from her wedding are going to be around for a long time— and today’s trend is tomorrow’s costume. (Poodle skirts, enormous shoulder pads, and go- go boots come to mind.)

From “Say Yes to What’s Next”, Chapter 2: Self-Care is the New Black


Check Out the Other Sites on This Tour

TLC Book ToursInstagram tour:

Monday, July 13th: @lesa_cap

Tuesday, July 14th: @books_with_bethany

Thursday, July 16th: @readtowander

Friday, July 17th: @thelit_bitch

Monday, July 20th: @wellreadtraveler

Tuesday, July 21st: @livingmybestbooklife

Monday, July 27th: @kelly_hunsaker_reads

Thursday, July 30th: @sweethoneyandbrei

Review tour:

Monday, July 13th: Bibliotica – excerpt

Tuesday, July 14th: Lesa’s Book Critiques – author guest post

Wednesday, July 15th: Leighellen Landskov and @mommaleighellensbooknook

Friday, July 17th: Novel Gossip – author guest post

Saturday, July 18th: Nurse Bookie and @nurse_bookie

Monday, July 20th: Well Read Traveler

Tuesday, July 21st: Living My Best Book Life

Wednesday, July 22nd: Running Through the Storms

Thursday, July 23rd: @bookscoffeephotography

Thursday, July 23rd: From the TBR Pile – author guest post

Monday, July 27th: Tabi Thoughts

Tuesday, July 28th: Blooming with Books

Wednesday, July 29th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

Thursday, July 30th: Seaside Book Nook

Friday, July 31st: Bewitched Bookworms – excerpt

Monday, August 3rd: Book Reviews and More by Kathy – excerpt

Friday, August 7th: Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books

Friday, August 14th: What is That Book About

Review: A Sunset in Sidney, by Sandy Barker

A Sunset In Sydney - Banner

About the book, A Sunset in Sydney

 

  • Publisher: One More Chapter (July 3, 2020)
  • Publication Date: July 3, 2020
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers

A Sunset in Sydney CoverHow far would you go in the name of love?

Sarah Parsons has a choice ahead of her. After the trip of a lifetime she’s somehow returned home with TWO handsome men wanting to whisk her away into the sunset.

Pulled in two directions across the globe, it’s making life trickier than it sounds. Her gorgeous American, Josh, wants to meet Sarah in Hawaii for a holiday to remember. Meanwhile silver fox, James, plans to wine and dine her in London.

It’s a lot to handle for this Aussie girl, who had totally sworn off men!

Join Sarah after her adventure in One Summer in Santorini, for the heart-warming and uplifting third novel in The Holiday Romance series.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Google Play | Kobo | Waterstones | Goodreads


About the author, Sandy Barker

A Sunset in Sydney - Author Photo Sandy BarkerSandy Barker is an Australian writer, traveller and hopeful romantic with a lengthy bucket list and a cheeky sense of humour. She’s also an avid reader, a film buff, a wine lover and a coffee snob.
Many of Sandy’s travel adventures have found homes in her writing, including her debut novel, a contemporary romance set in Greece, which was inspired by her true-life love story.

Connect with Sidney:

Blog | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


My Thoughts

MissMelissHATWhen the world around you is in turmoil, and all your travel plans have been cancelled for the foreseeable future, a light, happy romance is practically medicinal.

Sandy Barker’s third entry into her Holiday Romance series, A Sunset in Sydney, fills that prescription perfectly. It’s light but not too fluffy, keeps you entertained, and has really engaging characters, as well.

Sarah, our protagonist, opens the novel with a complaint many of us wish we’d had when we were young and single: two love interests. James a “silver fox” she meets while sightseeing, and Josh, whom she meets on the same vacation, on a ten-day sailing trip, and whom she immediately has what she calls a “Ross and Rachel, will they / won’t they” relationship.

Both men are engaging, witty, attractive. James is in London, where Sarah’s sister Cat also is, so she uses her time there to meet up with him, and Josh, the “cute American” has made plans to meet her in Hawaii four months after their initial sailing trip.

What follows is typical romance novel fare, made distinctly original by Barker’s handling of both comedy and flirtation. Instead of a cookie-cutter story, we are treated to a tale about people who are all searching for what they truly want out of love and life, with trial and error, doubts and insecurities, misfires and marvelous encounters, all wrapped up in a package of well-written dialogue, and characters you truly enjoy spending time with.

This was my first introduction to Barker’s work, but I’m hooked and can’t wait to read the other novels in this series, as well as her other writing.

Overall, this is the perfect light read, for summer, for quarantine, or just for a murky, damp weekend when you want to escape into someone else’s life for a while.

Goes well with grilled tequila lime shrimp and a margarita on the rocks.


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